Carine Roitfeld on Her New Job at Harper’s Bazaar, the Internet, and 'Pussy'

Last night, Hearst held an intimate Q&A session with its newest staff member: Carine Roitfeld, they glossy's new Global Fashion Director. Harper’s Bazaar US editor-in-chief Glenda Bailey intro’ed Roitfeld, while Town and Country’s Jay Fielden asked the questions. In a tight-fitting grey dress, sky-high Alaïa boots, and a Miu Miu mink stole, Roitfeld indulged Fielden’s questions--deftly addressing everything from Vogue rivalries, aging gracefully, “the Internet” (Roitfeld’s newest obsession), and that now iconic Gucci campaign she styled with the label’s logo shaved into a model’s pubic hair. Yes, Carine Roitfeld purred the word “pussy” several times last night.
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Last night, Hearst held an intimate Q&A session with its newest staff member: Carine Roitfeld, they glossy's new Global Fashion Director. Harper’s Bazaar US editor-in-chief Glenda Bailey intro’ed Roitfeld, while Town and Country’s Jay Fielden asked the questions. In a tight-fitting grey dress, sky-high Alaïa boots, and a Miu Miu mink stole, Roitfeld indulged Fielden’s questions--deftly addressing everything from Vogue rivalries, aging gracefully, “the Internet” (Roitfeld’s newest obsession), and that now iconic Gucci campaign she styled with the label’s logo shaved into a model’s pubic hair. Yes, Carine Roitfeld purred the word “pussy” several times last night.
Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

Back in October, Hearst announced that Carine Roitfeld would be Harper’s Bazaar’s Global Fashion Director--a new title, which meant that she would collaborate with American Bazaar's creative director Stephen Gan (Roitfeld’s long-time friend) on several stories a year that would run in all 26 international editions of the glossy.

Roitfeld’s first work as global fashion director for Bazaar's international editions appears next month in a 16-page spread titled “Carine on the Collections.” The shoot took place in New York City (during Hurricane Sandy--and next door to an American Vogue shoot as it turns out), was lensed by up-and-coming photographer Kacper Kasprzyk, and features spring looks from Alexander Wang, Saint Laurent, Azzedine Alaïa, Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière, Céline, Chanel, Comme des Garçons, J.W. Anderson and more. Roitfeld's favorite models--like Lara Stone, Joan Smalls and Stephanie Seymour--star in the spread. Images from the editorial will also appear on numerous covers. The Spanish edition of Harper’s Bazaar will run with one massive “Welcome Carine” headline.

Last night, Hearst held an intimate Q&A session with its newest staff member. Harper’s Bazaar US editor-in-chief Glenda Bailey intro’ed Roitfeld, while Town and Country’s Jay Fielden asked the questions. In a tight-fitting grey dress, sky-high Alaïa boots, and a Miu Miu mink stole, Roitfeld indulged Fielden’s questions--deftly addressing everything from Vogue rivalries, aging gracefully, “the Internet” (Roitfeld’s newest obsession), and that now iconic Gucci campaign she styled with the label’s logo shaved into a model’s pubic hair. Yes, Carine Roitfeld purred the word “pussy” several times last night.

The highlights:

An image from Roitfeld's new spread.

An image from Roitfeld's new spread.

Stop calling her work “Porno Chic”: While Glenda Bailey mentioned that oft’ used label to describe Roitfeld's work, Roitfeld insisted her work for Harper’s Bazaar was “not very erotic” and “very soft.” “I just wanted to show fashion in as simple a way as possible,” she said.

On shooting during Hurricane Sandy (“Was it a help or a hinderance?” Fielden asked): "Sometimes when your back’s against the wall, you have no other choice but to make it happen. For the clothes it was difficult to call them in because you know downtown everything was closed so some designers were very helpful. I remember Alexander Wang, his place was totally closed, and he went himself to get the clothes."

On shooting at the same time as--and next door to--American Vogue, and whether she feels any competition with Vogue and Conde Nast: "We had no problem with anyone. We’d pass by and say 'Hi, how are you.' Everything was very civilized. … I never think I’m in a competition. It’s okay, I’m doing my own thing, they’re doing their own thing, and if they have a contract and cannot work with me, I have no problem. For me, I don’t think there was a war... and with all these photographers who had contracts with Conde Nast, it pushed me to find new talents."

On how she started to work with Tom Ford: "Can you imagine we refused 20 times to meet him [while Roitfeld was at Elle France]. Who is Tom Ford? What’s Gucci? A pair of loafers? No, we’re not interested. And then Tom came [to meet us] and we just worked with him because he was very good looking and charming. That’s the only reason we worked with him finally. But we were right because look what happened to him and what happened to me."

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On that infamous Gucci campaign with the label's logo shaved into a model's pubic hair: "When we were doing the Gucci campaign there were always a number of pictures to do and at the end I said to Mario [Testino], 'Mario I don’t think we did the iconic picture, we have to push.' ... I don’t know at that time I was very impressed maybe with the pussy shaving or something like that. So I thought why don’t we do the 'G' there? They said, 'No, it’s not possible.' But I said, 'Let’s try.' So they took a piece of paper with a 'G' and shaved the girl and finally it became, I think, an iconic picture."

On the difference between French and American sensibilities: "In France we don’t have so many celebrities like you have here. So we push a lot of models and when you’re working with models it’s easy to push fashion. You can do what you want. You don’t have so many publicists and people between you and the star. … So maybe I’m French. I was raised with Guy Bourdin. For me it’s very normal. Even if a girl was totally naked she was never vulgar. There was a sense of chic. It wasn’t porno chic. When you go to America you have to think a bit different. So, no pussy there.

On whether she's mean: "I’m not mean. Some people think I’m mean because I’m shy because I cover my face with my hair because it’s my way of protecting myself. I’m very in lucky in life so why would I be mean. That’s why I try to help young people, too. You cannot imagine the number of young people who come to me at the shows and just ask me, 'Please can you help me go to see the show.' I think that young people who love fashion should be able to see a fashion show. And now it’s more and more editors and more and more security so it’s very difficult for them, so each time I take two with me inside.

On being sexy and age appropriate: "The first rule is if you have a daughter, never try to exchange clothes with her. And even when you’re not beautiful it’s not a problem. I think I’m less beautiful than I was in my ‘20s but I’m sure I’m more fun at the table."

On 'The Internet': "I love to do things for the first time. With CR I discovered what is the internet. Because I’m not from the internet generation. It’s not the first thing I do in the morning, to wake up and Google my name. But now because I’m working on the site, I have to work each day, it’s what I’m interested in the most now. I’m excited about this new way to work in fashion.

On social media: "I don’t know. I see people doing Twitter [pronounced Tweeter] and Instagram [pronounced Een-stah-gram] and I never think about that. But I think this is the future, you can’t refuse it. You go with it or you go home. So I try to be a part of this new world and I enjoy it very much."

Another image from Roitfeld's spread.

Another image from Roitfeld's spread.

On her fashion icon: "I can tell you she was not very well dressed but Liz Taylor was an icon for me. She was the most modern person. She didn’t give a shit if people didn’t like what she was doing. I’m very happy to continue her work at AMFAR. It’s very important to do something for charity."

On fashion shows today: I think going to the shows is exciting but to be honest with you the shows are more boring than they were 20 years ago because there are more and more shows--there is prefall there is resort--it’s difficult for the designer but it’s difficult for the editors to follow everything. And sometimes [the fashion is] less risky and I love risk. But suddenly you see one Comme des Garçons show and you love fashion again.

On where she gets her ideas: "Maybe someone in the lounge at the airport, maybe MTV. I have a big sense of observation. And I think bad taste gives you more ideas than good taste."

On leaving Vogue Paris and reinventing herself: "I was in a golden cage and now I go back to freedom. You become the real person you are. I have the real color of my hair now, I’m the real Carine--the one I was 15 years before."