Lainey Lui is a true icon of the Canadian television world, and arguably one of the most stylish people in the country. After gracing our screens every weekday on The Social, Lui recently departed the daily talk show to focus her efforts on her work as a Senior Correspondent on CTV’s Etalk, a role which she has held for 17 years, in addition to her blog, Lainey Gossip.

As an emblem of daytime television nationwide, Lui was touted as the spicy member of The Social’s foursome, unapologetically providing the hottest of takes on any topic on the table. While this is a core tenet to her personality, she also felt it was her duty to be authentically herself, showing viewers that women can be all kinds of things – especially opinionated. When crafting the show, this energy was at the heart of it, Lui recalls from ideating over 10 years ago with the founding members of the team – to represent as many sides as women as possible by bringing together four women with four sets of lived experiences and opinions and showing the complete picture for one hour a day.

“Women are complicated. We can be flawed. We can be sweet, but we can also be crusty and spiky,” Lui says. “If it was me representing the spiky side of women, the abrasive side of women, maybe the aggressive side of women, I was happy and proud to do that because I think that oftentimes women are presented one-dimensionally – maybe two-dimensionally – but not as whole people. It was really important to me to carry forward what the show wanted to do, period, with how women are represented.”

Lui felt due diligence to not only be representative of women but to be authentic to her voice on Lainey Gossip, which she launched in 2003. “It was important for me to be able to put a voice and a face to the things that I was sharing, and that my opinions on things would have the same tone,” Lui says. “It would have been really incongruous if I was one thing at Lainey Gossip and a totally different thing for an hour on this talk show.” With this, she committed to having strong opinions that viewers of the show grew to love onscreen alongside the other three hosts.

Photographer: Claudine Baltazar, Stylist: Simone Faloona, Makeup Artist: Shaby Dassi, Hair: Keisha Williams

Although Lui will still be on our screens, viewers have expressed that they will miss her hot takes and no-nonsense behaviour. But for Lui, she will miss her tablemates. “We have real friendships that are not only on-camera but off-camera. We have supported each other in a way that is the truest sense of what support should be,” she explains. “We give each other space, we hold each other close, we empathize with each other, we disagree often. But we always disagree respectfully. To me, that was such a treasure to find not only in the workplace but in my personal life with Melissa, Marci, Traci, Cynthia and Jess – and now Andrea.”

While long-time viewers have always anticipated Lui’s daily looks on The Social, they can still find outfit inspiration on her social media. For Lui, style is a key to her self-image and her overall brand. But, it wasn’t always this way for the veteran reporter. When she first found herself in the broadcasting industry, while it is shocking to imagine now, Lui went with the flow. She remembers wearing what she was told to wear and staying on trend in an effort to stick to the status quo. While finding her voice was easy for her onscreen, finding her voice for fashion was something that she struggled with.

“I dressed because I was trying to look like everybody else. I thought that that was the thing to do. I didn’t know that I could actually say ‘no, that doesn’t work for me,’” Lui explains. “At the beginning of my career in fashion, I wore a lot of tight dresses – I wore bandage dresses, which, you know,” she laughs, “I can’t tell you how much I hate a bandage dress…But I wore them because that was the thing that everybody was doing. I just didn’t know how to use my voice in a style space.”

She remembers this time as being pivotal as she honed her style that would transcend from her time on-screen into her personal, everyday style. “As I progressed in the industry, I started applying that voice that I used in other parts of my career to my presentation of self, my physical presentation, my stylistic presentation. That to me made all the difference. I started dressing the way I liked to look, even if it was unpopular, even if nobody else on TV was wearing things like that, and that has sustained me.” We have seen this through and through – from her weekday looks on The Social to her luxurious pieces on the red carpet – Lui knows who she is and what she likes.

Photographer: Claudine Baltazar, Stylist: Simone Faloona, Makeup Artist: Shaby Dassi, Hair: Keisha Williams

“This past January, I went to a Lunar New Year event with Fête Chinoise, and because I was hosting the dinner, I really, really wanted to wear something special,” Lui says. “I ended up wearing a red dress –- that’s very Lunar New Year – with little puffs all over it. I had my hair done in a very traditional way – old, old tradition that goes back hundreds of years ago.” She describes one look as being a top fashion moment of all time – but what stands out for Lui is when a piece can go deeper than a cool designer or a trendy style.

“I try for major events to be really intentional about my style and my looks. I was very intentional with that look about honouring my cultural background, about honouring Chinese heritage.” She explains: “Everything from the hair, to the dress, to my nails – everything was intentional and it was very special to me to be there that night with my community celebrating the Lunar New Year. I wanted my look to reflect that.” Lui adds, “I also wanted to look fire, obviously. But fire in a way where there was meaning behind every style decision.”

Looking ahead as she embarks on her next chapter, Lui is excited. This month, she celebrates her  50th birthday on September 26, and it’s clear to see that her sense of self will only grow more profound with age. When asked to describe her next chapter in just three words, the conversationalist found it tricky, eventually landing on communication, accuracy and vanity. The remarkable honesty of this list epitomizes what fans have grown to love about Lui, and we’re glad to see that she isn’t going anywhere.

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