Monday, March 25, 2013

Blue Vadge Hoochie Mama

Ever have one of those Saturdays where you just want to sit and eat store-bought cookies 'n' crème cake and "gourmet" frozen pizza, while letting your brain rot to the dulcet tones of a mindless but entertaining reality show? Will it just not STOP FUCKING SNOWING where you live, regardless of previous weather patterns and/or calendar dates?

Well, then I have got a show for you.

NBC's Fashion Star is pretty much the best way to spend a Saturday, especially while you sit and tell yourself that "after just one more episode," you will go run on the treadmill "if it warms up later."

Oh, wishful thinking.

Returning to The Peacock after a reasonably successful first season, Fashion Star follows the travails of twelve lucky (or not) up-and-coming designers. Yes, the show's title sounds like a 1990s-era Mattel toy aimed at girls, but it's fun to watch and if you've got money to burn, you can purchase the contestants' clothes online IN REAL TIME.   

Bitchin (adj.)

They've made a few tweaks to the show since last season. First season host Elle MacPherson has left off hosting duties and is now behind the scenes, going the executive producer route. The new host is fashion journalist Louise Roe, who gets to look pretty and wear a chic wardrobe that should serve as some inspiration to the more floundering-prone contestants. 

Another change is that Nicole Christie of H&M has left the buyers' panel, replaced by Erika DeSalvatore from Express. The other buyers are the old-as-dirt but debonair Terron Schaefer from Saks Fifth Avenue and the competent and exacting Caprice Willard of Macy's. You'd think that Terron would be the most discerning since he represents Saks, but Caprice is the toughest sell, and thus the one to impress. A sale to Macy's is one of the more hard-earned achievements.  

One other change this season is that Fashion Star, like the various X-Factor/Voice/America's Next Flash in the Pan reality competitions, has gone the mentor/team route in an attempt to spice things up.  Last season, the mentors advised all of the contestants, but this time, the celeb designers have chosen teams comprised of contestants whom they feel show the most promise. Detroit Native Son John Varvatos, Chicken of the Sea Spokesmom Jessica Simpson and Professional Bohemian Nicole Richie serve as mentors. Thus far, Detroit is rocking it out, since John's team hasn't lost any designers, whereas both Jessica's and Nicole's teams have. 

Yes, my fledglings. Soon.

The basic premise is purdy darn simple. Twelve contestants are divided up into teams, led by a celeb mentor. Each week, they compete to create one design for a spring collection, based on a specific and usually pretty uncomplicated theme.  At least, one would think. During the "Sex Sells" challenge, Package Deal JesseRay Vasquez and Garrett Gerson instantly thought the sexiest thing they could make would be a sweater vest.  Jessica gave them some kind, motherly advice that sweater vests are not, in fact, sexy and they followed her advice and changed their design into a SICK black knit dress. 

I ask you, America, what has more wow factor than a sweater vest?

The designers present their creations before the buyers, and the buyers consult with "their people" about whether or not to make a bid on the item. This can either result in a bidding war that you may get unreasonably excited about -- or humiliation on national TV if there are no bids from the retailers. Really, it could go either way. Designers who sell are safe that week. Those who fail to get a bid are placed on the chopping block by the mentors, and the buyers get the final say about who gets eliminated. The grand prize is a spring showcase in all three retailers. 

One rather unique aspect of this show is that the production team apparently has a team of elves at its disposal, thus making the designers' clothes available for purchase online during the show's airtime. The creations are also available nationwide in stores. There are also live Tweets! What else could you ask for?

Does this look like a sweatshop to you?

Standouts this season are (in no particular order): Hunter Bell, Daniel Silverstein, Silvia Arguello and Amber Perley. Their designs range from wearable to high fashion to COMPLETELY FUCKING FEROSH, BEYOTCH. Cassandra Hobbins, Brandon Scott and Garrett/JesseRay round out the dark horses. 

There are, of course, a few people who bug the crap out of me. Hipster Priscilla Barroso keeps whining about how no one understands her or her designs. In case any of us want to forget that she's misunderstood, she reminds us in every episode that she is misunderstood. She has sold on the show, but that's beside the point. During the "Something for Everyone" challenge, where designers were supposed to create a look that would flatter both a smaller size and a plus size, Priscilla's frock featured a significant midsection cut-out. I must say, after seeing that, I don't entirely get her, either. I'm not what anyone would call plus size by any stretch of the imagination, but I would hesitate to wear a pointless cut-out design that showed a good portion of my rib cage. I honestly like her vintage-inspired designs, but I can't see them at Express or Macy's, and I really think she would be better suited to design for ModCloth

Willy Wonka called. 

In Peplum Fail news, Compton lass Johana Hernandez is a talented designer, but she's left her game somewhere back in southeast LA. During the same challenge where Priscilla failed so spectacularly, she created this black-and-red peplum dress that didn't correctly fit her size 12 model, the fabrics and colors weren't right for spring and the peplum didn't draw focus to the right places. WHICH IS THE FUCKING POINT OF A PEPLUM. Johana is a lovely, well-dressed plus-size girl, and she even tried her design on, so I have no idea what the hell she was thinking. Her size 2 model design looked amazing, but her plus-size version looked…well, it looked a hot mess. Step it up, Johana. 

In the People Who Will Not Listen category, Nicole and Jess have lost team members because they will not take their advice on cut, color, style and fabric. JesseRay and Garrett learned from Jessica, but other contestants seem sure that their way is the right way -- until they get sent home. Case in point was Bret Young, who insisted on a blue crotch-line in a ladies' skinny pant, against Nicole's advice that, "Blue vadge is..." not the way to go. Bret was the first person eliminated. Oopsie. 

Regardless of what one might think of Jessica Simpson or Nicole Richie due to their somewhat dubious past reality TV personas, they both have their own fashion lines, from which they make bank. If one of them told me to change something in my design, I probably would. They both seem like genuinely nice people and they offer sound advice to their charges. We'll see in future episodes if Team John continues to wipe the floor with Team Nicole and Team Jessica. 

Run that by me again.'s tuna?

Overall, Fashion Star is a pretty innocuous reality show. It's turned the audience participation aspect of reality programming into a brilliant marketing move. The winner is chosen by the judges instead of the audience, and the melodrama level is at a minimum. Highly recommended for inane weekend viewing purposes. 

Designs from Season 2 are available for purchase at these sites:

This week, the neophytes take on creating "hot" (pun intended) looks for summer.  Fashion Star airs Fridays at 8 p.m. on NBC. Previous episodes are on demand.


Maggie Cats said...

I enjoyed the first season as a time-wasting guilty pleasure, I missed that the second one was starting! Off to On Demand I go...

Arsenic Pie said...

I didn't know it was back on until I was trolling the On Demand over the weekend. They're only three episodes in, so if you've got three hours to kill...