Last week Sarah Jessica Parker was confirmed as the head designer of Halston Heritage, Halston’s secondary line featuring the label’s archival looks. WWD reports that her titles are president and chief creative officer. She’s taking an equity stake in the firm, joining investors Harvey Weinstein and Tamara Mellon, and will sit on the board with chief executive officer Bonnie Takhar. The appointment underscores the legitimacy celebrities have attained and are attaining as designers. No one used to take them seriously, but they “could soon refuse to get out of bed for less than a top design contract,” notes WWD. Parker’s equity arrangement with Halston makes her position as its celebrity designer unique. It’s unclear if she invested any of her own money, but if she fails, her bank account could take a hit. And wouldn’t we all feel just so badly for her if she cheated herself out of any more money?
“I tend not to just endorse something,” Parker told WWD. “I like feeling the stakes.”
Asked why she would be qualified to be president and chief creative officer of a fashion firm, Parker didn’t mince her words. “I would say it’s a good question and it’s a fair question,” she said. “You could make many arguments to why I am not qualified. I would say that I am very aware of the enormity of the titles, and how important they are, and my response is that they [the board] felt confident in their decisions.
Parker’s appointment is coming off strikingly differently in the media than Lindsay Lohan’s gig as artistic adviser of Emanuel Ungaro. After Lindsay signed on, it took, oh, seconds for gossip columns to print reports of unrest at the house over her arrival. But everyone at Halston seems to be just dandy with Parker’s new role. Parker’s reputation and manner as a human being are far different than Lohan’s, which surely aid us in taking her more seriously in the beginning than Lohan. But despite how well Lohan is doing at Ungaro or how seriously people are taking her, she is still Parker’s predecessor. Mounir Moufarrige was the first CEO to install a celebrity in a top post at a high-fashion label. Though he’s since departed from Ungaro, he famously declared the days of “designers in their ivory towers” over. He argued that as long as a famous person headlined a label and brought it publicity, it didn’t matter how ridiculous it seemed — the attention and money would follow and the bottom line would be met. Everyone thought he was crazy. Everyone probably still thinks he is.
But maybe he was right. Maybe labels can do just as well with a celebrity executive face while trained designers work behind the scenes. And maybe fashion executives are beginning to take celebrities more seriously in this capacity. WWD suggests Parker could one day take over design at Halston’s main line, currently designed by Marios Schwab. But for now, maybe she can class the celebrity-as-serious-designer profession up a bit in the wake of Lindsay. Walk the runway after a show (if she has one) without crying seemingly for no reason, resist the temptations of glitter nipple pasties of unorthodox shapes, etc.