What do Carine Roitfeld, Lenny Kravitz and Michelangelo (well, the Florentine bronze cast of his original David statue) have in common? They are all, more or less, part of Andrea Panconesi's exceptional event in celebration of LuisaViaRoma 90th anniversary. As it was announced earlier this month, LuisaViaRoma's CEO will celebrate the anniversary of his iconic Florence-based multi-brand concept store and e-commerce together with the inaugural edition of Carine Roitfeld's CR Runway show concept, which is set to take place at the iconic Piazzale Michelangelo. This annual fashion show—co-founded by Carine herself and her son Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld, President and Managing Director of CR Fashion Book CR Fashion Book and its creative agency, CR Studio—marks the debut of a new beginning for Carine Roitfeld. Needless to say, CR Runway is not only promising, it will be the fashion event of the year with the biggest FOMO-portential, so circle your calendars for June 13th and do not miss it! In the meantime, to help you build up your appetite for this exceptional event, we've compiled the highlights from our conversation with Andrea Panconesi, Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld, and Carine Roitfeld—the one and only—for you. Enjoy.
Andrea Panconesi, Carine Roitfeld and Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld at the CR Runway x LUISAVIAROMA press conference in Paris. Photo: Courtesy of PR / Getty Images.
On the story behind their boundary-pushing fashion show concept.
Andrea Panconesi: "It is a multi-brand fashion show, which has never happened before on that scale. It is not easy to put all these brands together into one show–only Carine can do it. And it's only a multi-brand store like ours who can realize such a concept and production. The show is set to celebrate both, our 90-year anniversary and 20-year anniversary of our online store, with a selection of 90s inspired runway looks personally-curated by Carine Roitfeld. The event will take place on June 13th a Florence's Piazzale Michelangelo, and 5 000 people will be invited to attend. In addition to Carine and Vladimir, we also have Piergiorgio Del Moro on board (ed.: an acclaimed Italian casting director), and Michel Gaubert as a Sound Director. The performance itself will be closed by Lenny Kravitz…in other words, you have to be there.”
Carine Roitfeld: "This will be more than a runway show, it will be a true fashion event, almost a gladiator-esque experience. It's such a special concept as well: we will be celebrating the 90th birthday of Luisa Via Roma with 90 iconic looks from or inspired by the 90s. However, as much as we love the 90s, we don't want to be nostalgic, we will breathe new life into this style decade. In fact, some of the participating brands will create two or three outfits especially made for the show in addition to the Fall/Winter 2019 women’s and men’s wear looks that we will showcase. Each brand and designer will be announced on a big screen, as soon as the model hits the runway wearings their outfits. We really want to make sure that the show will be a unique and rewarding experience for them…it's going to be an excited event for everybody!”
On how they feel about fashion in the 1990s—and how this decade influences them as of today.
Carine Roitfeld: "I love the 90s, and I'm not the only one. Back in the days, I was in my mid-thirties, I worked as a freelancer and enjoyed my creative freedom a lot. The fashion brands and business structures were more smaller and felt more intimate, in a way, and the fashion week schedule wasn't so packed. I would obviously not be able to look up fashion outfits on the Internet, so I would regularly go to PR offices, or lunch with designers close to their atelier, and do my shopping there. I would also take the time to see a designer backstage after his show. I must say that I feel that we had more freedom back in the days, and yet, I am not nostalgic at all. I just want to translate the energy of the freedom of that time as much as I can within the upcoming CR Runway show.”
Andrea Panconesi: "In the 90s, everything changed for my company as we started the e-commerce (ed.: launched in 1999). It was an important change back in the days. Today, the new generation takes Internet and social media for granted, which can be dangerous as people tend to communicate less and use virtual interaction as a substitute for human relationships and face-to-face communication! With our collaboration on this unique fashion show, but also with our upcoming new store opening in Florence by the end of the year, we want to give people the opportunity to meet, gather and share unique and real moments together. Frankly, I'm even considering banishing all mobile phone devices from our new store. It's important to not always be connected to the virtual world, and to actually gather in a physical place, a platform where you can enjoy yourself and share your thoughts on culture and your feelings. This is how we can start a true conversation."
Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld: "Back in the 90s, we had more privacy and we felt less lonely, I would say. I am part of the last generation who did not have constant Internet access, nor a cell phone, while growing up. I think that I had my first cell when I was 16 years old, so I know what it means to grow up without any kind of digital or virtual interaction, which is something we tend to forget about, and yet it’s very precious. However, I am not judging the way things are today, but I think that even in the fashion industry, we should not refrain from creating real platforms for creative exchange, not only virtual ones on social media. This is why such a project like CR Fashion, that allows almost 5 000 people to gather in one place and enjoy the runway show and event, is so important to us."
Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld at the CR Runway x LUISAVIAROMA press conference in Paris. Photo: Courtesy of PR / Getty Images.
On finding a common denominator for their unique collaboration.
Carine Roitfeld: "It's our first CR Runway, so we are all very excited about this moment. Andrea and I share a lot things: we both love fashion, we both love history of fashion. We have a lot of memories together. We immediately understood that the only way to make this project work is to work very closely with the chosen designer brands and luxury houses, and involve the designers themselves in the process. This is why we agreed that we would chose the outfits for the runway together with the designers—in this way, we can be sure that everything comes truly from the heart and that it will be a meaningful, curated choice.”
Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld: "About two years ago, I've created a real business infrastructure—CR Studio—behind Carine, where we use our expertise to provide business consulting and creative strategies to fashion and luxury brands, in addition to operating as a talent agency. I saw a considerable potential in working on this project, and eventually developed this business and made sure that it grows with time. We've been thinking of creating our own runway show concept for a while now—not only because we've witnessed the potential of such lifestyle-infused runway shows like Victoria's Secret, but also because Carine has been working one the amfAR shows for several years now, which made us realize that we had all it takes to launch our own CR Runway venture."
On what inspired them to develop their very-own fashion show concept.
Carine Roitfeld: "I remember the homage show to Monsieur Saint Laurent, the one in 1998, right before the world football cup—which we won, by the way—it was such a good show. It was a huge show which was opened to the public, and this unique experience inspired me to create my own show concept that is all about fashion, but not only accessible to fashion professionals and a selected fews—I wanted to create something more inclusive. My second inspiration came from the Victoria's Secret show in 2005, Gisele Bündchen was walking and Justin Timberlake was singing on stage: back in the days, not one single journalist was interested in this show, they all thought it was not relevant enough. If you look at it today, it is the most watched runway show worldwide. I always thought to myself: "one day, I want to be able to do a show like this one”.
Andrea Panconesi: "Florence is a true inspiration. The fashion industry in Florence has been thriving since the Renaissance, literally, and culturally speaking, Florence is one of the most important centers of Western Civilization, which is why this show is not only a way to celebrate our 90th anniversary, but also an attempt to pay homage to Florence's unique cultural identity and heritage. And this is exactly why we had to chose an iconic place to stage this show: the historical Piazzale Michelangelo was just the perfect match. In addition to the show, which is a milestone for Florence and its fashion scene, my daughter (ed.: Annagreta Panconesi) is currently working on a book that is honoring LuisaViaRoma's heritage so far. There's a lot to come.”
On bringing fashion from the runway straight to our wardrobes.
Andrea Panconesi: "As much as we want this show to be a true and mind-blowing fashion experience, we also want to the people who are interested in the curated selection of runway looks to be able to buy them online at LuisaViaRoma.com, which is why we will create a special section on our website, where you can literally shop the looks straight from the runway, the day after the show. We will not put everything for sale at once, obviously. Actually, there will be several drops throughout the year of the Fall/Winter 2019 collection pieces showcased during the show. The pieces borne out of a special collaborations with some fashion brands will also be available from mid-June on until the end of the year."
Carine Roitfeld: "We have both established and emerging fashion and luxury brands that will be participating. So far, brands such as Burberry, Givenchy, Armani, Miu Miu, Moncler, Off White, Max Mara, Simone Rocha, Richard Quinn, Laquan Smith, Proenza Schouler, and Yohji Yamamoto, amongst other designer brands, will be designing special pieces for the show, that will be available at LuisaViaRoma afterwards."
Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld, Andrea Panconesi and Carine Roitfeld at the CR Runway x LUISAVIAROMA press conference in Paris. Photo: Courtesy of PR / Getty Images.
On the importance of brick and mortar stores.
Andrea Panconesi: "Most of our sales are made online, only a small percentage of sales is made in our store, and yet, to me our store and our e-commerce are equally important. Concept stores are more than just physical multi-brand stores: we curate fashion, we help the customer in discovering new designers, and ultimately, we give emerging brands and young designers the opportunity to showcase their work. Most of them don't have enough financial resources to stage a fashion show, nor to pay for a showroom or even their own boutique, which is why they need concept stores like ours to give them a space for their work and to promote it internationally. If stores like ours die, the young designers loose their chance to showcase their debut collections, they basically loose the opportunity to create a new conversation around fashion. And if we don't have a new conversation around fashion, fashion will eventually die. This is why it is so important to have a real, physical space where young fashion creatives can gather and exchange, where they feel represented and supported.”
On how the mentality of fashion designers evolved with time.
Carine Roitfeld: "Back when I started, the fashion industry was full of creative geniuses–it still is today—but they had more ego, I think, and they were less prone to share their experiences and collaborate with other creatives than today's designers. I'm a Virgo, so I know how to be diplomatic: when you've worked for 10 years between Tom Ford at Gucci and Mario Testino, you know how to handle egos. (smiles) Surprisingly, and it's a good surprise, designers today are more open to each other and less centered on themselves, at least that is my impression. They are more likely to compliment each other, attend each other's show, exchange and collaborate, than the designers I've worked with in the 90s. A lot of designers now are not in competition with each other anymore, they work together and they support each other, which is very important. It's a different, more human, dynamic that I hope will translate on the runway of our CR Runway show in June."