Earlier today it was announced, and I'm still trying to process it as I type this, that Lindsay Lohan has been hired as the artistic adviser for the house of Ungaro. Back in July the designer Esteban Cortazar left his position after Ungaro's management told him that they were pursuing Lohan to be his collaborator. According to an article posted by the New York Times, the deciding factor in his resignation was when he was made aware that his bosses wanted Lindsay to take a bow with him after showing the collection. Now before you judge this as a temper tantrum from a diva designer, consider this; the person who takes a bow at the end of a fashion show is the person to whom credit is given for the collection. They are the person held responsible for either it's success or it's failure. With that in mind, would you want to share what is essentially equal credit with someone who doesn't really deserve it?
I didn't think so.
Add to this the fact that the person who will be given half the credit is a celebrity who, it must be said, is more well known for their tumultuous personal life, substance abuse issues and immature behavior, and you really can't blame Cortazar for leaving. I mean, you smell smoke, you get the fuck out of the building, right? Cut to now. Hired alongside Lohan is an unknown designer by the name of Estrella Archs, who has done stints at Prada, Hussein Chalayan and Nina Ricci among others. As for her, I wish her luck, but I don't see her lasting too long since as it stands none of the four designers who have preceded her have managed to jump through hoops the way that management wanted them to. As it stands, the record for longest stint post-founder is held by Giambattista Valli, who was chosen by Emanuel Ungaro himself to head the Ready to Wear when Ungaro stepped down to focus on couture. Since then there have been 3 different designers in just under 5 years, not one of them lasting more than 3 full seasons. At that rate of turnover, it seems illogical to blame any of the designers for not doing a good enough job because none of them were given enough of an opportunity to really make their mark. I mean seriously, there's even an unspoken rule in fashion that you can't fairly judge a designer until their third season (or something to that effect). How on earth could any of them be expected to establish their vision, please editors, create buzz and make the house money in that amount of time? It's an unrealistic expectation. Now Ungaro CEO Mounir Moufarrige believes that the only way to make the brand money is to give some creative control to a celebrity, and a washed up irrelevant one at that.
Quoted on why she's well suited to this position, Lohan had this to say:
"When I say I love fashion, I really do,” she said. “I live and breathe fashion and clothing. There are so many designers I really admire and look up to. It’s such a rush for me. There’s this Balmain motorcycle jacket, and when I got one of the few they made without the shoulder pads, I literally screamed."Just as I said when I ranted about Kanye's pending foray into fashion design, that "I really love fashion" catchphrase is always the justification for these celebrities, and it's usually preceded or followed by something to the effect of "I've always wanted to be a designer". I have news for Lindsay, for the last three or four years it seems like everyone and their mother has "lived and breathed" fashion, and everyone thinks that wearing what's trendy and "fierce" automatically means that they're designer material. Let me be the first to tell you, if that's all it took then it wouldn't be so hard for those of us without connections or money to make it after we learn what we need to know.
Here's my $.02 on this whole thing; I think this is probably the best example that we will ever get of just how messed up so much of the industry has become in such a short amount of time. It's absolutely disgusting to me that a celebrity with no skill, talent or training in fashion has been given such a responsability, and equally disgusting that the company is using such a low-brow tactic to garner attention for the label. This goes so far beyond my frustration with celebrity vanity labels because at the end of the day, those don't matter and they never really will. They put their name on something and entertain the delusion that they're a "designer" for a few years before people lose interest. But this, this is big. This is handing a piece of control over the creative direction for a 40 year old fashion house to someone who has absolutely no knowledge of or experience in fashion design. Things like this just make it that much harder for fashion designers, and the fashion industry itself for that matter, to be taken seriously. Furthermore what Moufarrige's decision basically says is that designers are irrelevant and unnecessary, that all you need to sell your product is a celeb with a proud legacy of tabloid cover stories. I'm sure I sound like an overly dramatic queen or a raving lunatic (it's six of one, really) but think about it; How long will it be before Moufarrige decides that he doesn't need Archs and gives the reins to Lindsay alone? How long will it be before other desperate CEOs decide to do the same? I'm not saying it will happen, but this officially means that it can, and that's a scary thought.
Now if you'll excuse me I'm going into my dark corner to reminisce about the days when designers were designers, actresses were actresses, and Lindsay Lohan was a child star.