32 posts tagged "Suzy Menkes"
Change is a’comin’. In the last six months, The New York Times’ key fashion critics and journalists—Eric Wilson, Cathy Horyn, and, most recently, Suzy Menkes—have departed the publication. (Wilson decamped to InStyle, Menkes is headed to International Vogue, and Horyn left for personal reasons.) But that’s not to say that the paper—which, thanks to Wilson’s wit, Horyn’s rapier pen, and Menkes’ learned insights, has offered up some of the most entertaining and informed fashion reporting of the last two decades—is losing its clout. Yesterday, the Times confirmed industry suspicions when it appointed Vanessa Friedman, formerly of the Financial Times, as its chief fashion critic and fashion director. Like her NYT predecessors, Friedman, who became the FT‘s first fashion editor in 2002, has a knack for not only critiquing fashion, but for helping us to understand it in a broader historical and cultural context. All one needs to do is read her recent takedown of Jeremy Scott’s first Moschino outing—which opened with the line, “Kiev was burning and in Milan, Jeremy Scott made his debut at Moschino with a series of bad jokes”—to understand what I’m talking about.
Friedman insists, however, that she is her own journalist—not Cathy Horyn, not Suzy Menkes—and when she dives into her new post next month, she plans to stick to her guns and honor her own voice, rather than focus on living up to the reputations of those who came before her. Here, Friedman speaks to Style.com about her new gig; the state of fashion criticism; and why, despite all the Internet’s white noise, readers still crave an expert opinion.
You were just hired for one of fashion journalism’s most prestigious positions. But why, in this day and age, is fashion criticism so important?
I think any kind of criticism is important, whether it’s fashion or another form of cultural analysis. And I think it always has been. There is a lot of talk about the rise of the blogger and social media and how everyone’s ability to become a critic has made formal critics less important. But I think what everyone is finding is that there is room for all sorts of opinions, some of them educated and some of them just literal. And I think the Times is an incredible platform to bring an educated, contextual, impersonal, analytical, historical, multicultural analysis to a forum, whether that’s books or music or movies or fashion.
Some say fashion critics aren’t always treated with the same respect as other reporters. Have you found that to be the case? Does fashion criticism deserve the same amount of respect as other forms of reporting?
Honestly, I haven’t found that to be the case. You know, I currently work at a highly financial-oriented newspaper, and I feel as legitimate and respected here as anybody. I think that if you treat your subject with seriousness and respect, other people tend to treat it the same way. The Times has a history of treating it that way, and I think that’s terrific. What’s interesting about fashion at the moment is that it has become a pervasive element in the general pop cultural conversation because of social media and the rise of visuals as a primary communication device. The first thing everyone talks about, whether they’re talking about film or music or presidents, is what they’re wearing. And that makes fashion a really interesting subject to look at, and one that’s relevant in a very broad context.
Given the power of advertisers these days, do you think it’s possible to be an unfettered critic? Do you feel you’re able to say what you want to say?
I’ve never, ever had an issue with this. It’s never crossed my mind and it’s never been something that’s been brought up to me. My feeling is that if you are a critic, what’s important is to be fair, and people respect that. They may not like it, but they are fine with it. And if you’re not willing to say when something is bad or a mistake, then when you say it’s good it means nothing.
What is your vision for the Times? Are you planning on changing anything?
I think it’s too early to say. I’m really excited to get to the newspaper—which isn’t going to happen for a couple of weeks—and meet everyone. Clearly, I’m a different person, a different writer than Cathy or Suzie or anyone else, so whatever I bring to the table is a specific point of view. But I think I’ll see when I get there.
In that same vein, how do you see yourself fitting into the team and the history of the New York Times in respect to Cathy? She had a reputation for being a spectacular—but often ruthless—critic. Do you aim to be the same?
No. I aim to be me. I would never aim to be the same as Cathy. She was terrific, and I have enormous respect for her and read everything she wrote. I loved sitting next to her at shows, I loved talking to her about lots of things—fashion and beyond. But we’re different people and we’re different writers. What I do will be different.
Your Moschino review was pretty sharp-tongued. What kind of response did you get to that piece?
Some people liked it, people agreed or disagreed. It was mostly via Twitter. I think Jeremy [Scott] tweeted his Facebook likes. But no one said anything, no one called me from Moschino and said, “How could you do that?” There was a reason I said what I said, it wasn’t just gratuitous, and hopefully I expressed that. I really look forward to seeing what he does next. Continue Reading “A Sign of the Times: Vanessa Friedman on the State of Fashion Criticism and Her New Gig” »
Following the departure of Cathy Horyn and Suzy Menkes, Vanessa Friedman, formerly the fashion editor of London’s Financial Times, is joining the New York Times as fashion director and chief fashion critic. She will begin at her new post next month.
Speculation among editors at last month’s shows was that Friedman had been lobbying hard for the Times position, and some even felt that it was no accident that her Moschino takedown in the FT had a certain Horyn-like vigor. Friedman has served as the FT‘s fashion editor since 2002. Prior to her role there, she was a regular contributor to such publications as The New Yorker and Vogue, and was the founding fashion and features director for InStyle UK. No doubt, she’ll make a strong addition to the evolving NY Times fashion team.
Fashion publications are playing a game of musical chairs of late. In the wake of Eric Wilson and Cathy Horyn departing The New York Times (and former Style.com deputy editor Matthew Schneier, as well as John Koblin joining the NYT team), WWD reports that Suzy Menkes is leaving the International New York Times for a new job at Vogue. As an international editor based in London, Menkes will report for all nineteenVogue international websites, including France, Italy, China, and Spain.
“Suzy Menkes is a unique talent with superb judgment about fashion and keen insight into the business behind it. She is hugely influential and respected. Her contribution will bring even greater quality and authority to the Vogue brand,” Jonathan Newhouse, chairman and chief executive of Condé Nast International, said today.
“Change is good, it’s what fashion is all about,” Menkes said. However, things won’t be changing all that much: Menkes claims she will “be doing my same job,” so we can likely still expect her sharp runway critiques each season. Menkes’ new role also means she will have a hand in organizing an annual CNI luxury goods conference.
Last night in London, Christie’s South Kensington auction house played host to an exhibition and discussion orchestrated by the Fashion Illustration Gallery (FIG). And while the audience sat through the Issa London-sponsored talk, whose panel included Christie’s Meredith Etherington-Smith, illustrator David Downton (whose work is pictured above, top left), and Style.com’s Tim Blanks, they were left wondering: Should astute art investors buy up fashion illustration in the same way the world should have snatched up early Basquiat or Koons? “Before Andy Warhol was Andy Warhol, he was a fashion illustrator,” said Etherington-Smith. “Fifty years ago, the art world debated whether photography was a bona fide art form, and the same is happening now with fashion illustration. I believe there is no doubt fashion illustration is an art, but a vastly underappreciated one.”
The art on display last night represented the old guard like Cecil Beaton, Antonio Lopez (above, bottom left), and Andy Warhol, as well as such new talents as Gary Card (above, top right), Zoë Taylor (above, bottom right), and Tanya Ling. Strange bedfellows? Not according to Downton. “Some of the younger fashion illustrators out there are the most skilled draftsmen,” he said. “They very much should take their place alongside the great artists of days gone.”
Among the questions thrown out to an audience that included Suzy Menkes, Camilla Al Fayed, and Susie Bubble: Will fashion illustration ever be accepted as an art form? And will magazine editors ever replace celebs for illustrations? Downton, perhaps, answered these queries best. “The illustration I did a few years back of Cate Blanchett for Australian Vogue was, against all odds, the fastest-selling issue of the year. It also won the Maggie’s Magazine Cover of the Year. After that, there was no doubt for me that there is a place in the art world for fashion illustration.”
FIG’s exhibition at Christie’s South Kensington runs through December 19.
Pillars of the British fashion industry gathered at the London Coliseum tonight for the British Fashion Awards—an annual ceremony that honors the crème de la crème of the country’s creative talents. In addition to much-coveted honors such as Womenswear Designer of the Year (which Donatella Versace presented to Christopher Kane), Brand of the Year (won by Burberry, whose Christopher Bailey also took the Menswear Designer of the Year title), Accessories Designer of the Year (won by Nicholas Kirkwood), Model of the Year (Edie Campbell), and the International Designer of the Year Award (Miuccia Prada), there were a few special prizes to bestow. i-D magazine’s founders Terry and Tricia Jones earned a standing ovation when they picked up their Outstanding Achievement Award, Marc Jacobs turned up to hand Kate Moss her Special Recognition Award, and Samantha Cameron presented a deserving Suzy Menkes with her Lifetime Achievement honor. As for the up-and-comers, J.W. Anderson took the New Establishment Award, while Simone Rocha and Agi & Sam won the emerging womenswear and menswear categories, respectively. Finally, the Emerging Accessories Designer Award fittingly went to Nicholas Kirkwood’s protégée Sophia Webster. Tune in tomorrow for complete coverage of the ceremony, as well as Kate Moss’ undoubtedly raucous after-fete. To see all the winners, visit the British Fashion Council’s Web site.