This Isn’t Natchez Anymore: Mississippi native lives dream studying fashion in Los Angeles

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Marli Vaughan in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Anna Margaret Foster.

Anna Margaret Foster
Oxford Stories

Fashion has always been around, but it’s now more vivid in our social media world. That is exciting for Natchez native Marli Vaughan, 19, who is pursuing a degree in visual communications at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, California.

For as long as she can remember, Vaughan has loved fashion. She said it comes from being raised in Natchez, a small town where people had to sometimes be creative to have fun. She expressed creativity through fashion.

During her senior year of high school, Vaughan was one of the few people in her graduating class of 40 students who did not plan to attend Mississippi State or Ole Miss. Instead, she wanted to attend the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, her dream school since she was small.

She moved to downtown Los Angeles in September of 2017 and began classes at the institute within a week of being there.

“Being a visual communications major, I never really know what I am going to be doing from day to day,” she said. “One day, I could be sitting at a drafting table for three hours, or at a computer doing illustrations or Photoshop for three hours. And on another day, I could be listening to a teacher lecture for three hours.

“Visual communications is also an extremely hands on major, so I spend a lot of my time doing projects. So far, I have created pop-up shops, designed an entire retail store, made promotional posters and window displays, and worked on a commercial set as a designer. That’s what I love about this field, all of my days are different, and that excites me.”


Vaughan’s style shows through on the Los Angeles streets. Photo by Anna Margaret Foster.

When Vaughan is not in class or working on a project, she works as a salesperson assistant at a retail store called Maxfield in Malibu. There, she organizes clothing racks, brings clothes to people in dressing rooms, and helps customers choose outfits.

Working at a high-end fashion store has given Vaughan many experiences she would not have had living in a small town. She said she has worked with celebrities such as, Scott Disick, Courtney Love, Chrissy Teigen, and Kendall Jenner.

When asked about working with Vaughan, coworker and experienced fashion expert, Roberto Gordon, described her as a passionate and driven woman with a strong eye for fashion.

“She is able to find beauty in the most simplistic things, which is what many costumers love about her style,” he said.

Vaughan believes this simplistic outlook on life stems from her small town roots, and moving to a metropolitan city has fully allowed her to create and express herself.

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Vaughan showing off jewels sold at her work in Malibu, California. Photo by Anna Margaret Foster.

Although Vaughan’s life seems glamorous to many, she struggled when she first moved to Los Angeles.

“It’s not only the cost or being away from my family, but I have had to grow up so much,” she said. “It’s a lot having to be in a new place with people I don’t know while also having to take care of myself and grow as a person.”

But Vaughan insists that the good highly outweighs the bad.

“I would definitely say that moving to L.A. has been the best thing I could do, not only for my career, but also for myself,” she said. “I have learned so much in just the first year of living in Los Angeles. As you grow up, you learn a lot about yourself and who you are. This isn’t Natchez anymore.”

Vaughan always knew she wanted to live in a bigger town than the one she grew up in, but she still loves and respects Natchez, the place that molded her into the person she is today.

“At the end of it all, just don’t care about pleasing others,” she said. “I realized that I needed to make myself happy. Do what you want, but always remember where your home is.”

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