The Celebrity Fashion Designer

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.