Fashion versus celebrity

The importance of introducing the new season’s collections on the catwalk seems of little significance as to the celebrities design houses have lured to sit on their front rows. Having a Hollywood starlet attend the show means you are guaranteed to get press. These days, the clothes themselves seem to come second place – a resonating feeling amongst many press at New York fashion week. Rather than hailing the newest designs, show after show, celebrity appearances cause a frenzy amongst photographers shouting “Eva, look back!”, “Lindsay, this way!” or simply “Paris, Paris, Paris.” So many shows are now judged on how many celebrities a designer can get.”

In other words, more than ever, it’s all about the photo op. And perhaps why not? After all, even designers admit that up to 80 percent of their sales have been booked long before fashion week, via their increasingly important pre-collections. It makes the shows more of a press event over anything else.

No wonder designers are spending more effort – and money – to lure celebrities. Rumours of celebrity payments keep on appearing each season, and are subsequently pushed under the (red) carpet by designer publicists. Not one person is willing to go on the record about payment, but word has it that some New York designers pay celebrities $10,000 and up for front-row appearances in addition to first-class flights into New York and top-notch accommodations. It would almost seem more lucrative to pack up the tents and set them up somewhere in Hollywood .

Celebrities spotted on the front row so far have included Mary J. Blige; Brandy; Ashanti; Venus and Serena Williams; Paris Hilton; Kelly Osbourne; Anne Hathaway; Carmen Electra; Donald and Melania Trump, Eva Longoria Scarlett Johansson, Claire Danes and Rachel Weisz. “It does heighten the press coverage,” one spokeswoman conceded. “In a public relations sense, I would be happier to have a celebrity shot in our clothing. That’s the best pr you can get. When Britney Spears wore one of our spring handbags, we could not keep the bag in the stores.”

You can ask any woman who’s 16 or 26 or 40 what the trends are right now and they’ll probably define those trends through what celebrities are wearing. By seeing who’s going to these shows you can tell what designers are hot, and who they might be dressing in awards season.”

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