3 Celebrity Designers Who Have Done It Right

All too often we see the celebrity that thinks he or she can do it all. The actress that tries to sing, the model that tries to act, the reality star that tries to be anything close to a legitimate entertainer. Naturally, the first place they all turn to is fashion.

Maybe it’s because they get to wear beautiful clothes (usually chosen for them, not by them), they feel as though an entree into the world of fashion would be seamless. Or perhaps it’s because companies regularly hire these celebrities in hopes that their face and fame will bring in the dough. In an article about celebrity designers, Andy Sernovitz, author of “World of Mouth: How Smart Companies Get People Talking,” told WWD, that “fashion is word-of-mouth. When you bring a celebrity into fashion, what they do bring is a pre-existing fan base.” But as we’ve seen too many times from too many designers: a celebrity name may indeed bring eyes to the table, but rarely does it bring legitimate fashion recognition.

Celebrity brands come and go as quickly as last season’s Balmain blazers went out of style. A book could be written about the awful and often poorly-made garments some of these celebrities have put on the racks of respectable stores. Instead, we’d like to look on the bright side and thank those celebrities who have done it right — those who’s clothing lines could easily succeed without their name attached to it.

The Row and Elizabeth & James by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen

Fact: the Olsen twins have defined the way an entire generation has dressed. These fashion icons began making waves in the early 00’s by being seen sporting boho-chic baggy tees, oversized sunglasses, distressed Balenciaga bags (try counting how many colors the twins have by looking through photos…it’s impossible), and Venti Starbucks cups. It was only a matter of time before the two began a clothing line, or two, or four: The Row and Elizabeth & James. The Row epitomizes why the world has become so infatuated with the twins’ style. Its soft sillouettes (some of our favorites are the simple French-seamed knit tees, regardless of their astronomical price) and effortless luxury appeal have made the brand such a huge success; it is no wonder a more affordable line would follow.
Enter Elizabeth & James, the wildly successful brand which includes shoes, jewelry, and a full ready-to-wear collection. Highlights: the back-buttoned flannels, painter-shirts, and Boyfriend blazer. The brand successfully enables shoppers to do what they’ve longed to do since the twins’ burst on to the fashion scene: dress like an Olsen — but at an everyday price.

Up next? The Olsens just launched an adorable line for J.C. Penney called Olsenboye and are in the process of creating a denim-offshoot of Elizabeth & James called Textile Elizabeth and James, which will feature styles inspired by the twins’ favorite jeans from their own closets.

William Rast by Justin Timberlake

Who would have thought that the Mickey Mouse club kid who once sported a matching denim-on-denim ensemble with Britney Spears would become a successful designer? Timberlake’s line, created with designer Trace Ayala, screams country meets Hollywood rugged, full of distressed leather jackets and thoughtfully cured denim. At New York Fashion Week this past month, William Rast also debuted a new shoe line. Brand executive Colin Dyne said, “Obviously, being in the denim business, we felt the biker boot and the whole ‘Americana biker’ theme goes well with boots and shoes.” We agree. Justin, if you could please send us each a leather jacket, it would be greatly appreciated.

Victoria Beckham Collection

I must admit, while I’m always pleasantly surprised to see what the former Spice Girl is wearing on the red carpet, I did not think she had it in her to create the collection that she has. In its fourth season, Victoria Beckham Collection has once again impressed fashion’s elite with its incredibly tailored dresses and Beckham-esque sex appeal. The line wafts beautifully between 30’s inspired girly-chic and modern day, power woman class. Regardless of its high price point, the line has remained successful, even in today’s economic climate. The Guardian reports VB Collection is expected to generate an estimated $7.5 million in sales this year.

“Look, it’s a very basic way that I am doing this,” Beckham said during New York Fashion Week, “You can see that from the gold dress. The drape has literally been draped on me. We tied it in a knot. And I thought ‘that looks really cool — I like that’. Technically it’s probably not the right way to do things. But there’s a really fun, playful atmosphere in the studio.”

The designer admits that she indeed had to prove herself in the fashion community, despite her immense fame, and with the Collection’s rave reviews for Fall 2010, it appears she has been successful in her endeavor.

So let’s raise a glass to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Justin Timberlake, and Victoria Beckham. Thank you for taking fashion seriously and creating incredible collections season after season.

We ask other celebrity “designers” to to take a cue from you.

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