Celebrity endorsements are nothing new. Whether it’s Katy Perry banishing blemishes with Proactiv or Beyonce enjoying a cold can of Pepsi, the idea of finding a way to link a person admired by the public to a product has been around for decades. This concept is definitely not alien to the fashion world either (Remember Dolce & Gabbana’s Fall 2010 campaign with Madonna?) but it doesn’t take a Vogue subscriber to know that the stars are coming out in the spring campaigns.
Three campaigns that seem to have caught the eye of many are the spring campaigns for Versace, Balmain and Marc Jacobs featuring Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Miley Cyrus respectively. All three have surpassed being simply an A-list celebrity and have now cemented themselves as household names worldwide. They’re more than just their music. They’re a look, an attitiude, a brand. They have the power to rule the world but should we give them the power to rule fashion?
Even though fashion is always changing, every house remains true its personality. The rebellious punk attitude of Vivienne Westwood, the French elegance of Dior and the timeless minimalism of Calvin Klein just to name a few can always be noticed in their collections. A creative director knows that the campaigns must not just display their best pieces but reflect their style to customers and critics.
First we’ll take a look at Lady Gaga. Although some argue her career is declining she is somebody nobody will ever forget. She is part of the string that binds pop culture together. And like her or not, you simply cannot deny her impact.
It would be a lie to say Lady Gaga was the first pop star to really care about fashion but when her songs Just Dance and Poker Face threw her into the spotlight in 2009 there was clearly something that set her apart from the other pop girls: what she wore. If there was an awards show, a TV appearance or a red carpet event where anyone knew Lady Gaga was attending everyone was thinking the same thing, ‘I wonder what Lady Gaga will wear’.
Many will tell you Gaga wasn’t the first to dress eccentrically which is of course true but she was the first out of her fellow reigning pop princesses at the time to do so. We started to see the other female pop divas caring more about fashion and seeing a five minute slot on a talk show to sing their new single as an opportunity for a theatrical performance.
Did she really know anything about fashion? Was it just an attention stunt? Who cares. With help from Nicola Formichetti (who is now the creative director of Mugler who Lady Gaga made her runway debut for) she was conquering two worlds; the world of pop and the world of fashion.
Alexander McQueen’s designs were undoubtedly for powerful and fierce women and Gaga appeared to be exactly that so it’s no surprise that her single Bad Romance, the song that assured everyone she was going nowhere, was premiered at the finale of his Spring/Summer 2010 runway show.
Although a friendship between Gaga and McQueen was often talked about, a friendship with another designer is clear. Donatella Versace. After her The Born This Way Ball world tour made a stop in Milan the two were hanging out after the concert and at the hotel. She was even the musical director of a Versace Versus (a younger, more teen-focussed line) event. Versace has been associated with punk and eccentricity, two thing Miss Gaga seems to embody constantly.
The relationship between Versace and Germanotta (sometimes it’s easy to forget she has an actual name) is clear but if it isn’t clear enough for you perhaps you should take a listen to Gaga’s latest album ARTPOP, track 10 to be specific. A song dedicated to the lady herself simply titled Donatella.
Then pretty soon, we had the Lady Gaga for Versace campaign and we are left to wonder; is this friendship or business? Did Gaga write that song to show how much she loves her dear friend and appreciates her work despite the ‘bimbo’ feel to the song? Did Donatella think Gaga represented the overall image of Versace? Is Lady Gaga being used to promote Versace? Is Versace being used to promote Lady Gaga?
In my personal opinion, I feel Lady Gaga is a good representation for the house in terms of her personality and a campaign must reflect this. There is one issue however: is she really model material?
I am by no means in any position to dictate what is beautiful and what is not. Beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder but the fashion industry seem to have a clear idea of what is and what is not beautiful. At a sweet little height of around 5’1” and a rumoured dress size of US 6 (well, we can’t know for sure) she doesn’t quite fit the model criteria.
My conclusion on Gaga: she is not trying to expand into modelling. We won’t be seeing her in a campaign for any other top designers or walking at fashion week. This is simply about a relationship with Versace. Whether it is personal and real or for business purposes remains unknown.
Then we have Miley Cyrus. Born into fame. A level of fame that quadrupled when her acting and singing career took off in Hannah Montana and then utterly exploded in mid-2013 with her new image. As much as I hate this expression: unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year you’ll already know plenty about Miley.
She’s not so much a fashion icon as Lady Gaga (she’s usually talked about for the lack of clothes she’s wearing rather than those she has on) but more of a cultural icon. Described by Pharell Williams as “a by-product of America”. She was born into a family of country singers, grew up when Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera ruled the radios and placed in the spotlight when hip-hop was the new pop. It’s easy to see how her career is at this point.
Recently Miley has more of an urban style with an edge. Kenzo is designing the outfits for her upcoming Bangerz World Tour which is understandable giving their image. So why Marc Jacobs?
“We all just love her and her entire being, her energy, her talent, her intelligence, everything. There’s nothing I don’t like about her. She is just genuine and very natural” said Mr Jacobs himself when asked why the 21 year old twerker was chosen for the campaign. But not everyone was on his side.
If you know Marc Jacobs, you may have noticed this campaign looked different to those in the past. Photographer Juergen Teller usually shoots for Marc but when told Miley would be on set “He just didn’t want to shoot her”.
Personally, I understand where Teller is coming from. I do not feel that Miley represents the image of the brand and would not have suited the look of the usual MJ campaign style. But after all this is Marc’s decision.
However I do believe that Cyrus has a future in modelling. If she decides she never wants to sing again in the same way she decided she never wants to act again, modelling could be a good path for her. Her hairstyle and bone structure give her an androgynous look that photographers and designers love.
My conclusion on her being chosen for the campaign? Simply promotion for Marc Jacobs. Marc Jacobs is on its way to being the top New York label in the same way Miley is on her way to being at the top of the pop game and that is the most definite of the few links between them. Also of course, the entire world’s eyes are still on Miley therefore the campaign would obviously bring Marc Jacobs attention.
Miley knows she’s making the most money doing what she does best; being the controversial pop sensation of the moment, so it’s unlikely she wanted to try modelling for herself. But she can’t hold her current title forever. Somebody else will come along and be the next shocker soon enough. The option to model is clearly there for her in the future.
Lastly, let’s take a look at Rihanna. I think we are past the point of seeing Rihanna as a person now. She’s a brand. Which is both a good and bad thing. Everybody knows her and even if you really don’t like her you know there are one or two songs you love and you think she’s gorgeous. But by becoming a brand, she may have lost her identity.
Rihanna is a classic case of the manufactured pop star. A pretty young girl with talent and potential is discovered and a crew large enough to lead a country are thrust upon her controlling her style and her sound.
After taking over the pop scene and becoming somebody that will be remembered for years and years to come it seemed her team became power-hungry. A deal with MAC Cosmetics may not be a good enough example as Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj have both worked with MAC in the past but an attempt to move her into the fashion and beauty scene was clear with Rihanna for River Island.
Anybody living in the United Kingdom will tell you that River Island is (for the time being) ruling the high street. More trend-focussed than H&M without being as pricey as Topshop or Zara has given it this position. Anything sold in River Island will be fashionable amongst high street shoppers. Her team made the right move starting her here. Her collection would instantly be in style and people from outside the UK would develop a greater interest in River Island due to the publicity surrounding it. Perfect.
While it is dubious as to whether she designed the collections herself, it’s clear that the clothes sold were things Rihanna would wear. Until her team reinvent her look yet again that is.
An obvious step up in the fashion world from River Island, Rihanna is featured in Balmain’s spring campaign. Creative director Olivier Rousteing explains the choice:
“In front of the camera, she makes you feel like she is the only girl in the world. When the woman that inspires you wears your creations, your vision feels complete.”
If this is truthful, we cannot argue with it. If Rihanna’s current style is the inspiration behind the collection, it is understandable that she is featured. The clothes in the collection do seem to be something Rihanna would wear unlike the Marc Jacobs collection where I cannot see Cyrus suiting anything.
As for a future in modelling, I can’t see it. Instead of what seems to be a world domination plan Rihanna’s team should continue to do what they do best and work on promoting her level of fame from ‘pop queen’ to ‘timeless icon’. As a representative for a brand she’s perfect as people adore her but I don’t think we’ll be seeing her on the catwalk soon.
I may be coming across as bitter which is not my intention as I am a huge fan of Gaga, Rihanna and Miley with an iTunes library and posters on the wall to prove it and anybody showing an interest in fashion is a good thing in my eyes. I just feel they are not playing fair.
Back when Rihanna was known as Robyn and lived in Barbados, she had big dreams of becoming famous doing what she loved: singing and performing. The same goes for Gaga when she was just young Stefani growing up in NYC. They know what it’s like to work hard to achieve your dreams and now they are rewarded with the lives they always wanted.
Somewhere out there, someone is dreaming of becoming the next top supermodel. Someone is dreaming of walking in fashion week and being in a campaign for Versace, Balmain or Marc Jacobs. Surely it is better to be creating the next Kate Moss or Naomi Campbell from a young model with a dream rather than renting pop stars?