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Fashion inspired sophomore gets the internship of a lifetime

John Silang, a communications sophomore, says that when he first saw the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” in 10th grade he knew exactly what he wanted his career to be: fashion and media.
This summer he held a fashion internship with artist and photographer Redner Salonga, a graduate of UNF. Though he had no experience with photography, it was through the internship that he began to enjoy taking photos. He also hopes students on campus will become aware of his student organization, Couture Helps Inspire Charity. He also holds down a job at the fashionable retail giant, Forever 21.

Q: What did you do at your internship with Redner Salonga Photography?
A: I did a multitude of things, but to say the least I was the fashion intern for Redner and helped style clients for Redner’s photo shoots and networked with other fashion designers in Northeast Florida to work with Redner.
The styling part of the internship was basically planning the wardrobe for a shoot, including clothing, accessories, props. For example, I made a chili necklace and asparagus headband for a high fashion fruits and vegetables photo shoot.

Q: What did you do as far as networking?
A: The networking part was basically researching local fashion designers and stylists (such as Traci Evans, Jennifer Chabri Cunningham, and jewelry designer Elisa Franko) trying to get their clothes featured in some of our shoots, and trying to give them some exposure through our work.

Q: How did you assist in Jacksonville’s Next Top Model competition?
A: Since Redner was a guest judge/photographer for JNTP I also helped out a lot behind the scenes for the show. I lined up the models for runway shows and assisted featured designers Traci Evans and Chabri with fitting and dressing the model. I also assisted with being part of the film crew by setting up lights, holding up boom microphones, and even being an assisting camera man for one night.

Q: What was the major part of your internship, what you found yourself doing the majority if the time?
A: Assisting at photo shoots was a major part of the internship because I was always running errands for shoots, hauling photo equipment around, scouting locations with him, working with the marketing and photo interns (both UNF students as well) to come up with creative ideas for upcoming shoots, making last minute outfit adjustments and making sure there were no wardrobe malfunctions on set, and other various things.
There is never a moment where someone is not working on something or with someone. If we needed wind effect to blow a model’s hair or fabric they were holding, the interns were the ones holding up the electric fan on the set. If there needed to be a scene with water cascading down the model’s face I’d be on a ladder above the model pouring water down him or her. Pretty much us interns did all the behind-the-scenes type of duties.

Q: What are some of your goals with Couture Helps Inspire Charity for the 2010-2011 school year?
A: I am trying to get more people to be aware of the club and join. CHIC promotes self confidence and raises awareness about body image issues in today’s youth, a demographic that is exposed to a skewed sense of beauty from the media and pop culture. I want to get as much people involved as possible, especially those who have an interest in fashion no matter how big or small that interest may be. I’m hoping to attract some people who design their own clothes, bags, or jewelry, people who are pretty crafty, so that they can show off their own work, hopefully in a student design contest or student design showcase.
Since the club focuses on fashion for a cause I’m hoping to work with and raise money for local charities such as Dignity U Wear, The Boys and Girls Club, and others, especially those that would benefit from our particular cause. I’m also hoping to do clothing drives throughout the year.
The biggest goal that I’m shooting for is to host a huge charity fashion show around Feb. 20-26, which is during Eating Disorders Awareness week. I’m hoping to get a lot of people involved, from club members, students, the Greeks, and especially Redner and all the stylists, makeup artists, hair stylists, and designers that we’ve worked with. I also want the runway show wardrobe to be a mix of local designers, local boutiques, and even creations by Jacksonville college students themselves.
I really want everyone from the Jacksonville area to have exposure for their work through this club.

Q: What do you enjoy about photography?
A: I came into the internship basically knowing nothing about photography but since then I’ve enjoyed how much hard work, skill, and preparation that goes into a photo shoot. I really like how you can create little (or big) illusions in photographs with just one little trick with lighting, angling, or the slightest movement from the model.
You can always make the sand from a construction site look like a dessert background. You can make a model look taller by having their legs extended, feet pointed, or neck elongated. I like how you can just play around and experiment a bit with a camera and capture head tilting and attention-grabbing shots that make people do a double-take kind of glance.

Q: What are your future career goals?
A: Honestly, when I saw the movie the Devil Wears Prada in 10th grade, I watched Anne Hathaway’s character running around slaving for her boss-from-hell and being caught up in her unexpected career in the fashion industry and literally thought, “I want THAT to be my life.”
I love men’s fashion and I love to write, so putting two and two together, I feel like a career in fashion and media is what makes the most sense for me. I want to do things like write for a men’s fashion magazine, create the seating charts for runway shows, do event planning for a brand new clothing line, handle image crisis for a company in fashion, and the list goes on and on.
I still cannot decide between doing fashion journalism or fashion public relations so I’m trying to take one step at a time with my career goals. I feel like retail experience is helpful so I’m definitely sticking with Forever 21 for another year or so.

Q: Do you feel your fashion internship has helped you in potentially reaching your goals?
A: As for being a fashion intern, I have made quite a few connections in the fashion and photography industry and hope to network with eventually people in large cities like Miami, LA, or New York. Basically I am not skilled in fashion design and I know for sure I cannot handle fashion merchandising and buying. I want to work behind the scenes in the fashion industry and be a part of the media/publicity side of fashion.

Q: Did your internship allow you to travel at all?
A: (laughs) Um there was a possible New York trip for the end of the summer and the internship. Redner was hoping to network with photographers, models, and maybe designers in NYC so that we could do collaborative photo shoots with them (also because his cousin lives up there and that way we would have even more possible connections). Then Redner’s schedule became explosively booked for the summer so the plans never really fell through.
We did, however, get to drive down to Orlando for several collaborative photo shoots in mid July to work with 3 photographers there (Jon Vasquez, Troy Huynh, and Kris Casanillo), a jewelry designer (Elisa Franko), a makeup artist (Jessika Dabrowski), and like nearly a dozen models.
Redner basically worked for free (as did us interns and Margo Nelms who was the hair stylist and Cathee Molina who was our makeup artist). The entire trip and its expenses were out of our own pockets.
Jasmine (Redner’s publicist/ media rep) let some of us stay the weekend at her apartment. The trip was honestly so much work but so much fun. The pictures speak for themselves.

Q: Wow. Did you have time to do anything else on top of that awesome internship?
A: The rest of my summer besides the whole Orlando trip was basically going to my Contemporary Ethical Issues class and working my part time job as a sales associate at Forever 21 at the Regency Square Mall. So my summer was busy and full to say the least. And of course I still did “summer break” type of things like going out with friends who came home from college for the summer, going to the beach, surfing and what not.

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  • G

    Gold CondeAug 25, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    well articulated john. nice. & i loved working with you !

    yours truly, the artist formally known as pauleen. haha. <3