Fashion Star premiered with a bang on Tuesday night, March 13, on NBC, and two things became quite clear from the get-go: It is not Project Runway, and some of the wannabe trendsetters have some serious ‘tude. We think this might be our new addiction!

Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC© NBCUniversal, Inc. Photo: The Fashion Star Mentors

The series, which pits 14 unknown designers against one another in a bid for a $6 million collection order from Macys, H&M, and Saks Fifth Avenue, is hosted by Elle Macpherson and features fashion gurus Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie, and John Varvatos as mentors. Each week the remaining designers create three pieces within a theme, and then buyers from Macys, H&M, and Saks bid on their lines. Any designer who doesn’t make a sale is up for elimination at the end of the night. In a fun twist, the winning designs are made available for purchase the day after the episode.

As Nichole Richie puts it, “It’s about designing for retailers and letting America see your line and buy your line.”

Plus, it features reality TV alum Jessica Simpson, she of the infamous tuna/chicken confusion. Although those days are long over, the bubbly blond says she’ll still provide some classic one-liners. “Going back to reality TV, trust me, there are moments where I stick my foot in my mouth, and I know that I can’t lie. I do give constructive criticism, but I do it with a big smile on my face.”

Nicole prefers to straight-up tell it like it is. “If I’m going to a party, I ask my friends to be brutally honest with me, to be my worst critic at home so I don’t go out and get it when I’m out,” she says. “In the design studio I’m brutally honest with them because it’s better for me just to say it to them than for them to design their collection, put it out there on the runway, and then it get ripped to shreds. I’m being a friend to them and I’m doing them a favor.”

Jessica, whose design empire is worth a whopping $1 billion, also takes her mentor duties very seriously. “I [...] want to help these designers become a brand and help them focus on what branding means — it’s about thinking about tomorrow and thinking about your future,” she says.

When making the requisite comparison between Fashion Star and Project Runway, John Varvatos explains, “This isn’t reality TV, this is reality. [...] I think the huge part of it is the real reality of doing business — building your brand, building your image, creating your own personality with your product.”

Host Elle Macpherson, who previously helmed Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model, cuts right to the heart of the show: “I can make a fantastic bra and knickers, but if it doesn’t have an advertising campaign around it and it doesn’t have a DNA that people understand, then the buyers can’t buy it and the people can’t buy it. It’s more than just making a pretty dress; with this show the viewers can buy it today.”

And you can’t really beat characters like arrogant Australian designer Nicholas Bowles, who got the boot at the end of the premiere.

 

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