Magazine CR Fashion Book Marks Rebirth of Carine Roitfeld

Marc Piasecki

The theme of Carine Roitfeld’s new semiannual fashion glossy is birth. On the cover is a young girl holding a naked baby. Flip it over, and there’s a model captured with a handful of hatchlings.

Are babies really the new black?

Actually, the images are a metaphor—a meta-fashion commentary for Roitfeld’s rebirth after departing as editor of French Vogue nearly two years ago, and her new life as a grandmother (her daughter Julia hatched her own little bird last spring).

“I was obsessed seeing my daughter becoming a mother,” Roitfeld, 57, says, sitting in the loftlike offices of Stephen Gan, who publishes V and Visionaire and is helping to bankroll her new venture. “And when you’re obsessed with something, you see it all around,” Roitfeld says in her signature patois. “And so maybe it was a good moment for me. It’s like a rebirth, too.”

If it all seems a bit self-referential, well that’s what has always differentiated Roitfeld’s magazines. It’s also part of what flipped out her bosses at Condé Nast, who grumbled privately that her French Vogue became completely about Carine Roitfeld.

Certainly, French Vogue seemed cast in Roitfeld’s freshly bedded, Helmut Newton-obsessed image: all the models came dripping in black eyeliner, smoking cigarettes, and wearing outfits so tight it was a wonder they bothered to get dressed at all. In the fashion press and society pages, Roitfeld and her leopard-print dresses were everywhere. Her own children became regulars on French Vogue’s party pages.

It’s a testament to Roitfeld’s moxie that, rather than heeding her critics after she was fired—or quit, depending on whose story you believe—she thumbed her nose and embraced the limelight like never before. “It freed me,” she says. She was hired by Barneys to style a fall campaign, and instead of using models, she put herself in it. She did a coffee-table book with designer Karl Lagerfeld celebrating the Chanel jacket, and appeared on the cover, decked out like Coco Chanel. She scored a MAC Cosmetics campaign, and posed in her lingerie.

And now comes CR Fashion Book, titled after herself.

Roitfeld is thinking hard about the brand. She recently read a biography of Diana Vreeland, and her biggest takeaway was that Vreeland “signed DV like I sign CR.” She thinks that’s a sign of good luck.

Which she could use a bit of right now. Condé Nast has reportedly warned several of its top photographers not to work for CR Fashion Book. But some powerful friends stuck their necks out. Lagerfeld and Tom Ford (whose work at Gucci was heavily inspired by Roitfeld) both took breaks from their designer lives to shoot features. The magazine has 150 pages of ads, a pretty big number for a new publication. Plus, it’s hard to hold a grudge against someone who’s having so much fun with her own celebrity.

“My son said, ‘Mom, you’ve become a brand.’ I don’t know,” Roitfield says, before adding that she’s planning to launch her own fragrance. “Do you think I’m a brand?”