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Fashion Star Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Elle MacPherson and Rick Ringbakk

This is an interview with Host Elle Macpherson and Executive Producer Rick Ringbakk on April 26, 2011 about the show Fashion Star. Fashion Star searches to discover America's next big brand in fashion and premieres on NBC in fall 2011.

Question:
Brands like Juicy have become very popular with creative marketing and fashion that appeal to the masses. What will this new star have to bring to create such an impact, and will there be a continued push to support the star after the show?

Elle Macpherson:
That's really great question. This is what the show is about, actually. You've totally understood where the challenges will be for the contestants, and it will be actually discovering what it takes to be a brand, what it takes in marketing and advertising to be a brand, what it takes in design to be a brand, and what vision it takes to be a brand in this American market. So this is what the show is going to be about, all the challenges that you will see be set for these young designers, will be the challenges that will uncover the questions you're asking.

Rick Ringbakk:
What we're trying to do here, in the past I think that shows that are centered around fashion have really been really focused, specifically just on the design acumen. And what we're really looking for here is somebody that can become a full fledged household name brand. We are looking for designers who are not necessarily just designing couture, but really also are designing for the mass market, designing denim, designing swimwear, designing lingerie, designing the types of things that real people wear. And we're going to be pushing them not only to stretch their lines and their - you know, their creations that, in terms of the apparel, but also we want to see how they present that brand to America. How do they present it in billboard advertising, how do they present in commercial advertising, and all of that is going to be woven into the show.

Question:
Elle, the VP for NBC Media praised your fashion history and style. What makes you the one to host this show?

Elle Macpherson:
It's a really exciting project for me because I'm fascinated by brand building. In fact in 30 years of being in the fashion industry what I have sought to do myself is to build a brand through marketing and advertising, and through attaching myself to partners that specialize in the areas that I love. For example, lingerie or body products, to name a few, or you know I have other relationships like my long-standing relationship with Revlon as Global Spokesperson. Personally my experience is in brand building and in business, and that's what excites me, so I'm very pleased that NBC has chosen me to be Host. It's exciting for me, I'm really motivated, and I'm excited to see some of the great new designers and brands that America has to offer. And that's why we're doing the casting at the moment to find our four contestants.

Question:
Rick, why Elle?

Rick Ringbakk:
She's the perfect package for this show. When we started thinking about who would be the kind of face and the voice to lead us on this, Elle was our first choice. She was the first person we went to. Not only does everybody know Elle Macpherson as an icon associated with fashion and with the modeling and fashion world, but she's really done exactly what we're going to be asking these designers to do herself, in terms of building a full-fledged brand that is now global and that permeates kind of every aspect of the market. And that's what we're looking to try and do here, we're looking to try and find some really exciting new designers who have an incredible vision and give them the opportunity to get their lines out on a big level.

One of the big things about this show, the big difference of this show and everything we've seen before is that every week these designers are going to be presenting their lines to three of the largest retailers in the country. And those retailers are there ready to start purchasing the items that they see on the show on the spot. And they'll be the ones who are narrowing down the contestant pool down to the winner, to the Fashion Star, and that person is going to receive a multi-million dollar contract that will see their wear is landing in all three of these retailers. So, we're very, very cognizant of the need for an afterlife and the whole show is built towards giving the designer the chance to really become something far beyond the show.

Question:
With the twist of the viewers at home being able to buy the design, how does that fit into the voting at all, or does it?

Rick Ringbakk:
That's one of the things that's really special about this show is we're going to be seeing these designs being presented in big exciting kind of presentations. And these buyers are going to be choosing the items they like from the very first week forward, buying these items, and then we are going to be manufacturing those items and making them available to America immediately following the show, and it'll be in the stores the next day.

So with that, obviously there is a - there's a pretty lengthy runup time that we need to actually manufacture the clothes and get them distributed to the stores. So, America is not going to be voting on this show. It's a new of twist on that, the buyers because they are the ones making this huge investment, they'll be leading the decision-making process and narrowing down the designers, and America will have the chance to buy the items immediately if they see something that they like.

Question:
How would you describe this show to somebody that just looks at the title and thinks, "Oh, it's another Project Runway."

Elle Macpherson:
I would say, no, it's not another Project Runway. It's something completely new. We haven't seen a show like this on American TV, which is so immediate where, as Rick just said where the - American will be able to buy the designs that they see straightway. But it's not only about design, it's about brand and marketing and business, and that's what's exciting for me. It's how do you present these brands to America? What does a billboard look like? What does your logo look like? How is your advertising campaign? How do you touch the heart of America with a product that you think is really good? So this is my specialty. There's no point just having a good product, it's how you present that to America. And I think that it's much more well-rounded, it's going to be sexy, it's going to be exciting, there's going to be many elements from the fashion element, but also business and branding and advertising and marketing and is very visual, and you know I think it's just going to be incredibly exciting. We're going to be doing things that we've never seen on American television and this type of show.

Question:
Elle, can you talk a little bit about your personal style and what you specifically look for in a designer when you're picking out your clothes?

Elle Macpherson:
Well, it depends what I'm looking for. If I'm looking for a red carpet or if I'm looking for something that's going to be hosting a TV show, or I'm looking for something that's going to pick my kids up from school. I have different tastes for different things. And what makes this show really interesting is that the kind of designers and kind of contestants we're casting for at the moment, the people that are making very accessible products from lingerie to swimwear to denim products that are very accessible America. We're not looking for somebody to kind of create a couture dress for the Oscars; although, they may be a contestant as well. But really, what we're looking for is somebody who is great product, easily accessible, and something that relates to most of America. And in this vein for me, I like well-made products that are quite classic, but have a bit of a twist on it, eclectic - you know, eclectic mix of things from the 70's style to rock-and-roll. It just depends on what mood I'm in.

Question:
You have two sons, would you want them to follow you into the fashion industry? Well from everything we see it's a really tough business, or do you have other dreams for them?

Elle Macpherson:
I don't have dreams for them actually. They have their own dreams and I encourage them and support them and nurture them into finding what other types of things that they're interested in. You know right now, I have a 13-year old and a 9-year old and one of them wants to be a pilot and the other one wants to be an actor, and they're both incredibly good at math and they're father's in finance, so who knows. But for me the most important thing is that I encourage them in their individual talents, and that I try to give them the most well-rounded education and try not to impose my dreams on their life.

Question:
Rick, the show focuses on the importance of brands and creating a lifestyle brand for consumers with fashion. What are you looking for with regards to the designers own personal brand or their own personality brand?

Rick Ringbakk:
We're looking for, in terms of level of expertise, we're looking at designers that are from sort of all levels. It could be somebody who has owned their own boutique for years and has been successfully selling their wears on a small level. It could be a soccer mom who's been working two jobs and secretly designing an amazing swimwear line in her basement that this is the opportunity that she's going to have for that dream to come true, and to finally see her vision realized.

In terms of the people themselves and what we're looking for, we're looking for somebody that's got something that is new, something that is different, and something that we want to see and that we want to wear. Again in the past a lot of the fashion shows have really focused on the kinds of clothes that very few of us will ever put on, the $10,000 red carpet dress. We're looking for somebody who's got a fresh take and a unique vision on clothes that are for the clothes that most Americans wear. Leather jackets, denim, t-shirts, swimwear, lingerie, that type of things, but they've got to have their own unique take on it. It's got to be something that we haven't seen before.

Question:
Elle, out of all the projects you've done thus far in your career, what about this project has really fascinated you?

Elle Macpherson:
I love this project because the subject matter is something that I'm passioned by, which is building brands through marketing, advertising, and through creative design. And that's what I've tried to do for myself with my lingerie brand. We've been in business for 20 years and we made a difference in the type of design we started creating together, bringing it into markets where lingerie wasn't particularly prevalent, in the U.K. market particularly. And in the American market when we started doing lingerie it was a very utilitarian-type of just bras and knickers that you need to have, not fashion statements as we're doing now.

We did it through creative advertising, through creative marketing. We tapped into a market trend before it was really obvious, and so we were able to get great position in department stores. This is partly my own journey and it's just so wonderful to have this project that kind of isolates this part of the business that people don't really see. And I think it's going to be exciting for America to watch, and then having the added bonus of being able to buy immediately the products that you like. And so that it's very interactive to the public and it's not kind of fantasy world, it's very real. And I think program is going to be quite education, but also inspiring and very tangible for the American public.

Question:
How is to be a host?

Elle Macpherson:
I've had a really wonderful year because I've been producing and hosting Britain's Next Top Model and we have a very different spin to the Americas Next Top Model. And if ever you get a chance to tune in on it it's a really fun program because you see a lot of behind the scenes and sort of on the road stuff. It's a big challenge for me , hosting a major NBC ten part series is a huge honor and it's an unusual kind of next step for me, but I'm really looking for to it. Hopefully it'll be fun, but it's not really about me, it's about the wonderful contestants that we're looking for at the moment that will be a part of this series. You know, with watching their journey and watching them grow, watching them blossom, and going on that voyage with them. That's what I'm looking forward to more than anything else.

Question:
Just to clarify, Elle, are you judging as well as hosting?

Elle Macpherson:
I would say I'm hosting and mentoring, is probably the better position. Our judges will be major retailers. We can't say who they are at the moment, but if you think of the major American retailers we'll have representatives of those department stores.

Question:
Are there any green or sustainable design challenges or elements that are going to be present in the show?

Rick Ringbakk:
Green design is at the forefront of a lot of trends that are happening right now, and it is something that we are absolutely looking at. And as we get deeper into this with our retail partners who are going to be very much a part of what this whole process is going to be for the designers because they're the ones that ultimately are having to make a decision to make a major, major big money commitment behind one of these designers, and they're deciding to buy clothes along the way. So, it's something we're in discussions with the retailers about, and it's something that we will probably see on the show.

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