Editor’s Note: Featuring the good, the bad and the ugly, ‘Look of the Week’ is a regular series dedicated to unpacking the most talked about outfit of the last seven days.
It’s the 76th Cannes Film Festival and celebrities are flocking to the South of France hot off-the-runway — the airport runway that is. While to some, an arrivals terminal is simply a place to disembark an aircraft, collect luggage and stare blankly at international subway systems, to others, it’s the first opportunity to make a profile-raising sartorial statement.
Take Didi Stone’s matching firetruck red Miu Miu set, worn as she arrived at Nice Airport earlier this week. The internet has it down as further evidence of her fashion credentials and It Girl status, adding to anticipation for her eventual red carpet appearance. Snapped by photographers looking impeccably dressed and harmoniously accessorized with an embellished chain choker, Apple AirMax headphones and an impressively maintained bold lip, it’s hard to believe Stone is fresh off a flight. Over on her Instagram are yet more images of her airport arrival, which appear as glossy as a magazine advert.
Photographers have long considered airports an essential spotting ground for celebrities — though in previous decades the outcome was unposed, spontaneous and in outfits that are attainable rather than aspirational. Take Tyra Banks in gray sweatpants running through Los Angeles International in 1997, clutching a copy of Ebony Magazine, or Juliette Lewis rocking the unexpected combination of a bucket hat, gray leggings and clogs in 1992. The airport once offered a rare glimpse into the ordinariness of celebrities during a time when a lack of internet and social media meant much was kept private.
These “off duty fashion sightings reached a cultural peak in the 1990s and have been obsessively revered ever since. On Pinterest, searches for the phrase “90s model off duty” increased by 100% this month — the highest amount of search traffic the phrase has seen all year. The term produces near-endless images of Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford and Jennifer Anniston in high-waisted blue jeans and cropped white t-shirts.
But while the interest in seeing celebrities dressed in more pedestrian garb remains today (the hashtag “modeloffduty” attached to videos of Bella Hadid, Lily Rose Depp and Kendall Jenner has more than 360 million views on TikTok), does the idea of being “off-duty” even exist anymore? In the age of social media, the internet is a powerful advertising tool where any public appearance — be it a red carpet moment or simply jumping out of a cab — is a brand-building opportunity. Some celebrities can charge millions to wear a specific label in a street style shot, fed back to style media publications, creating organic exposure that generates consumer interest and ideally, more sales.
It means curated is the new casual, and that time is money. In 2023, a celebrity must always be on: working, generating personal relevance and possibly, revenue. Everything’s an opportunity, even — or perhaps especially — when fresh off the tarmac.