You’ve followed their ever-changing style in the newspapers and the glossy magazines – and maybe been inspired to seek out high-street budget options that resemble their designer items for yourself. But now there’s a way to more perfectly match the look of a celebrity fashionista: by renting their actual clothes.
Not only can you temporarily raid the wardrobes of TV stars and a member of the Royal Family, some celebrities will even post the clothing to you and have their maids do your laundry.
You may feel a bit queasy about wearing someone else’s clothes, but the upside is the kudos of telling your friends that you’ve borrowed your outfit from, for example, the Duke of Kent’s granddaughter. Indeed, Amelia Windsor, who is 39th in line to the Throne, offers a selection of dresses, bags and trousers.
Alternatively, for as little as £8 a day, fashion fans can hire a iridescent pink ballgown owned by TV presenter and Strictly winner Stacey Dooley or a vintage ivory wedding dress worn by comedian Jack Whitehall’s younger sister Molly.
Molly Whitehall in her wedding dress, left. The vintage wedding dress is available to rent
Celebrity rentals are just the latest step in the online trend servicing those who want to hire Dolce & Gabbana evening gowns, Manolo Blahnik heels or Gucci handbags for a fraction of the price it costs to buy them.
There’s also an environmental benefit in not shelling out for clothes and accessories you’ll rarely wear, especially when Christmas parties are by Zoom.
With the help of a model to wear the clothes, we tested the service offered by the firm By Rotation, and started by browsing through 25-year-old Lady Amelia’s wardrobe.
I chose a pair of Tommy Hilfiger tartan trousers from £4 a day, a gold and black Burberry bag from £8 a day, and a black maxi dress from Chinese label Mithridate from £24 a day – a garment Lady Amelia wore to a party at Annabel’s nightclub last year. The young Royal gives all proceeds to a charity that helps victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
Amelia Windsor wearing Tartan Trousers, left. With the help of a model, right, to wear the clothes, we tested the service offered by the firm By Rotation, and started by browsing through 25-year-old Lady Amelia’s wardrobe
The service’s app tells me ‘to communicate with the lender prior to and while renting an item’. Rather than speaking directly with Lady Amelia, I’m directed to a team managing her clothing from a warehouse. For most rentals, there is a choice of meeting the lender to exchange items in person in a public place – at least when there isn’t a global pandemic raging – or by post or courier.
In this case, within two hours a delivery driver drops off a hot-pink plastic bag with the clothing, wrapped in dark green tissue paper, folded inside. The high-end aspect to my rental dampens when I spot that the Tommy Hilfiger trousers, despite assurances that the goods are professionally cleaned, have a dried food stain on the leg.
The rest of my order, however, arrives in pristine condition. It includes Stacey Dooley’s ice pink Vampire’s Wife dress, available to hire at £12 a day. When she posted a photo of herself wearing the item on Instagram, it attracted more than 38,000 ‘likes’.
The service’s app tells me ‘to communicate with the lender prior to and while renting an item’. Rather than speaking directly with Lady Amelia, I’m directed to a team managing her clothing from a warehouse. Pictured, a pink dress worn by Stacey Dooley
It includes Stacey Dooley’s ice pink Vampire’s Wife dress, available to hire at £12 a day. When she posted a photo of herself wearing the item on Instagram, it attracted more than 38,000 ‘likes’
The Strictly Come Dancing champion was renting out nearly 50 items on By Rotation earlier this year, including Chanel handbags and Celine sunglasses. But the 33-year-old had most returned for her own use over the Christmas period.
Dooley has donated the £1,500 raised during lockdown to the domestic violence support charity Refuge.
Some more expensive items – such as those worn to awards ceremonies or wedding dresses – require a slightly more complicated ordering method than the simple click of a button. Potential hirers must have at least three positive ‘reviews’ from the site before they can go ahead.
We hired a floor-sweeping Monique Lhuillier gown and cape (£60 per day) worn by actress Karla-Simone Spence at the Bafta Awards, as well as Molly Whitehall’s vintage, 1930s ivory wedding dress (£150 per day), which she wore when she married in front of guests including former school friend Princess Eugenie in February.
Molly, 30, has explained why she hired out the dress – or ‘she’, as she calls it – saying ‘she can continue her life as a wedding dress and hopefully bring other people as much joy as she did to me on my wedding day’.
The silk dress, which cost £900 new, is gorgeous, but only very petite brides would be able to wear it.
We hired a floor-sweeping Monique Lhuillier gown and cape (£60 per day) worn by actress Karla-Simone Spence at the Bafta Awards, as well as Molly Whitehall’s vintage, 1930s ivory wedding dress (£150 per day)
By Rotation says many women rent out their wardrobes in the cause of ‘sustainable fashion’. For example, Lady Amelia is an ambassador for the No More Plastic campaign and wants to deter young women from buying cheap, throwaway items.
Eshita Kabra-Davies, chief executive of By Rotation, points to a growing public concern about the evils of cheap fast-fashion items, such as £1 bikinis. She says: ‘People are thinking, ‘Do I really need this much stuff? Do I really need to buy a £20 dress every time it’s payday?’ ‘
Burberry clutch bag belonging to Amelia Windsor. Retail cost: £495. Cost per day to rent: £8
She came up with the idea for the self-styled ‘Airbnb of fashion’ when she saw mountains of textile waste while on honeymoon in India. She left a career in finance to set up the fashion-sharing platform.
The number of registered users on By Rotation has surged from 12,000 to more than 35,000 since the first day Britain went into lockdown. Ms Kabra-Davies says: ‘I’m happy we’ve spent our first year as a business, in lockdown, to get everyone to realise how much sense it makes to rent clothes from celebrities.’
Big-name labels, including Goat and Ghost, as well as smaller independent labels, have teamed up with By Rotation.
Celebrities aren’t just renting their clothes out but supporting the idea on social media.
Camilla Thurlow, the former Love Island star, announced her pregnancy by posing in a dress she’d borrowed from By Rotation.
Teasingly, Ms Kabra-Davies says she is in discussion with a more senior Royal than Lady Amelia about renting out her wardrobe – but won’t reveal her identity.