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Louis Vuitton 200x300 Shop girlsBy Noreen Flanagan

If you need to explain away any fall/winter retail therapy binges, here are two studies that might come in handy when you’re asked to defend why you absolutely needed Alexander Wang’s tailored wool jacket or Phoebe Philo’s cropped trouser. Your first line of defence? Blame a celebrity. According to Dutch researchers our brains go all batty when we look at pictures of celebs to see what they’re wearing. For the study, women were asked to look at 40 pictures of celebrities and  regular folk who were wearing the same shoes. When the women looked at star shots, the medial oribitofrontal cortex in their brains buzzed. The ho-hum images of non-stars didn’t inspire any increased activity. In their report, which appeared in the Journal of Economic Psychology, the researchers concluded that when we link a product with a celebrity this generates a feeling of affection. So how does this fondness encourage a fashion splurge?

This emotional connection, or affection, doesn’t necessarily lead to an immediate desire to buy the shoes —in fact the researchers were surprised that the number of women who said they would purchase these shoes on the spot didn’t differ significantly between celebs and non-celebs shots. But, they suggested there might be a longer-term impact that required further study. That’s your out.  A week or so after you saw [insert starlet of choice] wearing [insert your coveted fashion find] your medial oribitofrontal lit up and you felt powerless to resist. If that line of reasoning doesn’t cut it, blame the need for your fashion fix on hormones. It turns out ovulating women unconsciously buy sexier clothes: Think Nina Ricci’s bustier and curve-hugging pencil skirt or one of Louis Vuitton’s “breast-is-back” bombshell dresses.  The research from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management found that ovulating women dress more provocatively not to impress men, but to overshadow any potential rivals. Call it the “Christina Hendricks” defence.

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About Noreen Flanagan

Here’s how a fashion and beauty fantasy day for me might unfold. First, I’d meet Alber Elbaz for an espresso and a croissant. Then Stella McCartney and I would go for a run to work off my bakery sins with Alber. At home, Guido Palau would be waiting to do my hair and then the charming Peter Philips would perform a makeup miracle. I’d then slip into a shift dress from Céline (it’s Look 10 from the fall collection, if you’re curious.) Because I’d be lunching with Haider Ackermann, I’d likely wear one of his long woven jackets. I’m thinking Look 14 would be perfect. Later that night, I’d have cocktails with Raf Simons wearing Look 5—or perhaps Look 3. And then—if I have the stamina—I’d join Karl at one of his swish afterparties. Yes, that’s pretty much my fantasy day.