Before I turned on my recorder, you were talking about how much you admire Coco Chanel. Why is that?
She came back to work at almost 70 years old, and she came back as a success, and America was the first country to welcome her. France didnít. They always say, youíre never a king or a queen in your own country.
Is that why you came to New York to launch CR Fashion Book? Do you feel like the Americans made you a ďqueenĒ?
I think America was very nice with me, because the day I finished Paris Vogue, I immediately got a phone call from America. Once youíre in New York, you jump. Paris is mostly retired peopleóI love it, and itís a beautiful city, but itís quite slow. In New York, you can do anythingóyou can shoot on Sundays, you can shoot at night, you can get a pink dog, everything you want is possible. Itís like Jay-Zís song about the Big Appleóyou never stop.
Do you miss being the editor in chief of Paris Vogue?
No. I still like the title. I think itís a magical title, and there was a Vogue before me, there will be a Vogue after me. I have no regrets. Ten years is quite long. Otherwise, you stay forever, and you settle into office life, and I donít like office life. Itís difficult to do things on your own, but I think itís very exciting, and everyone says, oh, you look younger than before, and itís just because Iím learning more.
Do you think that Emmanuelle Alt is taking Paris Vogue in the right direction?
I will not look at it. Itís her thing. Itís totally different. I donít want to compare and I donít want to judge. Iím over this now, you know? I do my own thing, and it takes me enough time, enough energy, Iím not here to criticize. I donít care. I have so many projectsóIíve become a cover girl and a grandma at the same time. I have so many exciting things in my life. I donít need to look back.
Before you launched CR Fashion Book, there were rumors that you werenít on the best of terms with Nicolas GhesquiŤre. Whatís your relationship like with him now?
This is the bullshit of politics in fashion. Iíve never had a problem with Nicolas. I just sent him a text and said, ďI miss you!Ē Iíve known him since the very beginning. I think heís the most talented person in fashion. Heís very, very smart. Iím sure heís coming back, and I hope itís very soon, because we miss him. And I think heís going to surprise everyone. There are not so many big talents today, and heís one of them.
Inevitably, Mademoiselle C is going to be compared to The September Issue, and you to Anna Wintour. How do you feel about being compared to her?
I was compared to Anna for many years. But I worked with her. I was working for her, and I think sheís a very tough woman, but sheís very honest. Sheís a hard worker, and she and Grace [Coddington] have a lot of passion. And you feel passion in Mademoiselle C, too. Totally different, though. Vogue is the biggest magazine in the world; they have a lot of money. For our first issue, we had four people doing the magazine, but we have the same passion.
In the film, you talk about how fashion can transform you into someone else. Are you always the same woman we see sitting front-row in a fitted skirt and high heels?
Iím totally the same person. Itís been my look for thirty years. I always wear a tight skirt and high heels and my hair in my face. I think maybe my skirtís gotten a bit longer, but that is all that has changed. However, when youíre going to work with Bruce Weber in the countryside with baby animals [as I did in the film], you canít wear high heels. Youíll look stupid. So people are going to see me in jeans and flat shoes. Maybe some people will be disappointed because theyíll think, Sheís like a normal girl, working hard. But that is me, too.
How do you think that fashion weekóor month, ratheróhas changed since you began as a freelance stylist thirty years ago?
Itís become global. In the beginning, I was only going to French shows, and Iíd just take the Metro. I never traveled to Milan or New York. Now you have to go to too many places, and there are journalists coming from all around the planet. There are so many magazines, and maybe thatís a bit sad, because you have to invite all the editors in chief and all the important people, so there is no space to invite students of fashion. When I started, I was a student, and people let me in because I loved fashion. Now there is no space for students. This is very said, because students bring enthusiasm to the shows, and without them, itís not so exciting. I always try to use my power [laughs] to bring one or two with me, because they bring a good vibeótheyíre not blasť. Fashion shows used to be more crazy. Now theyíve become a bit too serious.
Thereís been a lot of talk lately about how fashion week, and the fashion cycle, is broken. Do you think this is the case?
Itís very difficult for designers today. How can someone produce so many shows? Now the minimum is four a year. And you forget that most of the designers are artistes. Fashion is not recognized as an art, but for me, itís an art. Some designers donít have the shoulders to support all the stress. Look what happened to people like [Alexander] McQueen or John [Galliano] or Mr. Saint Laurent before. If youíre not Karl Lagerfeld or Riccardo Tisci or Tom Ford with big shoulders, youíre going to feel this pressure. Designers are becoming less creative than they would like to be, and imagine how many shows stylists like us have to see in a season. Itís insane! After a month, you become a bit too tired. But sometimes you see just one good showólike Comme des GarÁons, which is my favorite show because itís not handbags, itís just creativityóand youíre happy. So I still love fashion, I think.
You mentioned students earlier, and many industry professionals feel there is a lack of young talent coming out of Paris. Do you think thatís true?
I think itís true. Before, the schools in France were very important. And now, theyíve lost a bit of that dream. Now people prefer to go to London or to Antwerp, but there are still great young designers [around the world], and if youíre not a member of a big group, itís hard to make it. So Iím trying to help them and put them in my magazine. You know, I keep my old friends, and get older with them, but push young. Itís good to be surrounded by kids, because they keep you young. After thirty years, I have all my tricks. Iím a good stylist, but what I can do is I can help them. And in return, they give me energy.
When you launched porno chic with Tom Ford and Mario Testino twenty years ago, it was shocking and provocative. But now, thereís sex everywhere. What does it mean to be sexy today?
When we did it for the Gucci campaign, it was very new because no one was pushing fashion and sex together. And for the first time, we put men and women on the same level. But itís very difficult to [maintain] this in a chic way. Thereís a fine border that you cannot cross, and today, sometimes I think people donít know how to keep it in line. The word sexy has changed. Twenty or thirty years ago, when you went to the beach topless in Saint-Tropez, it was sexy. Today itís just beefy. Before, sexy was to show a lot. Now itís sexy to try not to show too much. You dream about what she has on underneath. You can be provocative without showing anything.
What do you think we need to do to push fashion forward, and what do you feel youíre contributing with CR Fashion Book?
Iím a dreamer. Fashion is about dreaming. Fashion is a huge business, too, but at the end of the day, we get to make beautiful images and beautiful clothes, and if you believe in it, anythingís possible. Thatís the way Iím doing my own story. I just want to make my magazine the best I can, and to keep my reader dreaming.