- fashion -
The fabulous destiny of
Former model, former editor-in-chief of Vogue and Tom Ford’s muse, Carine Roitfeld has founded her own magazine, CR Fashion Book, heads up her own label and has launched a perfume brand. The superstar stylist, who was very close to Karl Lagerfeld, has also become a consultant for the famous designer’s brand. Both fascinating and iconic, self-taught Carine Roitfeld is a source of inspiration in fashion. Here’s what she shared with us.
How do you explain this frenzied interest in your work?
I can’t explain it! I’m a very simple person in everyday life. It’s terrible when you’re told that you’re a legend, which sounds very old, I think; but people aren’t afraid of me, they feel entirely free to ask me for a selfie in the street!
How would you define your highly acclaimed style?
I wear fairly classic clothes, I don’t like things that scream for attention, possibly due to my French upbringing. I would rather wear a trench coat and let people guess what’s underneath than show it right away. I always have a detail that doesn’t fit. I can team an all-black look with white shoes or a white shirt with black underwear showing beneath it! I don’t like preconceived ideas. Why can’t we wear heels with jogpants, a djellaba with a Chanel jacket, a child-size T-shirt so it’s shorter, or have our hair in our faces? I like to ensure there’s always a rebellious touch.
How did you acquire a taste for fashion?
I grew up in the 16th arrondissement of Paris and my mother was a subscriber to Elle magazine. Those were the first fashion photos I saw. As a teenager, I was attracted to the idea of working in this environment. One day, I quite by chance had an opportunity to become a model and ventured into this field. It was a way of getting a foot in the door of the fashion world. In 1977, I began writing articles for the press and I taught myself from then on!
How did you manage to get ahead in a milieu which is known to be so tough?
The hardest thing for me was telling my parents that I wanted to work in fashion! I was an excellent student at school and at the time working in this environment was frowned upon.
What is your favorite aspect of fashion?
I have many ideas and I like finding original pieces and mixing styles to create an amazing result. In fashion, you have to be creative and I love that!
What was the spark that launched your career?
I worked for a long time with photographer Mario Testino and I wanted to bring a new style to the shoots. As far as I’m concerned, a real girl bites her nails, tugs on her hair, pulls her shirt down over her skirt! Showing all these attitudes on photos with a very natural, sexy and chic aspect appealed to people. Our new style of shots quickly attracted attention.
Everything went very quickly for you after that?
Tom Ford wanted me to do consulting for Gucci. I became his muse and shared my opinions with him. Over the years, my activity in fashion has grown, not only in France but also all over the world. Then Condé Nast’s boss, Jonathan Newhouse, offered me the position of editor-in-chief for Vogue Paris.The adventure lasted ten years.
Launching a fashion brand would have been a logical next step, but instead you decided to create your perfume brand – why so?
Fragrances offer me a breath of fresh air, which was a novelty! I’m involved in lots of collaborative endeavors with fashion, so I didn’t want to feel a sense of déjà vu.
How are you finding this new experience?
I am very demanding and have uncommon tastes. I don’t like sweet scents such as rose or orange and I hate grapefruit; in short, nothing already on store shelves appealed to me. That’s why I battled my way ahead and worked with three Noses to create original fragrances. I wanted this collection to cause a shock, so I made some amazing mixes and I am very proud of the result. My son Vladimir and I have been very involved in this new adventure!
What’s your life motto?
To keep surprising people and never do what people expect one to do! I certainly learnt a lot about that from working with Karl Lagerfeld and Tom Ford.
Based on an interview by Anouk Julien-Blanco
© H. Slimane
© S. Faena
© S. Faena