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The Fashion Design Reference & Specification Book by Laura Volpintesta, Jay Calderin

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2 2 6 THE FASHION DESIGN REFERENCE + SPECIFICATION BOOK
(Text)
Chapter 22: Celebrity
Celebrity has always been a part of the fashion mix, at least by association.
Celebrities tend to fall into distinct categories. Royalty, politicians, and other
powerful opinion makers serve as public role models. The subjects of scandal
and rumor engage the public in a love-to-hate relationship. Entertainers and
sports  gures allow the public to live vicariously through their roles or their
accomplishments. Looking back at the origins of contemporary fashion, one
nds the couturier Charles Frederick Worth dressing all three: French Empress
Eunie, famous courtesan Cora Pearl, and actress Sarah Bernhardt. Today
celebrities from other elds often try their hand at fashion design, and fashion
designers become celebrities in their own rightestablishing a new standard
for success in the industry.
MODES OF CELEBRITY
Fifteen Minutes
In 1968 Andy Warhol famously declared, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for
15 minutes.” His prediction has come to pass as society’s seemingly insatiable appetite for
celebrity in any degree, and a general sense of entitlement that demands a moment in the
sun for everyone, intersect with new communication technologies that transmit stories and
images instantly around the globe.
The producers of reality television have capitalized on the willingness of most people to do
just about anything for those  fteen minutes. The Peabody Awardwinning series Project Run-
way is the fashion industry’s most notable contribution to this phenomenon. From the start,
the value of the whole enterprise was increased by being fronted by celebrity supermodel
Heidi Klum; in the end, it has made a beloved star of mentor Tim Gunn, now chief creative
of cer at Liz Claiborne. For the savvy designer, even making it onto the show can be parlayed
into press clippings or job offers.
The fascination with celebrity stems from the public’s ability to observe, analyze, and critique
a polished parallel world. It is a world fabricated on a sense of intimacy, which the consumer
enters with the  ick of a remote control or the scroll of a mouse. The level of intimacy depends
on what any particular celebrity will trigger in a person, be it sexual desire, romantic longing,
or a feeling of security. At best, an adoring public uses the connection as a way to bond with
their peers, let off a little steam, or simply escape into fantasy and be entertained. At its
worst, celebrity worship leads to an unrealistic self-image, issues of esteem, or true obses-
sion. Having even the most basic understanding of the inclination of fans will help designers
decide whether or not they wish to tap into the illusions and promises of celebrity.
Ti
S
Photograph by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic.
Ed
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Photograph by Robin Platzer/Twin Images/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images.
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Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum at the Project Runway Fashion Show,
Spring 2009, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
Photograph by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic.
Editor Bob Colacello, model Jerry Hall, artist/publisher Andy Warhol, singer Debbie Harry, writer
Truman Capote, and jewelry designer Paloma Picasso at a Studio 54 party for Interview magazine
Photograph by Robin Platzer/Twin Images/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images.
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