Here are just some of the strategically placed luxury items I spotted in the first episode of the new season of Selling Sunset: a large Dior ‘book tote’ bag sitting like precious cargo on a stainless steel desk, a Chanel logo necklace worn with matching Chanel logo earrings, name checked Balmain ensembles and Versace shoes, Louis Vuitton and Rimowa luggage, Alessandra Rich diamanté heart earrings, three Balenciaga bags.
The first episode sets the tone for the assault on the senses to come: a veritable orgy of ostentatious wealth. And that’s just the clothes and accessories that the real estate agents wear, not to mention their multi-million dollar listings.
I am, of course, obsessed; a hate watch that quickly became a must-watch. The latest season, the series’ fifth, was a disappointment but still, I lapped it up (including the just released reunion special) and that includes the over-the-top style that the show has become known for.
Over five seasons the fashion worn by the O Group agents has evolved to become even more outrageous. They are selling the L.A. dream, so their looks are the epitome of the flashy city, and an exaggerated version of how real estate agents dress: a unique blend of workwear and event dressing, both professional and relatable.
They work hard and make money, and they use clothes, bags and shoes to present their financial success - and power.
In 2020 Vogue reported that the logo-centric looks caused issues behind the scenes. “There were some times where production was like, ‘We don’t have clearance [to show them].’ And I’m like, ‘Sorry, actor’s choice. You’re going to have to deal with it,’ explained the show’s self-proclaimed fashion queen Christine Quinn. “‘I’m not going to put on a Target T-shirt just because you’re worried about not getting clearance.’’
That was two years ago; the logos are even bigger now. It’s the opposite of the subtle ‘stealth wealth’ look championed by another buzzy show of the moment, Anatomy of a Scandal.
There are signatures to their look: these ladies love colour (pink is a favourite of Chrishell Stause and Heather Rae El Moussa), a fierce realtor’s blazer, a crop top and skirt suit. Everything must be worn with a sharp heel and a designer handbag.
But unlike the stars of Real Housewives, that other over the top reality TV franchise that deals in wealth and power struggles, these agents are clearly invested in keeping up with fashion in the sense of designer brands and trends.
The criticisms of the latest season is that it is too obviously produced, and the same could be said of the fashion. It’s clear that many of the women have employed stylists to help create their looks, though I don’t judge that as I would too if I was on a reality show while also making bank as they do. This is reality TV: the outfits are carefully crafted for the camera.
Quinn works with stylist Kat Gosik on her statement looks, who told Women’s Wear Daily that they plan what will make the most impact for that scene. They do a good job; I’m thinking here of Quinn as angelic mother figure in pink for a picnic on the beach, and her ode to the very British fascination with fascinators at the tea party. Quinn knows she’s playing a character, and she needs a costume to help do that.
Chelsea Lazkani arrives this season as the “Black Barbie” to Quinn’s Blonde, with the pair first meeting in matching Balmain, a meeting of minds - and styles. Lazkani is clearly another fashion fanatic with money to burn (just look at her wardrobe), from her ever-present Van Cleef & Arpels flower ‘Frivole’ pendant necklace to her collection of towering Versace platforms.
The pair clearly think they are the most fashionable of the lot, but that would actually be Amanza Smith. It helps she’s a former dancer and model who knows how to wear clothes rather than let them wear her (I’m thinking of Davina here, who never quite looks comfortable), from double denim and snakeskin knee-high boots to Spice Girl pigtails.
Amanza’s ensemble in the final episode is the coolest outfit of the series: white tank, light blue jeans, cropped black jacket and jet-straight hair down to her waist. Because this is Selling Sunset, her leather beret must, of course, have a Celine logo on it, and her tiny Prada bag be covered in Swarovski crystals.
Like the rest of the power dynamics in the show, each character is simply angling to be the ultimate ‘boss b…ch’ (to quote Quinn’s self-help book), using the power of fashion to charm their clients, and out-do each other.