Here at Femme & Fortune, we’ve become quite the crusader for the modern, everyday woman. The friend, sister, daughter, co-worker, and boss that we all admire and love because of her genuine personality, career ambitious, and authentic lifestyle. Today, we’re here to feature one such lady by the name of Laura Camerlengo. Laura reached out to us a few months ago,and after a quick Google search, we knew she was one femme that we wanted to highlight. Keep reading Laura shares her story, her really cool job, and some tips on how to get into the fashion scene. We applaud you and women like you Laura, so keep up the great work and passion in all that you do!
Femme & Fortune: Let’s start out by getting to know you! What’s your background, what are you currently doing now, etc.?
Laura: I was born and raised in New York, and went to school there as well. I worked for a few museums in the New York City area before moving to Philadelphia to join the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Costume and Textiles department, where I am currently.
Femme & Fortune: You’re known as a fashion curator. Can you tell us a bit more about what that means?
Laura: If you look “curator” up in a dictionary or an encyclopedia, it will probably say something about being a keeper or a custodian of a collection. Historically that was the function of curators, but I think the role is more dynamic today. Not only do curators take care of collections, but they make those collections accessible to the public, often through exhibitions and publications and increasingly through digital and online content.
Femme & Fortune: It seems like you’re very active with a lot of organizations, magazines and blogs. Can you tell us a bit more of everything that you do on the side?
Laura: I hate to sound cliché, but fashion is definitely my passion. In addition to my work for the Museum, I am the Fashion Director of BELLA NYC magazine, a woman’s beauty and wellness magazine based in New York City, and author my own fashion blog, STYLE, SHE WROTE. I participate in a variety of national and international groups for costume and textile historians, such as the Textile Society of America, for whom I am Director at Large. I am a member of several fashion and art groups in Philadelphia as well, and serve as a Board Member for Cocktails Against Cancer, a local non-profit founded by my friend Sharon Sulecki.
Femme & Fortune: What’s your favorite part of your job and why?
Laura: My first thought is to say that, “I learn something new every day,” but that’s only part of it. I do enjoy learning something new every single day, but more importantly, I love being able to share what I learn with others – from museum visitors to magazine readers to followers of my blog.
Femme & Fortune: Do you have any secrets or multi-tasking tips you use to manage your day-to-day? What’s your favorite way to de-stress from a busy day?
Laura: I don’t know if it’s a secret per say, but I keep “to do” lists – lots of them! My husband teases me about them, but they really help me stay organized. And my favorite way to de-stress is with a yoga or barre class; exercise always helps me clear my head.
Femme & Fortune: Who are your own personal style icons and favorite designers?
Laura: My personal style icons are my parents and my grandmothers. My parents taught me to embrace timeless wardrobe staples, while my grandmothers, who had larger-than-life personalities and senses of style to match, showed me how to have fun with clothes. I’d like to think that my personal style is a mix of these influences. And, like many, I have a sweet spot for Audrey Hepburn and her gamine style.
I have to admit – asking me to pick my favorite designer is a bit like asking me to pick my favorite child! That said, I developed a deep appreciation for the life and work of the late fashion designer Patrick Kelly while assisting with preparations for the Museum’s special exhibition, Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love. I had the opportunity to speak with many of his friends and colleagues, who told of his vibrant personality and indefatigable spirit. His personal story is not only very inspiring, but his clothes are so smart, fun and provocative. His designs influenced a lot of what we see in fashion today.
Femme & Fortune: What book is currently on your nightstand?
Laura: I try to keep a few options on my nightstand at all times, though I am almost always reading something fashion-related. Right now it’s Indian Fashion: Tradition, Innovation, Style by Arti Sandhu and Exhibiting Fashion: Before and After 1971 by Judith Clark and Amy de la Haye.
Femme & Fortune: What advice do you have for other young, females who are looking to work in the fashion/art field?
Laura: My best advice for anyone who may want to pursue a curatorial career is to start young and keep at it. I started working in museum curatorial departments when I was a teenager and never strayed from that path. It was hard at times – especially when the positions were unpaid – but each role built my knowledge and skill set.
Femme & Fortune: If you could change one thing about Philadelphia, what would it be and why?
Laura: There are many, many talented fashion and textile designers in Philadelphia, and I wish there were more of an industry here to support them.
Femme & Fortune: What are your dreams or goals for this year?
Costumes and textiles can tell us so much about personal and social histories. It’s always my goal to make others as excited about them as I am.