1. Learn French. At age 28, André was on staff at the Paris Bureau of Women’s Wear Daily, which apparently offered him unique opportunities. He explains, “When I got to Paris and I could speak French, I know how much it helped me to establish relationships with Karl Lagerfeld, with the late Yves St. Laurent. French, it just helps you if you’re in fashion. The French people started style.”
2. Don’t do a reality TV show. Though he was on the judges panel of America’s Next Top Model, he did so as an afterthought after years of hard work. He says, “I think reality TV is a terrible thing. I am a victim of having watched Dancing With the Stars this season. I was watching and I realized, you know, I would never put myself in the position that these people do, of humiliation, to be rejected.”
3. Handwrite your letters. He says, “When I have interns, I always say handwritten thank-you notes can make a difference. People remember that — not an e-mail, a handwritten note in an envelope.” *Editorial note: It’s good to write one handwritten letter a month. Buy yourself some nice stationary and get to it. You’ll be head and shoulders above the rest.
4. Don’t shy away from doing menial or poorly paid tasks. André started off as a receptionist at Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine, and was paid $50 a week to take messages, answer the phone, and pick up Andy’s lunch. He adds, “People have started their careers picking up pens on the floor for great designers, interning for designers, and having menial tasks.”
5. Good etiquette and grooming are key. Learn your pleases and thankyous, and always dress to impress. He says, “The kind of tools you need to be a successful [are] punctuality, grace, manners, speaking properly to people, looking well-groomed, [and being] focused.”