Today’s fashion groupthink has jumped on Suzy Menkes’ fulmination in the International Herald Tribune yesterday. The article is noteworthy as a scathing critique of the triangular relationship between designers, brands and new media, as well as for doing the very thing the respected fashion critic denounces: adding another name to the speculative list of designers-in-waiting at Christian Dior.
In the piece, Menkes highlights the downfall of John Galliano, last week’s announcement that Raf Simons is leaving Jil Sander, and the speculation that Hedi Slimane is replacing Stefano Stefano at YSL. She writes: “Caught in this maelstrom are the designers. By their nature artistic and fragile people, they see themselves treated like commodities … I remind myself that this is not a game of chess. And that real people — especially sensitive designers — deserve not to be treated as pawns in someone else’s game.” Ironically, she then goes on to float another rumor, the possibility of Christopher Kane stepping in as creative director of Dior: “But what if — as the rumor mill claims — Mr. Kane has been put up for the Dior job?”
Kane, the Scottish designer who just showed his fall collection in London and who collaborates with Donatella Versace on Versus, is fluent in the ways of a large house. And LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault does have a penchant for British designers. However, the way Menkes introduces the topic is exactly how she caused a sensation in September, when she all but declared Raf Simons was in at YSL by leading a story with: “If Raf Simons ultimately takes over the helm at Yves Saint Laurent — as those familiar with the situation in Paris suggest — the designer will have found a sweet spot for his meticulous modernism.”
If the intrigues of high fashion are playing out like a crime drama, we’re all guilty, to quote Menkes.