You Be The Judge: You Can Help Launch The Next Big Brand On NBC's New Show, 'Fashion Star'

Fashion Star

Photo: NBC

“Fashion Star” show creators E.J. Johnston and James Deutch met 10 years ago when both were working in the fashion industry—Johnston overseeing Fashion Week for IMG and Deutch spearheading new media for Hearst Entertainment.Neither had experience in Hollywood and today have only three fairly forgettable TV and film credits between them, but somewhere between 2002 in New York City and 2012 in Los Angeles, Deutch and Johnston convinced three major retailers—Macy’s, H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue—to sign onto a show idea that Ben Silverman would later bring to life at NBC.

“Looking around the fashion world, we saw that big fashion shows are big spectacles and we didn’t really see that on television,” Deutch explained to Business Insider over the phone. “We also felt like the department stores and the store buyers were really the dream makers. We wanted to show that dream-come-true moment when a store actually commits to buying a designer’s collection.”

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And Deutch and Johnston, the two seemingly luckiest men in showbiz, got their top three choices of retailers to sign on to a show that was simply an idea at the time.”I think what was most helpful was our true belief that what they [the buyers] do is a very fascinating process,” Johnston explained, adding that the retailers made the strategic decision to become involved because they realised the format allowed them to achieve core business objectives to market their brands, find new talent, and acquire new customers.

“They make dreams come true every day,” continued Johnston. “So an aspiring designer is only aspiring until someone says yes and then they’re professional designers getting paid.”

The show, now titled “Fashion Star” pits 14 of said aspiring designers against each other in front of a buyer representing each retailer.

What is different about “Fashion Star” is that if a buyer chooses to purchase a designer’s line, it will be available in the department store for viewers to purchase the very next day.

Also, Johnston and Deutch were able to negotiate with the stores to commit to orders that are much larger than are typically spent on an order for an unknown designer.

Celebrity mentors Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos, as well as host Elle Macpherson, all experienced designers themselves, help the unknown designers try to win a multi-million dollar prize to launch their collections in three of America’s largest retailers.

“Audiences don’t vote on the internet, phone or web but they vote with their dollars,” Deutch explains. “Alternately, you can wear the winner, so in the end, the ultimate stamp of approval from America will be the clothes getting purchased and worn every day by real Americans.”

Both Deutch and Johnston agree that the ultimate goal of this show is to create a new fashion brand using the medium of entertainment. 

And on March 13 at 9:30/8:30c, we find out if Deutch and Johnson’s dream, along with the 14 unknown designers’, come true.

Meet The Mentors: Nicole Richie

Richie, a native Californian, was born and raised in Los Angeles where she was surrounded by garbs and costumes--all of which allowed her to develop an appreciation for fashion at an early age. This is one of the primary reasons that the Winter Kate House of Harlow 1960 collection was born. The Winter Kate House of Harlow 1960 company was founded by Nicole Richie in 2009 in partnership with Majestic Mills (apparel) and Modern Vintage (accessories).

Her premier clothing collection, Winter Kate, recently launched its Spring 2011 collection globally along with her premier sunglasses collection under her existing label, House of Harlow 1960. House of Harlow 1960 (launched in 2008) also continues its successful jewelry and shoe collection.

Meet The Mentors: Jessica Simpson

Aside from Simpson's entertainment prowess, she enjoys tremendous success as a designer and businesswoman with her Jessica Simpson Collection. Launched in 2005, the collection has grown to include 22 product categories, such as footwear, handbags, denim, eyewear, lingerie, jewelry, outerwear, belts, luggage, ready-to-wear, and coming soon, 'tween.' Simpson's first fragrance, 'Fancy,' launched in August of 2008 to tremendous success. A second fragrance, 'Fancy Nights,' launched in summer 2010. The latest, 'I Fancy You,' has just landed in stores.

Meet The Mentors: John Varvatos

Varvatos joined Polo Ralph Lauren in 1983. Recruited by Calvin Klein in 1990, he was appointed Head of Menswear Design and oversaw the launch of the men's collection and the influential cK brand. In 1995, he returned to Polo as Head of Menswear Design for all Polo Ralph Lauren brands and created the highly successful Polo Jeans Company.

For Fall/Winter 2000, Varvatos launched his premiere men's collection and in the same year was recognised by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) with the Perry Ellis Award for New Menswear Designer. He received a second CFDA award for Menswear Designer of the Year in 2001; the successive honour was an unprecedented achievement in this category.

In 2005, Varvatos was once more recognised by the CFDA with the Menswear Designer of the Year Award. In 2007, GQ magazine named Varvatos Designer of the Year in its 12th Annual Men of the Year issue. Spring 2009 saw the launch of 'Born in Detroit,' a monthly show he hosts on SIRIUS XM's Faction channel. The show includes songs from various artists who have influenced Varvatos throughout his career in fashion, as well as interviews with special guests and live performances by various artists.

Meet The Host/Executive Producer: Elle Macpherson

Macpherson launched and continues to oversee one of the most well-known and globally recognised fashion lingerie brands: Elle Macpherson Intimates. In 2005, she extended the brand into the bath and body category through the creation of Elle Macpherson The Body products. Her additional brand ambassador duties include being a spokeswoman for Revlon.

Meet The Buyers: Caprice Willard, Macy's

Caprice Willard serves as a featured buyer for Macy's on 'Fashion Star,' NBC's latest reality competition series that will search for the next great brand.

Willard currently is the Vice President/Regional Planning Manager for Women's Apparel for Macy's Southwest Region. Willard was recruited from UCLA (B.A. English) into the Executive Trainee Program. She worked her way up through various positions, both in the buying offices and stores, until she ultimately became a Buyer for Dresses and then a Senior Buyer for Cosmetics. Leveraging her vast experience in many different businesses, Willard was promoted to Divisional Merchandise Manager of Intimate Apparel/Hosiery/Slippers in 2004.

In 2006, Willard moved to San Francisco and was promoted to the position of Vice President/Divisional Merchandise Manager of Cosmetics for the Macy's West division and held this position for three years, until the most recent My Macy's structure was implemented. As part of My Macy's, Willard was able to relocate back to her hometown of Los Angeles and assume her current position of Vice President/RPM for Women's Apparel.

Meet The Buyers: Nicole Christie, H&M

Nicole M. Christie serves as featured buyer for H&M on 'Fashion Star,' NBC's latest reality competition series that will search for the next great brand.

A former graduate of Columbia University in New York City, Christie was one of the first 50 employees hired to start the U.S. sales organisation for H&M. She began her 11-year career at the company as a manager for the first U.S. store that opened on Fifth Avenue in 2000.

In 2001 Christie was promoted to buyer for the Young Fashion Division where she worked with H&M's in-house design team in Sweden to shape the collection for the U.S. and Canada. During the next eight years she focused on increasing the sales and profitability of this division and also spearheaded the launch of the new H&M denim brand for the U.S.

In 2009, Christie was tapped to become communications manager for North America, where she is currently using her knowledge of the H&M company and culture as well as her buying and sales experience to manage the development and implementation of communication strategy, while also acting as the H&M company spokesperson for the U.S.

Meet The Buyers: Terron E. Schaefer, Saks Fifth Avenue

Terron E. Schaefer serves as featured buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue on 'Fashion Star,' NBC's latest reality competition series that will search for the next great brand.

Schaefer, Saks Fifth Avenue's executive vice-president and chief creative officer, has broad international marketing and fashion expertise that includes award-winning branding, product positioning and advertising campaigns for world-class organisations such as Saks, Bloomingdale's, Harrods, Macy's and Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB). Prior to joining Saks Fifth Avenue, Schaefer held the position of senior vice-president, marketing for Warner Bros. Worldwide, where he led all marketing functions.

After leaving Doyle Dane Bernbach, where he began his career, Schaefer began the second phase of his career as senior vice-president, marketing at William Filene and Sons where he was the principal architect of the strategic plans that repositioned this traditional department store chain as a contemporary upscale retailer. The experience was repeated successfully when Schaefer joined Bloomingdale's as their senior vice-president of marketing.

At Warner Bros., Schaefer spearheaded the creation of their worldwide retail corporate identity program and played an integral role in growing this international franchise business to 13 countries and $100 million in just three years. Schaefer was also responsible for recognising the potential for e-commerce on the Warner Bros. Studio Store site and increased the site's sales volume 400 per cent in just one year.

Meet the designers in this show sneak peek:

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