Star spotted: hot new brands
THE NEW BRANDS THE A-LIST SWEAR BY
THE LIFE OF THE A- LISTER is that of access all areas – both literally and metaphorically. But when velvet ropes are lifted wherever you go and superyachts, mega mansions and mortgageable diamonds are available at the click of your fingers, how the hell do you avoid being one big label-clad cliché?
The answer is, of course, to keep your finger firmly on the pulse of the zeitgeist, to tune into youth culture and tap up the skills of younger, newer talents. In fashion terms, that means swapping fairy-tale couture and megabrand houses for emerging designers (even better, unknown ones).
Consider Beyoncé, an icon who is at once ubiquitous and constantly surprising. She has the access and budget to work with any designer in the world, and yet, for her On The Run II tour film the singer chose to collaborate with hot young London stylist Ibrahim Kamara, to put together avant-garde looks by some of the most exciting new talent in British fashion, namely Central Saint Martin’s alumni Edwin Mohney, Liam Johnson and Richard Quinn.
She’s not the only one. Rihanna, always a fearless dresser, has frequently been a champion of young designers, including Molly Goddard and Matthew Adams Dolan. Lady Gaga – no stranger to out-of-the-box dressing – has worn Giuseppe di Morabito and Edda Gimnes recently. (‘An enormous compliment and such a dream come true,’ says Norwegian Edda.) And then there’s Madonna, who has always excelled at plugging into youth culture, resplendent in Dilara Findikoglu, the Istanbul-born Londonbased designer ( yep, another CSM graduate) making a name with her fantastical Gothicism, also seen on FKA twigs and Grimes.
And it’s not just the reigning pop queens at it. How refreshing did it feel to see Amal Clooney brush aside big-budget brands to wear that made-in-peckham Richard Quinn cape on the most important red carpet of all, the Met gala, this year (to host, no less!)? And wasn’t it such a moment when Marion Cotillard propelled Halpern into the limelight at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, pitching up in his Studio 54 sequins
before everyone else cottoned on to the young American?
For the designers, such A-list endorsement is a money-can’t-buy opportunity. ‘It’s always exciting and good exposure when a star wears young brands,’ says Lulu Kennedy MBE, founder and director of Fashion East, the non-profit initiative that champions new talent and is considered a bellwether of future names to know. ‘Rihanna wore Ashley Williams when she was doing Fashion East and it definitely helped amplify her name,’ says Lulu. From the current Fashion East stable, Rita Ora has supported Art School, the self-proclaimed ‘non-binary queer-luxury fashion label’, while American singer Kelela is repping ASAI.
Conner Ives, the American 22-year-old London-based designer who is still studying at Central St Martins, has already seen his designs on Rihanna and Adwoa Aboah, who wore a bespoke dress to last year’s Met gala. ‘ To have some of the coolest girls wear your stuff in only the first two years of going at this was so thrilling and made me want to do more. There is a huge platform offered; and it is great exposure for any small label looking to get their name out there more,’ he says. ‘I received media attention from unexpected places and got great recognition from important people in the fashion industry,’ says Edda of the Gaga effect.
So, where’s the appeal for the A-lister? Certainly, supporting an unknown over a megabrand implies an innate confidence and cements the wearer’s status as a tastemaker rather than a trendfollower. Predictability is just one paparazzi-flash away from irrelevancy but, by embracing new brands and talent, red carpet regulars get to flex their woke credentials. ‘It shows that they are bang up to date on what’s coming through and keeps them looking super-relevant in fashion terms, which, nowadays, is as much about the new as it is about a luxury power brand,’ says Lulu. ‘It shows that you know your fashion and care about young talent – giving back to the kids is important.’
Important it may be, but in the highly competitive, upper echelons of A-list celebrity, being first is everything.