The Branded Marriage of Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker

This weekend, Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker got married for the third time, following a just-for-fun ceremony in Las Vegas chaired by Elvis and an intimate legal ceremony in Santa Barbara, California.

But by all accounts, this was the Big One—hosted 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 entire Kardashian-Jenner family in attendance. .

And yet it was more than just a wedding. As photos of the Italian coast started trickling out, it became clear that one fashion brand had its fingerprints over the weekend’s festivities: Dolce & Gabbana seemed to dress every member of the family, usually in form-fitting outfits heavy on lace, tulle and drama, with multiple outfit changes per day. (This is the same formerly scandal-ridden brand the co-founder once was) referred to the Kardashians “the cheapest people in the world” in an Instagram comment.) Let’s discuss the implications.

Jessica Testa We’ve seen brand partnerships played out at celebrity weddings before — usually in the bride’s outfits, or the champagne served at the reception, or the hotel used as the venue — but never in this way. The luxury home in Milan effectively turned the weekend into a real-time advertising campaign. Was it effective?

Vanessa Friedman Not just an ad campaign, but even better: an ad campaign created by other people! Together, the Kardashian-Jenners, invited (and dressed) by Dolce, have many hundreds of millions of followers, all of whom eagerly consume every Instagram post: Kris (47.9 million followers) wears leopard chiffon (presumably now available in the Dolce boutique) as well as Dolce makeup (ditto) lounging on leopard-stained pillows (presumably part of Dolce Home) on a leopard couch. According to Launchmetrics, which collects data on brand performance, the wedding weekend has already earned “$25.4 million in Media Impact Value” for Dolce, thanks in large part to Instagram posts from the Kardashian-Jenners.

It was the pinnacle of sponsored social media, except the designers told the Business of Fashion they’re just “hosting” the event the way friends do for each other. And it’s true, there’s a long history of designers and celebrities scratching each other’s backs on special occasions (especially weddings), to the benefit of both. Usually it’s not this… all encompassing. Or unabashedly.

JT I appreciated that many of the outfits were archived. It was a smart marketing move: the family gets style points for vintage wear (like Kourtney’s sheer red wedding dress from 1998), and Dolce scores a few for demonstrating that it was one of the founders of the Y2K look that dominates fashion at the moment.

But still! The whole thing still felt like a brand-sponsored wedding, even if it wasn’t technically (very technically). It was a bit cynical and a lot ostentatious. Maybe that ostentatiousness was the point, but from what we saw on social media, it lacked any kind of self-awareness that would make that point.

VF I agree, although I don’t think we really should be surprised, given the way the Kardashian-Jenners have managed to monetize their mere existence – and kudos to Kris for putting this up long before anyone figured out differently, effectively launching not just her family, but an entire industry. (We can discuss what this has meant for the culture later.) And sure enough, it was foreshadowed by Kim’s 2014 wedding to Kanye West, which started with a Valentino Garavani-hosted brunch, which Kim wore Valentino (natch). It was followed by a ceremony in Italy where she wore Givenchy couture designed by her “close friend” (to quote) Harper’s Bazaar) Riccardo Tisci.

The celebration was followed by what was to date one of the most successful weddings of all: Gwyneth Paltrow’s wedding to Brad Falchuk, shortly after. goop published a “sourcebook” for each item involved. It makes me long for the days when Jennifer Aniston secretly married Brad Pitt and released just one tasteful black and white photo to the voracious hordes. Or Jay-Z and Beyoncé, who kept the details secret until long after.

JT There are certainly celebrities who still keep things private; think about Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas, whose wedding in the south of France in 2019 was incredibly private – Sophie didn’t share behind-the-scenes photos on Instagram for two years† But then think about Nick Jonas, who married Priyanka Chopra months earlier and documented all pre-wedding endorsement deals, including vodka and scooters at his bachelor party (while she created content to promote Amazon’s wedding gift registries).

However, there is a real thirst for knowledge that underlies many of these deals. I keep thinking of another wedding, held last weekend — that of Chloë Sevigny, the queen mother of the cool girls of New York, and Sinisa Mackovic. The content of that wedding wasn’t clearly sponsored, so people took it into their own hands. the strategist published a guide to every item found at the wedding, including ice swans and silver cigarette cups. I clicked right away! On some level, we crave this information!

VF We’re just as guilty as the celebrities in this cycle, it’s 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 advertising and the family’s blessing . It’s also the ultimate form of comeback after the company’s cancellation following the China debacle in 2018, when they seemingly insulted the entire country with a campaign that played with racist clichés. Not to mention the array of politically incorrect statements by Domenico Dolcea and Stefano Gabbana

While other celebrities have sporadically worn Dolce on the red carpet since then, including Kate Middleton, and while the couture shows were well attended by his loyal VICs (very important clients), this really is the icing on the cake: an audience, performative welcome in the ultimate ritual of affection.

One last question: what did you think of the clothes themselves?

JT Kourtney’s Embroidered Virgin Mary tulle veil was remarkable, apparently inspired by a tattoo on her new husband’s skull. I love it when brides wear something unconventional that reveals their personality – although I’m really not sure what aspect of her personality she revealed in her lingerie-inspired mini dress. It was all less like a wedding and more like a costume party. The theme might be Italian excess? (Khloe wore a gold halo Crown befitting a saint in a Renaissance painting; Kendall Jenner wore a long skirt set similar to the dress Monica Bellucci fabulous wore to Cannes in 1997. You get the idea.)

What did you think?

VF Costume party is the right term. The trio of little Dolce corset dresses Kourtney wore: first her Vegas wedding, then her Italian pre-wedding celebration (the 1998 black goth number with an embroidered Virgin Mary on the front, worn with a sheer veil and opera gloves) and in the end, her actual marriage seemed calculated on the smartphone rafters. Mrs. Dolce and Gabbana can make elegant, beautiful clothes, but this was the campy Sicilian widow side of their aesthetic. I hope this is the tipping point for both the styles and the entire marital situation of the brand.


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