Can you talk about one book in particular he gave you?
Actually, it came up in the first Rendez-vous we did on Lou Andreas-Salomé. Karl introduced me to her work when I was about 17. I was spending the summer at his house in Biarritz, and I loved the poet Rilke, as did he, so he said I really needed to learn about her because she was the poet’s muse. He offered me a few of her books, and I remember reading them and saying to myself, “I want to be that woman,” the one who challenges men and writes and has a free life. It influenced me a lot.
What inspired you about your guests for this Rendez-vous?
We gave carte blanche to the author Anne Berest, who’s a friend as well, and we really wanted to do a Rendez-vous together. We decided we wanted to focus on the moment of metamorphosis when a young girl becomes a woman. We had to make choices, and we decided to focus on Anne Wiazemsky’s autobiographical writings, but in my references there were also Simone de Beauvoir’s Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, which had a big influence on me, and Colette’s The Innocent Libertine, and so many others.
How do you see Les Rendez-vous evolving?
For the moment it’s already a lot! What I love about it is that I think that fashion, and the house of Chanel in particular, really has the power to put literature forward and encourage people to read and explore. And not just to attach importance to certain stereotypes about fashion and beauty, but to highlight what women have to say, their culture, and the way they see the world, which is extremely valuable. I’d like to overcome the bias about image or commercial interests to show how the Rendez-vous can really help authors. The more we transmit ideas, the more you arouse desire to go in search of other things besides just image. It’s truly a way to promote culture, and we do it with a lot of energy, research, and an intent to make even complex writings accessible.
When you look back on this past year, what are the changes you want to keep?
Given what we’re going through at the moment, I think there’s nothing more dangerous than to fantasize about how life was before. As soon as something is taken away from you for a certain amount of time, there’s a nostalgic desire to look back and see things as even more incredible. We’re all attached to things and we absolutely need to reconnect, but in certain respects I really do hope that we will not go back exactly to the way things were before. However very difficult these times are for so many people, I really think there’s a chance to be aware of a certain emergency that has always been there and that needs an immediate response.