4:37 pm

Strictly Speaking Suzy: Life Lessons from the Front Row


When we last spoke to Suzy Menkes in 2010, she was reigning as Style Editor at the International Herald Tribune. Now, she’s sharing her unflinching wisdom as the newly appointed International Editor of Vogue.

To celebrate her new role we select some of the best moments from ‘Strictly Speaking Suzy’, a feature that saw some of the industry’s most inquiring minds, ask the esteemed fashion critic about the lessons she’s learnt from the front row and beyond. 

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Interview by Alexia Niedzielski and Elizabeth von Guttman
Photography by Tung Walsh
Issue 5, Industrie Magazine

A: We have a question from Vanessa Friedman. She wants to know what was the hardest question you ever had to ask?
S: I think my answer is that I don’t ask hard questions when I know there’s something really very difficult to cope with. I mean, I don’t say to a designer, “How would you explain to your Catholic and very religious parents that you were gay?” I wouldn’t ask a question in that way. I would put it quite another way and say, “Tell me about your family,” and, “When you decided to go to London, Paris or whatever, was there a reason for it?” Designers will open up more to that than to a difficult question, because it’s very personal. I don’t really say, “How do you feel now that your company has gone bust?”

A: You need to be bit more diplomatic.
S: No, it’s not about being diplomatic. It’s just, to me, it’s a dumb question.

A: Diane von Furstenberg has a question: In so many years of witnessing fashion, what has been the one thing that has had the biggest impact?
S: One thing? Ok, this is really difficult. If I had to write it as an article of 98 words, what would I choose? Maybe Courrèges’ “Go to the Moon” because it was such an extraordinary moment when fashion seemed to mirror the world we were in. And the clothes… You’d never seen anything like it before, you’d never seen anything like the way he looked. Courrèges was wearing these extraordinary white canvas shoes, sneakers as we call them now, and just the whole way he was dressed was so strange. There were some amazing Margiela shows and in a way the Black Candle, White Candle shows were extraordinary. I think the memorable shows are the ones that get their spark from something that is happening in the world.

A: An echo.
S: Is it an echo or is it an early warning signal? You know, that’s always my question – does fashion follow what’s going on in the world? Or does it often actually anticipate it?

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A: Renzo Rosso wants to know what you do with all the pictures that you take. Actually I saw you giving him one of your pictures at the Margiela show in Paris…
S: I give people pictures if I like them, and I am very proud that Anna Wintour told me that she has a picture that I took of her and her two children somewhere in her home. Because you know the great thing about those [film] cameras is that people aren’t fearful of them in the way they are now about digital, fearful about where the picture is going. Everyone knows that this isn’t going anywhere. And I put them in boxes with the date and the name of the person on the back, and one day my dream is to sort them out.

E: What is the best one you’ve taken?
S: Well one of my best ones is on Karl Largerfeld’s wall. It was pouring with rain and he was sitting in his car while I was plodding along, and I waved to him, and he lowered the window a tiny bit, so as not to get wet, and I snapped this great picture. Those cameras are so speedy. I have a digital camera but it doesn’t have the speed to snap somebody before their face changes.

A: That takes us into the digital world – Mesh Chhibber asks, “How has the role of the critic changed in the age of digital and social media?”
S: I start from the premise that new things are always good – at least until proven otherwise. So to reject the whole idea of digital media is “pathetic”. You know, so many good things have come out of it, like Susie Bubble with her enthusiasm and intelligence; that is somebody who might not have had a forum if it were not for the digital age. So I’m not critical of that.

What I do find difficult is… I trained as a historian before I did English Literature and I am interested in history, so I actually knew who Schiaparelli was before she was Miuccia Prada’s best friend. And I find it ridiculous that some people don’t think it’s worth looking to the past… however I don’t think one should look too much to the past as that can also be bad. But I was brought up on the Times in London in an era where I was told you could never check too many times – and we still do that. We do let mistakes through sometimes but it’s not for lack of trying. We check the names, we check the details… I’m about to get on a plane to Africa, but naturally I was up until whatever hour, doing my story about Alta Roma, with my very good new assistant and I goingthrough every single name to check we’ve not got anything wrong. I don’t think that this is sewn into the culture of the blogosphere.

E: Joseph Altuzarra wanted to know: when you are reviewing a collection; does it help it to know what the designer’s, process, intent and inspiration was?
S: Yes, of course it helps. That’s why I often go backstage – sometimes before the show, although I prefer it afterwards. I must say many a time a designer has said to me “Cartier Bresson”… I’m mesmerised by those pictures, and I’m expecting some black and white lean architectural people to walk out; but out comes something with pink, blue and red flowers all over it. So I think the process is quite complex, and that if it’s literal, it’s easy to explain, it’s probably not that interesting. And if it has come through a very interesting process of inspiration, it’s harder for a designer to explain that in just a few words.

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6:34 pm

An Interview with Katie Grand

04/04/2011, INDUSTRIE ARCHIVE, Industrie Issue1, Issues

“There is something about looking at an image with a light source behind it which makes it so much better than something printed”

Katie Grand hasn’t had far to come this evening: the Industrie office is a stone’s throw from the Hackney Road photographic studio where she has spent the day working on a shoot. In fact, you could map out the landmarks of her prolific magazine career in this part of East London. We’re not far from Old Street, home to Dazed & Confused, which she co-founded, and Love, her latest title, whose fourth issue will be under way by the time you read this, is a bit further up the road into Clerkenwell. Pop, which she launched in 2001, was also conceived in that neighbourhood: it was put together in a cupboard at the back of  the offices of The Face, where she served as fashion director at the time. She has styled for numerous other fashion heavyweights too, of course – Japanese and Italian Vogues, Visionaire, Arena Homme Plus, Harper’s Bazaar – although magazines are only part of the story. There are also the string of ad campaigns and collections that she works on – most notably her longstanding relationship with Louis Vuitton – which have confirmed her as one of the most influential, hardworking and respected powerhouses in fashion.

Photographed by: Willy Vanderperre

Written by : Jens Grede

In a previous interview, you said that as an adolescent all you wanted was to be cool.


What kind of crowd were you part of? At that time, did you take your inspiration from the other kids at school that you wanted to fit in with, or were you more influenced by something outside of
that world?

‘My best friend, Jo Parker, was super-cool. In 1984, she had cropped bleach-blonde hair. We were both interested in fashion from a young age and stopped hanging out with our school friends quite early on. We were only 13 but we looked older, so we started hanging out with much older kids. We used to put on these 1950s dresses or cycling shorts and puffball skirts we’d made ourselves and go out to bars or ice-skating – that was where we’d meet all these people with similar interests. At that time, cinema was really stylised and films like Betty Blue were a massive influence.’

Would you say you were part of a youth culture, a specific group of people who listened and indentified with a specific genre of music?

‘I suppose so. You learnt early on that if someone came round to your house and you played Talking Heads, Grace Jones or Big Audio Dynamite – those were the big bands at the time – it would be a big thing.’

You cite The Face as one catalyst for your interest in fashion and magazines. When you were younger and living in Birmingham, The Face provided you with information you couldn’t find anywhere else. As a media title, The Face became redundant as the information they offered became what we now find on blogs and news sites.

‘People said that at the time, but towards the end I think The Face made the wrong decisions. When we started Dazed, we were out every night living that lifestyle. We would stay up all night – at one point we didn’t even go into work because the magazine was being done from my kitchen! It is hard to do a magazine, which is very much about youth culture unless you are living that lifestyle. By that point, the staff at The Face had just got too old – Neil Stevenson [its final editor] must have been in his thirties and the magazine really should have been edited by someone like [i-D editor] Ben Reardon when he was in his early twenties. In many ways, when I was there I was already far too experienced. I was 27 or 28, I had done Dazed for seven years, which had been difficult as we had no money and had to work really hard to find new photographers and funding. I could have done that job with my eyes shut. I knew how to do that stuff, I didn’t have to live it any more. Of course, I did some nice stories and I met Mert and Marcus, Sølve [Sundsbø] and Liz [Collins] – they all really grew with The Face. But were their images the sort that the magazine should have been producing at that time? I don’t know. They were kind of sophisticated and aspirational pictures.’

By the end of The Face, it felt like the front of the book was speaking a very different language to the back of the book, that the news stories and journalistic pieces had lost their direction.

‘They weren’t the right people. When I was working there, the editor on the front section had been there for ten years. I remember suggesting to put The Strokes on the cover when they first came out around 1997-8 and Ashley [Heath, then the editorial director] saying it wasn’t the right time. It was frustrating because it was so obvious they were going to be huge – “Last Night” was the best record I had heard in five years. The staff had become too old and a bit too stuffy, they just couldn’t perceive what a young person would get enthusiastic about. It’s a shame what happened. I can still recall the day before the announcement [of The Face’s closure] was made: it was four o’clock in the afternoon, I was pulled into the managing director’s office and they still hadn’t decided what they were going to do. They really closed it on a whim. I think it was around the same time that [The Face’s owners] Emap had lost a lot of money in America so they were very conscious of capital. It was sad – The Face was such a great brand and in many ways that red banner is the best logo ever.’

Do you think that print as a medium became too slow for what The Face wanted to achieve?

‘If you compare it now then yes, obviously. There’s something quite strange about editing a title like Love, which is only out twice a year, but it means you can be precious with your magazine and then do interesting projects with blogs and websites and other things outside of print.’

The Face could have lived on as an online brand. Magazines provide the reader with a unique edited experience but most blogs tend to repeat information, so you end up seeing the same news or images over and over again. The internet is quick but doesn’t provide the reader with a distinctive experience, which is why magazines still play a decisive role and why The Face could have existed online and assumed that role. What do you imagine you would be reading if you were 15 in Birmingham today?

‘I don’t know. It’s difficult with me because I’m such a hoarder – I’ve got a whole library of magazines at home – but I can’t see that I’d own much that is paper.’

Do you think that magazines, in particular bigger brands such as Vogue, still have a sense of authority? Is there still a place for authority? It feels like we’ve lost the sense of authority and guidance which magazines once provided.

‘Authority is knowledge. If someone goes onto the Fashion Spot and writes that a certain magazine is dreadful, that’s different from Cathy Horyn saying it is dreadful because there is an authoritative, experienced voice behind the latter point of view. I don’t know what I think about the whole idea of blog culture yet. The internet is very much like snow blindness: there is so much information available but after a certain point I just can’t look at it any more. There is no real kind of beauty.’


6:12 pm

An Interview with Panos Yiapanis


“I ended up doing styling, which I consider to be the bottom rung of the ladder in terms of creativity”

Panos is still recovering from the menswear shows, and isn’t feeling his best. To consult on just one collection is an all-consuming task, but he worked on Cavalli, Pringle, Givenchy and Rick Owens – the last two taking place on the same day. He says he enjoys the frenetic pace and, only half-joking, confesses to a masochistic streak. But, nursing a medicinal whiskey and Coke, he’s paying the price for it now. These shows, as it happens, were all heavy on the darker greys and black, and Panos himself is in all black today, the tattoos on his arms covered by the long sleeves of his T-shirt. More than any other stylist, the aesthetic he presents in his work is an intuitive extension of his own style. Indeed, were this not the case, he feels he wouldn’t be doing his job properly. He’s modest and self-effacing, referring to his trade as the lowest rung of the creative ladder, and apologetic for his choice of venue for the interview – a smart, up-market pub on his home turf of Camden. And as someone who has always avoided the limelight, he’s surprisingly happy to talk openly and in detail about a career that has taken him around the world since the days when he ran around empty building sites with Corinne Day for i-D.

Photgraphed by: Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin
Written by: Murray Healy

9:35 am

An Interview with Karl Templer


“I think the best pictures are about a moment that’s holistic, describing the model and the whole picture with layers of style”

Karl Templer is making me tea in the kitchen of his townhouse in Chelsea, NYC. The place is, as you might expect, as good-looking as the photographs he styles – examples of which hang on the walls, images he shot with Richard Avedon and Craig McDean – and decked out with classic modernist furniture that manages to feel warm for all its cool sobriety. Some of the pieces are also very hard to find; I’m quite sure there is only one store in the world that sells the sofa I’m sitting on right now. New York is pretty much Karl’s adopted home these days. In addition to this place, where he has been living for nearly three years, he has an office on the other side of Manhattan, although occasionally he’ll head back to London, where he still keeps his Bloomsbury flat a stone’s throw from David Bailey’s studio. Bringing in the tea, Karl sits down and we chat about obscure furniture shops while an electrician in the background fusses with a light fitting before excusing himself due to ‘personal problems’. It’s as good a cue as any to get to the point of our conversation: Karl’s career. From his early days at The Face to his years as creative director of Arena Homme Plus to Italian Vogue, consultancies and Calvin campaigns, it’s a subject he has rarely spoken about in the media before now.

Written by: Erik Torstensson Photographed by: Craig McDean


12:35 pm

An Interview with Marie-Amélie Sauvé

14/03/2011, INDUSTRIE ARCHIVE, Industrie Issue1, Issues

“Styling has changed tremendously. I have contributed to that change, because
I have always tried to push the role of the stylist”

Marie-Amélie Sauvé’s career as a stylist stretches back to the late Eighties when she started as an intern at French Vogue. But throughout her career she has very rarely given interviews. It was something she didn’t particularly want to do in the past, she says as she arrives in a hotel bar near St Germain; but now she feels ready. This is not the only change of direction in Marie-Amélie’s life. After decades of association with French Vogue, and having played a central role at the magazine since Carine Roitfeld brought her back to the magazine 10 years ago, her focus has shifted across the Atlantic. She recently became a regular contributor to US Vogue and Interview, and soon after we meet the blogs are a-buzz with the rumour that she might be joining W and its new editor Stefano Tonchi, with whom she worked at T. But while she regularly jets to New York and even has a permanent team of assistants working there, Paris is still very much her home. And, sitting in the bar dressed entirely in black, periodically sweeping back her long hair and wrapping and rewrapping herself in her fur stole, it’s hard to imagine the city without her defining presence

Photographed by  Patrick Demarchelier Written by Murray Healy