The Good, The Bad & The WTF: “Fashion Star” Is Surprisingly Compelling!

I wasn’t really planning to watch “Fashion Star,” NBC’s new fashion design competition, but I just moved into a new apartment and turned on the TV to keep me company while I was unpacking boxes of books last night. “Fashion Star” happened to be on, and daaaaaaaaamn did I get sucked in. By the end of the hour, I was cheering and gasping and yelling “No deal!” even though that catchphrase has nothing to do with this show. After the jump, check out my list of the good, the bad, and the WTF of the “Fashion Star” premiere…

 The Good:

  • The constant stream of runway shows. This episode was, like, 90 percent rapid-fire runway shows, 5 percent commentary, and 5 percent backstage drama; needless to say, there were plenty of pretty clothes to ogle.
  • The fact that the winning designs will be in stores the day after the show airs is not only totally mind-boggling, it adds a sense of relevance and urgency to the competition that is missing from other design shows.
  • Multiple winners: after the designers show their pieces, buyers from Saks, Macy’s, and H&M have a chance to make an offer to stock the clothes in their stores. Every designer that gets an offer is guaranteed a place on store shelves and a spot in the next round of the competition. While the show will ultimately crown an overall winner, it’s nice to see multiple designers rewarded in every episode.
  • Having the buyers choose the bottom three contestants. I like how much power the buyers have because, again, it adds a sense of realism: in the fashion world, it is the buyers who decide which designs to stock in stores. They are the ones who decide your destiny.
  • The fact that one of the male designers made an offhand comment about women not understanding high fashion, and was consequently kicked off the show by the buyers (two out of three of which are female).

 The Bad:

  • The pacing of the show seemed really off. For example, about three-quarters of the way through the show, we got a whirlwind introduction to three designers, saw quick clips of their runway shows and the buyers passing on their collections, and then we never heard from them again.
  • I’m not sure that men’s clothing should be shown alongside women’s clothing. After seeing a parade of gorgeous dresses in bright colors and sumptuous fabrics, it’s hard to get excited about, like, a gray sport coat.
  • The lack of backstage footage. The producers gave us quick snippets of backstory for each contestant, and we got to see the mentors interacting with them for a few minutes, but I definitely would have liked more.
  • The way an accessory designer was berated for showing only accessories on the runway, paired with another designer’s clothes. Nicole Richie scolded her by saying, “This was your big chance, and you showed someone else’s clothes!” I’m not sure what the judges wanted her to do though — use naked models? Design an entire line of clothing even though her focus is accessories?
  • I’m not quite clear on what the mentors actually do, besides offer snappy commentary at the runway shows and give people hugs in the design room. Hopefully this will be clarified in future episodes.

 The WTF:

  • Scantily clad dancers gyrating on a runway off to the side. Sometimes the camera would lazily pan to them and it seemed like a weird scene to prioritize when there was so much else going on.
  • Nicole Richie’s sparkly head decoration thing. I mean, she looked gorgeous, but that accessory was majorly distracting.
  • Oscar, a contestant from El Salvador, was shown riding a donkey through town. Yeah.
  • Apparently John Varvatos’ last name is pronounced Var-VAY-tose. I’d always thought it was Var-vah-TOSE. I like my way better.

So, did you guys watch “Fashion Star”? What did you think? I’d love to know your thoughts and first impressions!

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