How she gets dressed in the morning
Law Roach, Céline Dion’s stylist, has had a busy week. Dion is currently embarking on the French leg of her world tour, and it happened to coincide with the duo’s favourite time of year on the fashion calendar, Paris Couture Week.
Over the last five days, therefore, Dion has required a wardrobe of epic proportions, operating out of a special dressing suite in her hotel, the five star Royal Monceau. She has been spotted on the front rows at Dior, Giambattista Valli and more, as well as blogging her outfits for American Vogue under the hashtag #CélineTakesCouture.
A sneak peak into my work room in Paris ... this is where I get to play dress up with Madame ... @celinedion wearing Dior #styledbyme #fLAWless #celinedion A post shared by Law Roach (@luxurylaw) on Jul 5, 2017 at 5:42am PDT
“The clothes you see in the picture are all her clothes, she comes to this room to get dressed every day with me,” Roach tells The Telegraph of the daily selection process that takes place in their “work shop”, a boutique-like room that’s packed full of designer shoes, Hermes bags in every colour, and sample pieces from her own upcoming fashion collection, ready to be road-tested. “She comes down in the morning, we greet each other, and then based on her mood we’ll choose her outfit for the day.”
“I’ve been working with her for a year now so I kind of know what she’s in the mood for — she’ ll give me an impression that she’s thinking jeans, or something really cool and relaxed, or some days she’ ll want to be more dressed up. It depends on the weather, and what she did last night!”
Dion contacted Roach for the first time just over a year ago, stating that she loved the way he worked with another of his clients, the 21 year-old Disney actress Zendaya. Having recently lost both her husband and her brother to cancer, a fresh image undoubtedly contributed to her fresh start, and Dion began to have a lot of fun with fashion, experimenting with new designers and bold silhouettes to become, for many, a new muse.
“She was going through a lot of tragedy and, these are her words, the dresses and the bags and these lighter moments have helped her with her recovery,” Roach told us earlier in the year. The pair’s first flirt with couture came last summer, when Dion was seen whooping on the front row at Giambattista Valli
attends the Giambattista Valli Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2017-2018 show as part of Haute Couture Paris Fashion Week on July 3, 2017 in Paris.
— raising a smile from even the most stoic of fashion critics. “Beyond anything else, it’s just enough for me that this amazing woman has had a good time and that I could help in any way with her healing process.”
Having established couture as their stomping ground, it was only natural that Roach and Dion would go bigger this year. This week, Dion was arguably the best dressed celeb- rity at Dior, wearing a butter yellow leather shirt dress with rockstar mirrored glasses. Meanwhile, at Giambattista Valli she wore a ditsy ruffled minidress with suede thigh high boots and stole the show.
In more casual moments she wore a cobalt tracksuit by New York’s coolest streetwear label, Off White (“she was just taking her twins shopping,” says Roach) as well as an embellished Gucci coat and emerald trousers to pop out for lunch.
“The Gucci is very much a new side of her, this experiment with silhouette and embellishment,” says Roach. “I can literally bring Céline any silhouette, any colour and she will want to see it on. Some things just don’t work, that’s the nature of fashion, but she’s never afraid to find out.”
“It’s never planned, though, we always go with what resonates on the day.”
On a hot Sunday in Paris recently, Paul Smith was backstage juggling a rubber fish. The fish was the invitation to his SS18 fashion show starting within the hour and he was anticipating the front row looking daft as they used them to fan themselves under the glass-roofed gym of the Lycée Carnot. “It’ll either be brilliant or I’ll be hiding,” he said.
Sir Paul, 70, is not like other designers. He wears his eccentricity well. Like his famous suits, he comes tailored with a twist and over 47 years he’s made a serious and successful business out of it. He sells his clothes in over 70 countries, with 39 stores worldwide and hundreds of global franchises. Although turnover dipped under £300 million in 2015, lightheartedness is still stitched into the DNA of the brand. “With the mood we’re getting from a lot of countries at the moment, it’s important to be positive,” he said.
In Paris, he was showing next spring’s men’s and women’s collections together for the second time (previously womenswear was shown at London Fashion Week). A lot of experimentation is taking place in fashion houses right now but that blending makes sense for Smith. He believes it’s having a positive effect on his design. “What’s interesting is that previously the women’s had a strong masculine feel to it,” he said. “And it still has that sense with suits and tailoring, but now I’m adding more dresses and feminine pieces so that the two stand out from each other.” This collection called Ocean — hence the rubber fish invite, the surfer sandals and a kitsch tinned fish label motif — emerged, like so many of Smith’s designs, from his love of print, specifically the Aloha shirt. “At the beginning of my career, I used to buy van-loads of vintage Hawaiian shirts from America and sell them to kids from Sheffield and Manchester, so I was thinking about that. We’re quite famous for our print now,” he added, in his typical unassuming style. “We have about 20 in-house designers for print alone. And then we’ve got all the optimistic colour too.”
It made for an infectiously cheery collection, enhanced by a finale that swung along to the sound of The Beatles’ Octopus’s Garden. The vintage prints of those shirts transitioned in degrees — just visible as a flash of sunshine yellow under a streamlined trouser suit in black and blue, onto mid-length shirt dresses and a drawstring skirt, patchworked into a silk dress — “easy peasy, pockets, side zip, no nonsense” and less noticeably as the drawn threadwork pattern on scarlet and black slip dresses. Showerproof outerwear in ripstock performance fabric were smothered in flowers and worn with surfer sandals. “It’s got that masculinity in terms of the fabric but the femininity of the optimistic print. Sportswear is so important now. People are feeling happy wearing tracksuit bottoms and a blazer. That’s where it is at the moment.”
There was a new ease in all of this making Paul Smith womenswear feel right for now. Having often struggled in the shadow of the vastly successful menswear collections, it’s looking confident again.
Smith said that “being number one or too trendy” has put him in good stead. While he’s been knocked by the effect of terrorism in Paris — a 26 per cent decrease in tourist shopping can’t but be a blow when you have five stores in the city — he believes the company is in a strong position to face the changes in retail and the economic uncertainty of Brexit. “As a company, I’m blessed with being independent. I’m still the boss, we own most of our buildings, we’re very odd in that we’ve got no borrowings,” he said. “And we don’t have greedy shareholders asking for more, more, more.”
This year he will open new stores in Manchester, Copenhagen and Berlin. The Manchester one will be “posh because it’s near Céline”, but the other two will be what he’s calling neighbourhood stores. “They’re in cool areas of town, very small. We’ve opened a little one in the Marais here in Paris [there are five Paul Smith shops in Paris] and it’s been incredibly popular because it’s tiny, the staff live in the area, they know a lot of the customers. They have conversations. I like that. It’s an honest way to do business.”
That honesty is something he’s proud of. “Because I started the business myself at some point I’ve done everything — packed the boxes, sold the collection, done the window dressing, driven the van and put on the shows with just me and my wife hemming all the trousers,” he said. “When you’ve had that more rounded experience it helps you know your business and it keeps you down to earth.”
And as the international fashion press began to gather on the benches on the other side of the stage, he handed over his rubber fish and got back to work again.
A model walks the runway during the Paul Smith Menswear show in Paris.