Harriet Mays Powell explains her love of fashion and how she got into the business.
Question: How did you get started in fashion?
Mays Powell: As most… Like most careers, I think if you do a survey, by a fluke. I actually come from a family that has always considered style and fashion… My father was in the rag trade, so to speak, and my mother was quite stylish and actually ended up working part time for a local boutique when her kids were all grown up and we were all grown up. And I’ve done some work for some retail stuff in my summer vacations from boarding school in college. But my first job out of school was, ironically, to be an assistant at Glamour Magazine, and in the fashion end of magazines I have forever been.
Question: What do you love about fashion?
Mays Powell: Well, as I’ve said, I think, slightly swearing to my husband, leaving to go to my 98,000th fashion show in the rain on Tuesday, and we’re chatting on the phone, I said, “It’s all for the love of clothes! I do this all for loving clothes!” I think I was really one of those girls… I don’t think I was. I was a clothes horse. I just loved clothes. I love dressing up. I love having lots of clothes. I would spend all the money that I earned on clothes. That’s kind of was always on my wish list for things. So, I love clothes.
Question: How did you become the fashion editor of New York Magazine?
Mays Powell: Well, I think the longer you stay in various fields, the pond becomes slightly smaller, particularly as you start to rise up and get more experience, and I had, previously to this job, been living with my English husband and one baby who was born in London, working for a Conde Nast title called Tatler, which is kind of a combination of Vanity Fair and Town & Country, loosely. So, slightly socially oriented but with a lovely sense of humor and a great English irony and wit to it, which I think is its unique selling point. And I got hired to, I think, bring a bit of that social element, a bit of sort of New York reality to New York Magazine, and there you go.