Carine Roitfeld’s enthusiasm for the industry is infectious. It bursts from the screen in a rainbow bright prism of girlish joy, expansive gestures and exclamation, to coax a smile from even the most cynical lips. We somehow expect our fashion mavens to fulfill archetypal expectations and one might imagine a French editor to be among the most terrifyingly elegant of her breed. But Fabien Constant’s affectionate portrait of the former Vogue Paris editor instead introduces Mademoiselle C to us as a mischievous and ribald grandmother-to-be, delighting in her audacious, risk-taking, behaviour, rocking her rock ‘n’ roll eyeliner and embracing every moment of her fabulous life. Who but the most irreverent of characters would dare put a baby on the front cover of a high end magazine’s debut? Such joie de vivre just isn’t fashion, sweetie.
Whereas Grace Coddington took the creative lead in the lavish photo shoots of Vogue’s September Issue, Roitfeld’s vision is the driving force behind each new shoot for CR. She favours a style she nicknames Bourgeois Slut and a more-is-more approach to accessorising – tickling herself with the whimsy of a shoot cluttered with children and baby animals, presided over by her favourite model, Kate Upton. Upton is a jolly good sport – called upon to take part in increasingly fanciful photo stories – she nevertheless speaks of Carine with fondness and humour. The high esteem she is held in by Kate, by beloved friend and longtime collaborator Tom Ford and filmmaker Fabien is echoed by the roll call of famous fashion faces littering Mademoiselle C – even haute couture Gelfling Donatella Versace is a fan.
Just as flicking through one of the glossies offers you a brief entrée into this impossibly glamorous world, so too does Mademoiselle C. There are so many movie star cameos squeezed into its slinky 93 minute runtime, one could be forgiven for questioning whether it is a sequel to Prêt a Porter. I won’t spoil the fun of the jaw-dropping spots by dropping names, except to say that the silliness she brings out in funereal designer Karl Lagerfeld is one of the film’s great highlights. Another is the insouciant: “But she looks amazing when she faints, no?!” in reaction to the collapse of a model. These moments, like Roitfeld’s page spreads, encapsulate the sheer eccentricity of the subject of the film and the industry she so adores. They combine to make this stylish feature a surprisingly candid and very funny watch.