IN today’s mixed-media climate, shaped and inspired by the culture of celebrities and their close links with fashion, all magazines where fashion is a key element have changed to adapt to and reflect the world of celebrity dominance. While traditional magazines still exist, though they have changed their appearance and their format quite drastically in this new era of celebrity, they now depend increasingly on television for their content, together with their longstanding reliance on cinema, and, more significantly today, they have their own websites.
But more than this, with the increasing proliferation and power of the internet, and the accessibility it offers to users, there has been a rise in fashion blogs, whose authors can challenge, compete or corroborate. As Gibson argues, part of the appeal of blogs is the fact that they are interactive; ‘with a few clicks, a reader can become a part of the fashion text and a participant in the dialogue’ (Gibson 2011).
The change has come in due time. The airbrushed images of celebrity perfection offered up in the pages of magazines are, simply, daunting; but at the other end of the spectrum, a magazine’s parading of celebrity bodies blighted by cellulite as images of complete abjection are not necessarily helpful, either. Paparazzi photographs, which form a lot of magazine’s content are invariably accompanied by often uncharitable comments on their staple ingredient, the celebrity body. Relentlessly scrutinised in their pages, it has obviously affected readers in their own endless quest for perfection and fuelled their feelings of dissatisfaction. By taking trending to the hands of the people, there is a desire for a celebrity culture and fashion less polished.
Say hello to celebrity street style.
Even outside the couture-and diamond-filled world of red carpets, celebrities tend to own a lot of expensive clothing. Buying designer items without worrying about budgets is simply a benefit of hitting the big time, and hey, if our bank account balances had some extra zeros, we’d take full advantage, too. Cashmere sweatpants and gold-accented sneakers? We could get on board with that. But what these fashion blogs are capitalising on is the ability of the rich and famous to still appreciate a good deal.
Here we see celebrities wearing budget buys from stores such as Zara, Forever 21, and ASOS – the type of stores the average person would frequent, not celebrities with high earning pay-packets. This focus on what celebrities wear in their every-day activities allows readers to see themselves in their favourite celebrities and likewise project what they want to see in themselves back onto the celebrities. This is forcing fashion journalism to cooperate with the bloggers.
“Spectator’s memories of stars suggest an incredibly interactive relationship between self-image and star ideals through the purchase of commodities associated with particular stars…bringing the desirable object closer to the self” (Turner 2004).
As Nayar states, ‘celebrity culture is a set of media-driven representations of people who are seen as worthy of notice, emulation and admiration’ (Nayar 2009). But celebrities are also commodities to be consumed, and the consumption plays as significant a role in the culture of the celebrity as the production of the celebrity status, especially when the audience produces its own texts, in this case blogs, about the icons. These blogs mark the reception and consumption of a star. They are parallel texts to the magazines, films, endorsements, publicity stills and promos that are generated by the media. They are texts that ‘show exactly how the celebrity circulates in public culture’ (Nayar 2009).
Gibson, P. C. 2011, “The Changing Face(s) of the Fashion Magazine and the New Media Landscape”, in Fashion and Celebrity Culture, Berg Publishers, Oxford, New York.
Turner, G 2004, “Consumption”, in Understanding Celebrity, SAGE Publications, London.
Nayar, P 2009, “With Stars in Our Eyes: Consuming Celebrity”, in Seeing Stars: Spectacle, Society and Celebrity Culture, SAGE Publications, New Delhi.