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Where "Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel" meets "The September Issue"
on 30 October 2013
"Mademoiselle C." (2013 release from France; 92 min.) is a documentary about French fashion editor Carine Roitfeld. As the documentary opens, we are in August, 2012, where we learn that Carine is working feverishly to launch a new magazine called "CR Fashion Book". The documentary then goes back to late, 2011, with an announcement from Vodue Paris that Roitfeld is leaving after a 10 year stint as editor-in-chief, to pursue "personal projects". The documentary is a mix of both a personal view/impression of Carine Roitfeld, and the efforts to launch a brand new magazine in the span of about 6-7 months. In that regard, this documentary can be described as "Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel" meets "The September Issue" (although Roitfeld is NOT Diane Vreeland, let's be clear about that).
Couple of comments: writer-director Fabien Constant was given unparalleled access to his subject matter, without any visible restrictions. I don't know whether it was a conscious decision, but the documentary spends just a few fleeting moments on Carine's past, as a result of which we don't get to understand how this woman arrived to this particular moment in her life. Nor are we any the wiser what exactly happened for her to walk away (or to be pushed out?) at Vogue Paris. The movie does a much better job documenting the challenges of launching a new magazine, and in fact the last 30-40 min. are entirely focused on that, and are for me the most compelling part of this documentary. A big negative throughout the documentary for me is the incessant name-dropping. Kanye West! Donatella Versace! Kate Upton! Scarlett Johansson! Stef Van der Laan! and on and on, it just never stops. Carine Roitfeld does give us a couple of great lines, though, such as "It's better to be told you look beautiful tonight than to be asked what are you wearing?", ha! And even more appropriate: "You have to love the camera!", which Carine certainly does.
Imagine my surprise when this documentary showed up out of the blue at my local art-house theatre here in Cincinnati this past weekend without any pre-release hype or advertising. I figured this wouldn't play very long and went ahead to see it right away. The screening I saw this at was not well attended, and I wasn't surprised. Bottom line: "Mademoiselle C." is an okay but not great documentary. But if you are interested in high fashion and the fashion magazine world, then this is a no-brainer and worth checking out in the theatre or on DVD/Blu-ray.