Even though a fashion-based reality show could be a sure hit for television, especially when hosted by real-life fashion model Elle Macpherson, most fashion shows don’t make it out the gate and die on the track before the season is over. The reason is that it’s hard to find a reality-based fashion show that has mainstream appeal. NBC decided a different approach was necessary and it believes that former NBC President Ben Silverman can deliver. As one of the executive producers of NBC’s newest reality show “Fashion Star,” Silverman hopes that adding a real-world business element to the show might be the winning component for "Fashion Star." The real-world business element Silverman brings to NBC’s Tuesday night “Fashion Show,” is the opportunity for the show’s contestants to design clothing that the audience can actually buy – sometimes the next day. NBC’s “Fashion Show” stars Elle Macpherson, who doubles as host and executive producer, celebrity mentors Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and award-winning menswear designer John Varvatos. Judges for the contestant-designed clothing include buyers Nicole Christie of H&M, Caprice Willard from Macy’s and Terron E. Schaefer of Saks Fifth Avenue.
Each week’s show begins with a fashion show based upon a weekly challenge to expand each designer-contestant’s brands. The judges, real retail buyers for their stores, vie for the chance to an exclusive purchase and the right to display the winning contestant’s designs in their store. Designers-contestants who do not make any sales during that week’s show will be up for elimination unless Varvatos, Simpson, or Richie saves the designer from elimination.
Photo Credit Racked
The fourteen designer-contestants include people that have experience with major design houses, an engineer, a stay-at-home mom and more. Some of the contestants already have their own existing designer lines and get the opportunity to take their brand to the next level. “Fashion Star” tests the abilities of these hopeful designers by seeing how they react in these various real-life scenarios presented on the show. This is a chance for these up and coming designers, both self-taught and design-school educated, to achieve their dreams. One designer at season's end has the chance to receive $6 million in orders for his or her collection that will be offered by all three department stores.
NBC’s hoping that “Fashion Show” will follow the success of the “The Biggest Loser,” a reality-based TV competition for weight loss that airs the hour before. But even the “Biggest Loser” seems to slipping in the ratings and how long it can hold on is anyone’s guess. “Fashion Star” garnered about 4.4 million viewers for its debut show the week of March 15, 2012, and lists in the eighth position on NBC’s reality-based shows for the season. NBC’s “Fashion Star” competes against “Body of Proof,” currently in second position for the Tuesday 10 pm time slot and CBS’s “Unforgettable,” holding onto the top spot for the same Tuesday night time slot.
Fourteen designers compete in this hour-long reality show, but so far, “Fashion Star” doesn’t give enough time or depth into the designers themselves. The show moves quickly and touches down lightly on designers working on the designs with celebrity mentor input, then moves to a brief runway presentation and the final judging. With so much to cover in just an hour, it’s hard to get to know the designer-contestants – but that may change as designers are eliminated throughout the rest of the season.
While Varvatos is an excellent choice for a mentor, it’s hard to see where Richie and Simpson fit into the fashion world. Though both are celebrities, they are not well known as “fashionistas.” The show has potential, especially with the opportunity to purchase winning designs right away, but how that all pans out will be interesting to watch.
The real question is whether NBC’s “Fashion Star” will last. As of its debut, it’s running in third for the 10:00 pm Tuesday night time slot, which doesn’t look hopeful for the reality-based program. What it needs is more emphasis on the designing process and the designers themselves with some help from celebrity mentors who actually “know” fashion. Knowing what you like to wear is one thing, but knowing what looks good and appeals to the buying public is another thing.
Tom Demers writes for Zintro, a marketplace of experts and consultants. Find an energy policy expert or even an environmental expert witness by using Zintro.