Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The irritation of Sienna Miller and the curse of the It Girl

An article of mine was published today in the Sydney Morning Herald. It discusses the irritating phenomenon of Sienna Miller - someone who's famous as a clotheshorse and celebrity handbag rather than for her own accomplishments.

I don't particularly like Sienna's "signature boho style" or whatever else the papers want to call it. But it's fascinating the way she has become a style icon, even for her fashion mistakes. My SMH article briefly outlines the media's role in this - their desire to identify fresh talent and monitor its development, even as that attention crushes the talent's potential.

But I am also interested in the industrial apparatus that enables high-street fashion stores to diffuse celebrity and runway style for chicks on the street. Topshop is the best at this, but Supre and Sportsgirl are very canny Australian examples. As Elanor has said, Sportsgirl at the moment is a "shrine" to Sienna - and I would like to do more research into the process by which this happens.

I think the most interesting thing about Sienna Miller is the very blandness I object to in her media deification. While she's not very interesting as a celebrity, she's not that different from thousands of other women, and her style is wearable and comfortable. You don't have to be astoundingly beautiful or style-savvy to look like Miller - it's just clever accessorising. Basically, she is a blank canvas onto which you can project your own sense of style. Because of the bitsy nature of 'boho chic', it can sustain a wide range of variation.

But as Claudia Croft suggests in The Times (UK), this look is tired already. And if Sienna wants to maintain her status as a fashion icon, she'll have to reinvent herself. Croft points to the fact that Miller is starring in a new movie as Andy Warhol's muse Edie Sedgwick, who was also an It Girl. Maybe we'll all be dressing as beatniks next year.


elaine said...

yay mel!

I hate Sienna too. For a while I have been puzzling over why she has even become the "It-girl". I always want the "it" to be someone a little interesting.

For example, when Chloe Sevingny was verging on claiming the title I got quite excited.

Mel said...

I think the mistake the It Girls so often make is being a little too edgy. You can afford to be just a little bit eccentric in your style, a little bit avant-garde in your film choices, date a slightly twisted man.

Kate Moss was the old Sienna Miller. As I've noted, Sienna has totally ripped off Kate's stylistic mixture of shabby and posh. But date a terrible junkie musician who punches out photographers? Not It.

And as for Chloe Sevigny, I don't care how many outrageous outfits she wears or how supposedly cool her brother is, if you blow Vincent Gallo on screen in The Brown Bunny, you are no longer an It Girl.

Lucy Tartan said...

Chloe Sevigny's sartorial antics as chronicled on Go Fug Yourself leave me completely gobsmacked. Does she want us to make fun of her, or is it some awful mental illness?

Brownie said...

you were wondering about 'the process by which this happens' and I would guess that the fashion corporation pays a swag of dosh to someone who has styled themselves as a Trend Guru' claiming to know what the street vibe is. it's all a con.

...mj said...

I just had to vent my spleen on this one:

I was never a big fan of Kate Moss when she was the "it girl", but Sienna Miller the "it girl" WTF: she's soooo frickin boring ( and what has she done to become "it girl"? - rip off Kate Moss. Hardly groundbreaking stuff that). At least Ms Moss had some real London backstreet cred (I may have manufactued this in my head) and was genuinely just famous for being a clotheshorse, and therefore a logical person to choose as a fashion nerd. (cos that's what "it girls" are - who has time or the care to painfully assemble outfits like that? - oh yes, someone with tooo much time on their hands.).

Chloe Sevingny: What has she ever done? She's so underground no-one knows anything of her, apart from bloody InStyle and other alleged style bibles always publishing photos of her either looking bored, boring, pained, pointless or all of the above.

Do it girls now just wear the gear they're given, I ask? Surely companies have twigged to the idea that getting someone "it" to wear their gear day-to-day is great marketing (as distinct from red carpet out-fitting of celebs)

I think I'm a fashion dilettente...


Mel said...

Brownie: as for whether it's "all a con", yes and no. The traditional fashion diffusion models of "trickle-down" from couture and "bubble-up" from subcultural style are breaking down now that an industry of stylists and trend forecasters has arisen.

We now have different models. There's diffusion through "slumming": couture designers doing ranges for mass retailers, eg Isaac Mizrahi for Target, Phillipe Starck for Puma and various people for Topshop.

Another version of "slumming" is when a mass retailer gets a celebrity with a more glamorous persona to shill for them, eg Sarah Jessica Parker for The Gap. This is rarely convincing.

There's "celebrity pimping": where companies give celebrities freebies hoping that they'll be photographed with them.

And then there's the styling phenomenon. Good stylists (as opposed to young skinny posh chicks who borrow dresses for shoots from their friends who work at high-end boutiques) create the looks that get photographed in magazines and on the red carpet, which retailers end up copying.

These are interesting processes to investigate. I really do reject any idea that they make street style any less interesting, or ordinary consumers just gullible fashion victims.

denee said...

"maybe we'll all be dressing like beatniks next year."