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Designer Imposter? Elle Macpherson hosts Fashion Star for NBC

Buzz is growing around a new fashion design show called Fashion Star, hosted by supermodel Elle Macpherson. While no air date has been set, a 10-episode series is expected to air in the near future. It's recently been announced that Nicole Richie, Jessica Simpson and designer John Varvatos will be joining the show as "mentors" à la The Voice.

If a reality fashion design show with celebrity judges seems like a Project Runway-knockoff to you, don't worry--it seemed like that to me, too. There are a few differences: Elle Macpherson's Australian accent isn't nearly as cute as Heidi Klum's German one (that's an empirical fact); Jessica Simpson often veers toward the color orange, but she can't beat Michael Kors in the self-tanning race any day; Nicole Richie is a lot like Nina Garcia, but without the formal education in fashion. Okay, maybe that crack about Nicole Richie was mean--she's pretty cute, and she's come a long way, fashion-wise, from her early days of braids and mini-skirts.

The long-running feud between Macpherson and Klum over the moniker "The Body"--both lay claim to the term "The Body"--positions Fashion Star as a possible competitor for Project Runway, although there is no word on whether they will air opposite each other. This won't be Macpherson's first plunge into reality/fashion television; last year, she became the host and an executive producer for Britain's Next Top Model. Fashion Star is also positioning itself as distinct from PR in other ways: The judges aren't "judges" but "mentors," though there is no word yet on whether it will be a true mentorship or if it is just a matter of semantics; also, according to early press, the show will be designing "real" clothes for "real" people, focusing on "accessible" pieces. Think jeans and swimsuits rather than high-fashion runway garments--no word on what "real people" means in terms of model size, though. Winners will be chosen through online sales--the piece purchased by the most shoppers wins--so we will find out soon enough what the design hopefuls think "real people" means.

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