Claude Brouet, fashion journalist: “You have to dress for yourself and to please yourself”


Claude Brouet, December 20, 2022, in his house in the 14th arrondissement of Paris.

The fashion industry has changed so much in twenty years that it may seem unrecognizable to those who practiced it in the last century. Former journalist Claude Brouet, 93, ran the fashion section of She in the 1960s, then served from 1972 to 1988 as editor-in-chief of fashion, beauty and cuisine at Marie Claire, which she left her mark. In his time, fashion shows had not yet taken the form of blockbusters bordering on entertainment; they were still professional events intended to show clothes, where one closely observed the shape of a sleeve, the volume of a coat, the pleating of a skirt. Of course, the guests weren’t yet equipped with iPhones; but Claude Brouet came there armed with a walkie-talkie the size of a brick to tell his photographer, also in the room, which outfits to immortalize first.

It is this submerged world that Claude Brouet recounts with precision in his book Claude Brouet. fashion journalist (written with Sonia Rachline, editions of Regard, 2022). She goes back to the time of her Parisian childhood in the 1930s, where her mother worked at Chanel then Schiaparelli, tells how she made a name for herself in fashion journalism which then played a real role of prescription in the post-war period. , describes the rise of Pierre Cardin, Hubert de Givenchy, Kenzo Takada or Jean Paul Gaultier (who signs the preface to the book).

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We met Claude Brouet at her home, in her small Parisian house at 14e district filled with books. She is still of formidable elegance, the sobriety of her slate sweater and her black pants opposed to her yellow Nikes and her flamboyant hair slicked back. Visibly happy to discuss the past, she came out for the alumni interview She And Marie ClaireMugler jackets and a Chloé dress by Karl Lagerfeld that she treasures.

Why write a book now?

When I stopped working in 1996, my friends told me that I had to leave a testimonial. I am very visual and have never written (she chose the subjects, the photographers, the clothes worn, the images), so the idea scared me a bit. But I realized that the profession was changing, that the editorial freedom I had enjoyed was disappearing, that advertisers were taking more and more place in the editorial choices of magazines. In fashion photography, outfits are no longer meant to show a shrewd, well-dressed, or funny woman. They are used to credit brands and sometimes give rise to implausible silhouettes, models with three bags on their backs. I may be completely corny, but I experienced another world. My book has no other claim than to tell it.

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