︎︎︎episode 25

2000’s Trends: The Terrible 2000’s - Celebutante Culture,  Rash of Reality TV, Juicy Couture, Uggs, Ghastly Gossip

Jan 19th, 2021

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So the 2000s or Early Aughts was a super defining time period - personal cell phones, texting, the internet - all were blowing up in the early Aughts - Friendster was at the beginning of the decade- Myspace was in the mid part and Facebook at the end - and fashion and trends were even more riveting.

What is interesting to note is that the trends of the early 2000s are coming back for the younger generations and Gen Z is embracing this millennium - as comfort watching of old 2000 shows has been trending the likes of the OC, Gossip Girl, and Hannah Montana and being watched more than ever. Because of that - the kids are crushing on the fashion trends in those shows - That’s right Juicy Couture, Uggs, low rise jeans and even trucker hats are seen trending again as nostalgia continues to influence.

Cult of Celebutantes

2000 saw a huge, I might say, obsession for the Celebutante. The celebutante is essentially a celebrity who is just "famous for being famous" or often a " trust fund baby. ": Young and in their twenties, fashionable, and notorious party girls who are members of "high-class" society due to family fortunes. These females fall into the realm of 'celebrity-for-the-sake-of-celebrity" or "socialite-heiress-turned-celebrity". They are America’s princesses - with massive fortune’s behind them. So we are talking about Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, the Kardashians….then there are some Celebutantes that had some talent and were actresses or pop stars like Lindsay Lohan and Britany most notoriously. And what is most interesting is the amount of power they had to define trends and the American consumer behavior as well as lifestyles because of the sheer amount of press that came out about them. Often not for great things- Paris rose to mass popularity in 2003 after the release of her sex tape. Lohan for her antics. People loved them and loved to hate them. They had lavish lifestyles and partied constantly - the drama, the excitement and then the reality tv shows all fueled the demand.

Rise and Rash of Reality

Now the idea of reality television did not *begin* in the 2000s...we can all remember The Real World and Road Rules from MTV in the 90s...as well as all kinds of other spin offs that were less successful.  The televised OJ Simpson trial (and all of the other media around it) could arguably be considered the first time “reality television” was being created for the masses….well not the FIRST.

In the 1970s, PBS sort of launched the idea of ‘Reality Television’ with a show called An American Family. 
  • The show, or more specifically the twelve-hour documentary series, followed the lives of the Loud family of Santa Barbara, California for the span of seven months.
  • Over the span of this twelve part series “viewers watched dramatic life events unfold, including Pat asking for a separation from her husband Bill, and the bohemian New York lifestyle of their gay son, Lance” 
  • The Loud family quickly captivated the hearts of America because it showed them a version of their own reality.

An American Family>

The Splash of Survirior

So by 2000, television producers saw that there was an appetite for reality shows. After all The Real World was still bringing in viewers, Cops and all the related “crime” shows were very popular, and game shows, when you think about it are also reality shows, and people loved those.  And thus Survivor was born. 

Survivor was wildly successful.  And it sort of legitimized this idea of reality television as  mainstream, major network programming.  Previously reality programming was reserved for cable (or PBS).  But networks saw that millions of people would watch these shows.  And they were so much cheaper to make than a regular scripted show!  For example, a single episode of Lost (a major hit of the aughts) cost $14 million to make.  Reality shows were significantly cheaper. 

From here entire cable networks grew based on reality TV:  The Learning Channel became TLC, it spun off lots of other channels.  VH1 and MTV shifted from you know, music videos, to reality shows all the time!

How Reality Launched Celebrity

Obviously we have to start with the queens of the celebutantes, Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie, who became household names and fashion icons with their MTV reality show The Simple Life, which ran for five years. 
  • The BFFs holed up in small-town America, working a series of average-Joe jobs for five seasons.  The key “comedy” of the show was watching these two spoiled rich girls doing a variety of extremely un-socialite-like tasks, from milking cows to working drive-thrus—it also birthed their iconic catchphrases “that’s hot” and Loves it.”
  • Paris Hilton came from an extreme amount of generational wealth (as did Nicole Ritchie) so it’s hard to say what her life would have been like without The Simple Life, but it did make her  a style icon of the aughts.  You say 2000s, you see Paris.  She found herself--a star of reality shows and a sex tape-- in Vogue and Vanity Fair.  Her book, Confessions of an Heiress, was a bestseller in 2004. She even got into music, releasing an album called Pairs, and she to this day has made billions off of endorsements and her own product lines:  Eighteen different perfumes have resulted in $2 billion in sales; she has 56 branded stores in the Middle East and Asia selling her line of handbags; and she’s got 16 licenses across the categories of clothing, accessories, beauty and watches.

The Osbournes: While ostensibly Ozzy was the star of the show, it really made his wife Sharon and their kids Jack and Kelly. It’s important to call out that there is a third Osbourne kid, Aimee, who did not participate in the show and it’s almost like she doesn’t exist!

Guy Fieri--you probably don’t think of him as a celebrity of the aughts, but he rose to fame in 2005 with his reality show, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

How about Nick Lachey (of 98 degrees) and Jessica Simpson (her line of clothing and shoes is still going strong)? They started on Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica on MTV from 2003 and 2005.  This show is most legendary for the scene where Jessica Simpson is confused about whether Chicken of the Sea is chicken or tuna. 
  • Fun fact:  this show was originally conceived for Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Prestley
  • The success of Newlyweds in terms of building Jessica’s career was so massive that it sort of set the precedent for using a reality show as a vehicle to fame...so it’s no surprise that Jessica’s sister Ashlee also had her own short-lived reality show  that followed her as she recorded her first album. 

Laguna Beach launched the careers of Lauren “LC” Conrad, Stephen Coletti and Kristin Cavillari and all their high school rich kid dramas. This cast later migrated to The Hills.

The Girls Next Door made celebrities out of Hugh Hefner’s three girlfriends, Kendra Wilkinson, Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt. The show made Playboy and Hugh Hefner more culturally wholesome to middle america and destigmatized Playboy...as well as dating multiple women.

And while some shows would turn someone into a major celebrity overnight, others just sort of created I don’t know, E list reality guests?  For example, Megan Hauserman made the rounds in the aughts.  She began on Beauty and The Geek, then she was a popular villain on Rock of Love--which is my favorite reality show, and I’ll be talking about it a lot more on the next episode, next she was on I Love Money, Rock of Love Charm School, and then she finally “made it'' by having her own show, Megan Wants A Millionaire.

My Fair Brady was almost like a mega reality show, in that it combined a star of previous era (Christopher Knight who played Bobby Brady on the Brady Bunch) and later appeared on the The Surreal Life (a VH1 joint about washed up celebrities living together) with another reality show winner, Adrianne Curry of America’s Next Top Model (she won the 2003 season).  They met on The Surreal Life, fell in love, and went on to be on this show...where mostly Adrianne tried to convince Chris to get married, and later tried to convince him to have a baby.  The couple later divorced--after being on Dr Phil--in 2013.

Other shows...some you may remember, some you may have forgotten
  • Date My Mom (MTV)
  • Punk’d: ashton kutcher's prank show
  • Pimp My Ride
  • The Anna Nicole Show
  • Dog The Bounty Hunter
  • Fear Factor: Our friend Hyden was a winner and used the money to launch his business
  • Hogan Knows Best
  • LA Ink:  launched Kat Von D’s fame
  • Temptation Island:  i loved this one
  • Trading Spaces
  • What Not To Wear
  • Queer Eye For the Straight Guy
  • Room Raiders: This show let one single guy or girl “meet” their prospective dates by poking around in their bedrooms unattended.
  • Mr Personality (2003):  A bachelorette would be able to choose suitors based on their personalities (though she could still see most of their faces and bodies, so it was kind of pointless). Monica Lewinsky hosted this hot mess, and it only lasted five episodes.
  • The Salt N Pepa show:  I loved this one
  • The Swan:  where women were given tons of plastic surgery, put on crash diets, got some veneers, etc….then participated in a beauty pageant with the other contestants. I actually read a really sad article a while back about how all of the former contestants struggled afterwards with chronic pain, anxiety, and rapidly deteriorating plastic surgery. Basically ruined their lives.
  • Next, a 2005 speed dating show.  Also MTV. 
  • The Pickup Artist

Kitson’s Kindling

Well, one of the most important parts of defining trends was the department store Kitston that was LA based even being called the Epicenter of Celebrity Culture in the 2000’s -  Kitson was a hotspot for all the celebrities and the paparazzi that followed. It was a symbiotic relationship for everyone.

Kitson was the go to shopping destination for the LA Glitterati that birthed this celebrity defined fashion culture and style. The Roberston flagship store was splashed across the pages of every single style blog and gossip rag with Paris, Nicole, Jessica, Lindsay or the Kardashians or the cast of the hills, etc... climbing out in heels carrying at least 5 bags. Kitson opened in 2000.  What is interesting to note is that many of these women also had spin off fashion, fragrance and beauty lines that came out of this fashion trendsetter fame.

The post 9/11 trend was ostentatious, loud, gaudy, kitschy and compatible with the logomania and conspicuous consumption we saw in the early 80’s. Denim and knitwear really blew up and casual chic was all over. Kiston became the go-to spot for the hottest new brands and trends - mind you the early 2000s were the start of the contemporary and indie brands explosion - before then the average consumer shopped at Gap, J.Crew, Urban, Deliahs or like Macy’s, Kohl and Penny’s. This all started to change in the new millenia and Kitson was always looking for the hottest newcomers and the next ‘it’ brand, helping to launch lots of young companies and trends from obscurity once the celebutantes started to wear them. These were the same people walking wearing statement outfits on the red carpet - and more notably the MTV movie awards where Celebrities bought their Lewks - because it got them featured.  Interestingly these contemporary brands were - yes - expensive for what the consumer was used to - but ultimately affordable or a light splurge. Now you, yes YOU,  could dress like your favorite celebrity - and a lot of the trends were a form of casual comfort wear -  jeans, velour jumpsuits, tee shirts, and wool boots - which helped to fuel the sales. Comfort and accessibility.

Kitson had all the hottest brands and merch - From ‘Team Aniston’ baseball caps to Beverly Hills Camp and most notably Juicy Couture which could be considered some real tinder to the start of athleisure. 

The Juice on Juicy

Pam & Gela launched Juicy Couture in 2001 - adding the “couture” at the end because as pam said in an interview with Paige Six “Everything had to be more luxe, more expensive,” which just shows what an age of excess we were in then - even though it was kinda an oxymoron since velour jumpsuits are anything but couture. Yet - they approached this outdated garment (remember the velour jumpsuit was favored amongst mobsters and was featured often as a costume on the set of the Sopranos)  differently - which a lot of brands did - and focus and fit - mind you well-fitting product was not particularly common before the Aughts. Juicy featured a trendy lowrise but with accents and seaming that was meant to accentuate and flatter most everyone. They weren’t the first tho - Baby Phat Kimora Lee Simmons line actually did if first and feminized the velour tracksuit and started to popularize the trend of words emblazoned with rhinestones.

J. Lo was given a pink set “lounge around in” and she loved them so much she wore them in a Music video with Ja Rule (that is right when music videos really meant something and could also drive trends).

Paris Hilton essentially became the poster child for Juicy Couture and literally to this day has a closet full - owning a couple of hundred different sets. After being featured on Paris during her “Simple Life” reality show in 2003 - all the other Cellebutantes started to wear them with the baby pink being the most iconic of all the colors….When the tracksuit debuted during the spring of 2001, the pants sold for roughly $80, and the top was about $75. The price point accomplished two things. It was expensive enough for people to show off a little wealth status but affordable enough for the working class to afford. Juicy Couture was a sign of status - that you were in with the “in crowd “ and a-listers.

From the Page Six Article “Pam Nash-Taylor pointed to the constant trail of cameras that followed Juicy’s biggest celebrity fans as a major factor in the brand’s success. “Now, you look on your Instagram and you see what’s happening, but then, it was all about the paparazzi culture,” “We used to have a ‘Wall of Fame’ and a ‘Wall of Shame’ [in our office]. It was all the celebrities that were wearing Juicy, and then all the celebrities that were going to prison in Juicy.” They had interns pull all the rags every week and cut out pictures of the aspirational like Gwenyth going to Yoga with Starbucks as well as embarrassing like Mariah having a nervous breakdown. This brand blew up - they had so much product - from the notorious Juicy rhinestoned butts, skirts, those shirred dresses, they did cashmere sets and even denim.

A combination of things caused this insane Juicy phenomena to decline. The 2008 recession and move away from the ostentatious fashion for one - then there was just general trend fatigue and over saturation - all took its toll on Juicy and they saw sales slow substantially -  they sold the company and by 2014 the sets were sold at Kohls.

But we have a resurgence - Vetements who loves to resuscitate old brands did a collab in 2018 with the Vetement Logo in Rhinestones on a black Juicy Couture set. Parade also just did a collab - so Gen Z is picking up the scent and the brand is making a comeback. The sets look like the smaller sizes are sold out even - with the really blingy versions selling out first. - hello maximal!

A new brand Suzie Kondo is reinventing the velour jumpsuit for the Gen Z set.

Page Six Reports - For the launch of her new Skims velour collection in October, Kim Kardashian tapped her friend and former boss, Paris Hilton, to pose for a series of paparazzi-style photos in the plush pieces, both of them even bringing back their old flip phones and Louis Vuitton Monogram Miroir Alma bags.

The pair were frequently spotted wearing Juicy Couture’s velour tracksuits while shopping at Kitson or lunching at The Ivy back in the day — and for Kardashian and Paris the look never went out of style. Mind you - It is almost all sold out and on the waitlist now.

Also Pam and Gela - the brand founders of Juicy Couture launched after selling Juicy just relaunched their own Velours based on original Juicy in black and you got it - millennial pink.

Juicy Couture themselves has a 25th-anniversary collection that is blinged out - the mainline itself is very logo-heavy which makes me think that the logo itself has found a new batch interested in its ironic aughts appeal and old fans wanting to embrace some nostalgia.


Uggs were another brand that was scooped up and worn EVERYWHERE - by everyone. The original Australian Sheepskin boots were popularized by Australian surfers and eventually made their way to American Surfers in the mid-’90s. So this Australian by the name of Brian Smith came to Venice in the 90’s and immersed himself in the American surf culture - the sheepskin boots that the Aussie surfers wore to the beach were often called “ugs''.  Because they were considered ugly and not particularly fashionable - in fact they think they are gauche that only the frumpiest person would wear them on the street- or the surfers for kick around as they are especially excellent for drying and warming feet after a day of surfing. Traditionally these boots were sold at gas stations and not known as luxury items in any way - So Bryan partnered with an Australian manufacturer and worked on elevating this rather basic product so that the Southern California buyers would be interested in them. He used top quality hides, adapted the shape and construction and added a rubber sole he marketed them as “luxury footwear” which resonated. The shoe’s pattern has to be hand-cut and each pair is made with over 40 pieces of sheepskin - as opposed to the nearly rudimentary original version. It first gained popularity amongst surfers, then skiers before somehow finding their way to Oprah. 

In 2000, Oprah declared Uggs one of her favorite things on the Oprah talk show, which sealed its fate and drove demand like only an early Oprah stamp of approval could. Ugg also gifted 350 pairs of boots to Oprah's studio audience, catapulting the brand into the public eye….pretty soon after that all of Hollywood, especially the Celbutante’s and Starlets began wearing them everywhere - literally from the grocery store to the red carpet. You could not get them out of these things. And of course, they were in all the rags.

I think they were masters of celebrity gifting, endorsement and placement. They did that from the start - before there was social media and were able to leverage these Celebrity endorsements to get placements into stores and demand amongst other celebrities. They were the height of conspicuous consumption - the Ugg was fairly pricey for the time period - I think if i remember correctly they were just under $200. They were THE XMAS gift for the aughts and I would say 80% of college students had them in Wisconsin. We sold them at Shopbop - they weren’t major sellers like Seven Jeans or Juicy Couture...though which was funny but they did sell. Post-recession they really dropped off and sales substantially dropped. By the end of the Aughts the Luluemon, Ugg, North Face jacket girl came out of the Basic broom closet and the look, as well as the Uggs, lost that luxury shine.

Graphic courtesy of E Online>>

They’re Baaaack!!

Then came the boom of ugly shoes and a dash of Collab nostalgia. In 2017 Jeremy Scott did his infamous “Ugg Life” collab. Y/Project offered these insane maximal thigh-high uggs in 2018- Riannnah dug them out of her closet in 2018 and began to be spotted wearing them around. So, yes, much like Juicy, we are certainly seeing “Ugg Life” return- particularly in the past year there was an article about the return of Ugg on the Today Show’s website - Shakaila Forbes-Bell a fashion psychologist for financial service Afterpay says” "The pandemic has caused a shift in the way we look at clothing from ‘How does this look?’ to ‘How does this make me feel?’ So it’s understandable why people have turned to comfortable shoes like Uggs to help them navigate the difficulties of the current climate," According to the NPD Group, Ugg has held the No. 2 spots for non-active/sneaker-focused brands in terms of dollar volume growth during the pandemic (March-October 2020).

Kelly Haws, a professor of marketing at Vanderbilt University throws on value-added nostalgia to the list saying: "Times of uncertainty often drive us toward products that provide comfort and even nostalgia. Although the Ugg brand has worked hard to extend its product lines and refresh its brand, ultimately, the brand is associated with warmth, comfort and durability. Add to the turbulence, uncertainty, casualwear of the home office of 2020 and the changing seasons, and you have a recipe custom made for increased demand for Uggs."

Gaudy, Gauche and Grotesque : Gossip Blogs

The celebutantes made their personal style major fashion trends, kind of defining (for better or worse) the rest of the world’s concept of LA style for well more than a decade. And while they had reality shows and mainstream magazines to amplify their celebrity and their style, they also had another outlet that insured millions of people were reading their names every day: the rise of the gossip blog.  The gossip blogs were different from the mainstream gossip mags like US weekly and People because they were just RUTHLESS.  They didn’t have to say much.  They didn’t have to verify anything.  And they didn’t even have to, you know, have a good visual aesthetic.

Now, ultimately most of these celebutantes hated the gossip blogs because they were ruthless and cruel.  But it was also a weird symbiotic relationship:  the paparazzi would chill outside Kitson to get photos with the celebrities who shopped there.  And the celebs would usually stop to pose for a photo.

The two main gossip blogs as we saw it were Defamer (part of the now defunct Gawker empire) and Perez Hilton. 

Perez Hilton was iconic of the early aughts for so many reasons.  First off, the garish barbie pink aesthetic. 

Next, the writing was sort of dumb and cruel! And his signature move was using MS Paint to scrawl words or more often, ejaculating dicks on the images of the celebrities he was discussing. 

Scarring  Socialite Sketches: 

He loved picking apart the bodies of young starlets like Mischa Barton and Kirsten Dunst.

He loved to torment certain celebrities. He called Mischa “Moosha” and he was always accusing Kirsten of being drunk and fat.   His site was just a toxic train wreck, and yet, everyone visited it all the time!

The Man the Myth the Misogynistic Cyber Bullying Legend

His real name is Mario Lavandeira.

Hilton started his gossip blog from a café near his apartment in 2005. At the time, he couldn't afford to have internet installed at home, so he would use the free wi-fi at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. "I would always sit in the same place, because in the entire coffee shop there was only one power outlet, so I had to sit there to plug in my laptop," he laughs. "I hope they've upgraded since then."

Soon he found himself getting 8 million hits a day. People loved his catty--and not always true--posts. His site was dubbed “the most hated website in Hollywood” which he loved.

Word got around that Hilton was running the entire operation from this coffee house, and before long, celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes were dropping in to feed him stories. But, other celebrities like Nicole Ritchie showed up to confront him about being so nasty.

At his peak, he was making some MONEY.  Now these prices sound so low to me now, but it was $9,000 a week for a single advertisement and $45,000 for the most expensive ad package  And any time one of the starlet he loved to hate got into some legal trouble (like Lindsay Lohan) he was the default expert called to appear on the talk show and entertainment show circuit

But Hilton was cruel, and if he hated you, you would find yourself being shit talked (with ejaculating dicks drawn over your photos) every day on the blog. He said “"I'm like Madonna, I'm not afraid to offend.”

He definitely had those that he loved (Jennifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie, and Dita Von Teese) and then those that he hated: Sienna Miller, Mischa Barton, Kirsten Dunst, LIndsay Lohan.  He called them sluts.  He accused them of being on drugs.  Of being too fat or having eating disorders or just being spoiled brats.  He was brutal. He labeled Suri Cruise and Victoria Beckham “aliens” and he would draw antennas on every photo of them.   

Mila Kunis said, "To me, he was the first person that created ugly news, that literally just spread filth. It was just mean, and so it allowed people to be mean." She suggested the "whole concept of trolling really didn't exist" prior to his blog.

On October 11, 2007, a judge cleared the way for Hilton to be deposed in an ongoing defamation suit brought against him by DJ Samantha Ronson (another celebrity that he seemed to hate on constantly), after a post on PerezHilton.com claimed that she had planted cocaine in friend Lindsay Lohan's car and set Lohan up to be photographed while under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

He also regularly accused Samantha and Lindsay being lovers, too.  Which brings up another devastating addition to his voice. Perez Hilton is a gay man, but he seemed to simultaeously hate celebrities for being gay and hiding that they were gay.
  • When former 'N Sync member Lance Bass came out as gay in 2006, Hilton received criticism for having been partially responsible in the outing. "It upsets me that people think what I'm doing is a bad thing," Hilton told Access Hollywood. "I don't think it's a bad thing. If you know something to be a fact, why not report it? Why is that still taboo?
  • He had also for years been insisting that Neil Patrick  Harris was gay...he eventually came out in 2006
  • He was also responsible for outing American Idol star Clay Aiken.
  • Activist Kim Ficera said, “I have to question the character of a man who attacks others on such deeply personal levels, without provocation and for self-benefit, monetary or otherwise...If he's emotionally incapable of exhibiting even the tiniest bit of compassion for closeted people, if he can't be sensitive to the fact that coming out is a very personal decision and that the process can be difficult for some—especially celebrities—I feel sorry for him. If his juvenile behavior is his shtick, I think it makes him a much more pathetic figure, and one the gay and lesbian community should not support...If we support behavior like Hilton's, we applaud shallowness, arrogance, rage and invasion of privacy, and risk becoming what we despise”

But Hilton has engaged in some other, well, fucked up shit over the years:
  • On June 25, 2009, shortly after Michael Jackson had gone into cardiac arrest, Hilton posted an article about Jackson's illness, claiming it was a publicity stunt.
  • In 2010, Hilton posted a Twitter message linking to an upskirt picture of Miley Cyrus, which allegedly showed the singer without underpants. Since Cyrus was still underage at the time, questions were raised as to whether or not child pornography charges could be raised.
  • On August 17, 2007, citing exclusive sources, Hilton announced the death of Cuban President Fidel Castro and claimed that he was the first media outlet in the world to break the news.  We know that this was untrue, because Castro did not in fact die until 2016.
  • At one point, he met with Ariana Grande about becoming her manager.  When she opted for someone else, he proceeded to tear her down on social media for years.

He was also embroiled in all kinds of legal issues because it turns out that almost all the photos that he doodled over were...stolen.  Ie, just copied off the internet.  Which makes sense, because they were always really low res.  And he would pick the worst, most unflattering shots.  BECAUSE HE WAS A MEAN PERSON

Recently he published an autobiography….and well, no one bought it.  Because this is probably the most anyone else has talked about him in years.

The Perez Hilton of the 20s is softer and gentler (allegedly)

"I have a ton of regrets, particularly because I now see that I never needed to be so mean or cruel," he writes. "One of the many things I regret is that I hurt so many people by giving them nasty nicknames, and above all that I was unkind to the children of celebrities.

Which just doesn’t make up for the fact that he kinda made internet bullying mainstream!!!