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July 22 2014

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32 posts tagged "Suzy Menkes"

A History of Underwear

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A corset from La Mécanique des Dessous

Have you ever wondered what the fourteenth-century fashion set’s unmentionables looked like? We hadn’t, either, but thanks to the latest exhibit at Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs, La Mécanique des Dessous, we’re now very well informed. The show examines the body-altering world of men’s and women’s undergarments from the 1300s onward. Showcasing everything from elasticized cummerbunds to iron-turned-whalebone corsets, the exhibition aims to convey both the technical underside of fashion’s evolution and the societal cues woven into underthings (for example, seventeenth-century codpieces and doublets straightened the upper posture—a sign of an aristocratic upbringing).

As one might expect, oddities abound—look no further than clunky brassieres with breast-feeding flaps (allegedly a marvelous feat of engineering at the time) and gentlemen’s padded socks (fattened calves expressed virility in the later 1800s) for proof. Luckily for neophytes, the expo tracks modern underdressing as well: Wonderbras, Kangaroo briefs, and Jean Paul Gaultier’s famous cone-shaped bustiers are all included. La Mécanique also boasts a “fitting” room, in which visitors may try on replicas of panniers and bustles. As Suzy Menkes noted in her New York Times article, a costume gallery owner named Guillaume François Roger Molé once said (perhaps ahead of his time in 1797): “It is important to understand the inside pieces: Often they are what make fashion prestigious.”

La Mécanique des Dessous at Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs is on display until November 24, 2013.

Charlotte Olympia: Born in Britain, Made in Italy

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While Italy has found itself at the center of the fashion discussion of late—with insiders debating how to revitalize Milan’s fashion weeks, as well as Suzy Menkes’ latest article about the Pope’s quieting influence on the Italian aesthetic—the industry has never questioned the country’s deep-seated history of craftsmanship. And that’s exactly what Charlotte Dellal aims to celebrate through her latest video. With its irreverent touches and sexed-up quirks, the designer’s accessories range, Charlotte Olympia, is an unquestionably British brand. But in order to showcase the artistry that goes into each of her spiderweb-stamped platform kicks, Dellal enlisted Tabitha Denholm to direct Made in Italy, a short film that takes viewers inside her Italian factory to view the birth of a hand-finished pair of her signature red satin Paloma pumps. “Italy is the ultimate destination for craftsmanship and quality,” offered Dellal. “Made in Italy showcases that attention to detail and dedication, both of which are essential ingredients to making luxury designs.” The film—complete with wheat fields, a little of Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix in the background, and a couple of cones of gelato—debuts here, exclusively on Style.com.

Guess Who’s Next? Alta Roma Honors Emerging Talent

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Looks from Arthur Arbesser and Esme Vie

Alta Roma, Italy’s answer to haute couture, is currently under way in Rome. And yesterday, the winners of this season’s Who Is On Next design competition were announced. It was judged by an esteemed panel that included Saks Fifth Avenue’s Terron Schaefer, Suzy Menkes, and Harrods’ Marigay McKee. The initiative supports independent designers who produce their labels in Italy. The top talents will receive an area to show their collections to buyers during next September’s Milan fashion week (courtesy of Vogue Italia), and they’ll also create an exclusive look, which will be stocked on Yoox.com.

This year, Arthur Arbesser, a Viennese designer who spent seven years working with Giorgio Armani before launching his own line last fall in Milan, co-won the grand prize. He shared the spotlight with Julia Voitenko and Daria Golveko, the Russian duo behind Esme Vie. Continue Reading “Guess Who’s Next? Alta Roma Honors Emerging Talent” »

Seven Suggestions For Improving Milan Fashion Week

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Gildo Zegna, Patrizio Bertelli, Cav. Mario Boselli, and Diego Della Valle during the Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana press conference in Milan

At 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana held a press conference at which attendance had been all but mandated weeks in advance. The early, un-Italian hour was no doubt meant to indicate the seriousness of the occasion, as was a lineup of speakers that included Patrizio Bertelli, Diego Della Valle, and Gildo Zegna, all of whom have joined the organization’s new board. Essentially, these captains of one of Italy’s most important and cherished industries have banded together to reinvigorate Milan’s increasingly hidebound fashion weeks. “I’ve heard the word boring,” Zegna acknowledged, though he insisted that wasn’t the case. The speeches were heavy on sweeping statements and light on concrete details, which provoked the assembly of sleep-deprived journalists into a volley of probing questions. Bertelli had earlier compared his fellow board members to “senators of fashion,” and he might have been thinking, Et tu, Suzy? as the International New York Times‘ Suzy Menkes led a round of interrogation into everything from Milan’s inhospitality to young designers to its perceived shortcomings on the digital front. Bertelli is no pushover, and he gave as good as he got. When a French journalist asked why we were only hearing from old men (Angela Missoni was a mostly silent presence on the board today), the Prada CEO told him he’d be a dangerous old man himself if he didn’t change his attitude, and then unexpectedly pointed out that Italy was the first country to abolish slavery, in the 1300s. By the end, one attendee was muttering, “Business as usual,” but if the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, then today’s announcement should be welcomed as a positive development. Certainly there is enough firepower and entrepreneurial know-how on this new board to solve world peace, let alone bring new energy to a fashion week. Zegna stressed that the process would be a dialogue and said suggestions would be encouraged. In that spirit, here are seven modest proposals for improving Milan fashion week.

1. Lure young, international designers to Milan.
Menkes wondered how Milan would be replacing Burberry and Alexander McQueen, two brands that have recently decamped back to their native London. But the city’s relatively uncrowded schedule could be one of its biggest assets. Given how ridiculously packed the New York and, increasingly, London and Paris schedules have become, you would think any number of hot young brands could be persuaded to believe that they’d have a better chance of standing out in Milan. If access to Italy’s unparalleled production expertise were thrown in as part of the deal, who could resist?

2. Take the show on the road.
The British Fashion Council and, to some extent, the U.S.-based CFDA have done a good job of promoting their designers abroad. As part of the London Showrooms events, a dozen young U.K. talents have even careened around Hong Kong together on a bus. While there are barely enough young Milan-based designers to fill a Smart car let alone a minibus, and its more established designers are already well known internationally, it shouldn’t be too hard to come up with the right kind of touring exhibition. Picture a mix of up-and-comers such as Umit Benan, Andrea Pompilio, and Fausto Puglisi; some cult brands like MP Massimo Piombo and Aspesi; and a couple of designer offshoots like Versace’s Versus line and Lapo Elkann’s highly covetable new made-to-measure collaboration with Gucci—all introduced by a charming, high-profile figure (yes, we’re talking to you, Lapo). That would go some way to showing the rest of the world the extent of Italy’s ambitions. Continue Reading “Seven Suggestions For Improving Milan Fashion Week” »

Suzy for Sale

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Items in Christie's Suzy Menkes Auction

With her signature hair flip and authoritative pen, Suzy Menkes, who was appointed as the international fashion editor of the new International New York Times last Wednesday, epitomizes “one of a kind.” However, while there is, and always will be, only one Ms. Menkes, this summer, some ambitious bidders will have the chance to dress like her. On July 11, Christie’s will launch a twelve-day online auction of over eighty pieces from Menkes’ wardrobe, including a custom Chanel clutch boasting a gold “Suzy” in the place of the house’s double Cs, as well as vintage wares from Yves Saint Laurent (like a cocktail jacket from 1980 and an ivory pantsuit), Emilio Pucci, Ossie Clark, Christian Lacroix, Dior, and more. Menkes, who reportedly hasn’t purged her closet since 1964, says she initiated the auction because “…there is something sad about clothes laid in a tomb of trunks. They need to live again, and this auction provides the opportunity for them to walk out in the sunshine, to dance the night away, and to give someone else the joy that they gave to me.” While Ms. Menkes is, of course, priceless, most of the auction items will start at under 1,000 pounds.

Photo: Courtesy of Christie’s