The latest issue of Vogue Paris – which is also the very last issue of Carine Roitfeld as an Editor-in-chief of French Vogue- is out featuring in the cover my most favorite girl Saskia de Brauw. A week after Carine left the company she gave her first interview at Dirk Standen, parts of which you can read below.
Does one shoot stand out in your memory?
There are different ones, of course. I had a very good period where I was working at French Glamour and I was working for The Face. The “butcher” shoot with Eva Herzigova and those sort of stories. They’re memorable stories, and you say why? Maybe because it’s not just about fashion. It’s because it’s a moment of the time.
There are rumors that you were fired because of the Tom Ford issue.No, that’s wrong…I think it was a controversial issue, but they were all controversial issues. I told you, at the end of this decade, I could see that the new president in France wanted to change the direction of the magazine. I’m sure the Tom Ford issue is not the way they’re heading in the next few years, but it was not because of the Tom Ford issue. I was not fired, because if I was fired, it would not be a very nice ending. It was a discussion between Jonathan and myself, and he never fired me…I know I did a good job. I know the March issue is a record in terms of advertising. So I’m not leaving a sad magazine, an empty magazine. I’m leaving a magazine that has an epic stop. I’m very happy about that.
Speaking of Tom Ford, people are curious if you’re going to work together again.
No, no, I’m not going to work with Tom. That was ten years ago. If I look back at my CV, when I was freelance, I worked mostly ten years with Tom Ford at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. And after [that] I stopped and it was ten years at French Vogue. Now it’s a new decade and I don’t want to be doing what I was doing ten years ago. Of course, Tom is my friend and if he asks me what I think, I will answer. But I will not go and stay one week before the show and work with him.
What did you think of the super-exclusive show he did in New York?
I think it was very smart of him, just 100 journalists in his shop, and he was talking about each model and he had a sense of humor, so you see a lot of people laughing, which is fun…He did totally the contrary of everyone else and he made a big buzz, a big excitement. I think it was good not to see the [clothes] afterwards immediately on the blogs. For the editors, you feel more VIP, and it makes the buzz bigger and everyone knows about the Tom Ford collection. And really nothing came out. It was very controlled. Tom is a very controlled person, so he controlled everything…And his genius is to make the girls even more beautiful than they already are. It’s his talent. One of the girls was my daughter, and when she came out, I was anxious for her, but I thought, my gosh, she had never been so beautiful…I don’t know what he’s going to do for the next one.
What are some of your plans?
You know, I have many projects, but as a Russian, I am very superstitious, and nothing is totally clarified. I think it will be [clearer] in one month. It’s just one week since I left the magazine, but I have a lot of ideas. It will of course be in fashion, but I don’t know exactly which way—magazines or maybe the muse of someone, I don’t know exactly. But what I’m sure of, because I discovered this at the end of my decade [at Vogue], it’s very important to help young designers. My last issue is the March issue, and it’s dedicated to young designers, no advertisers, just young designers, because I think they really need the support…When you meet these kids, you learn a lot from them, and I think it gives them a lot of positive energy…I definitely want to work on a project with young designers, not just French but international…I grew up and I think I have better ideas than I had ten years ago. [For the last ten years] I didn’t have a lot of time to think about the big picture or how fashion is going to be in some years. Now it’s a good moment for me to think about fashion for today, because a lot of things have changed, and when you’re working you don’t see all these things changing. But when you stop, you can see it. You have to understand the new way of working with fashion.
What are some of those changes?
Everything is going so quick now with the Internet, with the blogs. It’s very important. There are two possibilities; either you go very quick to the Internet or you go to magazines and you make it like a collector’s item. [I still think] it’s very normal to have all these fashion weeks and to go to all these shows. Can you show them through movies? I don’t think this is possible. It’s very exciting to be at the runway, to hear the music, to feel the atmosphere, to feel what people like or don’t like. Even if there are too many shows—I would love if there were less shows—I think we have to live with the shows. But after, maybe there is another way to make fashion stories.
I’d like to talk about Paris Vogue. Was there a moment where you felt you’d really defined the voice of the magazine?
It took a little time, because when I came to Vogue ten years ago, it was not the Vogue it is today. Joan Juliet Buck, who I was working for as a freelancer, was more a journalist editor than a fashion editor, so it was focused more on the text and writers and not so much on fashion. And me, I come with all my fashion ideas, but it was very difficult at the beginning, because a lot of photographers, it’s easy to forget, didn’t want to work for the magazine…Each time we try to be better and better, and it takes almost ten years to be a team, and now I think the best team is there. It’s very sad to leave your family after ten years…But I think the times are changing, too. I said to Jonathan [Newhouse, chairman of Condé Nast International], when I can make it ten, it will be great for me. And I think in the last [period] that maybe I got less freedom than I got before, so I think it was just the right time for me to leave, because I want to enjoy and do everything that I want to do. And Jonathan was an amazing boss, because he let me do such crazy things. To put a black transsexual with a beard and high heels on the cover? I don’t think a lot of presidents will let you do that. I think it was fun to look at French Vogue. Each month was a new happening. But I think now they want to change a bit. Even the French president [Xavier Romatet, of Condé Nast France] now wants something a bit [pauses]…sweeter I would say, and if I cannot have a lot of fun, then I prefer to do something else.
Did you feel the pressure of political correctness?
I think it’s sad because when I did this Tom Ford issue, for example, we put a lot of little girls with makeup, a lot of jewelry. It was for Christmas and it’s nothing compared to what Guy Bourdin did 20 years ago or what I saw in all the magazines ten years ago.
But the shoot with the kids did cause waves?
Yes, but when you put kids, you always know it’s going to be a problem. There was no nudity, it was always a T-shirt under the evening dress, but you know, people see what they want…These are the risques du métier.
Do you feel you’re leaving the magazine in good hands with Emmanuelle Alt?
I think the team is perfect. And I think it’s like a boulevard—an easy road in front of them. For six months, it’s the same program as today, because everything for this season was almost organized. So we’ll see what happens next season. I think it would be stupid to change too much, because I think it’s doing quite well. But everyone has their own personality, and Emmanuelle is very different than me, so we’re going to see what she’s going to do. But I think it’s going to be a bit easier for her than it was for me ten years ago, because everyone wants to work at French Vogue now.
People say you and Emmanuelle Alt are not on speaking terms.
It’s true that we are in not in the best relations, [but] I don’t want to talk about it, to be honest.
In general terms, do you see a positive future for magazines?
I think it will be very difficult for a lot of magazines, because now you see so many things on the Internet right away and you cannot be as quick as the Internet. Maybe some magazines will stay, but they have to be very beautiful, like collector’s items…Today we have to think differently. [Take] globalization. Ten years ago we never thought we were going to have a Vogue in China, and it’s one of the most successful Vogues, so if you’re not moving, you’re dead. Maybe it’s about going to other countries, to find another way to be interesting in fashion, to talk to a wider audience.
Any interest in working on the Internet?
I’m not an Internet [girl]. I’m not writing on blogs. I’m not a Facebook girl. Even though there is a fake Facebook with my name, it’s not me. I’m not on Twitter, it’s not me. But I think if I’m not going on the Internet, I’m going to totally disappear, because the future is the Internet. It’s very difficult for me to work on the Internet, but maybe I will find a way. I think this is very, very important.
The photographers you worked with at the magazine—David Sims, Mario Sorrenti, Terry Richardson—they are the establishment now. Do you see a new generation of photographers breaking through?
There are some coming through, but when you have a magazine and you have the best ones, it’s difficult to put someone new between them. They want to be all at the same level. But I think now, we need new stylists, we need new photographers, and I’m starting to check and see some very good ones. And if I’m doing something new, I would love to use a new generation, because I think it’s good when people are very hungry…Personally, I think I had more creativity and talent 20 years ago when we had no money to do a story, [and we had] to do it in two hours after a money job when we got to keep the studio…I think everything is too established now. I think it’s good to break the rules. It’s like the models. It’s easy to have the five tops. I love risk…Now I found a new girl called Saskia. She has short hair, no one knows her, and this is going to be my last cover.
Do you feel freer now?
I never felt not free. Even when I was doing so many things, I never had an office life. OK, I have no boss now. That’s a big difference. I’m my own boss and it’s a good thing and a bad thing to be your own boss. You can do whatever you want, but you need a protector. I need protectors, because it’s very difficult to do everything by yourself. I have a lot of people who want to do projects with me. It’s the reason I’m in New York. There are a lot of people to meet here. I think things will come more from New York than Paris. You’re never a king in your own country. You’re always better in another country, no? So I hope that Americans will still like me.
Why wouldn’t they?
People sometimes think I’m very cold, but I’m not. I’m a very shy person. When people know me, I’m not cold; I’m quite a nice person. It’s difficult as the editor of a magazine to be totally yourself because you’re a bit frightened. Now I think I go back where I was ten years ago, so I get younger, which is always good. Younger with dreams and younger with energy. Younger with risk, because now it will be my own risk; it won’t be Vogue’s risk. Always I will be a risky woman. I will keep this legend.
to read the whole interview click here