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Wear, what, why when? Black Comme des Garçons is the blue-collar of fashion

Fashion editors love fashion. Sometimes we’re even willing to put it on our backs

One of the missiles often thrown at the fashion world is that, despite proselytising over the clothes worn on the catwalks, many of the journalists don’t sport the designers they deify. Instead, it’s a sea of black at the international collections.

That’s more practical than aesthetic, though. From my own experience at the shows – having just come out of a round of menswear and couture that stretched, almost unbroken, from mid-June to last Wednesday – black is always back. It doesn’t show the creases or the stains. You can sweat in black and it won’t mark. It goes with everything: especially if everything is black. It’s simple, and it’s brainless.

“We were once described as ‘black crows’… in a uniform of Comme des Garçons or Yohji Yamamoto,” said Suzy Menkes, former fashion editor of this newspaper, now of the International Herald Tribune.

Black is the fashion clan’s working wardrobe – a black jacket is our blue-collar. But it’s not really fashion. Fashion is about dressing up, showing off. If we weren’t living out of a suitcase for six weeks, we wouldn’t wear black. Turn to Menkes again for the authoritative example: a selection of her wardrobe is about to go under the hammer at Christie’s in London, under the whimsical title “In My Fashion”. And very little of it is black. Instead, you get Ossie Clark chiffons, Christian Lacroix checks, and an Yves Saint Laurent jacket in ice-cream shades of duchesse satin, emblazoned with an embroidered sun. Menkes sported it at her first catwalk show as fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune in 1988.

Menkes isn’t the only editor whose frocks have fallen under the hammer of late: on 25 June, a selection of the late, great Diana Vreeland’s garments was auctioned in London. There was plenty of black there – but Vreeland’s black was encrusted with Indian embroidery to match a Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Gala theme. Again, it was Saint Laurent.

What am I getting at here? The fact that fashion editors genuinely love fashion – the best of them, at least. Sometimes we’re even willing to put it on our backs. You couldn’t do this job otherwise.