Was there any doubt that I would check out Fashion Star on NBC? I am, after all, a self-confessed Project Runway nut (who has hung in there all these years) and I even still watch America's Next Top Model. And don't get me started on All on the Line, which is pretty much the most interesting fashion show on tv right now.
Fashion Star is a big network's attempt to capitalize on the female and gay man audience and their disposable income. Because let's be honest--the only straight guys watching this show are the one's whose wives force them. In any event, Fashion Star stumbled onto the perfect combination of entertainment and advertisement. The "winning" fashions from each episode are instantly available for purchase the next day online and in stores. Of course, this means that nothing about the show is live since they need time to manufacture all the clothes. I'm pretty sure they've had this entire season in the can for at least 6 months--you can tell because J. Simp is clearly not pregnant at all in it and let's just say girlfriend now looks like she could blow at any minute.
But whatever, who cares about the live factor. Live shows tend to be more annoying anyway--there can be sound and camera problems, flubs, etc. The important thing is that this show focuses on an aspect of the business most other fashion competitions ignore: marketability, buyers, and designing for the masses. These designers can't just think about how a sample size perfect model is going to look in their clothes--they have to sell it to a mass market and think about real women (and men). FINALLY.
Unfortunately, because the the show is aiming for the masses it has all the indicators of your typical over-the-top network reality show. A HUGE set with overly dramatic lighting and sound effects. You know what I mean, think Who Wants to be a Millionaire. There's lots of quick cuts and edits, which frankly are overly distracting. In fact, almost everything about the way the show is shot is distracting. We want to see the clothes not a bunch of flashing lights.
Here's how it works (and it took my a while to figure this out since the concept of the show was not clearly explained): the designers are given a weekly assignment where they produce a small capsule collection of three looks. They interact with the "mentors" during the design process: Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie, and John Varvatos*. They present their clothes on the runway and receive feedback from the mentors. Then, they face the buyers. Three people representing H&;M, Macys, and Saks Fifth Avenue are given the opportunity to bid on the designs--if a designer does not get any offers, they are up for elimination. If more than one buyer bids on the clothes, they then try to outbid each other to decide who gets the right to sell them. Among the designers who don't get any bids, the buyers pick their bottom three. The mentors get the chance to save one designer and the buyers then eliminate someone from the remaining two. Outfits that the buyers bid on are available for sale and online the day after the episode airs.
Whew. It sounds kind of complicated when I put it like that, but in the show it just kind of all happens. Maybe the reason they didn't spend a lot of time describing the format of the show is because it would take effing forever.Also, because I don't think the host, Elle Macpherson, could string that many words together. Sure she looks great, but let's just say she's as bland as the day is long and leave it at that.
There's a lot of criticism of the show that it's nothing but a big commercial...but the point is to make clothes that will sell and appeal to these particular vendors. Let's be honest, H&M, Macys, and Saks are three of the biggest clothing retailers in the country and I find that their participation lends an air of legitimacy to the enterprise rather than crass commercialism. So, yeah, it's kind of a commercial. They want you to buy the clothes. But if I see the clothes and I like the clothes I will WANT to buy them. Oh my god. I've been brainwashed, haven't I?
Bottom line, I was entertained, I loved seeing the fashions, but the theatrics of the show are pretty annoying. I'll be tuning in...and if something catches my eye, who knows? Maybe I'll be making a purchase the next day! So, mission accomplished NBC.
*Say what you want about Jessica Simpson and Nicole Richie being lame reality stars with no talent, but each of them has a multi-million dollar a year fashion line so they must be doing something right and have some idea of what sells and what doesn't. That's pretty much all they need to be a mentor on this show.