Carine Roitfeld Controversy

April 21, 2011

Prior to the December 2010 controversy that surrounded Carine Roitfeld, she was interviewed by UK newspaper, The Guardian (
Her responses shed much light on her views on fashion, sexuality, Vogue and of course, controversy.

Cartner-Morley writes that, “female sexual allure has always been at the centre of what Roitfeld does. She made her name as one part of a glorious trio, alongside Tom Ford and Mario Testino, who together created a decadent aura of sexual allure around the Gucci brand in the 1990s.”

Roitfeld’s idea of Vogue as a brand taps into an idea of feminine allure that is at least in part innate, and timeless, and cannot be bought on the Avenue.

Roitfeld believes that French Vogue is fashion and sex, liberally spiced with controversy. “I like to have something every month that is – how you say? – not politically correct. A little bit at the limit. Sex, nudity, a bit rock’n’roll, a sense of humor. That is very French Vogue,” she says.

As we can see by the 3 editorial shoots in question, Roitfeld doesn’t just dabble controversy, but plunges headfirst.

In an interview from German news website Der Spiegel,  posted on Oyster Magazine’s website (,  Roitfeld explains “Fashion has to be given free reign and only a small number of restrictions,” she explains of her decisions to use photographs showing Lolita-type girls, pregnant women smoking and senior citizens making out. “I like to provoke. I’m very French.”

French and American Vogue speak two very different languages. In a simple comparison, American vogue is celebrity and commercially driven, whereas French Vogue is risqué, a delicate mix of controversy and fashion that is sculpted into art.

Roitfeld describes the American Vogue editor as a politician” rather than a stylist”

 Tom Ford’s Cadeaux editorial:

 “And you can witness their innocence fading away right before your eyes,” say conservatives.

For me, this shoot purveys so many different messages.

  • The inner child in us all
  • A comment on the fantasy constructed around fashion to sell
  • Exploring the difference between having a small child, and a 15 y/o model, both minors, but only one is deemed acceptable.

I don’t however believe that it sexualizes the children, and even if to a degree it does, it is in pale contrast to the overt sexaulization by toys such as “bratz”(, and popular culture icons aimed at “tweens” such as Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears which for some reason are deemed acceptable.

Clarissa Doug and Tom Ford Editorial:

For me, I believe this shoot is expressing that beauty shouldn’t be perceived in such a small scope, that sexuality isn’t just for the young and pretty and again it is a comment on the fantasy constructed around fashion to sell.

I love that the images show wrinkles and accentuate the textures of the models skin. It’s about reality.

Crystal Renn and Tom Ford editorial:

For me, this shoot is again about the contrast between reality and the constructed fashion fantasy world. It questions what beauty is, the ugliness that we put ourselves through to be “beautiful” and explores sexual attraction

In all three of these shoots, the main underlying themes are what is beauty, what is reality, and asks the reader to look at the constructed fantasy world of fashion with a grain of salt… To open their minds and have their own opinions, rather than the prescribed views of the commercial world.


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