carine roitfeld

The All-NSFW Carine Roitfeld Retrospective

Julianne Moore on the cover in April 2008, shot by Mario Testino.

Before she came to French Vogue in 2001, Carine Roitfeld made her name as a fantastically gifted stylist for the British magazine The Face and Tom Ford. She directed far more of Vogue’s shoots than is usual for an editor-in-chief, and remade the magazine “in her own image, which is to say svelte, tough, luxurious, and wholeheartedly in love with dangling-cigarette, bare-chested fashion,” as Amy Larocca put it in her profile of Roitfeld for New York.

Legendary photographers like Steven Klein, Mario Sorrenti, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, and Mario Testino snapped the pictures, along with the corps of multi-tasking designer/photographers (Karl Lagerfeld, Hedi Slimane and of course, Tom Ford), but what showed up in the magazine was all Roitfeld: women and men wearing stilletos and thigh-highs, legs akimbo, involved in something S&M-ish. The nudity — and there’s a lot — is mesmerizing, powerful and matter-of-fact in a characteristically French way. Sometimes there was controversy (her decision to paint blackface on the model Lara Stone caused a firestorm in 2009), and recently Roitfeld seemed a little weary of it all. Three months ago, she told the New York Times’ Eric Wilson, “We have to fight to keep this un-politically correct attitude of French Vogue. But it’s more and more difficult…You cannot smoke, you cannot show arms, you cannot show little girls, because everyone now is very anxious not to have problems with the law. Everything we do now is like walking in high heels on the ice, but we keep trying to do it.”

Here are some highlights from Roitfeld’s more provocative work at French Vogue. For complete layouts going back years, as well as some of her ad campaigns, has a well-organized link list.

The All-NSFW Carine Roitfeld Retrospective