The heat is on in this, the second episode of Fashion Star's second season. We are down to 11 contenders (Bret from Team Nicole Richie got the axe last week).
To refresh your memory, the three celebrity mentors—Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie, and John Varvatos—each started the show with four "hand-picked" designers whom they advise. Buyers from Macy's, Saks, and Express decide whose pieces get bought (and made and sold in their stores). Overly enthusiastic Brit Louise Roe hosts, shouting things like, "Whose clothes will be in your closet, America?!"
So, Nicole Richie's team is down to three: Daniel, Johana, and Priscilla. Jessica Simpson's team includes Hunter, David, Tori, as well as designing duo Jesseray & Garret. John Varvatos has Amber, Brandon, Cassandra, Silvia.
As the episode name implies, this week's challenge is to create the sexiest piece of clothing possible.
In the design studio (where contestants conceive the looks and exhausted-looking women sit at sewing machines and make their visions into reality), we get to hear a few choice tidbits.
Nicole Richie asks her team: "What do you think is sexy?" Before waiting for an answer she says, we think a tad ironically, "I know: Me!"
Silva shares this: "I am Latina—we're sexy, but conservative."
Brandon tells us, "My family all lost their jobs recently, and we have all been working on my fashion line, but we're not making enough money—it's up to me to save it."
Daniel says of his work, "What I had done is create a bad-ass bitch collection."
David tells us, "I want to make clothes that make men look confident—that is sexy."
Priscilla proclaims, "I have a quirky sensibility, people have often not understood me."
Tori says, "I got my creative sensibility from my mom; and would always steal her fashion magazines."
Amber proclaims, "I always knew I wanted to be a fashion designer; at age 6 I would staple together fabric to make a dress."
Hunter shares, "I think red lips are sexy, I think down hair is sexy." OK, Hunter.
Johana tells us: "I am not into the club dress, I don't want to put people into a sausage dress; as a plus-size girl myself, I want to design clothes that flatter all types of women."
Tori is worried about getting her dress done in time—"Miracles are going to have to happen," she says.
Designing duo JesseRae & Garret tells their mentor Jessica Simpson: "We are doing a real sort of sexy sweater vest." (Simpson was, understandably, horrified; told them she thinks they should use their signature basket-weave style to create a dress instead.)
There is a minor garment-construction drama moment: Silvia loses her black fabric and is forced to go with an acid-green. Other contestants express shock at the ability to lose one's fabric (true, it is pretty essential). The camera follows her around the studio, rooting through garbage cans, but the black fabric is nowhere to be found.
Next, we are at the runway. Team Nicole Richie went first.
A "Dream Dress" by Priscilla comes first. The first version was in a pink, with a constructed bodice with cutouts, sheer overlay and a flowing, salmon-colored skirt that is shorter in front than in back. She then shows a purple version that is pretty much the same. (The mentors whisper about lack of proper fit.)
Daniel went next with his "Bodycon" dress: Strappy black horizontal fabric made into a long-sleeved minidress. (Jessica Simpson says: "Absolutely stunning. Very sexy!") Next was a pink minidress with long sleeves with brown cutouts on each side of the body, ending up in a swirling Art Nouveau design at the shoulders.
Next was Johana's "Sheer Maxidress": A bold red flowing number, floor-length and slightly low-cut with a V-shaped neckline. The dress was cinched with a wide gold metal belt and a high left leg cutout. Her second look was a sheer snakeskin number with puffy sleeves and a hi-cut slit—looked fab on the leggy model. (Judging by the applause, it was a certified crowd fave.)
Their leader Nicole Richie proclaimed at the end, "You guys killed it, I love every piece that came down the runway, it's ridiculous."
Then comes the buyer section of the evening: None of the buyers made an offer to Priscilla—she could go home. As for Daniel, Macy's and Express both bid on his looks; Macy's won with $95,000. Very exciting: Johana's work was so beloved that Macy's and Express got into a bidding war; Express won with a whopping $125,000—buyer Erika said: "You can be sure that all of the Express girls, including me, will be buying that dress online tonight."
In case you haven't memorized the URLs, anyone may purchase the winning looks at the stores' F.S. sites: express.com/fashionstar; macys.com/fashionstar.com; saks.com/fashionstar.
Next up was Team John Varvatos.
Amber presented her "Open-Back Dress," a white cocktail number with long, sheer sleeves—looks conservative from the front, hit just above the knee with a silky ribbon belt, but entire back was open, down to the waist. Her second look was similar except that all the fabric was opaque white.
Brandon gave the world his "Double-Flap Jacket" in gray. It was boxy and double-breasted. "His inspiration was James Bond," Varvatos whispers to Richie. Brandon's models wore white shirts and black bow ties and geeky glasses. His second look was a khaki colored version of the style, single-breasted, with a big, wide collar.
Silvia presented her acid-green "Draped Minidress," which had a a silky skirt and a flowing, back-exposing top. Her second look was silky cream skirt and a white draped top with black accents: shoulder straps and big black bow cinched at the waist. It was awfully pretty.
Cassandra's first look, "Sheer Minidress," was a body-skimming sheer black number with a strappy top at the shoulders and criss-crossed fabric on the back. Her second look was similar, in a periwinkle blue; both had squared-off, just-below-the-knee hems with cute slits.
Again, the rubber hits the road as the buyers weigh in. Amber got $60,000 from Express for her dress. Silvia landed $50,000 from Saks. Cassandra got $55,000 from Saks, and poor Brandon was left with no bids, thus, he becomes eligible for axing.
Finally, Team Jessica Simpson got to show their stuff.
Hunter presented her "Mesh Pointe Dress": It was beige sleeveless mini, with a see-through overlay and red piping detail around the neck. Second down the runway was a black version of the same look. It had deep-V at the neck with a sheer black overlay; it also had hidden pockets—yea for functionality! "Now that is sexy," Simpson said.
Next up was David and his "Moto Jacket." This menswear piece was constructed of black fabric, with a cutaway silhouette. It was single-breasted with black leather detailing at the collar. His second look was similar, but in a dark brown with interesting double-layer construction that looked like a collar: When the model unzipped it, he pulled it open to reveal a lighter-brown layer within.
Tori (who was worried about her dress not being "finished" right before the runway) revealed her "One-Shoulder Dress." This color-blocked cocktail dress was made of a light, diaphanous fabric with two shades of blue. There was a greenish-blue bandeau bodice with deeper blue skirt that featured a high-cut slit on the left and ruffles running all along the hem. Tori's second look was essentially the same dress made in a purple, blue and acid-green print. They both had a lot of movement.
Last but very much not least was Garret & JessRay's "Basket Knit Dress," which is is a mini that's pretty much what it sounds like. Intricate, 3-inch-wide pieces off fabric were woven over-and-under each other to create their signature basket-woven dress. The first one was shown in a mottled black-and-white print with a small keyhole cutout right below the collar, the second in black—and that one just wowed them. The construction was more subtle, thus, cooler, and it looked a lot like a Herve Leger bandage dress, reimagined. Again, in what's becoming a real trendlet for this show, the front part of the skirt was a few inches shorter than the rest of the dress. "This garment has an amazing amount of detail work on it," said team leader Varvatos.
It was a very mixed bag for this group when it came down to judging. Hunter got $75,000 from Express. David and Tori got nada. Garret & JessRay (who got no bids last week) landed $140,000 from Macy's.
After the bidding, the teams retreat to The Designer Lounge, the place where those contestants who got no bids hang out and fret about elimination while the mentors discuss their work.
A few must-know quotes from the lounge: Priscilla tells us, "If I can't design for the masses, I probably shouldn't be here." David reveals that "not getting bought two episodes in a row is just sucking the life out of me!"
Finally, the nail biting can commence in earnest: Tori and David are put up from elimination.
The buyers display the brutal reality on their giant monitors. Erika from Express must tell Tori the loser's catchline: "Sorry, you're not our Fashion Star."
Tori, understandably, is shattered. She says, "I hold myself to such high standards and this just breaks my heart." Sadly, no one said fashion is pretty.