Catherine Kurzawa: Do you have a motto about money?
Emmanuelle Ragot: I think of this quote from Sacha Guitry: ‘Luxury is a matter of money, and elegance is a matter of cultivation’. For me, this is more of an observation than a motto. To me, money represents freedom of action.
What freedom does money offer?
Being able to cover your needs and have a dignified life. I remember when I was studying in London, I saw a man living in his car. It made a deep impression on me, I realised that everything could change.
Thinking of the children’s fable, are you a grasshopper or an ant?
I would say a ‘winged ant’: I can be an ant without any problem, but I know how to be a grasshopper. I’m a hybrid, after all. I have a fairly healthy relationship with money.
Is it important for you to be an owner?
Yes, to meet the needs that allow me to feel secure, obviously: owning is something that reassures me. For the rest, no. I have a car, but I could not have one, it is not at all ostentatious. I’m more into buying things that create memories, such as parties with friends or travel, not to mention causes that I’ve been supporting for a long time.
Is there an item you are particularly attached to, and why?
If the house burns down tomorrow, so what? Maybe there’s this collection of Jules Verne books that I put together when I was 10 years old, which I’ve treasured and would be sad to lose. It’s not worth much, but it’s a childhood memory, there’s an emotional dimension.
Do you remember your first wages and what you did with it?
I remember that with my first wages as a lawyer in Paris, I paid for a windsurfing course in Saint-François, in Guadeloupe. I loved this sport, I practised it a lot.
Do you have any expensive passions?
I’m very ordinary, except for travelling, which represents a certain budget. But I’m careful about the amount: I usually organise them myself and try to discover authentic things independently. I like trips that have a cultural interest, and the possibility of exchanging with local people, for example, through friends who are there.
Is there a dream destination you haven't explored yet?
My dream destination is Tahiti. It goes back to my childhood: a neighbour had shark jaws and pearl necklaces from there. These are objects through which I travelled. My attraction to windsurfing and surfing is clearly linked to this. But I wouldn’t spend a week in a holiday village: I want to experience the local culture.
What kind of item would you be willing to spend a lot of money on?
I’m a very minimalist, so I’m quite detached from all that. I’ve been aware since I was very young that we’re all going to die. So even though I’m dying to have this object, I reason and often conclude that after me it will end up in the dump. Sure, I might fall for a nice picture or a painting, but that’s not a quest in itself.
What do you think money can’t buy or solve?
My relationship with time: I think time cannot be bought.
This story was originally published in French by Paperjam and translated for Delano.