Fashion and nudity have long gone hand in hand and, while she was Vogue Paris’ editor, Carine Roitfeld was one of its biggest proponents. So much so that much of the commentary around the new, post-Roitfeld Vogue Paris has revolved around its distinct lack of ‘porno chic’.
Carine Roitfeld doesn’t like that point however. In fact, she abhors the term altogether. That’s a point you can learn from Interview magazine’s feature on Roitfeld, a feature that is less of an interview and more of an insight and discussion prompted by the feature’s author Karl Largerfeld.
After the break we’ll take you through that insight, and delve into how the two ‘felds perceive the difference between pornography and erotica, and their feelings on a host of other topics from gratuity to Helmut Newton.
KARL LAGERFELD: How far can you take an image?
CARINE ROITFELD: I think that when you’re taking pictures with my principles, you can try anything. Dare to do a lot of things-dare with sexuality, dare to break taboos as long as it remains photogenic. As long as I find an elegance and beauty in it, I am not afraid to tackle anything.
LAGERFELD: When do you think a photograph become erotic? And when does it cross that boundary into the x-rated or pornography?
ROITFELD: It’s very difficult to know when you’re crossing the boundary. I hate the wordboundary because I never think about it when taking a picture. Very often it doesn’t mean anything because it depends on who’s looking at the picture more than the content of the picture itself.
LAGERFELD: Yes. But even it’s simpler than that. Take Helmut Newton. Some of his photos were shocking. But there’s always a beauty in the composition. There’s always an artistic interest in terms of the image.
ROITFELD: I am against absolute gratuity.
LAGERFELD: That’s what I wanted to hear you say.
ROITFELD: Moreover, I think in Helmut’s pictures, it’s a stolen moment, like a snapshot. He didn’t try too hard.
LAGERFELD: Is it a conscious or unconscious choice?
Roitfeld: It’s completely unconscious. Otherwise I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t have done the photos I’ve done. And I won’t be blamed as being porno chic.
LAGERFELD: Oh, no, no, no.
ROITFELD: It’s a very bad word. I like erotic chic.
LAGERFELD: That’s its own art movement. Today there are galleries that sell photos under the name of erotic art that are very explicit.
ROITFELD: Yes, but porno is not a pretty word. Porno chic doesn’t mean much. It’s been sticking to me and I don’t understand why.
LAGERFELD: You’re photos are erotic.
LAGERFELD: Although for a stylist, doing a nude is even more difficult.
ROITFELD: Mario did a lot of nudes. Every morning when we worked together, he had boys coming over and he would take naked pictures of them. I learned a lot because there’s no artifice and it’s all a question of position, of looks, of attitude, the way to position your legs, position your knees . . . It gives you something.
LAGERFELD: There’s a big difference between photographing naked boys and naked girls.
ROITFELD: I was too shy, at first, to come close to these naked guys. I would stand a little ways away from them. With girls it’s much easier.
LAGERFELD: I think it’s easier because naked men are more awkward.
ROITFELD: Yes and then there is always a bit of seduction to it when one person is clothed and the other is naked, which can be a little weird. Everybody should be naked. In that case, it would be easier, wouldn’t it? Let’s do a huge naked photo shoot!
ROITFELD: It’s very you and very me, isn’t it, Karl? It would be perfect.
To read full interview, one that spans five pages, visit Interview magazine here.