The concept of celebrity stylists is not new. Rachel Zoe pioneered the trend back in the mid-2000s, changing the role of the stylist from exclusively focusing on red carpet dressing to dictating almost every aspect of their client’s daily wardrobe. The influence wielded by these stylists is, on the other hand, new.
A recent Fashionista article questioned if celebrity stylists were now more influential than editorial stylists. The article focused on an event hosted by The Wall Group and the CFDA featuring names like Karla Welch, Elizabeth Stewart, and Ilaria Urbinati. The article didn’t come to a firm conclusion, but I have: Celebrity stylists are more influential than editorial stylists. I’m going to tell you why, and I think there are two main reasons.
Ever since the recession, the print magazine market has been on the decline. The monetary cost of magazines for the consumer are often perceived as not being worth their dollar, given the amount of free content that they have access to online. As a result of this, circulation and readership of magazines have gone down. The loss of money to the print magazine market has meant that, I think, magazines are increasingly reliant on their sponsors for funding. Magazines make money from selling ad space. A page in the front half of the magazine costs more than the end, a inside cover or back page are even more valuable. As a result of this, magazines have become increasingly reliant on their advertisers and pleasing them. This is the first reason.
Lots of brands now stipulate that if a magazine wants to feature their designs in an editorial, they must use the full runway look from head to toe. That means no other brands can be mixed in. This has led to magazine editorials looking increasingly like catalogues, paid advertorials. There is no way to make an entirely new creative concept for an editorial if you are not allowed the freedom to style clothing as you wish. It is for this reason that editorial styling has lost some of its influence, because the stylists are simply not allowed to.
The second reason that celebrity stylists are more influential is that celebrities are now more influential. Fashion has become entertainment, models have become celebrities, and Instagram has led to the mash-up of all of the different industries where fame has become the most important thing. With fame comes exposure and with exposure comes influence. It’s all a cycle.
Celebrities used to have one opportunity to show off their style and look good: the red carpet. However, TMZ and paparazzi culture has meant that every aspect of a celebrity’s life is now front page news. The Daily Mail will literally write a whole article about somebody walking to their car. Every moment of a celebrity’s existence will now be photographed, and for that reason they want to look good all the time. Every time you see a Kardashian or Jenner walking into a restaurant, stepping out of their car, or going into a store, their outfit has been carefully chosen by their stylist who picks out pieces to be worn throughout their regular lives. Stylists don’t just pick out gowns, but now they pick out jeans and t-shirts too. It was Monica Rose who decided to slash the neck of Kendall Jenner’s vintage band t-shirts last year and started the awful choker t-shirt trend. More often than not, the stylist doesn’t get the credit in the media or with the public for their influence.
Until the Instagram bubble bursts, celebrities will be dressed to the nines on the regular. If they are not spotted by the paparazzi, they will post a photo online themselves. In this way, they control the use of their image again. Another positive of this, for people who have a following at least, is that they can monetize their platform. Often a stylist will work with a brand, on behalf of their client, to form a partnership in which the model or celebrity is compensated via money and free clothing to promote the brand online. In this sense, celebrity stylists have taken on an even greater role than editorial stylists ever did and for that reason, the financial compensation involved is often greater.
There are a million and one editorial stylists out there, but the list of truly successful celebrity stylists is a lot smaller. If they play their cards right, they can have clients who rely on them and their services every day of the week and they can be flown around the world with their clients. The job of a celebrity stylist is very different than an editorial stylist, but in today’s celebrity-driven culture, the celebrity stylist clearly wields a greater influence and comes out on top.