Career success rarely happens in a straight line, yet we can get stuck on the idea that it should be a one-way trajectory. That mindset—a fear of taking risks or trying new things, for example—can impact many areas of your working life, not least your happiness and job satisfaction.

The stars of the fashion industry give the impression of effortless ascendancy, but look behind the scenes and you’ll find examples of how fundamental a moment of failure can be before one of triumph. Consider this: Marc Jacobs’ spring/summer 1993 collection for Perry Ellis was so poorly received that he was unceremoniously fired. Never mind that his directional show reflected a subculture that was about to become mass culture—critics were utterly despondent over the mix of Doc Martens, lumberjack shirts and dark floral dresses, which they labelled as anti-luxury and off-brand for the classic American sportswear label. Google the collection today and you’ll see that it’s still important and relevant (especially against the ’90s resurgence currently happening in fashion).

This failure was far from being Jacobs’ undoing; instead, it became a defining moment for the designer, who went on to become creative director for Louis Vuitton for 16 years as well as run his own eponymous lines. He later admitted that he struggled to create work that “meant something to [him]” during his time at Perry Ellis, a valuable postscript realization. Thinking differently about your career path and how to manage it is our focus in this month’s ELLE Guide: How to Build a Successful (and Happy) Career. As you read it, keep in mind the touchy-feely but true lesson to be learned from Jacobs’ experience: Sometimes you’ve just got to trust your own vision even if the world isn’t ready for it.



Vanessa Craft


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