Flashing lights, hoards of the rich and famous, and a whirlwind of media hype. In the past this could only be described as a movie premiere, but scenes like this now occur every fashion week. How much influence do celebrities really have in the fashion industry? And is this good or bad?

You can’t open a fashion magazine without the familiar face of an actress or singer staring back at you. Be it Jennifer Lawrence for Dior, or Lindsay Lohan for Miu Miu, fashion houses are increasingly relying on the sway of celebrity status in their adverts. There can be no denying that this has its benefits for the brands; celebrities increase the amount of attention a brand receives, and therefore their sales.

Fashion houses are increasingly relying on the sway of celebrity status in their adverts.

This trend for a celebrity-centric fashion industry has its most powerful and dramatic display at fashion week. No longer just about the clothes, paparazzi swarm over venues desperate to catch a shot of those sitting on the front row. For years it was seen as the perfect way to garner attention for a collection: bring along a celeb, get pictures of your clothes in the press.

Now designers are increasingly concerned that the presence of celebrities at their shows stops people focusing on their collection. For some, the media circus has become too much.

For some, the media circus has become too much.

At NY Fashion Week, Oscar De La Renta and Tommy Hilfiger became the first big designers to act on these doubts, banning  ‘celebrities’ from the Frow in favour of industry professionals. The industry has enough power now to publicise itself.

Away from the world of advertising, celebrity culture holds an incontrovertible amount of control over how ‘real people’ dress. How many girls walk down the road hoping people notice their stylistic homage to Alexa Chung?

The K-Mid effect just one example of this, the famous Issa engagement dress selling out in minutes, revolutionizing the fortunes of the label. Even ASOS.com began as a salute to celebrity style, initially standing for ‘As Seen On Screen’.

Even ASOS.com began as a salute to celebrity style, initially standing for ‘As Seen On Screen’.

The new label of the ‘Street-Style Icon’ has allowed a new relationship to develop between fans and their idols. Celebrity collaborations have sprung up in recent years, such as Rihanna for River Island and Mac, and The Kardashians for Dorothy Perkins. This glut of collaborations gives the celebrity style icon more influence than ever before; with their name on the product suggesting a close link to your icon’s own style.

Sometimes these collections seem to focus more on the celebrity themselves, and pay little attention to the quality of the collection.

More celebs are leaving their previous careers to focus on developing brands which epitomise their personal aesthetic.

Despite the debate over how much creative input celebrities really have into their eponymous collections, more and more celebs are leaving their previous careers to focus on developing brands which epitomise their personal aesthetic. Victoria Beckham has successfully built a second career as a designer, selling her own signature style through her immensely successful brands, while the Olsen Twins have created their own The Row label. Both collections have been praised by industry professionals for how hands on their founders are in the creative process.

For those on the street, celebrities seem to have more of a place, with collaborations allowing for true emulation.

There is no doubt that designers need some celebrity endorsement, but this seems increasingly out of place outside of magazines. Many designers are trying to make fashion week more industry centred, banishing the current trend for Frow-ers on the front pages. However, for those on the street, celebrities seem to have more of a place, with collaborations allowing for true emulation. But this can go too far; when the quality isn’t there fans are let down. After all, what’s the point of wearing a name if you don’t look good?

Harriet Brown

Follow Impact Style on Twitter and Facebook

Image: kamarisilver.com

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