I was so nervous to meet Garance Dore.
I’m talking heart-beating-out-of-my-chest-my-palms-are-way-too-sweaty kind of nervous. I’ve been an avid reader of her blog for about five years now, laughing along with her every word and even crying along with her too. For so many of her readers, she’s the ultimate modern woman – blogger, illustrator, photographer and style icon. And now that Garance was adding author to that list with her new book Love Style Life and a North American book tour with Club Monaco, I jumped at the chance of finally meeting with someone whose life story inspired me to pave my own path and launch This Renegade Love.
But more than teach me about style and the power of classic wardrobe staples through her blog, Garance taught me the importance of writing from the heart. To use my personal voice to connect to people online. To express exactly how I’m feeling instead of editing myself to seem ‘cool’. And now that I was standing face-to-face with her in a small boardroom at the Random House offices in Toronto, a warm smile welcoming me into the room for our short 15-minute interview time, Garance taught me the importance of being the exact same person in real life as you are online. Every bit of nervousness melted away as we chatted, laughed and even teared up a bit talking about the book – it felt like meeting with an old friend, one who was just as interested in my life as I was in hers.
She’s my ultimate lady crush, my mentor from afar and one of the most authentic people I’ve ever met. I didn’t want to waste my precious 15 minutes asking her my usual renegade questions (you can read her entire story in the book!), so below are a few things I just had to know about the wonderful Garance Dore.
When you launched your blog back in 2006, did you ever think a book and book tour was in your future?
Oh no, not at all. I thought maybe one day I might illustrate a kids book and be credited as an illustrator or something, but not have my name there as the author.
I was actually approached very early about it when I started my blog and people were like ‘Oh it’s a success! We can sell books!’. And so I said yes, because I mean, who doesn’t want to have their own book? And it was terrible. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. So I stopped writing and promised myself that I wouldn’t do a book until I had a solid idea for what it would be about. And that idea came years later, and that book became Love Style Life.
You say in your book that ‘life is a series of beautiful little accidents’ – what beautiful little accident has had the most impact on growing your career?
Failures and accidents come all the time – I’d say I spent half my twenties failing at everything. I mean, the blog itself started as a failure because I couldn’t get to where I wanted to be as an illustrator, so I launched a blog to share my sketches with someone – anyone! I was alone and lost and didn’t have money. The only thing is to recognize that when failures happen, it’s what you do with them that can turn your life around positively.
Because I’m French and we’re very obedient and like to follow the established system, I thought “Oh, the blog is just a hobby, it’s not my job.” And that when I met [former partner and blogger of The Sartorialist] Scott and he was like, “Why not? People love what you do, it can absolutely be your job.” So meeting him and looking to grow beyond what I thought was possible was definitely a very important little accident.
Because my world was only just starting and everything was yet to be invented, I made my own rules.
Was there a specific moment when you realized, ‘Okay this is it – I’ve made it. I’m an illustrator and a blogger now and this is something that could really propel me forward.’
I was thinking about this earlier actually, asking myself ‘Have I ever been complacement? Have I ever felt fully satisfied?’ And although there have been times when I win an award or recognize that I influence my readers, it’s the worst thing to think! You’ve never ‘made it’, unless you want to put a stop date in your calendar. It’s about keeping your head up and always looking forward.
The fashion industry can be very intimidating but what I love is that you speak + write about style in an approachable way.
That’s exactly how I’ve always been to be honest. I’ve never been ashamed of shopping for less expensive brands. Someone asked me earlier, “Oh it must be great now that you can afford all the designer brands – how do you shop differently now?” And I actually shop exactly the same. I feel that even if I was a billionaire I would still shop exactly the same way. It’s a personality thing and a sense of value that’s so engrained in my brain.
What I’ve done differently on my blog is be very honest about my life, including my shopping habits. When I loved something but couldn’t afford it, I would tell my readers. I’d also tell them that ‘Woo hoo! I just got a big cheque and I can treat myself to a Balenciaga coat.’ I’ve always been very open with that, but I’ve also gotten some shit for it. When I bought an Hermes Kelly bag, some readers were annoyed that I would promote that. It’s still probably the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought, but to me, it’s a symbol of how far I’ve come and that I can buy it. But, I still go to Zara and Club Monaco! That’s where I find the most pleasure because I don’t feel overwhelmed or weighed down by the price of what I’m wearing.
Now that you’re doing this book tour and stepping out from behind the computer and from behind the lens, what’s it been like meeting your fans?
The craziest is when I talk to them about what they do in life and I realize that my readers are much smarter than me! There are a lot of artists, musicians, scientists – they’re so interesting and beautiful and educated and it’s very humbling that these people enjoy reading my blog.
And with love, we’re kids forever, stumbling and learning as life unfolds. And this is why, whatever happens, we must keep our hearts open.
What would you say to your 20-year-old self?
Chill out! I was in the rock scene, going out like crazy and partying. If you looked at me, you’d think ‘That girl is having so much fun!’ but on the inside, I was dying of stress and pressure and thinking I was a failure and would never succeed at anything in life. You kinda have to go through that to find yourself, but I would just tell myself that it’s going to happen and to enjoy the ride and not freak out so much.
And what would you say to your 30-year-old self?
Probably the same thing – haha! But really, I think my 30-year-old self was pretty good. I’m proud of her, mistakes included. Because when I made mistakes, they came from the right place. I didn’t lie to myself, professionally or emotionally. I lived life to the fullest and with honesty.
At the end of the book, I actually cried, because that last paragraph really hit home for me – that message of loving yourself and being capable of anything once you get to that point. And now that you’re at this point in your life, what’s your next adventure?
Wow – I get very emotional when people tell me things like that, that the book affected them that much. I obviously want to develop the blog, but how I will do it and where I will do it from will really be the focus. Right now, I’m questioning my life in New York. I’m at the stage in my life where I want to do more things, but not with the New York pressure of success. I want to figure it out on my own and not have someone else tell me if I’m successful or not.
The big question isn’t how do you build a successful life, but how do you build a happy life? And I don’t know what that entails – but if people are telling me that what I did in my thirties has really inspired them then hopefully what I do in my forties will inspire them even more.
For more of Garance Dore’s illustrations, musings and street style photography,
head to garancedore.com
You can also purchase Love Style Life online or in bookstores
(and you should because it’s off-the-charts amazing)