Fashion's a bitch, but someone's gotta do it. And what's in the movies absolutely pales in comparison to the stuff that really goes down in the industry. A group of editors, publicists, and former fashion assistants reveal the pacts they made with the devil (dressed in Prada, of course) to get them where they are today. Prepare yourselves. This shit is dark.
1. "I had to wait outside my stylist boss' hotel room once while he had a three-way with two brothers who worked at the hotel. Then, since he had to take a shower, I was forced to make the bed before a group of clients arrived to look at the clothes."
2. "I worked the clothing check at a sex party. I was a freelance assistant working 12-hour days at a rate of $150 per day. I was waiting for some of my clients to pay me and money was really tight, so, in a moment of desperation, I answered an ad on Craigslist for a coat check clerk at a private party in Brooklyn. The host reached out and told me the 'party' was actually an orgy and I would be checking more than just coats. Eight hours of work later, I had $200 in tips and a whole new understanding of the human body."
3. "I was five minutes late to set, so my boss locked me out of the trailer and told the driver to go on without me. I actually ran after the bus for two blocks hoping they would stop. Then I got a text from my boss saying that she would see me at the shoot, which was a two-hour drive away. I managed to catch a ride with the photo assistants, but there weren't enough seats, so I had to crouch in the back of the van with the lighting equipment."
4. "I returned $8,000 worth of clothing to a J.Crew store the night before Christmas Eve. My boss had made me buy the clothes for an advertising job with the intention of returning them. When the store manager asked me why I was returning so much, I lied and said I had a shopping addiction and that I shouldn't have bought the clothes in the first place."
5. "I used to pay for groceries with food stamps, which I pulled out of a designer wallet inside my designer handbag. I got such a side-eye from the store clerk. I wanted to tell her that the bag and wallet were gifts from the brand. It's not like I paid for them. But I couldn't sell them for money because every piece they make has a serial number and if they catch you selling something they gifted you, then you get black-listed and they never give you anything again."
6. "I waited 18 months to get paid for a job. The stylist was a big deal—like $10,000-per-day big—but didn't pay me until a lawyer friend of mine wrote a threatening letter. He still only paid me $400 of the $500 he owed me."
7. "I agreed to do a job for less money than usual because my boss said she would pay me in cash. Then she declared my pay on her taxes as a business expense without telling me, and a year later I got slapped with a big fine by the IRS for not declaring all my income."
8. "I got food poisoning in Thailand while on a job and my boss just left me there. She saw me lying on the floor of my hotel bathroom with vomit in my hair and she just said, 'I'll see you back in New York next week.' She was going on vacation with her boyfriend, so I had to pack up 10 trunks full of clothing and get them and myself to the airport and through customs without any help."
9. "A photographer tricked a girl into having phone sex with him while his assistants and everyone listened in. Even though I was disgusted by it, at the time I felt like I couldn't say anything critical because I was worried I'd be ostracized."
10. "I had to book a hotel room for a big-time photographer to meet models for castings, which seemed weird to me since he had a big studio nearby. Turns out he was just using the casting as a pretense to get models over there to sleep with him. One girl showed up with her mother and the mom apparently waited in the hall while the girl went into the room with him."
11. "My boss peed in front of me. We were working out of his apartment and I used to have to follow him around with a notebook while we talked. When he went into the bathroom and didn't close the door I figured he was just going to check the mirror or something, but then he unzipped his jeans and just started peeing. He was mid-sentence and he never stopped talking."
12. "While I was interning at a magazine, I had a job at a luxury handbag store where I was forced to cut the 'made in China' tags out of our handbags so we could lie to the clientele and tell them they were made in Italy. Ironically, most of the clients were Asian. I don't think it was brand-mandated, but the manager was Italian and seemed to think it was better to tell all the clients the bags were made in Italy."
13. "I showed up to an internship with a stylist and when he answered the door, his robe came open and I saw everything. He apologized and closed the robe up. He said he wasn't dressed yet because he was just running really late that day. His assistant rushed over and brought me inside, then gave me some money so I could go across the street and get coffees for them. I walked out and never went back."
14. "My boss used the same email account for work as he did for arranging Craigslist hookups. There were always graphic emails and naked pictures mixed in with the shoot confirmations."
15. "My boss used thousands of dollars from our shoot budget to buy clothes for himself. He then told me he didn't have enough money to pay me the rate he had promised!"
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.