Monday, September 23, 2013

MOVIE REVIEW Mademoiselle C
The ABCs Of Fashion, With C For Classy

Fashion editor Carine Roitfeld in a scene from Fabien Constant's documentary "Mademoiselle C".  Cohen Media Group


Omar P.L. Moore/        Follow popcornreel on Twitter FOLLOW                                           
Monday, September 23, 2013

Buoyant, entertaining and wonderfully engaging, Fabien Constant's documentary "Mademoiselle C" spends a year in the life of the ingratiating fashion designer, editor, stylist and ex-model Carine Roitfeld.  A legend in the fashion world, Ms. Roitfeld, formerly the editor-in-chief of French Vogue magazine for ten years, is tackling a new project: her CR Fashion Book.  Mr. Constant's film follows Ms. Roitfeld as she branches out on her own with the Fashion Book, in a demanding, hyper-competitive industry that is very unforgiving and brutal. 

Ms. Roitfeld shares insights and philosophies about the high stress fashion business.  We see her at work.  Her eye for meticulous arrangement, color, sexy poses and detail are its own art.

Often in fashion documentaries the subjects are hyper-maintenance individuals, presented as reality show characters, movies unto themselves.  Some of the best documentaries on fashion icons feature eccentrics who leave an impression of being a cartoonish figure or, worse yet, an egotistical buffoon.  In those instances the subject is pure performance and self-revelry.  Mr. Constant however, captures an individual as she actually is: generous, beautiful, sexy, happy, confident, exacting and refreshingly inclusive of all around her, including those who toil away in menial positions. 

I enjoyed seeing Ms. Roitfeld in such an open, embracing and welcoming reveal as she converses with her daughter, who is close to giving birth.  Ms. Roitfeld is the same way when stopping by some of the world's top fashion designers and artists (Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld, Donnatella Versace).  Her naturalness continues in her collaboration with friend and art designer/photographer Stephen Gan on her Fashion Book. 

Ms. Roitfeld is a perfectionist and an effortless artist and editor.  At least she makes it all look easy.  So does Mr. Constant, whose camera glides -- mostly unobtrusively -- in and out of strategy sessions, photo shoots, phone conversations and huge fashion parties and dinners featuring Kanye West, Beyonce, the ubiquitous James Franco and Kate Moss, among many others. 

In "Mademoiselle C" no one has a bad word to say about Ms. Roitfeld, who has been partner to fellow designer Christian Restoin for 30 years.  Asked if she will marry him she says, "I'm Russian, I'm too superstitious."  Their partnership, which has borne two children, seems just fine amidst the hustle and bustle of Ms. Roitfeld's work.  The secret to their endurance, reveals the low-key Mr. Restoin in so many words, is "that I just step out of the way -- I don't go to these parties, oh no."  Mr. Restoin however, is a key advisor to Ms. Roitfeld, and there's a nice moment in "Mademoiselle C" where a loving touch of advice from him makes a notable difference later during one of Ms. Roitfeld's fashion meetings.

Nearing 60, the influential and very youthful Carine Roitfeld could continue to model right now.  For someone who jet-sets in a high-stress environment she maintains a workout-yoga routine and a general sense of balance in her life, a very rare in such a dog-eat-dog world.  It's hard to imagine that Ms. Roitfeld could possibly be faking her personality or any of her milieu for Mr. Constant's camera.  Carine Roitfeld is truly a graceful, warm-hearted, humorous, sophisticated hard-working figure.  What you see in "Mademoiselle C" is what you get.  Disarming and charismatic, Ms. Roitfeld is someone you feel at ease with despite her immense reputation and power.  She isn't the imperious presence that Anna Wintour, a mega-legend, is. 

Mr. Constant, who doesn't throw bouquets at his subject, effectively melds the dazzle of the industry with an almost placid Ms. Roitfeld.  Even when a model cancels a photo shoot at the last minute Ms. Roitfeld never shows signs of panic.  Nor does she throw tirades.  While Ms. Roitfeld appears to be universally admired some of her allies, namely Mr. Gan, talk candidly of the resistance he and Ms. Roitfeld receive in some quarters regarding a photo shoot and design session. 

"Mademoiselle C" will bring the most fashion averse person a measure of pleasure, edification and joy.  As a fan of fashion it was a delight to spend 90 minutes with Carine Roitfeld.  "Mademoiselle C" is an effervescent sensation.

"Mademoiselle C" is not rated by the Motion Picture Association Of America but contains a fleeting glimpse of nudity. 
The film's running time is one hour and 33 minutes. 

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