Ingrid Sischy, the widely respected editor and journalist, was a lot of things to a lot of people, but to fashion designers, above all, she was a connecter, one of the few magazine editors who instinctively spoke their language.
Sischy, who served as an international editor of Condé Nast International since 2008, and is most widely known for her contributions to Vanity Fair, Interview, and Art Forum magazines, died of breast cancer at the age of 63 on Friday. She was a fearless and outspoken editor, and a defender of fashion designers’ creative ascendance to artists, and a protector of their often fragile egos.
Most likely every major designer was profiled by Sischy during her career, and became her friends, like Helmut Lang, Jil Sander, John Galliano, and Calvin Klein, all of whom turned to her when it came time to telling their stories, especially when they were at their most controversial. It was not that she was soft on them (quite the contrary), it was that her respect for their world was so obvious. She was of the school of editors who used the word “genius” with gusto, to describe something as simple as the cut of a silhouette. When Lang decided he didn’t want to attend a Council of Fashion Designers of America awards event, he sent Sischy in his place. When Klein needed an introduction at an awards night, it was Sischy who penned the tribute.
Throughout her career, she maintained a steady eye on the merging worlds of fashion, art, and celebrity, a combination that was obvious in the pages of Interview, where she connected designers like Donna Karan, Miuccia Prada, and Karl Lagerfeld, and worked with her longtime partner, the publisher Sandra Brant. Like many editors who have been around a while, I once had the pleasure of working for Sischy as one of my first internships, at Interview in 1991, and it was there I saw her charm subjects from Mark Wahlberg to Jason Priestley. Herb Ritts came to see her in the office. Bruce Weber, too. Lagerfeld once spent an entire day in the art department. She was always wearing black.
But the moment I remember that said so much about just how sincerely Sischy cared about fashion designers was the morning she arrived to the office in tears, looking as if the world had come to an end. People rushed to her side. What was wrong? What happened? Sischy held up a copy of that day’s Women’s Wear Daily, which detailed the financial pitfalls at that time of one of her favorites.
"Azzedine Alaïa," she cried, "is closing his store!"