The International Herald Tribune's Suzy Menkes wrote a lengthy, thoughtful piece this weekend about the current case of designer musical chairs at major fashion houses, which posits that designers are being treated as commodities "bought and dispensed with as the corporate house pleases" rather than the "artistic and fragile people" they truly are.
She accurately paints a picture of the current situation with Dior, YSL and Jil Sander, which has designers leaving, being fired from and returning to these houses--and the fashion industry watching and gossiping as it all goes down. Menkes' point is summarized in the article's headline: "We Are All Guilty for This Mess."
It's true that corporate conglomerates aren't the only ones to blame--some designers are guilty of presenting themselves as commodities and the end of an era in which designers are alive and well enough to design for the houses they founded, paired with a changing global marketplace, means that those conglomerates have to do what they have to do to compete. However, Menkes also blames the internet. This is a little more difficult to swallow. Accusing bloggers and Twitter-users of false reporting while simultaneously separating bloggers from journalists (which she has done before) and defending her own speculation about a YSL shake-up last season, Menkes writes,
Then there are us, the journalists surrounded by a sea of bloggers. The Twitter world magnifies and distorts reality, as I found out last autumn when my speculation, based on sound information, that Raf Simons had been talking to Yves Saint Laurent people was transformed by the Twitter world into a done deal.
No grain of gossip is too small to grow into a mighty story.
She seems to take issue with how quick the "cybersphere" is to report on speculation instead of awaiting official confirmation, citing last season's rumor that Raf Simons would replace Pilati at YSL, which she started, as an example. Her review of Milan Fashion Week last September began,
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.
What Menkes does not acknowledge is the fact that Jessica Michault, the online style editor of the International Herald Tribune, is the one who tweeted "Suzy Menkes breaks the news that Raf Simons is slated to take over the helm at Yves Saint Laurent. Read it online on the NYT” and that's what, understandably, lead the cybersphere to believe it was more than a rumor.
Ironically, in yesterday's "We Are All Guilty For This Mess," Menkes drops a Dior rumor in basically the same way she threw that Raf Simons rumor out there last year--only she clarified it as such, saying:
The situation is not universally toxic. The collaboration between Donatella Versace and Christopher Kane with his sister Tammy is a sweet reminder of the Gianni Versace/Donatella years. But what if — as the rumor mill claims — Mr. Kane has been put up for the Dior job? There will be yet another round of musical chairs.
Christopher Kane at Dior? The Scottish wunderkind, who designs his own line, as well as collaborating with Donatella Versace on Versus, had his name tossed into the ring when all the Dior rumors began last year, but this is the first we've heard it in a while. And as should come as no surprise to Menkes, Twitter is abuzz with the rumor and Grazia, Vogue UK and The Cut have already reported it, as have a slew of fashion blogs, and now us.
Because that's what happens when the internet exists--information travels quickly. Is that such a bad thing?