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Celeste Barber on Her Celebrity Parodies & Becoming an Instagram Sensation

Jul 18, 2019

Celeste Barber never set out to be a social media star. “I just wanted to make people laugh,” she says, referring to her Instagram series, #CelesteChallengeAccepted, in which she creates side- by-side parodies of some of the most smoldering celebrity photos. Five million–plus followers later, Barber is an Internet phenom with an A-list following. Bazaar chatted with the 37-year-old Aussie about fashion, Hollywood, and self-image.

HARPER’S BAZAAR: We just saw you mimic a photo that was in Bazaar! It was Hailey Bieber grocery shopping in a swimsuit with slippers. It’s sort of a compliment to get the Celeste Barber treatment now.

CELESTE BARBER: That photo of Hailey was scary to do. I usually don’t ask permission.

HB: Do celebrities or models ever get upset when you re-create their pics?

CB: The opposite. I get big-name celebs sending me direct messages:“Please do this one of me!”

HB: What’s the best comment you’ve ever received from a celebrity?

CB: January Jones wrote, “Celeste Barber is the new stuck with me.

HB: What’s your process like?

CB: I don’t like to talk about it because it’s never as interesting as people want it to be. It’s not Gaga getting ready for the Met Gala.

“I focus on who I am and how I make people feel. How I look is the least interesting part of me.”

HB: What’s your favorite parody that you’ve done?

CB: That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child! I would say the one where I redid a Cindy Crawford Pepsi commercial. [The clip contrasts Crawford seductively drinking from a can of Pepsi with Celeste chugging an exploding bottle of soda, caramel foam all over her shirt.] I had Cindy on my podcast, and I asked her how she made it look so hot.

HB: How did you first get the idea for the challenge?

CB: When I saw the ridiculous selfies that people posted, I thought, “What would it look like if a normal person did the same thing on a Wednesday?” Also, I wanted to show other body types.

HB: It may not have been your intention, but a lot of people seem inspired by your ability to put yourself out there, often wearing next to nothing.

CB: We should all feel confident about ourselves, but so much focus is on the wrong fucking stuff. I focus on who I am and how I make people feel. How I look is the least interesting part of me.


HB: Well, you looked great in your Tom Ford videos, where you’re a “supermodel” in his runway show. How did that come about?

CB: I got an e-mail from his people saying, “Tom Ford loves you.” I was like, “Beg your pardon?” I didn’t know he was a fan. Working with him was paradise.

HB: Fashion people really adore you.

CB: It’s funny, a girl on the street said, “I used to work at Tom Ford, and we love you!”Then she said, “Would you like some free stuff?” I was like, “Fuck, yeah, where are we going?”

HB: Okay, so who do you really want to parody that you haven’t?

CB: I’d love to do a perfume commercial. I’ll be Charlize Theron saying, “J’adore!”

Celeste Barber, host of the podcast Celeste & Her Best and author of the new book Challenge Accepted!, is currently on tour in North America and Europe.


This article originally appears in the August 2019 issue of Harper’s BAZAAR, available on newsstands July 23.

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