Who is the lady that in the 90-s was the emblem of spiky heels, pencil skirts, straight falling-forward dark hair, smoky eyes and heavy eyebrows,  the look that all into black fashion lovers and whole fashion workers copied around the globe? Who is the lady that after three decades in the fashion industry got the same flawless body, same smoky eyes and heavy eyebrows, same straight dark hair and the same impact onto fashion workers, lovers and followers, but with bigger allure, power, charisma and presence? The lady who always was, is and will remain frank, straight forward and with no double meanings.  A model, stylist, writer and muse...a lady who represent the point of fashion itself and the it´s the real antagonist of Anna Wintour.  Mrs. Carine Roitfeld.

Carine was born in 1954 in Paris to a Russian film producer father, Jacques Roitfeld and a French mother. The two met when Carine´s father moved to Paris. He was always an idol to Carine, because he was “very chic, he loved to go out, he never came home.”, compared to her mother that was more ordinary, conventional. The family lived in the, as she used to say very bourgeois (snobby) 16th arrondissement* while the father most of time spent filming at Cannes.

/ Carine in Cannes for the film festival with her film producer father /

The earliest fashion memory that she remember, she described:” I think I was eight or nine years old. My mother was preparing to go out and she wanted me to help her put her eyeliner on. I remember very carefully putting on her designer eyeliner for her – it is such a strong memory. I also remember coming to London for the first time as a young model. I lived in Portobello Road and I found all these crazy looks – it made France seem so classical.”**.

/ Carine Roitfeld´s original modeling card /

Carine was very competitive in school, but everything changed around fifteen to sixteen years old. She got bored so she started nightclubbing and discovered her passion for fashion, but only three years later was materialized into the real work, when she was noticed on the streets of Paris by a British photographer´s assistant and has been asked to work as a model for the British teen magazine "Look now". Her model career wasn´t the shiniest one but let her to experienced first steps in the fashion system and started to open doors.  

/ Some of Carine´s stylings for Elle France, here shown from years between 1989 and 1991 /

She was hired as a writer and then in 1975 as a stylist for the Elle France. She worked as a freelance stylist until 2001 when she became an editor-in-chief for Vogue Paris.

Christian Restoin and Carine Roitfeld /

In that period as a freelance stylist she met her partner, Christian Restoin, who ran the clothing company Equipment (until 2001, when he closed the brand. Read the Equipment story here), in a nightclub and had her two children, Julia and Vladimir (now 32 and 30), almost immediately after that. She once frankly (as she always does) said that having them it was like a good accident and that she never stopped working, because it was an easy life for her. Compared to some her friends in that period, who were like a squeezed lemon with no more juice, because of the “so much to fight for money”,  she was in a comfortable position with Christian which allowed to her not to be destroyed.
The two never get married and after that many years she still prefer calling him “lifetime partner” instead of “husband”, because the Russian part in her is somehow afraid of marriage and divorce.

/ Restoin-Roitfeld family: Vladimir, Carine, Christian and Julia /

The turnabout, enlightened state and the starting point of her powerful career was in the 1990. That year throughout the fashion shoot, that featured her daughter Julia, for the Italian magazine Vogue Bambini, Carine met a young and talented photographer, whose muse and inspiration she became, Mario Testino. Once she said: "I was not the best stylist when I worked for fifteen years for French Elle, but certainly when I met Mario Testino something happened. The right person for me at the right time. “or even these: „I don’t think I’m any better as a stylist than 15 years ago; it is Mario makes me more international, more visible."*** To be sincere they were the perfect match and a big help for each other´s career. The proof of that were the great results that immediately gave their collaboration as a team, from advertising works to shoots for American and French Vogue. Their careers through all that years rose enormously and they became powerful in the fashion business.

/ Testino and Roitfeld´s different works for "The Face" magazine, from 1996 to 2000 / 

Beside Mario Testino, a big role in Carine´s work and career (or “professional progress” as she prefers to say) has been the entering of Tom Ford in hers life in the middle of the nineties. The trio is merited for the reviving of, in that yet neglected and almost bankrupted fashion brand, Gucci. At the beginning Roitfeld and Testino turned down Tom Ford´s request, but afterward they accepted the challenge. She described: "But he called, he called, he called. And one day he comes to visit us on a shoot and we said, "Oh, he is very good-looking ... Let's do the job with him!"*** Carin became Tom’s big muse. He analyzed her attitude, all of her movements, her sexiness. His collections for Gucci were the reflection of that woman.   

/ Gucci ad campaigns from left to right in a chronichally order, from F/W 1995/1996 to F/W 2001/2002 styled by Carine Roitfeld and most campaigns photos by Mario Testino, except: S/S 1998 by Louis Sanchez, F/W 1998/1999 by Steven Klein F/W 2000/2001 by Alex Hay, S/S 2001 by Inez Van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin  and F/W 2001/2002 by Terry Richardson /

Carine´s acute styling, inspired by the Studio 54 era and the seventies sexualized aesthetics made Gucci campaigns a big impact in the media word. She became known as the inventor of "Porn chic" in the fashion business or as she preferred to say "Erotic chic". The collaboration between the two lasted for six years and included campaigns, styling and as consultant for both, Gucci and YSL, which that time Tom Ford creative director was.

After that she contributed for the image to different brands, such as Missoni and Calvin Klein. Her intent was never really to shock, but she like to provoke by giving a sexual touch to the pictures.

/ the first cover of Vogue Paris with Carine Roitfeld as editor-en-chief, February 2011, starring Kate Moss by Mario Testino /

In 2001 was the beginning of the new light era in fashion, when young, barely on their thirties, with fresh energy and super talented designers occupied the places of head designers of most famous fashion houses: from Hedi Slimani at Dior Homme to Phoebe Philo at Chloé and Nicholas Ghesquiere at Balenciaga. That year the Condé Nast International chairman Jonathan Newhouse proposed to Carine a role as an editor-in-chief of the Vogue Paris, until that ran by Joan Juliet Buck.
Beside the fact that Carine knew by herself that she wasn´t raised to managing people, she accepted the offer, because she love to change and she always push herself, due her lack of confidence. She used to take a tranquillizer, Lexomyl, every day to stay calm, because running a magazine, as she once said, is like walking on eggs, due all that egos.

/ 36 images by my selection celebrating ten years of Vogue Paris by Carine Roitfeld, including photographers: Mario Testino, Mario Sorrenti, Tom Ford, Sharif Hamza, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, Steven Klein, Terry Richardson, Paola Kudacki, David Sims, Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, Alasdair McLellan, Patrick Demarchelier, Hedi Slimane, Mikael Jansson,... and models: Daria Werbowy, Natashy Poly, Eniko Mihalek, Raquel Zimmermann, Kate Moss Crystal Renn, Gemma Ward, Anja Rubik, Guinevere van Seenus, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Freja Beja Erichsen, Delfine Bafort, Lara Stone, Mariacarla Boscono, Malgosia Bela, Lily Donaldson, Anna Selezneva,.. /

After two decades of rigorous conservatism Carnie’s enter bring to Vogue Paris a new wave of energy and joeux de vivre, as would French express a cheerful enjoyment of life, an exultation of spirit. That was an era of blooming "Porn chic", butchery, prosthetic pregnant bellies, cunnilingus to white women painted in black. Carine made Vogue Paris as, how she described, "A very modern and exacting idea of French chic, stripping away any bourgeois affiliations to create something with edge, excitement and an erotic frisson". *** * She and Vogue Paris were always under "attack", as were  the one who disrupt fashion's conservatism and pretension in ten year of her reigned, but she never cared. Carine restored the magazine´s place in the fashion leadership and bring back the French identity. There were back models, and no more actresses to promote their last work, appeared on its covers. In that period quite regular guest editorships were given to it girls, from Sofia Coppola, Charlotte Gainsbourg to Kate Moss.

/ four covers of Vogue Paris December 2005/January 2006 featuring Kate Moss, photographed by Craig McDean /

One of most memorable (that time called) “accidents” is  when Kate Moss was invited to be a guest editor of the December 2005/January 2006 issue, because of her “so French Vogue look” and sense of style.  They did a shot with her based on the Cocteau film La Belle et la Bête. After that she had to go into the rehab. Everyone went crazy and asked Carine to stop the issue in hope not to lose all advertisers.  They thought they would not follow Carine if she promotes Kate.  Carine and her team decided to finish the work without Kate and they put out four different covers with her on. The magazine sold really well and three months later Kate got back all advertisers she lost and even more. But we already know  the rest of this story.
During her era at Vogue Paris, she supported as a consulter great talents, such a Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy and Christophe Decarnin at Balmain.

The Roitfeld period of Vogue Paris increased the advertising revenue into stellar numbers. The best year for advertisement sales was in 2005 with a 60% rose, which didn´t happened since the middle 80s.

/ cover of Vogue Paris March 2011, the last issue with Carine Roitfeld as editor-in-chief /

In December 2010 she shocked again the fashion community and this time not with her work, but by announcing her resignation from Vogue Paris. First speculation after the announcement was that she got fired by Condé Nast International chairman Jonathan Newhouse, but was dismissed by both soon afterwards. Second speculation came across quite shortly after the first and was all about that she was leaving to re-join Tom Ford at his namesake brand, but was quickly dismissed by Mr. Ford.
From January 2011 Carine was "back on track" as a freelance stylist. Since then she worked on Chanel´s F/W 2011/2012 and S/S 2012 ad campaign, took part in different projects such as an ad campaign and designing a window display for Barneys New York, called "Carine´s World" and she curated her own book "Irreverent", that includes her favorite fashion photos to ones she snapped by herself during her more than 30 years career.

/ "Carine´s World part 01 and part 02 is the F/W 2011/2012  campaign she made for Barneys New York /

/ the first two issues of CR Fashion Book, #01 Rebirth, cover photos by Bruce Weber and starring Kate Upton and Audrey Harrelson land, #02 Dance, cover photos by Gus Van Sant and starring Ukrainian ballet star Sergei Polunin and a photo of a pointe shoe by Brigitte Niedermair /

In the last two years, her biggest challenge to date has become to create an ultimate, most unpredictable, innovative and glamorous fashion magazine...the CR Fashion Book. The making of the CR first issue period was filmed by Fabien Constant as a documentary under the name "Mademoiselle C". On the official web site of "Cohen media" (production and distribution of the documentary) they described the synopsis of the documentary: "It gives a rare inside glimpse at the inner workings not only of Roitfeld’s professional world but also her personal life. It is a film about transition, letting the audience watch as Carine moves to New York, starts a new business, and prepares to become a grandmother." *****

/ Mademoiselle C will be in theaters September 11th /

Did I forget to add something about her that you do not know yet? Well, maybe that she smiles a lot, drinks vodka, she does ballet and yoga or that s she’s in touch with her two children almost every day by BlackBerry Messenger.  Or that she gets her best ideas by sitting around in the airports, because there is a good mix of people, from first class to economy and with any body type. She finds more inspiring a bad taste than perfection.  Or, as I should say, cherry on the top…you did know that Carine somehow helped Alexander Wang into propel in his new Parisian adventure at Balenciaga.

Carine is a true hurricane in the fashion world. Like the wind, she is a force of nature. She smashes and blows away anything boring, conventional, unnecessary, predictable, not funny, anything with no story and she is a master of what’s unseen, fresh, re-establisher of new visual norms and ideologies, a free of expression, glamour and the Carine always and ever sex touch...of course always in spite of any possible limitation.

CR, toi est verament irrévérencieuse!  (CR, you are really irreverent!).

* a district.

** from the interview: "20 Q&AS: Carine Roitfeld" - Dazed&Confused 2012 by Jefferson Hack

*** from the article: "We're French! We smoke, we show flesh, we have a lot of freedom ... " - The Observer, Sunday 25 February 2007 by Murray Healy / /

****from the article: "Carine Roitfeld steps down as editor of French Vogue after 10 years" - The Guardian, Friday 17 December 2010 by Helen Pidd / /

***** Cohen Media Group / /

Videos from: Cohen Media, Barneys The Window
Photos from:, Net-a-Porter, CR Fahion Book, Vogue Paris, Carine Roitfeld

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