Carine Roitfeld, the former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, stepped down a year ago, and we’re still shocked. After a decade, the magazine had become synonymous with her trademark tough-edged Parisian style and, also, who just ups and leaves Vogue?
Since then, her star power has hardly diminished. Essentially a free agent, Roitfeld, 57, creates books and collaborates on campaigns for fashion houses and emporiums-unreal, in an industry where people often define themselves by the luxury brand or title they work for.
“I’m free,” she says simply.
We chat about what she’s been up to, including a new book with longtime friend Karl Lagerfeld and her very own magazine.
Can you recall the first time you ever met Karl?
Of course. We never forget the first time with Karl. He invited me for lunch and I was like, “Oh la la! What can I tell to Karl?” He’s so incredible and knows so many languages. I was very insecure. But for me it was very fun, and easy immediately. My father was raised in Germany. And Karl was happy to talk about this German singer my father loved. He really knows about everything. The next day, he sent me a selection of CDs by this singer. That is Karl. He’s the kind of person where, if he sees me at a party, the next day I’ll receive a drawing of myself from Karl.
It seems like you two have been working together a lot lately.
I’m back to working with him more as an editor. We just finished a book about a little black Chanel jacket. I dressed all of these people in the Chanel jacket, sometimes it’s very big, sometimes it’s very small. Anna Wintour, Sarah Jessica Parker and different people, even a little three-year-old girl. It will be released in March.
You recently released your own book, Irreverent, which spans three decades of your career. What is it like looking back on that stage of your life now?
It’s very strange, because that book was supposed to come out one year before it actually did. But the actual moment, which was after I left Vogue, couldn’t have been a better timing for me. To make a book is like going to a shrink. You discover a lot about yourself. I don’t want to repeat the same cliché I had for 30 years. Everyone says I’m the queen of porno chic. I want to be chic, irreverent and special, but not porno anymore. It was difficult to go back to the past and all my work over the years.
Are you an emotional person? When was the last time you cried?
I’m crying very often, you know. I think it’s my Russian blood. I’m a very emotional person. I’m someone if I go to see Bambi, I cry. It’s true. And I just received bad news. There was an editor I really liked at French ELLE and she just passed away last weekend. And that put tears in my heart. Life goes very quick. The more you advance in age, the more you realize it.
Do you ever find yourself mourning for your chapter at Vogue Paris?
I don’t miss it. I spent 10 years there and that was great. I stopped French Vogue on the 31st of January, last year. And I didn’t have any Vogue blues. I jumped on a new project right away. I had no time to be sad or to look behind. I discovered and learned a lot there and now I want to do something different.
Do you still read the magazine? What’s your opinion of its current incarnation?
I don’t read Vogue Paris, honestly. I want to make a break. It’s like when you have a divorce, you don’t want to go back. And we don’t have kids in common, so…
So no regrets?
I really regret not helping the young designer more. I just realized in the past few years that we have a lot of power and can change their destiny. I’d love to create a special place for young designers in Paris. I remember meeting Riccardo Tisci, who is now at Givenchy. One day, I was in Milan. It was after the Gucci show and someone said I should go to see this young designer. After the show, I go backstage and he was so surprised to see me, he was almost crying. Givenchy was looking for young designers and I told them to have a look at him. I was the link. And now I see it.
You’re working on your own title. Do you envision it being a competitor to Vogue?
I’ll start out doing two a year and it will launch in September. I’m coming from Vogue, so it’s difficult to do another magazine after Vogue with less money. So I want to do something totally different. I want to be the Joan of Arc of fashion. I want to be the link between the runway and the real woman.