Celine Dion's Stylist On The Art of Dressing Extra
Almost 20 years after the Titanic inspired Celine Dion’s biggest hit, the film has helped transform the singer into fashion’s most wanted. During couture week in Paris last July, Dion stepped out wearing an oversized Titanic Vetements hoodie and jeans. It was the It piece from the It label, and the sweatshirt was the catalyst that turned Dion into queen of the fashion world.
A number of pop stars are given the label “diva”, but none encapsulate the word quite like Celine Dion. The Canadian may not have been associated with the fashion crowd throughout her impressive 30 year career, but thanks to her recent sartorial makeover she finally has a signature style that matches her inimitable vocal range.
While the Canadian singer’s recently minted status as a style icon may seem surprising, Dion has always been a fashion risk-taker. The backwards John Galliano tuxedo she wore to the 1999 Oscars was one of the most polarizing—and still talked about—red carpet fashion moments in the award show’s history.
So, why in 2017 is the world only now paying attention to Dion’s street style moments? Her secret weapon is her stylist, Law Roach. The self-described “image architect” also works with Zendaya, and is a judge on the America’s Next Top Model reboot. Since beginning to work with Dion a little over a year ago, he's honed an aesthetic for the singer that's just as over-the-top as her personality, while remaining relevant to what's current with the fashion crowd. In the first year of their partnership, Dion attended her first Met Gala in Versace, wore head-to-toe Balmain on the streets of Paris, and has incorporated streetwear-favorite brands like Virgil Abloh’s Off-White into her everyday looks.
As the story goes, Roach first got on Dion’s radar through the Disney channel. The singer’s sons were fans of K.C. Undercover, a sitcom starring a now 20-years-old Zendaya. After seeing the actress on the red carpet in a number of looks from designers such as Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, and Dolce & Gabbana, Dion turned to Google to find out who was styling Zendaya, and then made a call to Roach. He first met with her at the 2016 Billboard Awards to discuss potentially working with her, and she invited him to Paris that summer to style her tour and everyday looks. And as of last summer when Dion's street style moments during 2016 Paris Couture Week went viral, the rest was sartorial history.
We called Roach up to get the low down on Dion’s style evolution, and how she became fashion’s most wanted. Keep reading to find out which one of the singer’s outfits almost made him retire, the infamous Vetements Titanic hoodie, how to incorporate the singer’s looks into your own style, and more.
When you first met Celine was she receptive of the direction you wanted to take her style in?
During my first few interactions with Celine I quickly figured out that she was a really a fashion girl. She loves, loves, loves clothes and she studies the fashion industry. She has tons and of tears from magazines in binders for her own inspiration. In that first fitting, I also found out that she didn’t really have any fear. I think that she just never had anyone to really kind of play with her in the way that I do, for a lack of a better phrase. When I’m picking an outfit for someone like Celine who has no fear, the sky is really the limit. So, I’m going to bring her all different types of pieces and designers to try. It was really important for me to bring emerging designers to her and things she didn’t know.
What’s one designer that you introduced to her that she really loved?
I think one of the brands that she wasn’t really familiar with was Vetements. For me, I think that Titanic sweatshirt she wore was the catalyst that brought all of the attention that’s happening now. The story about that [sweatshirt] is that I had it for awhile, and I was afraid to show it to her because I thought that she would think it was kitschy and a little corny. I showed it to her, and she was like “Oh my God, I love this. I’m going to wear this today". And that’s the way it happened. I thought it was cool, and good way to pay homage to this movie and song that we all grew up with—and it was nearing the 20th anniversary of it. I just thought it would be a cool moment and it turned out to be. I’m so happy that it came to me.
When you first started working with her did Celine come to that meeting with ideas that she wanted to try, too?
The great thing about Celine is that she lets artists be artists, so I didn’t have any rules or a list of designers or silhouettes that she likes. She didn’t come with anything other than an open mind and she wanted me to do what I do. The reason why she hired me was because she saw what I did with Zendaya, and how I put this girl who’s half her age in these clothes and looks that she could wear. She [Celine] walked into a relationship with a great amount of trust and just kind of let me do what I did. Of course, we collaborate along the way, but I didn’t have any rules at all.
It was surprising and amazing because she’s an iconic woman; a legend. If she did have them, I probably would have followed all of the rules anyway. But she didn’t have any of that, and when that happens I feel so free, and I can spread my wings and fly and try new things.
How has your relationship evolved with her since you first started working with her. Since Celine's first Paris Couture Week last summer is when people started to take notice of her street style, did you feel a pressure to keep things fresh or change your approach to her looks when she attended this year's shows in July?
Keeping it fresh isn’t really a problem since Celine isn’t afraid of anything! If she had restrictions and had a set idea for her style, it might be a little different. She is just really the ultimate fashion girl, and Celine and Zendaya are so similar in that aspect. They’re willing to try anything. Zendaya is very conscious about social media and what people have said about her. She’s a millennial so that’s how she grew up, but she doesn’t care. She doesn’t care about the critics, the bloggers, or her peers. She wears what we think is cool and what makes us happy. You have that and then you have Celine, who’s the opposite. She doesn’t really follow social media, and isn’t that active on it. She’ll see things in magazines, but she really doesn’t care. She dresses for Celine. They both grew up so different [in terms of their relationships with social media], but have the same ideologies about fashion, about confidence, and who they are as women. When you have that, it can only be fresh. Ultimately, it’s all about confidence. It’s not about the clothes, but the woman who puts the clothes on, so it’s always going to feel fresh for me.
Since wearing the Vetements Titanic sweatshirt, Celine has incorporated a lot of streetwear brands into her looks like Off-White. While Celine is 49, which is by no means old, but maybe wouldn't associate those brands with her or her age demographic. What would you say to someone who thinks that these pieces aren’t age-appropriate?
To whoever says that about dressing your age, I say “f—k you”. I say this all time! People will ask “What should I wear?” and my advice is that if you try something on and love it, then wear it. Don’t let people like me or with titles like mine say like “oh, you should wear this”, or “you’re this shape so you should wear that". That’s bullshit. If you love it, wear it. As cliche as this might sound, when a confident woman walks into a room, it’s so magnetic and beautiful. She could be wearing anything, but she’ll grab our attention and we’ll see everything that’s beautiful about her. Confidence really is the most powerful, beautiful, thing that a woman can put on.
I agree with you. As cliche as this sounds, it’s like wear the clothes, don’t let the clothes wear you. If you’re a confident person, you can wear whatever you want.
It’s cliche, but it’s so real. I always like to use Ashley Graham who’s my counterpart on America’s Next Top Model. Ashley is one of the most beautiful women in the world and she’s big in all aspects—from her personality, her laugh, and her presence. When she walks into a room, it doesn’t matter who’s in there with her, you stop and you stare. That’s because she’s one of the most confident women I’ve ever met in my life.
When it comes to celebrity street style, you’ll see girls with outfits on that you know a stylist has put together, but it’s supposed to come off as effortless. With Celine’s looks, they're over the top and extra in the best way possible. You can tell that every little detail from head-to-toe has been thought out. Can you comment on this return to putting in the extra effort and owning it that Celine is kind of leading.
I like to call it daytime glamour. Celine doesn’t have a problem looking like she’s been styled, and it’s cool. The most rewarding thing about all of this is that when I bump into people on the street—whether they’re fans or colleagues—everybody has so much fun watching her have fun, which is what I think is the most important part about it.
Sometimes things are done with intention to make things what they’re not. For the most part, celebrities aren’t just waking up and going out. It’s all planned and laid out. It’s cool, but that part of it isn’t real. This is Celine Dion, of course she has a stylist and she loves clothes, so why not do a full couture look? Celine’s approach to street style is different—she’s a walking editorial, so why not?
That’s what I love about Celine though. The fact that she wears something like a full-on, head-to-toe python look and owns it.
Fashion is entertainment. It’s the most interactive art form, so why do we have to pretend like we aren’t putting effort in? It’s playing dress-up. She’s doing it to entertain herself, and the byproduct of that is that’s she’s entertaining everyone else when doing it.
Celine seems vivacious and just full of character. What are fittings like? Does she ever low-key sass you?
Oh my god, yes, in the best way possible. She sasses me, she’s salsa dancing on the floor. She’ll be like, “What are you thinking? Are you crazy?” It’s always so playful. You know my imagination does get a little too wild for her, but she never looks at anything and won’t try it on. We’re in fittings for hours and hours. The very first fitting we had together was in Paris. I was a little bit nervous and I asked my friends, you know, “what if she’s a diva?” But, if she was a diva, she deserves to be a diva because she is Celine Dion. Bu,t she was so human and so tangible and so funny. We were literally rolling on the floor. She was half-naked and we were laughing so hard that we were rolling on the floor. We were in that fitting for about six hours ,and when I left my face was in pain from laughing the entire time. All of my friends were on pins and needles and were texting me “Is it over yet? Is it over yet?” I got out and texted that group text: "It was fucking amazing".
What advice do you have for someone who loves Celine’s looks and wants to incorporate her style into their own outfits, but lives somewhere in the mid-west for instance, and has a conservative job where they can’t wear thigh-high Balmain boots like she does?
I wouldn’t say that Celine’s style is far out, but it is courageous. However, you can dissect what we do. That’s what we do, and that’s what people who follow fashion do when they see a runway show or look at an editorial. You can take away parts of it. Like for example, what’s great about Celine’s looks is that she always has sunglasses or a bag, so you could take those pieces away, and that’s easy. For me, my advice for women is to always take a risk and try it on. If you love those thigh-high boots than you wear those thigh-high boots on the weekend or when you leave your 9-to-5 job, or you wear those thigh-high boots under a long skirt. You’ll figure it out. Be brave because you only live once! And again, if you love it and it makes you feel beautiful, then wear it. Who gives a f—k what anybody thinks.
VIDEO: Celine Dion's New Song from Beauty and the Beast
Keep scrolling for all of the highlights from Dion's style transformation, including the look that almost made Roach retire.
Streetwear brands and varsity-inspired pieces like Gucci's matching separates that the singer wore out in Paris, are key players in Dion's style transformation.
"My absolute favorite look wasn’t a street style look, and I almost retired after it because I was like, 'What can I possibly do better than that?', Roach tells us of the billowing, winged-sleeve Stephane Rolland Couture dress that Dion wore for her performance of "My Heart Will Go On" at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards. "I literally fangirl over that look as if I didn’t do it. Sometimes I’ll be stuck in traffic in an Uber in L.A. and I’ll go to Youtube and watch that performance. I get goosebumps every single time."
Thigh-High Balmain Boots
The head-to-toe Balmain outfit that Dion wore while out in Paris included a pair of the brand's thigh-high boots. Paired with a floor-grazing coat, graphic tee, and black leather hat, she looked like a total badass.
A Monochromatic Moment
Roach tells us that he's a fan of full-on monochromatic looks as demonstrated by Dion's all-white outfit by Ralph & Russo that she wore during couture week this summer in Paris.
Floral Jacquard Coat & Green Accents
This floral woven Gucci jacket worn with coordinating green silk pants and accessories is just one of many examples of the chic turn Dion's style has taken in the last year.
Badass Black Leather Overalls
Dion's Gucci black leather overalls, rhinestone-covered sunglasses, and 2012 Kanye West x Giuseppe Zanotti collaboration heels that she wore in Paris this summer? Cool as hell.
Further proving that Roach is a fan of a monochromatic moment? He tells us that this all-rose outfit that Dion wore in Paris earlier this summer is one of this favorite looks that he's done since working with the singer. " Part of my style is that I love monochromatic looks," he tells us. "It exploded on Tumblr and everybody’s Pinterest boards and I thought that was really cool."
That Louis Vuitton x Supreme collaboration that was impossible for even the biggest streetwear-enthusiasts to get their hands on? It was no problem for Dion who effortlessly wore a matching pajama set from the collabortation while out in Paris this summer.
A Meta Denim & Sweatshirt Moment
Although Roach was afraid to bring this Titanic Vetements sweatshirt to Dion because he though she would find it cheesy, the risk paid off. The effortless hoodie and denim outfit was the catalyst that brought all of the attention to Dion's new style.
While Roach says that he doesn't think Dion plays favorites when it comes to her outfits, he does belive that she favors low-key denim moments like this one. "She probably loves the jeans and t-shirt moments more than anything, honestly," he says. "To her determent, a lot of people thought that Celine was older than she was because the way she came out and being in Vegas, she was always so 'madame'. I don’t want to be mean to someone else’s work, but the way she dressed kind of made her seem way older than she was. When I first told people I was starting to work with her they would always ask if she was 60. I’m like, “No, she’s 49; she’s younger than Halle Berry”. I think that it was because of how she dressed that the world perceived her as a bit older, and the fact that she’s been singing for 30 years. It was my personal mission to let people see her in a different way because she’s a young, beautiful woman who’s just so vivacious and full of life. It was my goal to use fashion to show the world that, and I think it kind of worked."
The Power of Python
When it came to this outfit she wore in Paris, there was no such thing as too much snakeskin for Dion. Roach paired the singer's black oversized turtleneck with a coordinating python Balmain coat and thigh-high boots, and a gray bag from Dion's epyonymous line.