“Out of Italy has come a fashion miracle: a look that suddenly puts la moda da puttana (hooker chic) right out of vogue,” said Suzy Menkes in her article “A Modest Proposal”, published March 19th, 2013 in the New York Times Style Magazine. Always as clear and direct as she is brilliant, the British journalist is a great example of experience and good judgment. From her position as fashion editor at the International Herald Tribune, a post she has carried since 1988, Menkes has contributed to the rise of the great and the fall of the lacking. It is not strange that designers, journalists, and fashionistas worldwide fearfully revere her.
SUZY MENKES. / Photo: Zoe Hitchen for Show Studio.
Now, this master of fashion opens her closet to unveil an auction of 80 pieces from her own private collection to be held at Christie’s. From the 11th to the 22nd of July, one can bid on pieces created by the esteemed designers she mothered and mentored, like Emilio Pucci, Ossie Clark, and Christian Lacroix. There will be 10 items from Lacroix on the sale, including tuxedos and a printed silk ensemble with a matching bag, which hopes to bring in between £200 and £400.
Menkes’s passion for design was triggered in the city of fashion itself, Paris, where she attended her first haute couture runway show by Nina Ricci. This happened way before Menkes received the honor of the Order of the British Empire (2005) and the title of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in France. Still, during those early decades, she honed her skills through journalism, curiosity, and attendance to countless fashion shows.
A pair of Christian Dior sunglasses (estimate £200-400).
This fashion veteran says that to be able to judge a collection, she needs to take a look at the cut, the lines, the knitting and the colors; the creative inspiration, its setting and the way it corresponds with elements outside the collection itself. Without a doubt, her work is a great indicator of what we can expect from Christie’s auction. For instance, Ossie Clark’s cream-colored, romantic silk gown and matching jacket, with floral designs by Celia Birtwell, has an initial asking price between one and two thousand British pounds. However, it is rumored that an Yves Saint Laurent jacket from the 1980 Le Soleil collection will steal the show.
Menkes assures us that she has not thrown away anything from her closet since 1964, noting that if she had more open and ample space in her house, she would dedicate it to her collection, much like an art gallery. She goes on to say that the pieces in question need to be revived, and that this auction offers the perfect opportunity for buyers to take a stroll under the sun, dance all night, and enjoy the pieces as much as she has. When she speaks of the enjoyment this collection will bring, the iconic journalist has not forgotten to include complimentary accessories like a clutch personalized with her initials by non other than the house of Chanel, a fantastic pair of Christian Dior sunglasses, and a vintage Hermes scarf.
Christian Lacroix printed silk ensemble with matching over-sized handbag, 1980s. / Paul Smith coat (estimate £200 – 400).
A small peek inside Christie’s online auction will surely result in aesthetic pleasure, as well as a reflection on the true meaning of fashion and design. Suzy Menkes reminds us of the changing times in her February 2013 article for the New York Times, “The Circus of Fashion”: “There is something ridiculous about the self-aggrandizement of some online arbiters who go against the mantra that I was taught in my earliest days as a fashion journalist: ‘It isn’t good because you like it; you like it because it’s good.’” ■
PHOTOS: Courtesy of Christie’s.