A celebrity is a famous person with influence and a mass media presence. Most celebrities are in the entertainment industry, but in recent years we’ve noticed that a celebrity can be from any field as long as there is an audience solid enough to make someone famous. After all, it only takes one good idea and a cellphone with internet access to share an idea with people from all over the world within a matter of seconds.
We see viral Tik Toks that come from lawyers, scientists, politicians, priests, designers, and any other field that you can imagine.
Celebrities may influence our ideas, so they influence fashion as well. This often happens in a very quick way, like in the 1960s when John F. Kennedy influenced formal menswear attire without a hat by simply starting to show up in public events without this head accessory. Many other times, it takes longer to realize the influence that a person had in fashion.
Let’s take a look at some celebrity cases where their authenticity and influence on their field ultimately influenced fashion.
Lady Di - Lady Dior
If Princess Diana lived in the 21st century, she would probably be one of the most-followed people on social media, with lots of iconic Vogue covers, fragrances, and fashion collabs; that’s how significant Princess Diana’s influence is in fashion. She didn’t just influence fashion but left a legacy that prevails till these days.
The Lady Dior bag is now a classic piece by Christian Dior that Princess Diana made famous almost three decades ago. In September of 1995, the Princess of Wales visited Paris to attend the inauguration of an exhibit of Paul Cézanne at the Orsay Museum.
Earlier that afternoon, Princess Diana met Bernardette and Bernard Arnault. Mr. Arnault is the general director of LVMH Group, which owns several prominent companies, including Bulgari, Sephora, Moet Chandon, Fendi, Celine, and Dior. Princess Diana received as a gift the Lady Dior bag (which didn’t have that name at the time and was about to be introduced in the newest collection of the fashion house).
In diplomatic encounters, it is very common to exchange gifts from the person’s country of origin. For example, in 2004, the King of Spain gave Pope John Paul II a silver medal of La Virgen del Pilar from Zaragoza, Spain. So the Princess of Wales received the Dior bag because she was in Paris and because the fashion house was one of the main sponsors of the exhibit she attended.
It was the charisma and the enormous media presence that the Princess of Wales had, that made this Dior handbag so emblematic and iconic till these days. It made sense to name the bag after the person who made it so visible and desired in the 1990s! Pop culture characters have worn the Lady Dior bag, like Charlotte York from Sex and The City and Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl.
Paris Hilton Tracksuits
Before Instagram, Pinterest, and Tik Tok, all we had was TV shows and magazines to keep up with our favorite celebrities’ fashion. One of the biggest trendsetters of the 2000s is definitely Paris Hilton, the socialite, model, and businesswoman who threw huge parties in Los Angeles and was often seen going out with Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.
Before Paris Hilton, tracksuits were only for athletic sportswear, so it was strange to see someone in the street with a tracksuit who wasn’t working out.
The whole fashion phenomenon started when a former publicist of Juicy Couture sent a tracksuit to Paris Hilton. She loved it and started wearing it to the airport, to public events, to go out with her friends, and to make major appearances in reality shows. In an interview for Vogue, Hilton said she ordered these tracksuits in every colorway possible and personalized them with her own crystals.
A little bit later, celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, and Mariah Carey started wearing them in music videos, events, and essentially any place that had nothing to do with working out whatsoever! Even though the vast Juicy Couture tracksuit fever stayed in the 2000s, it influenced fashion to think of tracksuits and athletic sportswear in a way that goes beyond working out. Today, we see high fashion designers making tracksuits for everyday life, seeking comfort while looking fashionable and spectacular. This has also expanded our perception of tracksuits, and it is more common than ever to see people running errands in the streets with tracksuits.
The Kardashian Monochromatic Era
Clothes go in and out of style. In the late 2000s, colored jeans became a massive trend. People from all genders started to wear jeans in neon, bold colors, and even flamboyant prints as casual wear. After a few years of the same trend, colors became bolder and more extravagant, but people started to get tired of them. With so many available colored jeans, don’t they start to all look quite similar after several months of wearing them and seeing people in the streets wearing them?
So a cycle of color was culminating, and people slowly started to go back to neutral colors. There were jeans in shades of blue, olive green, browns, and burgundies, but there was a celebrity factor that accelerated this neutral tone movement in fashion. Those were the early days of Kim Kardashian, the socialite who became one of the first social media influencers. She started to show up on red carpets and do public appearances wearing monochromatic outfits for the most part. Black was dominant in most of her looks, and even though it was a simple color scheme, the styling and the versatility of these monochromatic looks got the attention of mainstream media. It was the fully black look with neutral makeup tones that people of different ages and genders loved and replicated. Kim’s influence in fashion grew in big part because she was one of the first people to use social media as a platform to promote herself and her businesses, which gave her the opportunity to be more visible to the audience and share pictures of multiple outfits in one single day. The influence that celebrities have on fashion comes from different places and through different mediums.
2014: The Year of Pizza Madness
Do you remember a few years ago how there was pizza stuff “everywhere”? Printed pizzas in t-shirts, pizza-inspired jewelry, fashion accessories, and pizza blankets. There was a pizza madness, and people loved it.
These ephemeral trends are not arbitrary. There are certain factors that influence the way we feel about certain colors, symbols, and objects. Fashion designers and trend forecasters are aware of these factors, which is why 2014 seemed to be a year when we didn’t limit ourselves to eating pizza, but we also felt the desire to wear it. Here are a few celebrity moments that helped this pizza madness be as popular as it was at that time.
December 2013: Beyoncé had lunch in Los Angeles wearing printed pizza leggings and top.
March 2014: Ellen Degeneres orders pizza at the Oscars for Hollywood stars.
July 2014: Katy Perry premieres her music video This is How We Do wearing a pizza swimsuit and earrings.
August 2014: Cara Delevigne comes back from birthday celebrations wearing a full printed pizza look.
Timothée Chalamet & Formal Menswear Fashion
The evolution of menswear in the last decade has been fascinating. Many male figures have been leading the genderless movement with shinny, flowy, soft, and feminine pieces. But aside from the genderless movement, menswear is becoming more colorful, playful, and dynamic. One of the celebrity leaders of menswear fashion is Timothée Chalamet. His interesting interpretation of contemporary menswear combines colorful elements, great tailoring, and a fresh point of view, especially in red carpets, where the dress code for men tends to be very restrictive with not enough room to innovate.
From printed blazers to textured suits and interesting shirts, tops, and accessories, Timothée Chalamet influences fashion with red carpet looks that encourage thinking beyond the classic black or navy suit on a red carpet for men. It's about being innovative without disrespecting the dress code or formality of an event.
The Fashion of Iris Apfel
The 100-year-old businesswoman, designer, and fashion icon is not just a celebrity who influences fashion trends, but someone who proves that there is not a specific age to look spectacular, happy, and fashionable.
Iris is a famous interior designer who assisted nine U.S. presidents, from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton. She became widely famous for her style after the Metropolitan Museum in New York opened an exhibit of her collection. This led her to collaborate with eyewear and jewelry brands, MAC cosmetics, and most recently with H&M to create an affordable line as colorful as the fashion icon herself.
Iris Apfel has a very strong point of view and has made firm statements about her dislike of whole black looks, minimalism, and monochromatic fashion. For Apfel, life is too short to wear boring clothes! And even though many people won't understand or support her vision and aesthetic, it is her authenticity and steadiness that makes her such a huge fashion icon, admired throughout the world.
Iris Apfel is known for her colorful, busy, rich in texture, and very often flamboyant style. Many fashion companies and designers use her looks as inspiration to create toned-down versions of these, still with the authenticity of this great fashion icon.
"I always feel that if you're gonna be uncomfortable and unhappy in something just because you think it's in or it's chic I would advise you to be happy rather than well-dressed. It's better to be happy." Iris Apfel
Celebrities influence fashion, but the public ultimately makes someone a celebrity. The number of followers on social media, the number of purchases, fans, and clients determine how big a person is, and how much they may or may not influence our fashion.
Joseph de Maistre used to say that in a democracy, people get the leaders they deserve. But we don't have just political leaders. There are leaders in education, pop culture, fashion, and finances, making decisions on our behalf every day. They influence the way we live, and how we understand the world, and although there is not a specific election day to choose them, it is our support or lack of support that gives these people relevance in what they are doing.
Celebrities influence fashion, and we influence our celebrities by raising our voices on concerns and ideas that matter to us. This is how fashion trends and social changes happen.
In a culture with algorithms that can make anyone viral and famous within hours, it is more important than ever that we are aware of who are we giving that much power and influence, not just in fashion but in the way we understand and perceive the world and ourselves.
This is Political Fashion in the world, a platform where influential people raise their voices to lead people in a certain direction. What direction would you like to go, and who would you like to lead the way?