The Amy dress by Sarah Parrott was my favorite of the evening and is now available at H&M for $19.95. It has a mix of edginess and structure with cutout back and front pocket details. It was shown in leather on the runway, and teal fabric. It looked really expensive and I can't believe they got it down to this price point!
My Style cover in tomorrow's paper will be featuring a couple of "Project Runway" alums, but now the TV show has competition itself with last night's debut of NBC’S "Fashion Star."
This time, there's money involved from the get go, with buyers from Macy's (Caprice Willard), Saks Fifth Avenue (Terron E. Schaefer) and H&M (Nicole Christie) opting on the spot to bid for the designers' line, or not.
Last night, it was mostly nots, but six designers received offers of $50,000 to $80,000 for their mostly three-piece collections. In this want-it-now instant gratification times, the pieces are in the stores today. It's a stroke of marketing genius because the sums paid, while a lot and meaningful to the designers, is paltry compared to the millions of dollars the retailers would have to pay for TV ad exposure of the same duration.
What you won't see is great fashion because there's less idealism and less design than "Project Runway." The focus here has more to do with marketing, branding and what real people want to wear, rather than critical voices looking for genius. As the obnoxious designer Oscar Fierro said to his buyer critics, they may have seen his dresses before but they haven't seen his name on the label.
This dress by Edmond Newton was a hit with the mentors on "Fashion Star." His collection was purchased by Macy's for $60,000 and this dress is now available for $110 at Macys.com.
Most of what was shown Tuesday I've seen millions of times before, a point made by celebrity mentors Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos. But when it came to the buys, well, there's really only a handful of styles that flatter a mass of people, and Macy's made three purchases geared toward that. It's hard to go wrong with halter dresses and resort caftan maxi (sold out).
What was also interesting was the changes made in the transition from runway to real way. Edmond Newton's V-neckline halter dress in white and black (selling for $110) was shown on a woman but it looked junior to me and sure enough, makes a timely prom offering. The same goes for a similar black dress with rosette details ($99), which was toned down for market. Buyer Caprice made the point that her intention is to dress real women with curves, whereas other design shows are geared toward dressing models who, let's face it, tend to look great even when wearing rice sacks, burlap bags or trash bags.
Nzimiro Oputa's Mark men’s jacket, $49.95, at H&M.
H&M made my favorite picks of the night, with Sarah Parrott's Amy dress ($19.95) and Nzimiro Oputa's Mark men’s jacket ($49.95), both fitting the brand's forward, contemporary appeal at prices set for adults with children's budgets. There are so many details in the fully lined linen blend jacket, including two welt pockets up top, welt pockets and fastened pockets at front, imitation suede elbow patches, decorative buttons, and back vent. It's amazing that they can offer them at these prices.
Following each designer presentation, the designers get a critical reaction from the mentors, then turn around to face the buyers. It must be devastating to come up with "No offer" across the board, but there were few surprises.
Orly Shani's zipper mini skirt duo was picked up by Sak's Fifth Avenue.
The biggest surprise to me was Saks' $80,000 purchase of Orly Shani's zipper mini skirt ($350). It's a novel idea. The high waistband skirt has a with zipper detail and inch away from the top, with a zippered beaded chiffon layer that is detachable. The designer said it's because she doesn't have money so needs her pieces to be versatile. With the overlay it's beautiful, but once the chiffon layer was zipped off, the skirt underneath looked cheap, and I couldn't see using the zippered chiffon piece as a scarf.
It really didn't say Saks customer to me. It seemed too troubling to zip on and off. The mentors said she needed to refine her idea. But realistically, removing the chiffon layer will make the piece easier to launder, and women who have $350 probably don't care about getting a second skirt underneath. It actually sold out!
Other designers who received offers were Lizzie Parker and Nikki Poulos. Nicholas Bowes, who showed beautiful motorcycle jackets, got the boot for his bad attitude, getting testy with the mentors and telling Nicole and Jessica that as women they don't understand men's fashion. Excusez-moi! Jessica said she wanted to smack him in the face.
The buyers who gave him the boot said that by not being open to criticism, they didn't believe he would be able to grow. Cie la vie! Sayonara! And good riddance. In real life, nobody wants to work with an argumentative difficult person either.
This kimono-sleeved caftan by Nikki Poulos is sold out at Macys.com, where it was listed for $89.