In the midst of changing fashion diameters in the new digital era, Suzy Menkes and Hilary Alexander, two of the industry’s most treasured gems, talked about what this change would mean for the graduates this year, and for the industry as a whole. Menkes, who was the former fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune, has been commenting on the fashion industry for over 25 years, and is now the International Fashion Editor for nineteen international editions of Vogue.com. As someone who has attended Graduate Fashion Week almost every year, Menkes has watched budding designers rise to fame and world wide recognition, both individually, and at some of the best fashion houses in the world. According to Menkes the beauty of Graduate Fashion Week is that it is always aware of the wider fashion world, which is becoming more important in the wake of designers such as Tom Ford and Burberry challenging the traditional. She says, “The whole idea is to open books and see the detail of how these things are made”, something that sets GFW aside from process of larger names and fashion houses.
When the conversation changes to what is expected of the graduates this year Menkes is quick to clarify that there is no boundary that shouldn’t be pushed. The collections should be “a record of the times we live in”, which has certainly been the theme throughout today’s shows, having displayed a myriad of modern, futuristic styles. In fact Menkes is particularly enthusiastic about the effect the digital era has had on finding a job for young graduates. “It is almost impossible not to get a job”, she says, “It may not be the exact one you want, but it’s always best to get on the ladder and gain experience”. A pertinent piece of advice from someone who ditched fashion designing immediately because she was “no good”, and proceeded to work her way up the ladder to become one of the most important fashion journalists of our time.
Despite not having interviewed in over 15 years, Menkes was clear on her advice for getting a job in an ever growing, ever more competitive market. “Be yourself, don’t be shy about your talents, and always have clarity”. Within the atmosphere of fashion hopefuls and career opportunities that Graduate Fashion Week prides itself on, Menkes has instilled her precious wisdom on those of us looking to advance our fashion careers. An inestimable commodity in the competitive industry we’re trying to thrive in.
Photography by Angharad Thomas
Written by Tallulah Belassie-Page