As Carine Roitfeld stepped down from her role as editor in chief of French Vogue at the end of January she left the fashion world full of questions: Why has she left? What will she do next? What collaborations does she have in the pipeline? Arguably one of France’s most stylish women, Karl Lagerfeld once said that if you close your eyes and imagine the ideal French woman, it would be Carine Roitfeld.
After being scouted aged 18 in Paris, Roitfeld began modeling and then writing and styling for French Elle. On turning freelance she teamed up with prolific photographer Mario Testino in the 1990s creating multiple advertising campaigns and shoots for French and American Vogue and The Face. She then went on to work as a consultant and muse for Tom Ford at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent for six years, before being approached by Condé Nast’s chairman Jonathan Newhouse to edit French Vogue in 2001. Resigning earlier this year she left an incredible ten-year legacy behind her. Praised for her visionary direction, which led French Vogue to record circulation figures and advertising and editorial success, she also controversially played with race (Lara Stone's 'Blackface' fashion shoot), gender (Andre J. bearded in drag on the cover) and nudity.
Whilst many ponder what will be next for the provocative, subversive and fearless Roitfeld (since leaving Vogue she has already teamed up with Karl Lagerfeld to style Chanel’s autumn/winter 2011 campaign as well as guest-editing and featuring in Barney’s autumn/winter 2011 campaign) October sees the launch of irreverent – which instead takes a look back at her legendary 30-year career. Edited by Olivier Zahm and Alex Wiederin with contributions by an A-Z list of leading fashion figures – including Anna Wintour, Tom Ford, Miuccia Prada, Martin Margiela and Mario Testino – this publication offers an inspiring and insightful look into Roitfeld’s creative thought process and audacious sensibility. Here in The AnOther Proust Questionnaire we try to delve deeper into Roitfeld’s true mindset as Jefferson Hack poses his set of questions to the iconic stylist and editor.
What are you thinking of right now?
Everything I have to do in September!
What makes you laugh?
People who have a sense of humour without knowing it.
What makes you cry?
When I think about my parents (they are both dead) .
What do you consider to be the greatest invention?
Do you have a mentor or inspirational figure that has guided or influenced you?
No! Different people… not just one!
Where do you feel most at home?
Where are you right now?
On a train.
What is your proudest achievement in work?
Being myself and never trying to ‘imitate’ anyone.
What is your proudest achievement in life?
What do you most dislike about contemporary culture?
The rumours on blogs.
What do you most like about the age we live in?
The capacity to travel so quickly.
At what points do life and work intersect?
There’s no separation; one life.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Talent is nothing without work. And freedom has no price.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Following my instinct.
Recommend a book or poem that has changed your perspective on life?
Dostoevsky's books; 1984 by George Orwell and Les Fleurs du Mal by Baudelaire .
What is your earliest childhood memory?
Fighting with my older brother Pierre.
What’s the most important relationship in your life?
Sisley, “my husband’ I’m not married to.
What’s the most romantic action you’ve taken?
Swan Lake in Mariinsky theatre in my first visit in St. Petersburg in winter.
What’s the most spiritual action you’ve taken?
I prefer action than to be "spiritual". My first serious involvement was with AmFAR against Aids .
If you could wish for one change in the world what would it be?
Freedom of thought – everywhere.
In the latest issue of AnOther Magazine autumn/winter 2011, we speak to Alex Weiderin about his contribution to irreverent.
Carine Roitfeld: irreverent is edited by Olivier Zahm and Alex Wiederin, with an introduction by Cathy Horyn and published by Rizzoli priced at £60. It is available from all good booksellers and online.
Text by Lucia Davies