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Madonna. Sarah Jessica Parker. Lindsay Lohan. Jessica Simpson. Jennifer Lopez. Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen. Sean Diddy Combs. Justin Timberlake. Beyonce Knowles. Britney Spears. The list goes on and on.

How many of our most popular young — and not so young — celebrities are also talented clothing designers?

It’s uncanny. It’s outrageous. It’s…Liza Minnelli?

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Now I bet you’re expecting me to come down hard on these celebrities for cashing in on their popularity and sticking their names on clothing lines they (let’s be honest) have very little involvement in other than some modeling and personal appearances (and collecting their paycheck).

But I won’t. I don’t see much difference between this and true designers taking credit for the work of their design staff. (We won’t name names)

Most people understand that brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, Halston, and Balenciaga are designed by others. They have to be: these designers have been dead for years.

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At this point — when most clothes are made in the far East regardless of brand — does it matter whose name is on the label if you like the clothes? And if you don’t like them, are you going to buy them just because Beyonce is on the tag? (I guess that’s what manufacturers are hoping.)

When did this start, exactly? I know Esther Williams endorsed Cole bathing suits back in the 40’s and later started her own bathing suit company. But that sort of made sense, right? She spent a lot of time swimming.

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And people can be multi-talented and have multiple careers. Tony Curtis was also a painter; Ginger Rogers liked to sculpt; Phyllis Diller has her own brand of canned chili. (That’s not a joke; I’ve tried it.)

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But singer Jessica Simpson has an entire clothing line: shoes, dresses, intimate apparel, luggage, you name it. She is big business Perhaps busy Jessica does have some creative control, but not even prolific Karl Largerfeld could design the amount of stuff she’s offering in her collection.

Then there are people like Kathy Ireland and Jaclyn Smith. These two women are powerhouse brands unto themselves — clothes, home collections, wigs, make up. It’s mind boggling.

Fashion is a crowded world and a celebrity name obviously helps move the merchandise. But it’s only going to fly if the clothes work, right? And it’s going to have to be competitively priced, especially today. Shoppers are pretty savvy and have a lot of options, after all.

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Readers, what’s your take? Would you seek out Britney’s shoes or Jessica Simpson’s because you like the singer behind it or her personal style?

Does the celebrity fashion designer thing annoy you?

Are celebrity fashion designers good for fashion or bad — or just (cynical) business as usual?

Your thoughts, please!

~Peter

When native New Yorker Peter Lappin bought his first sewing machine two years ago to hem a pair of thrift store jeans, little did he know he was initiating a journey that would bring him fame and fortune. While awaiting his fortune he stays busy writing “the world’s most popular men’s sewing blog,” Male Pattern Boldness, and now contributing to BurdaStyle.

“For more than twenty years I’d lived on the edge of the Garment District without even knowing what a seam ripper was. Now I rip daily!”

93 Comments

  • Profile_pic_large

    Apr 14, 2011, 09.30 PMby whalen

    Celebrities suddenly becoming “designers” is incredibly annoying. It suggests that clothing design can be done by anyone, without effort. I think the celebs should stick to making good choices on the red carpet.

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Apr 14, 2011, 10.23 PMby Peter Lappin

      I’m not even sure that make THOSE choices themselves!

  • Img_7458_large

    Apr 14, 2011, 09.00 PMby leahfranqui

    I’ll be honest, Jessica Simpson’s shoes are adorable. Lindsey Lohan’s leggings line is just atrocious, and Katie Homes’ whatever is just blah. The reality is that these people don’t really design, they might be like, I love bows, or I hate sparkles, but they have a team of real designers sketching and draping and creating for them, just like every fashion house. And let’s be frank, there are real serious not movie star or pop singer designers that I genuinely don’t enjoy either, so if it’s nice and affordable and I like it I’m going to buy it, regardless of whose name is on the label.

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Apr 14, 2011, 10.22 PMby Peter Lappin

      I bet most people agree with you, Leah. It’s the clothes and not the label.

  • Dianac_large

    Apr 14, 2011, 08.42 PMby nani

    Personally it annoys me. Celebrities becoming fashion designers in the twinkling of an eye is outrageous! I have the feeling they wake up and have the sudden whim of “designing clothes”… I know I generalize but still… Fashion is an industry and they just want to be part of that market, is pure business. To me, fashion can sometimes be art, and like music, if it’s made to be sold, then is empty of any message, any soul, any thought and that’s just sad.

    2 Replies
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Apr 14, 2011, 10.21 PMby Peter Lappin

      Nani, I’m inclined to agree with you.

    • Mlonghs_large

      Apr 15, 2011, 03.19 AMby mlssfshn

      Me too!

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