Picking up where Project Runway left off, Fashion Star, starring Jessica Simpson, is the latest TV fashion design contest to hit the US. What sets the show apart from what's gone before, though, is the palpability of having the designs in stores, available to buy, if they are a success. It's the TV show's answer to that often-asked question in the fashion world: "who would actually wear this, other than a supermodel?"
The fashion designers on Fashion Star have to prove their mettle in the world of retails and get the thumbs up from retails giants such as MACy's, Saks Fifth Avenue and H&M. After each runway walk, the retail representatives either give an amount that they're prepared to offer, in dollars, or they say "no offer." According to NY Times, one of the highlights of the show is listening to the store's reps lending a touch of practicality to the proceedings, such as "looks good on a runway, but my customers' vision is limited by the confines of a store." Fashion Star focuses on the runway and the outcomes of the dealings with the retail heads, rather than the sewing-room dramas of Project Runway but appears to have been well-received for that difference.