Did you watch NBC’s Fashion Star last night? A lot of fashion people did and they seemed pretty disappointed. Well, that’s putting it mildly. A sampling of tweets from the fashion industry sent out during last night’s show:
It’s like watching #ProjectRunway while having a seizure. #FashionStar @NBCFashionStar – Tom + Lorenzo @tomandlorenzo
#FashionStar clearly spent more on music & Nicole Richie’s headbands than it did on anything else. – Heather Cocks, Go Fug Yourself @fuggirls
I don’t think I’ve ever been so utterly confused watching a tv show before tonight. Wtf was that show all about anyway? #FashionStar – Jay McCarroll, designer and first winner of Project Runway, @jaymccarroll
I swear I didn’t plan to get so aggro about #FashionStar but it’s all of our livelihoods on the line if America thinks that was real fashion – Matt Kays, fashion publicist @mattkays
Reality TV, please face reality! How on earth is #Saks ok with the idea of ordering the same collections as #Macys or #hm? #FashionStar – Rachel Dodes Wortman, reporter for the Wall Street Journal @racheldodes
But while the fashion industry was appalled with last night’s spectacle (which is an apt descriptor considering there were models on Harleys, backup dancers and smoke machines) the show actually seems to be a hit at retail.
I popped into H&M early this morning (don’t ask) to scour for returned Marni for H&M (Success! It was there!) and was checking out next to a girl who was buying two dresses designed by Fashion Star contestant Sarah Parrott. She told me she watched the show last night and loved the dresses so much she went right out to buy them (this was at 9:30 a.m.)–only the turquoise color she wanted was already sold out.
Sarah Parrott was there herself at the H&M on 51st and Fifth, standing next to her dresses on display, along with the judge from H&M, Nicole Christie. Parrott’s dress, Christie told me, sold out, in both colors, by 11:15 p.m. last night. The show ended at 11 p.m. The multi-use zipper skirt designed Orly Shani is sold out online at Saks. Ditto both versions of Nikki Poulos’ kimono-sleeved caftan at Macys.com (the other two items Macy’s purchased–a halter dress by Edmond Newton and the asymmetrical jersey tunic by Lizzie Parker are both still available).
But maybe these items are selling out because retailers placed small orders, designed to sell out fast. Christie assured us that’s not the case. “I can tell you that we ordered the dresses at our normal order size–average H&M quantities,” she said. “And we have it in 101 stores in the country and…it’s flying off the shelves.”
That’s when designer and contestant Sarah Parrott showed me a photo her friend had sent her of the H&M in Atlanta (she’s from nearby Marietta): every woman in the dressing room (about five of them) was trying on her blue dress.“I just started doing this six months ago,” Parrott said, taking it all in. “I did Charleston fashion week, got People’s Choice [award] and then Fashion Star came calling and then I did this, and now I’m here–so it’s been really really fast.”
Why Fashion Star over, say, Project Runway? “The platform of the show is just so much more fascinating to me than a Project Runway,” Parrott said. “It’s in stores. We don’t make things out of meat or corn husks or dog collars, it’s true ready-to-wear clothes, and that’s what I do.”
Nikki Poulus, another contestant on Fashion Star (who designed the sold-out caftans bought by Macy’s), also on hand at H&M, agreed. “It’s not clothes made of napkins,” she said, “this is really about the business of fashion.” Though she admitted she wasn’t expecting the American Idol-style spectacle. “I was a little bit surprised at the scale of it and the flashing lights and the music and the dancers and I felt a little underdressed,” Poulus said. “This week there were ladies in fishnets and leather on Harley Davidsons…and I’m very low key by nature.”