Imagine the level of whimsical excitement Dorothy felt in her ruby slippers along the yellow brick road to meet the Wizard of Oz. Now times that by nine hundred and see me in a Barneys Co-Op high black sandal walking the streets of midtown Manhattan, moments before meeting former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, Carine Roitfeld. The entire experience should have been far from ordinary, yet the eagle eye style mogul made the extraordinary opportunity feel like a conversation between two friends who love fashion.
“Mademoiselle C” chronicles 90 minutes of Carine’s launch of the first issue of her new magazine, CR Fashion Book. Her inner circle of friends, including Donatella Versace, Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld, Mario Testino, Riccardo Tisci, Diane Von Furstenberg and Alexander Wang, all make appearances. As I said to Carine earlier this week, c’est tout cela et plus encore.
Did you know Mademoiselle C would be so personal?
When Fabien Constant asked me to do the film, about the first issue of CR, I thought yes because it will be a birth of the film and the birth of CR. I did not realize it would be so personal. I was a bit shocked when I saw it for the first time.
Of course, I’m just meeting you now, but I can already feel you are warm of heart. In the film, you are so vulnerable. In the scene when you are practicing your split in dance class, you say: “It hurts so much, but you can’t let it show.” There is some truth to that as it relates to women in our industry. What are your thoughts about the idea of ‘never let them see you cry’?
I think, you know, I’m tough with myself. Always. I try to push, all the time, through the more difficult door. It’s also true for the more chic things, too. Don’t show it’s difficult. It’s the same when you are preparing for a party. Maybe it takes two hours to get dressed but you want the look as if it took two minutes. Easy. Easy is what I want. Even when I’m working with Karl Lagerfeld I have to prepare everything before, so when we go into the shoot it seems, for Karl, so easy.
Yes, effortless. Yes, I think this is a good thing. I think because this is a proper business you have to arrive cool.
Your obsession with babies and birth, or rebirth, are a theme in the film as a result of the focus for the first issue of CR Fashion Book. I’m curious, what are you obsessed with today, September 3, 2013?
I’m obsessed with the new issue coming out. It’s all about hope and Caravaggio. I’ve become obsessed with his paintings. It’s about redemption. It’s exciting because when I’m obsessed with something, I learn. And, I love to learn. I learned all about Caravaggio. The people in his life, his ideas. It’s very important for me to keep learning.
Where are the ideas coming from? What inspires you?
From you! I’m looking at you. At what you’re wearing. Thinking where is this shirt from? I like the detail on it. I always look at people. And people think I’m judging them, but I’m not. I’m not judging anyone. I’m just curious. And when you look, this sense of observation, it’s a way of thinking. I’m very near life. I’m not creating a lot. It’s just what I see in life. Wherever I am.
You’ve mentioned you are superstitious. I am, too, and I’m curious if you remember your dreams. If so, do they influence your creative process?
Oh, I’m very superstitious. The dreams? Unfortunately, no. I would love that, but no. I am a dreamer and I try to make my dreams happen. To make a story. With a person, a photographer, a magazine. With this film.
What about with this film?
It’s really important to believe in it. For this film, it shows it’s possible to be a mom in fashion. It is possible. Friendship is possible. I’m very lucky. When you see my relationship with Steven Gan, my friend of 15 years, I didn’t know what he would say about me on film, but I discovered the truth of the dream of two friends to do a magazine together. We have a lot of fun. He makes me laugh so much. So, the film shows friendship is possible, motherhood is possible, it’s hope. It shows you can be crazy, and I’m crazy, but also the important things. I’m always there. I respect people, I will be there if someone dies and pay last respects. Maybe it’s the education from my Dad…
Are these the qualities you would never want to lose?
Yes, and it is what I try to teach my kids, too. To be very respectful, to make their own choices, to work hard. To not work for many employers. Free is to be on your own. Even though I listen to everyone very carefully and I respect everyone, at the end of the day it’s my instinct. I follow my instinct and I’m always right with it.
What will never go out of style?
My God. Style will always exist…all around the planet…when I think of style, I think: I love clothes. Some people think fashion is very superficial. When I was young I thought if I said I want to work in fashion people would think I had no interest in life. And finally, I realized it is an interest in life. For me, when I see shows like McQueen, fashion is art. To work with artists is very important to me. And, the art of dressing. Sometimes you don’t feel well, but you put something on and you like it, and you feel much better.
Your Singular Beauties piece was wonderful. Can you talk about the core of your idea of beauty?
Seeing all the same girls in all of the same shows, that is boring to me. Beauty is everywhere. I like character, personality. For me, it is not possible for someone to not be beautiful. I always find something beautiful in each person. I believe that. It’s hope. The theme of my next issue. Hope.
This interview has been condensed. Image c/o Cohen Media Group.