April 16, 2012
By Kristie Ramirez
“I’m sorry I couldn’t answer your call just now,” Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld says, in his French- accented English. “I was on the phone with my mom.”
How sweet. But mom is no Marion Cunningham or Marie Barone. The 27-year-old art dealer is casually referring to mega-stylist and former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld, the undisputed czarina of chic. (She’s the woman many thought might topple Anna Wintour from American Vogue . She didn’t.) Although Restoin Roitfeld’s family members are all bona fide fashion-world superstars — father Christian founded the now-defunct clothing line Equipment, and older sister Julia consults for hot brands including Miu Miu and Zac Posen — he has chosen a slightly different path.
“I was always interested in art from a young age,” Restoin Roitfeld says. “And I really wanted to surround myself with creative people.” He’ll do just that when he brings four fresh talents to the Dallas Art Fair April 13 to 15, with the help of former Goss-Michael Foundation curator James Cope, who moved to New York in 2011. “I’ve never participated in a fair before,” Restoin Roitfeld says. “The Dallas Art Fair is young, it’s exciting, and it seems like a good fit for me.” (What’s not a good fit: the fashion industry. “Fashion was so obvious and important in our house,” he says. “I have a lot of respect for everyone who works in that industry, but I knew I didn’t want to. I thought I wanted to be a movie producer like my grandfather.”) Resolved not to rest on his family’s fashion laurels, Restoin Roitfeld left his parents’ home in Paris to hone his English with continuing-education courses at New York University. Within a year, he was accepted to the University of Southern California. Armed with a B.A. in international relations and a degree in cinema and television, he ventured into movie production. “It was the most amazing opportunity of my life,” he says, “but the movie industry was very political and very money-driven.”
In 2007, Restoin Roitfeld asked his friend, Italian artist Marco Perego, if he could arrange an exhibition for Perego in Paris. He did, it was successful and Restoin Roitfeld’s new career was born. He has curated 14 exhibitions for artists, including photographer David Mushegain and neo-expressionist painter Ouattara Watts. He singlehandedly created the buzz around almost-forgotten 1980s graffiti artist Richard Hambleton. Consequently, Restoin Roitfeld himself has been on the radar of almost everyone in the art world, in part because of his innovative approach to exhibiting artists. Unlike most dealers, he doesn’t have a permanent gallery, but rather hops from space to space, depending on what the mood calls for. One opening may be held in a billionaire’s mansion in Manhattan. Another could be in a warehouse in Los Angeles. It doesn’t seem to matter: If Vlad is involved, people will come.
So far. For the Dallas Art Fair, Restoin Roitfeld and Cope will showcase four new figurative paintings by Beijing-born Yi Chen, three installations by New York sculptor Richard Dupont, and work by Watts (also in New York) and Nicolas Pol of Paris. Chen’s technique, in particular, impresses Vlad. “His work is all oil-based. He collects magazines from all around the world. He goes through the pages, sees a pretty face and cuts out the eyes, the nose, whatever he sees that he likes, and he makes a collage. It was important for me to have something figurative. Yi and Richard, I’ve never exhibited. Dallas will be the first time.” Is the town ready for Restoin Roitfeld’s supercool stable of edgy artists?
“The hardest thing,” he says, “is to find the artist. But good art speaks for itself. You don’t have to sell it.”...
KRISTIE RAMIREZ is a contributing editor for FD Luxe, a fashion-journalism adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University and a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly. She is the founder of texasstyleandsubstance.blogspot.com.