Call it a comeback of sorts, but when Céline Dion walked out of her hotel during summer ’16 in Paris wearing the Vetements “Titantic” oversized hoodie with the faces of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet plastered on it, she caused a frenzy.
The Canadian singer and Roach’s partnership sparked her full-on fashion transformation. Donning editorial-esque ensembles, sitting front-row at fashion weeks and making sweatsuits look couture, Dion has truly hit her climax as a fashion maven with guidance from the stylist.
The self-described image architect infuses his unique style sensibility into the industry’s heavy hitters.
His client roster includes Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Jessie J and Mary J. Blige. He’s also responsible for transforming Zendaya from a Disney child actor to one of the most influential and relevant style stars today. The two launched a clothing and footwear brand, Daya by Zendaya, where Roach is co-creative director.
Here, Roach opens up on first meeting Dion and how the Las Vegas ace is owning the fashion landscape nearly 30 years into her storied career.
How did you and Céline start working together?
“We met officially at the Billboard Awards in 2016. It was her first performance since her husband, René, had passed away. I was working with Ariana Grande, and she performed at the award show. We met in Céline’s dressing room, and we talked about fashion. I assured her that I understood her aesthetic and style, and that I wanted to introduce her to brands that she had never worn, and emerging designers. The next day, I got a call, and they said, ‘Céline wants you to come to Paris with her for a month to try things out.’ I quickly said yes, and it’s been two years.”
What attracted her to you and your work?
“In that meeting, I asked Céline how she found me. She explained that at the time, her boys were 5 and they watched ‘K.C. Undercover,’ which was Zendaya’s Disney show. She didn’t know Zendaya, but she knew K.C. [the character]. She started to notice K.C. in magazines, and she started watching what this girl wore and all things that this girl could wear, she thought she could wear and want to wear. She thought that was amazing. So Céline said she Googled who [Zendaya’s] stylist was, and she said my name popped up.”
Why do you think Céline’s style revival garnered so much attention?
“Who you see is Céline. It’s always been Céline. [But] the world didn’t have the opportunity to see Céline in her true form, so what that means is that she is all the things you see us create. She is jeans and a T-shirt and a cool pair of booties and a leather jacket. She is also very much a full head-to-toe couture look. This is really who she is. I don’t think the world had the opportunity to see her. She was undeniably the queen of rhinestone and sequins, but there’s so much more to her.”
What has been a challenge so far?
“She is truly a guru of fashion. She knows what is happening in fashion. She has clippings from magazines that she uses for inspiration from years and years ago in binders. It’s incredible to be around her. She’s challenged me so much as a stylist and in fittings because of her eye. She’s been doing this for so long, her attention to detail and the way she knows tailoring — I challenge myself to see things wrong before she sees them. She definitely made me a better stylist.”
Can you put Céline’s style into words?
“Absolutely fearless. You can’t define it. I can literally bring her anything. I think the biggest example of that is when I brought her the Vetements ‘Titanic’ sweatshirt. They sent it from the archives because it was sold out everywhere, and I held on to it for like a week. I was nervous to bring it to her. I didn’t want to seem kitschy. So when I mustered up the courage to show it to her, she loved it, and she wanted to wear it that day. It was simple. We put it with jeans, these Gucci sandals and a little Tod’s bag and some shades. She walked out of that hotel like she was wearing a f**king couture gown.”
Do you think her fearlessness comes from being a performer?
“I think Céline was just born that way. I always say I wish everyone in the world could meet her. There’s something so special about her. She has a really creative spirit and a vivid imagination, and clothes are art to her. I don’t think I’ve met anyone with a love of clothes and fashion in that way. That’s her thing. There’s no such thing as in dressing up for her. That’s just how she lives her life. She gets up in the morning and puts on clothes, and they just happen to be so beautiful.”
What’s your role in her Las Vegas residency?
“When I started, Vegas was set. It’s a well-oiled machine. The one look I put in the show was the gold Versace look with the feather shoes. That’s the only look in the show I added. I do go to Vegas and consult.”
Are heels a problem?
“That’s all she wants to wear. They have to be like 5 or 6 inches, and if she’s wearing flats or sneakers, they have to be something really cool. She doesn’t like simple at all. Less is never more for her.”
What are some of your favorite Céline ensembles?
“My favorite, and the most memorable and one the most proudest moments of my career, was her at the Billboard Awards in 2017 wearing the [white] Stephane Rolland couture dress when she performed ‘My Heart Will Go On.’ And for the culture — the Vetements ‘Titantic’ sweatshirt. Also, one of the earlier looks we did was just jeans and a T-shirt and this beautiful Off-White coat. That started the world’s reaction.”
As you continue to grow, how do you feel about your career so far?
“I’m a little black boy from the South Side of Chicago who got into this industry not through nepotism. I made my own way, and I’m proud. I wasn’t an assistant or an intern; I didn’t have those opportunities. And for me to build a legacy in this industry, I’m proud of that. I’m even prouder when it’s inspiring someone who looks like me.”