Just following the 2013 inauguration of President Barack Obama, Hildy Kuryk, who served as the finance director of the Democratic National Committee, left Washington for New York City. Shortly after, Kuryk, who in 2011 was named one of POLITICO’s top 50 fundraisers to watch, joined Anna Wintour’s Vogue fashion empire as communications director, having first met the fashion icon in the spring of 2008 when Wintour was supporting then-Senator Obama’s campaign for president.
Nearly 18 months after leaving her life in Washington politics, we spoke with Kuryk about her new career in the fashion industry often foreign to life inside the Beltway, the intersection of politics and fashion, and what she’s learned most about Washington politics since her departure.
FishbowlDC: What have you been up to since leaving the DNC?
Hildy Kurky: “I left the DNC right after the inauguration in January 2013 and my husband, our son and I moved back to NYC. We are both from New York so it has been great being back in the city and enjoying all our old haunts and finding new ones in Brooklyn where we just moved!”
“In April of last year I started working as the Communications Director at Vogue magazine. I can’t believe it has been well over a year already – time has really flown by.”
FBDC: Where do you see the intersection of politics and fashion?
HK: “In my opinion one of the best things to come out of the 2008 Obama campaign was the idea that individual Americans could take ownership over their politics. Everyone could play a role in that campaign, no matter who you were or where you came from. In a similar vein, with the rise of social media, you have continued to see a movement in fashion toward individual style, the mix of high and low, the street style, the Instagram fashion shoots (that Vogue was the first to do!). Most of all there is a prevailing sense that you don’t have to buy designer fashion to be fashionable anymore – it is about how you present yourself and what your personal message is.”
“Of course I would also be remiss if I didn’t commend our First Lady, Mrs. Obama, on her dedication to young American designers and the spotlight she shines on our industry.”
FBDC: What are five things you do during a typical week at Vogue?
HK: “1). Read a lot of newspapers and magazines – except now instead of focusing solely on political coverage in Politico, The New York Times or Real Clear Politics – I have expanded to include WWD, the New York Post, BuzzFeed and New York Magazine. Of course I am also reading all the other Conde Nast titles as well (I have been a dedicated New Yorker subscriber and David Remnick junkie for as long as I can remember).”
“2). Talk to reporters or producers about stories or projects we have coming up, either online or in the next print issue.”
“3). Always something related to the Met Costume Institute Gala – planning for that event never stops!”
“4). Work with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) on the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, where we search for the next generation of American designers.”
“5). Remember what “normal life” is like when you are not working 24/7 campaigns!”
FBDC: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about Washington politics since leaving Washington politics?
HK: “When you are in the heat of things in Washington, you believe that it is all everyone everywhere is talking about, thinking about, obsessing over – as soon as you leave the “bubble,” you quickly realize that no one really cares. It may be a momentary blip, but hardly the epic, earth-shattering event you felt like it was.”
FBDC: What are you most looking forward to with the 2016 presidential election?
HK: “Not working on a campaign!”
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