Sep 01, 2011 12:00AM

Oyster #94: Julia Restoin Roitfeld

JRR on wearing PVC to primary school and swimming with sharks.

Although Julia Restoin Roitfeld tells Oyster that she is less hardcore than her mum and former French Vogue editrix, Carine Roitfeld, we don't quite believe her. Perhaps it's her fearless energy in front of the camera, or the fact that she aspires to diving with sharks, either way, we are convinced that this young Roitfeld is every bit as hardcore as her mum. Alice Cavanagh chats to Restoin Roitfeld for Oyster issue 94 about wearing PVC to school, drinking vodka straight-up and her (equal) obsessions with lingerie and adrenalin.

Alice Cavanagh: You were really working it just now. Are you comfortable being sexy in a shoot?
Julia Restoin Roitfeld: It takes time, but as the day goes by you get more comfortable with the photographer.

I guess you have been around photo shoots all your life?
It still depends? when there is a new team it always takes a while to warm up.

Do you like to be seen as a sex symbol?
I like to push it that way, actually.

Really?
Yeah.

How do you that?
I like to be feminine. I have a woman's body - curves; bum and breasts - so instead of trying to be super skinny, I like to work with what I have.

Are you a lingerie girl, or a cotton-knickers kind of girl?
I am obsessed with lingerie, actually. I sometimes wear cotton, but they have to have lace. But I like lingerie, definitely - the playful kind.

Lingerie is very much a French thing. I read an article on the weekend about French women and how they play the seductive role. One woman said that she would never walk around naked in front of her husband.
[Shakes her head] I have friends who are never even in sweatpants or without make-up in front of their partner. I don't understand it.

Would you wear sweatpants out of the house?
I do when I have to go to the gym.

What about in Paris? Women don't even wear sweatpants to go the gym.
They change into them when they get there. Yeah, I would never wear them in Paris. It is really a New York thing to be in sweatpants.

Do you do much sport?
I used to horseride a lot but I fell, so now I just do it casually. I also scuba dive; I am certified?

You're not scared of sharks?
You have a lot of those in Australia, right? I kind of want to go diving with sharks.

That's crazy! Are you a fearless person?
No, but I like fear; I like the adrenalin. We used to have a lot of holidays in Kenya, in the game parks, and I used to want to be a ranger.

What is your star sign?
Scorpio.

What are Scorpios like?
Very passionate and very vindictive [laughs]. If someone is on my good side it is forever; if someone is on my bad side it is forever. I am very jealous; very honest. It is an intense thing.

Is it true you speak Russian?
I took Russian classes and I can understand quite a few words. I can read - when I was in Moscow, for some reason, the alphabet really stuck with me.

Your grandfather is Russian?
Yes, but he has never lived there. So when my mum went there it was like a pilgrimage.

Do you drink vodka like your mum?
Yes. You know I can't really drink any other alcohol? Though I do like tequila, but for me vodka is just?

How do you like to have it?
I can't have it on the rocks or as shots like my mum; I like it with a mixer. I am not as hardcore as her.

What is the best advice your mum has given you?
To never wear a total look.

What about non-fashion advice?
Well, to not pluck my eyebrows - which I ignored and I regret. Also to avoid the sun?

Would you say that you live and breathe fashion?
I love the whole aesthetic world. I love beautiful images. That is what drove me to art direction. I love Helmut Newton pictures because I like how the women are strong and Amazonian, but I really don't follow trends; I don't know all the new designers. I am not a fashion victim.

Is it true that you wore PVC trousers to school, though? When you were eight?
I had one pair, yes. It was very embarrassing because we played a game where we had to run around, and I fell and my PVC trousers ripped off. Everyone made fun of me.

Why did you wear them?
Because my mum was playing Barbie with me.

So it wasn't your decision?
No! It was her!

Is it true you sometimes shop for clothes in sex shops?
I used to, but I haven't done in a while.

What kind of things would you buy? More PVC?
Yeah, PVC miniskirts - but then American Apparel started to produce them and they started to feel less special.

You live in London now. What do you think of Kate Middleton's style?
She can't obviously experiment much so it's a bit boring, but I think she's very elegant; she's classic.

What do you think of the new French Vogue, have you checked it out?
No.

Not interested?
No.

What about blogs - do you read many blogs?
Yes - do you know Tales of Endearment? It's a friend of mine. Also I like Into The Gloss; she [Emily Weiss] makes everyone look so good. I am more interested in beauty than fashion.

I know we are not allowed to talk about a particular blog [I Want To Be A Roitfeld]?
Yeah, I don't want to promote it at all. But I am interested in the 'fashion celebrity' obsession - whether it's with your mother, or with Anna Dello Russo, or with you? Is it flattering, or terrifying? I think it is flattering to get attention, whatever it is; my mum has always said that.

OK, so where do you see yourself in ten years?
Well, definitely not modelling, because I will be too old for that [laughs]. I definitely want to push the art direction. I read something really sad the other day, it was: "I think she used to art direct, but now she doesn't." The modelling side is so promoted, you know? It seems like the art direction is not happening - but it is going really well also.

Do you have a sentiment that you try to live by?
Um, yes. There is a French saying that means 'what you can do tomorrow you should do today'. I hate postponing stuff; I am so impatient. My boyfriend likes to say, "I will do it tomorrow," but I truly hate that.

Introduction: Rosie Dalton

Photography: Roger Deckker

Fashion: Tamara Rothstein

Make-up: Attracta Courtney

Hair: Daniel Dyer

Fashion Assistant: Elle Korhaliller