With a huge demand for off-duty fashion pictures, paparazzi photographers have their work cut out for them. They follow movie stars as they grab a coffee in sweatpants and jog around Central Park in a cami. They follow celebrities as far as the Caribbean, where these people sunbathe in the swimsuits of the season; the Swiss Alps, where they huddle in Obermeyer men’s ski jackets; and even Bali, where they’re clad in local cotton shifts and Gucci sandals.
Not even their airport ensemble goes unnoticed. Airport fashion has become a staple in every celebrity magazine. Everything – from the expensive sneakers to the expensive sunglasses – is researched and reported. The biggest fandoms even create social media pages dedicated to airport fashion.
So why are people fascinated with how celebrities look at as they board a plane? Why is there an emphasis on airport fashion, while people don’t pay much attention to cafÃ© fashion or shopping fashion?
Luxury Travel, the Old Hollywood Way
The fascination with airport fashion is almost as old as airports themselves. The public hunger for tarmac looks is rooted in the fact that, several decades ago, air travel was limited to the rich and famous.
In the early days of airplanes, only the rich could afford a seat, and this jet-setting included Old Hollywood’s leading stars. Actors needed to go to shooting locations, after all. Plus, they had to maintain an image of glamour, of a charmed life different from the life led by the public. Since air travel wasn’t standard, it was a special occasion in itself – something you dress properly for. The people, in turn, was curious about what celebrities wore to the airport.
The stars didn’t disappoint. Take Zsa Zsa Gabor, for instance. Beautiful and entertaining, she never traveled light. A trip to the skies meant fabulous new dresses, dazzling jewels, and costly fur coats. The rest of her wardrobe is tucked into signature Louis Vuitton luggage. So glamorous were her travels that The Telegraph once remarked, “Gabor used the airport as her catwalk.“
The glamour, however, didn’t last long. As air travel became more accessible and affordable, it was no longer a special occasion somebody dresses up for. The fanfare was gone, and people – who can now travel in planes – are no longer interested in what their co-passengers, celebrity or not, wore when boarding the plane.
The Resurgence of the Airport Paparazzi
Despite the lull of airport celebrity photography, the paparazzi wasn’t done with airport fashion just yet. The demand for airplane ensemble photos resurfaced in 2005 when TMZ started intense celebrity coverage. Photographers buzzed in the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) because it is a haven for celebrity sightings. You’re guaranteed to see a couple of stars in a single day. You’re sure you have snaps to sell to media agencies. Airport paparazzi work paid well.
As such, people once again scrutinized the look that stars sport as they leave or arrive. Only this time, there were no longer fur coats and tea-length swing dresses. Airport fashion has taken an unexpected and casual turn, with stars preferring oversized jackets, tights, and sneakers. Don’t be fooled by the laid-back looks, however. It can cost you thousands of dollars to steal the look.
The great part, though, is that you can always search for a similar item with a friendlier price tag. With a little bit of patience and lots of pegged photos, you can cop the look of your favorite celebrity and take to the skies like a star. Happy travels!