CR Fashion Book: Hush Little Baby, Don’t You Cry
By Kate Ringo Suzuki
The first issue of CR Fashion Book is entitled REBIRTH. Carine Roitfeld is signaling that she herself is perhaps going through a rebirth in her own life. Or at the very least, that CR Fashion Book is her tender baby, and she is its loving, protective mother. As mothers we love, protect, and guide our babies, but they grow up to be whomever they are destined to become.
Her first editorial is entitled, “Hush Little Baby, Don’t You Cry: A Story About Second Chances and Active Imaginations.” Carine Roitfeld provides the visual imagery, beautifully photographed by Bruce Weber, to accompany a poem entitled “Doll Baptism” by Edwidge Danticat. In it, Carine teaches us about second chances, those points in life when we decide to embark on a new path. What is required is the pure mind of a child, or what in Zen thought is called “Beginner’s Mind,” as well as an active and positive imagination, and a kind of freedom from negative, so-called “realistic” thoughts and worries. In her tale, CR teaches us about openness to the idea that we can make our dreams come true.
The editorial opens with the first line of Danticat’s poem: “When I was a little girl in Haiti, whenever my friends and I would get a new doll (often a white one), we would always have a doll baptism.”
A doll baptism is a purifying ritual. Here Carine Roitfeld activates our inner little girl: Little girls love playing dress up, they are sweet and innocent, they love their stuffed bears, they love ponies and ballerinas, and they read nursery stories. They love life. They have no worries. They have freedom. Model Kate Upton wears a Little Bo Peep outfit, courtesy of Leg Avenue. It’s funny that these Leg Avenue costumes are featured here so innocently. The reality is that these costumes are marketed to grown-up women looking to spice up their lackluster sex lives — mostly women having a mid-life crisis who are bored with their husbands and want a change. Sure her shoes are Manolo Blahnik, and if you look closely, her coat is by Chloé — that coat is resting at her back. Kate holds a baby pony while a gorgeous male model dons a bear costume. And sweet Audrey Harrelson, the girl model, wears a tutu by Capezio. All have blond hair, hinting at the innocence of childhood.
“We would gather all our friends together to introduce our new doll to our tribe.”
Kate Upton wears another innocent outfit from Leg Avenue. She lounges on a blanket in the grass surrounded by happy naked babies. She is not the mother, but is more like one of them, as happy and as innocent as they are. They make a happy tribe. So we see that changing one’s life takes innocence, a beginner’s mind, and cannot thrive in isolation. Dreams need a tribe of like minds, free and clear, to help them along. The other page is a black and white photo of young Audrey Harrelson wearing a ballerina costume and a tiara while petting a baby pony. We see that Audrey dreams of becoming a ballerina. While she is playacting now, she does not doubt her dreams.
“Then we would choose two of our most special friends to be the godfather and godmother.”
We need mentors. People who love us, watch over us, and see our potential. Kate wears a frothy marabou dress by Alexander McQueen, a vintage children’s apron in gingham embroidered with The Three Bears, and vintage angel wings. She wears a tiara by Oscar de la Renta and holds a baby pig. Carine is reminding us of our childhood memories and feelings by referencing stories such as "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and "Three Little Pigs" as well as fairies and angels.
“Sometimes the godparents were other little boys and girls, but other times, we chose adults as godparents because they could afford the cola and cookies needed for the baptism reception”
Mentors and supporters of our dreams come in different forms. They can be a part of our tribe of free thinkers, friends of like mind, or they can be more experienced, and perhaps provide financial support. Kate Upton wears a Jil Sander coat over a Leg Avenue dress. She holds a baby lamb and a tutu. She is a grown woman but she has the innocence of a child. She holds the lamb close to her heart, like a child holds a stuffed toy. She holds her innocence close. She doesn’t want it marred.
“Sometimes we would want to keep our doll so close, we would assign no one — not even our beloved brother — to be the father.”
Dreams are delicate. Sometimes we must hold our dreams in our hearts and not share them because we must preserve them and the innocence of the thought, for fear that our dreams could be destroyed by well meaning naysayers.
“And we would say, if anyone asked, that the family pet or one of our stuffed animals was the father because they would not be competing with us for playtime with our doll.”
This is about how our dreams are special to us. We see Audrey Harrelson wearing a tutu and holding a real baby. The male model wears his bear costume and holds the baby pony. They look at one another and Audrey smiles. Audrey, but a child herself, holds a real baby close, as we do with new dreams. We hold our new dreams dear, but we are like children. We know we need more growth to handle them.
“For a while, it was almost as if our doll was alive... As alive as a flock of birds.”
A flock of birds finds its direction instinctively. They work as a group and it comes naturally. So do dreams come about.
“Or a litter of puppies, or a cloud of butterflies, or a real baby... And we imagined and we dreamed what it might be like to one day be mothers to mules or monkeys or unicorns or to real babies who would wail, and moan, and look like us.”
And so there we have it, Carine Roitfeld, the dreamer.
[Editor's note: View Hush Little Baby, Don't You Cry, a short film by Bruce Weber.]
More from CR Fashion Book Issue 1: Rebirth
CR Fashion Book: A Woman's Life
By Renee Hernandez
CR Fashion Book: Elsa
By Bernie Rothschild
CR Fashion Book: High On Rebellion
By Jessica Eritou
Inside the Pages of CR
By Dara Block
Carine Roitfeld photograph courtesy of thewildmagazine.com. CR Fashion Book images courtesy of crfashionbook.com