“What I’m wearing right now, I would never put on the blog,” confides Garance Doré.
The French fashion blogger has built a globe-spanning brand based on her candid and self-deprecating honesty-is-the-best-policy approach when it comes to style. But I wasn’t expecting her to share her concerns about sweatpants with me quite so early into our conversation. A compulsive oversharer, Doré has only been on the phone from New York for a couple of minutes before she reveals she’ll be heading to a belly-dancing session after our interview; it’s just a pity about the pants that go with it.
“I’m taking classes and I swear it’s the best thing I ever did – I’m having so much fun,” she says. “But I have these weird pants. They’re like sweatpants, but also a bit like harem pants from the ’80s, too. Actually, they’re really quite terrible, but they’re so comfortable. I think I still have to find the right outfit for this belly dancing thing…”
The 40-year-old has been chronicling her outfit dilemmas since founding her eponymous blog in 2006, when she was an aspiring fashion illustrator using the then-untapped medium to promote her art. Doré soon found women were also interested in her irreverent opinions on style, and she’s since become a poster girl for French je ne sais quoi. Her ability to make fashion accessible has entranced readers worldwide and seen her dubbed as “the best thing to happen to style since Grace Coddington” by The Guardian.
The Garance Doré brand is now a global empire, comprising photography, illustration, writing and countless collaborations with fashion brands, from the luxury level down to the high street. These days, much of the site is managed by Doré’s team, giving her more time for creative projects, the latest of which is her new book, Love Style Life, published this month.
Part style guide and part biography, the offering provides a glimpse into the life of a fashion-industry influencer, while also delivering advice on everything from how to shop the high street to why a classic black evening clutch can also be paired with a casual pair of jeans.
The whole book is infused with Doré’s signature “flaws are OK” approach, which runs through everything from her musings on fitness (“You know what happens to me after an hour and a half of yoga and a green juice? I want to go have a cocktail!”) to her views on fashion labels creating garments with model-esque figures in mind (“It’s not your body’s fault; it’s the designer’s fault. When I’m in a bad mood, I curse about it. When I’m in a good mood, I see it as an opportunity to narrow my choices and edit”).
Doré readily admits that, these days, an A-list life filled with limos, fancy restaurants and freebies can make it challenging to keep it real, but she’s equally cognisant that maintaining her authenticity is key to her ongoing success.
“One of the first things that people tell me, and have told me for years, is that I’m honest,” she says. “But it’s not always easy when you grow and your position changes, so it’s something I’ve really [been] working [on], to try to keep it real. Showing your vulnerability is something people relate to, and it’s the best way to communicate because then people start opening up.”
With Doré’s fingers on the keyboard, fashion has become a prism through which to reflect on many of life’s big issues. A treatise on how to find the perfect manicure becomes a tale about the cultural differences between the French and Americans, a tuxedo is transformed into a symbol of social subversion and wearing statement labels from head to toe is a sign of insecurity and low self-esteem. “The blog is not so much about fashion, but about what it means to be a woman and to have a conversation about that,” she says. “We express a lot through our style, so it’s a good means to talk about that.”
Doré’s first passion was words rather than images when she left her native Corsica to study literature in the south of France. By the age of 25, she was working as an assistant programmer at a cinema, but quit her job just two years later to work as a freelance illustrator. The blog followed shortly thereafter.
“In the beginning, it was simply an outlet for my illustrations,” she explains. “But then I realised it could also be a tool to communicate with people, so I started telling stories about my life through fashion and that’s when it took off.”
In 2007, Doré moved to Paris to pursue her blogging career, and began taking street-style photographs after meeting Scott Schuman, the founder of fashion blog The Sartorialist, who later became her boyfriend. Seated together front row at fashion shows, photographed canoodling outside them or spotted on the streets of New York (where Doré moved in 2010), the pair were an industry golden couple for seven years until they announced their break-up with identical statements on their respective blogs in August 2014. What began via social media ended on social media.
“Our readers had shared a lot of our stories with us, so they weren’t strangers. I thought it was important to communicate that [break-up] to them,” says Doré. “There was no reason to hide something that had been in the media, so I just announced it. My life is very blurry between my private life and my public life and that’s one of the reasons I’ve been successful as a blogger.”
So, what remains private? “The limits are what would affect the people who are around me,” says Doré. “I’m very careful if they don’t want to share something intimate, and I can feel these things pretty easily. But I think that anyone who considers themselves a writer or an artist has a role to put their heart on the table, otherwise it’s fake. I wrote about my grandmother’s death, for example, and I think it’s a beautiful post and very emotional. I don’t think the blog is the place to talk about sex, although it’s very interesting to talk about, but other than that, I don’t really have any limits.”
With the new book out, recent work with brands including Omega, Equipment and Matchesfashion.com, plus a business that continues to grow apace, it seems there may also be no bounds for the business of being Garance Doré herself.
“I just want to keep growing in an honest way that always protects my freedom,” she explains. “There are other things I’m starting to do, but I want to take my time – I’m very focused on the people around me – so that we can have a real adventure together. But, for now, I’m going to my dance class, and then it will be all the fashion weeks again and all the travelling that involves. Things are always moving.”
Love Style Life by Garance Doré (Simon & Schuster, $39.99) is out now.
[By Georgina Safe] [Read More] [From News.com.au] [Image From The-talks.com]