On Friday, NBC’s Fashion Star returned to the schedule with a lot of the same fit and flare the show incorporated into Season 1. Like plenty of reality programs that have made it past year 1, Fashion Star isn’t resting on its laurels and is instead incorporating some small changes that have made a difference in the quality of the programming, from getting down to the nitty gritty to spending more time in the workroom.
In many ways, Fashion Star is the same program in Season 2 as it was in its freshman season. Contestants design and create outfits at certain price points that both have a wow factor and will appeal to buyers like Express, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Macys. Mentors Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie, and John Varvatos aid the contestants in their ventures, but it is up to each individual person to decide whether or not he or she will take their mentor’s advice. Each week, the contestants show two outfits and the buyers decide whether or not to make an offer. The contestants who don’t earn an offer are up for elimination.
It sounds pretty complicated, but one thing NBC’s fashion competition show has always done well is lay out the rules and abide by them. This time around, the biggest change seems to be that the mentors will stick with particular contestants throughout the show. At the very beginning of the episode, Simpson, Richie, and Varvatos each picked four contestants and spent extensive time with them, going over the design and offering advice. In Season 1, the mentors felt like excess cooks in the kitchen, but working with specific contestants should amp up the bantering in the coming weeks and should make the famous names more relevant.
The onstage talent is a little different, as well. Often when competition shows survive a first season on the network, the talent for the next year seems to be a little better and, following this trend, Season 2 seems to offer fewer novices in its cast. As a nice twist, Season 2 is even allowing a team of two designers to compete together. Finally, Louise Roe has taken over for Elle Macpherson as the show’s host and her stage presence is professional without being stiff.
Fashion Star has never been like other fashion-based reality programs. Its interactions with buyers and immediate production in stores adds an interactive component that gleeful shoppers are surely into. At the same time, its low-end commercial clothing may turn off some watchers who are looking to view more fanciful or intricate designs. Fashion Star doesn’t offer clothing for the fashionista but does offer clothing for the everywoman and that’s a market with a higher probability of expansion for the designers. Bigger is not always better, but so far the changes in Season 2 have helped the show to head in more of the right direction and we’ll keep tuning in to see if the new designers continue to raise the bar this year.
Fashion Star airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.