Judge Gordon Sullivan likes to be called Monsieur G.
Carine Roitfeld is Mademoiselle C
The art world is kind of weird because there are artists and there are buyers for their art. In between stands the gallery owner, whose job it is to hook up the two groups. In the right circumstances, gallery owners can change the course of art history by encouraging reluctant buyers to purchase groundbreaking art, or convincing artists that buyers will purchase something particular. The world of fashion has a similar figure: the magazine editor. They stand between designers and consumers, offering the best wares to consumers while encouraging the best designs in their fashion. I don't want to pooh-pooh gallery owners, but fashion editors are generally more famous (think Anne Wintour) because they deal with fashion money, which runs into the millions. That's not to say that they don't have their unheralded practitioners, among them the subject of Mademoiselle C, Carine Roitfeld. She's famous for editing Vogue Paris, but hasn't reached pop culture stardom. Still, this movie proves one doesn't have to be famous to have a lot of famous friends.
The film takes two paths. Down one, Carine Roitfeld is starting up a new magazine, CR Fashion Book after her famous tenure with Vogue Paris. The film documents what it's like to work in the trenches with Roitfeld and what it means to start a fashion magazine in the twenty-first century. The second path is a kind of portrait of the motley crew that runs in the fashion world. From celebrities and fashion designers to all-around quirky characters, Mademoiselle C shows them all and how they interact and fit into the world of fashion.
The first path makes for an interesting, though somewhat insubstantial, documentary. Roitfeld is an open, seemingly unguarded participant in the unfolding narrative. She curses, she cajoles, and she's not above a little "porno-chic." Though The Devil Wears Prada has convinced the world that fashion is all about high-minded aesthetics, Mademoiselle C shows that it's possible to have fun and play around to get results.
The second path is a bit more absurd. Because the people involved in fashion have done so much to heighten their own self-presentation, it can be difficult to know what to take seriously. So when oddly dressed (at least by everyday standards, if not those of the fashion industry) individuals converse about the vagaries of the runway world, it's hard to know if we're seeing people act like they normally do, or if we're seeing a carefully curated set of personalities that wander around each other in the fashion orbit. The answer is likely a bit of both, but this film is uninterested in delving past the surface of this world, a surface we've largely seen before.
What's most disappointing about Mademoiselle C, though, is that there's plenty of ways to craft a compelling, engaging documentary around this material. Starting any new business is fraught with tension, and when you leave one of the biggest publishers in the world (Condé Nast) to strike out on your own there's bound to be some ruffled feathers worth tracking down. Alternatively, I'm sure there are a handful of stories about the magazine itself that the film could trace, like the story of a model or photograph, but those are similarly unexplored.
As befits a middling documentary, Mademoiselle C (Blu-ray) has a so-so presentation. The film was shot on HD, so the 1.85:1/1080p AVC-encoded transfer is generally clean and bright. Detail is okay, and colors seem well-saturated, but the look never rises above "okay." There's none of the pop or pizzazz we expect from hi-def presentations. That's okay from the catch-as-catch-can material, but the more staged stuff should look better than this. The DTS-HD 5.1 mix fares a bit better; dialogue is clean and clear throughout, including Roitfeld's French (with English subtitles). The surrounds get some use when appropriate—like in night clubs or on runways—but it's not the most dynamic track.
The disc features two minutes of footage from the film's premiere in Paris, and a theatrical trailer. The set includes a booklet with photos, credits and a chapter breakdown for the film.
Mademoiselle C is aimed squarely at the world of fashion. Those who enjoy contemporary reality programming looking to make it in the world of designers will enjoy this tiny peek behind the curtains of power. Viewers outside of that narrow scope won't find a particularly engaging documentary, as story and tension are eschewed for a relatively shallow look at a coterie of eccentric celebrities. Mademoiselle C (Blu-ray) is fine enough, but probably only worth a rental to the interested.
Only for the very fashion-forward, but not guilty.
Give us your feedback!
Other Reviews You Might Enjoy
Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
Review content copyright © 2014 Gordon Sullivan; Site design and review layout copyright © 2015 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.