Fashion Quote: Suzy Menkes on Fashion and Intellectuality

Suzy Menkes, fashion quote, The September Issue, anna wintour, fashion is important, intellectualism,

A still from The September Issue: I didn’t choose this one just becasue Anna has a horrible double chin (hehe) but because this is one of the scenes when she decides what images get cut from the shoot.

Trust Suzy Menkes, the fashion critic for the International Herald Tribune and one of the most respected fashion journalists in the world, to find a way to downgrade the importance of the intellectualism in fashion. But I totally agree with her. I (finally) saw the September issue a few months back, and the thing that struck me as me as most weird was how serious everyone took the magazine, the shoots, and the clothes. Of course, this is totally normal when you are immersed in the industry, and when it is your job and the fact that the pants haven’t arrived on time from the factory IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD. But when you look at it from an outside perspective, which I felt I was doing while watching the movie, I realized how idiotic it is to get so worked up about clothes.

Yes, I understand it is a business and people’s jobs and livelihoods depend on it, and that is certainly not trivial, but whether the Galliano dress makes it into the shoot or gets cut is not THAT important. Which is why I am sometimes embarrassed to work in this industry, and would like to find a part of this field where I can actually make differences in people’s lives.

Suzy Menkes, fashion quote, The September Issue, anna wintour, fashion is important, intellectualism,

Suzy Menkes

Anyway, back to Suzy’s quote, this was from an interview from Another Magazine:

Another Magazine: “What does fashion have to do with intellectuality?”

Suzy Menkes: “I think there’s too much mixing fashion and intellect. Fashion ultimately is designed to cover the human body, to give you joy, to make you feel better. I don’t think it has to have a great intellectual meaning. Yes, you can see meaning in it afterwards, because fashion history so often comes ahead of what happens in the world, so it is a precursor. But to intellectualise fashion too much, to me, is just going the wrong way.”

I love that someone who successfully manages to intellectualise fashion (read the rest of the interview) in her work, is actually the one saying it is just clothes. We need more people like that.

Image source: Suzy Menkes.

  • beth

    I disagree completely. Yes we aren’t saving lives, but we are. Fashion like many arts should be held at a high standard. It provides for many people around the world, including myself. When we decide to “take it less seriously” is giving in to the idea that it doesn’t really mean much. Why be upset about YSL and Slimane? Because we care about keeping a tradition of excellence and working at an aspirational level. I think the community that “gets” fashions importance, still think it means something. My two cents.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    I agree it means something, but the fashion industry is different from art. People need clothes, they don’t need art. Everyone wears clothes, not everyone owns or accesses art. And I do think it is taken too seriously, especially if you work in it. So easily it becomes this all important thing and people let it consume their entire lives.

  • Linn

    Yes, I’m with you on this one, Alexandra, the self-importance in the fashion field is crazy, most artists, musicians and so on are a lot more humble. I watched the film also for the first time just some months ago. And at some levels I loved it, ‘cos I’m a journalist and always interested in seeing how different editorials work, but I was also very disappointed. In my head these Vogue-editors had been smart folks, but the close ups with Mrs. Wintour was just incredibly shallow and uninteresting blabla. Mrs. Coddington came out the best, maybe because she’s the most creative, but I was dísappointed with her as well. Mrs. Menkes,on the other hand, there you have a smart woman!

  • Nana

    So why we need haute couture? Fast fashion are already doing the job. Clothes are just clothes.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Yes, but we can still prefer or aspire to have beautifully made, unique clothes.