'Fashion Star' Debuts with Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie -- What Did You Think?

Although the show draws comparisons to Project Runway and American Idol, the high-energy competition has a style all its own

Some are calling Fashion Star "the new Project Runway" or "the American Idol of clothes" -- no matter what you call it, the show (Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET, on NBC), which premiered last night, makes your head spin from the moment it pounces onto your TV screen.

The basic premise: Each week, unknown designers have the opportunity to create an article of clothing to sell. Three mentors -- Jessica Simpson, who has a billion-dollar fashion empire, style maven and designer Nicole Richie and menswear designer-to-the-stars John Varvatos -- play the Tim Gunn role, dishing out critiques and advice. Host Elle Macpherson, who has her own line of intimates, hosts the brief, frenetic runway show, where three buyers representing Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue and H&M have a chance to bid or pass on the line.

For a contestant who succeeds, his or her line will be available for sale online after the show or in stores the very next day -- a unique element that seems to be working. By today, late morning, many of the picked-up styles were already sold out in stores. "This is something that's never been done before," says Richie to People. "We're talking about the epitome of immediate fashion."

The pool of 14 designers will be whittled down by one each week. Among the contestants who receive no offers, the buyers choose three who are in danger of elimination. The mentors choose one to save, and finally, the buyers send one of the remaining two home.

The bare-bones description doesn't capture the sheer spectacle of this show, with its breakneck pace (it seems edited to the rhythm of the ever-present, pulsing bass); its laser lights and smoke machines; and its cutaways to quickly recapped stories of all the toil and loss that brought the contestants here. (One lost her mother but gained a drive to design; another conquered breast cancer and now plans to conquer the runway. And so forth.)

The show's producers have stitched in all of the elements that have worked on American Idol, from the A-listers sprinkling their magic star power onto the panel to the dramatic pauses as we wait for the verdict from the judges/buyers. Something else this show has? Sassy contestant retorts, which we quickly learned don't earn you any points in this arena.

Offed contestant Nicholas Bowes showed us why people say, "Don't mess with Texas." After Simpson and Richie dissed his motorcycle jacket on the runway, the Aussie menswear designer dismissed their critique and said, "It's very hard to understand the girls giving advice about men's fashion."

Normally sweet, southern belle Simpson replied, "I'm a little bit offended. A lot a bit, actually. To talk down to a woman in this business? We're running the world right now." She then added, "I'm trying to be nice, but I really kind of want to hit you across the face right now." Bravo, Jess! 

This isn't the kind of drama that was rumored as the show was filming, but we'll take it! During the premiere episode, there were no signs of strife betwen the design divas and there may not be any. It would make sense for Richie and Simpson to keep the focus on their business savvy and amp up their well-established street cred in the design world, versus cheapening this opportunity by becoming tabloid fodder.

That said, the show has piqued our interest, as well as the interest of some reviewers. "Fashion Star clearly isn’t going to reward any outside-of-the-box talent like that other show [Project Runway]," writes April Daley of Entertainment Weekly. "It’s about wearable brands and that doesn’t always make for exciting runway shows. But once you accept that fact and embrace the thrill of the shopping/runway combo, it’s worth tuning in occasionally."

It's probably not the ecstatic response producers were hoping for, but not a bad deal, either.

Connect with Us
Follow Our Pins

Yummy recipes, DIY projects, home decor, fashion and more curated by iVillage staffers.

Follow Our Tweets

The very dirty truth about fashion internships... DUN DUN @srslytheshow http://t.co/wfewf

On Instagram

Behind-the-scenes pics from iVillage.

Best of the Web