Just more than a year ago Meredith Melling and Valerie Boster (who each boast over a decade of experience working at Vogue under Anna Wintour) branched out on their own, forming consulting firm La Marque in New York City. Since then they’ve worked with everyone from Karlie Kloss and Whistles to Under Armour and Thakoon, all while experiencing major life changes: Valerie is planning a wedding abroad, and Meredith is expecting her third child this summer. We caught up with the ultra-chic, multihyphenate women to hear about the whirlwind that was their first year in business and get their take on what’s next in fashion.
Meet La Marque
Valerie’s First Job Ever
“My first job was an internship at Harper’s Bazaar. It wasn’t my dream to work in fashion, but when I got there I realized how many hardworking, creative people came together to run the business and how artistic it was. I loved seeing how stylists put together a story, and I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of in a real way.”
Meredith’s Career Mentors
Photo: Vanessa Jackman
“I was at Vogue for 16 years so Anna’s approach to fashion and management has certainly shaped how I run my own business.
Fashion is definitely a young person’s game, but one of the really inspiring things at Vogue was the legacy of talent there and how long people would stay while still remaining relevant and forward-thinking. Seeing editors who grew up in a different generation (and were also balancing work with raising children) still getting on board with new approaches and ideas really made an impression on me."
The Best Career Advice Valerie Ever Received
Karolina Kurkova, styled by La Marque. Photo: BFA.
“When I was bookings editor at Vogue I reported directly to Anna, and when I first started I desperately wanted to impress her. At one point early on I was working on a shoot that was falling apart, and I wanted her to know I was exhausting all options and that there wasn’t a stone left unturned. She looked at me and said, “Valerie, stop telling me things I can’t do and start telling me things I can do.” That always stayed with me. If there’s a problem, don’t dwell on it; come up with solutions and move forward.
Meredith’s Business Philosophy
“La Marque’s mantra is 'Always Take The Meeting.' You never know what will come of it. We’ve had some really interesting work experiences based on meetings we walked into begrudgingly. For the record, I think that philosophy should be applied to dating too—take the meeting, ladies!”
What Inspired The Launch of La Marque
MM: “I would say one of the things that got us thinking about what we would do if we left the magazine was when there were rumors that Anna might take an ambassador position when Obama was reelected. It made us wonder what we would do if a new Editor-In-Chief came in and brought in a new team. Where would we see ourselves landing?
We had an unparalleled experience at Vogue and didn’t know that we would be able to replicate it anywhere else or that we wanted to try. There’s been so much change in the industry, in the way people are consuming information and buying products, that we thought it made sense to take our rich background in journalism and storytelling and apply that to the new challenges designers and brands face today. Working with different brands on everything from shoots to events was one of the most exciting aspects of working at Vogue.”
Valerie’s Typical Work Day
Meredith and Valerie in flats. Photo: @valerieboster.
“Every day is so different. I remember a day last year when we were styling a short video for Whistles and went straight into fittings with Karlie Kloss and Lily Aldridge for The Met Gala that night. We definitely run around to meetings a lot more now, whereas at Vogue a lot of people came to you. My wardrobe is starting to change because of that too—I’m definitely not in five-inch heels anymore. I’ve been embracing the sneaker trend. I also love a cropped pant. They look great with heels at night and work with flats during the day.”
Like A Boss
Meredith’s Work Wardrobe
Meredith with her daughter at a fashion show. Photo: @meredithmelling.
“Since I left Vogue I’ve basically been pregnant the entire time, so my style has been kind of put on hold. I'm really looking forward to getting back into my wardrobe and back into my clothes, but I think flats are a new standard for me. They’re practical and look great. I don’t know how I ever did a full day of market appointments in heels. That was another time.”
“My business meeting essential is an old-fashioned notebook and pen.” –Meredith
A Big Project They’re Proud Of
Gisele for Under Armour. Photo: @lamarquenyc.
VB: “We’re working on The Met Gala again this year. This year’s theme is China, and there are so many ways to go about it from a styling point of view. We’re working with two clients who both brought us on quite early. Watching the looks come to life—from the dress and the shoes to the bag and the jewels—has been really fun.”
MM: “We just wrapped styling a campaign for Under Amour’s run program, so we worked with a number of different runners, sprinters, milers and marathoners. It’s such a great experience working with people whose bodies are like machines, highlighting the incredible functionality of the clothing.”
How They've Built Their Team
Valerie and Meredith at Fashion Week. Photo: @lamarquenyc.
MM: “We have one full-time staffer, Jordan Foster, who is great. And then depending on what the project is, we’ll pull in freelancers or collaborate with other experts in the industry. For example, Valerie and I are great at helping a designer make a collection more editorial for a presentation, and then we will partner with someone from the retail arena who can help make those editorial pieces commercially appealing to department stores and boutiques.”
What They Look For In An Employee
Valerie and Meredith at work. Photo: @lamarquenyc.
MM: “We look for people with the same level of professionalism that we insist on bringing to the table. It’s surprisingly hard to find. Like if we’re bringing someone to meet a client, they need to be prepared and on time—just those sort of basic things. And we look for people who are forward-thinking and experimental. We like to work with people who are always thinking about how to do things differently and change the game.”
Who Is Inspiring Meredith In The Fashion Realm
Reformation bridal. Photo: @reformation.
“We’ve been looking closely at a lot of direct-to-consumer businesses, the brands that are not going the wholesale route but are building their business through web and social content. Perhaps they’re philanthropic, like Warby Parker, or have a philosophical component, like Reformation. It’s a very interesting model we’re really feeling right now.”
Valerie’s Advice For Someone Who Wants To Work In Fashion
“Know what your strengths and weaknesses are. I think that’s where you can start being the best version of yourself. Be bold and think outside of the box.”
Their Jet-Set Style
Photo: Vanessa Jackman
VB: "This summer my fiancé and I will be renting a house in Tuscany and scouting locations for our wedding next year."
MM: "As my baby is due in July I won't be traveling very far this summer, but we will get out of the city and fly up to our house on Martha's Vineyard on weekends."
Their Trick For Instant Glamour
VB: "Getting a blow out immediately makes me feel glamorous, even in track pants."
MM: "I am with Valerie on the polishing powers of a blow out! And as someone with naturally curly hair, the grass is of course always greener on the other (in this case, straighter) side."
Meredith's Beauty Essentials
Benefit Benetint Blush, $30.
"Clé de Peau Beauté concealer. With a new business and a growing family, I am coming up short on sleep these days. This concealer completely masks under-eye circles. I also love Benefit's Benetint blush—it gives you the perfect, healthy glow."