It's no secret the lives of megawatt athletes and entertainers, such as A-Rod's divorce and rumored affair with Madonna, and Brad and Angelina's babies, keep grabbing attention. But when it comes to celebrities Americans trust and like best, there's been a groundswell for a crowd with a glow of the domestic and the everyday: chefs and home designers, according to a new NPD Group study disclosed to WWD.
This marks a sharp change from two years ago, when "you had to go way down the list to even get to a chef [as well known as] Emeril Lagasse," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. "There's a trend to celebrities who have become lifestyle brands, and away from fashion and beauty-focused females."
Indeed, just a handful of women rated in the top five in three different celebrity lists: Halle Berry (best liked), Paula Deen (most trusted) and Britney Spears, Oprah Winfrey and Madonna (best known).
"Chefs and home designers have insinuated themselves into the advice arena, a world once populated by women's magazines in the 19th century and Dear Abby in the 20th century," observed Robert Thompson, professor of popular culture at Syracuse University. "Rachael Ray is about a lifestyle."
Chefs Deen, Mario Batali, Bobby Flay and Tyler Florence accounted for four of the stars in the ranking of the 10 most trusted celebrities by a representative group of 4,500 teens and adults NPD polled in March. Batali also turned up in the top 10 list of best liked, as did chef Ming Tsai. Home designer Nate Berkus ranked among the leaders in likability and in trust, where he was joined by home designer Ty Pennington.
One cook and home designer, Martha Stewart, was among the group garnering the greatest awareness.
"This could be a case of people seeing themselves reflected in another person's taste, much as people drive a certain car or wear a logoed shirt as a way to see or express themselves," strategic consultant James H. Gilmore, the author of "Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want," said of this newfound taste for chefs and home designers. "People consume celebrities like anything else," if not always with a deliberate intention, Gilmore added. "People might consume differently if they stopped and examined themselves."
It also reflects the fragmentation of American culture, according to Thompson. "Being a top 10 celebrity doesn't mean you've penetrated the broader pop culture," he offered. "You could ask a lot of people on the street who they are, and they couldn't say." For example, with the burst of new media (and cable TV shows for chefs and designers) Thompson noted: "You can be a very well-educated person and not know who Hannah Montana is, even though at the extreme, tickets [for her concert] were selling for $146."
Forty or 50 years ago, when mass media still reigned, he added, "even if you had no use for The Beatles or Elvis, you had to come to grips with them because they were on shows that everyone watched, like 'The Ed Sullivan Show' and 'The Milton Berle Show.'"
Chefs and home designers, who engage in activities tied to the domestic sphere, offer an escape that Gilmore characterized as "fleeing from some domain of life that's been tainted." People can do their own cooking, create the interiors of their homes and possibly enhance their feelings of comfort and security by doing so.
Back in the realm of the sometimes tainted, a handful of women entertainers were cited among the best-liked stars: Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore and Jaclyn Smith. Another actress, Jennifer Lopez, rated on the top-10 awareness list, as did Paris Hilton. Spears' profile has been raised since Friday, when custody of her children was awarded to her ex-husband, Kevin Federline. Deen was the only woman who ranked among the most trusted celebs.
America’s Most Likable Celebrities
1. Will Smith
10.Ming Tsai/Drew Barrymore/Jaclyn Smith
Source: NPD Group poll of 4,500 teens and adults, March 2008
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews
@prada is introducing a new project at its men’s fall 2018 show this Sunday: “Prada Invites.” The fashion house invited four celebrated creative minds – @ronanaerwanbouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, @herzogdemeuron and @rem.koolhaas – to each create a unique item with its iconic nylon material. The designs will be unveiled on the runway show, which will take place at the company’s warehouse in Viale Ortles 25. #wwdfashion #mfwm (📷: @martinocarrera)
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion