Fashion Star: NBC's Home Shopping Network

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Fashion Star S01E01: "Pilot"

Fashion Star, as a reality show, is an unmitigated disaster. It’s long, noisy, disorganized (does anyone know what the dollar amount awarded to designers was meant to signify?), amateurishly edited, and features the kinds of faces that should never be found on network television, short of a 60 Minutes expose. (John Varvatos and the Orson Welles buyer from Saks, I’m looking at you.)

It also has achieved the rare accomplishment of feeling both rushed and interminably long: We get 0.3 seconds to get to know each contestant before their designs, completely plucked out of context, are sent down the runway. Then we get a commercial break, host Elle Macpherson informs us, then after that we get to hear what the “mentors” (Varvatos, Jessica Simpson, and Nicole Richie, who actually fares the best of the three) think about the outfits. “They yank her in the vagina!” “Motorcycles don’t go with Daisy Duke shorts, especially on men!” etc. Then yet a third panel of buyers for Macy’s, Saks and H&M; “bid” on the looks they’ve just seen, and if interested, they magically appear on store floors and websites the next day, for you to buy.

This really happens: see? The shift dress is already sold out online! Let’s call this for what it is: It’s what the Home Shopping Network would look like if you mated it with The X Factor. It’s supposed to sound cutting-edge and futuristic, but really the concept feels more like something they might have cooked up in the 1950s: “Welcome to Dress Comes True, brought to you by Maytag Washing Machines. Where your dream dress today can be on your back by tomorrow!”

I also don’t believe anything anyone tells me on this show. For example, who, exactly is turning these designs into mass-market goods available for immediate consumption? I kept waiting for Elle to pull a lever that opened up the stage, revealing an army of 5,000 9-year-old Malaysian children stitching away in the Fashion Star Subterranean Sweatshop™. This entire enterprise felt fishy to me, which I’m perfectly willing to overlook if it’s actually entertaining (see: America's Next Top Model). This show isn’t. It’s a tedious, styleless, bald, leather-bracelet-wearing, purple-aviator-sunglass-sporting bore. And yes, I realize I just describes John Varvatos.

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