Ask anyone who’s anyone, and she’ll tell you: Garance Doré is fashion’s favorite (French-) girl-next-door. Since launching her eponymous blog in June 2006, the Manhattan transplant (originally from Girolata, Corsica) has cornered the online market on sartorially minded illustrations, enviable street style snaps, and down-to-earth vignettes about everything from yoga foibles to second-day hair.
When she’s not busy brainstorming new content in her TriBeca studio (those 70,000+ hits a day don’t generate themselves) or jamming to Missy Elliot, Garance can be found collaborating with publications like Vogue, Glamour, and Elle—and giving WEEKEND great advice. Read on for her musings on Pharrell Williams, the ideal dinner party guest-list, and why it’s essential to know your own definition of success.
Q. What does a typical day look like for you?
A. It’s really different all the time…When I came back from fashion week, I had a lot of commissions; videos to do, shooting for magazines. Then for a week I stayed in the studio, working on blog content with my team. And this week I’m focusing on my book, so I’ve been spending a lot of time at home working on that. Every day is super different from the next.
Q. …and an ideal one?
A. I think it all depends. My favorite days are those where I can be in the studio working with my team. I’m very happy to have people work with me and know that we have the same goals, and explore new things…I love being at the studio, it’s a very inspiring place for me.
Q. You’ve been blogging since June 2006. It’s now April 2014—what has changed?
A. It’s almost 8 years I think; so much has evolved. Because, you know, when I started…you can start a blog for a lot of different reasons; at that time it was really like a personal diary. In France there was really a movement…there were a lot of bloggers, so blogs were there, and I was starting my career as an illustrator and I was ready to show my work to someone—professionals. That’s the reason why I first opened my blog, so that’s how it started. I think now the reason people do it is for getting known or making a business; the ‘personal diary’ part is not as important as it used to be. For me, I discovered something I really loved to do, which is communicating, and I made my blog evolve with the times.
Q. Over the past several years, you’ve expanded from photography and illustration into video. What inspired you to adopt this new medium, and what do you think it has accomplished?
A. I think for me it’s all one thing; I don’t differentiate so much [between] the different mediums; you can communicate the feelings and stories through photos, words, videos. When I have the chance to be able to explore, I just want to try. It was not to achieve something special…it was just another way to connect that I felt was different or interesting.
Q. You just launched a line of stationary with Rifle Paper Co. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
A. The first thing I always wanted to do was a line of stationary—it was a dream of mine from day one, because I felt like cards, notebooks, all these things, carry illustration so well. It’s a great way to make the illustration ‘travel.’ I love to be able to communicate and share what I do with many people, so it was a matter of just being able to find the right people to do that with. The idea of the Open Studio was really to push that forward, because I think that’s always complicated, finding a way to have readers to actually get together—so any occasion I have where I can meet with my readers, I love. I didn’t want it to be a press launch, so I thought it would be interesting to do it that way, to have the press but to also be able to let everybody come in.
Q. We’ve talked web series, stationary collaborations…what’s next?
A. I’m working on my book right now; it takes a lot of time. I’m exploring [different] possibilities, but that’s definitely the next stage
Q. I remember reading somewhere that inspiration for the name of your blog came from 19th-century illustrator and engraver Gustave Doré. Any other inspirations (artists, authors, etc.) that have been particularly influential in your development as a photographer/illustrator/writer?
A. I’m always looking at when people try to push boundaries…I love the hip-hop movement. I loved it because they totally redefined the way we look at music—they sampled, did so many collaborations, worked with other creators. Missy Elliott and Pharrell [Williams]—these kind of people really inspire me to try and find new directions. I’m always trying to think what can I do with what I have in my hands, and how can I push it forward. I have some writers that inspire me too—Nora Ephron, [for example]. People like that, who ‘tell things the way they are,’ are always people that I find inspiring.
Q. Do you have any advice for budding illustrators, photographers, or bloggers—or anyone hoping to break into the fashion industry? Any lessons you’ve learned that you feel are worth sharing?
A. I think that for most people, the first thing is to know what is your own definition of success; knowing who you are, knowing what you want to achieve. When we’re young, we often use our parents’ definition, or our friends’ definition, but the most important thing is to find: ‘what is important for me?’ Try to know yourself, try a lot of things, and don’t listen too much to what people think is good—it’s all really personal. And then, you know, I think it’s really amazing what the Internet has to offer us. Depending on the kind of career you want, it’s all changing, and I think it’s going to give a lot of chances to people—now you can have a blog, it’s not just magazines, that kind of thing.
Q. Because you work in fashion, I have to ask—how would you characterize your personal style? Has it changed since opening your blog in 2006?
A. I guess I’m more fashion-aware, and I see a lot of what’s going on, so of course my tastes are more refined…in a lot of ways, what I did with my blog was try to refine my taste. Shooting people on the street was a quest to finding what was ‘good style.’ But I’m also true to my personality—I like things that are simple, beautiful, quality.
Q. Paris vs. New York: it’s a topic you’ve covered before on your blog, and maybe one you think about considerably as a French expat living in the City. Anything you love/miss, funny cultural differences worth mentioning, or lessons you’ve learned?
A. I guess it’s a lot just being ready to be challenged in what you thought, what’s the truth. I think traveling is so important because when you grow up in a small place, like I did, you assume that everyone will think the same way that you think. You travel and you see that in other countries people think things totally differently—traveling itself is very important to see how people live. I think it’s a lot about experiences.
Q. The classic: if you could invite 4 people (dead or alive) to dinner, who would they be?A. I would have loved to meet Nora Ephron, for sure. I like the filmmaker with the square glasses…[Martin] Scorsese. Maybe Pharrell [Williams] and…a fourth person…let’s say [René] Gruau, the illustrator
A. I would have loved to meet Nora Ephron, for sure. I like the filmmaker with the square glasses…[Martin] Scorsese. Maybe Pharrell [Williams] and…a fourth person…let’s say [René] Gruau, the illustrator.