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Beyonce riding wave of celebrity fashions


Maybe it's not enough that Beyonce Knowles is one of the most beautiful women in the world. Or that she's sold enough records to keep her in ermine for the rest of her life. Or that she's only scratched the surface of what's likely to be a very successful movie career.

No, Knowles has not yet arrived, at least in terms of becoming a complete global brand. That won't happen until later this year, when the entertainer launches the first of two clothing collections in collaboration with her mother, Tina Knowles.

The first line will be a "funky and hip-hop" collection of T-shirts and jeans, to be followed by a designer collection of feminine dresses and separates that focuses on bringing "some of the couture look to the broader public," Beyonce told Women's Wear Daily.

Is she simply living out some sartorial destiny? Knowles is only one of the growing number of celebrities taking up a needle and thread for the masses. It's practically gotten to the point where celebrities can't map out a road to fame without a measuring tape and fabric swatches tucked inside their Louis Vuitton satchels.

"The celebrity fashion wave is reaching ridiculous proportions. It's symptomatic of one of the problems in the fashion industry today that we offer too much choice in fashion, and consumers, especially young consumers who are seeking to find their fashion identity, have no guidance because everything is OK," said David Wolfe, fashion and trend analyst for the Doneger Group.

"Vogue magazine offers 740 looks every issue, so what's a girl to do? What's a guy to do?" Wolfe asks. "If you don't have your own identity firmed up yet, then you hitchhike on someone else's identity."

And there are plenty of celebrities with their own fashion lines willing to give a ride. J.Lo has her own clothing brand (as well as a best-selling perfume). Jay-Z has the Rocawear line. Kmart gave Latin idol Thalia her own collection. Sean "P. Diddy" Combs tops them all with his phenomenally successful Sean John collection.

Both Gwen Stefani and Eve have clothing lines that should be in stores this spring. And hold onto your garter belts: Pamela Anderson will launch the Pamela Collection -- clothing, lingerie, jewelry and fragrance -- soon.

Why this growing trend of celebrities sporting their own clothing lines? It's all part of the public's voracious appetite for celebrity lifestyle.

"I'd say that in the last three to five years, the look of celebrities has been embraced by manufacturers and licensing partners to create more retail-friendly offerings for today's shoppers," said Tom Julian, fashion and trend analyst for advertising agency Fallon Worldwide. He said the market for star-spun fashion will only increase with people's appetite for celebrities and celebrity lifestyles.

Not everyone sees this trend as a good thing.

"We're so celebrity conscious. We no longer want to emulate society people or people who are admirable role models," Wolfe said. "Instead, we're going for the easy, no-brainer role models. The thing I find most amusing is that the celebrities actually have no fashion identity, especially the ones who are promoting their lines, like Gwen Stefani or J.Lo. They're simply being dressed by stylists in clothes that already exist."

The market, however, appears to suggest that consumers are only too happy to sport P. Diddy trousers, Thalia tube tops and J.Lo fedoras.

Don't, however, ask Wolfe to be excited about it.

"Who wears these? Insecure people who have no sense of their own style," he said.

The Hartford Courant is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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