Interview: Alice McGennis-Destro

It is a hot August afternoon in Paris and both Alice McGennis-Destro and myself are sipping iced coffees on a roof top bar. Sprawled across cushioned sun-beds with our laptops, and with a view over Montmartre, anyone would think that we are taking some quiet holiday-time out from the hustle and bustle of the tourist-ridden 10th arrondissement.

But Alice isn’t Parisian at all; she is from Melbourne, and she certainly isn’t spending her time relaxing. In Paris for a L’Oreal business trip, she types continuously; working on yet another article. It is ironic perhaps that Instagram is the first thing that we talk about. We both want a picture taken with the incredible view from the bar over the hill of Montmartre and the gleaming domes of the Sacre Coeur. With our coffees, and our books of course: that is all a part of the Instagram charm. There aren’t many roof-top bars in Paris that have this excellent a view, certainly not ones that come without a degree of exclusivity (this one in particular isn’t even open to the public), but this all adds to the appeal of a much-needed Instagram post. Increasingly this is what many girls and boys on Instagram like to share with their followers.
With Alice however, things are a little different. Sharing her life on Instagram is her job.

Instagram is without a doubt, one of the most fascinating social-networks. Consisting entirely of images, emerging designers are increasingly using it as a platform to promote their work, and fashion bloggers, such as Alice, help them in this process. Alice herself has built up a network of nearly seventeen thousand followers under the name ‘Catwalk of Words’; regularly posting images of her incessant travels from continent to continent. “That’s the great thing about being a fashion journalist for L’Oreal” she tells me, peering out at me from under a wide-rimmed sunhat and a cascade of thick golden curls. “As long as you have your laptop and access to the internet, I can do my job absolutely anywhere in the world.” The internet and social networking however, is a twenty-four-hour job. For Alice, there is never a chance to relax. “I write between six to eight fashion articles a day” she says with a laugh, “It’s not always easy, but the fashion-industry does not sleep.”

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Working for L’Oreal is an extremely stimulating job. Based in Australia, Alice is in charge of editorial online content and manages the branded beauty platform. This involves interviewing L’Oreal ambassadors such as Eva Longoria and Barbara Palvin, whilst working with a long list of PR agencies and fashion brands for her blog. With training sessions in Paris, Alice attends the various Fashion Weeks worldwide, most commonly Sydney, Melbourne and New York Fashion Week. But when she isn’t writing articles, interviewing celebrities and arriving at exclusive fashion-events in a helicopter, Alice takes time to attend local events like store openings and pop-up runway shows throughout the year. “I like to support the fashion industry in Melbourne” she explains to me. Having studied journalism at Monash, Melbourne and then Master of Communication at RMIT, she interned at a variety of fashion magazines and fashion houses before earning herself a job at L’Oreal. Despite her travels and busy schedule, Melbourne remains her home and she wants nothing more than to see the fashion-scene there flourish.

Part of Alice’s work focuses on the promotion of L’Oreal’s new beauty products. She describes to me how she enjoys experimenting with make-up, something that comes across beautifully on her blog, but admits that she feels much better stepping out of the door with a full face of make-up on. “I think a lot of women feel the pressure when it comes to their beauty-look”, she says, “Girls are starting to wear makeup at a much younger age because of this (I don’t think I wore it properly until I was seventeen), and sadly they do this because they don’t feel adequate or attractive enough without make-up on.” She feels that this is due in part to the rise of social media and the obsession with celebrities.
I ask her whether she thinks our culture combats or celebrates the aging process. “I think it is beautiful to age,” She smiles, “At L’Oreal we make a concerted effort to promote mature beauty by working with incredible women like Jane Fonda and Julianne Moore.” However, she admits that people will always search for ways to improve their look. “That’s essentially the entire reason why the beauty industry exists.” 

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As Alice and myself chat more about the fashion industry in Paris and we discuss some of the best places to dine out that evening, I cannot resist asking her just one last bit of beauty-advice. Exactly how can the every-day person make their beauty regime more efficient?  Who better to ask than the beautiful Alice McGennis-Destro, fashion blogger and journalist, L’Oreal representative and beauty expert? Alice laughs; “Use primer! When you prep your skin with primer it will smooth over large pores and fine lines, creating a dewy surface for the rest of your makeup to adhere to. Not only does this mean you will need to use less foundation, it will also ensure your makeup lasts all day. It’s absolutely my favourite beauty product!”

With many thanks to the absolutely lovely and inspiring Alice McGennis-Destro. Check out her exquisite Instagram @catwalkofwords and blog www.catwalkofwords.com