Carine Roitfeld trades models for mothers


Goats are roaming on a grassy field. “ISSUE 1 REBIRTH” is written across the page. And so, for Carine Roitfeld, a rebirth has officially begun. Former editor-in-chief of French Vogue, Roitfeld has taken a step forward started her own magazine:  a thick, matte, 300-some paged, bi-annual publication that has been anticipated since its announcement.

The CR Fashion Book arrived on Sept. 13. Fifty thousand copies have been distributed, and a few sellers quickly sold out.

The first photo shoot reads “Hush Little Baby Don’t You Cry: A Story About Second Chances and Active Imaginations.” It is a spread filled with babies and animals and stories like “we imagined and we dreamed what it might be like to one be mothers…” followed by an essay from actress Anne Hathaway. She ponders motherhood and fertility and questions the “mindset” of expecting these things naturally.

Roitfeld, in a note to the reader, explains her obsession with babies, which seem to be everywhere: “When I learned that by daughter, Julia, was expecting, I immediately began seeing babies and mothers…birth and rebirth all around. I became obsessed.”

CR fashion book is filled with cultural objet d'art, and things more pretty than practical (“Ryuichi Sakamoto: Reflections on the Man Behind the Music and the Music Behind the Man” written entirely in Japanese and translated later) and things more avant-garde than usual (“Manimals: Why Pigs Now?” with phrases like “a pig is a real indulgence, you’ve really got to accommodate a pig”).

Big names like Karl Lagerfeld question the “death” of the quintessential French woman fashion (“Quand les Femmes”), Linda Evangelista models, Kristen Dunst contributes some thoughts, Kate Upton is on the cover and Leslie Winer, the first androgynous fashion model, gets a pocket biography. “Lucho and Juliet,” a spread by Tom Ford, is pop-culture-referencing, name-brand-dropping fairy tale.

All the photographers and designers willing to contribute the work of art may have surprised loyalists to French Vogue. With Roitfeld’s resignation, she took with her a band of supporters. CR seems to embody the things her former Vogue-critics grumbled about: Carine everywhere. It was all about her and her vision.

CR narrates “A Woman’s Life: Birth, Childhood, Adolescence, First Lover, The Spirit, Betrayal, Sisterhood, Despair, Rebirth” with intriguing photographs belonging to each stage.  It seems Roitfeld is presenting her readers with something deeper: asking us to think about collision, transcendence, rebellion and unity all in the eyes of the empowered woman, mother or not.

One page quotes Michael Avedon, saying, “I love getting lost in fashion’s beautiful chaos,” which somehow defines the entire experience of CR. The spreads seem fresh and familiar at the same. One can recognize the beauty in the renaissance yet be awakened to it at the same time.

“Created with humor, joy, grace and always a dash of irreverence,” Roitfeld writes to the viewer, promising “a fashion fairy tale.” She delivers on all points, and CR Fashion Book takes us farther and deeper perhaps than her predecessor.