Beyoncé’s impact on entertainment and music is indisputable: she’s a global superstar with accolades ranging from Forbes’ Most Powerful Celebrity to Times’ Most Influential Person. So why hasn’t her influence trickled over into the fashion realm? The New York Times‘ Vanessa Friedman attempts to explore the phenomenon, which she dubs the “Beyoncé paradox,” in a new feature “Beyoncé, Superstar but Not a Fashion Icon.”

Prompted by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s decision to feature seven of Beyoncé’s outfits in an exhibition in the Legends of Rock section, Friedman delves into the singer’s lack of influence on fashion, citing House of Deréon as evidence:

Beyoncé hasn’t moved, or influenced, the direction of fashion writ large in the way that, say, Rihanna, the winner of this year’s CFDA Fashion Icon award, has. (See, for example, the luxe athletic pieces peppering collections like Pucci, Balmain and Tom Ford.) She doesn’t wear things and spark a million trends, like Madonna once did with her jeweled crosses and lace minis, not to mention her bullet bra corsets. She doesn’t cause items to sell out overnight, like wee Prince George. […]

Her megafame could not even sustain her own fashion brand, House of Deréon, which appears to have been suspended (the Facebook page links to a website, houseofdereon.com, which the Internet says “cannot be found,” though some jeans and shoes are still sold on third-party sites), unlike, say, that of Jessica Simpson, which has revenues of about $1 billion, according to Forbes. […]

So how is it that all ages of women want to be like her, but that does not include, for any of them, what is normally the easiest way into the fantasy: dressing like her? How is it she drives audiences into stadiums but not clients into stores?

Friedman suggests that Beyoncé’s lack of fashion influence is strategic, that instead of pursuing the title of fashion icon, Mrs. Carter decided to channel all her influence into the “Beyoncé brand.” Another explanation could be that her fans just didn’t embrace House of Dereon, or that her red carpet wares, which rarely stray from her signature mermaid silhouette, aren’t as fascinating as those of her peers. Do you think Beyoncé is a fashion icon? And if not, why?


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