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Style Wylde's Cynthia Anderson Dishes the Dirt on Fashion Week

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For San Francisco's Cynthia Anderson, fashion week isn't full of air kisses and swanky parties; it's hard work. Anderson is the editor of Style Wylde —an online magazine covering fashion around the globe— and she's already preparing to photograph presentations in New York and Tokyo. In a few weeks, you'll find her shooting up to six shows a day from the photographers' riser before late-night photo editing and posting. It's a physically exhausting process —we're talking temporary blindness levels of exhaustion— but Cynthia loves being a part of the action.

We stole a few minutes with Cynthia to find out how she got her start, which city has the best style, and what no one tells you about Fashion Week.

Tell us about your background.

I began my career a long time ago as a personal assistant to Max Azria at BCBG. After that I worked for an epic dot-bomb of an online magazine called 'Thirsty.com.' From there I wrote freelance for a few years and eventually made a strange detour into advertising ... and finally came full circle back to my first love, fashion.

How did you become a fashion photographer?

When I started Style Wylde, I intended to only write. But as time went on, it became clear that —because I am a total control freak— I had all these really exact ideas of what I wanted the photography to look like, and I was uh… how should I put this, a little bossy with photographers who weren't doing things exactly the way I envisioned. So I decided to teach myself to shoot… Originally, I thought it might help make me a nicer editor, to learn first hand how difficult it was. Instead I fell madly in love with it, every part of it— shooting, editing, everything.

Why did you start StyleWylde?

I wanted there to be another voice, another point of view out there that wasn't so New York centric. I liked the idea of making my own online magazine that showcased the designers that you don't hear about in every issue of Vogue. I wanted to discover all the young, avant-garde, emerging designers from L.A. and San Francisco, and other areas of the U.S., and really share their work with the world. Over the years though it has really transformed into more of an international site. For me now it's more about learning about other cultures through fashion, and sharing what I have seen and learned with my audience.

What's the best part of your job?

The best part is getting to be there. I love that part so much. I love meeting all of these amazing creative artists, (I definitely consider fashion designers to be artists), and finding out what their inspiration is, and what they have to say to the world. That part never gets old. I also love meeting other photographers. There have been so many, from all career levels, the best-of the best who shoot for Getty and Women's Wear Daily, to those who are self-taught who do it for their own personal blogs, and they have all been really kind to me. They've been my mentors, my friends. They are like family to me, and I am so grateful to them for it.

So what's the hardest part?

I think there are aspects of covering any Fashion Week that are very, very difficult… Everyone is exhausted, everybody's back hurts, everyone is starving, and thirsty, and has to pee. All of that can make for a pretty hostile environment. And it's just painful! There has been more than one occasion when I literally thought the chance was pretty high that I was gonna throw up on the riser from sheer physical discomfort.

Give us a worst-case scenario.

[During] the Comme des Garcons label "Ganryu" show...my eyes lost the ability to focus. I seriously could not see. I thought to myself, "Well, I have a good camera. Hopefully it will autofocus correctly!" and just went with it. After the show, I was packing up and my eyes were watering like crazy and I was physically shaking. A very kind, and very well known photographer who used to shoot for Women's Wear Daily came over to me and just said "it's ok, you'll be ok, we have all been there. It's ok." That meant everything to me.

You shoot Fashion Week in New York and Tokyo. How do those atmospheres differ?

New York is all about the 'scene' and being seen! There are so many shows, many of which are locked into a really standard runway format, which in a way is great because the lighting and the set-up is always perfect and super easy to shoot. But there are also so many bloggers, editors, celebrities and even photographers vying for attention, acknowledgement, whatever, it can get crazy. It's fun but it's a total circus… Tokyo, on the other hand, is all about the art. The shows are much more mellow, you don't have the celebrity circus in the front row, and the designers are given a lot more freedom with creative expression, so each show is totally different from all the others. The downside of this is that sometimes trying to shoot the shows is insane. I've been in more than one show where even seeing the models with the naked eye is a challenge.

Which city do you think has the best style?

Honestly? I am so gonna get in trouble for this… but Tokyo hands down. No contest, Tokyo.

Style Wylde covers the Asian fashion scene more than most sites we see. What percentage of your followers are in the U.S. versus overseas?

The majority of our audience is still in the U.S., but the gap is closing everyday. At a rough estimate I'd say 60% U.S. and 40% Overseas. Within those overseas markets are major audiences are in (descending order) Japan, China, U.K. and Germany.

You spend your days pouring over photos from fashion shows. Which three designers should be on our radar right now?.

That's hard. There are so many emerging designers that I feel super passionate about. New York: Johnson Hartig (and his label Libertine), Tess Giberson, and Sally LaPointe. Tokyo: Yasutoshi Ezumi, Mint Designs, and Atsushi Nakashima.

Considering the amount of time you spend traveling, why is San Francisco home?

I am originally from the Bay Area —East Bay raised in the very small town of Clayton!— so Northern California feels like my emotional home. I have lived in London, Paris, and —for five years— Los Angeles; each time, however, I always felt that I would "come home" to SF at some point, it's always had that pull on me.
· Style Wylde [Official Site]
· All One on One posts [Racked]