Fashion desperate to prove that it rocks with celebrity showdown at the Royal Albert Hall
Forget the annual parade of Oscar-night dresses and paparazzi shots of celebrity-packed front rows at fashion shows for tomorrow night the mutually beneficial relations between celebrity and fashion will reach a new summit when the Royal Albert Hall hosts one of the glitziest fashion spectacles ever dreamt up. And it is all in the name of the Prince of Wales's charity, the Prince's Trust.
At Fashion Rocks, designers such as Alexander McQueen, Tommy Hilfiger and Stella McCartney will join 14 other stars from fashion's firmament to stage mini-catwalk shows.
But here's the twist. In place of the usual thumping house soundtrack, Fashion Rocks models will strut along the runway to a live performance by a bizarre line up of musical performers. Model and Fifth Element actress Milla Jovovich is due not to model but to sing, alongside more established musicians such as Bryan Adams, Robbie Williams, Bryan Ferry and Sheryl Crow. True to the protocol of such extravaganzas, there's even a satellite link-up performance to a star too grand to attend; in this case, David Bowie. Meanwhile Elizabeth Hurley, who was the ultimate expression of the celebrity fashion love-in when she slipped into Gianni Versace's safety pin dress in 1994 and made both herself and the designer household names, is due to play compere alongside Denis Leary. At least in terms of star studding and high camp, it will far outshine the Lycra Style Awards, staged last month at the end of London Fashion Week.
Inevitably for an event crowded with the biggest egos in fashion and pop, rumours have reached fever pitch, with designers not only competing to produce the most attention-grabbing clothes, but also to hook themselves to the coolest pop star. The fashion industry has been gripped by whispers that Kate Moss would sing with indie band Primal Scream, while bat-eating rocker Ozzy Osbourne bailed out of his collaboration with Julien Macdonald last week (making a $50,000 [£30,000] donation on his way out) citing other commitments in America.
Fashion's favourite diva of the moment, Beyoncé Knowles, has given her prized hand to Giorgio Armani, sparking bitter rumours, hotly denied by an Armani representative, that she is to be remunerated for services intended to be for charity.
Both the Fashion Rocks organisers and designers are keen to cite creative "synergies" at work between rock and frocks. Other than a designer simply lending clothes to a famous face, this also encompasses an ongoing relationship with a DJ who creates a suitably cutting-edge soundtrack for a catwalk show or, for consumption by a wider audience, where a fashion house either plays sponsor to an artist's tour, or designs a special performing wardrobe. For example, popular perceptions of haute couturier Jean Paul Gaultier have been defined simply by the conical bra worn by Madonna for her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990.
At a time when major fashion brands are stricken by falling sales of luxury goods, the promotion afforded to them through events such as Fashion Rocks is invaluable. Fashion and pop superstars are in the midst of a mutually supportive love affair. Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera, for example, are posing for autumn-winter advertising campaigns for Louis Vuitton and Versace respectively.
The Prince's Trust aims to make three quarters of a million pounds in ticket sales, television rights and sponsorship from Fashion Rocks. But fashion houses, too, will be hoping to gain. The fashion industry is, of course, reliant on celebrity-focused events, in the hope a felicitous photograph will add burnish to their carefully managed image. Earlier this month at Milan fashion week, traditionally the site of rich celebrity pickings and where famous faces are routinely flown in or even paid to sit front row, there was a definite lack of pizzazz. At the start of the week, Beyoncé showed up at Armani, only to sit front row as the sole famous face at Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and Roberto Cavalli too.
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