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Published:October 5th, 2007 12:14 EST
Now, We Can All Own a Small Piece of Fame

Now, We Can All Own a Small Piece of Fame

By LaShelle Turner

Walking through the malls these days reminds me of my favorite Nickelback song and music video, Rock Star. The group is on to something. Maybe we do all want to be big rock stars?  Judging by all the celebrities peddling their name and likeness all over the place, they think so, too.
 
Everywhere you turn you see stars looking glamorous selling their famous faces.  Take a few steps over to the clothing section of any big name department store and you can let your favorite star dress you. They’re famous so they must have great taste in clothing, right?
 
The latest big celebrity product is celebrity scents. Gwen Stefani, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Sean Combs, Beyonce and Usher are all currently hawking their celebrity fragrances. Photos of their gorgeous, smiling faces hang above tiny and expensive bottles on the counter. For fifty or sixty dollars you can get an ounce of your favorite star to dab behind your ear.
 
Today, celebrities are using their fame to create fashion empires. They use their images to sell shoes, perfumes, clothes and even jewelry. They are selling the notion we all really want to be just like they are, and we are falling for it.  Many of us are buying into the idea that we all can live like the rich and famous, even on our middle-class paychecks. Maybe by dabbing on JLO perfume or putting on a pair by House of Dereon Jeans will bring out the inner diva in me. Who knows?
 
Celebrities’ fashion lines even evaded the prestigious New York Fashion Week where Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Lopez both debuted their collection. This is a feat that takes many well-trained fashion designers years to accomplish. Yet, because their collections are viewed as guaranteed sellers, stars get to skip the grunt work of having to prove themselves.

There was a time when celebrity fashion collections and fragrances were delegated to discount stores. No upscale retail stores dared display the wares of so-called celebrities next to established and reputable sportswear designers like Donna Karan or Ralph Lauren.

Think back to the Jaclyn Smith Collection at Kmart or Cheryl Tiegs at Sears. Now, stars get front retail space at stores such as Macys. Retailers gamble on the notion we will pay a premium to buy something made by our favorite performer.

With the exception of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen clothing line at Wal-Mart, most celebrity lines are too over-priced to sell at discount stores. A fifty-dollar T-shirt and a pair of hundred dollar jeans are more comfortable on the rack next to Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors.

Unlike traditional designers who spend years trying to establish brand recognition, celebrities rely on their pop culture power. They are already household names and have a reputation for being moneymakers. They also have a media advantage. Many entertainers can simply mention the clothing line in their songs and wear them in their videos. Fans then rush out and buy them. Free publicity is the best advertising.
 
The question is:  are celebrities genuine designers or just trying to make a quick profit? Few people doubt the celebrity’s passion for fashion. Any person who spends thousands of dollars on an outfit only to wear it once is either passionate or just plain crazy.  Also, most celebrities hire fashion stylists which may imply they do not trust their own fashion judgment. So, why are we buying their fashion lines? Are we really buying a reflection of the star’s taste or are we living vicariously through them?
 
Somewhere along the way, stars have come to realize how obsessed with them we really are. This may have started years ago when rappers realized how mainstream designers were becoming popular just by a mere mention of them in their rap lyrics.
 
Soon, music stars began to realize how much designers were making off their fame. It is like all the celebrities had an epiphany, ‘If my fans will buy so and so just because I’m wearing them, just think how much I would make if my name were on it.”
 
No one has perfected the art of the celebrity designer like Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs. He serves as the unofficial role model for all present and future celebrity moguls. His restaurants, clothing lines and fragrances now out-shine the music career he used to launch them.

It is said that imitation is the best form of flattery. With our current obsession for wanting to live like stars, imitation may also be the best form of making a profit. If you cannot live like a celebrity, at least you can look and smell like one.