carine roitfeld says paris is still the capital of fashion

As Paris Fashion Week gets underway, we asked Carine's opinion on punk, youth and getting old.

by Tess Lochanski
29 September 2015, 1:35pm

There are old young people and some young old people. Youth has nothing to do with age. Being young means having the courage to be free, knowing when to be true to yourself, without consideration for conventions or fearing the views of others. Carine Roitfeld has always done what she pleased. Not like a spoiled child, but like a real punk. 

At an age when she could've given up or sunk into nostalgia, she started the CR Fashion Book, her own magazine where she did "everything she wanted." Seven issues later, she reigns with benevolence, surrounds herself with young talent and continues to shake the world of fashion. God Save The Queen.

In 2011, you were on the cover of i-D magazine and said "I am a lemon and I still got juice." Do you still feel the same?
I still do. I am very happy to work in fashion and I still have a lot of ideas. To have juice means being happy to go on a shoot in the morning and meet new designers. I am still full of curiosity.

What is your tip for staying curious?
It is about keeping a youthful feeling in your heart. I have a very young team working with me and a lot of experience. I've worked for 30 years in this industry, can you believe that? I think I am audacious and curious enough to look for, and work, with new faces and young photographers. They give me their energy and I give them my knowledge. We exchange something. My "juice" comes from this alchemy.

Do you think surrounding yourself with youth is the key?
I just bumped into Martin Margiela in the street and I was super happy to see him. I don't only hang out with young people, I am a very loyal friend and colleague, like with Karl Lagerfeld for example, a great man, very sophisticated and cultivated. I don't believe in the cult of youth either. I am completely against the idea that we can get rid of people once we don't need them anymore. I like long and lasting stories. So youth at any price, no. But surrounding yourself with young people, yes definitely. I am done with the mini-skirt -- there is a time for everything. There is something bizarre about sharing your wardrobe with your daughter. When it is done, it is done. I'd rather people say "that old lady looks good!" rather than "that old lady's got a good plastic surgeon!". Youth… Roman Polanski has more charm now that he did when he was 40. I know some people from older generations that have more spirit than today's youngsters. Youth is an attitude, an energy. It requires a lot of enthusiasm to keep up with its frantic pace.

Do you think everything goes a little too fast in fashion today?
Everything goes too fast at the moment. Four collections a year, it's madness! It is a real marathon for designers. You need to learn to preserve yourself and say no to things. You need to make choices, give up on some stuff and go at your own pace.

You come across like a very free person…
I am lucky for that, yes. I am lucky to be able to follow my instincts. Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Candice Huffine or Vivienne Westwood, I have no prejudice. When I want to do something, I simply do.

You just mentioned Vivienne Westwood, don't you think you need to be slightly punk to capture the spirit of the times ?
She is an outlaw, isn't she? I used to look at her a lot in the 80s, she's a very pretty punk. She has amazing skin and an amazing husband! We all envy her. But it is quite hard to assume a punk attitude in the fashion industry today and take risks when there is such a small margin for error. My magazine gave me a certain freedom of expression. There is something very nice about working for your self. It is a luxury to be able to choose people you work with. I respect them all a lot.

Would you define yourself as punk ?
I have always loved this word. And the punk aesthetic too. I don't have any piercings or tattoos and I never shaved my head either. But in a certain way, my vision is punk -- I have a rebel mind. I hate when people say that something can not be done. I was well brought-up and I had an easy childhood. I have my feet on the ground, I raised a family and I managed to stay closed to the people I hold dear.

In your opinion, amongst the new generation of designers, who are the ones shaking things up?
Jonathan Anderson always surprises me. Riccardo Tisci, even though he's pretty experienced now, he astonished everyone in New York. You know, I scouted Riccardo when he was still doing his shows in basements in Milan.

Do you think you have a good intuition?
It is a question of education and instinct I think. I made a lot of mistakes but they are part of the job. At the end of the day, it is just about the length of a skirt! My magazine was aimed at a very niche audience at first, but we started our Instagram ten weeks ago and now we've suddenly got 360,000 followers. That's what worldwide mean right?

You live between New York and Paris. What to do you think about France?
I was born in Paris. I am a Parisian to the fingertips. Paris is way calmer than New York but Paris is still the capital of fashion and I hope it will stay like that. The most interesting things happen here. It is here that you get to experience the best emotions. Paris is a wonderful city for fashion shows -- it has an amazing heritage. And fashion is part of our culture. My mom didn't dress in Chanel but we are used to see those brands in shop windows. The Parisian has a particular charm, which no one can explain and the entire world dreams about. The French touch exports itself everywhere -- France has a great recognition in the global fashion industry. I am very proud of this culture and savoir-faire. I think it is very good that Chanel bought their embroidery and feather house for example. We have very special know-hows that we preserve, which is a really good thing I think.

I feel like you really like women? You are one of those people who likes to show them with so much goodwill…
If I ever had to choose between fashion and women, I would choose women. I love every kind of women. I put models like Lara Stone in the spotlight when everybody thought she was "too big." I like older women, curvier women, different women. I like difference in general -- there isn't only one type of beauty. I am not 20 anymore, but I am still here and that might reassure some women. I used to be a cover girl and now I am a grandma!

But you are still a cover-girl, you did the cover of our magazine not so long ago!
Voilà. C'est chic non? You see, we can still get good surprises. We are always less famous in our own country though. But that is typically French… We are never the king of our own kingdom.

Do you feel like an icon for a lot of people?
The word icon is a little scary; I think I am simpler than that. People want to know everything about fashion people. It's bizarre. I am accessible, in the street, when somebody ask for a selfie or a photo. Even with my big sunglasses on, people come and see me and find me adorable, right?

What do you wish for the world in which you children and grandchildren will grow-up?
This world isn't easy. TV is terrible. I don't necessarily want to stay in a bubble but it is true that fashion kind of protect us from all that. I don't know if my children and grandchildren will have the strength to roll with the punches. It is quite hard, no? They need to learn how to do so and fight. But deep down, I am not worried. The more they grow-up, the more they get courageous. And lucid.


Text Tess Lochanski
Photography Terry Richardson
i-D No. 315. The Dreams and Aspirations Issue

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