Super stylist Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele has shot many an explosive cover for V Magazine, Nicole Kidman, Winona Ryder, Miley Cyrus, and Selena Gomez among them. She always manages to strike a mesmerizing balance between the glamorous and the perverse, the highest of high fashion and the allure of urban cool. Naturally, her sizzling V95 cover shoot with the one and only Rihanna is no exception. Working with photographer Steven Klein for the first time in almost two decades (“We are both strong and love what we do, so we have true perfection,” she says), de Dudzeele dresses RiRi in everything from electric Alexandre Vauthier furs to Juicy Couture track suits to the teeniest Versace bikini bottoms. So what’s her secret to aesthetic success? Living in the moment and going with her gut. Here, de Dudzeele discusses working with Rih, the importance of fun, and why she decided to “show the ass.”
Can you tell us about the concept behind the V cover shoot with Rihanna?
I tried to do something a little ’80s. But I always try to make the person in front of me look the most divine, glamorous, and beautiful. I don’t work for me—I work for the person in front of me. No matter who it is, I try to make them look the best, her best. This is always my goal.
What was the vibe on set?
Very good, very nice! You know, all of the singers like this, I have a normal attitude with them. I never have any problems. I always tell them what I think. I love what I’m doing. I always go for it. I’m always excited. I’m full of enthousiasme. I’m energetic. I have fun, and you have to make it fun, because it should be fun.
Rihanna seemed pretty fearless when she climbed up on a ladder in nothing but those little Versace bikini bottoms for the cover photo. Is it inspiring for you to work with someone who just goes for it like that?
I love! Of course, I love!
The cover is also poised to get some strong reactions because she’s posing in nothing but those little Versace bikini bottoms…
Is that something you think about when you’re working on a shoot like this?
No. I just try to make the person I’m working with look the best. So, if you have a lovely body, let’s go for the body. Rihanna has an ass, so let’s show the ass! If you want the best, you have to show the best! Always, always, always! I love women. And I go with my instinct. I don’t arrive with a bunch of clothes and say, “Oh, do you like it?” or, “Do you not like it?” No, I’m not like this. I go for the things that I think are going to be the best. I hate people who think and brainstorm and all that.
You just have to get into the moment and have a good time.
Exactement! But don’t think that I’m not thinking. It’s all in my head, and I try to arrive at exactly what I want. I always have a point of view. I’m always thinking, and then I go and I do it. Some stylists transform people. I don’t want to transform people. I don’t need to have people saying, “Oh, Carlyne transformed her!” No. I’m not there to transform. And I don’t care about me. I don’t give a shit. I am on the floor doing the shoes. I don’t care! I don’t have ten assistants behind me. I do everything myself, and I try to make [the subject] look the best.
Some stylists shy away from the word “sexy,” but it seems safe to say that you embrace it.
I love sexy, always. What woman doesn’t want to be sexy?
So what does it mean to be sexy today?
For me, a woman is a woman. I love natural. A man always has to look at a woman because it’s the law—it’s the same with animals. Sometimes I see sexy that I don’t like. I don’t like big hair. I do love a certain vulgarity, but I don’t want to do sexy for the sake of being ridiculous. They’re not sexy because they are nude. No, no, no. It’s something else. I don’t know how to explain it. I’m like a painter. I need to have people in front of my and—bang—I create on them.
You mentioned vulgarity before, and you pioneered the concept of mixing good and bad taste. What draws you to that aesthetic?
I don’t know how to explain, darling! It’s my style! It’s my thing! For me, I never think it’s vulgar. But I know it can be on the edge of vulgar. And that, I love. I love!
You used a lot of bright furs in the story, which had a strong presence on the F/W ’15 runways. Do you think this is going to be a big trend?
I hate trends, darling, I hate trends. Me, I always go for what I think. I’ve never followed trends in my whole career. I don’t care! I have never cared. I just mix my own shit, and that’s it. I pick here, I pick there, and the result is what it is.
There will no doubt be people out there who will have some strong opinions about Rihanna’s cover look. What’s your response to these people?
They can think what they want. Me, I think she looks divine. She looks brilliant! Who cares what they think? They cannot criticize. There is no way. She is beautiful, her ass is beautiful, her body is perfection, the picture is perfection, and that’s it. That’s it!