Fashion Star, a new fashion design reality show, debuts tomorrow, and it’s got all the earmarks of success — a legit model host, Elle Macpherson, a seamlessly incorporated shopping component, and partnerships with H&M, Macy’s, and Saks Fifth Avenue. (Buyers from each store comprise a judging panel during weekly eliminations.)
Those last two items differentiate the show enough from Project Runway that we think it might have legs. Now, enter the contestants’ advisers. The 14 designers will be mentored by Nicole Richie, John Varvatos, and…Jessica Simpson. How can design advice from Jessica Simpson stack up to the pithy notes of industry favorite Tim Gunn? Without sharpening our talons too much, we’re interested to see how that plays out.
Richie, herself a former reality star, is a valid designer these days. John Varvatos helms an eponymous top men’s wear line. As advisers, those two make sense. Meanwhile, Simpson’s empire — and it is an empire, we’ll give it that — seems more like a well-placed licensing bonanza than a legitimate collection.
Of course, we all know Simpson’s got reality television value — Newlyweds made her a lot more famous than her career in music ever did. Still, her role in Fashion Star could be one misstep in what’s otherwise a pretty well-rounded design show. We really like that the contestants will be trying to ‘sell’ their designs to the three retailers’ buyers — and being chosen is the prize as well as the challenge. Now we just wonder if any of the Simpson-mentored designers will wind up making the cut.