NEW YORK — A new feature-length fashion documentary entitled Mademoiselle C is set to premiere during New York Fashion Week on September 11th starring former Vogue Paris editor-in-chief and fashion stylist Carine Roitfeld. In the spirit of “The September Issue” (2009), with American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, “Mademoiselle C” centers around the making of CR Fashion Book, a new fashion magazine from Roitfeld. The film is chock full of fashion elite from fashion designers and runway models to celebrities and socialites including Karl Lagerfeld, Doutzen Kroes, and Sarah Jessica Parker. I recently caught up with director Fabien Constant, who produced TV documentaries such as “The Vogue Paris Fashion Night Out” (2010) and “Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton” (2007), to discuss the making of the film and working with fashion industry elite.
Were you inspired by “The September Issue?”
I wouldn’t say that I was not; I loved the “September Issue.” I think it was fascinating to watch and I think it was a very clever documentary because Anna Wintour is a fascinating director for sure, but she’s also a very hard woman to catch on camera and R.J. Cutler, the director, was clever enough to know that and to move his camera on Grace Coddington because he needed a bit more heart or warm in the movie, I guess. I love this movie because of this it’s fascinating to see those two women together. So Yes, I would say that it was an inspiration for sure and it tells the same story like the birth and the making of the magazine. With Carine, I was lucky enough to have both Anna and Grace in one.
So Carine is like a combination of both Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington?
Exactly! Meaning that she has this kind of powerful thing around her in the fashion business, but she’s also creative and on set doing pictures as Grace is doing, too. So she’s a mixture, a combination of the two characters.
You’ve done other fashion documentaries. What is it like to work with such notable figures in fashion like Carine and Karl Lagerfeld.
(laughs) It’s a real pleasure and it’s really exciting, but it’s also really demanding because those people are hard workers and believe me, on set they are working very hard. Those are long days of shooting and they are focused all day long. They have some fun and they are making jokes and everything, but its really fascinating and inspiring when you are a director and you are shooting yourself, your images. It’s amazing to see this happening in front of you and its inspiring and you try to do your best just for your movie first, but also to try to be at the same level … so this is a huge motivation and also a lot of fun because when you spend a day with Karl you always have tons of laughs and happiness.
You mentioned having fun on set with Karl Lagerfeld. There was a scene I completely adored and it was one with him pushing a baby in a buggy. Did he do that on his own or was there a little coaxing from you?
(Laughs) He really did everything by himself. That’s also a rule that I have. I never asked Carine or anybody in the movie to do something for the camera. Nothing. Never. I’m use to shooting documentaries, fashion documentaries especially. I’ve done a series that I produced and shot for the Sundance channel called “The Day Before” and it’s literally what happens in the fashion house thirty-six hours before a fashion show, and people are running and screaming and everything. I use to say that a little lady is running with a dress from one room to another, I will never ask her to come again and do it. I have to follow her and run after her. You can see in the movie, there’s a lot of time where I am literally running after Carine too (laughs) – running after her in the movie.
What was your favorite scene to shoot in the film?
I would say there was a lot of them … but as a director my favorite scene, my favorite sequence, is a dance sequence with Carine rehearsing ballet. It’s seven in the morning in Paris, it’s a very private moment, and it’s also a very revealing moment of her working hard … it’s a good definition of who she is.
What’s next for you?
There’s a lot of things going on believe me right now. I cant even believe how big this tiny documentary I did by myself – with my camera on the shoulder – turned out to be such a big thing. We are very happy, both Carine and I. I’m working with short documentaries right now and maybe, and its still a maybe, a fiction movie.
Is it going to be a fashion-related movie?
I won’t tell you it will be a fashion movie, but it will involve very well-dressed people for sure.
If you were a Chic Spy Agent what would be your code name?
KL Forever! KL as in Karl Lagerfeld Forever.
The Chic Spy
(Photo credit: Cohen Media Group)