Mademoiselle CIn 2009, R.J. Cutler’s compelling documentary feature The September Issue allowed us unprecedented access to the sleek – and self-consciously chic – world of American Vogue under the rule of its exacting and mercurial Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour. Carine Roitfeld, Mademoiselle C, was for many years Wintour’s French opposite – until she took the scandalous decision to abandon the hallowed halls of Vogue and strike out on her own with a brand new publication. In gloriously trashy Dynasty style, attempts were made to sabotage CR before a single issue had been printed. Mademoiselle C chronicles the magazine’s journey from concept to realisation and Carine’s own, more personal, metamorphosis.

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.


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Emily Breen began writing for HeyUGuys in 2009. She favours pretzels over popcorn and rarely watches trailers as she is working hard to overcome a compulsion to ‘solve’ plots. Her trusty top five films are: Betty Blue, The Red Shoes, The Princess Bride, The Age of Innocence and The Philadelphia Story. She is troubled by people who think Tom Hanks was in The Philadelphia Story and by other human beings existing when she is at the cinema.