Image courtesy Filipa Fino
Interview

FILIPA FINO

11.20.11

Filipa Fino was the Accessories Director at Vogue Magazine for seven years before leaving earlier this year. She is launching her online magazine Fino File this February.

Interview

After seven years at Vogue (eleven at Conde Nast) what made you decide to leave?

Truly, my interns. For the last seven years, I have been surrounded by hundreds of young talented (OK, some not so talented) students that came to Vogue to get their feet wet in the fashion industry. I was always fascinated by their energy, for it felt fresh and directive of the times. Then one day, I realized that these young kids, dressed in their best designer knock-offs, didn’t read magazines, nor newspapers. They were informed of every piece of fashion news, every trend, and every gossip item without picking up a copy of WWD or, the most criminal sin, not picking up the latest issue of Vogue. I was so intrigued (and honestly upstaged by their knowledge) that I had a few interns introduce me to their world: The Cut, Fashionista, T’s Blog, Garance Dore, The Satorialist, The Huffington Post. The list was endless; and I slowly converted to the world of the Internet. I became hooked. That very season, an overly- fashionable guy whom I later discovered was Bryan Boy caught my attention sitting front row across from Anna at a show. At another show, I met an eccentric teenager with glasses, also sitting front row very close to the Vogue team. (It was Tavi.) Who were these people, and why were they front row? It blew my mind. Vogue.com launched softly that same year and I was asked to report during Fashion Week and while in Europe. I honestly had no idea what I was doing, but anyone who knows me, knows I can talk (or write) to a wall; so I gave it a go. At the time, Vogue.com was a bit of an afterthought. After long days at shows, it was that pending “thing” I still had to submit to New York before finally going to sleep. The content was random; but somehow, there was a following. After the official launch of Vogue.com last August, where I oversaw all of the accessories content for the site, my world changed; and I knew that the Internet was the future. Magazines, as I knew and loved, would soon cease to exist. A very strong feeling came over me that my daughters would not be reading the paper pages of Vogue. Many incidents confirmed my theory: one day a young Celine-clad girl stopped me at Barneys as she flaunted the exact bag I had recommended she buy. I asked “From what issue?” She responded “Oh no, no, from Vogue.com.”.I later checked out the 3rd floor shoe department and my usual salesman ran over and said “Filipa, that shoe from yesterday’s post is SOLD OUT.”.Wow! I did that? A few months ago, Nicolas Ghesquiere came to New York to present his Resort collection. As always, we were a small group at his showroom, including Anna and Grace. I love Nicolas, so I am always very excited to see him. He is my generation, old school European, with the most impeccable taste for what is genuinely chic. He is one of the few designers that brilliantly marries old class with the au courant. Usually, he candidly chats about this new collection, explaining each detail and feeling with great passion. But this time his heart was in a different project: his new website and commercial video shot the previous day with Steven Meisel. He managed to get Grace and Anna, along with all of the team, to gather around the computer. He was like a little boy showing off his school project; and of course, it was brilliant. I knew it was time to leave Vogue. I had grown as an editor, as a fashion player, beyond my expectations; but it was time to cross to the new frontier on my own. I wanted to spend a summer with my girls (something I have never done) so I left in June and moved out to our house in Southampton.

What did you do before that position?

I started at Harper’s Bazaar as a fashion assistant during the Liz Tilberis days, I then moved to Allure Magazine with Paul Cavaco for 4 years as the accessories director, and then Vogue. Since I was 8, I knew I wanted to work in high fashion.

Have you always wanted to run your own consulting company? What type of services will you offer?

Yes, I always knew that some day I would work on my own. I thrive on creation, of any kind, whether it is accessorizing a photo shoot, decorating a house, or planning my daughter’s slumber party. There comes a certain point where it is time to create your own voice, apart from the amazing world of Vogue and Conde Nast. Eleven years is a long time.  Consulting is a natural progression, as I consulted over the years at Vogue for many, many brands; only then, I did it on behalf of Vogue and thus my contribution was limited and restrained. Now I am on my own and I can really get involved in projects. But my company, Filipa Fino Inc., is not limited to consulting. I see myself as that same “fashion and accessories editor” only I am now out of the cage. My vision hasn’t changed. I just have a new medium to channel it.  I look forward to collaborating with brands on product development, placement, collaborations, events, TV. I plan to have a website and a blog.

Will you just be focusing on accessories companies?

Yes and no. My idea is to have the world see fashion as a complement to accessories, as opposed to the conventional other way around. A lot of people start with the dress. I will start with a shoe, or a bag, or a fabulous piece of jewelry and take it from there.

Do you feel designers putting the same effort they used to on accessories? In what way has production/details changed?

I feel more than ever that accessories have become the focus of many fashion brands. Look at Proenza Schouler, Celine, or even Balenciaga. Yes, their clothes are fashionable and highly covetable; but their reach is limited. Their accessories, on the other hand, are on every girl down Madison Avenue or Avenue Montaigne; and truthfully they are also on the thousands of girls that bought the knock -off version at H&M. Whether a small pochette or the latest bag, accessories make statements of their own these days. They are no longer compliments and that is my message.

Who are your go to designers for editorial content?

I love a new name the same way I love my old classics. To me it’s the relevance of the moment.  What do these designers bring to the table at this moment. There are seasons when I am much more attracted to certain designers than others. This season, I am enamoured with the simplicity of Rochas, but that doesn’t mean that next season another designer won’t take the limelight. It’s funny, fashion has become so forward, so out of season in terms of when we shop and when we actually wear clothes. I’m a big believer in telling people what to wear NOW, this day, in the context of what is going on in the world, in our personal lives, THIS day.

Who are your go to designers when shopping for yourself?

I have my staples that I know fit my body well: Balenciaga, YSL, Celine, Proenza. But my favorite find this season was a pair of pants at Sportmax and a denim skirt at Zara. My shoes are usually Manolo or Tabitha Simmons, but right now my bag is straw from the St. Tropez market. I am not stuck. I love to explore fashion. I love my finds. I love to mix it up in a way that provokes people to wonder where I shop.

What are some of your best memories and/experiences from working at Vogue?

Put it this way…. the morning of Fashion Night’s Out’s “The Show” Anna decides to have  a walkthrough with the 157 models wearing their show shoes for the first time. Most can’t walk. Vogue editors cringe, then we all break into laughter, including Anna. “Filipa, we simply need new shoes” and by that afternoon we had new shoes and everything was perfect. The height of every tense moment at Vogue was always somewhat humorous because ultimately there is always a solution. “No” is not a word we use often. We knew we were all in this together and that we were going to change people’s views as one voice. There was a thrill in being part of that. I will always cherish that and I will always thank Anna for the experience.