Style Setter: Q & A Carine Roitfeld

By  September 12, 2013

Few individuals have the power to incite such influence with just a look. Carine Roitfeld built her career in magazines but quickly became both a muse and street style star, extending her power to both the glossy pages of monthlies and the digital landscape of websites. With the third issue of CR Fashion Book hitting stores alongside her documentary, Mademoiselle C, Roitfeld talked to Glam about everything from her go-to flats to her good friends in fashion.

Q & A with Carine Roitfeld

Q: What advice would you give to girls looking to emulate your style?
A: People say you look like a Parisian; What is a Parisian. Is it a dream? In Paris, it’s not like New York or London. It’s very difficult to wear different clothes because everyone looks at you. You’re not very comfortable with red hair or tattoos. You have to be a bit low profile. To be low profile you have to find a trick. It’s to highlight everything you don’t see. So to be Parisian, you have a black skirt a black shirt, with the perfect black lace under or have a nice tie. It’s the way you put your perfume. It’s not to show anything. It’s the way to cross your legs, the way to hold your bag. Parisians are funny people. Someone can have a conversation, who has instruction and can talk about movies, theater, coffee, art, everything. Parisians are funny people. In France we are very low profile because the street is not nice for different people. You have to find something more deep.
Q: How long did it take you to get comfortable with the cameras?
A: I never got comfortable with the camera. I’m much more fun without the camera than with the camera. And I’m not a very good actress. There are very good supporting actors in the film – Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford, Riccardo Tisci. Even my team, Stephen Gan, the way he describes the process of the magazine. You just see me running everywhere, running, running, running. What’s she running for? He explains how we do the magazine. Finally people see it’s possible in fashion: friendship.
Q: How does it feel to have created this documentary with your good friend?
A: It’s more than 15 years I’ve been good friends with Stephen. We always said one day we’re going to do a magazine. There are so many magazines so to do a new magazine is a lot of work a lot of risk. But it’s a lot of passion. We’re working on Bazaar together, we did this film together, we’ve done a lot of things. Friendship is possible in fashion.
Q: You have such a strong family; how do you balance your work and personal life?
A: When you see me with my family, to raise kids and have a family, it’s impossible in fashion. It’s not always easy. I was very low-key. I was not working as much when my kids were young. We have a very good relationship; we’re like a block you know. I think it’s very important these days to have something to refresh. When you’re an Editor in Chief of a magazine, everything is beautiful. Great, but it’s not reality. Sometimes your family can be the only truth you can have.
Q: Can you explain how it feels to have your friends and fellow fashion influencers speak to your talent on film?
A: Finally you listen to these people say things you’ve never heard usually. It’s the first time you hear, ‘Oh he likes me, he really loves me.’ Tom Ford said all these nice things about me and I’ve never heard Stephen say so many good, nice things about me. For me, it was like ‘wow.’ If I forget me when I’m feeling horrible, I’ll just listen and think it makes me feel very sensitive about it.
Q: What was the first fashion show you ever went to?
A: It was in France. There were not so many fashion shows like today. I got no invitations, so as a student, I had to wait outside until someone let you in. That’s the reason when I go to the shows, I always try to bring with me one or two students to see the show. Now there are so many magazines, you have to invite so many people.The spaces are smaller and smaller so they don’t have the space or security to invite all these people who love fashion. These people make the vibe in the room. We need all those people to do the clapping the screaming, we need all these people totally in love with fashion to make a show. I always try to bring one or two inside because it’s the dream, I think of me when I started.I think it’s the only business where you go down the ladder. You start standing and finally you go down and you finish first row. I think it’s very interesting because even when you’re not in a big magazine like I am now, it’s like where am I going to be seated. It’s very political. Now I’m not with the French country, I’m with the American country so I see French in front and say, ‘Oh I changed countries totally!’ I still have a good seat, phew! You never know. Fashion is very stressful! Sometimes you see editors in chief that you respect in not very good seats. You say, “Oh my god, these people who were so respected, they don’t remember them. I don’t think it’s very nice. You never know where you’re going to be seated. Now they never know where to sit me! Sometimes they put me by some social people but sometimes it’s not bad. You could be seated by Bradley Cooper!
Q: How has the business aspect of your work changed now that you run your own magazine?
A: Business is so important, you want to please advertisers. It’s very difficult to please everyone and be creative. Everyone is so frightened. You always make an error. When you try to please everyone you become boring. I try to protect design. I suffered this for ten years so now I decide, all the advertisers are in alphabetical order. And finally I have no problems. No one says anything.
Q: With the abundance of magazines, how can you stand out?
A: There are so many magazines today. I think we have to be like Steve Jobs, always different. If you’re not different you’re just another one. Everyone sees the same shows at the same time, but it’s the idea of transmission.
Q: What’s the un-glamorous part of the documentary?
A: You see me running a lot in the airport in flat shoes. I’m not always in high heels. Very old Prada like a string. Very Parisian.