Carine Roitfeld on Quiet Luxury, Liz Taylor, and Smoking Indoors

All photos courtesy of Carine Roitfeld. Pictured: Sebastián Faena, Carine Roitfeld, and Vladimir Roitfeld.

On Tuesday night, the legendary fashion editor Carine Roitfeld gathered friends and family at Maximes in Paris to toast a new collaboration celebrating Cartier’s iconic Trinity collection. After dinner, cigarettes were lit, secrets were shared, and a few late-night revelers kept the party going past two a.m. The next morning, our senior editor Taylore Scarabelli called up Miss Roitfeld to see if she could dig up some fashion gossip, and find out the best way to rock Cartier.


TAYLORE SCARABELLI: Good morning. How are you feeling after the party last night?

CARINE ROITFELD: You’re always a bit stressed when you’re hosting a dinner because some people always cancel at the last minute and you have empty seats. But everything went very well and people stayed very late. Everyone came to me and said it was a very fun dinner. Oh my god, Taylore, you have great nails.

SCARABELLI: Oh, thank you. They’re stilettos— 

ROITFELD: I think everyone was very, very pleased. I was sitting with Jaye from Cartier, he wanted to keep the party going until 2:00 in the morning.

SCARABELLI: Oh, wow. Were people dancing?

ROITFELD: When I left, no. I’m never the last one to leave my own parties and dinners, so I don’t know what happened after that.

SCARABELLI: Chic. Did you hear any good gossip last night? I feel like there’s a lot going on in the fashion world—

ROITFELD: About Hedi leaving Celine?

SCARABELLI: [Laughs] Yeah.

ROITFELD: We weren’t really gossiping about fashion. I think it’s more just fun when you have nothing special to say and just enjoy your partner in crime next to you. It was a bit like musical chairs. And at the end, everyone could smoke. It’s very cool when you are able to smoke at the table. It never happens.

SCARABELLI: Only in Paris. Okay, I have to ask you some Cartier-related questions.


SCARABELLI: What was the first piece of Cartier jewelry you ever purchased or received?

ROITFELD: I think it was at Vogue Paris, I got a present from Cartier, the Trinity ring, the one we were celebrating yesterday. I’m not really a jewelry person. I like to give jewelry, but I don’t wear it so much. 

SCARABELLI: Is it because you’re just not big on accessorizing in that way? What are your rules for that?

ROITFELD: I’m going to say something terrible. When I started at Vogue Paris, I had a big interview in American Vogue. I was talking about jewelry and I said this crazy thing, that jewelry is only good before the age of 25 and after 70. It was a big drama at the magazine, because at that time, 30% of the advertisers were jewelry.

SCARABELLI: And now you’re wearing Cartier! What were you drinking last night?

ROITFELD: I had a big headache today because I mixed a lot. At home I started with a little shot of vodka, to get in a good mood. At the party they offered me champagne. I don’t like champagne, so finally, they gave me a vodka tonic. And I think after that I went for red wine…

SCARABELLI: Oh yeah, that’ll do it. I had a martini last night.

ROITFELD: I love a martini. Dirty?

SCARABELLI: Always. That’s the New York way. 

ROITFELD: Love it, but yesterday it was not really the place for a dirty martini. It’s a very French classic restaurant so I think they’re more about French food and French beverages.

Carine Roitfeld

Michel Gaubert, Ryan Aguilar, Vena Brykalin, and Cate Underwood.

SCARABELLI: Of course. Who was all there last night? Any special guests?

ROITFELD: I will not call anyone special guests. I will just say that each time that I’m trying to plan a dinner, my table has to be a family table, and I like to introduce new people to mix with my friends. My son came in from New York for this dinner, and it was fun because we invited some models that I love. And then there was Olivier Zahm, who is always fun to have at a party in Paris. And then Michel Gaubert and his partner. Sebastián Faena was my date. He’s my best friend, he’s a photographer. We’ve worked together a lot. And then there was Lucien Pages, who is one of the biggest PR in Paris. And Youssef Marquis, I met him when he was doing communication at Givenchy, but now he has his own office and is working with celebrities. And then Beka, the guy from stylenotcom. And surprisingly, Cartier invited Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, who I’ve known for a long, long time. I can send you the names of all the other people, but it was quite fun.

SCARABELLI: Fabulous. Okay, I have a couple more silly questions for you and then I’ll let you go. Who is your current muse?

ROITFELD: I don’t have any muses, but maybe someone like Liz Taylor, for example. She was beautiful and I’m in love with her husband—what’s his name? He married her twice, the most sexy guy? Oh, Richard Burton.

SCARABELLI: [Laughs] Oh, yes.

ROITFELD: Plus she created amfAR and I’m working for amfAR, the charity against AIDS. And I love the very special relationship she had with Montgomery Clift. It was an impossible love because he preferred boys and blah, blah, but he was her best friend. I love that she created amfAR and the way she was defending people that were getting AIDS in Hollywood at that time. She always took the risk to protect her friends and that way of thinking is very iconic for me. She was not the best dresser, but it’s okay. She also did good things.

SCARABELLI: And she had good jewelry, that’s for sure. Okay last question, what’s sexy right now—in fashion or in general?

ROITFELD: I think suddenly simplicity for me is the new trend, when no one know what you are wearing. It could be from this year or two years old, no one knows, because it’s very simple. No logos, no handbags, just as simple as possible. Yesterday I just had my Trinity rings on my fingers. But unfortunately it was like Cinderella, we had to send them back after the dinner. They looked so good with my tattoos. But I think looks that are quite modest in a way—not humble—but simple in this world full of shiny blah, blah, I think it’s my new fashion.

Carine Roitfeld

Tyrone Dylan, Carine Roitfeld, Brune DeMargerie, and Youssef Marquis.

SCARABELLI: That makes a lot of sense. Everyone has been doing too much. 

ROITFELD: I like it if you just have one thing. Like your nails, for example. I don’t think you are just wearing jeans. The nail makes the look. For me, my tattoos make my look. I don’t need a lot of things to understand who you are and your personality—your character, just a simple thing. You’re a killer with your nails, my god.

SCARABELLI: Thank you. We were just talking about Normcore coming back at the office, it’s been ten years since the term was coined. Do you remember that?


SCARABELLI: It was a trend when everyone was dressing really plain. Jeans, sneakers—

ROITFELD: Okay, I agree with this, but not sneakers because I hate sneakers.


ROITFELD: I don’t have any sneakers in my wardrobe. Not one pair. But I agree with that, it’s a bit ’90s. I think it’s about less brands, less logos, less shiny, less effort. But at the end you just look the person and you don’t look at the clothes. I think it’s my new thing. Yesterday I was dressed very, very classic, more than anyone else I think.

Pirrie Wright, Olivier Zahm, and Stephane Feugere.

SCARABELLI: What did you wear last night?

ROITFELD: I can’t say the name. It’s the same jacket I’m wearing today but in a black velvet. And a tank top, a very masculine tank top and a black silk skirt. My only “trendy” accessory was my brown satin shoes from Prada. 

SCARABELLI: Ooh! Current season? Do you still only wear heels?

ROITFELD: Not all the time, to be honest. Today I have heels on but not so high. Maybe today it’s seven [centimeters]. Before when I was at Vogue, it was 11. Now I have a problem with my back, so that’s a bit high. And when you’re not walking easily, it’s not sexy. So usually now I go back to nine, but it’s okay.

SCARABELLI: Is a Chanel flat a Carine-approved alternative?

ROITFELD: I like flats in summer, open sandals that look almost like a string, but not flip flops. 


ROITFELD: I’m lucky to have good feet. All you need is a good manicure.

SCARABELLI: What color do you get?

ROITFELD: Now I have a dark red. Very Parisian. And nothing on my fingernails. 

SCARABELLI: I was doing bare nails for a while. I feel like that’s the current move, but then I caved and went back to long nails.

ROITFELD: No, I think it’s very cool, but not for me. I did a lot of things, now I’m quiet.

SCARABELLI: Yeah, I like your tattoos as an accessory. Trinity rings and tattoos. That’s the look for spring.

ROITFELD: I have a picture of them with the creme Chantilly strawberries at dinner. We all remember the picture of Helmut Newton with the fingers, with the jewelry and the food and the cream and everything, so it was a Newton moment. All women want to be a bit Helmut Newton, no? 

SCARABELLI: Absolutely. 

Carine Roitfeld