How Sofia Richie became the face of 'old money,' 'quiet luxury' despite being neither of those things: 'She is this generation's Jackie O'
The reaction to Sofia Richie’s April 22 wedding has lasted for over a week, turning the socialite into TikTok’s current aesthetic fixation — and it is incredibly misconstrued.
Richie married music executive Elliot Grainge at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes, in the south of France, and showed off three custom Chanel outfits throughout the weekend. Richie’s father, singer Lionel Richie, walked her down the aisle, while her famous sister, Nicole Richie, documented the occasion for her 6.9 million Instagram followers.
Emily Kirkpatrick, a fashion writer and the creator of the popular newsletter I <3 Mess, summarized the unexpected reaction to the wedding by skeptically calling it “the wedding of the century” that “completely enthralled” the internet.
The main takeaway from the thousands of TikToks, Instagram posts and Reddit threads dedicated to Richie’s wedding is how she’s supposedly nailed the “quiet luxury” and “old money” trends. Richie is not actually old money, in the traditional sense of the phrase, nor was her estimated $4 million wedding at all “quiet.”
“She went from being LA nepo baby model to THIS,” one TikTok with 1.5 million views says over a photo montage of Richie. “SHE IS THE MOMENT.”
“Old money vibes so iconic!” one commenter writes.
“She is this generations jackie o,” another added.
It’s interesting to examine the dichotomy between reactions to Richie and those to, say, the Kardashians. The Kardashians, who are described as being “new money,” or nouveau rich, are dismissed for their extravagance, despite having very similar backgrounds to Richie.
sofia richie’s wedding is my super bowl. pic.twitter.com/fmS5kvO5rB
— 𝓷. (@madeofsilk) April 23, 2023
“I don’t get it, people hate nepo babies, people criticize ‘generational wealth’ etc. but somehow worship ‘old money’ and hate on new money?” one Reddit user commented on a thread about the wedding.
Look at the public reception to Richie’s wedding compared to Kourtney Kardashian’s. Both women grew up as nepo babies with rich fathers in L.A., both got married in Europe, both married people in the music industry and both picked a luxury fashion house to custom make their wedding looks for the weekend. (They also both famously dated Scott Disick, but that’s beside the point.)
“I feel like stealth wealth in general is just this whole backlash against Kardashian-style try-hard wealth,” one Reddit user speculated. “Sofia went from dating a guy in the most overexposed family alive to chic AF in Chanel.”
“[She] flew under the radar and so far all the looks and the decoration/destination were 10/10. Probably didn’t even want to have as much of coverage as some weddings that happened last year and were tacky af,” another Reddit user said, specifically referencing Kardashian’s wedding to Travis Barker and Brooklyn Beckham’s wedding to Nicola Peltz.
However, despite any similarities to her rich counterparts, Richie is considered an aspiration for young TikTok users and this pinnacle of “steal wealth” — despite her father being worth $200 million and the wedding being held at one of the most famous hotels in the world.
“I also need everyone to stop using the phrases ‘stealth wealth’ and ‘quiet luxury.’ You’ve abused them. It’s over,” Kirkpatrick wrote in her April 28 newsletter. “There is nothing stealth about the daughter of Lionel Richie getting married at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in custom Chanel, the photographs of which were published exclusively in Vogue. Come on.”
What sets Richie apart for TikTok fans isn’t a lot, but there are a number of key factors. One major difference is that Richie invited influencers and socialites who aren’t considered full-blown celebrities — they almost seem closer and more relatable to the common TikTok user this way.
“The guest list was a harmonious, inter-generational celebrity blend,” Jezebel summarized in its coverage, listing the respective famous representatives for boomers, millennials and Gen Z.
For example, comedian Jake Shane (@octopusslover8) surprised his almost 2 million TikTok followers by being invited to Richie’s wedding. Internet sleuths connected that Shane is allegedly somehow related to the groom.
“By taking the biggest meme-maker of the moment and implanting them inside your wedding, you as a celebrity get to come off as chill while actually getting tons of free viral promotion for your nuptials,” Kirkpatrick pointed out. “It also allows it to appear like the celebrity has a personality and sense of humor without actually having to display said personality and humor.”
But TikTok’s obsession has evolved beyond just watching wedding videos. Creators are now riding this wave of interest in fraudulent “quiet luxury” and “old money” and making Richie the face of “how to marry rich” advice.
women have gone BACKWARDS. pic.twitter.com/RTxe98ZQaE
— ella-devi (@HOUSEOFDEVI) April 30, 2023
What these posts fail to mention is that Richie and Grainge are not a pairing that met “at a golf club” or while Richie was a “waitress for high-end events such as horse racing.” They are a nepo couple. Richie met her now-husband Grainge through her father; Grainge’s dad, Lucian Grainge, is the chairman and CEO of Universal Musical Group and has known Lionel Richie for years.
“Rich men, especially those who come from generational wealth, rarely date and marry outside of their socioeconomic circles,” Twitter user @FlLLEFATALE wrote in response to the TikTok. “In the off chances that they do, these women and rich men are equals in some other way — typically through education or occupation.”
So why has Richie’s face been assigned to this “quiet luxury,” “won over a rich man” label?
Again, it goes back to TikTok.
Richie seemingly joined TikTok and created her first video on the platform on April 20 — a “get ready with me” (GRWM) showing off some looks for her pre-wedding festivities in France. She starts off fresh from the shower and cuts between changing into her outfit, checking how her clipped-back wet hair looks from behind and then adding on some jewelry. There is no ring light, no professional behind-the-phone cameraperson and no filters.
This “relatability” works. Richie continued filming and documenting her wedding weekend, mostly using her own phone propped up on a table or handing her phone off to someone else. Her second-most-viral video, with over 17 million views, looks like a regular clip from any wedding — a somewhat hard-to-see and poorly shot moment where Richie tosses her bouquet.
The new wave is the quiet luxury / old money / natural body/ comfortable aesthetic. The Sofia Richie wedding, the Hadids, UK girl minimalism, that’s the moment.
— Ninety Four (@ZimeMsomi) April 24, 2023
Regardless of Richie’s intention, it’s noteworthy that audiences — particularly young women — are projecting this false narrative on her and her wedding. Nothing about Richie wearing custom Chanel is quiet. You will probably not meet a rich husband-to-be while teaching at a private school.
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