They have it all; talent, beauty, power, money, an adoring fan base and a team of stylists and assistants dedicated to making them look terrific for any given occasion. They’re today’s celebrities and the influence of their fashion choices extends far beyond the famed Red Carpet.

Not so sure you agree? An ever increasing amount of pre-award programming, the countless reprints of gown and dress photos in the dailies and glossies, along with a new arsenal of celebrity-oriented magazines, suggest otherwise. Consumers are transfixed and feast on such coverage, both during award season and throughout the year. Why all the fuss? Why is it that what the nominees are wearing trumps the actual awards? And more basically, why do we seem to care?

“It’s all about fantasy and that’s why we care,” considers Joanne Stoner, founder of, an online fashion destination. “What the celebrities choose impacts every market, not just eveningwear. They’ve turned a virtual—and literal—spotlight on fashion.”

“Brands certainly get a boost when a celebrity wears one of their products. It makes those brand names more recognizable and real to us,” shares Jodi Bell, manager of Anik Boutique,a collectionof high-end emporiums in New York City. “They clearly have an influence on fashion for almost everyone.”

Percentage Of Fashion Innovators
Aged 16 To 24 Who Look To Celebrities
For Fashion Direction: 55%

The irony is that many women may not even realize that they are under the “celebrity influence. “The effect of celebrity on women’s fashion choices is highly subliminal. While many women are not likely to directly or openly credit the stars with influencing their own wardrobe selections, these women have already been affected in several ways. That star influence plays out in fashion magazines, catalogs and store displays; which women feel more comfortable crediting, but ultimately it still goes back to the celebs,” explains Kim Kitchings, director of research and planning for Cotton Incorporated. She points to Fashion Innovators, women who love fashion and stay on the cutting edge, to highlight her observations.

This story first appeared in the August 7, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

According to the Cotton Incorporated’s Lifestyle Monitor™, 55% of young Fashion Innovators aged 16 to 24 stated that they look to celebrities for fashion direction. “This group is clearly our most fashion forward and their willingness to credit celebs as fashion leaders supports the significant impact of celebrity on women’s wardrobes. This group is where trends start, so we know that the power of celebrity is significant.”

What women are more likely to admit is affection for shopping. According to the Monitor, increasing number of women report loving and liking the shopping process. In the third quarter of 2005, 27.3% of female respondents stated that they love shopping and 28% liked shopping, up from 23.5% and 26.7% in the same period a year earlier. “Celebrities may be giving fashion shopping a welcome shot in the arm, even indirectly,” Kitchings concludes.

Angeline Urie, a spokesperson for Luca Luca, a design company that has wardrobed more than its fair share of celebrities for walks down the Red Carpet, says, “As a society, we love celebrities and we want to know everything about them.” In her opinion, that penchant fordetail extends well beyond the moments and into the everyday. “Today, we see women wearing great pairs of jeans with high shoes and sexy tops, and that look was definitely started by celebrities.”

When asked if any particular stars shone a brighter light on this year’s Red Carpet for say, the Golden Globes or SAG Awards, our experts’ replies may be described as desperately unanimous. Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, and Teri Hatcher, the actresses from the hit Desperate Housewives, were names that continually popped up. “I think this is such a positive shift for us culturally,” states Michele Weston, executive editor of AmaZe Magazine, an online publication for plus-sized women that launched in June 2005. “They are beautiful women and they represent the forty-something market. Not even late thirties, but forties.” Bell from Anik also pointed to Sarah Jessica Parker as a celebrity with a fashion sense that resonates with women. “She is a major fashion icon who has been able to stay ‘in image’ since Sex and the City.” Other celebrity names influencing fashion include Nicole Kidman, Natalie Portman, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron and Queen Latifah.

Many fashion pundits were quick to point out that the celebrity fashions displayed on the Red Carpet have an influence on color choices for the coming season. It’s more than a little ironic that red appears to be an important color for spring. Other key colors are the stark hues of black and white. “We’ve seen so many sexy and well-cut classic black dresses this awards’ season,” Stoner from Edressme says.

Whether subliminal or direct, one thing that can be tied back to the Red Carpet is the continued popularity of the dress as a key silhouette for spring. “2006 is the year of the dress,” predicts Stoner. “I definitely have more customers looking for dresses,” confirms Bell, the store manager. “I hope we will be seeing some more glamourous fashions.”

Glammed up or casual, celebrity or Average Jane, it all comes down to feeling special. Urie from Luca Luca shares that they get calls from happy customers all the time. “They report back that they felt like the belle of the ball on their Red Carpet walks.”

This story is one in a series of articles based on findings from Cotton Incorporated’s Lifestyle Monitor™ tracking research. Appearing Thursdays in these pages, each story will focus on a specific topic as it relates to the American consumer and her attitudes and behavior regarding clothing, appearance, fashion, fiber selection and many other timely, relevant subjects.

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