Turnabout Style Talks with Diane Gagne

Turnabout Style Talks with Diane Gagne

Holt Renfrew personal shopper, model and style-over-40 inspiration Diane Gagne sits down with Susie to chat career, couture and why (oh my!) her weekend wardrobe is about anything but black…

Ok, so Diane, how cool is that you and I can finally catchup and we aren’t in a rush backstage? I remember that’s where we met for the first time so many years ago ...

I know, right! Life in fashion certainly runs a little crazy busy, but thank goodness for IG - can feel like a bit of a stalker but at least we can keep in touch with each other! (laughing)

And when I think of mad Style Over 40 in Vancouver, and just style in general - your sense of chic and individuality pop into my mind so often, Di. How do you describe your vibe?

Gee, thanks. There’s a duality to my style I guess: classic with a twist of avant-garde. I think my fashion choices really come from my days as a model. Living out of a suitcase for months on end made an all black wardrobe necessary out of self defence. But as a model, you need to stand out from everyone one else. I got tons of inspiration from the designers and stylists that I worked with and I started to introduce interesting textures and proportions into how I style my own looks. I love finding creative ways to make pieces play together rather than a head to toe, one designer look. And of course, top it off with a crazy huge pair of statement earrings!

Always with the earrings! Ok so let’s talk about your work as a personal shopper at Holt Renfrew. To me it’s the perfect canvas for you to connect with people but also to make use of your style and culture skills.

I love my job! Not only do I spend my days surrounded by the most amazing fashion but I get to create a fun and creative space for my clients. Usually the first reaction when I tell people what I do is “I’d love to shop all day for a living,” But it’s so much more than just shopping for someone ... it’s Personal ... I know, statement of the obvious :) Everyone has such busy lives and are so pressed for time. Whether I’m putting together a whole outfit for an important special occasion or simply updating denim, it’s my goal to find not only what my client is looking for but also to show them new ways to style and wear the pieces they are adding. Trust and honesty are a huge part of what I do so when I introduce something that’s outside of their fashion wheelhouse, it’s important that I make sure that they honestly feel amazing in what they wearing. I never settle for “it’s okay”.

I could not agree more. So let’s move onto uniforms. So far this season I’m living in shiny snake skin loafers, high waisted jeans, matte pale peach super long nails and floaty tops. Is there a uniform for “Diane Gagne, Summer 2019” that you’re already favouring?

Love that look! Although there’s no way I could do the long nails!

You crack me up.

Like I mentioned earlier there’s a duality to my style - at work I will wear mostly black. I started doing this because when I’m with a client I stand next to them in the mirror - if I wear something that’s too visually strong, it becomes more about me than them. I stick to long skirt or pants as it’s a pretty physical job and I need to be comfortable and be able to move. But weekends are another story ... big denim love for high waisted straight leg (roll’em) or cropped wide denim, sock boot trainers or classic Birkenstock/Teva style sandals and super soft asymmetric oversized tees. I’ve also added a cool pair of khaki cargos to the mix... and  get this ... I don’t wear black!

On weekends black is banned! Ok so at Turnabout, the relationships we have with so many generations of clients really drive our sense of community. I know this concept of connectivity must run deep with you.

It does ... I’ve been in the industry for over 35 years and it’s amazing to see how people’s lives have blossomed. You have to take pride in what you do and it’s that integrity that draws people to you in the first place. How we look to ourselves and others is such a massive thing ... it is Personal. There’s so much trust being put in my hands and it needs to be honored - and why it makes me happy when my clients love our relationship so much that they refer their friends and family to share in the experience.

What are a couple of your biggest catwalk lessons that you still draw upon today?

I can’t even think of how many outfits I have tried on in my lifetime! But in an instant I knew whether a look was so perfect that I could make it sing without any effort or whether I had to call out all of my acting skills to make it work. I use that every day - when a client steps out of the fitting room I can immediately see if it’s a winner and that they love it or whether it’s a “nope”. That’s the power of fashion - remember that not everything is for everybody - it’s empowering. Besides ... it’d be a super boring world if we all dressed the same way!

And thanks Susie ... it’s been fun to have this fashion catch up!

Adore you, Di. Thank YOU!


Photo Credit: Holt Renfrew