7 Lessons on Life & Style from Carine Roitfeld

The famous French editor gives us a lesson over her new collection for Uniqlo.

By: Emily Ramshaw
Photography: Alec Kugler

Carine Roitfeld is one of those very-top-of-the-fashion-world-pyramid people who, when you finally meet them—as we did yesterday at the St. Regis Hotel in New York where she showed us her new collection for Uniqlo—you don’t know where to begin because there’s just so much to ask. Roitfeld, though, is one of those who happens to drop little pearls of wisdom every other sentence—all you have to do is say hello and she’s off, spouting tips about matching leopard with pink and why she dresses on a Monday morning the way most people would dress to go out to a party. In fact, Roitfeld is so chatty and so full of tips we want to store away for when we need her particular mix of confidence and simplicity, Uniqlo design director Naoki Takizawa barely got a word in edgewise, except to confirm that she is in fact very picky about her clothes (reason 7503830 that her collaboration with the brand—now in its third season—is so damn good), and that it took 20 faux leopard print samples for Roitfeld to agree on one that looked very un-faux. What’s the meme? I wanna be a Roitfeld? Well, now you (kind of) can.

 

1. Must love fur (but it can be fake).

 
CR: “I love fur, and it’s very difficult when you love fur to wear fake fur. But this fur is fantastic. I’m wearing the short black one later and you really think it’s real fur. I think, today, you feel prouder to wear fake fur, but it’s very difficult to feel elegant and chic. Naoki made miracles to make this one look real. The bomber is very easy to wear. And the leopard is chic. It’s very difficult to make fake fur look good, but we found it.”

NT: “I brought 20 different leopard samples to her apartment and she picked the best one.”

 

2. Mix the unexpected—even if the rule says not to.

 
“This is a collection of all my bad taste mixed together. I like to mix things you aren’t supposed to put together—the flower dress with the leopard-print coat, it is my fantasy, I love it. Also, pink trousers with leopard is very good together. I like to mix what supposedly doesn’t go well together.”

 

3. Switch up your silhouette only when it feels right. In the end, it’s all about attitude.

 
“People are used to seeing me in a tight skirt or trousers, but these [wide-legged trousers] are more Monsieur Saint Laurent, a little more traditional French Parisian. I’m a skirt lady—I always wear skirts. But I want to wear skirts as trousers, so I put pockets in the skirts. It totally changes your way of thinking to put your hands in pockets.”

 

4. Style doesn’t come out of trends. Keep your clothes forever.

 
“These products aren’t so trendy at the end of the day. Even the dress with the floral print. Everything came from my wardrobe that I’ve had for five, 10, 15, 20 years, and I have a dress that’s similar from 20 years ago that I like to wear all the time.”

 

5. “Basic with a little je ne sais quoi.” (In other words, wear perfectly cut, simple pieces.)

“It’s very basic at the end of the day. I’m very basic. Basic with a little je ne sais quoi. It’s just a way of mixing. I’m not a designer. I like very easy pieces, but it has to be perfect. I’m very picky—the length, the waist—I’m more about the details. Usually I go to a tailor with everything, but this is like couture for me. I know my body and a woman’s body perfectly, so I know I don’t like when the sleeves are too long, I don’t like when a sweater is too short, I like a special length at the knee.”

6. Stick to your principles. (And look out for your friends.)

 
“I work on my magazine, I collaborate a lot with very luxurious brands and, of course, I work with Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford, Riccardo Tisci, and I cannot copy what they’re doing. It’s more inspired by what I’m wearing. You want them to respect what you’re doing, but you don’t want them to feel that you’re copying them. If they say it looks great, it’s great quality, that makes me happy. Nothing is a copy of anyone.”

 

7. Know yourself—and use it to stand out.

 
“Uniqlo’s first collaboration was with Jil Sander. It was very sober, easy to wear and go to work in—I like that. Uniqlo doesn’t copy anyone. With some mass brands, they copy and then it’s in stores quicker than the designers’. And then with Inès de la Fressange [another Uniqlo collaborator], she has her own style but she is not a designer. They didn’t call me because I’m a designer, they called me because of my style. We are both Parisian, but we are very different. Inès is more casual, and, for a lot of people, the way I’m dressed is for going to a party, but for me it’s morning. I’m a bit more sophisticated. Uniqlo is very respectful of us and never copies [other people]—this is why, when they asked, I said okay.”

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