Posts Tagged ‘Design’

Celebrities & Diffusion Ranges: An Analysis

May 12, 2010


The Kardashians, who have designed a capsule collection for Bebe

How involved are celebrities in the design of their diffusion ranges?

In a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph, renowned fashion designer Zandra Rhodes criticised the stars who put their names to fashion collections, stating “they have taken things out of their wardrobes — by Balenciaga or some other brand — and had it knocked up by the chain, which is why [some of these] places lost a lot of their designers.”

If indeed Ms. Rhodes is correct, are such collaborations necessary? In a world of seemingly endless opportunities for consumption, are these ranges needed to ensure a brand remains visible to the public, or are they simply further adherence to the modern cult of celebrity?

Zandra Rhodes: Role Models From World of Fashion Fail Our Children

Of course, it’s fairly obvious to suggest that celebrities don’t know what they’re talking about. For example, the placement of Lindsay Lohan as creative adviser to established fashion house Emanuel Ungaro – and the resulting, devastating criticism of her first collection – has done much to damage the idea of bringing in a famous name to enhance a brand’s standing in the public eye.

It certainly seems as though every ‘celebrity’ in LA has turned their hand to designing – from Paris Hilton to J.Lo to… well, virtually any mainstream hiphop artist you care to mention. It is almost as if there is some kind of ‘fame hierarchy’ in place, in which different forms of talent are considered more reputable than others, and everyone is just trying to move up the food chain – reality TV stars want to sing, singers want to act and just about everyone wants to be a designer.

However, the fact remains that much designer fashion remains blissfully out of reach for many – and lest we forget that diffusion lines, as well fragrances, underwear and other less expensive but nonetheless branded items are where labels get their lion’s share of income from. Fashionistas (myself included, sometimes) may sneer and turn their noses up at overtly-branded diffusion T-shirts and other rudimentary items that are given astronomical price tags because of conspicuous logos, but thanks to the twin miracles of consumer capitalism and mass media, a three-pronged fork of self-definition through possession, a push towards instant gratification and commodity fetishism strikes many consumers straight through the heart – and often the wallet – leaving them powerless to resist.


Items such as fragrances are where fashion houses make most of their money

More importantly, however, it keeps the accounts of major fashion houses nicely topped up, so that they can continue to operate and produce more ways for people to feel like a part of something aspirational through consumption.

This may sound cruel, but unfortunately that is the way in which a capitalist society works. During my time at university I learned that fashion, rather than being a fluffy little ‘optional extra’, is actually a crucial pillar in ensuring that the economy continues to flourish. Many would fail to see the connection, as I did; fashion is not just about catwalk shows and haute couture, but deals with creating desirability for almost every consumer goods item you care to think of, from mobile phones to soft furnishings. Due to its cyclical nature, it ensures that objects are not replaced when they cease to be useful, but when they cease to be ‘fashionable’ or desirable. Fear of exclusion is a powerful thing, and many will maintain their consumption habits to remain within the group.

Not always as easy as it sounds though. Contrary to many people’s belief, and the sheer mountains of damning evidence, the general public is not stupid, particularly since the recession. Consumption habits have completely polarised; yes, you still have people queuing endlessly at quick-fix disposable stores such as Primark, but you also get people making much more informed choices about where they spend their money. As a result, companies have to coax and persuade people to buy their products – which is where advertising comes in, although that is a topic so vast in itself I won’t be going into it. Another way is through celebrity endorsements, which brings me neatly back to the aforementioned diffusion lines.


Elle Macpherson, whose Intimates range, forged in a partnership with Bendon Limited Apparel, remains one of the most popular celebrity-endorsed lines

Celebrities are so explicitly public property these days that in many cases, a personal investment of emotion is made by the member of the public. How many times have you heard someone expressing strong feelings towards a celebrity, both positive or negative, despite the fact that they have never even been on the same continent, let alone met? The same applies with fashion collections. By attaching a known face to the brand, people can make an emotional connection between their feelings for that person and the brand they are associated with. Furthermore, if that celebrity is known for being particularly stylish, people can attempt to emulate their style by buying clothes that they supposedly designed.

When you look at it like this, I suppose it doesn’t really matter whether the celebrity in question sat down with the head designer and a pad and pencil and conceptualised the entire collection from scratch, or merely turned up one day, cast their eye over a bunch of potential designs and signed off the ones they liked. In the same way as you wouldn’t expect a musician that endorses Pepsi to be any good at making drinks, or a footballer that promotes certain foods to be a good cook, why expect an actor to actually be able to design?

How involved are celebrities in the design of their diffusion ranges? Well, as long as you like the clothes, what does it matter?



December 20, 2009


Just checked out Jim Carrey’s rather bizarre but wonderfully compelling website… this is what artists’ websites should look like. Truly unique and surreal, the site features information on the man who, for me anyway, defined 90’s comedy films. The Mask, Dumb & Dumber, Liar Liar… such classics. The site also provides his latest news, behind-the-scenes action and links to his Twitter account.

Check it out here – via Digital Buzz Blog.


Siggraph Asia 2009

November 30, 2009


On 16-19 December Yokohama, Japan plays host to Siggraph Asia 2009, the 2nd ACM Siggraph conference and exhibition in Asia. Regarded as one of the most important education platforms for graphic design and art in Asia, Siggraph Asia 2009 is expected to attract over 8,000 industry professionals, creating a hub in which a wealth of ideas on technology, art, culture and science are conceived.

Some of the main attractions include an art gallery displaying various works from digital art to photo-manipulation, a computer animation festival that features cutting-edge digital visuals and guest speakers such as David Kirk, a former Chief Scientist at NVIDIA, and Joe Rohde, Senior Vice President at Walt Disney Imagineering.

As well as this, the Emerging Technologies exhibition shows how breakthroughs in art and technology can be utilised alongside computer graphics and interactivity to deliver visual products to tomorrow’s consumer, while the Networked Dome Theatre is a demonstration of very-high-resolution images in a nine-metre dome by the Graduate School of Media Design at Keio University. The demo features spherical images of a solar eclipse and other celestial imagery streamed over a 10-gigabit network from Osaka.

The idea behind the Siggraph Conference & Exhibition is to stimulate the intellect and creativity of the attendees through art, computer animation, courses and lectures from industry luminaries. The conference also acts as a recruitment centre, providing an open forum for jobseekers to meet with potential employers.

Full details of the conference and exhibition can be found on the Siggraph website.


Culturelab 2009

September 17, 2009


For those of you currently in the Big Apple, Culturelab 2009 is being held next Tuesday (22nd September) at the Center for Architecture on LaGuardia Place. Lined up to deliver speeches is an impressive array of fashion and design luminaries, such as Paul Budnitz, founder and president of toy/clothing manufacturer Kidrobot and Marc Ecko, founder of the Ecko clothing line.

Full details can be found here, and customers can get 50% off the list price for tickets by quoting ‘psfk’ at the checkout.

Don’t say we don’t look out for you.


Lamborghini Reventon Roadster

September 15, 2009

In a word, WOW.





You could quite literally cut your wrists with the angles on this car. The Lamborghini Reventon was first displayed at the IAA in 2007, with this topless Roadster version unveiled at the same show two years later. Due to cost well over a million, the Reventon will do 0-60 in 3.4 seconds and continue to well over 200mph – not surprising given its 650bhp V12 engine.

I’m not usually one for cars, but the looks of this one are just staggering. As close to a stealth bomber as a car is ever likely to get.


Takashi Murakami x Louis Vuitton Rugs

September 14, 2009

You’ve probably fairly familiar with the work of Takashi Murakami, whether you’re aware of it or not; the Japanese artist’s work featured on the cover of Kanye West’s third album ‘Graduation’, as well as vanguarding the ‘Superflat’ style of art that has gained him numerous fans in both high- and low-culture markets.

In the latest of a prolific series of collaborations with French fashion house Louis Vuitton, which includes limited edition handbags and soft toys, Murakami has designed a set of floor rugs, based around two of the artist’s designs and produced in an extremely limited run of 20 each. The circular flower design pictured above is available in both 2 metre and 3 metre diameters, and are handwoven in a distiguished Indian rug factory. Very nice designs, if you can get your hands on one!


Danny Allison

September 11, 2009

A picture paints a thousand words, as the old saying goes. In the case of illustrator and artist Danny Allison, it’s possibly closer to a million. His work, commissioned for magazine covers, editorials and adverts, has a delicious undertone of satire and subversion, often incorporating social and political comment within beautifully dramatic artwork.

Boasting a staggering client list including the BBC, Yamaha, Marlboro and The Times newspaper, Allison turns his attentions to a wide variety of issues, including religion, war, technology and the environment. His strong background in photography has ensured that his compositions retain a strong sense of lucidity and substance, in an age where Allison himself claims that he has ‘recognised the absence of clarity and meaning in most modern illustration.’ Thankfully, as is so crucial to true satire, Allison never takes himself too seriously – his work tends to provide some kind of comic relief to offset the gravity of the issues he raises.

Modern popular culture has something of a fetish for sloganised subversion, with people using slogan-emblazoned t-shirts and bags to proclaim some kind of opinion about the world. Banksy, long regarded as the British posterchild of visual political comment, has had his work embraced and appropriated by the mainstream, arguably removing it of its sub-cultural kudos; thankfully, artists such as Allison are free to pick up the dropped baton.