Dairia Kymber Harvin, MA Fashion Journalism student, spent her summer in New York City doing an internship with Visionaire. Unlike traditional print magazines, the 25-year-old Visionaire is a luxury trans-media publication focusing on a hybrid between art and fashion across multiple platforms. Before joining Visionaire, Harvin has been published in Huffington Post, DEPESHA, ARTSTHREAD, Academy Art U News, and Fashion School Daily.
Harvin is an East Coast girl from Baltimore, Maryland. Being a pastor’s daughter, she is serious about her faith, but her parents were always supportive of her being creative and different. Soon after obtaining her communication degree two years ago, she decided to get her master’s degree from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
On a recent Friday, peppered with rich laughter, we sat down with Harvin to find out her inspirations, her internship experience, and her view on the future of fashion journalism. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
FASHION SCHOOL DAILY: How did you pick up your interest in fashion and journalism?
DAIRIA KYMBER HARVIN: When I was a child, my father took me shopping most of the time. My mom wasn’t really into all of that. She was like, “Whatever - give me t-shirts and jeans.” But my dad is more polished. So I owe it to him.
I was always interested in words since I could remember. I skipped the first grade because I was excelling in reading and writing in kindergarten. I always had a diary and still write a journal about my day-to-day life. It’s important to me to reflect on my days. Every day matters and life’s too short to not have those memories.
I went to Kent State University for Communication Studies. I didn’t know yet what I wanted to do, but I wanted a career in media. In college, I was surrounded by a lot of fashion people, and they inspired me. After I got my degree, I found the Academy of Art University’s Fashion Journalism program, and I was like: “Oh my gosh, this is what I want to do!”
FSD: Who is your favorite designer and brand?
DKH: My favorite design house is Christian Dior. I love Raf Simons; I think what he did for Dior was refreshing and effortless. He modernized couture. Even though it’s awesome that Dior has a new female creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, I was still heartbroken when Simons left.
FSD: What is your favorite beat to cover?
DKH: I love to write about exhibitions because I like to get people interested in seeing the arts. I think it’s important to preserve arts and fashion as an art form. And I want to make people excited, especially my generation.
FSD: Tell us more about your inspiration.
DKH: I am influenced by the culture that my generation has created, barriers that we’ve broken, as far as race and gender. I feel like millennials are very idealistic. We are very grounded in what we believe in, anti-tradition. We know what we want. We know what we don’t want.
FSD: Who is your favorite writer?
DKH: I love Suzy Menkes. She has a way of putting you in wherever she is. If she is in a cab, you know that she is in a cab, and you know the experience she has with the cab driver. I think that’s so powerful that she can make that imagery, and I aspire to do that. It just comes from her dedication; she’s been in the business for a long time, and somehow she stays relevant.
FSD: Can you tell us more about Visionaire?
DKH: Visionaire is a fashion and art publication. I wouldn’t say it’s a magazine, because they produce so much more than just flipping through pages. They have an issue called “Sound” when you play it on a record. If it were a “Solar” issue, an image would pop out when you put heat on it. Visionaire produces objects, combining different mediums. Their issues are marked from $250 to $10,000.
FSD: What is your favorite Visionaire edition?
DKH: It would be the “Scent” issue; you can smell what the picture has on. Karl Lagerfeld photographed a model who was naked, and he had a loaf of bread covering his private area. At the time, Karl was on a low carb diet, and all he wanted was bread. So his scent that he put in the book was the loaf of bread. There were fifty other scents from various photographers.
FSD: How did the internship go?
DKH: It was so busy, so challenging, and so much fun. I had to immerse myself into artworks. It just made fashion so much more exciting for me because now I see fashion in a different way.
I love working under [Visionaire Digital Director] Lars Petersen (a recent guest at inaugural Fashion Media Panel at the School of Fashion); he pushed and challenged me. The team was awesome. It’s a small team, but they do massive works, and they are a big family. Working with founders Cecilia Dean and James Kaliardos made my dream come true.
FSD: What was a typical day like for you interning in Visionaire?
DKH: I came in at 10 am and researched a story to write. The story had to be done by 12:30. Then I would have to create all the social media posts for the stories. Towards the end of the day, I went to a museum and Snapchatted an exhibition for the Visionaire World. I learned so much about social media content development!
FSD: What did the internship experience offer?
DKH: It offered me a chance to know what it feels like to be a writer in the industry. What it feels like to not know what you are going to write that day, but to figure it out in thirty minutes. The most difficult part was scouting stories; sometimes I had to write two or three articles per day.
FSD: What aspect was the most rewarding?
DKH: The fact that I made it through. They told me that I would continue writing for [Visionaire] even after my internship was over; also to contact them for employment after I graduate.
FSD: This is your last semester – what is your ultimate future goal?
DKH: I would love to start a fashion media company and to establish a good team so we can provide a different journalism experience for our readers. My goal is to figure out how to make journalism cool again and foster that to my company.
People love news, people like to scroll, people care about culture, but journalism is over-saturated now. People don’t care where they are getting their information; you could be reading in the New York Times or the bubbleteapop.com. People are concerned about what they are eating, what they are putting in their body. Now they should care about what they read, what information they are consuming.
FSD: What words of advice would you like to share with fellow Fashion Journalism students?
DKH: Put your phone down, unplug from the world before you write anything. The information that you consume can determine your voice. Take a break and relax your mind. Good writings come from a clear mind. Your writing is not going to have a strong message if you are trying to throw in too much, and that just comes from consuming so much information.
FSD: If you can go back to your first day at school, what is the piece of advice you would offer your 21-year-old self?
DKH: To use my resources better because this school has so much to offer. Talk to your director and professors more. These professors are so skilled; they have real experience. I feel like I didn’t take advantage of that when I first started.
FSD: I heard that you are also a dancer. if you could only dance to one song for the rest of your life, what song would that be?
DKH: “Private Party” by India Arie. It is a good way to come back to life.
Text by Marisa Tania, BA Fashion Journalism student.