Junior Fashion Design major Elisa Cortes is enjoying a high-profile summer internship with national style expert/commentator Lilliana Vazquez in New York City.
As Vazquez’ intern, Cortes works with her assistant, Hodaly Garcia, to pull together looks for fashion segments for The Today Show. Vazquez also lends her fashion prowess to Access Hollywood, E! News and the Wendy Williams show, among others.
Cortes lives in Philadelphia and typically gets up at 5 am to get dressed and ready to catch two trains to New York. Vazquez works out of her Chelsea apartment and on Thursdays at the Today Show at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where Vazquez tapes her segment to air Friday.
“Every Friday I’m on set helping out and also hanging out in the Green Room and that’s the best part,” Cortes said. “It’s a lot of fun. I’ve met Martha Stewart, Regis Philbin and Celine Dion.”
Cortes and Garcia research trends for the segment, “Luxe for Less,” which features clothing and accessory items that are each less than $50. They create a list of items for each segment and then go shopping! They shop online or in-store to “pull” items that are inexpensive, but still high-quality, contemporary and chic. After the shoot, they return all of the pieces back to stores like Zara, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, etc.
“I shop for six hours a day and believe me it’s exhausting, but I love that they trust me and put me in charge of things. I’m not just going to get coffee. They value my opinion and eye for fashion. They don’t treat me like an intern, but like part of the team.”
Cortes was familiar with Vazquez before the internship. She already identified with her since they are both Latinas (as is Garcia). Cortes had also read her book, The Cheap Chicas Guide to Style: Secrets to Shopping Cheap and Looking Chic, and had seen her on the Today Show. Janice Lewis, Moore’s chair of Fashion Design, mentioned that Moore alumna Lauren (Orloff) Dougherty ’08 had worked as a stylist for Vazquez and encouraged Cortes to apply for the internship.
“I jumped on it and they said things were crazy and they could really use me,” Cortes said. “I literally started the internship two days after school ended.”
Cortes said she has learned a lot during her internship, including how to study clothes and how to put looks together. “I like things that are “matchy-matchy” but that’s not what she (Vasquez) does…it’s looking at someone else’s aesthetic through a magnifying glass… to experience how different people dress.”
Cortes said she hopes to design women’s wear one day and would like to explore incorporating lingerie into her senior collection. “I have a crazy idea for a beautiful bustier with a see-through pencil skirt.”
Cortes grew up in northeast Philadelphia and attended an all-girls catholic high school where she took several art classes. She originally wanted to be a podiatrist, but her art teacher convinced her to check out Moore, since fashion had always been a big part of her life.
“I don’t know why I didn’t think to pursue it before,” Cortes said. “I took a tour of Moore and fell in love with it. I loved that it was all women– all of my best friends are here! I’ve become a stronger, more confident person because of Moore.”
Lilliana Vazquez is the creative force behind TheLvGuide.com, where she shares the best shopping, trends and inspiration to help you live your most stylish life. See more here!