Carine Roitfeld Plots Her Return

You didn’t think Fashion Week would close without one for the road, did you? We hear that, following Carine Roitfeld’s exit from French Vogue in January and the subsequent announcement of Emmanuelle Alt as her successor, Jonathan Newhouse (Condé Nast International Chairman) sent a letter to designers requesting that they not invite Carine to their shows—because, apparently, it might send a confusing message—and reminding them of the magazine’s new editor-in-chief.

Now, while Carine was in New York during Fashion Week—attending her son Vladimir’s Retna art opening, hosting the amFAR gala (in Givenchy couture)—she surely didn’t fly all that way just to party. Word is she defiantly set up secret, early-morning meetings at designers’ showrooms to see the collections anyway. Same story in Paris (although one show she did attend, Balenciaga, is notable, given the well-publicized squabble concerning outside consulting jobs). After all, she’ll need to have intimate knowledge of the fall collections as she goes about readying her hush new project, which may be, as we’ve been told, starting up French Harper’s Bazaar. Other speculation has her going to Dior with Riccardo Tisci, also plausible.

We’ve actually been sitting on this one for a little while, until the shows ended. Which isn’t to say we’re in any less awe of Ms. Roitfeld, for whom we have newfound respect. In light of this new burst of moxie, finally, now, for sure, we want to be a Roitfeld.

Here are some relevant quotes Carine gave to last month…

I said to Jonathan [Newhouse, chairman of Condé Nast International], when I can make it ten, it will be great for me. And I think in the last [period] that maybe I got less freedom than I got before, so I think it was just the right time for me to leave, because I want to enjoy and do everything that I want to do. And Jonathan was an amazing boss, because he let me do such crazy things. To put a black transsexual with a beard and high heels on the cover? I don’t think a lot of presidents will let you do that. I think it was fun to look at French Vogue. Each month was a new happening. But I think now they want to change a bit. Even the French president [Xavier Romatet, of Condé Nast France] now wants something a bit [pauses]…sweeter I would say, and if I cannot have a lot of fun, then I prefer to do something else.

I never felt not free. Even when I was doing so many things, I never had an office life. OK, I have no boss now. That’s a big difference. I’m my own boss and it’s a good thing and a bad thing to be your own boss. You can do whatever you want, but you need a protector. I need protectors, because it’s very difficult to do everything by yourself. I have a lot of people who want to do projects with me. It’s the reason I’m in New York. There are a lot of people to meet here. I think things will come more from New York than Paris. You’re never a king in your own country. You’re always better in another country, no? So I hope that Americans will still like me.

I’m sure the Tom Ford issue is not the way they’re heading in the next few years, but it was not because of the Tom Ford issue. I was not fired, because if I was fired, it would not be a very nice ending. It was a discussion between Jonathan and myself, and he never fired me…I know I did a good job. I know the March issue is a record in terms of advertising. So I’m not leaving a sad magazine, an empty magazine. I’m leaving a magazine that has an epic stop. I’m very happy about that.

There are a lot of designers I admire. There’s a long list. In the young generation, of course I love Nicolas Ghesquière. There were these problems with Balenciaga last season, but I know him since the beginning. I was one of the biggest supporters of Nicolas, and I just saw him for a cup of tea and now everything is fine again between Nicolas and me.

Why not (edit another magazine)? I’m open to many opportunities. There are not so many ways to show fashion…To show fashion you need a magazine most of the time. Each time we were doing a magazine, it was like giving a dinner…You know this thing called Le Festin de Babette? She spent all her money just to make one dinner. It’s a bit like when you want to make a special issue. You give everything you have, your charm, your money, your relationships, to make something fantastic. You have to be very generous.

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