Suzy Menkes

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Suzy Menkes
Suzy MenkesIllustration by Robert Beck

A few highlights from tonight's Suzy Menkes auction at Christie's

Tonight at 9pm, In My Fashion: The Suzy Menkes Collection goes on sale at Christie's online until July 22. Comprised of 80 lots, a few highlights include Ossie Clark’s cream silk crepe full length dress printed with Celia Birtwell floral design and matching quilted jacket, Bill Gibb’s café au lait brown suede coat embroidered with peacocks, Yves Saint Laurent’s satin ‘Soleil’ cocktail jacket, Emilio Pucci’s silk jersey sleeveless dress printed in bright colours and ten pieces from Christian Lacroix.

When I first met Suzy, she was both decked out in Lacroix – read a sumptuous and richly embellished coat – and laughing with Lacroix. It was 1989, Christian was the star couturier of the hour, she was the International Herald Tribune’s new fashion powerhouse and, having just arrived from New York, I was beyond impressed. C’est Paris, I thought. Actually, C’est Suzy, I should have realised.

"A newshound, Suzy is always hunting down what’s next and defines fearless"

True, she’s brilliant at her craft and remains a fashion critic who really chronicles a designer’s progress. (It explains why they all turn to her page, the morning after their show, albeit with trembling hand.) However, what I particularly admire is her adventurous spirit.  A newshound, she’s always hunting down what’s next and defines fearless.

In many ways, her ‘adventurous spirit’ rules the wardrobe that she’s put up for sale. Naturally, there are wonderful tales attached to the items such as driving with Idanna, Pucci’s niece from Cambridge University to Florence in 1964, attending Ossie’s private sales where Bianca Jagger once insisted that “canary yellow” was simply not Suzy’s colour then quickly swiped the dress. Finally, when receiving her O.B.E from the Queen, there was Suzy’s curious decision “to be sober and sensible” and opt for navy blue YSL. Fortunately, Lacroix’s scarlet outfit prevailed, as did Stephen Jones’s black and white hat!

The online auction of Suzy Menkes' archive runs until July 22. Click here to see the full collection.

Text by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni

Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni is a Paris-based British writer who covers fashion and lifestyle as well as being the author of Sam Spiegel – The Biography of A Hollywood Legend, Understanding Chic, an essay from the Paris Was Ours anthology, the soon-to-be released Tino Zervudachi – A Portfolio – as well as the Chanel book, for Assouline's fashion series.

Robert Beck is former New Yorker currently based in Paris. A former classical dancer, his book for children titled "A Bunny in the Ballet" will be available early in 2014 from Scholastic, Inc.