NBC reveals designers of new 'Fashion Star' reality competition
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 01/27/2012
NBC has revealed the identities of the 14 contestants who will compete on Fashion Star, a new Project Runway-like reality competition series that will attempt to discover a fashion designer who can become America's next popular brand and premiere on Tuesday, March 13 at 9:30PM ET/PT.
The network announced it had orderedFashion Star last April and then revealed in June that Jessica Simpson would serve as a celebrity mentor for the fashion designers competing on the new series. NBC subsequently announced former reality star Nicole Richie and fashion designer John Varvatos would join Simpson and participate as additional mentors.
Hosted by former supermodel Elle Macpherson and produced by former Project Runway producers Jane Lipsitz and Dan Cutforth,Fashion Star will feature 14 unknown designers competing in a series of weekly fashion and business challenges that will end with one of them being crowned the next "Fashion Star" and winning a multi-million dollar contract to launch their own line in three of America's largest retail stores: Macy's, H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Unlike Project Runway, which focuses on high-end women's fashion, Fashion Star will target a variety of casual fashion including dresses, suits, lingerie, denim, bathing suits, shoes, and accessories. Home viewers will also have the ability to purchase each week's winning designs both online and in stores the day after each episode airs.
Macy's Caprice Willard, Saks Fifth Avenue representative Terron E. Schaefer and H&M's Nicole Christie will serve as the judges for the competition and vie for the right to purchase and exclusively carry the work of the up-and-coming designers each week. The designers who do not sell any of their items to the buyers will face elimination, but Simpson, Richie and Varvatos will be able to save one of those contestants from the chopping block.
Following Fashion Star's debut episode on March 13 at 9:30PM ET/PT, which will run for an hour-and-a-half, the new series will resume on Tuesday, March 20 at 10PM ET/PT and continue to air one-hour broadcasts each week in that time slot.
Fashion Star is being produced by Lipstiz and Cutforth's Magical Elves production company and Electus, and was created by Silverman, Rick Ringbakk of 5x5 Media, and E.J. Johnston and James Deutch of the Global Fashion Association.
Lipsitz, Cutforth, Silverman, and Macpherson -- who currently serves as the host of Britain's Next Top Model -- are executive producing Fashion Star along with Ringbakk, Johnston and Deutch.
Lipsitz and Cutforth opted to leave Project Runway when The Weinstein Company, Runway's owners, struck a deal to move the show from Bravo to Lifetime in 2008. Instead, they signed an exclusive first look development deal with NBCUniversal, the parent company of both NBC and Bravo.
The 14 designers who will be competing onFashion Star -- and their NBC-supplied bios -- are:
- Barbara Bates, a 55-year-old from Chicago, IL
A recent breast cancer survivor, Bates is a Chicago native and designer who has been working in the fashion industry for over 25 years and knows what it means to be a fighter. In 1999, she founded the Bates Foundation, which provides custom prom attire and dresses for underprivileged young women and men from inner-city Chicago schools.
- Ross Bennett, a 27-year-old from Austin, TX
Raised in Texas, Bennett is a mixture of a big city kid and true country boy who likes to hunt, fish and design custom one-of-a kind dresses and other tailored items for women. Bennett studied under some of the most prestigious presidential tailors in the state. He currently has a dress shop in Austin, Texas where he designs cocktail, formal and wedding dresses, along with suiting and garments needed for every day at the office.
- Nicholas Bowes, a 38-year-old from Los Angeles, CA
Born in Australia, Bowes began his career in fashion as a model in the mid-1990s but soon cultivated his fashion interests into a screen printing business. This venture led to designing vintage tees and leather jackets and ultimately creating his own clothing line. Bowes hopes to become the next commercially viable brand.
- Ronnie Escalante, a 32-year-old from San Francisco, CA
Raised in the Philippines, Escalante spent most of his days on an agricultural province. At the age of 17, Escalante and his family moved to the U.S. in search of a better life and soon after, he joined the U.S. Navy where he served for nine months. Keeping his chic and confident female consumers in mind, Escalante wants to keep the price point of his collection affordable.
- Oscar Fierro, a 37-year-old from Lewisville, TX
Growing up in his poverty-stricken hometown in El Salvador only further fed the ambitious Oscar Fierro's desire to become successful. Fierro is a thriving businessman who owns four assisted living facilities and has designed several clothing lines including couture dresses and a "To Go" line, which features women's wear for under $30.
- Lisa Vian Hunter, a 47-year-old from Mercer Island, WA
A women's wear designer, Hunter is a mother of two and lover of all things vintage. Hunter says that women are desperate for gorgeous, affordable clothing made in the USA -- and that's exactly what she intends to give them.
- Kara Laricks, a 38-year-old from New York City, NY
A former fourth grade school teacher, Laricks always told her students to be true to themselves. Finally, she took her own advice and pursued a career in fashion. She designs androgynous clothing for women, inspired by her love of mens wear and an avant-garde Japanese design aesthetic.
- Edmond Newton, a 32-year-old from Atlanta, GA
From his junior high school days when he was voted "best dressed" to later becoming a professional male model at the age of 17, Newton has always been destined for a career in the fashion world. His ultimate dream is to create a successful fashion house and become a household name.
- Nzimiro Oputa, a 28-year-old from New York, NY
A Detroit native and the youngest male of five siblings, Oputa was no stranger to hand-me-downs from his older brothers while growing up. The beginning of Oputa's fashion creativity was finding innovative way to transform his brother's old clothes into new designs. Oputa credits his upbringing for his creativity and quit his job as an engineer to pursue his lifelong dream of a career in fashion.
- Lizzie Parker, a 41-year-old from Seattle, WA
Parker has always made it a point to follow her dreams, even if it meant leaving something behind. That's exactly what she did when she left her corporate job in software development to pursue a career in fashion. Parker loves designing clothing that works for the everyday consumer, sizes 0-16, and creating a wardrobe that truly performs for today's modern, multifaceted woman.
- Sarah Parrott, a 31-year-old from Marietta, GA
Parrott may be a newcomer to the fashion world, but she has always had a penchant for style. This stay-at-home mom decided to pursue her passion when she turned 30. She recently entered her first collection into the Charleston fashion week and won the People's Choice Award. With such a successful first showing, Parrott is an emerging designer to keep in sight.
- Nikki Poulos, a 43-year-old from Delray Beach, FL
Poulos grew up on a farm with no electricity in the Australian Outback on 54,000 acres of land. With no television and only the outdoors to entertain her and her siblings, they were forced to be creative. Poulos could not stay away from fashion and she is selling her clothing online and in stores across the U.S., Caribbean and Australia.
- Luciana Scarabello, a 30-year-old from Miami, FL
Born and raised in Argentina, Scarabello did not move to America until she attended college in Boston. Upon graduating, Scarabello went on to study at Parsons School of Design. She ultimately wants to see her dress collection expand into a line that includes separates.
- Orly Shani, a 26-year-old from New York, NY
In high school, Shani was determined to emulate the clothes she loved in magazines and would spend a few dollars at local thrift stores and transform what she bought into masterpieces. This later became her first business venture. Shani -- who specializes in convertible fashion -- wants to build an empire, and with her strong entrepreneurial mindset and determination, nothing will stand in her way.