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Carine Roitfeld, j'adore. (Or yes, I want to be a Roitfeld.)

January 7, 2010

Montage of Carine Roitfeld

I’m sure I had heard the name Carine Roitfeld before. I’ve read French Vogue, which Ms. Roitfeld has edited since 2001. But honestly, two years in graduate school (much of which was spent thinking about past centuries forgotten by most) is enough to interrupt anyone’s connection to the outside world. So here’s the photo that brought Carine Roitfeld back to my awareness, glamorous but defintitely enjoying the the Purple magazine party at the Boom Boom Room in New York City (Source).

Carine Roitfeld livng the high life at the Boom Boom Room, New York

Now that I am back in the real world and have had a chance to reconnect with the reality I’ve missed for two years, I must say that I’ve become quickly enamored of Ms. Roitfeld. As the name of the site suggests, perhaps I am not alone in my admiration. I was particularly amused by the site’s recent posting that the New York  Post has labeled Carine In and American Vogue’s Anna Wintour Out, but I’m sure that many would rather spend an evening out with Carine than with her American counterpart.

But what makes me so fond of Carine Roitfeld ? Her past explains enough for me. Before taking on French Vogue, Carine was a leading stylist best known for her work with photographer Mario Testino and designer Tom Ford. Jess Cartner-Morley summed it up best in the Guardian :

She made her name as one part of a glorious trio, alongside Tom Ford and Mario Testino, who together created a decadent aura of sexual allure around the Gucci brand in the 1990s. Ford designed the clothes, Roitfeld styled how the models wore them, Testino took the photos – the Gucci they created together tapped into a look everyone wanted a piece of. (Source )

Without me knowing at the time, Carine was creating those iconic images that would influence my aesthetic taste. I can’t help but look back at the images from the nineties and think that they are the epitome of cool, or at least of a certain kind. And Carine was at the nexus of the cool. She told the Guardian :

Gucci was totally in my image,” she says simply. “Tom used me as – how do you say? – his female half. He would design clothes, and then ask me how I would wear them. […] That’s what is important in a picture sometimes: the way you roll up the sleeves of a shirt, the way you handle a bag, the way you cross your legs, these can make the biggest difference.” (Source )

Gucci Spring 1997 campaign from the Ford/Roitfeld/Testino era | Photography by Mario Testino

That sense of personal style and confidence is what it’s all about, transcending merely turning oneself into a billboard of consumer consumption by showing off labels. (See what Carine thinks of that obsession here.) Of course, a fashion editor would never outright say that one doesn’t need to be wearing the brands that buy advertising, pages, but isn’t classic French style based upon not what you’re wearing  but how you’re wearing it? Just as one of my professors once commented about literature, tout est dans le style – everything is in the style.

Carine Roitfeld, Editor in Chief, French Vogue

For more of the Roitfeld exprience, check out the recent CNN documentary from 2009 :

Here are some additional articles:

  • “Anti-Anna” from New York magazine replete with veiled criticisms in the mag’s typical style.
  • An éloge from Hedi Slimane, former Yves Saint Laurent and Dior designer

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