For a woman who's hobnobbed with celebrities, taken her place in Forbes' “30 under 30” list and sat across from fashion overlord Anna Wintour, Amy Odell, editor of Cosmopolitan.com, is surprisingly normal.
Odell's dedication to staying grounded in the midst of lofty pursuits is probably why she doesn't hesitate before getting real about the often hilarious and super-serious nature of the fashion industry.
The glamorous life has a slow start.
Just when you think all she's ever done is clinked glasses with stars and ridden in black cars to Fashion Week shows, Odell reminds you she's pretty ordinary in her off-hours.
In an interview with Elite Daily, she gushes about her love of both the "Sex And The City" book as well as its subsequent HBO dramatization. She explains how, as a teenager living in Austin, Texas, the franchise inspired her to write. Odell then jumps into a heartfelt narrative about how kind Sarah Jessica Parker was when they finally met -- a run-in that Odell details further in her memoir.
Accolades and resounding resume aside, Amy Odell is the cool-but-nerdy best friend we all wish we could hang out with during Netflix-and-wine nights on the couch. In fact, Odell's down-to-earth voice is exactly what makes “Tales From The Back Row" so appealing to read.
Chronicling her time at New York magazine — during which she caught Beyoncé coming down the stairs at an otherwise terrible party — Odell learned to overcome her shyness in favor of getting the job done. Occasionally, it even took her a few glasses of complimentary wine to get over her nerves.
A future fashion editor sees her chance.
When the magazine announced plans to start a fashion blog in 2008, Odell jumped at the opportunity to prove herself in a larger role. As a longtime admirer of the publication's Daily Intelligencer blog and Simon Doonan's fashion writing, she saw her chance to work endlessly and improve her style.
“Working at The Cut was so fun,” she says. "I remember that I just loved having a job where my job was just to write and pick up the phone and do some reporting. When you're blogging you write all day and it's the best way, as a writer, to get better.”
It's primarily during these years, before Odell took on a brief stint at BuzzFeed, that her book is set. She fakes street style for photographers, buys a questionable pair of designer sweatpants and even picks out a wedding dress.
Mostly, though, she cracks jokes. Having humor about runway fashion is challenging in an industry where wearing last season's styles gets treated with the same weightiness as converting to a cult.
Odell embraced her witty side because she felt it matched the “conversational” tone of the Internet well.
I think that humor is great for any writing, generally — especially on the Internet [regarding] topics like celebrity or even politics. I just think it's important because it helps you build a following.
Fashion isn't just fluff.
In Odell's eyes, her book isn't just about pointing and laughing at the fashion industry for its idiosyncrasies. To her, a woman who has made a career out of sitting in the back row, style is a gateway to discussing more serious topics like body image, Photoshop and diversity.
It was very important for me to write for women...I hope that people read the book — it is a feminist book. [It is] an honest look at the fashion industry.
It's a rare thing for a media professional who's risen in the ranks so quickly to maintain her vulnerability and honesty. But that's the unique cocktail Odell serves up in her book: the funny, often socially awkward memories of an NYU grad who just wants to look like she knows what she's doing. In reality, she had to learn quickly.
The book's plot comes to a crucial climax when a young Odell sits in front of Vogue's Anna Wintour in an office straight out of “The Devil Wears Prada.” While interviewing for a job at the storied publication, she stumbles while trying to elaborate on her favorite recent museum visits.
Vogue never offered Odell the spot, but given her ascent to media success, it seems as if the magazine has probably regretted its decision at least once over the years.
Asked if she'd take a job at Vogue now, Odell doesn't think long before answering.
"I would say, 'Thank you so much for thinking of me. I'm really, really happy at Cosmopolitan.com,'” she said. "My team is awesome. They are so funny and so smart, and such a joy to come to work with every day."
Taking something away from "Tales."
Odell's book might make you think she exclusively dashes between fashion shows, wearing 7-inch heels she bought at a runway sample sale during her days at The Cut, but she stands by the fact that it takes long hours to get the job done.
I feel like it's cliche or something your mom would tell you, but hard work really does pay off. I worked really hard and I still work really hard.
Looking to follow in her footsteps? Odell leaves aspiring Carrie Bradshaws with this advice:
Don't be afraid to be your own cheerleader.