Mademoiselle C

| March 11, 2014

I knew literally nothing about this film going into it.  I didn’t know it was a documentary.  I didn’t know it was about Carine Roitfeld.  I didn’t know who Corine Roitfeld was.  Turns out she is a very famous French fashion editor.  After being the editor in chief of Vogue Paris for ten years, she resigned to start her own magazine: CR.  The documentary tells the story of her leaving Vogue Paris and struggling to get her own magazine up and running.

I know nothing about fashion.  I don’t really get on board with clothing design as an artistic medium, and it baffles me how many people become so passionate about it when it doesn’t seem to serve any purpose.  It reminds me of the countless reality shows on home improvement networks where insanely rich people are trying to decide between buying 3 different mansions based on criteria of how many pools they have or how exclusive the local golf course is.  Apparently there’s a big audience of people who enjoy watching rich people be rich, but I’ve never been one of them.

The one aspect of Roitfeld’s career I can get on board with is her passion for photography and capturing a narrative through photographs and presenting that in her magazine.  That to me is a more legitimate artistic expression, and while the narrative she seems drawn to telling are a bit avante garde and abstract, I can respect that as an art form.

There are a slew of celebrities Roitfeld runs into in her travels.  Some are expected (Sarah Jessica Parker) while others feel very out of place in this world (James Franco).

Looking at the film as a narrative, I have a problem with its lack of stakes.  It’s never established what would happen of Roitfeld’s new magazine should fail.  She talks about how hard it is to start over, and she cites that her mentor, Coco Chanel, did a similar reboot when she was 70 years old.  At one point, it’s revealed that the first issue of the new magazine is far over budget, but that problem is dismissed without explanation.

At one point, Roitfeld visits the office of an old friend, and he shows her a book they’ve put out. It’s a series of black and white photographs and he tells Roitfeld that the paper is not black, but rather white with black printed on it.  This strikes me as a metaphor for the entire film.  Is that really necessary?  Is this film really necessary?  Is it necessary for Roitfeld to abandon her life’s work to have her own magazine?  The motivations behind her choices and behind making this film are lost on me, much like the choice to not just use black paper.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD from the Cohen Media Group on March 11.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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