“I’m a rebel. I don’t take photos, I tell stories.” — Carine Roitfeld
The new documentary, Mademoiselle C, shows us fashion icon Carine Roitfeld’s journey through the premier of her magazine, CR Fashion Book. Roitfeld said at its outset, “I will do something totally different now, because I don’t want to get bored of myself or to bore my readers.” And bore us she does not.
Director Fabien Constant gives an unprecedented view into the work and personal life of Carine Roitfeld who, in 2011, left her position as the decade-long editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue. The appeal of the film is its honest portrayal of Roitfeld who comes across as a warm woman not operating on ego. She lets all of her humanity and vulnerabilities show.
Constant said Roitfeld “was so nervous to see herself onscreen that she sat biting her pen the whole first screening.” Roitfeld let out a laugh and nodded her head in agreement.
Throughout this documentary, Roitfeld displays a tenderness atypical of the image of the cut-throat fashion world like we saw in 2009’s The September Issue, which followed notorious ice-lady, “Nuclear Wintour,” around while she put together the annual Vogue fall fashions magazine.
Roitfeld and Constant generously agreed to sit down for an interview with Dorri Olds for The Blot. Both are French, charming, and speak with lyrical accents.
Q: It’s an honor to meet you. I have butterflies.
Carine Roitfeld: I’m more nervous than you. [Smiles]
How was it to see yourself on film?
CR: After I got used to it, then I was able to see the film. I can say it is an honest way to show how you put together a fashion magazine. Fabien [Constant] knows fashion and understands how it works.
What did you like most about yourself in the film?
CR: It was terrifying for me. I am naturally always in control. I’m happy if people understand this issue is part of a team. You cannot do on your own, even if one person is deciding everyone is working together. Always, the message I want to tell people is it’s a team on each issue and a team on each shoot. There is the photographer, model, hair, makeup, and everyone is important and everything about sharing, not ego. Even with Karl [Lagerfeld], there’s no ego. You see Karl pushing the baby stroller and he is a good man. This is very important. I’m so tired of this vision of fashion as a diva with ego, you think of big dark glasses to be pretentious, and keeping away from the people. This movie is about real life and working and sharing.
What can you say about the inevitable comparison between this film and The Devil Wears Prada and The September Issue?
CR: The Devil Wears Prada was made with actresses so this is big difference. I’m not an actress. [Smiles] The September Issue I think was a good documentary about that magazine [Vogue] but very different. There were two things in common—work and passion. When you see Grace Coddington fight [with Anna Wintour] for a shooting, you feel she love fashion and we have this in common. After that it’s another world.
You mean between the two magazines?
Yes. It’s not the same amount of money. The production is different. I think they [Vogue] are more business and we’re more creativity, but it’s fashion so you can see both and I think it works.
Was it important to include your family in the film?
CR: I’ve always mixed personal life and work and it was a chance to show my family. But, to be honest with you, when Fabien asked me to do this documentary about the first issue of CR, I didn’t expect it to be so personal. I was a bit surprised by his editing—that it was all about my life. We left all the doors open for Fabien to do what he like. We said, “Okay, you can film me doing ballet and relating with my family and my friends,” but when Fabien edited the film—which was his responsibility—I was a bit surprised. If I had edited I’m sure it would be very different. The way he edited is a good thing for people to see, especially for women who think there’s no way to raise a family and work in fashion. Yes, with fashion it can be difficult to find time, and it is a lot of work, but it’s possible. People say that in fashion, people are not nice and friendship is not possible but it is.
Fabien Constant: What I like about fashion is it’s like watching a bunch of crazy people working hard all day long for the most useless thing in the world, a picture. But this picture will bring beauty in the world and change the world. Like when Carine is talking about ballet in the movie. It’s so much effort for just the beauty of a gesture. That’s what fashion is about.
CR: Maybe before they see this [film], people had no idea how much work is behind a picture. It can seem very effortless but there is a lot, a lot, of work behind. It’s exactly like to do ballet, hours and hours but when you go onstage it’s just the pleasure of dancing. When you make a picture, you forget about all the packing, flying, and how stressful it was. When you see the image you get so much pleasure.
Mademoiselle C opens today in select theaters and features Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford, Donatella Versace, Georgio Armani, Dianne Von Furstenberg and more. September 11, 2013. English and French with subtitles. Unrated. 90 minutes.