How are we feeling about celebrity clothing lines these days? I don’t know about you, but I’m with Lady Gaga on this one.
Gaga was quoted as saying the following in an interview with the New York Post back in February:
“The thing is, at the end of the day, I have a real respect for fashion designers. And it’s the reason I don’t have my own line and the reason I never will. If I ever do anything in fashion, it will always just be as a muse or as an aesthetic, creative. I like to be a part of helping artists find themselves and feel good about who they are.”
Imagine that. A musician that has so much respect for fashion that she would never attempt to design her own collection. I think it’s an admirable position. Undoubtedly, if Gaga were to slap her name on a curated collection of oddball high fashion designed by someone else, it would make a boatload of money. But her artistic integrity is strong enough to overrule the quest for profit. It’s amazing, and quite frankly, it’s a position I wish every other celeb would take.
"Fashion isn’t just some frivolous thing that anyone can be a part of. It takes actual skill (from sketching to sewing to business management) and vision."
No celeb has been as obnoxiously visible in fashion as Kanye West. While his personal style has inspired legions of devoted followers and his Yeezy Boost sneaker is the biggest shoe craze we’ve seen in years, his New York Fashion Week presentation/album release spectacle was a stern middle finger to the actual fashion community. He planned his Madison Square Garden spectacular with complete disregard for the existing Fashion Week schedule forcing established, trained designers like Marissa Webb to move their shows at the last minute. Though Yeezy is one of the most famous rappers and celebrity men in the world, he has long remained an outsider when it comes to fashion. He has begged for acceptance. And it seems the only way for him to get the attention he feels he deserves is to rob others of theirs. I have to give him credit that the MSG idea was fresh, new, and disruptive. But it was the sum of the parts that really made it great. Dissecting the post-apocalyptic collection piece by piece was a bit, shall I say, underwhelming.
Rihanna was another celeb who found herself on both sides of the runway during the most recent Fashion Week. Her FENTY Puma collaboration collection offered athleisure through a grunge lens, and the show attracted industry heavyweights like Jeremy Scott and Anna Wintour. But one can’t help but think that this is something Rihanna is merely an ambassador for and not the creative mind at work.
And we can’t forget Beyoncé, who just made headlines this week after dropping the promo trailer for her upcoming Ivy Park fitness clothing line (which Lululemon is apparently not happy about.)
While they may be hardcore fans of big designers and look good in the clothing, celebs like Rihanna and Kanye have no formal fashion training. The industry’s top designers studied at prestigious universities, sketched their hearts out, and put their blood, sweat, and tears into their collections until someone noticed. Fashion isn’t just some frivolous thing that anyone can be a part of. It takes actual skill (from sketching to sewing to business management) and vision. These celebrity collections are merely branded endorsements. Not the actual result of their design work.
"I’m a supporter of the young designers out there who are willing to do the necessary work to make it in the industry and don’t have the luxury of buying their way into this exclusive club."
On one hand, I can’t blame them. Selling your influence is the business du jour. As the music industry shifts and even major artists have a hard time moving units, they have to search for other avenues to generate income. Cashing in on their fame through fashion lines, fragrances, beauty products, and a host of other sponsored partnerships is guaranteed bank.
But I’m a champion for the little guy. For the small business owner. For that ravenous fashion fan that spends every day absorbing magazines, sketching out collections, and working to raise money to fund their dreams. I’m a supporter of the young designers out there who are willing to do the necessary work to make it in the industry and don’t have the luxury of buying their way into this exclusive club.
If a celebrity comes along who can offer more than fame or their likeness or social media draw to a new collection, I’m all for it. If there’s someone with formal training who wants to put pen to pad and bring their ideas to life, I’m here for it. But 9 times out of 10, there are other designers doing the heavy lifting. And the celeb is just dropping their name on it. Because it’s their appeal that will sell the clothes regardless of whether the pieces are a productive addition to the fashion conversation or not.
For my ultimate stance on the issue, I think the fashion world would be a much better place with a few less celebrity collaborations and a few more emerging designers in the spotlight.