Karl Lagerfeld, is the true Head of Chanel and the “Head” around my neck.
During my trip to China I saw this necklace at a store. It was lying right next to the necklace with the face of Lady Gaga.
It was love at first sight. To be precise, it was lust at first sight. I was so mesmerized by the necklace, that even though I did not have my credit card with me, I had to borrow my friends’ for payment.
Talk about the epitome of satisfying the Id-True Instant Gratification.
What was this force beyond my control that compelled me to buy the necklace? Such a potent force that I had to resort to borrowing (thank goodness my shopping compulsion has not reached a level of begging and stealing yet, as in the expression “beg, borrow or steal.”)
What was it about this man with the silver-haired pony tail, high collars and glasses that captivated me?
In this instance, it is the bewitching rock star appeal of Lagerfeld. He has become deeply embedded in the strains of pop-culture and acquired iconic status.
Such cultural domination of fashion designers is a reflection of the changing times of fashion. Take for instance Marc Jacobs or Alber Elbaz of Lanvin or Miuccia Prada. They all have their signature trademark personalities and styles.
The recently sculpted body, with the day old beard is the signature of Marc Jacobs.
Alber Elbaz is high on the cuteness factor, with the moon-face, bow tie and round glasses. Alber Elbaz brands Lanvin.
The shy, head-band wearing Miuccia Prada is the stamp of Prada.
In the past designers used to be mostly behind the scenes. They had an aura of mystery, a certain je ne sais quoi. Sure, we heard their names such as Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta or Dior and may have even seen an occasional photo of them attending a benefit, but their personas were not ingrained in the public psyche such as the ones in today’s times.
In current times, simply designing beautiful clothes is not enough. It is mandatory for designers to acquire an “X” or now a “Y” factor for branding purposes. It is essential for the designer to have a flamboyant, autographed personality.
The modern consumer is global, smart and savvy. They shop all over the world. With the advent of web-shopping the globe has become one giant Mall accessible to all, at any time. There is laser sharp competition.
With a whirlwind of choices at the fingertips of the consumers, what motivates them to opt for one brand over the other? Is it the quality, the stitching, the tailoring, the pricing or is it owning a product designed by a pop-culture icon. It boils down to the “extra” that a brand has to offer. The minds of the modern consumer, especially the younger ones is complex. They grew up in the web surfing age and jump from one “icon” to the other. Why should they then not choose a product designed by a famous pop culture “icon.” Nine out of ten times they will opt for an item with some pop-culture value, even if it is just a t-shirt with a silhouette of the designer imprinted on it. Or in my case a necklace with the “Head” of Chanel.
That my friends is the power of pop culture branding!