Former Style Director at People.com and PeopleStyleWatch.com, Melissa Liebling-Goldberg is now bringing her many talents to Gilt Insider, where she is the women’s Editorial Director. Previously, Melissa held positions as the Associate Beauty Editor with Teen Vogue and as the ShopWatch Columnist and a features contributor at the New York Post. Melissa had worked on the photo desks of the New York Post, Seed and New York Magazine. An entrepreneur, Melissa has also launched two women’s collections – ASP, a women’s designer clothing boutique and label, and E. 9th Jewelry, a line of Lucite and cameo jewelry. She talked to MISS about combining her passions of writing and photography (and fashion of course!) in our interview:
1. What woman, besides your mom or grandmother, do you find inspirational?
I can trace my interest in fashion editorial to one singular moment. I remember so vividly seeing the first issue of Harper’s Bazaar under Liz Tilberis in September 1992 — Linda Evangelista was on the cover in a long sleeve black gown and the only cover line was “Enter the Era of Elegance.” I still have the copy saved twenty years later. I was so inspired by Liz Tilberis’s vision for what a fashion magazine could be – the quality of the photography, the design, the writing. Everything was impeccable and her sense of good taste and personal candor shaped my vision of what being an editor could be. I wish I could have met her, but she passed away just as I moved to NYC to begin my career in earnest. I still go back and look at those issues and am constantly inspired.
2. You started out as a photographer. How did you make the transition to being a writer? How has your photographic experience helped or shape how you approach writing?
I had always written on the side for fun, and I was lucky enough to work for great editors who pushed me to try it professionally. The occasional caption here or there ended up expanding into a regular weekly column and then I went on to pursue it full-time.Understanding the need for a terrific visual to anchor the written word has proven hugely valuable to me. It’s a bigger picture view of how the whole page, layout and section speak to the reader. A great photo needs great words and vice versa – one without the other never has the impact you want, especially in fashion and beauty.
3. What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
I’m passionate about any project where I get to help nurture young talent – designers, photographers, writers. At Gilt.com, we have the opportunity to support so much young and emerging talent. It’s so important to help the next generation make their mark. I am eternally grateful to those who helped me get my career off the ground, and I’d love to pay it forward for others.
4. Who do you want to photograph or interview?
That’s quite a lengthy list! I’ll sadly never get to do my dream interview with Irving Penn – he will always be my idol and the reason I really picked up a camera. I’d love to interview Karl Lagerfeld. He is such a brilliant creative mind and so handy with a bon mot that you know you’d get so many great quotes from him. And considering that he is prolific in both design and photography, I’d love to hear his thoughts on being interdisciplinary on such a grand scale. I’m not sure there is any interview I would be more nervous to get dressed for, though!
5. What part of producing all of the editorial content for Gilt Women’s is the most challenging and do you dislike the most?
We put up so many amazing designers, brands and sale events every day that the biggest challenge is narrowing down what we’re writing about! Because our sales are only up for 36 hours, we have to constantly post new content. I love the challenge of keeping Gilt Insider fresh and exciting with a reason for our readers to come back each day, but sometimes it’s sad to see an interview or piece you really loved working on get pushed to the next page because we update so rapidly. But having too much great content is certainly nothing to complain about! And the best part about the Insider is that you don’t have to be a member to read it.
6. Any advice for ladies who are just starting out in photography and writing?
Don’t be afraid to fail! It takes a lot of persistence to make it in a creative career, and sometimes you have to overreach to make it happen. If you think something is more than you are up to, push yourself to do it. The more you stretch, the more you learn. And if you make a few mistakes along the way, it’s ok – just make sure not to make the same one twice. And good manners matter – a handwritten thank you note after meeting someone for the first time or an interview goes a very long way in my experience.
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