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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

A question of Identity

The split personalities of designers working under other labels

11 Марта 2016

Maison Margiela, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Maison Margiela, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

With Dior’s Creative Director job empty, ditto Lanvin and wildfire rumours that Hedi Slimane might leave Saint Laurent to take up photography again, Paris collections increasingly seem like displays of borrowed identities. But that does not mean that these second-hand brands are weak. Often the opposite is true.

Maison Margiela: Galliano makes it!

At last! John Galliano teamed his electric eccentricity with Margiela’s haute solemnity – and produced a hit collection. It’s been a while. I had begun to think that there would never be a marriage of these two opposite spirits: Galliano with his intense urge for decoration and a tendency to fashion madness and Margiela’s heritage of noble cutting and artistic recycling. But Galliano went “pop!” with this collection and the mix of slithering, shimmering materials with solid wool coats or sweaters was powerfully effective.

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Maison Margiela, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Maison Margiela, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Maison Margiela, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Maison Margiela, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Maison Margiela, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Maison Margiela, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


The normality of the clothes – by Galliano’s wild standards – made the difference. The compelling effects might come from thick-knit arm warmers rising to the elbows, or from the way that a simple top and skirt had an unearthly glow of iridescence. Galliano claimed in show notes – since he no longer appears even to take a bow – that he had learned to understand Maison Margiela’s design elements and techniques, “where traditional order is disturbed with emotion and the effect of human glitch”. That was a good way of describing the interjections of fabrics and the sense that material was opening up or rent apart. But it was done in a subtle, light-hearted way.

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Maison Margiela, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Maison Margiela, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Maison Margiela, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Maison Margiela, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


Could it be that after his trauma, Galliano has come to enjoy his relationship with the heritage of Martin Margiela. Maybe the two men have even met up. Certainly Galliano, a great designer who came off the rails, seems to be back on track. 

Courrèges: A dozen easy pieces 

The death of André Courrèges earlier this year brought the designer who invented youth fashion in the shadow of the 1960s moon landing back into the limelight. But design duo Arnaud Vaillant and Sébastien Meyer, who gave up their own brand to take on Courrèges, had already spelled out the message last season: basics. Or “basiques”. Using the same medium of wardrobe types – angular miniskirt, cropped biker jacket, narrow trousers, all mixing vivid colours with plain, the duo had giant photos of each category as the backdrop.

Courrèges, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Courrèges, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

If it looked much like a screen snap of on-line shopping – well that was the idea. One third of the Courrèges clothes are going on sale immediately following the new “see-now-buy-now” trend. How did this collection differ from those worn by three generations of cute kids? These clothes were authentically Courrèges – although as everyone in fashion knows, you only own the invention until a fast fashion company takes it on. But these designers, living through the millennial techno revolution, understand how to modernise designs from a world when stretch was in its cradle. Making and selling in technological ways is good sense.

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Courrèges, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Courrèges, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Courrèges, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Courrèges, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Courrèges, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Courrèges, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


I hope Courrèges 60 years on will be a hit. But it would be good to see more of the feelings and emotions of this current generation – rather than smart fashion as a tech makeover from the past.

Anthony Vaccarello: Gossip louder than the material 

Well is he or isn’t he going to Saint Laurent, if and when Hedi Slimane leaves? Personally, I haven't a clue. But this was the major subject of discussion in the front row at Anthony Vaccarello, who sent down his usual sexy power woman look. Vaccarello’s style of a sensual sportiness has already been taken up by Donatella Versace, who picked the designer for her own Versus line.

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Anthony Vaccarello, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Anthony Vaccarello, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Anthony Vaccarello, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Anthony Vaccarello, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Anthony Vaccarello, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Anthony Vaccarello, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


But there were signals that the Belgian-born designer was leaving behind his familiar parade of black and flesh – there were even shiny slashed pants or tailored trousers in olive green and decoration of red and blue flowers front and centre on a sweater or skirt. A soft white fur was added to the familiar black, fitted clothes. The main message from Vaccarello is the same: a lot of bared legs balanced on high heels and dresses with hardware decoration – although the models wore sparkly jewels this season, not least on one eye. But here is a designer who has not yet given all of himself. And maybe – just maybe – he will move to a bigger stage. 

Jacquemus: Playing with shapes

Imagine a world where everything is a straight line or a curve – no compromises – and you have the oddly childish world of designer Simon Porte Jacquemus. The winner of a special prize from LVMH seemed to have used the money wisely, filling in the deliberate gaps and holes that have previously been part of his work.

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Jacquemus, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Jacquemus, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Jacquemus, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Jacquemus, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Jacquemus, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Jacquemus, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


“It’s reconstitution,” said the designer backstage, referring to the way he seemed to take pieces of his designs and stand them away from the body line: shoulder straps that were moulded, curving above the shoulder giving the effect of coat hangers; or a suit jacket so oversized that it seemed like a cardboard cut-out. This playful, childlike game of garments included heels that were either round or square. I have to admit to some feelings of déjà vu, especially when I think back to the square cuts of early Martin Margiela and Rei Kawakubo’s long history of dissected and deconstructed pieces.

Jacquemus, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Jacquemus, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

But at the age of 26, Jacquemus has an earnest innocence and what he does is compelling. Certain pieces, like a stand-away cape dress, were simply lovely. I asked him backstage what he was trying to say. “My work is squares and circles, so I try to push these kind of shapes, designs…” he explained. “The idea was to imagine a lot of clothes, you put them on, and you have the kids doing collage, and having fun with that.”

Jacquemus, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Jacquemus, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

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