Celebrity-backed fashion lines don't necessarily have the best reputation. Lindsay Lohan's short-lived stint for Emanuel Ungaro and Heidi Montag's critically slammed attempt at design with Heidiwood spring to mind, but the appeal of bringing an A lister with a huge following onboard is tempting for brands – and, on occasion, it works. From the fashion businesses that were started from scratch to celebrity/brand collaborative collections, these are the famous fashion-label success stories.
It's easy to forget the former personae of the teen superstars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. The now flourishing fashion designers have become synonymous with their cool, minimalist brand, which shows at New York Fashion Week, is worn by some of the biggest names in Hollywood and is worth millions.
The twins quietly launched The Row in 2006, not giving an interview about the label for three years, which allowed it to be taken seriously and ensured that it was not seen as a 'celebrity brand'. By 2012, they won their first Womenswear Designer of the Year award at the CFDAs, cementing their status in American fashion. The duo also run Elizabeth and James, a slightly younger and more affordable label, the name inspired by their two younger siblings.
Victoria Beckham's transformation from pop princess to footballer's wife to one of the world's most well-known fashion designers defies belief. The fact that she could be taken seriously in the stuffy world of fashion says everything about her determination and hard work, but also about the appeal of her collections.
After a number of design stints, including her DVB denim line and an eyewear range, Beckham (in a similar vein to the Olsens) covertly launched her label in 2008 with a low-key presentation. She slowly became a fixture on the New York Fashion Week calendar and in 2011 launched her diffusion line, Victoria By Victoria Beckham. By 2014, she had opened her first bricks and mortar store on Dover Street and in 2017, she designed an affordable Victoria Beckham range for the American retailer Target.
Now worth millions in her own right, Beckham has also been awarded an OBE for her services to fashion. When she collected it from the Duke of Cambridge, she, of course, wore her own designs.
It doesn't feel right to put Stella McCartney in the category of 'celebrity labels' because she is such an accomplished designer in her own right – and is much better known for this than for being the daughter of a Beatle. She is proof, however, of how a celebrity can defy the odds in fashion.
McCartney started interning in the industry aged just 16 (for Christian Lacroix) and worked for Edward Sexton on Saville Row for several years before going on to study fashion design at Central Saint Martins, with models including Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell walking in her graduate show.
After a four-year stint as the creative director at Chloé (following Karl Lagerfeld, no less), McCartney launched her own namesake label in 2001 to incredible critical acclaim and commercial success. The brand now boasts 17 stand-alone stores, womenswear, kidswear, menswear, lingerie, a sportswear line for Adidas, two Team GB Olympic kit collections and a reputation for cruelty-free and ethical fashion.
Kate Moss for Topshop
In 2007, Kate Moss designed her first collection for the British high-street giant Topshop – a collaboration that would initially last 14 collections until 2010, before returning briefly in 2014. In what was really the first of its kind, where a model was brought on as a designer, not just as a face or an ambassador, the first collection was deemed a risk. However, what brought it such success was the fact that the designs were so closely based on Moss' personal style and her most iconic fashion moments – people wanted a piece of it.
While she may have stepped away from design to focus on launching her own agency, her collections will still go down in history. Who can forget the floral tea dress, the one-shouldered lemon frock or that red gown she wore in Topshop Oxford Street's window?
Gigi x Tommy
The success of Tommy Hilfiger's collaboration with the American supermodel Gigi Hadid demonstrated what having an A-list name attached to your designs can do. While Hilfiger is no stranger to famous collaborations (Beyoncé, Naomi Campbell, Zooey Deschanel, among others), this marked the first time a celebrity had co-designed a collection. The first, in September 2016, was so successful that a second was immediately planned for January 2017 – and more followed, taking the catwalk spectacles from London to Los Angeles.
The collections saw double-figure sale rises for the brand, with some of the pieces being sold out before they even hit the 'see now, buy now' catwalk. Although the collaboration has now come to an end (with Hilfiger snapping up Zendaya as a replacement), this was certainly a successful fashion partnership.
Jessica Simpson's name might not be the first that comes to mind when you think of a profitable fashion brand, but do not underestimate it. High fashion it might not be, but commercially successful? You better believe it.
Each year since 2010, the line has reportedly pulled in about $1 billion in annual sales and is the first clothing company owned by a celebrity ever to break this figure. Currently selling in 30 different product categories in major American department stores, the brand is now 14 years old and is showing no signs of slowing down. Celebrity fashion brands can, it seems, withstand the test of time.
With numerous extremely successful design collaborations under her belt over the years (including Marks & Spencer, Superga and AG Denim), fashion maven Alexa Chung decided to go it alone, launching her very own label in 2016, Alexachung. The high-end pieces draw on her well-known vintage style and have clearly been a hit with fans as, after a few individual shows, the designer joined the London Fashion Week schedule, where she now sits alongside some of the biggest names in the business.
Another A lister who has put her years of hard work in the industry to good use is Rihanna, who now has her very own luxury fashion label at LVMH. With her experience as the creative director of Puma and an already successful lingerie line under her belt, the singer's Fenty label has gone from strength to strength. The contemporary line just launched its second collection, while the new beauty side of the business is booming and the brand just had its most successful lingerie show to date, even streaming on Amazon Prime to people all over the world.
From Harper's Bazaar UK