This weekend, Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker tied the knot for the third time, following a just-for-fun ceremony in Las Vegas under Elvis’ presidency and an intimate legal ceremony in Santa Barbara, Calif.
But in every way, it was the Big One — housed in a castle in Portofino, Italy, and staged in front of a Gothic altar that looked like it came from the set of Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet,” with the set from Kardashian -Jenner family presents.
And yet, it wasn’t just a wedding. As photos of the Italian coast began to trickle in, it became clear that one fashion brand had its fingerprints all the way through the weekend festivities: Dolce & Gabbana seemed to dress every member of the family, mostly in bodycon outfits heavy with lace, tulle and drama. , with several outfit changes every day. (This is the same formerly outraged brand whose co-founder once called the Kardashians “the cheapest people in the world” in an Instagram comment.) Let’s discuss the implications.
Jessica Testa We’ve seen brand partnerships play out at celebrity weddings before – usually in the outfits of the bride, or the champagne served at the reception, or the hotel used as the venue – but never like this. The Milanese luxury house has indeed transformed the weekend into a real-time advertising campaign. Was it effective?
Vanessa Friedman Not just an advertising campaign, but even better: an advertising campaign created by other people! Together, the Kardashian-Jenners invited (and dressed) by Dolce have several hundred million followers, all avidly consuming each of their Instagram posts: Kris (47.9 million followers) dressed in leopard chiffon (presumably available now in the Dolce boutique) as well as Dolce makeup (ditto) lying on leopard speckled cushions (probably part of Dolce Home) on a leopard sofa. According to Launchmetrics, which collects brand performance data, the wedding weekend has already brought in “$25.4 million in media impact value” for Dolce, largely thanks to the Kardashians’ Instagram posts- jenners.
It was the ultimate in sponsored social media, except the designers told the Business of Fashion that they were simply “hosting” the event, like friends do for each other. And it’s true, there’s a long history of designers and celebrities scratching their backs on special occasions (especially weddings), to the benefit of both. It’s just not that…all-encompassing. Or shamelessly.
news I appreciated that a lot of the outfits were archival. It was a smart marketing move: the family gets style points for wearing vintage (like Kourtney’s see-through red dress before the 1998 wedding), and Dolce scores for proving to be one of the creators of the Y2K look dominating fashion right now.
And yet! Everything again felt like a brand-sponsored wedding, even though technically (very technically) it wasn’t. It was a bit cynical and a lot garish. Maybe that boldness was the point, but from what we’ve seen on social media, it lacked any sort of self-awareness that would make that point clear.
VF I agree, though I guess we really shouldn’t be surprised, given how well the Kardashian-Jenners have managed to monetize their mere existence — and kudos to Kris for figuring that out long before anyone else, and effectively launching not just his family but an entire industry. (We can debate what that meant for the culture later.) And certainly, that was foreshadowed by Kim’s marriage to Kanye West in 2014, which began with a brunch hosted by Valentino Garavani, which Kim wore ( natch) Valentino. It was followed by a ceremony in Italy where she wore Givenchy couture designed by her “good friend” (to quote Harper’s Bazaar) Riccardo Tisci.
The celebration was followed by what was, so far, one of the most product-driven weddings: Gwyneth Paltrow’s nuptials to Brad Falchuk, shortly after Goop released a “source book” for every element involved. It makes me daydream of the days when Jennifer Aniston married Brad Pitt in secret, delivering just one tasteful black-and-white photo to the ravenous hordes. Or Jay-Z and Beyoncé, who kept the details under wraps long after the fact.
news There are certainly celebrities who still keep things private; consider Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas, whose 2019 wedding in the South of France was incredibly private – Sophie didn’t share behind-the-scenes photos on Instagram for two years. But then consider Nick Jonas, who married Priyanka Chopra months earlier and documented all the approval offers leading up to marriage, including vodka and scooters at her bachelor party (while she did content to promote Amazon’s wedding gift registries).
However, there is a genuine thirst for knowledge that underlies many of these transactions. I can’t stop thinking about another wedding, celebrated last weekend, that of Chloë Sevigny, queen mother of the cool girls of New York, and Sinisa Mackovic. The content coming from that wedding obviously wasn’t sponsored, so people picked it up. The strategist has posted a guide to every item found at the wedding, including ice swans and silver cigarette cups. I clicked right away! On some level, we yearn for this information!
VF We are as guilty as the celebrities of this cycle, it is true. But something else strikes me about the Kardashian-Dolce relationship: it’s not just what the wedding families get out of it (a fabulous vacation, wardrobe, etc.), but what the brand gets: free publicity and the blessing of the family. It’s also the ultimate form of comeback after the company was canceled following its debacle in China in 2018, when they seemingly offended the whole country with a campaign that played on racist clichés. Not to mention the assortment of politically incorrect statements made by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana.
Although other celebrities have sporadically worn Dolce on the red carpet since then, including Kate Middleton, and her couture shows have been well attended by her loyal VICs (Very Important Clients), it really is the icing on the cake. : an audience, a performative return to the ultimate ritual of affection.
One last question though: what did you think of the clothes themselves?
news Kourtney’s embroidered tulle veil of the Virgin Mary was remarkable, apparently inspired by a tattoo on the top of her new hubby’s skull. I love when brides wear something unconventional that reveals their personality – although I really don’t know what aspect of her personality she was revealing in her lingerie-inspired mini dress. It all looked less like a wedding than a costume party. The theme being Italian excess, perhaps? (Khloe wore a golden crown worthy of a saint in a Renaissance painting; Kendall Jenner wore a long skirt similar to the dress fabulously worn by Monica Bellucci in Cannes in 1997. You get the idea.)
What did you think?
VF Costume party is the correct term. The trio of tiny Dolce corset dresses Kourtney wore: first her Vegas wedding, then her pre-wedding Italian celebration (the 1998 black gothic number with an embroidered Virgin Mary on the front, worn with a sheer veil and gloves of opera) and finally his real nuptials seemed calculated to play with the chevrons of the smartphone. MM. Dolce and Gabbana can make elegant and lovely clothes, but that was the campy Sicilian Widow side of their aesthetic. Here’s hoping this is the tipping point for both styles and the whole brand wedding situation.