by James Tuttle

Gentle reader,

For weeks people were asking me what I thought about this new Fashion Star show on NBC and, since it wasn’t on yet, I only had the billboards to go by.  Unfortunately, they are probably the worst outdoor advertisements to pop up around Los Angeles since those signs for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close that made me think it was a movie about a kid with too many fingers.

Fredric Johansson shows us how to do stars. (Ph: Mauritzio Montani)

Elle Macpherson looks like a botoxed blonde frog, Jessica Simpson is trying to freeze our brains with her intense stare and designer John Varvatos reminds me of the little guy in The Princess Bride who keeps shouting, “Inconceivable!”  And the fact that it’s so photoshopped that it’s basically a fucking painting makes the whole thing even more stupid because they could have easily painted a more descriptive and attractive ad for this show than some frozen white famous people floating in a peaceful cloud.

When the show itself premiered last week, it was the exact opposite of a peaceful cloud.  After the opening credits gave us a glimpse of every goddamn piece of clothing that will be coming on stage through the entire season, we are bombarded with a full-on production number of loud rock music, screaming crowds, sexy dancers on motorcycles, fireworks, strobe lights and lingerie models in Helmut Newton-inspired fetish gear.  And that’s just to introduce the host, Australian model-of-yesteryear Elle Macpherson, whose face is now stretched so tight she makes Nicole Kidman look relaxed.

The Cirque de Soleil-meets-Kiss Concert kicks up again each time a pair of designers shows their three looks each and stops when they face the mentors Simpson, Varvatos and Nicole Ritchie who, it turns out, have been advising them in the workroom during the preceding week.  I would have liked more time watching these designers, some of whom seem quite interesting and talented, during the design process but design, execution and styling are mere footnotes on Fashion Star.  The show is more focused on sending out a few pieces in the midst of a rock star spectacle, even though it’s hard to pay attention to the clothes when you’re wondering whether that really was a midget shot out of a cannon.

Hot guy, losing look.

The first week, a douchey Australian guy showed three versions of a pretty standard leather motorcycle jacket and then disagreed with the mentors’ feedback because, as he says, “it’s very hard to understand the girls giving advice about men’s fashion.”  Since two of the three department store buyers/judges are strong women themselves, it’s easy to see how he was sent packing instead of the Tilda Swinton doppelganger and the Filipino little person with the hat fetish.

I didn’t make it very far into last night’s overproduced episode but I still didn’t see any of this spring’s main trends on that runway and there are a lot of them.  Just so you don’t totally miss out, here are a few:

Tribal:  You’ve probably noticed that the ethnic/tribal influence is already having another moment, but it’s not a repeat of spring 2010 because “tribal” means more than just Africa this season.  Think about the Mongolian steppes, the Andes and the plains of Nebraska, too.

The most referenced collection in this trend is certainly Christopher Bailey’s for Burberry Prorsum with its cottons, raffia trims and wooden beads but the there are also some great big ethnic prints at Donna Karan, Bottega Veneta, Ohne Titel and Paul & Joe in an array of shapes, from flowing dresses with thigh-high slits to skimpy bikinis.  If the prints don’t work for you, load up on accessories like clutches, necklaces, or a row of bracelets in silver, wood, bone, raffia and leather.

Donna Karan Spring 2012 Ad

Art Deco:  Even though Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby won’t be hitting screens until Christmas, the Jazz Age is back this spring.  The flappers that stomped down the Gucci runway in sparkling gold, black and white fringe were the most literal interpretation we saw, but you can choose to incorporate drop-waist dresses, fringe, feathers and geometric patterns that are still Deco-inspired but less on the nose.


Also look for bias-cut dresses in silk or satin, maybe even backless ones to go a bit more Thirties Hollywood.  Accessories include cuffs and tasseled clutches, ropes of pearls and, if you can afford it, the Art Deco-era jewels are stunning and never go out of style.

Aside from Gucci, you might want to check out this season’s Etro, Carolina Herrera, Alberta Ferretti and a heavenly Ralph Lauren collection for inspiration.

The Fifties:  From beauty parlor ladies at Jil Sander to Dolce and Gabbana’s sultry Sophia Loren bombshells and Prada’s hot rod babes, the Fifties are back in a big way.

Fendi (Ph: S. Vandevelde)

The most aggressive styling had to be at Fendi where all the girls looked like Tippi Hedren after those birds fucked with her hair.  Hourglass shapes in sheath dresses and suits, buttoned-up cardigans and circle skirts that are thankfully poodle-free are better ways to get into this look and still avoid dropping the big bucks.

You can also look to cat-eye glasses and headscarves tied under the chin but don’t pile on too much at once.  As with all these trends and revivals, it’s important to remember that you’re not dressing for a costume party.  Just choose the elements that work for your look and your lifestyle and leave the rest behind.

And, yes, I did take the title of this article from a Paris Hilton song.

Much love,


Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen Couture (Ph: Tim Walker)