Horse. Of the millions of words in the English language, this was Diane Roth’s first uttering — a word, mind you, that completely perplexed her urbanite parents, who found the equestrian term to be nearly as foreign as a word spoken in an entirely different language.
Nonetheless, despite her parents’ confusion, horses became a lifelong passion for Diane, who grew up happily horse-obsessed.
After her first ride at 6 years old, her passion for all kinds of horses continued to mount. She dabbled in hunters and jumpers, competed in 4-H with a Morgan pony named Peter Pan and yelled “tally-ho” during foxhunting trips in the Northeast.
As an adult, Diane found a talent for and love of dressage when a friend connected her with Olympic dressage rider extraordinaire Lendon Gray who, after evaluating Diane’s potential, took Diane under her wing. Fondly calling dressage a mind game, Diane says she quickly found joy and peace through the sport, as well as kinship with Lendon.
“It’s great for discipline,” she said. “You’re so in-tune with the horse on so many levels.” Laughing, she added that dressage is also much easier on her body than some disciplines of choice from her younger years. “When you’re young,” she said, “you bounce. When you’re old, you break.” So nowadays, Diane prefers the grace of dressage maneuvers to the youthful exhilaration of jumping.
Furthermore, Diane explains, dressage is undeniably good for the soul — which is why she doesn’t mind the early mornings she spends with her gorgeous Lusitano stallion, José. Each day, after her morning coffee, she arrives at the barn at 6:30 a.m., when she says the only humans to be found are “me and the mucker.”
“You can see the sun coming through the trees as it comes up,” she said of her early-morning rides. “You feel so close to God and nature, and you have to focus. It clears your brain.”
This calming effect is perfect for the busy professional, who, when she isn’t at the stable, is busy running her business, L’Armoire in New Canaan, Connecticut.
Her business, which has been operational for more than 30 years, is a destination boutique devoted to dressing women for every occasion, from the Oscars to equestrian banquets and everything in between. Her favorite events to dress women for, though, are — hands-down — derbies, like the world-famous Kentucky Derby. “That’s a riot,” she said, alluding to the grandiose hats the races are famous for.
No matter what she dresses women for, though, Diane simply loves the impact fashion can have on someone’s confidence. “If you make a woman look her best,” Diane said, “she can conquer the world.”
Oddly enough, unlike with Diane’s love of horses, her passion for fashion didn’t come early on. In fact, she said, she was quite the tomboy and only fell into fashion when she discovered an aptitude for it while working retail.
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