Long before Whitney Port made a habit of showing her designs at New York Fashion Week, she was a SoCal girl struggling to acclimate to her new home in The City. Luckily, when the chill of Manhattan seemed like too much to bear, the "Hills" export found a good friend in Sami Swetra, who shared her passion for fashion and was never not smiling.
Swetra, who worked at Bergdorf Goodman when we saw her last, was a consummate source of relationship advice for Whit and helped the newbie cement her status as a New Yorker by taking her to get her first pair of big-brand shoes. Since the show, she's swept up a spot as an executive at a luxury retailer and is navigating a long-term relationship with a Frenchman! Ah, metropolis...
What was your personal path like to New York?
I came from a small town in South New Jersey and always dreamed of living in New York City. I worked my ass off in high school to get to New York, then worked my ass off in college to land myself a position at Bergdorf, and voila--it all payed off!
The "Weekend at Freddie’s" debacle was one of MTV's best awkward moments--was it really as cringe-worthy as it seemed?
Oh, my God--you have no idea. The 10 minutes you saw made it look bearable compared to how it really was! But looking back at it now it's very amusing, and at the end of the day, Freddie is still one of my super close friends. He's the guy I call for advice!
We saw you champion Whitney and see her through some firsts in New York--her first pair of Manolos, her first big meeting with a buyer... What have been some of your exciting "New York" firsts?
I've been here for eight years, and there are so many. New York is a place where anything can happen! I, too, bought my first pair of designer shoes here. Then later met the designer, Giuseppe Zanotti, and went to dinner with him and his team. I met my first New York boyfriend on the subway after getting on the wrong bound train. I had sushi for my first time and I shared a bedroom for the first time (not in the boyfriend way...).
The last time we saw you, Roxy was crashing on your couch while moving out of her shared apartment with Whitney. What have you been up to since "The City" career-wise? In your personal life? Do you still keep in touch with any of the girls?
I'm currently an account executive at Roberto Cavalli. I learned so much from my experience at Bergdorf--that job dovetailed very nicely into my new position. I'm a really hands-on type of person so being around the clothing all day suits me.
I have the same group of friends that I had while filming "The City." I live with my French boyfriend of a little more than a year, and I've been slowly but surely learning French for him (I mean me...)! As far as Whit and I go, she's still a very close friend! Anytime we're in the same city, we make sure we fit in a date night. Roxy and I still keep in touch, and the last time I saw her was maybe seven months ago in London. Whit was with us, too. Then there's Freddie who's like a brother to me!
What's next for you?
Well, my new job at Cavalli is really the perfect fit for me and the right direction for my career path. I wanted to relay the knowledge I gained from Bergdorf over to the wholesale side of the business. Also, my blog "Wear The Wild" shows a little piece of my life. Styling is my passion, and after "The City," I wanted people to see what I was up to.
What advice would you give someone who wants to move to New York and get into fashion?
I would tell them to just do it! Where there's a will, there's a way. Also, always keep in mind that it's a very small industry, so refrain from pissing someone off!
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Photo courtesy of Samantha Swetra