Able to transfer their cinema and off-screen identities to products, and facilitate desire within fashion film, celebrities are increasingly instrumental to the success of high fashion campaigns. No longer bound by the success of cinematic narratives, the “spectacle of celebrity” (Gibson 2011) is also influenced by the “potency of the cinematic celebrity off screen” (Gibson 2011), with a rise in stars being famous for their style and their relationships within the high fashion system (Berry 2014; Gibson 2011; Harris 2010). However, disparities in the identities presented on and off-screen have the potential to impact on celebrity brand identity, with some stars being marred by past indiscretions or unattainable ideals (Berry 2014; Gibson 2011; Harris 2010). This is perhaps no more starkly demonstrated than by the disparity in the successes of Maleficent (2014) co-stars Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning with their respective fashion campaigns.
Listed by Forbes Magazine as Hollywood’s highest paid actress for 2009, 2011 and 2013, Angelina Jolie is an immense figure in modern cinema (Jobs & Hire 2014). Her performances have garnered an Academy Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and three Golden Globe Awards, and her most notable red carpet ensembles including designs by Versace and Yves Saint Laurent (Jobs & Hire 2014; Glein 2014). Despite her status and strength in primary media circulation, Jolie has only ever landed three major fashion and beauty campaigns; Shiseido makeup in Japan, Louis Vuitton ‘Core Values’ and American luxury brand St. John (Berry 2014; Gibson 2011). Parting ways in 2010, two years after the end of her contract with Shiseido, St. John’s chief executive officer revealed:
[Jolie] overshadowed the brand. We wanted to make a clean break from actresses and steer away from blondes and cleanse the palette. (Huffington Post 2014)
Pamela Gibson attributes Jolie’s overshadowing to her ‘look’ being difficult to duplicate in high street stores, and the various contradicting facets of her public identity (Gibson 2011). Through the course of her career, Jolie has been a tomboy, glamorous star, mother, sex symbol, wife and humanitarian, to name a few. It is these various identities and publicised moments in her career that, Gibson argues, are first recalled upon seeing the star’s St John campaign, rather than the products and luxury associated with the brand (Gibson 2011). It’s also worth noting that both relationships with Shiseido and St. John began to unravel following W Magazine’s controversial 2005 editorial featuring Jolie and Brad Pitt posed as a couple, amidst rumours of an illicit affair (Gibson 2011). It’s these forms of secondary circulation that ultimately clouded Jolie’s image as fashion brand, though she continues to possess immense cultural capital.
In contrast, while Maleficent teen co-star Elle Fanning’s cinema career is so far brief, her status as a young style icon has grown exponentially. A proven and covetable commodity, Elle Fanning began appearing in the front row of Chanel couture shows in 2011, and repeatedly appears within the press for her style (Eriksen 2011). Able to move seamlessly from the likes of Sophia Coppola’s Somewhere (2010) to campaigns for Marc Jacobs, Miu Miu and Rodarte, Fanning’s clean slate as a brand identity allows for her advertisements to imbue products with an innocent femininity. It’s worth considering how Elle’s saleability will change however, if she choses to later sexualise her image. Fanning’s older sister Dakota notably experienced controversy over this with Marc Jacobs’ Oh Lola! advertisement being banned by the UK Advertising Standards Authority in 2011 for being too provocative (Krupnick 2013).
While celebrity endorsement remains a popular aspect of advertising, with ideologies, attributes and lifestyles transferred to fashionable products, not all celebrities effectively lend their brand to campaigns. As evidenced by Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning, brand identity and media circulation (primary and secondary) both play a significant role in the success of major advertisements, with cinema success not always equating to profitable fashion campaigns.
‘After Her Much Awaited Marriage to Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie’s Net Worth Upsurges’ 2014, Jobs & Hire, 29 August, viewed 14 October 2014, <http://www.jobsnhire.com/articles/11024/20140829/much-awaited-marriage-brad-pitt-angelina-jolie-s-net-worth.htm>.
‘Angelina Jolie Dropped From St. John Ad Campaign’, 2010, The Huffington Post, 18 March, viewed 14 October 2014, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/08/angelina-jolie-dropped-fr_n_416162.html>.
Berry, J 2014, ‘Fashion & Celebrity Culture’, retrieved from Griffith University, Queensland College of Art, Learning @Griffith website: <https://bblearn.griffith.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-1010415-dt-content-rid-2625172_1/courses/2432QCA_3145_SB/Course%20Content/Week%208%20Fashion%20and%20Celebrity%20Culture/Fashion%20%26%20Celebrity.pdf>.
Eriksen, A 2011, ‘Who’s the oldest again? Thirteen-year-old Elle Fanning towers over her sister Dakota, 17, at Fashion Week’, Daily Mail, 14 September, viewed 14 October, <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2037298/New-York-Fashion-Week-2011-Elle-Fanning-13-towers-sister-Dakota-17.html>.
Gibson, P 2011, Fashion and Celebrity Culture, viewed 13 October 2014, via Berg Fashion Library database. Glein, K 2014, ‘Style File: Angelina Jolie’s 10 Best Red Carpet Looks Ever’, InStyle, 30 May, viewed 13 October 2014, <http://news.instyle.com/2014/05/30/style-file-angelina-jolies-10-best-red-carpet-looks-ever/>.
Harris, D 2010, ‘Celebrity Clothing’, Salmagundi, vol. 168, pp. 233-249, viewed 13 October 2014, via ProQuest Central database.
Krupnick, E 2013, ‘Dakota Fanning On Her Banned Marc Jacobs Ad: ‘We Just Laughed About it’’, The Huffington Post, 30 January, viewed 14 October 2014, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/30/dakota-fanning-banned-marc-jacobs-ad-perfume_n_2581749.html>.