NBC’s new reality show, “Fashion Star”, hosted by super-model, fashion icon, Elle Macpherson, is providing 12 lucky individuals the chance of a lifetime – a chance to launch a fashion line and develop an iconic brand. Casting calls will be held in New York, Atlanta, and Seattle this week and continue in Chicago, Miami, and Dallas next week.
Elle and creator Rick Ringbakk spoke to PCM about what viewers can expect to see on a show.
What attracted you to hosting Fashion Star?
Elle Macpherson: Well, it’s a really exciting project for me because I’m fascinated by brand building. In fact, you know, in 30 years of being in the fashion industry what I have sought to do myself is to build a brand and – through marketing and advertising, and through attaching myself with – to partners that specialize in the areas that I love. For example, lingerie or body products, to name a few, or you know I have other relationships like my long-standing relationship with Revlon as Global Spokesperson.
But, I – personally my experience is in brand building and in business, and that’s what excites me, so I’m very pleased that NBC has chosen me to be Host and Executive Producer’s project. It’s exciting for me, I’m really motivated, and I’m excited to see, you know, some of the great new designers and brands that America has to offer. And that’s why we’re doing the casting at the moment to find, you know, our four contestants.
And Rick, why Elle?
Rick Ringbakk: Well, I mean she’s the perfect package for this show. When we started thinking about who would be the kind of face and the voice to lead us on this, Elle was our first choice. She was the first person they – we went to.
You know, not only does, you know, everybody know Elle Macpherson as an icon associated with fashion and with the modeling and fashion world, but she’s really done an – exactly what we’re going to be asking these designers to do herself, in terms of building a full-fledged brand that is now global and that permeates kind of every aspect of the market. And that’s what we’re looking to try and do here, we’re looking to try and come – you know, find some really exciting new designers who have an incredible vision and give them the opportunity to get their lines out on a big level.
Rick Ringbakk: Sure. Sure. So basically, in order for – you know, that’s one of the things that’s really special about this show is we’re going to be seeing these designs being presented in big exciting kind of presentations. And these buyers are going to be choosing the items they like from the very first week forward, buying these items, and then we are going to be manufacturing those items and making them available to America immediately following the show, and it’ll be in the stores the next day.
So with that, obviously there is a – there’s a pretty lengthy runup time that we need to actually manufacture the clothes and get them distributed to the stores. So, America is not going to be voting on this show. It’s a new of twist on that – the buyers because they are the ones making this huge investment, will be making – they’ll be leading the decision-making process and narrowing down the designers, and America will have the chance to buy the items immediately if they see something that they like.
How would you describe this show to somebody that just looks at the title and thinks, “Oh, it’s another Project Runway.”
Elle Macpherson: Well, I would say, no, it’s not another Project Runway. It’s actually a great – it’s something completely new. We haven’t seen a show like this on American TV, which is so immediate where, as we – as Rick just said, you know, where the – American will be able to buy the designs that they see straightway. But it’s not only about design, it’s about brand and marketing and business, and that’s what’s exciting for me.
It’s how do you present these brands to America? What does a billboard look like? What does your logo look like? How is your advertising campaign? How do you touch the heart of America with a product that you think is really good? So, you know, this is my specialty. There’s no point just having a good product, it’s how you present that to America.
And I think that it’s much more – it’s more well-rounded, it’s going to be sexy, it’s going to be exciting, there’s going to be many elements from the fashion element, but also business and branding and advertising and marketing and is very visual, and you know I think it’s just going to be incredibly exciting. We’re going to be doing things that we’ve never seen on American television and this type of show.
Can you talk a little bit about your personal style and what you specifically look for in a designer when you’re picking out your clothes?
Elle Macpherson: Well, it depends what I’m looking for. If I’m looking for a red carpet or if I’m looking for something that’s going to be hosting a TV show, or I’m looking for something that’s, you know, going to pick my kids up from school. I have different (tastes) for different things.
And what makes this show really interesting is that the kind of designers and kind of contestants we’re casting for at the moment, the people that are making very accessible products from lingerie to swimwear to denim, you know, products that are very accessible America. We’re not looking for somebody to kind of create a couture dress for the red – you know, for the Oscars; although, they may be a contestant as well.
But really, what we’re looking for is somebody who is, you know, great product, easily accessible, and something that relates to most of America. And, you know, in this vein for me, I like well-made products that are quite classic, but have a bit of a twist on it, eclectic – you know, eclectic mix of things from the 70’s style to, you know, rock-and-roll. It just depends on what mood I’m in.
And you have two sons, would you want them to follow you into the fashion industry?
Elle Macpherson: Well, I don’t have dreams for them actually. They have their own dreams and I encourage them and support them and nurture them into finding what other types of things that they’re interested in. You know right now, I have a 13-year old and a 9-year old and one of them wants to be a pilot and the other one wants to be an actor, so – and they’re both incredibly good at math and they’re father’s in finance, so who knows. But, you know, for me the most important thing is that I encourage them in their individual talents, and that I try to give them the most well-rounded education and try not to impose my dreams on their life.
So Rick, the show focuses on the importance of brands and creating a lifestyle brand for consumers with fashion. So in regards to the casting what are you looking for with regards to the designers own personal brand or their own personality brand?
Rick Ringbakk: In terms of level of expertise, we’re looking at designers that are from sort of all levels. It could be somebody who has owned their own boutique for years and has been successfully selling their wears on a small level. It could be a soccer mom who’s been working two jobs and secretly designing an amazing swimwear line in her basement that this is the opportunity that she’s going to have for that dream to come true, and to finally see her vision realized.
In terms of – you know, in terms of the people themselves and what we’re looking for, we’re looking for somebody that’s got something that is new, something that is different, and something that – you know, that we want to see and that we want to wear. Again, you know, in the past a lot of the fashion shows have really focused on the kinds of clothes that very few of us will ever put on, the $10,000 red carpet dress.
We’re looking for somebody who’s got a fresh take and a unique vision on clothes that are for – you know, for – the clothes that most Americans wear. Leather jackets, denim, t-shirts, swimwear, lingerie, that type of things, but they’ve got to have their own unique take on it. It’s got to be something that we haven’t seen before.
Elle Macpherson: I love this project because it is really – the subject matter is something that I’m passioned by, which is building brands through marketing, advertising, and through creative design. And, you know, that’s what I’ve tried to do for myself with my lingerie brand.
We’ve been in business for 20 years and, you know, we made a difference in the type of design we started creating together, bringing it into markets where lingerie wasn’t particularly prevalent, in the U.K. market particularly. And in the American market, you know, when we started doing lingerie it was a very utilitarian-type of, you know, just bras and knickers that you need to have, not fashion statements as we’re doing now.
We did it through creative advertising, through creative marketing. We tapped into a – you know, a market trend before it was really obvious, and so we were able to get great position in department stores. So, it’s been – you know, this is partly my own journey and it’s just so wonderful to have this project that kind of isolates this part of the business that people don’t really see.
And I think it’s going to be exciting for America to watch, and then having the added bonus of being able to buy immediately the products that you like. And so that it’s very interactive to the public and it’s not kind of fantasy world, it’s very real. And I think program is going to be quite education, but also inspiring and very tangible for the American public.
And how is to be a host? I’m sure you’re going to have so much fun as a host.
Elle Macpherson: Well, I’ve had a really wonderful year because I’ve been producing and hosting Britain’s Next Top Model and we have a very different spin to the Americas Next Top Model. And if ever you get a chance to tune in on it it’s a very – it’s a really fun program because you see a lot of behind the scenes and sort of on the road stuff.
I – you know, it’s a big challenge for me. America hosting a – in – you know, major NBC ten part series is a huge honor and it’s an unusual kind of next step for me, but I’m really looking for to it. Hopefully it’ll be fun, but it’s not really – will not really be about me, it is – it’s about the, you know, wonderful contestants that we’re looking for at the moment that will be a part of this series. You know, with watching their journey and watching them grow, watching them blossom, and going on that voyage with them. That’s what I’m looking forward to more than anything else.