It was a welcome break from the hectic Pitti schedule in the gilded surroundings of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence Wednesday afternoon as Suzy Menkes OBE was presented with another order to add to her collection.
Matteo Renzi, the Mayor of Florence thanked Suzy for her relentless promotion of Pitti’s young brands and designers – and her incredible contribution to an industry of which she is practically queen – as he gave her The Fiorino d’Oro of the City of Florence, making the International Herald Tribune’s Fashion Editor an honorary citizen of the Italian renaissance paradise. “I’m not often awarded money,” Suzy joked about the order, a small coin, before she gave a pretty immaculate-sounding speech in Italian. “My first memory of Florence is the oldest one,” Suzy told i-D after the ceremony. “It goes all the way back to 1968. I went with Diana Pucci, whom I’d met when I was at university in Cambridge, and I tried on all these Pucci clothes. And, you know, it’s falling in love with fashion again but it was the feel of these clothes that was so fantastic. We were in this dark palazzo and I felt the clothes almost before I saw them – these amazing silk jerseys, and then you’d see colour coming to your eye and then you’d realise that they were all inspired by these amazing parades they do in Florence. I don’t mean that I stood there and thought of all those things, but I took them all in and I think that was the first thing that I really fell in love with about Florence. But then many, many more from, you know, incredible parties held by Roberto Cavalli on the top of the hill and also all the Pitti events,” Suzy said. The CEO of Pitti, Raffaello Napoleone, paid tribute to Suzy with a moving speech, noting how the fashion critic superieur always works “with your head and with your heart”. Suzy looked touched throughout the 30-minute stream of compliments from the Mayor and Napoleone, which cemented her special relationship with Pitti. “I don’t think people who don’t come here realise how unbelievably imaginative Pitti are with their events. They were one of the first people to get Raf Simons. He showed in the Boboli Gardens. It was an amazing experience! There’s been so many of them. Each time it’s a different scenario, they find some other extraordinary place. I remember Haider Ackermann’s incredible, incredible table set up like a Caravaggio painting and then he did his menswear, which I don’t think he does anymore, in front of it,” Suzy reminisced to i-D at the intimate reception after the ceremony held under yet another of the famous ceilings of Palazzo Vecchio.
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Text: Anders Christian Madsen
Photography courtesy Pitti Press Office