The Cheeky Bastard emphatically endorses…
It’s sad how little actual reporting happens in fashion. Magazine editors are stuck in a constant loop of designer praise in fear of losing advertising dollars, web editors—operating in the one medium where space isn’t an issue—rarely devote more than 10 sentences to a collection, and bloggers are … well, clueless. If I want fashion news, I’ll turn to a professional, thank you. And for my money, I don’t think there’s anyone better than Suzy Menkes.
For the last 24 years Suzy has been the fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune, reporting on every possible aspect of the industry—couture, ready-to-wear, menswear, retail, everything. She has interviewed every major fashion designer of this generation and has chaired global conferences on the luxury market. Through it all, she has maintained a tireless work ethic and a never-ending joy for her profession.
She is tough, but fair, and uses her intimate knowledge of fashion history to craft smartly worded and thoughtful reviews of what she sees on the runways. Although she does spend a most of the year reporting on womenswear, she’s always front-row for men’s fashion week in Milan and Paris.
And PLEASE watch this brilliant interview done by SHOWstudio. Yes, you should watch all of it. Trust me.
Now for story time…
I was in London for A/W 11 Fashion Week during my semester abroad. The director of my program gave me and a friend passes for one of the presentations at Somerset House, aka Fashion Week Ground Zero. After the presentation my friend and I were sitting in the courtyard enjoying a coffee when I looked up and saw Suzy walk past. My heart leapt into my throat as soon as I saw her, and I grabbed my friend. “Oh my God, that’s Suzy!” I whispered. “Who?” “Suzy Menkes! The most fantastic person in the world!”
I tried to gather the courage to walk up to her, but before I could she disappeared down a flight of stairs. As my friend and I finished our coffees and were preparing to leave, Suzy reappeared. Determined not to waste this second chance, I rushed up to her.
“Excuse me … Suzy?”
She turned. “Yes?”
“Um, so you don’t know me, but I’m a student and I want to work for a magazine and I just think you’re incredible and what you do is so important and I read everything you write and you are such a role model and you’re just great and I think you’re awesome and an inspiration and it is just so great to meet you and I was wondering if I could just shake your hand?”
She was completely bogged down with books and her laptop, but she smiled and extended her pinky for me to shake.
“It’s very nice to meet you, too. Are you going to the show?”
“The show,” she said, nodding to the main tent behind us.
“Oh, no. No, I wasn’t going to go.”
“Well, come on,” she said, and started walking.
I motioned to my friend who had been standing a few feet back, and we started following Suzy.
“I just want you to know, this is so not why I approached you,” I told her.
“No, no, it’s no bother,” she said.
When we got to the entrance, one of the security guards wouldn’t let her in. As she fumbled and rooted around her bag for her press pass, some assistant inside the tent recognized her and frantically pushed the guard away to let Suzy in. As soon as she crossed the threshold, the guard stood in front of me.
“Oh, they’re with me,” Suzy called out. The guard stepped aside.
“Oh my god,” I whispered to my friend. “We’re ‘with’ Suzy Menkes!”
When we got to the actual runway, Suzy turned to us.
“Now I’m afraid this is where you have to disappear into the woodwork,” she said. “But you are very kind, and I wish you all the best.”
And with that, she scampered off to find her seat.
My friend and I did disappear into the woodwork, where we were able to watch Mario Schwab’s fantastic show (after which I got to meet Tim Blanks, but that’s another story).
Suffice to say, I will never forget Suzy’s kindness that day, and I can only hope to repay it by fetching her coffee and dry cleaning someday. (Hint hint, Suzy. I’m going to a lot of free time after next semester.)