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Posted at 10:44 AM ET, 04/26/2006

Stars, They're Just Like Us!

By Liz Kelly

Or are we just like them?

Maybe not yet, but with an explosion of celebrity designed or endorsed clothing lines, make-up, perfume and jewelry it's easier than ever to wear our celebrity brand loyalty on our sleeves, so to speak.

Happy Homeowner Hilary Duff. (ShowbizIreland/Getty Images)

Tonight, the latest guide to help us keep up with the Joneses (or the Jones Reynolds) debuts at 9 p.m. ET on the Style Network. "My Celebrity Home" will help us average folk learn to make our homes pretentious just a little bit more like those of our favorite stars:

After exclusive tours of stars' posh pads -- Hilary Duff shares the secrets of her special sewing room, Kathy Griffin shows off her hip L.A. digs -- host Peter Marr joins forces with a lucky average homeowner and a famous designer to re-create the high-end look without the Hollywood price tag.

Sewing room? I'd rather emulate celebrity home life with an affordable home spa.

"My Celebrity Home" isn't the first peek into the creature comforts of celebrities. "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" defined the genre, MTV has been plowing this field for years with it's long-running "Cribs" (and even markets its own line of furnishings: "Take your crib from blah to bangin'") and the new site sells the looks seen on stars from soap operas to "American Idol" to music videos to the red carpet.

Is this enabled copy-catting ultimately good or bad?

Depends on how we look at it. At first blush, I wondered whether I really want my 14-year-old niece squelching her individuality to make sure her shoes and her room match Lindsay Lohan's exactly. But I can't fault her. After all, we all take fashion cues from somewhere -- whether it be Vogue, "What Not to Wear," the REI catalog or the sale rack at H&M -- and I did a pretty good impression of Madonna (jelly bracelets, fingerless lace gloves) myself in junior high.

Turned on its head, maybe this levels the playing field. Thanks to economic stability, mass production, the Internet and clever marketing, maybe the exclusive domain of celebrity is shrinking. The velvet ropes have been quietly removed. No longer can they lord their Jimmy Choos and shabby chic decor over us. Thanks to eBay, I can score a pair of (used) Jimmys for a fraction of retail. With Target, Ikea, West Elm and other competitively-priced home furnishers, any house can look photo-spread fresh.

I like the amalgam of items in my home -- like most people's belongings, some were chosen for aesthetic reasons, other sentimental, others for pure convenience. I don't think I'll be tuning in every Wednesday night to take notes on how to blingify my surroundings, but, who knows, maybe Hilary Duff will have some good ideas for my sewing room, after all.

By Liz Kelly  | April 26, 2006; 10:44 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities, Miscellaneous, Pop Culture  
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I think you're right, to some extent -- these days more than ever, everybody's a celebrity just waiting for their 15 minutes. now you can have the lifestyle even if you can't get the notoriety.

Posted by: OD | April 26, 2006 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Liz - Are you saying that we are defined merely by our possessions? And especially by those possessions that mimic the possessions of celebrities? We have gone from a country of rugged individualists to lick-spittle me-toos. We pay extra (exorbitantly extra!) to advertize for designers who splash their logos all over us. As they would say in Texas, these people are all hat and no cattle. Sheesh!

Posted by: JM | April 26, 2006 12:46 PM | Report abuse

As long as I've been alive, my experience is that people define themselves by the clothes they wear. They get their cues from somewhere. A magazine, television show, music video, film or what their friends are wearing.

I remember buying Ralph Sampson endorsed Puma's because the Celtics were going to acquire Sampson in the draft. I admired his playing ability and thought if I had his sneaker's, I'd be able to play like him. Of course, I was only good enough to play pick-up games in college, but that's another story.

Growing up in Allston, MA, my friends and I would walk to Harvard Square on Friday nights, where the "punk rockers"--all in black with heavy make-up, spiked mohawks and black boots and wallets with chains-- strived to be so different, yet were all the same.

Today, I shop at Century 21, a discount retailer in Brooklyn and Manhattan, where I can find Nike Golf shirts, shorts and pants just like Tiger Woods wears on the fairway.

Generally, most of us know he's paid to endorse the clothes and wear them on the greens, but darn it...he looks pretty good in those threads! And if it's good enough for him, then it's good enough for me.

My girlfriend thinks at 39, I shouldn't be wearing checked, short sleeve, button-down shirts by Marc Ecko. She says I look like an old man in Palm Beach!

But I follow Russell Simmons and Marc's style. I want to wear cool gear so my nephew's still look up to me. And, the people in my industry (music/fashion/video/Internet) see that I'm still "with it."

With the demise of 30-second commercial and the rise of time-shifting on-demand video--marketers are finding new ways to advertise their wares to us by using product placement as a tool to get their message across.

We can either sit through the commercial (not anymore!) or we can be subjected to commercialism in the commercial juggernaut that is the media industry.

By putting clothing on the backs of celebrities, brands gain instant exposure and credibility. If it's good enough for Paris Hilton--who is supposed to have somewhat discerning taste with all that wealth--then why can't I have it too?

Have you ever been to Canal Street? It's knock-off heaven down there. Every day! Tourists come from all over to buy counterfit goods that look just like what the celebs are carrying around on the red carpet. If I have this piece, then I'm cool. If I don't, then I'm not keeping up with the Jonses, they say.

People can rail all thay want against the new way of doing things. But I don't think it's all so new. I think it's just more visible today. I've been influenced to purchase products through commercials or advertisements in print, television, radio and now the Internet.

Is our consumer culture over the top? Sure! I absolutely agree! Just look at the convergence of media in Times Square where you are so bombarded with images that it's almost impossible to have a free thought. Should it be this way? I don't know. Has it ever been any other way?

Soap operas are called just that because of the soap commercials that funded them. And that was 30 to 40-years ago. Did Orson Welles "War of the Worlds" stop for a commercial break? I'm not sure, but we all know that radio is supported by advertising because we need our content, our entertainment, in some instances, to be free.

Some would argue that advertising has a negative effect on our culture, but I believe that without advertising, how would people find the information in order to embrace the culture.

Would we all be watching public television and be influenced in our styles by Dr. Who or those stuffy British shows in which everyone's wearing lace and three-piece suits?

No thanks, I'd rather be wearing that Armani suit Jimmy Smits has been sporting as of late, Lebron James sneakers or Russell Simmons Phat Farm cargo shorts in the summer.

When people come up to me and ask where I got something, I become the celebrity, the trendsetter and now I am them and they are me. Sure, I still want to travel with the cool crew, but I can leave the Members Only jackets that have been featured on The Sopranos as of late, at home. I'm not ready to move to Boca Raton just yet!

Posted by: Tony Zeoli | May 2, 2006 9:09 AM | Report abuse

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