This article originally appeared on Styleite.
Perhaps you heard that an up and coming musician named Beyoncé is going to create an athletic line with Topshop. (It’s a partnership, not a collaboration so don’t get it twisted.) That means that the gravitational force that brings superfans as well as people who aren’t even creaming their jeggings for Beyoncé to the Barclays Center will also line up at Topshop for these clothes.
When I heard the news, it was exciting. I love her aesthetic and she dresses for a different kind of body than your typical style maven. (Only in fashion, does a woman with discernable hips count as groundbreaking size diversity.) It’s exciting, but it’s truly strange how we heap such huge expectations onto a partnership like this as though a pair of parachute pants are a piece of her. Part of the problem is that people see these clothes as way to capture her aesthetic. Deservedly, everything she touches turns to gold. But whether you call it collaborating, curating, or designing, this deal operates under the assumption that everything a famous person touches turns to quality.
Take for example Cara Delevingne’s recent DKNY designs. It’s a solid capsule collection, but I take issue with the yellow beanie. I actually feel allergic to it. Obviously a Cara-branded beanie doesn’t negate all the signs that the woman wearing it is a unique snowflake. I know the public isn’t gullible enough to think that by spending $70 on a very special sock hat will instantly help you know how it feels to have someone create a portrait of you with breadcrumbs. But wearing it is a sign of both thoughtlessness and a surplus of money. Its wearer’s sin isn’t being unoriginal. It’s overpaying. Even if the provocateur gave beanie input, it’s mostly skilled Rumpelstiltskins spinning up the most palatable staples.
There’s no denying that the person wearing that vintage backward DKNY hat you see everywhere might simply be the person who has more time to shop for vintage than the one in the Cara hat. But there’s something to be said for finding something that truly feels right. These things look good on her because they are what feels right to her. The fact that we justify a $70 beanie with her name on it means that our capacity, as consumers, for romanticizing famous people beats that of the average nine-year-old fanboy or fangirl. Telling women they’re followers for liking a hat is not what I’m saying. But I feel that it would brand me as the equivalent of a maniacal groupie who loses her shit over the sign of her favorite boy band.
Miley Cyrus’s candi jewelry for Jeremy Scott is really just fodder, mostly because it was either rave or bong-themed. But when designers like Karl Lagerfeld embrace Pharrell as the genius of the year, or when Kanye West insists the fashion world owes him opportunities even when his designs are torn apart, I feel like we’re just being spoon-fed every fashion fanboy or fangirl’s ego-yanking project. Other than being famous, there’s not really anything to warrant Pharrell’s involvement in anything I wear. I know. I know. So stop whining and just talk about stuff you like right? Actually, Pharrell’s death grip on macarons, trains and everything in the world is unavoidable on the internet.
Before I had a sense of who I was (and I’m still an awkward dork who tries desperately to cover up a New York accent,) I tirelessly tried to convince myself I was Claudia Cardinale with peasant tops. What can I say. This was my childhood dream, (not the one where the kid fromThe Wonder Years orders me a pizza.) Having a license that said I was from Queens wasn’t even a drawback. But now I know better, and I see her as more of a muse.
When I discover an aesthetic I love, I’m more impressionable than the average cult follower. But that doesn’t stop me from despising the “Get Her Look,” editorials I only read in nail salons. They encourage readers to buy things that look exactly like what famous people wear, so that you’ll emerge from the store a fully blown doppelganger. I prefer to think of the famous and the stylish as my inspiration, because everyone needs inspiration. Even your most original friend in those wide-leg jeans which mysteriously fell into her lap from a gypsy hot air balloon. Even she has people she follows.
It has to be about you actually shaking out what it is about an inspirational aesthetic that grabs you, and wearing the stuff that makes you feel good. Buying the unmistakably Rita Ora adidas rose jumpsuit, which Beyoncé has already worn, doesn’t erase your character, but it’s overdone already. Beyoncé’s Topshop collection might be stunning, but in the meantime, finding something that simply echoes that floral pattern is a much is the better move.
Celebrity-driven collections are nothing new. It’s about putting everything cool in a batter and create more content to consume. Victoria Beckham and L.A.M.B. have had lasting commercial success because of the distinctive aesthetics behind their poster girls. They feel authentic. You can count me among the fangirls of The Row and Elizabeth and James. But not everyone can be the Olsens, who seem to intuitively understand how to flatter women with contemporary things. The silhouettes are impeccable. I didn’t buy an Elizabeth and James romper because I don’t want to live in a world without that video of them going apeshit over pizza. I did it because the clothes are good.