A Very Late Look at Carine Roitfeld’s Irreverent

I am likely one of the last individuals to have acquired and read through a copy of Carine Roitfeld’s career-covering book, Irreverent.  While others already have the book housed on a shelf, my copy sits next to my bed, awaiting another look through at that time of evening when the allure of the images conjures that certain romantic, sensually active state of mind.

Roitfeld’s book is disorganized: in it appear personal photos, then editorial work, then letters, etc., all from differing years.  Initially, this lack of an order was frustrating, seeming to indicate a hasty effort to finish the book for the publisher.  An interview with Roitfeld, spread here and there throughout the book, seemed needlessly disjointed.  Somehow, however, after a while it began to feel natural, organic, and seemed to make the point that for Roitfeld, life is all of these things at once.  The Carine at Vogue Paris is the Carine at the apartment, at the desk, at the masked ball, at the bar.  A 2001 Roitfeld-styled fashion photo from Vogue Paris shows Natalia Vodianova with a birdcage between her knees, lavishing on a deck chair in the apparent warmth of the afternoon (a note indicates the date of the shoot being Russian Easter).  Little notes of this nature are present throughout the book, and they are one of the things I liked most.  On another page, Carine stands nonchalantly topless in front of her closet, clothed only in black underwear and white heels, issuing a faux leer at the taker (it was Testino), as if to imply an only small annoyance at the voyeur who caught her as she was preparing to dress.  The message throughout, it seems, is one of adoration for the erotic, the rebellious, and the often aesthetically severe, yet desirable image (her years of collaboration with Tom Ford on the Gucci label, fetishizing and eroticizing fashion, comes to mind).  Of course, Carine is by no means simple; the view of her as a sexually obsessed, bondage loving woman is a misinterpretation-an unthinking assumption brought upon by her subversivity.  Rather, she is a woman who feels no need to conceal or veer from noting the appeal of these body and mind concepts in life and art.

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