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THE EDITOR’S COLUMN: CELEBRITY

Celebrity is not just a word individuating a ‘very important person’; its meaning can be stretched to signify ‘fame’ in its absolute form: something that can be either linked to people, but to objects as well. This is why this month we decided to turn our blog into a stage and showcase the celebrity stories that the archives and museums taking part into the Europeana Fashion project hold.

Marilyn Monroe wearing a Pucci ensemble, 1962, Courtesy Pucci Archive, All Rights Reserved

One of the first places in which to spot the bond between fashion and celebrity is, indeed, the stage, be it of a theatre or a cinema; the prolific dialogue of costume designers, directors and of course actors is represented by the very costumes used on screen, which not only define the features of the character played, but also stand as the output of the intellectual collaboration between many different professionals. Fashion archives and museums are full of these testimonies, whose stories are just waiting to be unveiled, revealed, rediscovered.

Celebrities – meaning VIPs – are sometimes built into a real ‘brand’: in endorsing some designers over others, they chose to be part of  aesthetic, and in return influence the image and appeal of the producs they use and display. Some fashion objects are material memories of iconic couples – the celebrity and the designer – made famous by the histories they tell, and these histories are to be found not only in recent times, but can be traced back to at least the seventeenth century; some others are designed as homages to ideal muses, ratifying the aura of fame and importance of a person not only in the present, but above all for the future.

Costume design for Willy Walden as Josephine Baker by Anthony Holland, 1962, Courtesy Theatercollectie Bijzondere Collecties UvA, All Rights Reserved

The value of objects that are at the centre of these connections is directly linked to the people they evoke, and their potential to generate desire is magnified by their being the ‘proof’ of these liaisons. The power of the relationship between fashion and celebrity stands in the mutual ability of infuse something or someone with immortality; and it is this endurance of meaning intrinsic in objects that makes their stories everlasting.

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