I am thrilled to share with you the latest Vogue Paris review by our amazing contributing editor Dara Block. This time Dara looks at the December 2008/January 2009 issue for which Princess Stéphanie of Monaco served as the guest editor as chosen by Carine Roitfeld. Thank you very much, Dara, for giving all of us the chance to look back at this lovely issue and to enjoy the sporty chic style of Princess Stéphanie.
Vogue Paris December 2008/January 2009: Princess Stéphanie Of Monaco
By Dara Block
Daring and unique — those were the two words that came to mind when I saw Princess Stéphanie of Monaco on the cover of Vogue Paris as the guest editor back in January of 2009. Definitely not an obvious choice, but I admire that Carine Roitfeld decided to take a chance on someone unconventional for this issue. So who exactly is Princess Stéphanie of Monaco? Her full title is actually Stéphanie Marie Elisabeth Grimaldi Countess of Polignac. She is the youngest child of Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, and American actress Grace Kelly. She is also the sister of Albert II, Prince of Monaco, and Caroline, Princess of Hanover. Stephanie has been a model, a singer, and a designer of a line of swimsuits. She even worked at Christian Dior back in the 80s, but she is most likely known in France for being a tabloid darling and for having many relationships with so-called "bad boys" and non-royalty. Her sexy, sporty look and rebellious attitude is certainly right up Carine Roitfeld's street and with all that said... let's take a detailed look inside the pages of this intriguing issue.
Personally, I think this has to be one of the most interesting Vogue Paris covers of all time... it exudes just the right amount of mystery. I love the dark gray tone and the way it contrasts with that red text. Plus, I like the composition of this shot taken by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. Stéphanie's hair looks amazing and I love that direct emphasis on her toned arm. When I look at this cover... it makes me wonder what exactly is Princess Stéphanie thinking? It is obvious that Carine Roitfeld wanted her readers to wonder the same... I admire that Carine Roitfeld chose such an ambiguous cover photo. It is total incognito-chic... what Vogue Paris does best!
As you open the magazine, you will first notice Carine Roitfeld's editor's note. For this particular issue, Carine was very much inspired by Princess Stéphanie during the 80s. It was actually in 1986 that Stéphanie had a huge hit in France called "Ouragan" which translates in English as "Irresistible." Carine Roitfeld put together a montage of some of her looks from that particular video and explains to the readers what an impact her style has had on her and the Vogue Paris team for many of the editorials for this specific issue. There really is such an 80s athletic sexy vibe going on throughout this magazine and I like how Carine describes the importance of Stéphanie's style.
Following Carine Roitfeld's editor's note comes "La Panoplie," which is a clever step-by-step process describing how to achieve that Princess Stéphanie type of glamorous style. The model seen in this first photo is sporting a beautifully fitted Balmain ensemble with a matching diamond necklace and earrings much like the way Stéphanie wore it back in the 80s... she indeed loves her bling! Diamonds most certainly seem to be her accessory of choice.
Stéphanie also likes a sleek black dress. Vogue Paris tried to emulate this tough, sleek look with a dress by the London label Preen. Their clothes have a very 80s and powerful aesthetic, much like the princess herself.
Stéphanie also loves Swarovski crystals. Whether a clutch, bracelets, or bedazzled stilettos, a little sparkle is very much key to obtaining her look. Here the model is seen wearing an Azzaro gown... love the adornment on the collar and how simplified the silhouette is. This dress is very Stéphanie.
In addition, Stéphanie is also a fan of a black dress with delicate details. The model seen in this photo is wearing a Balmain dress with a criss-cross collar. It's all about those added extra elements that can make a black dress super sexy! The sleek hair, the dramatic earrings, plus the stiletto boot heels are so quintessential Stéphanie.
Next follows "Flamme des Années 80" which celebrates women such as Princess Stéphanie, Joan Collins, and Grace Jones for their iconic 80s looks, emphasizing the impact their style has had on many designers like Azzedine Alaïa, Balmain, Nicolas Ghesquière, and Maison Martin Margiela... these women clearly changed fashion during the 80s and still today their looks are just as innovative. These designers in particular are very much inspired by this type of powerful and sexy women!
Following "Flamme des Années 80" comes "Top égérie." Vogue Paris flashes back to the year 1986, in which Stéphanie launched a swimwear line called "Pool Position" with Alix de la Comble, whom she had met during her internship at Christian Dior. Stéphanie is very much known for her love of swimsuits and I love this clever montage of her in various suits while on vacation in Monaco... it is total 80s swimsuit glam!
Next comes "Signes Extérieurs de Princesse," in which Stephanie talks about her tattoos. For Stéphanie, her tattoos are not just about inking her body, but more about remembering certain memories and experiences she has gone through in her life... such as the loss of her mother, Grace Kelly. Stéphanie even shares her own personal sketchbook of tattoo creations... love how personal Vogue Paris can get!
Next, we get to see the portfolio! I love the opening image of Stéphanie photographed by Mario Testino in a sleek black asymmetrical dress by Roberto Cavalli surrounded by the beauty of Monaco. Such a perfect way to transition into the next section entitled "Une historie simple" (or in English, "A simple story").
The editorial was photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggot and styled by Carine Roitfeld. I love the simplicity of this layout and the type of persona Carine brought out in Princess Stéphanie in these photos. Carine clearly depicts how fashion is all about being yourself... not so much about following trends, but more about finding key looks that suit your body... something Princess Stéphanie knows a thing or two about.
Following Stéphanie's editorial comes "Divine Altesse" (which translates as "Divine Highness") in which the princess gets candid and shares with readers some of her favorite personal and professional moments that have impacted her life over the years.
I love the opening shot of her as a baby in her father's arms and the expression on her mother's face. The picture was taken in 1967 on a trip to London and it is clear what a profound influence her parents have had on her.
The following photo of Princess Stéphanie was taken in September 1986 by Helmut Newton in which she posed for the cover of Vogue Paris... an obvious highlight of her life!
Naturally, Stéphanie's family is also very important to her. I love these images she shares of her brother and sister. I especially love the Andy Warhol Vogue Paris cover of her sister, Caroline, and I admire her message attached to this picture in which Stéphanie states "I hope she knows she can count on me"... so very sweet and chic at the same time.
Not only does Princess Stéphanie admire her family, but she also idolizes former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela... love this image she shared from 1964 of a man erasing the slogan "FREE MANDELA." Stéphanie is very much inspired and fascinated by Mandela in the way he has endured and suffered throughout his life, and how he has always remained positive with a smile on his face. She believes he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize every year.
Next, Stéphanie shares some beautiful photos of her mother, Grace Kelly. Sadly, in 1982, while returning home from their farm in France, Stéphanie and her mother had a terrible car accident. Grace Kelly died and Stéphanie lived, only fracturing her neck. Stéphanie not only went through the horrible trauma of losing her mom, but also being beside her at the moment of her accident. To Stéphanie, her mother will always remain the most beautiful woman in the world... not only as a great actress, but as a truly wonderful mother... a very poignant part of the magazine.
Stéphanie then goes on to share more of her favorite things including her love of the Republic of Mauritius. This is an island in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. Stéphanie has a house on this island and she likes to call it her own little hidden paradise.
Stéphanie also shares an image from Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 film Rear Window. This is her favorite of her mother's films. Stéphanie feels that this is Hitchcock at his best. She loves the way he blends voyeurism and suspense in this film... I couldn't agree more!
In addition, Stéphanie also loves animals... her father Rainier III is the one who taught her to appreciate animals... especially elephants. She believes they bring good luck and she finds elephant eyes very soothing. I so love how open Princess Stéphanie is with sharing some of her favorite island getaways, films, and also her love of elephants. I always find this part of the guest editor series the most fascinating. We get such a detailed look at some the most obscure and intimate inspirations!
Next comes a clever editorial called "Cou de force" (or "Neck Strength"), inspired by Stéphanie's athletic frame and her love of bathing suits. The layout was photographed by Thomas Lagrange and I love the close-up shots of these bathing suits and the added extra element of these diamond necklaces... totally sporty, yet decadent at the same time... a very brilliant Vogue Paris and Princess Stéphanie inspired combination.
Following "Cou de force" comes "Stéphanie," a beautiful editorial photographed by Mario Testino with styling by Carine Roitfeld. I love the way she looks in these pictures. Her hair is slicked back, her shoulders look strong, and I like how Carine Roitfeld put her in designers like Azzedine Alaïa and Riccardo Tisci. You can definitely tell these are the clothes that she feels most comfortable wearing. What I love most about this editorial is that I can see a lot of Carine Roitfeld, herself, embodied in these photos... perhaps you can too!
Next comes "Propos Recueillis" (or "Collected About") in which Stéphanie talks about all the various projects she has worked on in the past, present, and today. She discusses her bathing suit line and how she created lycra clothing back in the 80s. It appears as if Stéphanie was way into this material before everyone else. She even inspired Azzedine Alaïa to get into lycra. She clearly has a knowledge of fashion and fabric. Stéphanie also talks about her involvement with AIDS. In 2003, Stéphanie created her own Women Face the AIDS Association, which supports people living with HIV and helps combat the social stigma attached to the disease. This is a really intriguing interview... we get to see a different side of Stéphanie — not only how fashion-forward she is, but how philanthropic she is, as well.
Following this interview comes a clever editorial entitled "Ouragan 80" (or "Hurricane 80"). The layout was styled by Emmanuelle Alt and features model/actress Milla Jovovich in a very convincing impression of Princess Stéphanie. Jovovich showcases vintage Thierry Mugler jackets, 80s style jeans, and chunky jewels. Alt really captures that quintessential 80s luxe Princess Stéphanie look and how her style is very much relevant to what is going on in fashion today...
Next comes "L'homme sans Frontières" (or "Men Without Borders"), in which Stéphanie discusses her involvement as an ambassador to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS. She expresses her admiration for Kofi Annan and how impressed she is by him and his many battles as the former secretary general to the United Nations.
Stéphanie ends her guest editor issue with "Les petits soldats" (or "Small Soldiers"), an inside look at her involvement with underprivileged children in Madagascar. Many of these children have no home, education, proper health, and are often found food deprived. Stéphanie offers both psychological and material aid to these kids by helping them build a better future. It is clear that a main priority in her life is helping others that are less fortunate.
I must say this really has to be one of the most interesting guest editor issues of Vogue Paris. To be completely honest, I did not know much about Priness Stéphanie before reading this issue and I love that Carine Roitfeld chose someone as unique as Stéphanie. She is certainly not your average princess! Yes, Stéphanie's appeal lies in her strong, yet confident appearance, but I like that there is more to her than you would think. Her involvement with AIDS associations and underprivileged youth only makes her more intriguing. Plus, I think it is pretty remarkable how much respect she has for her family. It is obvious that her mother's death has impacted her greatly and I love that she carries on the tradition of helping children, much like what her mother did when she was princess. In closing, I definitely see many similarities in terms of style between Princess Stéphanie and Carine Roitfeld. These two women are both powerful, alluring, and unafraid to work with what they are born with... now, what woman doesn't want to be like that? Brava, Carine, for yet another risk-tasking guest editor issue!
Vogue Paris editorial images © 2008 Condé Nast. All Rights Reserved.