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Consumers are looking to celebrities, like Blake Lively and Rachel Bilson, for style ideas.

HOLLYWOOD IMPACT: Consumers are looking to celebrities for style ideas, and even spending more money to buy products related to celebrities — at least according to People StyleWatch, which, of course, happens to cover celebrities and their style. The magazine revealed at a breakfast Thursday morning results from its Celebrity Style Report, a survey with GfK Roper of 2,500 women on how celebrities affect their own personal style and purchases. According to StyleWatch publisher Michelle Myers, “They look to these celebrities to validate their purchases.”

Among the highlights of the survey: The majority of participants (80 percent) said a celebrity doesn’t have to be an A-lister to be a style icon — up-and-comers Blake Lively and Rachel Bilson are as influential as any Hollywood Walk of Fame occupant. Consumers also responded more to celebrities who are relatable in appearance to real women and photographed in real situations: 61 percent get fashion ideas from candid photos in magazines — a celebrity leaving Starbucks in jeans and a scarf, for example — than from models on the runway. “You’re seeing them in their jeans, moccasin boots, the scarf. They’re accessible, real trends that anyone can buy into and afford and interpret the look,” said StyleWatch editor Susan Kaufman. Nevertheless, consumers still named well-known celebrities Jennifer Aniston, Gwen Stefani, Eva Longoria Parker and Jennifer Lopez as their top style icons.

The study also calculated that 25 million women have purchased a beauty or fashion product because they saw a celebrity wear or use it (although it clearly didn’t count each and every one), and that trend is likely to continue based on the reaction from several participants in the study. Three twentysomething professional women told the audience that the economic crisis is unlikely to affect their consumption of designer shoes, bags and makeup. “It should impact, but it doesn’t. I’m single, I have a secure job, I don’t have kids,” said Jen Basel, 25. Good news for fashion and luxury brands sweating the downturn. — Stephanie D. Smith

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