New Trends? Industrial Strategies in Fashion, Television and Celebrity Culture

Helen Warner

TV creates the celebrity. Then the celebrity sells the clothes

(Lee 2000)

It's arguable that since the emergence of Sex and the City (1998-2004) the number of US television programmes with a narrative focus on fashion has grown (see Oldenburg 2006). 'Fashion-forward' shows such as Sex and the City, Ugly Betty (2006-2010) and Gossip Girl (2008-) have created contemporary fashion icons out of their leading actresses, with Sarah Jessica Parker, America Ferrera and Blake Lively all considered style icons in their own right. In response to claims of an increasingly synergistic relationship between the fashion and television industry, trade publication The Hollywood Reporter published a series of special issues with fascinating commentary on the industrial, cultural and economic factors that shape this relationship. Crucial to this discourse is what appears to be the changing role of the female celebrity and her role as fashion icon. The image of the female celebrity has long been used to advertise fashion, however claims of a seismic shift within celebrity culture may have affected the use and function of the celebrity image. From the material surveyed here it appears that the supposed "democratization" of fame (particularly the dismantling of hierarchies of stardom) and "pervasiveness" of contemporary celebrity culture (Turner 2004:15) has ignited concerns about the symbolic value of the female celebrity and her function in the promotion of fashion.

My aims in this article are twofold. Firstly, I analyse the cultural and economic functions of the contemporary female celebrity within fashion promotion, as narrativised by the trade press. In turn, I assess the extent to which the supposed shifts within celebrity culture have altered the nature of the relationship between the fashion industry and celebrity (if at all). Secondly, I demonstrate the ways in which the trade press seeks to offset anxieties which have emerged in relation to these apparent changes in celebrity culture, in an attempt to re-establish the cultural and economic worth of the female celebrity and its use value in the promotion of fashion and material goods. As such, this article is concerned with examining (and questioning) the notion of change with regard to a particular aspect of celebrity culture. This idea - that we are living in a new era of fame which is seen as distinctly separate from classical narratives of stardom - is frequently overstated, despite the fact, as Jessica Evans usefully observes, "change often happens in a small-scale, piecemeal fashion, so that the elements of the 'old' are reformulated and combined with new developments" (Evans 2005: 16). In this regard, I contribute to the work that examines contemporary celebrity by revisiting key aspects of star and celebrity theory and offering a reassessment of the relationship between the fashion industry and celebrity culture from an industrial perspective.

Approaches to Fashion and Celebrity: Then and Now

In the 1999 issue of Fashion in Entertainment, Valerie Steele (chief curator of the Fashion Institute of Technology, and editor of Fashion Theory) suggests that "[t]o aim designs at a mass market means targeting celebrities...For a lot of Americans, there's a sense that fashion has something to do with celebrities" (in Dawn 2000: 3). This is unsurprising given that star images have long been used to endorse fashion and beauty products. Studies of fashion and film history, such as Charles Eckert's canonical article 'Carole Lombard in Macy's Window', detail a lucrative and lengthy relationship between classical Hollywood film stars and the ready-to-wear fashion industry. As Eckert observes the glamorised image of stardom, as it was constructed in fan magazines of the classical period, presented film actresses as "mannequins modelling furs, hats and accessories" (Eckert 1991: 35) and encouraged female film fans to consume star styles. Similarly, Richard Dyer's analysis of a feature article on Gloria Swanson and Chanel from a 1932 issue of Photoplay, in his influential book Stars, suggests that the haute couture industry and Hollywood film stars similarly enjoyed a symbiotic relationship (although, it has been acknowledged elsewhere that this relationship was turbulent: see Bruzzi 1997 and Berry 2000). Thus, stars have historically been involved in a complex meaning-making process: that is, mediating the symbolic value of products between producers and consumers while simultaneously benefitting from the association with particular brands.

This kind of synergy was not exclusively associated with film stars, as similar relationships had been formed between popular television personalities and the clothing industry. However, in comparison to the body of work on fashion and film stars, there are few academic studies with a focus on fashion and the television celebrity. For example, Susan Murray (writing about the US context) argues that as early as the post-war period, the ability to promote and increase sales of various commodities was essential to broadcasting a celebrity's persona and often this included clothing. These kinds of celebrity endorsements were not particularly glamorous (for example, television comedian Jackie Gleason promoting his own line of men's shirts for the Manhattan Shirt Company in 1955 - 'Jackie Gleason Originals') and for the most part the products were ordinary household items. Indeed, before the television celebrity, the radio personality performed a similar function, which according to Murray was "essential to broadcasting's economic structure" (Murray 2005: 145). Murray suggests that he 'ordinariness' of these kinds of celebrity endorsements affected the ways in which audiences responded to television personalities. This, of course, engages with early work within star studies, which marks out distinctions between contexts of fame (reflected within the terminology as 'star' is associated with cinema and 'celebrity/personality' with television). Whereas film stardom has long pivoted on the assumption that the star is both 'glamorous' and 'extraordinary', while simultaneously appearing 'ordinary' and 'just like us', the television actor/personality is perceived to be inherently 'ordinary', 'domestic' and 'familiar'. In Visible Fictions, John Ellis argues that the television personality is constructed as a "known and familiar person rather than a paradoxical figure, both ordinary and extraordinary" (1992: 106). As a result, and according to Ellis's paradigm, the television actor/personality fosters a more intimate and direct relationship with the viewer (Langer 1981), in contrast to cinema that maintains a sense of distance between star and audience.

Fashion is (and has historically been) crucial to star/audience relationships. Indeed, in the introduction to Fashioning Film Stars, Rachel Moseley explores how fashion is vital to maintaining this distance between stars and their fans:

On the one hand [fashion] is separating and defining; fashion and dress, in relation to stars, can become the supreme marker of their identity - indeed the uniqueness of their persona. It can make them special, unreachable and untouchable. At the same time, however, dress and fashion are also part of the connective tissue of the social, allowing us to make judgments - even sartorial choices - based upon our ability to read their articulations in relation to that identity (2005: 6).

As seen in Jackie Stacey's study of female film fans and consumer practices in the 1940s, the female fan engaged in complex participatory practices which involved the appropriation of star styles in order to construct her own cultural identity (1994). Of course, these complex relations between the fashion and film industries are shaped by a set of specific economic and cultural circumstances. For example, the retail tie-in opportunities in the 1930s and 1940s were seen as an effort to stabilise the economy in the wake of the Depression. Indeed, Gaines describes the period as one of the most "unabashedly commercial" in film history (Gaines 1990: 198). Thus, in order to gain a complete understanding of the relationship between fashion and celebrity at specific points in history, it is important to consider the cultural and economic climate in which these relations take place - as Rebecca Epstein does in her article 'Sharon Stone in a Gap Turtleneck' (2007).

Epstein's study usefully traces a trajectory from the classical era to the early 1990s, in one of the few enquiries into the relationship between the fashion industry and contemporary film stardom and how this may have shifted since the classical era. She contends that in contrast to those stars of the classical era (who she claims functioned as "style dictators") contemporary star styles are subject to increasing scrutiny and criticism by audiences. Moreover, she posits that the contemporary preoccupation with designer fashion (as opposed to star fashion) has altered the value of the star and her ability to influence fashion trends. In so doing, Epstein implies that there has been a distinct break between old models of fashion and film stardom and fashion within contemporary celebrity culture. Epstein's argument is underpinned (though not explicitly) by recent academic writing on celebrity - especially with respect to discourses of manufacture. She suggests that the increase in celebrity literature (and 'fashion reporting') affects the star's role as a style icon, which speaks, for example, to Joshua Gamson's work (1994, 2007) on celebrity culture and the media in the late twentieth century.

In Claims to Fame, Gamson examines "explanations of fame" (both explicit and implicit) within celebrity magazines. He seeks to trace the shifts in discursive constructions of fame (the understanding that fame is a natural result of "talent" and "hard work" and the contemporary perception that celebrities are "manufactured" by publicists). He acknowledges that within contemporary celebrity intertexts, "the mechanisms by which images are made and by which celebrity is built have been increasingly exposed" (Gamson 2007: 150). That said, Gamson also notes that more traditional narratives of fame, such as Dyer's concept of the "success myth" (Dyer 1979), have not been replaced by this "manufacture discourse", rather "celebrity texts continue to negotiate the tension between the two claims-to-fame stories" (2007: 153). His work on the "explanations" of fame has been influential in defining contemporary narratives of fame and has informed much of the later writing on the subject of celebrity. Moreover, Gamson seeks to encourage scholars to interrogate the production (as well as the consumption) of the celebrity and it thus proves invaluable to this study.

Times Change: The De-glamorisation and Democratisation of Fame

I have so far sketched (albeit briefly) the central developments within the academic literature on fashion and celebrity and in so doing suggest that the use of the female star/celebrity in the promotion of fashion is not a new concept and as such it is possible to trace a long history of this symbiotic relationship. Nevertheless, it is necessary to consider the relationship between fashion and celebrity in specific social, cultural and economic contexts if we are to fully understand its function. Thus, this section seeks to outline the key forces driving the supposed change in fashion/celebrity relations as articulated within the trade press and demonstrate how these intersect with claims of broader shifts in celebrity culture. As Sean Redmond and Su Holmes note, these shifts are often "articulated with a tone of alarm" (Redmond and Holmes 2007: 6). Indeed Epstein's work suggests that recent developments in celebrity journalism pose a problem for contemporary fashion/star relationships. As such, I also examine the ways in which the trade press responds to these developments.

What is perhaps most apparent within the material surveyed here is the way in which the trade press engages with concerns regarding the 'democratisation' of fame which preoccupy recent developments in celebrity studies. Indeed, while the term 'democratisation' (in relation to fame) is most used to describe an increase in 'ordinary' people achieving celebrity status (coinciding with popular and ubiquitous reality television) the supposed shift is also thought to have played a role in dismantling the boundaries between categories of fame. Both of these consequences point to a lack of glamour associated with contemporary celebrity which underpins much of the trade discourse. In the article 'Designing Minds', high-profile fashion designers discuss the current relationship between fashion and celebrity culture. The following extract is from an interview with Bob Mackie and explicitly demonstrates how contemporary discourses are preoccupied with notions of change:

Times change. Seventh Avenue paid attention to those glamorous designs by Edith Head and Jean Louis and Orry Kelly for the stars of the past, but now a star like Calista Flockhart [from Ally McBeal] gives the audience an idea of what to wear to the office. And Angie Harmon, who plays the prosecutor on Law & Order, dresses in great tailored suits that can be an inspiration for its audience of women. The TV shows are more practical, but, of course, when they're on the award shows, the stars go all out for glamour (in Christy 1998: 21).

Here, Mackie suggests that television (and its stars) has replaced film as the dominant force in the promotion of on-screen fashion. In addition, his comments echo those which claim a shift in the conceptualisation of television fame. According to Mackie's testimony, television stars can successfully negotiate the 'ordinary/extraordinary' paradox which, as Ellis argues, previously excluded them from the category of stardom proper - insofar as they can appear 'ordinary' onscreen and 'extraordinary' at glamorous Hollywood events.

This also points to a collapsing of distinctions between contexts of fame that, as Deborah Jermyn notes, is apparent in (and perpetuated by) coverage of celebrity news in the print media:

The hierarchy once headed by cinematic stars has apparently shifted as glamorous names from film, TV and other arenas feature alongside one another as equal objects of desire and public interest. They are all as likely as one another to appear as designer muses and devotees, a shift which has been central in discourses bemoaning the 'decline' of contemporary celebrity (2006: 73).

Furthermore, Mackie implies that contemporary Hollywood stardom has become disassociated from its 'glamorous' classical roots. Indeed, as this article shall show, the trade press responds to this shift in ambiguous and contradictory ways, at times supporting the supposed 'democratisation' - insofar as it offers up television celebrities as profitable commodities to the fashion industry - while simultaneously attempting to preserve the cultural legitimacy of film stardom by refuting claims that Hollywood has experienced a loss of glamour.

One particularly fascinating and contradictory article appears in a special issue of Fashion in Entertainment from 1999. In the article 'Small Screen Style', MTV's executive producer of fashion programming, Chad Hines, boldly claims that the emergence of supermodels in the 1990s was a direct result of the lack of glamour associated with Hollywood actors. He asserts, "[m]odels became celebrities because the glamour quotient in Hollywood at the time was zilch" (1999:17). Indeed, the 'de-glamorisation' of Hollywood stars has been attributed to a shift within celebrity journalism. That is, the apparent increase in features designed to expose and critique the image-making processes of fame (see Gamson 1994 and Holmes 2005). The trade press adopts an ambiguous position in relation to these shifts. At times it vehemently denies a 'lack of glamour' in Hollywood - in response to Hines's accusation, journalist Denise Abbot contends, "Five years on...Hollywood glamour returned with a vengeance. Today's celebrities...exude tremendous personal style" (1999: 17). However, special issues of Fashion in Entertainment also participate in the kind of activity prevalent within popular press, which seeks to reveal the image-making processes that contribute to the construction of the celebrity image examined by Gamson and Holmes.

As Gamson's work acknowledges, contemporary celebrity magazines often adopt an ironic and self-reflexive tone that constructs their audiences as increasingly media literate and savvy. As suggested above, the 'de-glamorisation' of celebrity intersects with this shift insofar as audiences are supposedly made more aware of the processes of fame and the construction of the celebrity image, although there is a danger of unfairly constructing audiences of the classical period as 'passive' and contemporary audiences as 'active'. Indeed, Epstein's work suggests that contemporary audiences are positioned as "critics of celebrities' fashion" (emphasis in original) (2007: 207) within celebrity magazines signalling a move away from the identificatory practices outlined in Stacey's work. She also suggests that the media's focus on fashion designers styling star "looks" has contributed to the contemporary star's status as "a consumer of the public's wears" rather than "dictator of fashion trends" (2007: 207). In addition, the increasing visibility of the celebrity stylist is also thought to play a part in this shift. To be sure, the celebrity stylist is also a crucial (and problematic) figure within the trade discourse. In the article 'Style Wars' (2002), Irene Lacher details the interactions between celebrity stylists, designers and celebrities. While this offers readers insight into the processes of image making, the article suggests "regular audiences" (as opposed to the industry professionals the publication targets) are "oblivious to the machinations going on behind the scenes" (2002: 14). Moreover, the article continually makes assumptions regarding the ways in which audiences respond to celebrity fashion. That is, "They're buying into a fantasy" (Apodaca in Lacher 2002: 3) and claims that "[t]he public's perception is that a celebrity has chosen a dress for authentic reasons and not because they were paid to wear it, so it becomes an endorsement for the brand" (Apodaca in Lacher 2002: 14). Nonetheless the article clearly downplays the extent to which the stylist can be accredited in image making. For example, Todd Shemarya (Hollywood 'insider' and 'celebrity representative') claims "[v]ery few of the stylists have any taste... They're just copying designers" (Shemarya in Lacher 2002: 4). This could be read as an attempt to position the celebrity (and the designers) as having more control over the celebrity image, which speaks to a need to present the celebrity as a useful commodity in the promotion of fashion. Indeed, the following two sections examine how these claims of the supposed 'de-glamorisation' and 'democratisation' of fame is managed within the trade press to ensure that the symbiotic relationship between female television celebrity and the fashion industry is maintained.

Economic Uses of Celebrity: Fashion Promotion and the Celebrity Image as 'Risk Management'

Despite concerns that the value of the contemporary celebrity is affected by the supposed 'democratisation' and 'de-glamorisation' of fame, the trade discourse uses a two-pronged approach to promote the uses and value of the celebrity to the fashion industry. As the two remaining sections of this article demonstrate, this involves foregrounding the economic uses of the celebrity while also perpetuating the symbolic value of the celebrity ('re-glamorising' the celebrity). In other words, the trade press endeavours to reconcile the two functions of celebrity (economic and cultural) in order to demonstrate the value of the female television celebrity to the fashion industry. As such, the two remaining sections of this article can be seen as a response to claims of the supposed shift in celebrity culture.

The first article in the inaugural issue of Fashion in Entertainment perfectly exemplifies the tone the trade press adopts in discussing the importance of the celebrity image in the promotion of fashion, both on and off-screen:

high fashion and product placement can be more effective than a 10 page advertisement in Harper's Bazaar. Whether it's gowns and jewels at a major Hollywood event or a collection of outfits that creates a star's onscreen persona...celebrities' clothes are of infinite interest to the general public- which translates into unlimited potential for big consumer bucks (Penn 1998: 3).

Within the trade press, the celebrity is viewed as a form of risk management. It is often claimed that the cultural industries "constitute a particularly risky business" (Hesmondhalgh 2007:18). David Hesmondhalgh, drawing on the work of Nicholas Garnham, claims that "this risk derives from the fact that audiences use cultural commodities in highly volatile and unpredictable ways" (2007: 19). Furthermore, the consumption practices of the audience cannot be controlled at the level of production. However, there seems to be a need within the cultural industries to appear as though industry professionals are managing or containing the risk, regardless of the fact that this is ultimately futile. Despite being an equally risky cultural commodity, the celebrity image is used by other cultural industries to minimise risk. In The Cultural Industries, Hesmondhalgh describes how the celebrity image is used as a "formatting" tool, as a way of supposedly guaranteeing an audience/consumer for a product (2007).

The trade press foregrounds the notion that the celebrity image is, without doubt, the best way to control the risk within the fashion industry insofar as it continually references instances where the use of the television celebrity image in fashion promotion has benefited both industries. In the 2005 issue of Fashion in Entertainment, the article 'Stones Sold' examines the contemporary economic motivations behind the relationship between fashion houses and celebrities, suggesting that "celebrities are earning big bucks for agreeing to wear designer duds and diamonds'"(Pak 2005: 6). The article reveals specific details of the economic exchanges that have taken place in the recent past. For example, it reports that Hilary Swank received $90,000 for wearing Chopard jewellery to the 2005 Oscars. The article suggests that this kind of paid product placement is becoming increasingly common.

It is important to note here that the term celebrity endorsement is often used as an umbrella term and encompasses a variety of marketing strategies. However, it is important to clarify these different strategies, as different kinds of celebrity endorsement have different implications. The Hilary Swank anecdote refers to "paid product placement" which involves the celebrity accepting payment from a designer/brand to wear a garment or item to an event. This is not to be confused with celebrity endorsements where a celebrity becomes the 'spokesperson' for a product and features in advertising campaigns. Paid product placement, according to the 'Stones Sold' article, is not only an effective marketing strategy, but it is also a necessity for the brand. The article quotes Rose Apodaca (West Coast bureau chief for fashion trade publication Women's Wear Daily) who claims:

This whole idea of actually paying celebrities requires an enormous investment for any company, it becomes part of their marketing plan. That does make it more difficult for a smaller designer, unfortunately, because the whole celebrity factor has become so important and validating for a brand's performance (2005: 6).

This passage makes clear the importance of the celebrity image on brand performance, and presents the marketing strategy as necessary for brand validation, despite the fact that, as noted already, there is no guarantee that the celebrity image can prompt a positive response from consumers. This sentiment is affirmed in an interview with stylist Ricci DeMartino. In the same article, he asserts:

[t]alking about the business of paying someone to wear something, whether it be a gown, shoes, handbags, jewelry [sic]- everyone's interested for a reason...Everyone is making money off it, right down to the magazines that are selling issues and stores that are knocking off dresses and selling them to middle America. So it is a huge wheel that goes around and it keeps the whole allure of the industry going (in Pak 2005: 6).

What is significant about these comments is the way in which they understand the function of the celebrity image within these agreements. As noted, the celebrity image is understood as a necessity for the fashion industry, as a way of controlling the risky business of fashion, and here DeMartino attempts to articulate why the celebrity image is important. He claims that they "keep the whole allure of the industry going" (my emphasis). This implies that the contemporary celebrity maintains a certain level of 'glamour' which is then lent to the product and the industry itself. Indeed, Grant McCracken has termed this concept "meaning transfer". In his article, 'Who is the Celebrity Endorser?' he outlines the processes (McCracken 1989). He writes: "the endorsement process depends upon the symbolic properties of the celebrity endorser...these properties are shown to reside in the celebrity and to move from the celebrity to consumer good and from good to consumer" (1989: 310). The paid product placement strategies rely upon a celebrity image to bring a specific set of values and 'allure' which the brand itself wishes to be associated with and which, as noted, has long structured celebrity endorsement deals. The celebrity, within this process, is also a commodity, which is potentially dangerous insofar as it can be detrimental to the celebrity's symbolic value and suggests a lack of agency.

An alternative approach to product placement is discussed within the 'Stones Sold' article, which protects the celebrity's agency - that is, non-paid product placement. Non-paid product placement, or gratis product placement "occurs when a celebrity embraces a product or brand they truly like and visibly uses these products in public" (Okonkwo 2007: 159). In Luxury Fashion Branding, Uche Okonkwo describes how gratis product placement is becoming less common. She writes "[t]his aspect of celebrity endorsement is however becoming rare, as celebrities have got wise to their powerful advantage over consumers and increasingly use this to their own advantage" (2007: 159). However, within the 'Stones Sold' article, it is revealed that celebrities will, on occasion, choose to wear smaller, lesser-known designer labels to red carpet events for no fee. The example used is Felicity Huffman (from Desperate Housewives) who wore Kevan Hall to the 2005 Emmy Awards. Hall reportedly had virtually no marketing or advertising budget and Huffman's appearance at the Emmy Awards increased awareness for the relatively unknown designer. Huffman, as a television celebrity, is presented as a useful commodity to designers (particularly new designers) as it suggested that her celebrity and her associations with the 'familiar' and 'ordinary' make her more willing to participate in this kind of gratis placement than those film stars whose supposed prestige means they can command large sums of money for product placement. Moreover, it has been suggested that contemporary audiences seek "confirmation" that celebrities have "chosen a dress for authentic reasons" (my emphasis) (Apodaca 2002: 14). The example of gratis placement provides audiences with this confirmation. In addition, the celebrity is afforded a degree of autonomy over her image. Huffman's choice of dress has not been dictated by any contractual obligation and therefore she is represented as having responsibility for her own image. This example thus increases her cultural legitimacy as a television celebrity as she is distanced from any associations with commercialism.

The use value of gratis product placement is examined in an earlier edition of The Hollywood Reporter which focuses on fashion in teen dramas. In the 1999 Fashion in Entertainment special issue, the article 'TV Teen Threads' suggests that non-paid product placement is especially successful with teen audiences. Senior vice president of media relations and promotions for Columbia TriStar television, Paula Askansas, claims that:

[t]he teen audience is difficult to reach... they are less susceptible to advertising. The hard sell can be a turn off. Having TV stars wear a certain brand of clothing sends a subliminal message. The clothes are part of something cool. [The thinking is], if Jennifer Love Hewitt wears Hilfiger so can I. (in Abbott 1999: 25)

This claim perfectly demonstrates McCracken's concept of "meaning transfer". It is supposed that a set of values and meanings are transferred from the celebrity and inscribed on the product (like a subliminal message). Moreover, Askansas foregrounds a sense of familiarity between the celebrity and potential consumer. This appears again in a comment by Dia Hollenbeck, a public relations representative for Limited Express - a clothing firm that initiated tie-ins with Party of Five (1994-2000), Beverly Hills 90210 (1990-2000) and Suddenly Susan (1996-2000). She claims:

We've also had instances where celebrities - such as Neve Campbell, Tori Spelling and Jenna Elfman - have absorbed the clothing into their personal wardrobes...Jenna was featured in Marie Claire magazine wearing an Express dress, saying it was one of her favourites. That kind of exposure is unbeatable (in Abbott 1999: 25).

Both of these comments suggest that the celebrity's association with a product can directly influence sales and thus presents the celebrity image as a form of risk control. However, since there is a danger of presenting the celebrity as a purely commercial phenomenon, the trade press also seeks to foreground the cultural value of the television celebrity. Thus, the following section examines the ways in which the trade press negotiates these concerns and partakes in the 're-glamorisation' of the celebrity in order to restore cultural value.

Re-glamorising Contemporary Celebrity: Classical Hollywood Glamour and Processes of Meaning Transfer

In the article 'Designing Minds', designers Bob Mackie, Richard Tyler, Tom Ford and Anna Sui are asked to comment upon the contemporary relationship between fashion and screen media. Paradoxically, much of the discussion is constructed around the figure of the classical Hollywood star and it becomes increasingly clear that each designer looks upon that era as a creative and inspirational time. For example, Tyler claims, "my designs for today's stars are inspired by the years of Marlene Dietrich and Jean Harlow" (in Christy 1998: 21). Similarly, Tom Ford says, "I let myself be influenced by films, especially the classics, for the composition of images and the female figure" (in Christy 1998: 21). It is clear from these comments that both Ford and Tyler's attitudes are also informed by a romanticised notion of classical Hollywood stardom which resonates within the contemporary cultural imagination and throughout the trade press. In a similar article in the 2001 issue of Fashion in Entertainment, 'Intersecting Patterns', designers are invited to share thoughts on the symbiotic relationship between fashion and film. Each designer interviewed references classical films and stars of the 1930s and 40s: "The glamour of old Hollywood films...ha[s] always been the biggest source of our inspiration...Bette Davis in Now Voyager, Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Elizabeth Taylor in The Last Time I Saw Paris (Badgley & Mischka in Burr 2001: 10), "We've always been inspired by [old] Hollywood's unique combination of sexiness and elegance...Our muses for that collection include the incomparable Marilyn Monroe..." (Choi and Mellon in Burr 2001: 11). Notably absent from these articles is the notion that classical Hollywood was recognised as one of the most unashamedly commercial periods in cinema history.

I am not suggesting here that the Hollywood Reporter has deliberately constructed a romanticised view of classical Hollywood stardom, for indeed notions of 'old Hollywood glamour' as 'classic' circulate beyond trade discourse (and in both cultural and academic contexts). Nor am I suggesting that this reimagining of classical Hollywood glamour is used to degrade constructions of fame in the contemporary period. Rather, what I am suggesting here is that the Fashion in Entertainment issues are deliberately tapping into nostalgic memories/representations of classical Hollywood stardom (and cinema) in order to 'borrow' or transfer the symbolic value associated with this mythologised period to contemporary television celebrity.

In the 'Intersecting Patterns' article, Craig Mattiello acknowledges the effects Hollywood stars have had on fashion and beauty trends in the past. Mattiello mentions a historical example of a television actress as a 'fashion icon':

How many people cut and bleached their hair because of Marilyn Monroe or Carole Lombard? And let's not forget about the influence of TV. When Mary Tyler Moore wore those cigarette pants in the '60s, the audience reacted - more so than to any other 'fashion' icon, because celebrities are more accessible to the American public (in Burr 2001:12).

Mary Tyler Moore is a useful example, for she is regarded as a 'legitimate' star within popular and academic discourses. Her sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977) is often considered an example of 'quality' television. Moreover, the show itself was extremely fashion conscious and is often discussed as a precursor for contemporary fashion-forward television; the style section of the New York Times reported that ABC had commissioned a spin-off from the original series (starring Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper as Mary Richards and Rhoda Morgenstern) and claimed that the show would have a focus on fashion (DeCaro 1997). As such, Moore has subsequently attainted cultural legitimacy as both a television star and, as Mattiello makes clear, a fashion icon.

In the same article, an interview with Emanuel Ungaro refers to contemporary television fashion icons and examples of fashion-forward television thereby creating a connection with the legitimate stardom of Mary Tyler Moore and contemporary female celebrity. Significantly, he employs a similar rhetoric to Mattiello when describing the impact of these TV celebrities on fashion. He claims:

At the moment, TV shows such as Sex and the City influence young women. Sarah Jessica Parker is easily identifiable and the type of young, beautiful, intelligent and independent woman that many young girls can aspire to (in Burr 2001: 12)

Both Mattiello and Ungaro associate the television celebrity with the everyday woman and acknowledge their accessibility. Moreover, within the trade press there appears to be an investment in presenting the television celebrities' ordinariness as a unique selling point, which can be utilised in the promotion of fashion. Rather than equating this 'everydayness' with a lack of glamour, the trade press seeks to demonstrate the ways in which the television celebrity can actually appeal to consumers.


Throughout this article I have examined the notion of change within celebrity culture at an industrial, cultural and economic level. In recent academic work on the subject of celebrity, this change is characterised by a 'democratisation'/ 'de-glamorisation' of fame engineered by the pervasiveness of celebrity journalism and intertexts. As acknowledged early in this article, it would be most unhelpful to examine the relationship between fashion and celebrity without taking into account these supposed changes and their implications, however it would be equally foolish to overstate the extent to which these changes affect the contemporary cultural landscape. Indeed, it is apparent from the trade discourse that the relationship between the fashion industry and contemporary celebrity has the same principles at its core as in the classical period (that is, the process of meaning transfer). Thus, I would argue that the trade discourse has had to respond more to the concerns of change than change itself.

To be sure, Jermyn's assertion that celebrities from all contexts of stardom can now function as "designer muses and devotees" (2006) is supported by the trade press. This is perhaps most apparent in how television celebrities are constructed as having the ability to successfully negotiate Ellis' ordinary/extraordinary paradigm (previously a criteria of stardom proper). Indeed, the ability for the television celebrity to appear as both ordinary and extraordinary is foregrounded within the trade press and is crucial in constructing the celebrity image as a useful commodity for the fashion industry. However, while there is evidence to suggest that previous hierarchies of stardom have been dismantled, Mattiello's contention that Mary Tyler Moore successfully gained 'fashion icon' status as a television celebrity suggests that these hierarchies of fame have never been truly fixed, or at the very least there has always been the opportunity for celebrities to occupy a more complex position than previous rudimentary contexts of fame would allow.


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