Seamless reinvention: Celine Dion reborn with exuberant foray into high fashion

Met Gala proved the 49-year-old performer wasn’t defeated by the events of 2016

Many celebrities walked the 2017 Met Gala carpet earlier this year in outlandish styles, but only Celine Dion used the moment to propel her transformation into a fashion maven.

While she’s been the queen of Quebecois music for decades, the “My Heart Will Go On” powerhouse strutted onto the New York fashion scene in May with surprising confidence and swagger. Dressed in an Atelier Versace gown, she mugged with hip hop trio Migos and slinked like a lioness across the floor for Vogue’s popular Instagram “photo booth.”

She also yanked off her high heel and pretended to use it as a phone. Everything she did pulsated with vibrancy — and a touch of silliness — at an event where attendees often take themselves too seriously.

Not long afterwards, some voices in the fashion industry started proclaiming 2017 as “the year of Celine Dion,” as the Met photos went viral and sent gossip pages into a tizzy.

The Met Gala also proved the 49-year-old performer wasn’t defeated by the events of 2016, an emotionally draining year that saw her lose both husband and manager Rene Angelil as well as her brother Daniel to cancer — within the course of a week.

The deaths left a void in her life but also convinced Dion to forge ahead, suggests Alison Eastwood, editor-in-chief at Hello Canada.

“She’s really wanted to pour her heart and soul … into something she’s passionate about — and that is fashion,” Eastwood says.

“It’s part of her re-emergence as an independent woman.”

Searching for inspiration in the world of haute couture — the glamorous looks that grace runways — isn’t entirely foreign to Dion. In recent years, she slipped into designer threads as part of her flashy Las Vegas residency at Caesars Palace.

But getting credit as a fashion influencer was mostly new territory for the singer in 2017.

Years ago, Dion was better known for her clothing missteps, like the backwards pantsuit she wore to the Oscars in 1999 which divided critics. Other clothing choices were less inspired and sometimes called safe and undistinguished.

It wasn’t until the performer strolled onto the streets of Paris in the summer of 2016 that heads really started to turn. Her outfit that made a statement: a Vetements hoodie bearing images from the 1997 blockbuster “Titanic,” coupled with distressed jeans and Gucci sandals.

“It was hailed by many as her official debut in the world of fashion or certainly current fashion,” Eastwood says.

The concept was imagined by Law Roach, the “image architect” who has played a key role in helping Dion enter the fashion world. As the story goes, Dion first noticed Roach’s styling on young actress Zendaya Coleman, who was stealing attention on awards show red carpets.

Roach ran into Dion at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards and they hit it off instantly. Within a couple of days, the pair was collaborating on big ideas, like putting her into the now famous hoodie.

“I had it for a while but I didn’t show it to her because I thought she would think it was corny,” Roach says, adding Dion was instantly attracted to the kitsch and insisted on wearing it immediately.

“As the days went on I started to introduce her to new brands … and one day I mustered up the courage and showed it to her.”

By 2017, the partnership between Roach and Dion had really clicked. Paparazzi and fashion magazines documented her every move as she began stepping out at Parisian hotels draped in show-stopping designs.

Dion ignited chatter by wearing a white Ralph & Russo cape and matching pantsuit topped with a wide-brimmed hat, and she also won praises for coupling a Dice Kayek blouse detailed with a giant black bow with high-waisted pants and Tom Ford heels.

Many of the looks were coupled with handbags from the “Celine Dion” branded collection she began selling this summer.

Afiya Francisco, a Toronto-based style expert, compliments Roach for enhancing Dion’s fashion sense.

“It showed that she was adventurous,” she says. “If you don’t have the attitude sometimes that can really fall flat.”

The singer has described her foray into haute couture as a source of joy after the death of her husband. She’s also credited Roach with inspiring her creativity.

“To me, that was the ultimate payoff, to have such a small part in the healing,” says Roach.

“She was with Rene for so long and loved him so much that she will never ever not mourn (him). But the fact she credited (our work) in Paris that summer as part of the healing process was so overwhelming to me.”

Roach says Dion’s vast knowledge of the industry often astounds him.

“She’s also a bit of a fashion historian,” he says.

“The things she can reference and pull up. She’s like, ‘Give me a minute, I know I have it.’ And she’ll go through like books of tear sheets (from old magazines)…. She knows what she wants and what she likes, but she’s also very open to learning new things.”

Dion’s move into the fashion industry could also give her pop music career a boost. It’s been rumoured she could release new English-language material in 2018.

Eastwood rebuffs suggestions that Dion has simply been trying to stoke buzz for a new album and her fashion lines. She says after interviewing the singer a number of times, she’s confident Dion is simply tapping into another outlet for her own happiness.

“I can guarantee you that she couldn’t care less personally about making an impact on social media,” she says.

“It doesn’t feel like she’s trying too hard…. It may have a different audience paying attention to what she’s doing now, (but) that’s the power fashion and style has.”

Eastwood also predicts that Dion is only getting started with her grand aspirations and could surprise the world by stepping onto a catwalk during Milan Fashion Week in February.

Whatever is next for Dion, Francisco expects her style choices will continue to work in her favour in the coming months.

“Fashion, nowadays, absolutely has the ability to define a career … it’s really important and part of the package,” she says.

“If a new album were to drop, she has everybody’s attention already.”

David Friend, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Port Hardy RCMP station. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Crime stats: Assault files rise over the summer in Port Hardy

’ … we really did see an increase in criminality’

BC ELECTION
Liberal and NDP leaders’ election tours swing through North Island

Wilkinson holds forestry rally and Horgan talks wild salmon

“Keep Christmas local,” said group organizer Tamara Meggitt. (Facebook images)
Coronavirus or no coronavirus, the Christmas markets must go on! Just, differently

Online groups are connecting small vendors with Christmas shoppers

Black Press file photo
Additional charges approved from February drug bust in Port Hardy

‘Back on Feb. 17, RCMP members noticed a vehicle parked on Highway 19 Southbound just after midnight’

Flash frozen prawns still sitting in cold storage. (BC Prawns image)
Three million pounds of flash frozen, delicious prawns sitting in cold storage

Global demand for the B.C. specialty plummeted as the COVID-19 pandemic grew

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

Most Read