Sunday, 15 November 2009

Cheryl Cole: Lazy Styled Barbie or Clever Style Icon? by K.R.

As much as we may be divided about Cheryl Cole, invariably torn between an attitude of love, adulation and imitation, and one of indifference, jealously or abhorrence, one thing is certain: she has become a firm power in the fashion industry, backing up-and-coming designers and haute couture labels alike to the point that the dress, the earrings, or whatever it may be, flies off the shelves the next day.

But is Cheryl Cole clever in her choice of outfits?
Does she calculate these style decisions to up her profile, or indeed, that of the designer?
Or, is she simply playing a game of fashion by numbers, selecting The Dress, that is, the focal point of a runway collection?

Cheryl doesn't seem to know how to dress for her shape. The unusually similar dress styles donned by Cheryl and Dannii on finale night of the 2008 X Factor gives this away, while also drawing attention to just how much weight she had lost. While Dannii looks curvaceous, healthy and happy in her vibrant cut-away dress, Cheryl's Julien Macdonald dress seems to hang off her frame. As seen on the runway, a stronger, fuller body makes the clean-cut lines pop and really take shape. Regardless of any weight issues Cheryl may have had at this time, she is a petite girl, and therefore should bear this in mind and dress for her shape.

Meanwhile this year Cheryl chooses a dress, which nods to two trends in one outfit: that of Balmain shoulders, and the slightly less commercial look of an alien-esque, futuristic aesthetic. In this way, she proves, that she can take a risk and embrace new fashions. Nonetheless, is this dress merely an arbitrary pick from a successful runway show? After all, Cheryl is not renowned for her avant-garde style choices (for instance, like Lady Gaga, whose confidence and out-there-ness would undoubtedly lend itself well to this bold look)...

Similarly, the David Koma dress, an incredibly hard piece to actually pull off, did provide both Cheryl and Koma with some (well-deserved) press. Such a move on Cheryl's part may prove her to be on the ball when it comes to who to watch, however, this artistic dress seems to have been randomly chosen from the runway show with little consideration.

Arguably, the dress which Cheryl wore could be said to be one of the least commercially appropriate of the collection, an aspect which should be, or at least is normally considered on a show as far-reaching as X Factor. What's more, the dress with the tassels on the far right (below) with its narrow vest-like fit on the upper body would make a petite frame look fuller and enhance the broadness of shoulders, while showing off killer legs (or, indeed, thigh-high boots - another nod to one of winter's hottest trends).

In X Factor 2008, Cheryl wore a pair of earrings by Lucy Hutchings, (very hot jewellery designer, whose carefully crafted statement pieces have been making waves with stylists throughout the UK for a few seasons now - check her out at As such, Cheryl again proves her fashion know-how, but with finesse and sophistication, choosing a simple piece from a complicated beautiful collection, that, most importantly suits her. (Unfortunately, though, the poorly scrapped-back hair and gold hairband does nothing to support this sophistication).

These dresses by Atelier Versace are straightforward in their message of glamour and ornate prettiness, which Cheryl is indeed known for. Thus, while in endorsing such a well-known and already lucrative brand she may not be doing a 'good fashion deed' of getting a little-known designer into the limelight, but she certainly suits this aesthetic, and therefore in fact does herself a good fashion deed, by dressing for herself.

Atelier Versace 2009

Furthermore, this dress by 3.1 Phillip Lim is ideal for Cheryl's shape. The playful colours keep the aesthetic youthful, plus the shiny red belt adds a kitsch undertone.

Ultimately, though, we cannot actually take Cheryl's style choices on face value:
"Over the past 12 months Cheryl has become leader of the fashion pack thanks to a seriously clever makeover. Much of her amazing new style is down to her personal stylist, Victoria Adcock. If it wasn't for Adcock - who has also worked with Victoria Beckham and Christina Aguilera - Cheryl might still be looking a little more WAG than wonderful."

As such, we have to ask ourselves, to what extent do we see the real Cheryl in her clothes, indeed, to what extent do we really see any celebrity? With immense money, why not hire a stylist if you are unsure yourself? This, then, means that certainly in this case, individual style is superseded by a styled, contrived aesthetic. And with her conventionally beautiful face, luscious L'oreal locks and petite Barbie-esque frame, it could be easy to discount Cheryl Cole as anything more than a cleverly marketed brand. Perhaps this is unfair.

Whether you love her or hate her, one thing is sure. Cheryl has become a money-making machine, a constant inspiration and force within the fashion industry, and she's here to stay.

Keep it Modo people ;)