Fantasies: Carine Roitfeld Fashion Book

Image of Fantasies: Carine Roitfeld Fashion Book
Release Date: 
September 12, 2023
Reviewed by: 

“a beautiful volume.”

When Carine Roitfeld left her decade-long job as editor of Vogue Paris in 2011, she hadn’t planned that within a year’s time she’d be opening her own fashion publication. About to become a grandmother in an era when print was becoming less relevant, a splashy, fashion-fueled glossy was a debatable career move. And yet, still in circulation today, CR Fashion Book is both a biannual magazine and online platform dedicated to style, fashion, celebrity, and the ever-vague “inspiration.”

A large-format, deluxe volume, Fantasies: Carine Roitfeld Fashion Book delivers exactly what a fashionista looking for a statement coffee table book desires. Housed in a cloth-bound slipcase and featuring both spot-varnish and metallic embossing, the packaging is its own statement. The only possible complaint is that the slipcase image does not fully wrap around the volume—and if we’re going big, we might as well make it even more lavish.

Inside, the viewer is presented with 350 of the best editorial photoshoots from CR Fashion Book since 2012. Rife with celebrities and shot by many of the biggest names in photography (Bruce Weber, Terry Richardson, Mario Sorrenti, and even Karl Lagerfeld), it’s a star-studded experience. The choice to not reproduce the images on glossy stock but rather on matte paper removes them from the cheapness of the magazine world, inviting the eye to linger on the composition of each picture. The slight grain of each photograph calls to mind some of the best editorial shoots of the 1990s—alluring, sexy, and quirky. There is a vintage feel to the collection, which creates a deeper intimacy between the viewer and the book.

Perhaps the most enjoyable (and spicy) element, however, is the introduction by Roitfeld. Rarely are readers presented with such casual gossip in what normally serves as a bland preamble to a series of photos. She opens fully acknowledging that most people wonder if she was fired by Vogue, noting that the company was “happy to see her go.” Oh? This feels like a potential backstory from The Devil Wears Prada. Is this a revenge publication? Tell us more!

She goes on to say that she quickly discovered that many of the most famous photographers that she had worked with throughout her career were barred from continuing that professional relationship—save Bruce Weber, who seems to have thrown his weight around and given a “screw you” to the industry to continue to work with his friend. What a mensch! Further revelations abound in the subsequent paragraphs—which is impressive given that this introduction is only one-page long, so the gossip comes hard and fast.

Roitfeld also points out that she didn’t want to work primarily with models in the CR Fashion Book, but rather celebrities—and while this may seem rather standard for today, back in 2012 this was much less common for a glossy fashion publication. Kim Kardashian was the first such idol to glom onto the idea; however, 90% of the brands Roitfeld wanted to work with on the shoot refused to loan clothes to Kardashian (cue the moment in Pretty Woman where she returns to the store, arms overflowing, to say “big mistake!”). This relationship proved fruitful because, regardless of how one feels about Kim K, the photos of her are uniformly beautiful—and she is undoubtedly the most frequent star to appear in the book. She also serves as the slipcase cover model, silver grill gleaming as she tilts her head back surrounded by smoke. 

While the rest of the text is limited to some choice quotes from various celebrities, each speaks specifically to the relationship between them and either Roitfeld herself or the particular shoot in which they were featured. They’re real, specific, and more interesting than the typical canned comments that appear in similar publications. Overall, it’s a beautiful volume that’s been carefully crafted by Roitfeld and her team.