Typically, I don’t write about the musings of celebrities and fashion. I don’t tend to track what celebrities wear, much less what they think about the state of fashion. But, I did sit up and take note of what Paris Hilton recently tweeted. Has personal style recently gotten blah? Is this really true? What she said is:
I have to take issue with her statement. She, and celebrities like her, are largely responsible for how people end up dressing similarly. I thought it was totally rich that Paris Hilton actually said that “now everyone kinda looks the same.” I think she’s partly responsible for how this could be true. So, it made me formulate the question, has personal style recently gotten blah? Then, I wondered, if it’s true to some measure, how in the world we got here. And, why anything Paris Hilton tweets is worth musing over. Heaven help me!
Famous simply for being unflatteringly infamous, that salacious leaked sex tape catapulted her to incredible and ridiculous fame. The paparazzi followed her every move around Los Angeles and elsewhere and kept her in the hot spotlight. All the girls and young women who coveted and envied Hilton’s public lifestyle wanted some of her life for themselves. So, Hilton caught something of a lucky break that helped her to rebrand her image. She used that white-hot spotlight, parlaying her celebrity into that of an influencer, the first of the social media age.
For one thing, I take issue with her statement that people didn’t have stylists back then. Certainly, nearly any movie actress with lucrative movie deals have had stylists at their disposal for many years. In fact, movie studios used to have designers on staff who made clothes expressly for the stars. On top of this, she insinuates that everyone works with a stylist now and is why people look the same. That just made me laugh out loud because it’s not quite that easy.
Here’s what’s happened since Paris Hilton blew into our lives, whether we wanted her to or not. In addition to garnering the attention of countless young women who wanted to be like her, she inspired budding stylists. Yes, that’s exactly right. Young, impressionable women, and definitely some young men, dreamed of more than having some of her life. This group of impressionable people also wanted to dress her, and people like her. If they could not exactly do that, they would turn out their untrained skills on their friends and family members. Presto. A new class of stylists came onto the scene.
Suddenly, the focus on trends and whatever trends Paris and her crew wore kicked into overdrive. It’s the kind of sycophantic styling that makes my skin crawl and my blood boil. Many people see this as totally harmless and innocent. However, I see fashion and personal style as such important elements of personal expression that I can’t treat them casually. To be sure, I have to agree with some of what she’s saying about a lack of personal style these days. But, I also point my wagging index finger in her direction. She had a hand in starting this craziness. Using her likeness to influence so many people made her something of a de facto stylist.
I’m not even getting into how she actually dressed, or the crazy items she bought at Kitson in Los Angeles. Her style, as far as I’m concerned is entirely her business. It’s just that so many others wanted to emulate her persona that the very idea of individuality fell away. Fitting in never meant more to this new cult of celebrity culture. I think I know the real reason Hilton felt the “early 2000’s was such a fun & iconic era for fashion.” As the star of that era, it’s no wonder she thought it was so much fun and iconic.
So, has personal style recently gotten blah? No, I don’t think it’s a recent phenomenon. The slow burn from delicious designer fashion into new categories like athleisure did not happen overnight. Many celebrities turned their fame into influencing fashion and consumer behavior. Some even launched their own fashion collections, most of whom have no formal training or actual acumen for design. They lend their name and a kind of creative direction based on their personal styles and tastes. It’s all turned into big business for the celebrities.
Meanwhile, this actual fashion and personal style strategist continues to take a deep interest in what makes style personal. I insist that Paris Hilton and celebrity loving sycophants have nothing to do with it.
People ask me all the time, what celebrity would I most like to dress? I offer no names. People who know that their looks plays a role in living their best lives really inspire me to help them. Celebrities and high-profile people who see the value of this in their everyday lives tend to have missions in life. This is especially true when you have a reason to attract the spotlight well beyond fame for fame’s sake.
Trying to fit in with the status quo when you have a mission in life makes no sense. In my experience, playing with fashion to emanate your individuality is the most fun you can have with fashion. This is my democratized feeling about the value and importance of fashion. And you don’t have to be famous to use fashion effectively to live your personal style out loud.