Suzy Menkes Talks Punk, Galliano, and More at 92nd Street Y
Yesterday evening, 92nd Street Y hosted the latest installment of its ongoing Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis series. This time around, British journalist and International Herald Tribune fashion editor Suzy Menkes was in the hot seat, and the tone of her and Mallis’ conversation was appropriately outspoken. “Most designers can’t sleep after she sees their shows,” said Mallis. “She dares to say what she really feels and that is very rare.” Menkes more than illustrated this “rare” quality while opening up about her criticism of the Met’s Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition (“It didn’t have enough of the sense of anger and freedom and drama that was punk”), her early fashion memories (“I made my own fashion newspaper at age 5—my mom still has it—with a page devoted to this glamorous person: me”), and her misadventures (sneaking into one of Karl Lagerfeld’s Chloé shows by pretending to be a cleaner with a mop).
Offering a detailed reflection on Menkes’ forty-some-year career, the Q&A took the audience through the highs and lows of the journalist’s life and work. It even touched upon Menkes’ personal tragedies, like the death of her husband (“My life is divided into before David and after David”). “I didn’t set out to be a pioneer [for female journalists],” explained Menkes. “I didn’t feel ambitious. I just wanted to have kids and a family, and I had my work, and I didn’t want to give it up.”
The conversation also examined some of Menkes’ more controversial stories and opinions. Of her much-buzzed-about T magazine article, “The Circus of Fashion,” she offered, “[The reaction] was surprising, because I’m so not condemning of blogging or any kind of social media.” Her feelings on John Galliano, who, it was announced today, will not be teaching a master class at Parsons, were discussed, too. “I would never say that I love Hitler, in any shape or form, ever,” she said. “But that is not to say that someone with such brilliant talent shouldn’t be given a second chance.”