The Celebrity Fashion Designer

By Manolo the Shoeblogger

Manolo says, the Manolo’s internet friends at the Runway Scoop have called his attention to this article in the Observer, entilted Celebrity labels are ‘taking the invention out of fashion’.

Paying celebrities to design collections for high street store chains is an empty marketing ploy that is stifling innovation, warns one of the country’s leading fashion retailers.

George Davies, the inspiration behind Next, George at Asda and Marks and Spencer’s Per Una range, says that the high street’s obsession with launches by the likes of Kate Moss and Madonna is short-changing customers.


‘I haven’t got time for this new fashion for celebrity culture in the design world,’ [Davies] said. ‘These celebrity clothing lines are being done for publicity. It’s all about how much hype can be got from the launch.

‘Celebrities should keep to what they are good at, which is walking down catwalks. It makes no difference that they love clothes. I love driving Ferraris, but that doesn’t mean I could design one, and I wouldn’t even try.’

Davies criticises shops that link themselves to celebrities on a long-term basis, like Moss and Topshop, as well as those who get fashion designers to create ranges for the high street, such as H&M’s involvement with Stella McCartney, Karl Lagerfeld and Viktor & Rolf, or Sainsbury’s link with Anya Hindmarch and the This Is Not a Plastic Bag shopping bag.

‘This is a tough job,’ Davies said. ‘Designers have to have vision, which is a rare commodity. They also absolutely have to stay hands-on, which is very difficult. I put 500 new designs in my Per Una line every month and I still have the designs and printing blocks for every one of them.

‘If you look at the past instances of celebrity designs, they don’t create anything that survives the test of time,’ said Davies, who is giving a speech on fashion at De Montfort University, Leicester, this week.

This is mostly correct. While it is possible to imagine that there are those who could design beautiful clothing with little or no formal training, it would be as unusual as the self-trained architect building the masterpiece; not impossible but rare.

But then the rise of the celebrity designer has nothing to do with the art of fashion design and everything to do with the art of marketing. The big names can draw the big crowds and make the big money. It is as simple as that.

This (especially the “celebrity” shoe designers) is something the Manolo has been talking about for many years now, and suspects that he will still be talking about for many years into the future.


10 Responses to “The Celebrity Fashion Designer”

  1. Says:

    So, in this case, let’s focus on not so famous designers.

    Actually, if more stars come into business, they night set a false trend that will somehow force the other independent designers to follow it.

    Standing as a rebel in fashion’s line doesn’t always assure the much needed succes.
    Ah, what do Hollywood stars always have to mix up in the fashion designs?

  2. Courtney Says:

    I disagree with the critique of fashion designers making lines for the “high street” shops; it can only be good for fashion because it creates more notoriety for the designers and for high-fashion in general. Thus I can only regard the remark as snobbish elitism. Good design should be affordable for not just a small percentage of the population. I don’t think it takes away from designer’s couture lines, because they use finer materials and are more exclusive. What also irked me about that remark is that it really has nothing to do with celebrities designing clothes. Is he implying that as celebrities don’t have the skill to design, the masses don’t have the skill to appreciate something designed by Stella McCartney? The only benefit-of-the-doubt scenario that I can imagine for this comment would be that these lines are not-hands on for the designers, and they merely put their name on something. However, I wouldn’t think someone like Stella McCartney would put out a line (even a mass-produced one) unless it was her vision?

  3. Style Bard Says:

    I posted about that too! Ah, Santana.

  4. Daisy Says:

    I agree with Courtney– I don’t see how making less expensive versions of stylish clothes damages the market as a whole, and objecting to it in the same breath as the celebrity “designers” reeks of snobbery.

  5. Marj Says:

    Slightly related rant – Will these ‘This is Not a Plastic Bag’ bags actually encourage people not to use as many plastic bags in their everyday life? Do these bags have a special pocket in them for storing carrier bags for your weekly shop? I somehow doubt it.

    I applaud the notion but am unfortunately cynical.

    Mind you, I worry about my bright orange Sainsbury’s cloth bag clashing with my pink suede coat when I go out. Thank goodness Asda does a bright green cloth bag I can use instead! I can remain ecologically sound and not offend the eyes :o)

  6. retna Says:

    The Manolo’s spell check it is not performing. It should be ‘Celebrity’ not ‘Celelbrity’.

  7. joelle Says:

    absolutely love your blog…check mine out at

  8. TG Says:

    As a budding fashion designer in the 70s and 80’s, raised in “the industry” by a mother who worked as Bob Mackie’s patternmaker in the 80’s and her own collections, I wanted to be a fashion designer because of the innovation, art and fun of creating innovative and usable art as apparel. Now, as an adult in this industry, it is none of that at all. It is an industry ruled by the public’s awe of all things celebrity and misguided idea that if something is branded & expensive, it must be, by definition, beautiful. Innovation has been replaced by celebrity endorsements, and the ability to turn a profit depends almost entirely on how much you can afford to pay the right publicist to convince right people you are fabulous.
    The reason these celeb collections do well is because they are pretty much basic production line clothing, simply pre-endorsed by the celebs, guarenteeing that the public will follow like the sheep they have been trained to be and buy the clothing. It’s a no brainer from a business prespective, but it creates a vacuum where innovative, visionary new product should be- because without the celeb giving it the AOK- the public doesn’t know they are “allowed” to like something- let alone spend $ on it. Leaving truly innovative and fresh talent at desk jobs designing crap for someone else and checking Manolo’s blog 10 times a day.
    PS- Stella is talented…lucky girl had great connections and business people behind her. And celeb friends.

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