And the backbone of the New York Times' fashion week coverage just broke. Suzy Menkes, the longtime fashion critic of the International Herald Tribune -- rebranded last year as the International New York Times -- has resigned to join the Vogue family: her official title is International Vogue Editor. In her new position, Menkes will have a "permanent presence" on the websites of Vogue's non-U.S. editions, including Britain, France, Italy, China, Russia, Japan, Germany and Spain. She'll undoubtedly contribute to the magazines as well, and continue to file reviews during the four major fashion weeks. Another part of the role is to help organize a luxury goods conference that will be held by Conde Nast International. (Conferences are big business for media brands -- one of the only areas of true growth. And Menkes has plenty of experience in the arena: she is a force behind the International New York Times' Luxury conference.)
"I am grateful to have spent 25 years at the International Herald Tribune - a newspaper where I had unstinting support in being able to express myself freely and honestly," Menkes said in a release. "I feel this is the perfect time to embrace a new challenge in the digital age." Menkes move into a mostly digital role is not as surprising it may sound. “In general, I'm 100% in favor of anything to do with the Internet,” she told Fern Mallis last year at the 92Y. “It’s quite exciting.”
Added Jonathan Newhouse, chairman and ceo of Conde Nast International, "Suzy Menkes is a unique talent, with superb judgment about fashion and keen insight into the business behind it. She is hugely influential and respected. Her contribution will bring even greater quality and authority to the Vogue brand."
The International New York Times had nothing but praise for Menkes in a statement sent to staffers this morning. "Her legacy will be with us always," said a message from Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, the paper's international president, and Dick Stevenson, its European editor. "Change is good and we understand why, after 26 years, Suzy wants to move on to a new challenge. We, too, will move on with our commitment to covering fashion to the highest possible journalistic standards as resolute as ever. We will be announcing a new line up to take our fashion legacy into a fresh new era in the very near future."
Of course, Menkes' departure comes at a unique moment for the New York Times. Early this year, the paper's chief fashion critic, Cathy Horyn, retired. And in October 2013, Horyn's reviewing partner, reporter Eric Wilson, left the paper to become the fashion news director at InStyle. The Times hired reporters John Koblin and Matthew Schneier to replace them, with Schneier presumably taking on Wilson's role as second critic. (Horyn and Menkes often reviewed the same shows, so it made sense that -- as the two papers become more intertwined -- there was no need to bring on someone as senior as Horyn to fill that role.) But now that Menkes is leaving, the Times will likely be on the lookout for a chief critic--and maybe someone based in New York. Names that immediately come to mind are Style.com's Nicole Phelps, Lynn Yaeger, the FT's Vanessa Friedman and WWD's Bridget Foley, but that is only speculation.
Menkes' start date will be confirmed in due course, according to a Vogue rep.
This post was updated to include a statement from the International New York Times.