Fashion Star: Episode 1 Recap

Last night was the debut of NBC’s highly anticipated Fashion Star. Part reality show, part game show, the new series has been hyped for months as the next Not-Project Runway, and after watching the debut — I would have to agree it is nothing like Lifetime‘s tired聽successful formula.

No, think more Idol, or The Voice –聽wrapped in with Shark Tank for good measure. The set on Fashion Star will indeed look聽familiar, with its piercing blue lights and pyrotechnics. All that’s missing is Christina Aguilera.

The Pilot episode introduced the 14 competing designers, as well as the show’s judges and mentors, and buyers. It’s a mixed-bag of gems here, but it does seem like unlike its reality聽television聽predecessors, with designers on Fashion Star having a more聽tangible聽opportunity for real recognition, or at least some real cash for their efforts.

Take Orly Shani聽(above, right) for example, a former bartender turned designer who walked away with a cool $80,000 buy from Saks Fifth Avenue for her inventive covertable mini — a sheer removable pannel that’s zipped at the waist, and was shown in three different variations.

Edmond Newton (above, left) scored $60,000 courtesy of Macy’s for his efforts, a voluminous and short bubble cocktail dress that kind of reminded me of a prom dress. “Party!” Exclaimed Jessica Simspon. “My favorite was the black and white.”

Nicole Richie agreed, adding “One of the dresses was very ’50s, and the two others were a little ’80s, so, they didn’t necessarily fit within the dame designer to me, but, I really love the black and white.”


Edward Newton’s bubble cocktail dress design, above, sold to Macy’s for $60,000


Orly Shani’s convertable mini design, above, sold to Saks Fifth Avenue for $80,000

Next up was the聽exuberant and petite聽Oscar Fierro, who discribes his brand as an “orgy of over the top things.” He amounts his colorful and spirited designs to his tough upbringing, and from the get-go it was clear he might be the underdog of the series.

Australian designer聽Nikki Poulos‘ favorite word is ‘No.’ She started her line three years ago, and designs swimwear and resort wear. Competitive, driven, and willing to “spill my own sweat and tears to make it to the end.”

Fierro’s Butterfly Dress, above — a short, tight fighting number was not received well. “The bad news — I didn’t like the dresses,” Richie revealed. She then continues to tell him how fantastic he is. “I love the sequin, and I would wear it right now,” exclaimed Simpson. Alas, the dress didn’t receive any bids. “Fashion is about business,” explains Saks’聽Terran Shaffer. “I’m just worried about you being a comedian more than a designer.”

Poulous’ loose-fitting Kimono-Sleeve Maxi Caftan design, above, was more to the聽panels聽liking, described by John Varvatos as “fun and beachy.” Macy’s clearly agreed, ponying up $50,000 for the dress. “It was in my mind kind of a very retro-chic feel,” said buyer Caprice Willard, adding,聽”This $50,000 is also kind of a nod towards what I think is your amazing talent, and my desire to see what we could do going forward. Congratulations!”


Kimono-Sleeve Maxi Caftan Dress by Nikki Poulos, now available from Macy’s


Fashion Star’s Barbara Bates, left, and Nicholas Bowes, right, didn’t receive any bids for their designs.

Former Aussie model Nicholas Bowes聽was up next, presenting a simple and wearable men’s biker jacket. “I think you have a nice take on a biker jacket,” said Varvatos. “But there’s a lot of biker jackets out there though, and one really needs to define themselves on their own.”

“I wish there could have been different hardware,” added Jessica. “You always kind of see zippers where there not supposed to be.” Bowes chimed back “I think it’s a very fashion forward piece. If you understood what was going right now, you’d probably understand that’s what was going on right now with men’s fashion.” Insert boos from crowd, and one scathing look from Jessica. “I was definitely a little distracted by the styling. The shorts and the cowboy boots really threw me off,” added Nicole. “It looked like the top half of him was going to a rock concert, and the bottom half was going line-dancing.”

“Look, everybody’s got their own opinion. John’s advice from a guy’s point of view is not bad, but it’s very hard to understand a girl’s giving advice about men’s fashion.” Bowes told the pannel.


Boys, take note. Nicole Richie says shorts and boots are a fashion no-no.

Breast Cancer survivor Barbara Bates was critiqued for her over the top use of ruffles, with Richie urging, “I liked the small ruffles… I would just encourage you to focus on the American woman.” Simpson added, “I thought it was interesting you chose to do two different reds… I just think when you kind of go over the top, I understand it for the runway and stuff, but for a buyer, and for a consumer, I didn’t really connect with it very much.”


Barbara Bates’ odd placement of details didn’t win her a bid on the debut episode of NBC’s Fashion Star

Unfortunately for both, none of the retailers placed any bids. Bowes was praised for his use of leather and detailing. “You are on trend. I’m a female, but I’ve worked with menswear for a longtime,” said H&M’s Nichole Christie.

Sarah Parrott聽and Ross Bennett are next up. Bennett, 27, is an Austin, Texas native who has studied under some pretty reputable tailors in the industry. Parrott, a mother of two, has had fashion aspirations all her life, and is self-taught. Learning from her mother, Parrott decided to pursue her dreams after her passing. “Losing my mom made me strong enough to kind of go after my dreams,” she says.

Bennett’s wide-leg flaired pants strutted to “Fashion” by Lady Gaga, and the judges could not have look less inspired. Cut to Nicole, who leans to her fellow judges and says “Doesn’t it look like someone is grabbing her in her vagina?”

“We call that a wedgegina,” replies Varvatos.

Parrott’s Amy Dress was super cute, albeit basic — but it was probably my favorite of the evening, and I think the judges agreed. “It looked hot going down the runway!” exclaimed Jessica. “I’m glad you chose the teal.” I am too, I love that color right now! “I think you’re gonna have a buyer, I’m crossing my fingers for you.”

Varvatos was slightly less enamoured, saying “I definitely think you need to push the bar up a little bit in terms of making signature, think about what people are going to know you for and how that’s going to read on the street.”

Bennett however didn’t fair so well. “I kind of feel like the pant is from another time, and not in such a good way,” said Varvatos. “It definitely doesn’t feel like it would fit into a current fashion sense.” The buyers agreed, with no one stepping up for a bid.

Willard chimed in “I think you are clearly talented. That particular pant had a very limited scope of customer that could really wear it, and for Macy’s we pay very close attention to try and service as many customers as possible.”聽Shaffer agreed, adding “it wasn’t really special enough for Saks.” Harsh.



Sarah Parrott’s adorable Amy Dress design was snatched up by H&M for $80,000

Parrott landed $80,000 from H&M, who were the sole bid on her design. “The edginess in the leather, and the softer color in the blue shows how smart you are as a designer. It’s going to be a huge seller.” And apparently she was right, as the dress is already completely sold out as of this afternoon.


Self-taught designer Lizzie Parker scored $60,000 from Macy’s for her Asymmetrical Jersey Tunic

Ronnie Escalante,聽Luciana Scarabello, and Lizzie Parker were next, clumped together in a weird fast-paced clip that basically showed nothing… Not really sure what that was all about. However, it was Parker, a self-taught designer from Holland, MI, who took home $60,000 from Macy’s for her body-conscious聽Asymmetrical Jersey Tunic (above).


Kara Laricks decided to present clothing which wasn’t her own on the debut episode of Fashion Star

Nzimiro Oputa and Kara Laricks were up last. Laricks is an accessories designer who聽immediately聽caught my attention with her menswear inspired presentation. She did however, neglect to design any of the clothing.聽”You didn’t design the clothes… This could be your only chance in front of these buyers, and you literally put someone聽else’s聽clothes on the runway?” exclaimed an exasperated Richie. Varvatos and Simpson didn’t mind so much. “I feel like you’re teasing us… I’m kind of like, believing in you a lot,” said Simpson. The buyers however, weren’t buying it.


Nzimiro Oputa’s easy and casual men’s blazer design was bought by H&M for $50,000

Oputa presented a functional, casual, up-scale blazer that was actually pretty class. “You’re on your way,” exclaimed Varvatos. H&M was the sole bid with $50,000. “You hit the nail on the head,” exclaimed Christie. As of this afternoon, it’s still available online for $49.95.

The judges decided to use their “save” on pint-sized Oscar Fierro, whom I must say is quite adorable in his own right.聽In the end, it was Nicholas Bowes who was the first eliminated amongst the eight designers who didn’t make a sale.

Over all, the premier of Fashion Star was a lot of fun. The interactive element of allowing shoppers to go online immediately afterward to make purchases is what people really want these days, and I must say I was impressed by the commercial appeal of a lot of these garments.

Clearly it’s going to mean big business for everyone involved, so it should be interesting to see how the show pans out for all involved.

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