Welcome to the Celinaissance. One #Diva to rule us all
How, at 49, Céline Dion resurged as an icon of the social media era.
There's no denying the 'national treasure' status held by Céline Dion.
The Charlemagne, Quebec-born chanteuse is not only the best-selling Canadian artist of all time, she gave us two of the most iconic, Academy Award-winning ballads of the 90s, has five Grammy Awards under her belt and continues to wow attendees of her Las Vegas residency show Céline with her unmatched vocal prowess night after night, year after year. She's stayed true to her French-Canadian roots along the way, continuing to release full albums in her mother tongue in addition to the English-language chart-toppers that have made her a legend. And, despite the long list of talented songstresses that have come out of Canada (Hi, Joni, Alanis, Shania and Carly!), Céline is the only true Diva in the bunch. The kind of artist who can deliver stirring vibrato with ease and belt it out with the best of 'em, while insisting that Vogue treats her "like a model" or spontaneously popping out of sunroofs to blow kisses to her adoring fans in Paris. Unabashedly extra, but with all the goods to back it up.
Unless you've been engaging in a strict social media detox, or have been focusing all your attention on another showstopping singer with a flair for the dramatic, you've probably figured out by now that the 'Summer of Céline' is upon us. Since attending her first-ever Met Ball back in May, the 49-year-old celebrated the 20th anniversary of "My Heart Will Go On" onstage at the Billboard Music Awards, performed for crowds all across Europe, dominated headlines at Couture Week for making the cobblestoned streets of Paris her own personal catwalk and even epicly took over Vogue for a day, all with an unwavering smile painted across her face.
Céline's recent return to the spotlight and new lease on life seems to be a response, at least in part, to the tragedy she experienced in early 2016, when her husband and former manager René Angélil, whom she had known since she was 12-years-old, and her older brother Daniel both passed away from cancer within two days of one another. But those of us who have followed Dion for a while know that the utterly contagious joie de vivre she exudes on a daily basis isn't a recent phenomenon. Rather, we've just finally found a moment that's uniquely built for her personality and set of skills. Céline seems to have recognized this too, and has slowly, stealthily cemented herself as perhaps the most well-rounded (and essential!) Diva of the social media age. How, you ask?
She pursued fashion icon status — and got it
Now that Instagram girls are the new supermodels, and singers are regularly chosen to act as the face of top tier brands, being able to rock a Haute Couture gown on and off the red carpet is all but obligatory for any famous female. Undoubtedly picking up on this, Céline went fashion first when plotting her triumphant comeback.
Step one was securing stylist, or Image Architect, as he prefers to be called, Law Roach, who she approached after noticing his work with another budding fashionista, Zendaya. Then came the 2017 Met Ball, where, with Roach guiding her, Céline stunned and sparkled in an over-the-top Atelier Versace dress and origami-inspired headpiece.
Next was Paris, where she effortlessly won Couture Week with elevated street style and delicious designer apparel.
Paris crystallized a turning point for Céline, as fashion mags and designers alike finally began to recognize the Québécois vocalist's style potential. Baffled by their sudden discovery of a quality she feels she's always possessed, Céline turned to Vogue for answers, asking: "What is making the people who are interested in fashion now interested in me when I have always been interested in fashion?"
But Céline's sartorial ascent may have hit a peak (one can only hope her style journey is long and filled with countless peaks and valleys) with this outrageously ultra Vogue shoot and video that might just be the pinnacle of capital-F Fashion.
In it, she brings the drama, strutting around glamorous Paris locales like the Ritz hotel, the historic Jardin du Palais-Royal and aboard a boat cruising the River Seine, draped in Marie Antoinette-inspired Giambattista Valli, regal Valentino Haute Couture, floral Rodarte, deconstructed Maison Margiela Artisanal by John Galliano, classic Dior Haute Couture and shimmery Chanel. Of course, since it's Céline, the video is filled with hip thrusts, prop-work, and super silly dance moves, making it clear that...
She's an oversharing goofball who can't help but be herself
In an era where social media savvy, and therefore, the ability to give anyone who follows you a seemingly authentic window into your life, has become one of the driving factors of stardom, especially for female performers, Céline's trademark candor and goofy disposition are unbelievable assets. The kooky facial expressions and body language don't hurt either.
She's not afraid to scarf down a hot dog while donning Versace or have a solo dance party in the Medieval Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, while the 'cool kids' share cigarettes in the bathroom. She can photobomb an engagement even better than our own Prime Minister. And she'll even let Vogue post a nude Instagram of her, and somehow it feels less like a calculated stunt and more like Céline just being Céline.
"Céline has no fear," Law Roach told Vanity Fair recently. "And when you have that type of energy, you have this attitude that we can do whatever we want and we don't care who likes it or dislikes it."
That's probably because Céline's been letting us into her family, world and adventures since long before social media ruled every moment of our days. I can personally vouch for that, since I might just have one of her ultrasound pictures hanging on their fridge, like all totally normal, not weird fans, thanks to this essential coffee table book.
She's unabashedly caring, and has been 'woke' for a while now
While modern Divas like Rihanna and Nicki Minaj have built their personas and empires around not giving a f*ck, Céline's brand of fearlessness is tempered with the fact that she cares deeply about things and doesn't think twice about showing it.
Whether it's giving a rousing standing ovation to one of her favourite designers while much of the Fashion Week audience claps along tepidly, throwing a nostalgic wink to her fans by letting the paparazzi snap her wearing a Titanic-themed hoodie, or publicly demonstrating a level of wokeness that other starlets can only strive for, Céline is present, engaged and passionate. And in today's political climate, where singers are criticised for not publicly making their views known, that quality is even more valuable.
Here's Céline back in 2005 taking the U.S. government to task for the way they handled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:
She's got epic pipes that haven't lost their luster
A Diva just isn't a Diva without the voice to back it up. And if you have any doubts about Céline's unparalleled vocal stamina and range that occupies many octaves, you probably haven't tried to tackle "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" at karaoke lately (to which I ask: WHY NOT?!?!).
In case you need a refresher, here's a brief tour through Céline's transcendent discography:
She put it all out there with the inimitable, romantic anthem "The Power of Love" (while wearing a super on-trend slip dress).
She embodied everything that is late 90s/early 2000s pop with "That's The Way It Is."
And, of course, she gave us chills upon chills with the classic "My Heart Will Go On."
So, vive la Celinaissance! She's already carved out a comeback that even legends like Madonna haven't been able to accomplish in recent years and turned 49 into a joy-filled ode to dorky dance moves, ornate attire and glass-shattering high notes. We can't wait to see what she does with 50.