So apparently Celine Dion is now a fashion icon. What?
Josh, by email
I think the real surprise here, Josh, is that you’re surprised. Are you inferring that Celine makes an unlikely style inspiration? I can only assume you were asleep during the whole of 1999 when she wore a tuxedo backwards and a cowboy hat to the Oscars, easily one of this column’s favourite awards moments of all time. More recently, she answered the long-wondered question of what would happen if a dress mated with an iceberg when she turned up to the Billboard awards in what was nominally a gown but actually seemed to be a pair of shoulder pads having a nervous breakdown (“That was very comfortable,” Dion told People magazine.)
But now she has been reborn as a full-blown fashion icon, stamped and approved by the fashion crowd. Her unexpected appearance at the Paris couture shows this month, each day wearing an outfit that made that backwards tuxedo look understated, was uploaded on to Instagram by fashion journalists who had so deprived their brains of oxygen by spending too long at the Chanel sample sale that they can no longer tell whether they are being ironic or sincere. This column never felt more in sympatico with Dion than when it watched her gamely trying to wear the trendy labels in Paris – your Balenciagas, your Vetements, your Off-Whites – but only looking truly happy at the frilly, girly, utterly uncool Giambattista Valli show, to which she gave a standing ovation. Oh, we’ll give the cutting edge a try, won’t we, Celine, but we can’t deny our true nature.
Celine has also, unintentionally no doubt, highlighted the difference between how the fashion press sees clothes, and how the rest of the world does. While fashion editors are still rubbing their thighs over Celine’s neon dresses and Dior outfits, the tabloids have decided that this is all proof that the woman has lost her mind.
“Celine takes to wearing outlandish outfits and still speaks to her dead husband … what’s going on with her?” screamed one Daily Mirror headline last week, as if wearing couture was akin to having full-on delusions. “Just last month,” the article whispered conspiratorially, “Dion was in Paris carrying a £79,000 Hermès handbag along with pearl-studded shoes designed by the rapper Kanye West, leather dungarees and diamante-encrusted sunglasses.”
I’m confused, Mirror – you say all that like those are bad things. What’s going on with Celine? I’d say she’s having a hefty dose of fashion awesomeness!
“While some have dismissed this as Celine just having fun, others point to the grief she still feels having lost both her husband and brother to cancer,” the paper tuts, as if it hadn’t noticed that, in fact, Celine was always a fashion monster.
The paper concludes by quoting “Lucy, from radio station LBC”, who adds: “Part of me wonders if Celine watched [husband] Rene die and thought, ‘You can’t take all that money with you, I might as well have fun with it.’”
Does it, Lucy? Is that the part of you that thinks it’s totally appropriate to imagine what people think when they see their spouse’s corpse, draw some nonsensical psychobabble from it and then share those thoughts with the nation?
Leave Celine alone, everyone. Let her be. She sang her little heart out for you for decades, and if she now wants to spend £80,000 of her hard-earned cash on a handbag, that’s her business. You keep proving Canadians can be fashion-forward, Celine. And treat yourself to as much Giambattista Valli as you like.
I’ve just been emailed by a constituent to tell me that my favourite colour combination of “shocking pink and black” is, in fact, a major “fashion faux pas”. What colours would you advise MPs wear to ensure that people talk about the politics and not the clothes?
Liz McInnes, Labour MP for Heywood and Middleton, Greater Manchester
An invisibility cloak. There is nothing, Liz, that you, as a woman, dealing with the public, in the (relative) public eye, can wear that will make people talk more about what you do than how you look. Poor Hillary Clinton (that’s right, I’m still talking about her – suck on it, Trumpers) tried to neuter herself down to such a point that she wore the same outfit every single goddamn day, and still people talked about her clothes. There she was, obligingly dressing like Kim Jong-un, and still she became #pantsuitnation. What does a woman have to do to be seen as more than an aesthetic statement? Well, as that election proved, we may well never know.
As for your preferred combination of hot pink and black, I could not salute this more vigorously. It is very Alexis from Dynasty, or maybe Dorian from Birds of a Feather,. Either way, I’m feeling it.
Anyway, only one constituent has emailed to complain. I feel completely secure in stating without any evidence whatsoever that all the rest of the people in Heywood and Middleton love hot pink and black. Indeed, I have found a photograph of you – in a news story, serving it up piping hot to some random called Karen Danczuk – in a lovely hot pink coat with black buttons, and I say it would be a crime for you to give up this style combination. Lucky constituents of Heywood and Middleton to have such delightful colours representing them.
Post your questions to Hadley Freeman, Ask Hadley, The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.