Watch your back, Mr. Wang, Ms. Westwood, and Kaiser Karl. A new breed of designers is taking over the fashion game and they’re clogging up every corner of the nearest department store.Keep your sketching pencils sharpened, your shears handy, and your sewing needles locked and loaded because the celebrity collection apocalypse is as big as ever. This is war.
The fashion world has seen many different collections throughout the years. Some brilliant, some train wrecks, still the question remains: when did the celebrity designer craze start?
In 1945, the lines between fashion and the entertainment industry crossed when the French Congress of Fashions dubbed Judy Garland “The World’s Best-Dressed Woman.” But as commercial fame has become easier to obtain, and the power of celebrity status has exploded, so has the term “fashion designer.”These days, a celebrity crediting himself or herself as a designer has become as easy as slapping one’s name on the tag of a cheaply made, poly-blend spin-off of a dying fad..
That’s not to say that Selena Gomez’s Dream Out Loud collection at K-Mart or Miley Cyrus’ 2010 collaboration with Max Azria for Wal-Mart are simply a way for celebrities to deposit a large check and further brand themselves, but it’s fair to say neither Miley nor Selena spent hours sketching in a design studio to produce these clothing lines. Nowadays, if you are young, hot and famous, you can paint just about any title you want next to your name; you can call yourself Picasso without the world batting an eye.
Why are these collections are so popular? Consumers keep buying them. Whenever a new designer emerges, it can take years to gain recognition, if ever. However, people are apt to go out and buy a new dress because it was “designed” by their favorite singer or actor because there is a level of recognition. Consumers trust that buying this clothing, shoes or accessories will make them look and feel good about themselves, even feel a more important.
I remember when Mary-Kate and Ashley’s collection debuted at Wal-Mart back in 2004. I grabbed my mother (and life-savings from my piggy bank) and headed to the packed store. Back then I wanted to be the third Olsen twin and it was like going through my sisters’ closets. It’s amazing how connected I felt to them through their clothing. These collections are not so much a way for shoppers to look like the stars or be them, but rather feel a connection with a person who is otherwise unattainable.
The factor that separates the true designer from the wannabe is not only success but raw talent and ability to produce something different. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have successfully transitioned from America’s pre-teen sweethearts to fashion’s wonder women. The Olsen’s have not only conquered the mass market but became an innovative force at New York Fashion Week. The duo’s 2012 collection included a $55,000 crocodile prescription pill covered backpack. Now that’s what I call high fashion.
The list of mercifully defunct celebrity clothing lines continues to grow. Letting celebrities so easily call themselves designers discredits the efficacy of the design education that I have worked extremely hard for. It makes the training we receive here at FIT or Parsons seem worthless.
In this day and age, it is a sad reality that talent takes a backburner to fame. If only we could use all that money to buy the world some sense and let the designers design and let “celebrities” stick to reality TV.
Can I get an amen?