Suzy Menkes, Feb 2014, photo Patrick McMullan

Best Suzy Menkes Quotes from Her French Vogue Interview

For over two decades, Suzy Menkes was synonymous with the International Herald Tribune, penning whip-smart fashion criticism and show reviews on a grueling schedule — usually with her trusty laptop in tow and always with her signature pompadour. It's estimated the fashion oracle wrote nearly 2 million words for the esteemed paper before recently decamping to Vogue as international digital editor. With one article under her belt (Fighting the Bitch Brigade), Menkes spoke with French Vogue about her new position. Here are the best tidbits...

On what the new role entails...
It means being in tune with the modern world. Gone are the days when we could say “I’m a journalist, but I only write for print." Having said that, it’s not as if I’m taking my first steps in Internet journalism for Vogue. I’ve been working online for years. I love paper, I love books, but I also love what’s going on around me. I think you need to be engaged with the times you’re living in. Just like in fashion, you have to be relevant.

On what she misses from the golden days of the press...
I have some fabulous memories, like when I was working on the Evening Standard under Charles Wintour, Anna’s father. He was an extraordinary editor-in-chief. I learnt a great deal from him, not least his mantra: “Start with the information, to draw the reader in” — one rule that hasn’t changed and can still be applied to the web today. We should always have something to say, a story to tell to capture the reader’s attention immediately. That’s also what I try to do on my Instagram account, a photo, of course, but also a few words or lines to make people think. Take the image of roses from my garden in the Ardèche that I posted after the recent Versailles-Florence celebrity wedding held behind a floral privacy wall. Flowers are to run wild, not to hide behind.

On young designers...
I try to follow all the young designers, which is difficult, as today everything can be seen by everyone, immediately. Sometimes it’s a shame, because it spoils the surprise. I'm thinking of when I found Raf Simons in a tiny atelier in the 11th arrondissement in Paris making menswear, years ago. When you start to win prizes and have backing, you don’t have any choice but to work, work, work. That said, it’s a real chance to have such resources when I think of all those designers who didn’t manage to break through. Take Ossie Clark, for example. He was great but he just didn’t have that kind of opportunity. Like with everything, there are advantages and disadvantages.

On her early start in fashion...
I’m worse than Jean Paul Gaultier, who started making outfits for his teddy bear when he was seven. I started at four with my dolls. I made my own clothes while I was a student. I had a little sewing machine and I did a lot by hand.

On her attempts at fashion design...
During my gap year between school and university, I went to Paris to study fashion. I was sure that was what I wanted to do. I was at ESMOD/ISEM Guerre-Lavigne fashion school — it was tough! We made patterns from rice paper and after an impossibly long time, we were finally allowed to work with fabric. I can still remember a pleated skirt I made. I was so proud of my efforts. The tutor took one look and didn’t say anything, not a single word. She just tore it apart in front of everyone. I ended up in tears, in the toilet. Then I went to her to ask what I had done wrong and she told me, “You weren’t careful enough. Look, on the fourth pleat you were out by a millimeter.” I just replied, “Yes, Madame,” and she retorted, “If everything was like that, nothing would fit.” It was a very good lesson — fashion was too complicated. I would do better to stick to writing about it!

On passing out once...
I may not have been a war correspondent, but some Fashion Weeks are a bit like going over the top in the trenches. I remember getting into Jean Paul Gaultier 20 years ago. It was so difficult and there is actually a photo that speaks volumes. There were so many people that I passed out in the crowd and there is photographic evidence of the invitation being taken from my hand while I was out.

On comfort...
I have a home in the Ardèche. I wear sneakers when I'm there, but I prefer sandals. I wear them when I'm gardening, or to go jogging. It would be silly not to use something so practical. I don't have any fixed ideas, but I think you always have a choice. As for jeans, lots of people tell me that they are the most comfortable garment in the world, but it's not my thing. I prefer silk to cotton, it's terrible. I should have been born a princess.





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Jun 05, 2014 15:33:00

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