Fifty — that’s how many internships 21-year-old Savanna Tavakoli applied for before she landed an internship at Cosmopolitan and Seventeen Magazine, two highly respected women’s fashion magazines. Last weekend, the Boston University College of Communication junior found even more success at New York Fashion Week, where she worked as a community correspondent for the popular shopping site Polyvore.
Selected from a pool of thousands, she won the chance to report on the trends, events and shows at NYFW as part of Polyvore’s Style Insider program.
“It was on such a whim that I submitted my application,” Tavakoli said. “The fact that it actually worked out in my favor is just something that I could never have even dreamed of. It just seems so surreal to me.”
One phone interview and a Facetime later, that whim became a reality when Tavakoli found out she was one of two people chosen to be a correspondent at the high-profile annual event.
“She’s a journalism major and she wanted to be able to cover the experience for the community, which is definitely what we’re looking for,” said Chrystal Chan, a community manager at Polyvore. “So we thought it’s perfect because she understood the community and she knew that we send members to be the eyes and ears for the community and be there to cover it. She had really great energy.”
Nadia Hussain, the director of community at Polyvore, said the opportunity is a perk for Polyvore users. For Tavakoli, it could be described as a dream come true.
Fashion has been an interest of Tavakoli’s since she was little, she said. She joined Polyvore three years ago and quickly became one of their more active users. On a typical day, she creates five to eight “sets” — digital outfit designs that are created by users and shared on the website. This routine qualified her for the program that took her NYFW.
Journalism came into the picture a little later.
“I really got into journalism and I started watching Christiane Amanpour because I’m Iranian and she’s half Iranian,” Tavakoli said. “I really identified with her and I loved her work, and so she’s really one of the major people who’ve influenced me to want to be a journalist.”
Tavakoli attended American University in Washington D.C. for her freshman year, but transferred to BU last year for its communications program, where she finally met the intersection of her two passions: fashion journalism.
“After taking [journalism professor Dick] Lehr’s class, I really want to be in print journalism,” Tavakoli said. She named Lehr as one of her journalism idols, and her internship at Seventeen and Cosmopolitan as an influence to go into fashion journalism.
With NYFW only halfway through, Tavakoli has found comfort in leaving the safety of her cubicle and classroom. Aside from attending five fashion shows Polyvore arranged — she is seeing Misha Collection, Tanya Taylor, Matt Bernson, Chromat, Nicole Miller and Rebecca Minkoff — Tavakoli also gets to experience the environment her dream career is in.
While NYFW spotlights Tavakoli’s glamorous early successes, her hardships cast an equally important focus. At the age of 19, she underwent emergency surgery for a herniated disk in her back that resulted in her taking a year off school and temporarily relying on a cane to walk. Throughout her recovery, she promised to stay motivated and to stay in school.
“It was really humbling to have to rely on other people for help because I couldn’t help myself at the time,” Tavakoli said. “It really changed my life. It just really shaped me as a person and made me mature a lot faster than the other people who I’ve gone to school with. It made me stronger as a person.”
Tavakoli said she plans to take these powerful life lessons and apply them to her dream job: working as a features reporter for Cosmopolitan.
“I’ve always been really determined to not let anything I’ve been through in my life stop me from succeeding, and I’m really proud of myself,” Tavakoli said.
Other than journalism, Tavakoli said she loves painting and photography, and she runs a YouTube channel for makeup. She also has a penchant for Middle East comparative literature, speaks Farsi, can unlock a door with a credit card and writes for Her Campus at BU.
Fashion, however, remains her main focus.
“It’s something that I think a lot of people think is very superficial,” Tavakoli said. “You know, ‘It’s just clothes,’ but it’s so much more than that. It’s an opportunity to represent yourself in a creative way.”
As for NYFW, Tavakoli said representing Polyvore would be best accomplished by embracing her awestruck reality.
“This is something I never even thought would happen for me, especially at 21,” Tavakoli said. “[I] really [need] to take in every moment and to enjoy every second of it, and not to get overwhelmed by anything.”