The Norma Rae of Fashion Interns
New York Magazine—Kayleen Schaefer
Last fall, Diana Wang was named “head accessories intern” at Harper’s Bazaar.“I’d been dreaming of standing in their offices for fifteen years,” she says. “I was so ready to give everything I had. I couldn’t imagine that the dream of mine was becoming real.”
At 27, she was older than the average magazine intern. After graduating from Ohio State in 2010, Diana spent a year working for a pharmaceutical company in Columbus, Ohio, saving up so she could afford to live in New York as an unpaid intern — a gig she’d heard was a necessary first step to getting a job in fashion.
“This was going to be my only ticket to the industry,” she says. “I didn’t have unlimited resources. I was going to make the time worthwhile. I was going to be remembered by people.”
And she will be, but not because she’s on her way to becoming the next Melanie Ward, a stylist she revered. In February, Wang sued the Hearst Corporation, Harper’s Bazaar’s parent organization, for not paying for her work. The lawsuit, which accuses the company of violating federal and state labor laws, has since become a class-action one — including about 3,000 former Hearst interns — and may be decided as soon as early 2013.