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Interview BuzzFeed.News

Buzzfeed.News Interview July 18, 2018
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Part 4

Theres a long history of clothing white bodies in exotic fashions to create a titillating contrast, and the argument that its fun or an art project doesnt change the fundamental dynamic: that other cultures seem to have little value to white culture in the US other than as an aesthetic. Yet misgivings about the Harajuku window dressing of the album were largely subsumed by discussion of the true question it raised, a favorite of the celebrity press: whether or not Stefani was going to have a baby. The lead single, What You Waiting For?, featuring a literal ticking clock, doubled as a message about her desire for children and hesitancy to embark on a solo career.

Again, Stefanis feuding desires came to the forefront can you be a successful woman on the mommy track? At a certain point Im going to want to have a family, and Im not going to have time to be running around the world doing this *bleep* and being greedy the way I have been, she told Rolling Stone in 2005. I can always write songs. But can I always wear an Alice in Wonderland costume? I probably shouldnt. I can at home. Iovine thought she could reconcile career and family: I hope she chooses to do both things, he said. She can handle both. I think she would really miss not fulfilling her potential as an artist, and shed regret that. But her potential as a mom is equally as powerful.

Iovine turned out to be right. As Stefanis L.A.M.B. fashion and accessories lines continued to expand, she embarked on a world tour and almost immediately discovered she was pregnant. She continued to tour through the first trimester, eventually giving birth in May 2006. She released a second solo album, The Sweet Escape, just seven months later, then launched two additional brands a fragrance and a shoe line before reembarking on yet another tour. The Sweet Escape yielded a handful of hits but never dominated the zeitgeist in the manner of Tragic Kingdom or L.A.M.B. Which isnt to suggest that Stefani herself was becoming less popular; if anything, she was more visible than ever before.

From 2005 to 2015, Stefani gradually transitioned from the role of rock star who just happened to be a celebrity to celebrity who just happened to be a rock star. The clearest evidence is in her magazine cover presence: Stefani had been appearing in teen magazines since 1996: YM, Teen, Seventeen, CosmoGirl, Teen Vogue. But after the launch of her L.A.M.B. brand, she became a regular fixture in womens fashion magazines. Her first Vogue cover came in 2004, followed by multiple covers for Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Harpers Bazaar, Allure, Glamour, InStyle, and Lucky. At the same time, her children first Kingston, and then Zuma, born two years later began popping up on gossip blogs and in celebrity tabloids, which had become increasingly fixated on tracking celebrity kids. Their outfits, their haircuts, and Kingstons willingness to mug for the camera earned them regular coverage. Soon, Stefani was known as the Coolest Mom in Hollywood.

This celebrity trajectory is not unique to Stefani: Dozens of women have become famous for a skill and then watched as conversations about other aspects of their lives their romances, their children, their side projects superseded the original reason for their fame. Sometimes, as in the case of Kim Kardashian, the initial fame-inducing moment is a flare, intended to be forgotten. For others, its a strategy to avoid irrelevance once youre past the age of being a bankable commodity in the industry where you made a name for yourself. As Stefani later told Vogue, she started L.A.M.B. because I was preparing myself, knowing that the music thing was going to end.

By 2011, when Stefani stepped away from a hands-on role in designing for L.A.M.B., the company reported earnings of $150 million; two years later, the line expanded to include clothes for teens and another line for kids, sold exclusively at Target. She became a new face of LOral, developed an OPI nail polish, launched a makeup line with Urban Decay, and, with L.A.M.B., created a line of panties for Hanky Panky, whose founder emphasized that both companies were founded on vintage references and embody empowerment and femininity. In 2014, she became the spokesperson for a Mastercard ad campaign. Gwen appeals not just to youngsters but to an older generation, the companys chief marketing officer told Billboard. Another executive explained that theres a high degree of notoriety and equity in her brand.

Equity is business-speak for precisely what Stefani had been accumulating for the last decade, and what she'd continue to add to in the years to come, whether through stints judging on The Voice, which she joined in 2014, or through her multiple magazine fashion spreads, many of which promoted little in particular save her continued relevance as a celebrity. She was building up the sort of celebrity equity that nothing not a disappointing reunion album with No Doubt, not a video whose tone-deaf cowboys and Indians theme resulted in an internet backlash could diminish. In a way, it was the kind of perfect, nonthreatening career trajectory that could eventually lead her to a lucrative Vegas residency.

Songlist

No Doubt & Gwen Stefani Song Details

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