Reimagining Influencer Fashion

By Fawnia Soo Hoo | August 23, 2022

The Latest Challenge In Costume Design: Reimagining Influencer Fashion

As movies and television follow the stories of content creators, their wardrobes help create a riveting fantasy — while simultaneously sending a message.

The aspirational influencer narrative creates a captivating and timely allegory — if not cautionary tale — for a film or television protagonist on a quest of self-discovery and recognition. Of course, what these characters wear is essential to their (disseminated-through-the-internet) journeys, as they seek validation from society at large, their peers and perhaps their harshest critics: themselves.

At the surface, Instagram-worthy outfits and clout-chasing designer labels worn by our favorite on-screen characters — like in “Emily in Paris,” costume designed by Patricia Field and Marylin Fitoussi — create a riveting fashion fantasy. The eye candy keeps us clicking into the next episodes, and has been proven to inspire our wardrobes. But these outfits are also sending a message.

As she finds professional success, Chicago-transplant Emily (Lily Collins) evolves from wearing ringarde Eiffel Tower prints in the pilot to confident, Old Hollywood-referential ensembles on a dream jaunt to Saint Tropez in season two. (Healthy romantic relationships? Still working on it.) Music industry scion Julien Calloway (Jordan Alexander) uses her social media dominance — and access to ripped-from-the-runway Christopher John Rogers — to assert her superiority over younger half-sister Zoya (Whitney Peak) in “Gossip Girl” 2.0, thanks to returning costume designer Eric Daman. In a soapier-than-real-life take on the Anna Delvey scandal, Julia Garner‘s titular character in “Inventing Anna” tips hundred-dollar bills and cycles through a montage of high-end designer clothing and handbags at the height of her grift. (Credit to costume designer Lyn Paolo for also using fashion to help illustrate greater society’s predilection to glom onto — and readily cast off — the latest shiny new thing with lots of Instagram followers, too.)

“Have you ever wanted to be noticed so badly, you didn’t even care what it was for?” asks wannabe writer Danni Sanders (Zoey Deutch) at the start of the Gen-Z social-media satire “Not Okay,” which comes out Friday.

Adrift in life and sartorial self-expression, Danni toils as a photo editor at Depravity, while crushing on the Vice-like outlet’s resident weed-fluencer, Colin (a bleached-blond Dylan O’Brien). Editor Susan (Negin Farsad) regularly rejects Danni’s tone-deaf pitches, like “Why Am I So Sad?” (She feels left out of the generational trauma of 9/11 because she was on vacation with her affluent parents.) Using her Photoshop skills, Danni Instagram-fakes a trip to Paris with flat-lays of Bushwick-procured croissants, a very on-the-nose red beret and a blue floral Reformation dress…

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