Interview: Carine Roitfeld Talks Fashion, Creativity, and Taking Risks

FrenchFlicks met in New York with Carine Roitfeld, queen of the French fashion world. She is the subject of Fabien Constant's documentary, Mademoiselle C., just released in the US

Up until February 2011, Carine Roitfeld was head honcho at the French edition at Vogue. She is known for her sweltering gaze, black stilettos and the art direction of fashion photo shoots that would make mom cover your eyes. A stylist, writer and muse to some of the greatest figures in her world, including Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford, and Mario Testino, she will now be able to show off her behind the scenes persona.  

The film does not necessarily focus on her background, or even her days at Vogue Paris. Instead, Fabien Constant, a young and bright eyed fashion filmmaker, chose to build his plot around Roitfeld's resignation of her role of at Vogue, and her embarkment on her new adventure, CR Fashion Book. The film offers an inside look on creating a magazine from the ground up and all of the drama, talent, and beauty that ensues. 

FrenchFlicks : Can you describe what your reaction was when you saw Mademoiselle C. for the very first time?

Carine Roitfeld: I think I might have been biting a knife... but also I think it was very honest. Once I passed over seeing myself on the big screen, it was almost like a therapy.  

Is there a particular reason you decided to do Mademoiselle C? 

Fabien Constant: The story of the creation of this magazine, [CR Fashion Book] is the best story I can tell. I didn't expect it to be this personal. It took me 9 months to make this documentary, and it so happens that Carine's story right now is about rebirth, and her granddaughter becomes the center of the entire project.  

What was the most difficult part for you, transitioning from French Vogue to your own publication?

CR: It was very quick. It was not very difficult, but very different. You have to create everything by yourself. It was freeing and very exciting. You never stop. Honestly I've never worked so much on so many projects and I never had time to have the blues. I think freedom is a luxury, but it's a genius luxury. I never want to leave it. You make errors, but you make errors for yourself. It's a new life for me. 

Have you ever worried what the worst case scenario would be if you ventured out on your own? 

CR: I never think this way. I'm fearless. I always think something good is happening. I love to work and when you believe in yourself, and you believe you give hard work, there's no reason to stop. You'll always find work to do. I have no time to be anxious.  

Where do you see CR Fashion Book in the future?

CR: It's difficult to create a new magazine, so we're trying to create a very beautiful book that everyone can collect. I don't think we can grow so much because our dynamic is intimate. We also want to keep it exclusive because one of the problems in fashion is that you have to go through so many people, so you can not be as creative. I think all of the people at CR love fashion, foster my creativity or my craziness, and will have a good career. I hope we take on some years because I'm very happy with my team. We have a lot of fun and we want to grow. 

How does your approach differ from CR Fashion Book to Harper's Bazaar?

CR: I will say I take more risks with CR than with Bazaar. Bazaar appeals to people all over the globe, whereas CR will appeal to fashion lovers and fashion people. You'll see in the next issue of CR. 

In Mademoiselle C, a lot of difficult challenges arose, for example, photographers were unable to work with you and models cancelled. How did you handle that, especially with your title?

CR: In the beginning, I of course found it very difficult, but then I realized it was my good luck. I would have been working with the same people whom I really like, but who would have given me the same thing. Now I have to push myself to find new people. New photographers, new makeup artists, new hairdressers, new art direction, new stylists, new people. I think this is CR's great luck because it is now a very fresh magazine. You have big names, like Armani and Givenchy, but then you have young photographers, young models and young designers all mixed together. It makes it a very rich magazine, and I think this is the strength of CR. If I could do everything as I did before, it would not be as new for me. I love risk. 

Did you ever think you would become this big in fashion?

CR: No. Things just happen through people you meet. I met Mario Testino, which was great for me, because he brought me to another level. I met Tom Ford and he brought me to Gucci, and became international. I never was expecting or planning to one day become editor of Vogue, and definitely never expected to have a documentary made about my life. Honestly, I'm just enjoying the day. Even though I'm a hard- worker, I never take anything too seriously. 

Do you prefer New York, or Paris? 

CR: I'm very lucky to live in both cities. When I need some rest, or have a day off, I prefer Paris because it's delicious. I get to see my kids and granddaughter. I'm very happy to have my French background and education, but it is easier to work in New York. When you want to make your dream come true... New York is here.

Click here for theaters and showtimes in the US.

Nicole Eicholtz

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