January 19, 2012
Fashion Office with The Coveteur: Aliza Licht
Explain your job in one sentence please: Global communications strategy & execution for Donna Karan New York, DKNY and DKNY Jeans brands"from editorial coverage and celebrity dressing to runway show production and Social Media. What is a typical workday like for you? I start off ahead of the game. I always check email before bed and in the morning before I get in. Then somehow it all goes downhill from there. Between meetings, lunches (when I'm lucky) and other appointments, keeping up with the incessant attack of emails is a non-stop challenge. Add Twitter & Tumblr to that and I swear my eyes should be falling out of my head any day now. There's rarely a night that I don't have to play catch up at home at night. But a PR person's worst nightmare is not knowing. What is your go-to work outfit? As a Donna Karan girl for the past 14 years I generally wear black. Mostly dresses and skirts with little tops. I'm rarely ever in pants. I don't know why, but I don't find them very inspiring and I need fashion to inspire me daily or I probably won't get to work. How did you get this job? Did you always know you wanted it? In 1996 (wow that sounds ancient), I was an assistant accessories editor at Marie Claire. I had been there for two years and had outgrown my position by a long shot. At that time in the magazine industry, the accessories editors at the top magazines had each been there for a decade. Literally. So I didn't see a way to move up and I didn't want to work at a magazine I didn't believe in creatively. As an editor, I spoke to PR people all day long, calling in accessories for our photo shoots. Since I worked on the flip side I had a clear understanding of what a good PR person did. The bad ones also stood out glaringly. Luckily for me, a PR coordinator position opened up at DKNY and one of my editor friends recommended me for the job. I didn't necessarily want to go into PR, but it seemed like the right decision at the time. Life is full of sliding doors. What's the best part of your job? The worst? I have always loved the tangible nature of PR. You open a magazine and see your work, you see a celebrity on the carpet wearing your brand. It's all right there in front of your eyes. I love the objectivity of it, you were either successful or you weren't. In the digital age, PR is instantly gratifying. Social Media allows PR people to make their own news. It's pretty amazing how things have changed. Of course the worst part is when the press gets something wrong. Journalists need to fact check and I think for some, there's this notion that because it's so easy to fix an incorrect statement online, fact checking is not really necessary. The viral nature of information gone wrong is frightening. How important is having a fashionable/chic work area? I've always said jokingly that I don't trust people who have really perfect work areas. Like they're not "really" working. I'm so crazed during the day that I never care what my desk looks like. It's a mess. Papers everywhere. But I have it all organized in my head. Conversely, I am obsessed with my apartment being meticulous. Go figure. Do you email or use the phone more? Email. Back in the day I was an obsessive voicemail checker. Now I pretty much forget it exists. What surprises you the most about your career? Well for starters, I was pre-med and graduated with a BS in Neurobiology & Physiology. So to end up where I am is hilarious. That said, fashion is in my blood. My grandmother made all of my mother's clothes growing up and she bought me my first sewing machine at age 3. Back then, I was very good at making outfits for Barbie. What changes do you make to your look if you have to go to dinner or drinks immediately after work? None. My look is night worthy all day long. A 'dress to impress' mantra gets me through the day. What items do you think every working girl should own (clothing and accessories)? 1. A killer pair of black pumps 2. A coat that screams your style without ever having to see what's underneath. 3. A statement handbag (not one you wear everyday, but one you wear when you want to knock 'em dead). 4. A perfectly cut blazer to throw on with jeans or over little dresses. 5. "Go-to" black pants that never let you down. 6. The perfect, 'always makes you feel polished' little dress in whatever color that floats your boat. Do you use a Mac or a PC? (or Blackberry or iPhone?) PC, but I'm getting a Mac! (Hear that Donna Karan IT dept?). I am both a BlackBerry and an iPhone user. They are brother and sister to me and I can't live without them. What do you listen to when you're working? I can't work and listen to music. I'm not that talented. The girls in the office love music and I'm always telling them to lower the volume. What are you wearing today? A black DKNY cape-dress tunic over black leather pants and high heel ankle boots. What do you try to teach your interns/assistants? Make an impression. Go above and beyond the job description. Be resourceful, dependable, motivated and collaborative. Have you fulfilled your career goal or do you still have more to achieve? I'm funny that way, I never really set long-term goals. I believe in evolution, not revolution. I'll forever be excited to see what's behind door #3, but I take it one day at a time. It's too daunting to think out too far. What advice would you give to someone who wants to emulate your career path? 1. Never think anything is above you. 2. "No" should not be a word in your professional dictionary. 3. Be accessible, it will make you indispensable. 4. Strive to make sure your ideas are nowhere near the box 5. There is no "i" in team, but there sure is one in "Chic". And lastly, 6. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.