On “Fashion Star”

I agree with the critics that there were distracting and unnecessary production effects (dancers! smoke machines!) in the debut of NBC-TV’s Fashion Star last Tuesday evening, but there is plenty of underlying value to the show that merits positive comment. That value is centered on the business aspects of fashion. Many a designer has started with an idea and a sewing machine and lots of hard work. Unlike Project Runway, which focuses on the fascinating creative process, Fashion Star focuses on the no less nail-biting process of marketing. The show requires each designer to feature one item, shown in three variations, during the week’s runway show. Buyers for Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, and H&M then have the option of bidding on each design. One of the designers who receives no offers is eliminated each week.

As usual with fashion shows, the skirts were as barely legal in length as the models were in age. There were some ho-hum looks and some sparks of wonderful creativity in evidence. There are two designers in particular whose designs piqued my interest during the premiere episode of the show.

The full-figured designer Lizzie Parker created an asymmetrical dress that was picked up by Macy’s, which the buyer extolled because designer herself could wear it and it worked for a range of sizes. I was surprised to read on the show’s web site that Parker limits the line to sizes 0 to 16, barely making a dent in addressing the needs of full-figured women. This is an inexplicable marketing decision for a designer who had found full-figured styles wanting.

The most intriguing design presented during the show received no offers and landed the designer in the bottom two. I would have made this design the winner of the episode. Designer Kara Laricks created an extraordinary accessory for a woman who wants a bit of androgynous, cutting edge style:  a fabric collar to which is attached a tie that can be worn in various ways and with just about anything, from a dress to a blazer and top. Laricks makes the pieces from deconstructed men’s shirts. Thus far, she is limiting collar size to 16 1/2 inches, which will limit her potential buyers, another inexplicable marketing decision.  I was pleased to see that Laricks is receiving so many orders that she is anticipating a 4 to 6 week wait time on orders at the time I am writing this post. The pieces are available at: http://www.collarstandtie.com/shop-unisex-ties.html.