I’m the Kathy Griffin of Fashion…
I question social climbing in the fashion industry and contemplate my life on the D-list.
Fashion and Hollywood enjoy many parallels, but the one that is most discussed amongst the citizens of Fashionville is the divisions between the A-list and the D-list.
Developed in 1997 by journalist James Ulmer, the Ulmer Scale was a 100-point rating system that helped determine the bankablility of a celebrity in a movie or television show. Factoring all types of data like past box office success, versatility, professionalism, and ability and willingness to travel and promote the shit out of movies at places like Comic Con or Cannes, the scale helped identify superstars like Brad Pitt, Will Smith and Leonardo DiCaprio as top talents and helped producers bankroll films on the likelyhood of a celebs draw.
The scale was eventually broken down into four categories:
- A-List: The Top of the Heap
- B-List: Teen Idols & Jonah Hills
- C-List: “You know, that guy.” Actors you can recognize by face, but not by name.
- D-List: Housewives, Alyssa Milano and celebs asked to host parties at Tao or Pasha on NYE
In fashion, we don’t have the same scale to determine success, but we do have top designers, models, photographers, stylists and now, bloggers who are capable of producing the type of industry attention needed to propel a new season or bring attention to a diffusion line or product launch. These “talents” have become our A-list, while the rest of the crowd seems to fall under subcategories of the scale, being known, but not Vogue-worthy, recognized, but not talked about, or famous-ish, finding success amongst niche groups of consumers.
For the purpose of giving you some scale of where I fall on fashion’s Ulmer list, I’ve created my own scale:
- A-List: Anna Wintour’s guest list for the Met Gala and CFDA Award Winners
- B-List: Designers who show at MILK & 99.9% of Front Rowers
- C-List: Street Style Celebs, It Girls, Fashion DJs, and hosts of Grand Life parties
- D-List: People who wait longer than 2 minutes outside fashion week after parties, standing room and me
Amongst fashion bloggers, what most in the industry would consider the illegal aliens of Fashionville, there are very few who are able to rise up the ranks, moving from soliciting day work outside Home Depot (will blog for food) to sitting front row of shows like Chanel and Balenciaga. The Bryanboys, the Klings, and most recently, the Manrepellers who manage to parlay digital fame to industry acceptance.
These A-Listers hangout at designer studios, get gifted seasonal must-haves, and live a life that only few of us can imagine, flying around the world first-class on designer’s dimes while bumping elbows with Kanye and Lagerfeld. Within 5 or 7 years, these method actors of the social elite have become superstars, paving a path up the fashion totem pole that few can imitate or comprehend. In the process they’ve made some enemies, mostly haters who get pissed that they aren’t clever enough to do it themselves, but overall have reached a new level of fame that couldn’t have existed before the days Facebook and Twitter becoming household names.
Did you just see Hanelli and Elin playing besties in a Louis Vuitton video? Yup. Was that Bryanboy in Barney’s Disney-fied holiday campaign? Fuck yah. The A-list has a few new entrants and there’s little anyone can do about the growing influence of these “Sundance-darlings” making their way in.
The whole nature of this beast has me wondering if success is limited or if there’s a method to the social climbing madness. Does Hollywood truly parallel the fashion industry and can someone like me, the equivalent of an unknown indie actor making her way from casting to casting, rise up the ranks and eventually make it to the A-list?
Does hard work really pay off in the long run? Or is this just a game of chance? Or worst, is this a game where the people with the biggest pocketbooks win?
Is there a way to guarantee success or will I be trapped in the land of the D-list for life?
Only time will tell, but I will say this, I’m getting really fucking tired of standing…