Customer Watch: Inspiration and the Celebrity Factor

Inspiration. It can be elusive, as I find from time to time, staring at a blank page on my computer screen at 2:00 a.m. It can show up at the oddest time, while I am in the shower, driving on the freeway, or yes, bolting awake at 3:00 in the morning. HP has a clever “What do you have to say?” campaign and commercial running now where singer Gwen Stefani muses about the creative process and how serendipitous it is.


Celebrity is quite a burden, because unlike us average humans, celebrities can’t, or shouldn’t, be looking as though they are following someone else’s fashion lead. Inspiration is a key part of what makes a celebrity’s style look fresh and attractive.


The lucky ones have an innate sense of style, have learned what looks good on them, and stay with it, taking calculated fashion risks and just tweaking their style enough to be interesting. Think of Jennifer Aniston, Diane Keaton, Renee Zellweger, Anne Hathaway and Cate Blanchett, among others – each has a distinctive style that works for her form, features and personality.


Other celebs think they know what looks good but succeed less consistently in inspiring us. Or, sadly, they are deluded into believing that they look good in anything they throw on. Some rely on stylists, who bring educational credentials or a lack thereof into the mix, some of whom understand what’s flattering, and some of whom are too busy racing after the next newest thing to care about anything except scoring the latest “it” bag or dress. 


The result: Among celebrities, there are great fashion icons, and then there are some so-called fashion role models who ought to be sent home to change.


The good, the bad and the ugly of fashion all get plenty of media exposure, if the celebrity is big enough, sexy enough, or a rising star. There are daily web postings and even hourly blogs that follow the fashion follies of many a hot young star. Every accessory and every piece of jewelry is parsed and dissected. Millions of people follow celebrity style analyses online and in print (with a shout-out thank you to those who follow trends here in the blogs on JCKonline).


In its May 2008 issue, Glamour magazine posts the results of its latest online poll, “Are you normal about celebrities?”. While the editors suggest that it’s very normal to turn to celebrity gossip to deal with bad news (such as the recession and the war in Iraq) as a form of escapism, nevertheless 87 percent of those polled agreed that celebrity scandals receive too much press coverage.


However, celebrity fashion is another thing altogether. Over two-thirds of poll respondents, 68 percent, said that celebrities’ fashion choices influence their personal style. Retail jewelers, especially in these recessionary times, cannot afford NOT to be aware of the latest celebrity styles.


When asked which one celeb perk she would choose from the options provided, 46 percent chose personal trainer/nutritionist/chef, 24 percent chose hair stylist/makeup artist on call, 16 percent chose invitations to exclusive events, and ten percent chose a stylist “to help me shop and polish my look.” In other words, one out of ten respondents understands that she needs some guidance in making savvy style choices. Understanding what makes a particular customer look good is part of the service package you can be offering your customers if you so choose. If you learn and practice this skill, your customers will be coming to you for inspiration.


Inspiration. As Gwen Stefani would say, “It’s just that simple, and it’s just that hard.”


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