Big Department Stores Help Brand 'Fashion Star'

NBC-Fashion-StarPasadena, Calif. -- NBC's "Fashion Star" is a different type of reality show with this catch: What clothes viewers see on the show, they can buy the next day in stores.

Big apparel retailers -- H&M, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Macy's -- have signed on as branded entertainment partners -- with the design winner getting $6 million in orders from the retailers.

Celebrity-branded clothes lines will be featured under brand names -- model Elle Macpherson, singer Jessica Simpson, and actress Nicole Richie and clothes designer John Varvatos. They will act as mentors for new designers. Three of the retailers' buyers from the stores will serve as judges.

"You are voting with your pocketbook every week," says Ben Silverman, executive producer of the show, speaking at the Television Critics Association meeting. "These are clothes that could be worn by every woman."

Silverman's production company, Electus/Engine Distribution, will retain all international distribution rights to the show.

Buying a media schedule on NBC wasn't part of the deal for the three retailers, says Silverman. Macy's is already a big national TV advertiser and a marketing partner on NBC. The retailer already has a longtime relationship with the network, including the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Nicole Christie, a buyer for H&M, did say the retailer has started to do national TV advertising -- but did not know specific details about when and where TV commercials would run.

"Fashion Star" will follow "The Biggest Loser" at 10 p.m on Thursday nights. It debuts on March 13 with a two-hour premiere. "Loser" is a show that Silverman brought to NBC under his former company Reveille.

TV producers of the show say apparel decisions made by the three retailers were made during the taping of the show back in July/August.



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