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18-04-2011
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Fashion Designers as Personalities
I've been thinking about this alot lately, especially with the news of Galliano and Decarin.

I would say in the last 20-25 years, we have really seen a surge in the fashion designer becoming a personality, a certified celebrity. This has obviously been fueled by social media in the last few years and it doesn't look like it's going to slow down anytime soon.

So what are your thoughts on the rise of the fashion designer as a celebrity affecting the industry? We have breaking news about Galliano, McQueen, Tom Ford, very public designers on one side, with news of say, mysterious Margiela walking away from his label on the other.

How does celebrity affect the brand's image and message? Does it enhance it, or does it dilute it? Does a designer need to be famous before they can be successful? Or could they go about it a way that Margiela has gone about it 20 years ago and still have a voice in fashion?

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Last edited by educo; 18-04-2011 at 01:39 AM.
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24-04-2011
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It's not just designers, it includes all fashion personalities. Anna Wintour has suddenly gained celebrity status in a matter of a couple of years.

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24-04-2011
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its up to designers how they present themselves.... whether they attend parties and ask their P.R. to get them interviews and so on... but fame has its pros and cons.... for instance, if Galliano wasnt famous, nobody would know him, therefore random people wouldnt be recording him partying drunk and saying those famous words and he wouldnt have been fired overnight.... he could still be at dior now...

look at marc jacobs, he was famous when he was nerdy, but not that much... he stayed out of sight, but then became such a show-off and he built a public image of one of the top fashion designers worldwide... it's a PR thing... and it does influence the brand... yes, if you go to store, you buy clothes because they look good on you, not because its designed by that or that dude, but when designer is famous, he is in media and media do you and your brand free advertisement and increase your sales...i think thats the reason tom ford didnt get forgotten after 7 years of nothing... cuz he was too famous...

if a designer develops an identity, a way of viewing fashion and world and very specific way of interpretation, his/her clothes will become very specific and recognizable... you see dress and you know its very versace, gucci or cavalli... and if it gathers too much attention and is too recognizable, then the designer is too...

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26-04-2011
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I dont know about fashion designers as personalities, it obviously helps to sell the brand but might also put him or her in a rut since the general public associates him or her with that image. As a fashion designer I always prefer to be behind the scenes.

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01-05-2011
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It's interesting because it seems that designers these days are expected to become a celebrity as well. It's almost like, "your good work and talent isn't enough to make us money, we need your life as an open book too".

And I agree with Striking Fashion on Galliano. If he wasn't so famous, especially in Paris, he wouldn't be in the situation he's in right now.

I focused on designers instead of the other fashion personalities because it seems like most consumers are influenced to buy products because they see the so called "living embodiment" in the designer.

You buy something from Tom Ford, Galliano because that product can provide a glimpse into the lifestyle they created. Whereas, I'm not buying Vogue because I think I'm gonna get a slice of Anna Wintour's life.

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08-06-2011
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Very few of the fashion designers I dealt with had personalities. They had egos, which is quite different. It is much easier to turn an egomaniac into a celebrity, of course, because people with personalities can be more difficult to manage from the viewpoint of concerns like LVMH and their media machines. Someone like John Galliano wouldn't even get a start today because he has a personality. Nor would Margiela. The same can be said of earlier sacred monsters like Paco Rabanne. Personality is seen as a threat nowadays. There are exceptions,of course, but it all reflects a wider dumbing-down process affecting the arts and society in general. It's pretty much the same with music. Imagine any corporate puke taking on the Stones today when he can have an easier life developing insipid boy and girl bands who don't even have to be able to play and sing? Today's assembly line fashion Dalek from St Martin's or Parsons doesn't even have to be able to design clothes much less conceive fresh ideas, as another thread here about "referencing" remarks so starkly...

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11-06-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prosperk View Post
Very few of the fashion designers I dealt with had personalities. They had egos, which is quite different. It is much easier to turn an egomaniac into a celebrity, of course, because people with personalities can be more difficult to manage from the viewpoint of concerns like LVMH and their media machines. Someone like John Galliano wouldn't even get a start today because he has a personality. Nor would Margiela. The same can be said of earlier sacred monsters like Paco Rabanne. Personality is seen as a threat nowadays. There are exceptions,of course, but it all reflects a wider dumbing-down process affecting the arts and society in general. It's pretty much the same with music. Imagine any corporate puke taking on the Stones today when he can have an easier life developing insipid boy and girl bands who don't even have to be able to play and sing? Today's assembly line fashion Dalek from St Martin's or Parsons doesn't even have to be able to design clothes much less conceive fresh ideas, as another thread here about "referencing" remarks so starkly...

Very, VERY true. So, in the light of all of this, what do you propose? Should designers go back to basics and be anonymous and, dare I say it, BROKE?

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15-06-2011
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In my opinion designers have always been personalities/celebrities, not all of them off course but it's not something new in the fashion industry. To be correct when the fashion industry started to develop into the industry as we know it now (during the early 1900s) designers suddenly started to be brands. Paul Poiret is a very good example. Before that designers were just dressmakers.

And about Margiela, I like his brand because he is so anonymous. So deciding to not by in the picture can also be a good PR strategy.

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17-06-2011
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I agree totally and think it also has to do with the voracious interest the masses have developed with fashion and celebs thanks to magazines like InStyle and shows like Project Runway so that the average person begins to feel as though they "know" the designer.... and as a result want to know more and more about them making for more media, more exposure, more and more and more... I can barely go online or pick up a magazine without reading about Michael Kors...
http://www.instyle.com/instyle/packa...498593,00.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by educo View Post
I've been thinking about this alot lately, especially with the news of Galliano and Decarin.

I would say in the last 20-25 years, we have really seen a surge in the fashion designer becoming a personality, a certified celebrity. This has obviously been fueled by social media in the last few years and it doesn't look like it's going to slow down anytime soon.

So what are your thoughts on the rise of the fashion designer as a celebrity affecting the industry? We have breaking news about Galliano, McQueen, Tom Ford, very public designers on one side, with news of say, mysterious Margiela walking away from his label on the other.

How does celebrity affect the brand's image and message? Does it enhance it, or does it dilute it? Does a designer need to be famous before they can be successful? Or could they go about it a way that Margiela has gone about it 20 years ago and still have a voice in fashion?
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26-06-2011
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SabrinaNicole you mention Project Runway and that makes me think.

Isn't that these days everyone in the world is getting his 15 minutes like Andy predicted?
It's not only fashion designers who are getting famous. It are also the editors, the bloggers, the models (however that started in the 90s). And it's not only fashion. Look at all the reality programs we have on television. It looks as if everybody has to be a celebrity/personality these days.

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26-06-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by educo View Post
Very, VERY true. So, in the light of all of this, what do you propose? Should designers go back to basics and be anonymous and, dare I say it, BROKE?
I think Quink made a valid point about Margiela. Interesting question, though. Does it follow that choosing to operate 'low level' leads to poverty? The cynic might contend that Joe and Joanna Public are buying into the brand as created around the personality of the designer who is, essentially, inviting them to be in his/her gang, to recall the iconic Gary Glitter call to those needing to 'belong' to something.

Margiela flipped this around, of course, and made himself even more exclusive by being elusive. But let's not forget that he had some of the sharpest PR and press people in the business around him. As an aside, a group of us started a rumour that Margiela actually didn't exist and that his press man was in fact the genius behind the clothes.

Anyway, joking aside, it is of course necessary to create a buzz these days in order to sell all that scent and all those accessories because the money doesn't come from sales of clothes. When you buy Giorgio Armani's latest perfume, you are making a statement about yourself. You are saying that you want to be part of Armani's world. Of course, you could just go into one of those spray tan booths and get some tangerine skin followed by some knock-off Armani clothes from Chinatown. It'll probably cost less and you may even be headhunted by a fashion house.

Someone who exploited that longing for belonging or escaping from your reality really well was Ralph Lauren, whose advertising persuaded otherwise normal Jewish and African-American kids in suburbs across the US to lose the Afros and Jufros and buy into that whole Aryan countryclub vibe. Truly brilliant salesmanship. Hilfiger took it even further, until he made a serious tactical error as far as his target market was concerned.

All the way to the bank, baby... On the other hand, look at some of the greats: Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Saint-Laurent, Rabanne, John Galliano or, more recently, Ghčsquiere and Mabile: their customers didn't want to be them or even to be in their worlds. They just wanted to be or to be like the women dressed by these designers. It's an important distinction. On one level, it's like selling Preppy style to people who would have trouble getting into the clubs and other haunts frequented by genuine Ivy Leaguers. But less cynical. One got the feeling that these designers respected the men and women they were addressing whereas the more commercial designers previously cited give an unfortunate impression of being out to exploit deprived people and their sense of social alienation.

So, sure, put yourself out there by all means. Promote your personality if it helps sell your wares. But you must have a personality to begin with. And you must be smart and humble enough to express that personality through your wares rather a vaguely unhealthy cult of personality. A fine line, defined by one's actual goals.

But then, all of this is just my personal opinion...

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26-06-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by educo View Post
Very, VERY true. So, in the light of all of this, what do you propose? Should designers go back to basics and be anonymous and, dare I say it, BROKE?
Hmmm. Interesting. I believe that it doesn't have to be harmfull for a label to have a designer sort of in the limelight at the top of the house. Burton is getting lots of attention lately, recognition she should've gotten way earlier, but she's like those fashion geniuses that seem so.. dissolving into their background. She blends in with her surroundings, doesn't want to be in the limelight, it's about the clothes for her. Whereas someone like Kors loves to be the center of attention. Both these houses are doing pretty good jobs I think. There are always going to people who are just plain *******s, and that's probably the reason why they got where they are in the first place: because they believe they are actually better than anyone else. However there is still room for the anonymous, (or rather anonymous), quiet, modest designer. Let's cherish them.

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01-07-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SabrinaNicole View Post
I agree totally and think it also has to do with the voracious interest the masses have developed with fashion and celebs thanks to magazines like InStyle and shows like Project Runway so that the average person begins to feel as though they "know" the designer.... and as a result want to know more and more about them making for more media, more exposure, more and more and more... I can barely go online or pick up a magazine without reading about Michael Kors...
http://www.instyle.com/instyle/packa...498593,00.html
I don't read InStyle ... I do see a lot from him, but it's usually the 'What do you pack for a vacation' questionnaire. This is by far the most personal item I've seen from him.

It seems to me that there's a range of acceptable designer behavior. The only time I remember seeing Decarnin was for a big group photo shoot of designers. Maybe a couple words from him in the accompanying article?

Some, like Alber Elbaz, have quite intelligent things to say ... I'm always interested to know more about my favorite designers. But not necessarily about their private lives, it's more their philosophy, approach, personality I find interesting ...

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20-07-2011
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Bernard Arnault in Newsweek : The end of the Star Designers?
Link: http://blogs.ft.com/material-world/2...#ixzz1Sca1d1Yl

Quote:
Go away for a week in July when things are supposed to be on a restful downward slump post-men’s wear, pre-collections and couture, and what happens? Action!
  • Kenzo has appointed a new design team: Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of US high hipster retailer Opening Ceremony to replace Antonio Marras
  • Harvey Weinstein and Sarah Jessica Parker have disengaged from Halston entirely
  • Bernard Arnault has given an interview to Newsweek announcing the end of the “star designer”

If I was a paranoid conspiracy theorist, which I am not of course, I might see these as related, the first two proving the last: good merchants, if not famous ones, know how to move product. This is the approach that LVMH, which owns Kenzo, seems to be exploring with Lim and Leon: stars do not, no matter how famous (SJP’s appointment as creative director, despite her papp-happy factor, could not save Halston), so why care about star designers (Arnault Q.E.D)?

If I was a misanthrope, I might also point out that it is in Mr Arnault’s interest to reach the above conclusion that star designers are over, given the departure of John Galliano from Dior and the fact the brand (which is owned by LVMH, of which Mr Arnault is chairman) is still looking for a new leader.

While the Newsweek team swallow the idea that Mr Arnault’s comments are a new approach to empire building, clearly a smart chairman knows that the way to spin the extended executive search process is to make it all about the brand, not the people. Really, though, what else can he say? “Hey! I can’t find a designer?”

Besides, I’m not convinced he really believes what he spouts, given that Phoebe Philo of Celine is cited in the Newsweek piece as the example of the non-star. She’s a leading name, and has been since she sent Chloe’s sales through the stratosphere. What she is is a reclusive designer, but as Greta Garbo proved, just because you don’t give a lot of interviews doesn’t mean you aren’t very famous.

In the end, however, because I am a cranky, sarcastic sort, here’s what I think: what this is simply the latest in an ongoing attempt to make stories and narratives out of what are just normal executive changes. That is to say, in fashion you are only as good as your last collection, no matter how famous you are. We need to remember this is a product-based industry, and in the end, it’s the products that matter. Tom Ford was not famous until he made a fantastic Gucci collection; Jennifer Lopez is really, really famous, but her fashion line didn’t flourish. Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton is becoming famous because she is doing a great job.

To say fashion doesn’t need “star designers” is disingenuous. Fashion needs good designers, known or not, and the challenge is, as it always has been, finding them and matching the right person to the right brand. There’s no reason to think a literal star is a good designer and there’s no reason to think an unknown couldn’t be good. Can’t we just excise that term – “star designer” – from the conversation? This is fashion. It’s not rocket science, and it’s not Hollywood either.
Pretty interesting discussion considering the many recent changes in design houses, I think.

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21-07-2011
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I don't think that writer understands the meaning of star designer. It's not someone who is good at what they do. It's someone who is eccentric and irreplaceable and in some sense accepted even if they misbehave because everyone remembers Aristotle's wise words: "There was never a genius without a tincture of madness."

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