I’d like to preface this post by saying, damn, Britney looks good! She left behind the stability of her Las Vegas residency last week to embark on a mini European tour to promote her new underwear line, The Intimate Britney Spears, having launched it with a runway show at New York Fashion Week. She looks healthy and happy and pulled together, and her hair looks like it could feasibly be growing out of her own head! These are all good, positive things! As someone who rooted for her through the dark days when the Britney train was coming off the tracks in agonisingly slow motion, I really, really hope she’s in a good place right now and this is not an illusion created by a capable stylist and a better brand of hair extensions. After all, they do need to sell us on the idea that Britney + underwear = something we would purchase, rather than a search term we might use to find photos of her exiting a car circa 2006.
Wearing a Rhea Costa jumpsuit at New York Fashion Week
It is unfortunate that someone who basically defined the pop music landscape of the new millennium is as famous in 2014 for having an horrifically public mental breakdown as she is for churning out some of the most memorable hits of the early naughties, but the public has always loved the build-em-up-to-knock-em-down approach to celebrity. It seems we relish it even more when the celebrity is female, and when they’re a mother to boot we just can’t get enough of the fallen star/good girl gone bad narrative. Britney’s fall was so spectacular, so incredible, and so humiliatingly public that it was both intensified by and, at the same time, responsible for fuelling the emergence of the internet celebrity gossip industry.
And this is not conjecture on my part. There have been actual academic studies done on “The Britney Effect” and how she essentially found herself at the centre of a perfect storm – her erratic behaviour due to (then undiagnosed) bi-polar disorder playing out in public at the exact moment when internet gossip blogs were taking off, giving those blogs precisely the kind of content they needed to grow and grow. As the numbers of paparazzi multiplied, they knew that the gossip blogs needed round the clock content and would pay decent money for anything that fed the public’s insatiable appetite for being scandalised by women behaving badly.
Wearing a Cushnie et Ochs dress in Norway
Throw into that mix one of the most famous women on the planet, a young mother, overworked since childhood, who’s mental health issues were clearly exacerbated by the circus her life had become, and you have one of the most perversely entertaining episodes in the long history of celebrity gossip. The more bizarre the behaviour she exhibited – from changing clothes in the middle of a store to striping down to her underwear to swim in the ocean – the larger the circus grew, engulfing her and culminating in the now infamous head shaving, umbrella beating breakdown. When it later transpired that her dubious new “manager”, Sam Lufti, was drugging her and pre-arranging photo-ops with the paparazzi for money, well, frankly it’s a wonder she didn’t lose more than her hair.
A Michael Costello suit and a new do in Germany
Fast forward to today, and conservatorship clearly suits her, even if it is difficult to understand how such a drastic legal measure, designed to protect both her and her lucrative career, is still warranted six years later. Apparently her doctors say she continues to be incapable of making her own decisions, and so her father continues to make them for her, and while I was initially side-eyeing Team Spears for the Vegas residency – which seemed nothing more than a cynical attempt to milk the family cash cow till she had nothing left to give – it seems the decision was largely made to give her the security of a home base. In Vegas she has a place to raise her kids, the stability of a routine, and as normal a life as a person can have when her name is Britney Spears and every day culminates in taking to the stage and miming her greatest hits for a reported $300,000 per show.
Being Britney Spears is still big business, and given that the “style icon” tag is one that’s mostly eluded her, a move into design is unexpected, but one assumes it has been well vetted by Papa Spears & Co for financial viability.
“I went to a store in Europe,”
she told the Daily Mail in London, and I feel contrived back story coming on,
“and I was obsessed with all the different lingerie pieces that were very vintage and very romantic and feminine and subtle. And I was like, I have to do something like this. I definitely want to put my name to something like this.”
And what she’s put her name to actually isn’t half bad, but as with every celebrity fashion line you have to question just how much input the celebrity had. Did she literally just put her name to something she liked? Very probably, though she went on to tell the Mail
“I’ve taken two and half years to just really pick out all the fabrics and the designs and the art work for everything, and it’s been a really long process but it’s been a lot of fun.”
Great, so if she’s so enamoured with the process and so pleased with the end result, the big question is… Why aren’t we seeing that reflected in her promo tour looks? In every outfit bar one something is missing, and if you’ve already figured out that that something is a bra then well done you, you just passed Celebrity Styling 101.
In both the plunging orange jumpsuit she wore to the runway show in New York and the similar navy one (above) that she wore in London she went braless, missing the opportunity to show us what her product can do. In Poland she wore a figured, burgundy Tadashi Shoji dress with mesh inserts and a high neckline – a wonderful cut, and great for flattering her figure, but terrible for showing us how great her Britney Spears bra makes her boobs look.
In Germany she debuted a bob, and we got a white trouser suit and a lacy Maje cami… perfect for flashing a sexy little hint of lingerie, right? Wrong! They went instead for a higher cut on the top and a basic, practical looking, solid white bra beneath that I don’t even see in the collection.
Later that day in Denmark she looked better than ever, with a tousled do and a slinky black dress with a lace trim on the neckline and sleeve. It’s chic, it’s elegant, it’s obscenely flattering, but it’s another missed opportunity to go for a neckline that would show a little cleavage and a peek of her bra. And the Cushnie et Ochs, while not such an amazing cut on her, is also a great dress, I love the simple styling and the little twist in her hair, but in what is, admittedly, a bit of a turnaround for me, I still find myself going “Show me your underwear!”
None of which is to take away from the fact that she really does look fantastic. If this is a new style direction for her, it’s one of which I wholeheartedly approve. But a good stylist knows that when there’s product to schill that has to factor into the overall look, and Britney knows, better than anyone, that when you’ve something to promote, you better work bitch.