Dear readers, on the eve of the release of Mademoiselle C., the film documenting the life and the work of Carine Roitfeld, I had the pleasure of asking a few questions of the director, Fabien Constant, and I am delighted to share with you his answers. Also, I took the photograph of Fabien that leads off the interview but most of the others are plucked without permission from Monsieur Constant's Instagram account, I hope he won't mind, the images perfectly illustrate his humorous and laid-back approach to life. Merci mille fois, Fabien, bravo !
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up? Which schools did you attend? How did you prepare for the work you do?
I'm from the southwest of France, Périgord, a countryside full of wine and foie gras not far from Bordeaux. I was not supposed to be in Paris and doing films but I was a movie lover from my youngest age so I moved to Paris after my graduation to do some movie studies. And I've been a movie journalist for many years before. I've moved into fashion, too. I've done a few documentaries, mainly as a producer: "Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton" or the tv series "The Day Before." I've also directed a lot of videos and a few of them with Carine such as her Vogue Bal or her vampire party or some Vogue Fashion Night Out documentaries or "The Client," a short doc for W mag.
This film is your first full-length feature but you have worked on other short pieces including "The Client" with Carine Roitfeld. How did you decide that Mademoiselle C was the film you should make? How did you convince Carine Roitfeld to give you such incredible access to her work and her life?
The videos that I have just mentioned have created a kind of a link between Carine and I and a kind of "trust" relationship. Trust in the tone I have, the step back I have, but also the humor or the vision of fashion I can have. And finally trust in tastes. So when I told her I wanted to tell the full story of CR Fashion Book, she just said yes. In two seconds.
Do you consider yourself a fan of Carine Roitfeld? When did you begin to follow her? Do you collect her work, such as Vogue Paris, CR Fashion Book, and Irreverent?
I've never been a collector of anything about Carine except the enormous respect that I have about her work. She has changed fashion in the 90s. She brings dream to the readers and the fashion lovers, through a strong and personal vision. And all her pictures have always a great sense of humour, sometimes in a tiny, tiny detail, but it's always there.
I love the music that you chose to score Mademoiselle C, how did you pick the songs?
I'm obsessed with music so it took me time to find the group as eclectic as I wanted to be. I've always loved the music from The Shoes, their first album was a firework of energy and different styles that I love. And I loved the video clip they did with Jake Gyllenhaal last year for their hit "Time to Dance." So I couldn't be happier when they said yes to me. But I've also worked very hard on some additional music to find the moods and spirits (sometime religious, sometimes funny) I wanted to have.
What are your favorite moments in Mademoiselle C? Did your personal favorites translate into the film? I have read that Carine did not ask to approve your final cut. Did she offer any input as to the direction of the film? Did she advise on the promotional materials?
My favorite moment in the movie is the dance sequence, in her Parisian flat, at 7 a.m. in the morning. This sequence describe the real Carine for me, grace comes with work, beauty doesn't show suffering. And yes I've been the one in charge of every aspect of the moment. Carine saw it first, for sure, but she was not involved in the creative process nor any editing decision. She likes to say that she gave me as much freedom as she expects to have when she is doing her pictures.
Having spent so much time with Carine Roitfeld, perhaps you saw her eat at some point. Would you be comfortable divulging any details about her nutritional choices? Glancing into her refrigerator, what might we see?
As a real French woman Carine really enjoys to eat. That's our secret: enjoy what you eat and you won't get fat. We have been to a crazy Japanese restaurant last night, she had everything from sushi to lamb... and always have a spoon to steal some of your dessert.
Did you ever peek over Carine's shoulder and catch her checking IWTBAR? ;-) Or any favorite sites?
I can tell she has an eye on IWTBAR sometimes, she respects your work. But most of the time her relationship with things about her on the internet comes from the people around her showing her things. As she says, she doesn't Google herself every morning.
I have read that you edited your final cut of Mademoiselle C from 220 hours of footage gleaned while following Carine Roitfeld. What will happen to the unseen 218 hours?
It's gone forever. :) Sad and beautiful in the same times. But you'll have 35 minutes of deleted scenes in the DVDs.
What will you do next?
I'm working on tons of different projects but to be honest the Mademoiselle C world tour, as I like to call it for fun, takes all of my time right now.
Now that the project has concluded, do you miss following Carine?
I do spend a lot of time with her for the promotion. But I can tell that we have a good connection, and a lot of fun together, so we might do something else together in the future. I would love to. But in a very practical way, you can also watch the behind the scene video I've done of her very powerful shoot with Karl Lagerfeld and Riccardo Tisci and the beyond controversial Kim Kardashian. It was a crazy night. Or you can read my interview of J.W. Anderson in the new CR Fashion Book issue. You see, we are already working together again, just on different platforms.
Who are your role models? Top Ten list of favorite music? Films? Books?
My production company is called TarkovsPop, because I love Tarkovsky, this very talented and demanding Russian director but also Rihanna or Katy Perry. I hate churches. I like to put on the same level a very demanding old film from the French New Wave and an amazingly well done blockbuster as Mission Impossible 4. It's what my world is made of.
What advice do you have for an aspiring film director?
To have no fear and not listen to advices. If you feel you have a story to tell, go for it.
Fabien Contstant photos © 2012 Kellina de Boer and courtesy of instagram.com/fabienconstant and purple.fr