As I watched the second episode of Fashion Star last night, I found myself getting preoccupied with not the contestants, but the judges. Since the show focuses on a wide range of designers and the commercial—not artistic—appeal of their clothes, most of the presentations kind of blurred together. (Some of the less memorable ones were even recapped in 30 second snippets.) It was the advice given from the mentors that made the 60 minutes interesting. What they said made me think a lot about how people shop and what actually sells a garment.
While I’m familiar with John Varvatos’ eponymous line and, of course, Nicole Richie and Jessica Simpson (they’ve both been Lucky cover stars during my tenure), I’ve never really heard any of them speak candidly about designing. John might create very casual clothing, but he appears to be a pretty serious guy. He and Nicole often look at the clothes and immediately ask pointed questions like "who is the customer?" and "why did you choose this fabric?"
Jessica, however, seems to always go with her gut. She affably sweeps through the work room, doling out simple wisdom like "it needs some pockets" or "add some color." She sometimes sounds a little flighty and unprofessional, but here’s the thing: she’s always right. And the buyers always bid on what she likes.
After the show ended, I kept thinking about Simpson’s kind-of-unexpected fashion insight. Despite Varvatos’ extensive industry experience and Richie’s style icon status, the former pop star might be the most financially successful of the three. Last year around this time, WWD reported that not only was her empire raking in millions, but projected to make over a billion dollars in 2012. Why? Because she designs clothes exactly the way most people buy them: with prettiness and practicability in mind.
Last night, only four designs made it to the department stores and yes, Jessica loved them all. Click through the slideshow to shop them for yourself.
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