The Branded Marriage of Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker

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This weekend, Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker got married for the third time, after an all-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 at a castle in Portofino, Italy, and staged in front of a Gothic altar that looked like it came out of 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 leaked out, it became clear that one fashion brand had its fingerprints all over the weekend’s celebrations: Dolce & Gabbana appeared to dress every member of the family, mostly in skin-tight outfits with lots of lace, tulle and drama, with multiple outfit changes for each Day. (This is the same previously scandal-embroiled brand whose co-founder once referred to the Kardashians “world’s cheapest people” in an Instagram comment.) Let’s discuss the implications.

Jessica Testa We’ve seen brand partnerships at celebrity weddings before — usually in the bride’s outfits, or the champagne served at reception, or the hotel that serves as the venue — but never like this. The Milan luxury house effectively turned 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 others! Collectively, the Dolce-invited (and dressed-up) Kardashian-Jenners have many hundreds of millions of followers, all eagerly consuming each of their Instagram posts: Kris (47.9 million followers) wears Leopard chiffon (believed to be available now in the Dolce boutique) as well as Dolce makeup (ditto) on a leopard sofa on leopard spotted cushions (believed to be part of Dolce Home). According to Launchmetrics, which collects data on brand performance, the wedding weekend has already brought Dolce “$25.4 million in media impact value,” thanks in large part to the Kardashian-Jenners’ Instagram posts.

It was the pinnacle of sponsored social media, apart from the designers said business of fashion that they simply “host” the event like 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), for their mutual benefit. It’s just not usually that… all-encompassing. Or unabashed.

JT I appreciated that many of the outfits were from the archives. It was a smart marketing move: the family gets style points for wear vintage (like Kourtney’s sheer red pre-wedding dress from 1998), and Dolce scores points for being one of the originators of the Y2K look that currently dominates fashion.

And yet! The whole thing yet felt like a brand-sponsored wedding, even if technically (very technically) it wasn’t. It was a little cynical and a lot garish. Perhaps that splendor was the point, but from what we’ve seen on social media, there was a lack of confidence that would make the point.

vf I agree, although I think we really shouldn’t be surprised given how the Kardashian-Jenners have managed to monetize their very existence — and kudos to Kris for figuring this out long before anyone else and not only her family but has effectively founded an entire industry. (We can discuss what that has meant for the culture later.) And certainly it was foreshadowed by Kim’s 2014 marriage to Kanye West, which began with a brunch hosted by Valentino Garavani, to which Kim (of course) wore Valentino. A ceremony in Italy followed, at which she wore Givenchy couture designed by her “good friend” (quote Harper’s Bazaar) Riccardo Tisci.

The celebration was followed by one of the best-placed weddings of all to date: Gwyneth Paltrow’s marriage to Brad Falchuk, shortly after goop published a “source book” for each item involved. I’m longing for the days when Jennifer Aniston married Brad Pitt fairly secretly, only leaking a tasteful black-and-white photo to the starved hordes. Or Jay-Z and Beyoncé, who kept the details secret long after the fact.

JT 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 any behind-the-scenes photos on Instagram 2 years. But then think about Nick Jonas, who married Priyanka Chopra months earlier and documented all the endorsement deals leading up to the wedding, including vodka and scooter at his bachelor party (while she content made to promote Amazon wedding gift listings).

However, behind many of these deals is a real thirst for knowledge. I always think of another wedding instead last weekend – that of Chloë Sevigny, queen mother of New York’s cool girls, and Sinisa Mackovic. The content of this wedding was obviously not sponsored, so people took matters 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! At some level, we crave this information!

vf We’re as guilty as the celebs this cycle, that’s true. But something else strikes me about the Kardashian-Dolce relationship: It’s not just about 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 from the company’s cancellation after its China debacle in 2018, when they seemingly insulted the whole country with a campaign that played on racial stereotypes. Not to mention the range of politically incorrect statements made by Dominic Dolce and Stefano Gabbana.

Though other celebs have since worn Dolce sporadically on the red carpet, including Kate Middleton, and though her couture shows have been well attended by her loyal VICs (Very Important Clients), this really is the icing on the cake: an audience performative welcome back in the ultimate ritual of affection.

But one last question: What do you think of the clothes themselves?

JT Kourtney’s embroidered Virgin Mary tulle veil was notable, 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 is revealing in her lingerie-inspired mini dress. It all seemed less like a wedding and more like a costume party. The theme is perhaps Italian excess? (Khloe wore a gold halo Crown as befits a saint in a Renaissance painting; Kendall Jenner wore one long skirt set similar to the Monica Bellucci dress fabulous carried to Cannes in 1997. You have the idea.)

What did you think?

vf Costume party is the right term. The trio of tiny Dolce corset dresses Kourtney wore: first her Vegas wedding, then her Italian celebration before the wedding (the black gothic number from 1998 with a Virgin Mary embroidered on the front, worn with a sheer veil and opera gloves) and finally their actual marriage seemed calculated to play the rafters of the smartphone. Woman. Dolce and Gabbana can make elegant, beautiful clothes, but that was the campy Sicilian widow side of their aesthetic. We hope this is the turning point for both the styles and the whole brand wedding situation.

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