32 posts tagged "Suzy Menkes"
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.”
“It was important for me to really open up,” said conceptual fashion designer Miguel Adrover at yesterday’s screening of Call It a Balance in the Unbalance—a documentary about the uncompromising talent’s meteoric rise and fall. The film—which made its U.S. premiere at the Pratt Institute last night—follows the career of the Majorcan-born talent, highlighting his now-legendary Lower East Side debut in 1999 and the conception of the many memorable pieces that followed (his infamous Burberry trench-turned-dress, a town coat hand-stitched from materials drawn from Quentin Crisp’s discarded mattress, and a pair of drooped trousers made from Adrover’s grandfather’s wardrobe all make cameos). “When you see a documentary of Marc Jacobs or Valentino [you never see them] wash their clothes,” Adrover told Style.com. “You saw my house. You saw my mom, my dad, my bathroom…you saw me pulling the clothes out of the washing machine,” he added.
The film details Adrover’s post-9/11 commercial descent and subsequent return to Majorca, and the designer’s friends and supporters, like Suzy Menkes and stylist Eric Daman, spoke candidly in on-screen interviews about his uncensored vision. Not surprisingly, so did Adrover. “I don’t give a shit about [money]; I don’t believe in Chanel; I don’t believe in Karl Lagerfeld; I don’t believe in Yves Saint Laurent; but I do believe you can change society,” he professed during a Q&A.
The screening comes on the heels of Adrover’s departure from organic German label Hessnatur after eight years as its creative director. What’s next for the outspoken rebel? “I have three shows already prepared,” said Adrover, whose designs will be featured in the Met’s upcoming Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition. “Anytime. You give me the money, I will make it happen. I don’t need a big stadium or a lot of lighting or things. I can do it right here.”
Thanks to Suzy Menkes’ recent T magazine article “The Circus of Fashion,” and the mobs of shutterbugs outside the Fall ’13 runway shows, the hysteria that is street-style culture was a hot topic this fashion month. What’s the obsession? How did we get here? And how is it affecting, and indicative of, the state of the fashion industry? In a new film titled Take My Picture, Dasha Zhukova’s Garage magazine examines all this and more. Through footage of the ever-growing sea of bloggers at fashion week, and commentary from the likes of Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, Susie Bubble, Phil Oh (who describes street-style snapping as “trench warfare”), and Style.com’s own Tim Blanks, Garage dissects what makes bloggers, and their increasingly wildly dressed subjects, tick. The mini-doc debuts exclusively above, and will be up on GarageMag.com this weekend.
Front-row fashion-watchers tend to be in one season, out the next, but one woman is a fixture: Suzy Menkes. Anyone who’s been to a show has likely seen the International Herald Tribune‘s critic, her bangs flipped into that signature top-roll, typing away on her mini computer (long before any blogger picked up on the trend, it should be noted). She’s written over 1.7 million words for the Trib, where she’s served as fashion editor since 1988. She’s both a tough critic and a nurturing presence—or, to put it more bluntly, as Kate Moss did when speaking to the New Yorker, she’s “like a slightly mad auntie.” During the upcoming menswear shows at Pitti Uomo, Menkes will be awarded the Fiorino d’Oro, an honor given by the Municipality of Florence to individuals who have greatly contributed to social and cultural development. For anyone in need of a primer on Menkesism, a few key moments in her rise and illustrious career:
—Menkes attended her fist couture show—Nina Ricci—while living in Paris and studying dressmaking during her gap year between high school and university.
—While at university, Menkes would sneak into the Paris show venues at 5 a.m. and hide under the stage until she could creep out and watch the collections walk down the runway.
—In 1991, during a Michael Kors show in an apparently derelict loft, a piece of the ceiling fell on Ms. Menkes’ head. The mishap caused her to deem New York fashion week “second rate.” But there was a silver lining—the incident caused New York’s designers to show their future collections in a single, less dilapidated, location—Bryant Park.
—In the nineties, Menkes prompted what was, perhaps, one of fashion journalism’s earliest open letters when she declared that the classic quilted Chanel bag was “over.” The house took out a full-page ad in the Tribune in protest.
—In 2007, perturbed by Marc Jacobs’ infamously tardy Spring 2008 show (it began two hours late), and unimpressed with his collection, Menkes wrote a review titled “Marc Jacobs Disappoints With a Freak Show.” Naturally, a fashion feud ensued. Jacobs eventually attempted to make amends by leaving a Marc Jacobs T-shirt on Menkes’ seat at that season’s Vuitton show. The shirt featured a drawing of the designer and critic side by side, as well as a “love note.” The note she may have appreciated; the gift, maybe not. She famously refuses all gifts, saying, “I was brought up to believe a girl should never accept anything but flowers and chocolates.”
—In 2012, Menkes reached her latest pinnacle: animation. Disney artists created a cartoon Suzy to sit front-row for the festivities surrounding the Barneys New York and Disney holiday windows.
By now, Alexander Wang’s appointment at Balenciaga is old news, but the question of why he was chosen still has the industry buzzing. One argument runs that he’s got a hip young international following and that his contemporary-cool approach to dressing could prove an interesting new direction for the super-luxury brand. (His proven ability to create It bags doesn’t hurt, either.) Another, espoused by Suzy Menkes in the IHT and propelled by Karl Lagerfeld’s recent endorsement, puts the California-born Taiwanese designer’s roots in China at the center of the dialogue.
Should they be? Given luxury fashion’s rapidly expanding consumer base in China, it’s not surprising that many have gravitated toward the latter argument. But that it’s not surprising doesn’t mean that it’s especially logical or fair. Last night, PPR CEO and chairman François-Henri Pinault had his say, in an interview with CBS’ Rebecca Jarvis. “Alexander Wang is young and he has a very universal culture. He is American with Chinese roots. His family is based in Shanghai. He has a very strong talent not only when it comes to accessible product, but his talent could also be adapted for couture at Balenciaga,” he said. When asked if Wang’s family ties were a key factor, he responded with a definitive “No.” “It is a mixture of value that Alexander will bring. It was really [a matter of] let’s find the right talent, the right skills, the right profile for the reality of the brand.”
To see Alexander Wang’s Pre-Fall 2013 collection, new on Style.com today, click here.