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Versace advertisement, 1991
Versace Campaign, 1991Photography Richard Avedon, styling Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele

Meet the only stylist Gianni Versace could trust

Fashion provocateur Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele riffs on why she’s still an industry outsider, tearing up couture’s rule book and being BFFs with Miley

Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele is a fearless fashion revolutionary. Alongside over three decades in the industry, the stylist, photographer and filmmaker can lay claim to being the only stylist Gianni Versace trusted, working on Anna Wintour’s first American Vogue cover in 1988 (where she mixed Chanel couture with jeans), remaining a longtime friend of Azzedine Alaïa, and being close with all of Hollywood’s current crop of starlets (Miley Cyrus included – just check out her Instagram).

As she debuts her latest project at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin – a new 60s-inspired, trippy short film for the German car maker, featuring Dutch model Doutzen Kroes – we speak with the icon extraordinaire about her legacy, refusal to conform to trends and why bad taste is the new good.

ON DOING THINGS HER WAY

“La simplicité is the chicest thing in the world. I hate fake things! I have never followed a trend in my life, so don’t ask me what are the trends because I don’t know how to answer. I’ll always follow my own style – I am totally an outsider: I’m part of this world of fashion, but I’m not following at all. I’m not working like other people, I never work with boards, I never work with brainstorming – I hate it. Everything comes from my stomach – bam bam bam badoom doom [clicking her fingers]. I’m like a painter! I watch every single thing – my eyes are wide open always.”

ON SHOWING WOMEN AT THEIR BEST

“I love real, I love life, I love food, I love people, I love nature, I love animals. I love fashion but I’m not a fashion victim, I don’t follow, it’s coming from the inside – I’m passionate. I love sexy, I love glamour, I love women and when I work I always try to make the woman look the best they can look. I don’t like to destroy women, I like to show them at their best and I always tell the truth.”

ON BEING HONEST WITH GIANNI VERSACE

“I was like this with Gianni (Versace), like perfection! We met through friends and from then Gianni was with me right away, seven years I worked with Gianni. If I didn’t like (one of his designs) I said – but never in front of everyone – ‘Gianni, no way! Get this out!’ Because when I work with someone I always tell the truth, I’m not going to tell them, ‘Ahh, it’s beautiful. It’s divine!’ I can’t! If they want to work with me, I always tell the truth and some people don’t want to hear the truth, never! Never, never, never! Because truth can be difficult to hear, but it doesn’t matter, I tell the truth. Sometimes people hate me, I don’t care, I am who I am and I tell [slams her hand down on the table]. I do everything with pleasure.”

“When I work with someone I always tell the truth, I’m not going to tell them, ‘Ahh, it’s beautiful. It’s divine!’ I can’t!” – Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele

ON ANNA WINTOUR’S REVOLUTIONARY FIRST VOGUE COVER

“When Alex Lieberman asked me to come and work for Vogue I was at French Elle, so I moved to New York. Anna was the creative director of Vogue, while Grace Mirabella was editor, then there was Andre Leon Talley and me. Anna left for London to be editor-in-chief of British Vogue and I was kind of miserable because in America they don’t always tell you what they think. Anna was always telling me, “Stay there! Stay there! I’ll come back!” and when she came back (to take over at American Vogue as editor) we had the best time! (For Wintour’s first American Vogue cover) I was doing couture with Peter Lindbergh in Paris and I was with Michaela (Bercu, the model on Wintour’s first Vogue cover) and, at this time American Vogue was like ‘If it’s couture it has to be like this’ and I said ‘let’s put the t-shirt with the jeans’. I said, ‘let’s do the couture in the street!’”

ON WHAT SHE LOVES RIGHT NOW

“I love the street because I love mixing things, I love seeing what’s mixed with a Chanel bag – this is what chic is for me. I don’t think that because it’s $10,000 that it’s chic, it’s about personal style and the way you wear it and I prefer a certain vulgarity than very good taste, because very good taste is boring and bad sometimes – I just have fun with it. I love Miley (Cyrus)! We have a very good relationship. She’s a very smart girl, she is my favourite one of all of them! We have the most fun. I love what I’m doing (now) and if I don’t like it, I don’t do it, basta! I have fun doing all my things and I just want to do what I want to do – the rest? Uh uh [shakes finger].”

Watch Cerf de Dudzeele’s new film below: