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LVMH Bans Editor From Its Fashion Shows

October 12, 2001|VALLI HERMAN-COHEN and MICHAEL QUINTANILLA | TIMES FASHION WRITERS

PARIS — Fashion fireworks ignited Wednesday when the French mega-luxury conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton gave the designer boot in the pants to Suzy Menkes, veteran fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune.

The company, which owns a number of fashion houses including Christian Dior and Givenchy, banned the highly respected Menkes from the rest of its shows this week. A tight-lipped Menkes acknowledged Thursday that she was told "I'm not welcome at LVMH shows."

But she also confessed, "You know, this is not the first time this has happened to me," adding that in the past she has been banned from other shows, including Versace and Gianfranco Ferre.

According to reports, LVMH president Bernard Arnault told the editor of the Paris-based daily of the ban just as the Givenchy show was about to begin.

He reportedly was unhappy with the headline--"Dior's Aggression Misses the New Romantic Beat"--of her Christian Dior review, in which she wrote, "John Galliano is stuck in a rut at Dior." Arnault could not be reached for comment.

Menkes was visibly upset when there was no welcome mat for her at the Givenchy show.

She was not seen at John Galliano's signature collection on Thursday. Louis Vuitton will show today.

Ego-driven designers are famous for sparring with their critics. Karl Lagerfeld barred old pro Carrie Donovan from his front row for telling New York Times readers when his collections tanked.

Geoffrey Beene had a long-running feud with Women's Wear Daily when an assistant--not the editor--came to review a show. And just last October, in a previous LVMH flap, London Sunday Times fashion writer Colin McDowell was banned from the Givenchy show, then designed by Alexander McQueen.

As for the Menkes uproar, other fashion editors reacted with outrage. According to the online publication Fashion Wire Daily, Hilary Alexander of the British broadsheet the Daily Telegraph commented: "It's really rather shocking. Whatever happened to freedom of the press?"

Franca Sozzani, editor in chief of Italian Vogue, said, "This is unjust."

And Didier Grumbach, president of the Chambre Syndicale, the governing body of the French prt-a-porter shows, was stunned and puzzled, offering, "It can't be true?"

*

Valli Herman-Cohen reported from Paris, Michael Quintanilla from Los Angeles.

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