Carine Roitfeld on Anna Wintour, John Galliano, and the ‘Gilded Cage’ That Is French Vogue

Carine Roitfeld
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Carine Roitfeld opens up about John Galliano, Anna Wintour, and her time at French Vogue.

She hasn’t been relieved of her French Vogue editing duties for long, but “freedom” is a word Carine Roitfeld seems to be using quite often lately.

The newly freelance writer, stylist and consultant spoke to Spiegel about her newfound liberty—plus her takes on Anna Wintour, John Galliano, and why her drug of choice isn’t drugs at all.

Despite rumors that Roitfeld was let go from her position in December, she insists it was her decision to leave.

“For 10 years, it was a hell of a lot of fun. But toward the end, it unfortunately got less and less fun,” she said. “You used to be able to be more playful, but now it's all about money, results, and big business. The prêt-à-porter shows have become terribly serious. The atmosphere isn't as electric as it once was, and they now have about as much charm as a medical conference. But it takes just one good fashion show to get things exciting again.

“Ten years is a long time—and especially 10 years in a gilded cage. They were wonderful years; but, sooner or later, birds want their freedom again.”

Another rumor she’s happy to clear up? That she was ever after the job of Anna Wintour, who helms American Vogue.

“That was never seriously under discussion,” she said. “I like to provoke. I'm very French. In America, they're not even allowed to show a hint of nipple in photos. Anna Wintour is the most powerful woman in the global fashion industry, the first lady of fashion. She's a politician; I'm a stylist. They are two very different jobs. Incidentally, despite all the rumors, she is actually very nice.”

Roitfeld also stands behind John Galliano, though she calls his actions unacceptable.

“I had no idea how unhappy John Galliano must have been,” she said. “You have to be very unhappy and lonely to praise Hitler in public while completely drunk. The House of Dior has always addressed a range of topics, for example, by having haute couture shows on homelessness, where all the models look like people living on the street. But drunkenly shouting, ‘I love Hitler,’ and calling people in a bar a ‘dirty Jew-face’ is unacceptable. I don't think he really believes what he said; they were simply the actions of a drunk.”

As for detractors who say the pressures of the fashion industry can cause illness and substance abuse, Roitfeld disagrees. “No more and no less than they are in other artistic circles … Since I never touched drugs myself, I find it hard to tell whether people are taking them.

“My only drug is a small glass of vodka in the evening.”