Luxe Brands: Biting the Hand That Feeds Them?

Britto added that Louis Vuitton's No. 1 problem with Sony BMG was likely the advertisement for goods the label doesn't even produce. But she said that there is a general trend among high-end designers to do everything they can to market their products to the groups of people they really want to see wearing them.

"The brands don't say it, but where they spend their marketing dollars is very reflective of who they want wearing their things," said Britto.

Steve Hall, the editor of a marketing industry blog, agrees, and says that while the brand executives may not come right out and say who they do and do not want photographed wearing their items, they make it clear in other ways.

"They will launch the legal machine just to make headaches because they don't want to be associated with Britney Spears, who shaves her head and has a teen sister who has a baby," said Hall.

"While they can't say that Britney's family isn't allowed to buy their products, they're not happy with the association, so they do try to stop it," Hall added.

Hall said that marketing strategists for these companies work long and hard to develop their image and the last thing they want is someone to "take a crayon and draw all over the brand's clear image."

The approach can backfire, said Hall. A celebrity's endorsement of an item can catapult a brand as high as their disapproval can harm it.

"Celebrities have a giant influence just by picking up a particular brand," said Hal. "But they can conversely destroy it if they think the brand is manhandling them or just being rude."

Brands likely weigh the risks before taking action against stars, and Hall said that Louis Vuitton probably didn't believe Idol's Studdard to be a big enough money-maker to have any long-term effect on the company's sales.

But much of the brand imaging that high-end companies work hard to mold is out of their hands, according to Hall.

"[Luxury brands] can control what happens in their actual marketing because they'll pay for celebrities to appear, but what happens organically they can't really control, even though they'd like to."

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