Fashion Can’t Stop Calling The Paparazzi On Themselves

by Joshua Graham on 1 February 2024

For CGDS’ latest campaign the Italian brand collaborated with paparazzi agency Backgrid to recreate their own celebrity fodder.

For CGDS’ latest campaign the Italian brand collaborated with paparazzi agency Backgrid to recreate their own celebrity fodder.

When it comes to era-defining photographs, nothing captures the glamorous chaos of the early aughts like the 29 November 2006 cover of the New York Post with Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Dubbed ‘Bimbo Summit’, the iconic paparazzi photo of the early aughts it-girls did more than ridicule the raucous party scene of young Hollywood, it perfectly encapsulated our ever-evolving relationship with celebrity and would go on to inspire fashion in the decade to come. Move over masters of yore, because it’s the paps shaping today’s fashion photography.

GCDS S/S 24 campaign photographed by Backgrid

GCDS is just the latest to look at paparazzi photos as inspiration. Upping the ante, creative director Giuliano Calza teamed up with the world’s premier paparazzi agency Backgrid to create her own voyeuristic scenes imbued with all the controversy of their real-world inspiration. Feeding our voracious appetite for a peek into the worlds of our favourite celebs, the campaign showcases the ‘it-crowd’ doing everything from grocery shopping at their favourite health food store, to being caught with their pants down.

Embracing the spontaneity and raw authenticity captured in these candid shots feeds the parasocial relationship we have with celebrities. The ‘untouchables’ become vulnerable allowing us to feel like we know and understand them. 'There's a growing demand for authenticity,’ Calza tells me. ‘In our distorted reality, many lack the means to connect with dreamy campaigns or indulge in excessive storytelling.’ For Calza, staying true to her inspiration is the name of the game, commissioning Backgrid photographers to shoot her latest collection in none other than the paparazzi Mecca of Hollywood.

GCDS S/S 24 campaign photographed by Backgrid

While paparazzi photos continue to be a large part of today’s celebrity culture — just Google Sushi Park — there’s a sheen of nostalgia in GCDS’ campaign. Now living firmly in a social-media-driven world where celebrities freely document every aspect of their lives, the invasive perversity of paparazzi images continues to ignite imaginations around the world. ‘The celebrity culture has been idealised for so long, and they've essentially shaped it. With the Internet making the concept of a 'celebrity lifestyle' more accessible, it has become a ubiquitous aspiration for everyone,' explains Calza.

The campaign is just the latest in fashion’s biggest brands appropriating paparazzi images. At the tail end of 2023, A$AP Rocky and Kendall Jenner went viral for Bottega Veneta’s pap-inspired pre-Spring 24 campaign. Wearing full leather looks, the celebrities were ‘caught’ on the streets of Los Angeles running errands, including shopping trips to Bottega Veneta. Independent label Poster Girl also went viral with their S/S 24 campaign showcasing it-girls in trouble with the law, and Yeezy has famously employed Kim Kardashian in ‘candid’ campaigns since 2018.

Of course, there is an added layer of complexity to fashion’s reimagining of paparazzi images. If paparazzi pictures speak to our collective obsession with blurring the lines between the public and private lives of celebrities, what does our fascination for these staged recreations mean? For Calza it’s rooted in the allure of celebrity. ‘In today's world, everyone is on TV, and the allure of Andy Warhol's 15 Minutes of Fame applies to all,’ explains Calza. ‘Even subcultures, once observed from a distance, are now thrust into the mainstream through TikTok makeup tutorials.’

Bottega Veneta pre-Spring 24 campaign

The relationship between fashion and celebrity has always been symbiotic and this trend of paparazzi-inspired campaigns is just the latest example of that. In our world where you can become a celebrity because of going viral on TikTok, the paparazzi image has become the ultimate aspirational achievement. As the industry continues to reimagine the practice, it prompts contemplation about our collective obsession with celebrity as a driving force for consumption. In our fame-centric society. If the trend continues, let’s just hope someone brings the original ‘bimbos’ back together.



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