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The front row mainstay, Idalia Salsamendi, reveals what it takes to be ahead of the curve

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13 Dec '21

Two decades into the business, the self-professed workaholic Idalia Salsamendi has finally found the balance between work and life.
 

Author

Shriya Zamindar

It has been over two months since Maria Grazia Chiuri sent the 50s Mod-inspired silhouettes down Dior’s runway in Paris, on September 20; Idalia reveals that this was her first-ever Dior show. “Dior was absolutely stunning! I love, love, loved it. I think what she (Maria) did this time was very different from what people normally think she does,” explains the brand and influencer strategist from her sunlit room in Paris.

Idalia shed her Stine Goya leather jacket that she wore over a striped turtleneck as she sat down to speak with me, after which, she was off again. It’s the aspiringly busy schedule for one who does the Paris-Milan fashion pilgrimage in September. How do I know this? It’s the cookie crumbs you get from a social media expert on Instagram of course. Through her social media account, you will get to see Paris through Idalia’s eyes.

"It's not me showcasing someone or someone showcasing me, it is how as women we elevate each other"

Idalia’s first gig that led her to join the fashion tribe was an assistant managerial role for a modelling agency in New York almost 18 years ago. Contrary to most fashion-centric roles that cater to the bourgeois mindset, the first-generation Cuban American worked her way up from doing odd jobs behind tequila bars and babysitting to working in the modelling agency and then in PR. She finally established her own consultancy in 2016 she now handles social media and branding for a stellar roster that includes influencers Brittany Xavier and Chriselle Lim, and industry heavyweights like Chopard, Cartier, Roger Vivier and Valentino.

Her transition from a mere modelling agent to a marketing professional came as she saw a window of opportunity with the onslaught of social media and blogs. Idalia’s success story might factor in grabbing the right opportunity, but what stands out is her drive towards building her network and working as a team for a joint goal. “It's not me showcasing someone or someone showcasing me, it is how as women we elevate each other, and that's what I love about my roster, they support me as much as I support them,” she explains. Her need to constantly explore the newest online wonder lends her the relevancy with social media– which is essentially considered the younger generation’s game. “We never know what's going to happen so we need to be on our toes. I always say that Instagram and TikTok were social experiments,” says Idalia. According to the marketing expert, brands want to transition marketing dollars and campaigns to new openings like TikTok to see if they can relate to a newer audience and tap into a new kind of brand awareness which makes learning the latest trade integral to growth.

At first glance, Idalia’s fast-paced, on-the-go life seems like a dream, she seems sure of the results she predicts for her clients, and she testifies to it. “There's an American saying that in baseball there are two types of players, one that hits the baseball and waits to see where the ball goes before they run, and there are others that hit the ball and run regardless. I'm a player that hits the ball and runs regardless,” she says. Fear of failure is still a glaring part of the package for Idalia. It has also led her to change the way she has worked until now.

Unlike baseball though, working also requires well-deserved breaks, which for Idalia was only four days a year. However, she has experienced first-hand the setbacks of working in that manner. Recently, she took a break from attending New York Fashion Week this season and tuned out at a yoga retreat in Portugal instead. This was a big step she says. Having already attended Copenhagen Fashion Week not too long ago, and knowing Milan and Paris were about to take place at an overwhelming and anxiety-inducing pace, Idalia decided to take a break. “I'm 37,” she laughs. “I've been doing this since I was 19. After 18 years I can tell myself to calm down. Would I have said that to my 19-year-old self, I don't think so,” she admits.

"We never know what's going to happen so we need to be on our toes. I always say that Instagram and TikTok were social experiments"

Coming back to the present, she perks on the subject of Paris Fashion Week’s fantastical lineup of shows, and is clear on which was her favourite, despite it being just the third day into the event. “I have the answer even if this was the end. It’s Dior. This is going to be the forever answer. I have loved Dior since I was a teenager,” she exclaims. Her obsession began when John Galliano was at the helm of Dior. “I remember, I was working at Abercrombie & Fitch, and a dry-cleaner in college and I saved up to buy a green crocodile leather saddlebag, and I would wear it to school. That’s when I vowed to my mom that I'm going to make it to a Dior fashion show in Paris one day.” She continues, “And 20 years later, almost to the date, I got invited to my first Dior show.” It's evident that this was a defining moment for Idalia as she started to tear up while talking. It was also proof that passion can move mountains.

But Idalia is really just getting started. “In the future, I want to look back at myself now and say, I knew what was going on and I was grateful for all of it and I soaked in the moment and drank the juice,” she says.

Idalia wants to continue building stories with her close-knit roster of loyal clients, and perhaps, later in her life, write a book too, hoping to inspire the next generations.

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