I finally got round to watching the DVD: Mademoiselle C this week and found it … disappointing.
If you don’t know her, Carine Roitfeld was the editor of French Vogue for over a decade, having been Tom Ford’s muse and involved in myriad aspects of the fashion world prior to that. In 2011-12, she departed Conde Nast for unspecified reasons and embarked on a project to set up her own magazine, CR Fashion Book (as it came to be named). Most recently, she has taken a global role with the Harpers Bazaar magazine empire alongside the running of CR Fashion Book online.
The documentary, Mademoiselle C, followed Carine Roitfeld in the several months to the first launch, in print, of CR Fashion Book.
Liking fashion based documentaries, finding Carine Roitfeld interesting in that ridiculously chic, jolie-laide French way and being a magazine junkie, I was totally up for watching this documentary.
However, for the most part, it just did not engage or sustain my interest, dwelling with semi-relgious fervour, on the ‘wonder’ of Carine Roitfeld who ‘knows everyone’ and is ‘so creative’ and ‘marvellous, darling’ without any real evidence as to the how, when and why of her accomplishments.
There was no insight on her career, no analysis of her falling out with the Conde Nast corporation – something which clearly impacted significantly and adversely on the CR Fashion Book project, no balance to any of the views articulated about her from fabulously famous personal friends of hers – though their personal loyalty to her speaks for itself – no questions asked about problems as the CR magazine project began to stumble and so, no real substance or depth to the project at all.
Carine seemed to love the idea of herself as an avant-garde pioneer introducing a shocking element of the erotic to the fashion world but it was all a bit tired – yes, the Gucci pubic hair ‘G’ was a giggle at the time but not, I think, as memorable as she might imagine. Erotic seemed to be her calling card and I was rather bored by it all at the end – seen one naked model … Artists across many disciplines often seem to get stuck in one career defining groove. Maybe ‘erotic’ is it for Carine Roitfeld?
In the development of her new magazine project, she adopted an approach that seemed stunningly egotistical to me and was, surely, the kiss of death to the project. Her daughter was about to give birth, the magazine was being born so … lots of babies. Er, right, that’s the demographic for a fashion magazine – mothers and grandmothers!
At that point, I was far more interested in how she was coping with the very obvious Conde Nast cold shoulder – and, consequently, the slow motion freeze out of her industry position – as one of the biggest fashion corporations in the world exerted its’ considerable clout against her attempts to compete in their market. Try as that camera did to mask it, the falling away of ‘friends’ and contacts was only too apparent as the launch of the CR Fashion Book got closer. No coincidence that Carine scuttled back to the corporate comfort of Harpers Bazaar shortly thereafter. If ever there was proof that the fashion business is all about money …
I could go on but why bother? I sound scathing but I don’t mean to. It is merely a reflection of my disappointment. I had hoped for an engaging film about Carine Roitfeld, her career, views on the industry, and insight on her new project. Sadly, I got little more than a procession of sycophantic remarks about a seemingly shallow and vacuous person from pretty people and their acolytes, posing for the camera, attending pretty events about pretty clothes. Boring, boring boring.
From thinking that Carine Roitfeld might be the successor to the Nuclear One, I was left thinking that Mademoiselle C had done Grace Coddington a favour should she wish to succeed the One. In mitigation, there is some evidence of life at CR Fashion Book online – go take a look – and UK Bazaar is one of my magazine likes right now.
I will not be recommending Mademoiselle C as a must-see to anyone but if you do like a good fashion oriented documentary, I’d happily pass these on to you:
- The September Issue
- Diana Vreeland, The Eye Has To Travel
- Bill Cunningham New York or
- Alfred Stieglitz: The Eloquent Eye – about art rather than fashion but one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen
Do let me know what you thought of Mademoiselle C and share your fashion favourite DVD’s too, should you have any.