Carine Roitfeld Discusses the Art de Vivre

Last night, Carine Roitfeld sat down for a “blind date” with MoMA PS1 Director Klaus Biesenbach. And an eager audience soaked up their every word.

The conversation was the latest edition of the Art de Vivre: Creative Leaders series at the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) and the auditorium was packed with a sold-out crowd—plus a line stretching into the midtown cold hoping for a few leftover seats.

Onstage, the editrix cut as chic a figure as ever in a sleek black shift, and white pumps. “Look at me, I’m wearing white shoes, and I hear in America you can’t wear white after Labor Day,” she joked. To which Biesenbach quipped back, “That’s why they need you here.”

Ice-breakers aside, Roitfeld talked candidly about her second act—how just like Coco Chanel, she turned to New York when the time came to reinvent herself with the launch of her CR Fashion Book and her biggest role yet as the Global Fashion Director of Harper’s Bazaar. She revealed that she’s never truly satisfied with her work, and how at the end of the day “the woman is always more important than the clothes.”

For his part, the curator treated the conversation like a studio visit, trying to uncover the secrets of Roitfeld’s artistic practice. “I think my product is a dream,” Roitfeld explained. “Is a dreamer an occupation? It takes a lot of time.” Despite Biesenbach’s serious, and perhaps condescending, probing on the topic of art versus fashion, Roitfeld remained surprisingly humorous and modest (making it easy to see why she gets along so well with Tom Ford) as she talked about her introduction to fashion as a teenaged party girl and her self-made rise “from standing room to the front row.”

She even got downright bawdy when it came to talking about her scandals, like the famous ad with the Gucci “G” shaved in pubic hair. “We always try to push, push, push,” she explained of her collaborations with Tom Ford and Mario Testino. So when it came time for the campaign, she suggested: “Why don’t we shave the pussy with a G? Let’s try. If it doesn’t work, the poor girl will just have a G on her pussy.”

Don’t call her look porno chic. Though if you must, she’d prefer “erotico chic.” But at the end of the day it’s something else she’s after: “I like glamour, even this crazy glamour.”

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