Inside Isabelle’s Closet

Here, in Québec, millions of people know Isabelle Racicot as a TV personality, a celebrity – another jewel in Montréal’s crown! I got to take a look inside her closet and to find out more about this passionate, dedicated, hard-working woman, wife and mother.

Winner/ La Collection

One thing I’ve learned for certain, is that when les citoyens here in French Canada love a TV show or a personality, they love them passionately and in droves (i.e. Céline Dion will always belong to them!). When Isabelle was a judge on La Collection, Québec’s version of Project Runway, there were roughly a million viewers! Where else do “local” celebrities pull in numbers like that? She gets recognized everywhere, including on vacation but is very generous with her fans. She is grateful for where she is today and she knows she’s truly blessed. Isabelle recently celebrated her fortieth birthday and it seemed more like a national holiday. And why not? She certainly deserves it.

Born in Haiti and adopted, she was brought up in an affluent suburb of Montréal, TMR. Her father and other family members were lawyers, but being the artiste of the bunch, she was the “wild” one and experimented with clothing early on, but today her roots as a class-act shine through. Her style is classic modern and there is an innate elegance about her. Even in shorts and a t-shirt, she is graceful, so it didn’t surprise me one bit to hear that Jackie O. and Victoria Beckham were two of her style icons. Other people who inspire her, stylistically, are Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston. However, on a photo shoot, she has a very open mind and will try almost anything.

We chatted about shopping, her favorite clothes and designers while she showed me around her beautiful home. I didn’t blink an eye when she admitted to being a compulsive shopaholic. In fact, when she was in New York recently for work, she was very sick, but still made a brief stop to buy something. Now that’s commitment to “retail therapy”!

I haven’t lived in Montréal that long, but I was so happy when Isabelle confirmed that my inner style compass is definitely navigating me in the right direction. She tried on a gorgeous leather jacket by beloved Montréal designer Denis Gagnon, and I was smitten. I have long admired him and this jacket was a real chef d’oeuvre.  The zipper details were beyond fabulous!

Isa in Denis Gagnon Leather Jacket

Just as people are loyal to her, she pays it forward and supports Montréal designers. Some of her favorites are: Denis Gagnon, Second Yoga Jeans, M0851 for leather items, Barilà, Aldo for shoes, Andy Thê-Ahn, Lady Dutch, and Luxetto. Isa showed me a pair of synthetic fur leg-warmers by Les Gazelles, très hip and so great to wear in Montréal winters!

M0851 Leather Jacket

One of her favorite pieces is a beautiful long, flowing chiffon halter dress by BCBG, in which she recently renewed her wedding vows to her amazing husband “D”.

BCBG/ Vow Renewal Dress

Also of note were a Lady Dutch trenchcoat, a gorgeous cobalt blue dress, by Acne, worn at the Gala Artis and again, the most incredible leather dress by Denis Gagnon.

Isabelle in Denis Gagnon White Leather Creation
Lady Dutch Trenchcoat
Acne/ Gala Artis Gown

Her home is wonderfully decorated and she loves to mix it up with high and low pieces, just like her wardrobe. Domison, Homesense, Maison Corbeil and Ikea are just a few stores she frequents regularly. For her boys, she likes to shop at H&M, Joe Fresh, The Gap and The Children’s Place, but I think I’ve given her some new ideas.

She’s known for her love of oversized rings and I have to say, loving them myself, they are gorgeous! As for other accessories, she has some very unique pieces: wrap-around leather bracelets by Luxetto, some rockin’ cuffs, sunglasses by Oakley, and you should see her handbag collection!

The Famous Ring & Accessories Collection
Eyewear Collection/ Oakley's in front
"Some" of Isabelle's Handbags

However, as a fashionista, she also loves international designers like Rachel Roy, Elie Saab, Stella McCartney, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Marchesa and clearly Armani’s sleek tailoring was meant for her to wear. Discussing Fashion ensemble, we both went “gaga” recalling Tom Ford’s collection for YSL, Tom Ford in general and Marc Jacobs (two of my personal favorites!)

As host of Ça finit bien la semaine, on TVA, Isabelle has been photographed in some of the greatest clothing and is usually dressed by celebrity stylist Olivia Leblanc. She has graced numerous magazine covers, including Vita, Le Lundi, Mieux-Être and others.

Isabelle invests in classic pieces but she’ll always experiment with the trends. Right now, she’s loving her blue colored jeans and her white shirts, like this really cool one by One Teaspoon.  However, she dresses to suit her mood and is definitely a jeans girl – her collection is quite extensive.

Latest Trend/ Colored Jeans
New White Shirt/ One Teaspoon

One of Isabelle’s favorite places for shopping in Montréal is The Bay, centre-ville, as well as Topshop (coming to The Bay Montréal in Fall 2012!) She also told me about a great place called Room Service which imports designer sample sizes.

After years of working extremely hard at her career, she has reached a level of success that others only dream of. When you see one of her public service announcements or commercials, you can tell she is a very genuine, caring individual. Watching her with her children was probably one of the most heart-warming sights I’ve seen. She has two of the most adorable, happiest little boys and one thing is clear – they are her raison d’être. Not only is she an amazing talent – she’s an incredible mom.

She recently wound up her final season on Deux filles le matin, another TVA production, tapes for Ça finit bien la semaine, makes time for her close friends, neighbors, is a role model to young women, especially a Haitian youth group, finds time somewhere to be a wife, a sister, a daughter, and most importantly – a mom. Incroyable! She has a tremendous sense of humour and she is so relatable that I felt I was playing “dress up” with a good friend.

Other than her own mother, who passed away from breast cancer when Isabelle was young, her biggest inspiration is Oprah Winfrey. She grew up watching her on TV and was keenly aware of the absence of black on-air personalities. This ignited her drive to bridge that gap on Radio and TV, and she never misses an opportunity to talk about Oprah’s influence in public.

Now, Isabelle is the role model for young women in Québec, often championing the cause for violence against women. Professionally, she has hosted numerous TV shows, interviewed some of the biggest movie stars, but when her husband finally managed to get tickets to Oprah’s last TV season, that was a dream come true.

Cap from Oprah Winfrey Show

Thanks Isa! Xo

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Isabelle is an incredibly carring and wonderful human being. I’ve known her for 20+ years and believe me, she’s still the same girl. Congratulations on your well deserved success and I’m sure that much, much more is on the way for her… and for shopgirlmtl! what an amazing article!

Beatrice Benguallid

A real inspiration to women of all ages! She sounds like a remarkable woman; great article Shopgirl and fabulous pictures! She definitely has a sense of style and a great eye for fashion, I want her closet!


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