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If You Knew Suzy…

Designers Celebrate Menkes' 20-Year Reign at the IHT

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Suzy Menkes and Vivienne Westwood   
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Miuccia Prada, Donatella Versace, Messrs. Dolce and Gabbana, Yohji Yamamoto. Those illustrious names and then some assembled at the Palais Galliera in Paris on Saturday night to celebrate Suzy Menkes' 20 years at the International Herald Tribune. Fashion's most indefatigable journalist has penned more than 1.7 million words, not all of them laudatory, in her two decades at the paper, but she was feeling the love when a video played for a crowd that, like her, was smiling through its tears. "A glowing review from Suzy is the holy grail of fashion," said John Galliano on the screen. "We will not start the show until she gets there," chimed in Alber Elbaz, adding, "She's always complaining, but she's always there." Jean Paul Gaultier paid her tribute by re-creating a famous Bob Dylan video, flipping through cue cards with words like "integrity," "workaholic," "witty," and "lovely hairstyle." But Olivier Theyskens got the biggest laughs of all for doing up his long, black locks in the reporter's signature roll.

When Menkes took the podium to say her thank-yous, she began with a few lines of verse: "Oh, guys, don't start crying, don't start cheering. I'm not Valentino, I'm not retiring." She also pointed out that she's actually been writing about fashion for 41 years. Now, as then, it's her unflagging passion that most impresses. Jil Sander's Raf Simons remembered her coming to his presentations long before he had an official runway show. "A lot of fashion's old blood turns up their noses at new blood, but not Suzy," he said. Indeed, just a few hours before her party she had been front and center at the first-ever Paris show of London's enfant terrible, Gareth Pugh, who acknowledged, "She supports so many of us." Or, as Sophia Kokosalaki put it, "When she came to my show, I knew I was a designer."

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