Carlyne Cerf De Dudzeele Talks Avedon, Penn, Meisel, Inez & Vinoodh, Alaïa, & Testino
With a career that spans over thirty years, Carlyne Cerf De Dudzeele is responsible for the fashion in some of the most memorable Richard Avedon and Irving Penn images, Anna Wintour’s first Vogue
cover, and just about every sexed up story in V Magazine
. Carlyne still collaborates with the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Azzedine Alaïa, Steven Meisel, Patrick Demarchelier, Mario Testino, Peter Lindbergh, Inez and Vinoodh, and all of the Supers. CCDD (as I call her) is a fashion editor extraordinaire and was featured in the recent Vogue
book The Editor's Eye.
She is also a photographer, art director, and a treat to be around. Carlyne blew me away when Brayden and I visited her at her home last month.
Gillian Tozer: I’m loving your head-to-toe Jeremy Scott look!
Carlyne Cerf De Dudzeele: Yes, JEREMY SCOTT X ADIDAS
! I absolutely ADORE him. I think he has a talent absolument incroyable
! I met him in Paris years ago.
GT: How great was the Spring/Summer 2013 show?!
CCDD: Because it's actual FASHION.
GT: It’s an all-out performance: the music, the lights, the styling, the casting…
CCDD: Because he is passionate! He loves what he does. So many people don’t! I stopped working for 15 years because I had a dog, a little Jack Russell, and he was my passion. I always wanted my dog to have the best life so I wasn’t concentrating at all on work. I lost my dog two years ago, so now I’m back at work. I am a passionate person. I adore what I do and I do it with my instinct. Everything comes from my gut.
GT: So you’re shooting a lot more now?
I recently shot for the Wall Street Journal
in Bora Bora. When I photograph, I do it all myself. It’s very hard because what you see [on set] and what you see in the viewfinder is very different. It’s very weird. It’s fine when I work with certain photographers like Mario [Testino] or Steven [Meisel] but sometimes the story is just so in my head I need to shoot it myself. Patrick [Demarchelier] told me years ago, “Carlyne, you can be a fashion editor, an art director, and a photographer!” I even love to do the layouts—I have learned a lot. J’aime ça
GT: As the fashion director and fashion editor at large at American Vogue for ten years, how would you put the stories together? What is the relationship between the designer, the editor, and the other creatives on the team?
CCDD: At American Vogue
you propose your idea to Anna and discuss it. Then you tell the photographer you would like to work with them, you find the girl, the story, and that’s it.
GT: What makes a good model?
CCDD: She has to love fashion, love what she has on, and have attitude
Usually when they pass by the hand of Meisel they know how to work. I absolutely know this. And they should not move all the time. The real pros don’t move.
I was recently in Lima and Boston with Mario, at the opening of his foundation. [Mario and I] love the same girl—sexy, glamorous, and divine
. And it felt like the old days; the girls were looking at one another to see who would get the best dress—who would look the sexiest. I love this, it reminds me of the good old days. I worked with Gianni [Versace] for eight years and the girls would [beg], "Carlyne, please let me have this dress, please don’t give it to her!" This is the role of the model—not someone who doesn’t care about fashion.
GT: What was it like growing up in the South of France?
CCDD: C'était divin!
I love Saint Tropez—the countryside and the nature!
GT: As a teenager, what were you obsessed with?
CCDD: I was already obsessed with fashion––total!
GT: At this time, what did fashion mean in the South of France?
CCDD: People were not thinking about “fashion,” they had personal style. Some were chic and some weren’t but it wasn’t important. What they had in the brain was more important. There were no trends. I hate trends. I cannot stand them. You need to make [style] your own.
I could tell you exactly what is going to be in the next issue of every magazine. I don’t think fashion editors really work anymore; they just pick look number five from Style.com and throw it on the girl. I hate this! A woman buys a magazine for the clothes so you have to inspire her. Why would someone want to see something in the pages of magazine that they’ve already seen on the runway? You need to style the pieces in a way that a woman would want to wear them. If they dress head-to-toe in the runway looks they would look completely crazy! You need to make it your style. You have to mix things.
GT: So from the South of France you moved to Paris to work at French Elle?
CCDD: Yes, first I worked at Dépêche Mode
and then I spent 10 years at French Elle
. And then I began working with American Elle
. I was working a lot with Bill King—he had such energy! Daniel Filipacchi asked me to be the fashion director and the same day Alexander Liberman called and asked me to come and see him at American Vogue
. I spent a month thinking about whether I should go to American Vogue
or American Elle
—it was an awful time; I changed my mind every five minutes. But finally I decided that if I were to go to America, I would work for American people and not stay in a French group. And I think it was a good decision. My father had an apartment here that I moved into with just three bags—that’s it. For ten years, I was the fashion director at American Vogue
and then I asked Anna to make me the head of special projects so I could work with [Steven] Meisel for Italian Vogue.
There we could do anything. It was so perfect!
GT: Do you go shopping? Do you enjoy it?
CCDD: No. But last season I was obsessed with the coats of Comme des Garçons
. I was working on a film for [Louis] Vuitton in Paris at the end of August. When I arrived, I thought génial
I will go to the store and the coats will all be there. But they were sold out! In June! It was ridiculous! Of course I would never think to buy a coat in the middle of June! But I am a collector, when I love something I need it in every color. I have a lot of everything. I collect everything. I ended up getting five of the Comme des Garçons coats!
GT: What’s an average day like for you?
CCDD: I spend a lot of time in the park, when I had my Jack Russell I would be there all day. I love Central Park. But when I am working, I am all over the world.
GT: What’s a song that you’ll always love?
CCDD: Music is a big part of my life. It depends: I can listen to the same song for a week. I put my iPod on repeat. When I’m obsessed, I’m obsessed. It could be an old French or Italian song or hip hop.
GT: I know you love to cook.
CCDD: Yes, and I have never ever opened a cookbook! I cook mostly fish and vegetables and in the winter I do soup. It is my passion. It is the same passion that I have for fashion. In America, I just eat what I buy at Union Square Greenmarket. I go every Saturday morning. I leave at 6.45am. Snow, rain, I don’t care—I’m in the cab! I hate being there late: I see people that I know and I don’t want to say hi. And I hate lines. I don’t have any patience. Nothing is fast enough for me!
GT What was the last movie you watched and loved?
CCDD: Last night, I rewatched the film Le Journal d’une Femme de Chambre
—it was great! And I recently discovered Netflix and it’s g
GT: And books?
CCDD: I am not someone who spends too much time with books. I am too in my head.
GT: You have taken so many images over the years; do you have any favorites?
CCDD: Anything that I did with Steven. I am so happy that I worked with [Irving] Penn and [Richard] Avedon. When I worked with Penn, I used to cry a lot because he would tell me stories of when he would go to Africa for three weeks just to photograph a flower. This touched me so much, I would just cry. It was la simplicité
. And he also encouraged me, he would say, “Allez
, go for it Carlyne!” And if I thought, “No, it’s too much,” he would say “Allez
” La simplicité
is the chicest thing in the world.
Photos by Brayden Olson
Carlyne Cerf De Dudzeele
Comme des Garcons