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Fashion Star Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Sarah Parrott

This is an interview with Sarah Parrott on April 6, 2012 about the show Fashion Star.

Do you feel that during the designer portion of the episodes that you get enough feedback from the mentors in order to create a really good runway or do you feel like it's just not enough?

Sarah Parrott:
Yeah, actually what you don't see is that we do get critiques from all three buyers and all three mentors. I think it's because that's what's permitted with steering of the show they're only just showing just one. But we do get feedback from all three on every single showcase.

As a designer is there a fear that being on the show that you'll lose your style in order to please the masses?

Sarah Parrott:
For me personally that was kind of something that I did struggle with, to be honest. I came into this and the whole point of the show obviously is to build a brand. With building that brand you want to remain true to your aesthetic. That's what sets you apart from other designers. I felt with all three mentors and all three buyers, well the mentors for sure they're all three different in their own respects and each buyer is looking for certain things.

And obviously you've noticed I clearly have a niche for H&M and for me I don't think that's a bad thing because for me that obviously shows that I do have a clear vision on my aesthetic, that I am brand-recognizable. But, the premise of the show is to essentially be in all three retail stores, so it's hard to remain who you are as a designer and still appeal to every single one, because they're all looking for something different so it's hard to listen to what they want and then say, ???Okay, but what is right for me as a designer???? If I change for Macy's are you going to see me as a designer, as the same person, for H&M? So it's tough.

Is there anything that you would have done differently from the beginning of the show to this point?

Sarah Parrott:
Yeah, there's always times when you look back and you wish you would have done this. Like, when I look back on the Week 1 and I did black leather, and I'm ???Oh, Sarah, it would've been so much cooler if you did leather but did it in a bright, fun color for spring.??? I always look back and say, ???Oh, I wish I would've done this or I wish I would've done that.???

I can't really dwell on the past. I mean, I've been fortunate enough to be in H&M so I can't really say I wish I would've done something different because for me it's been an amazing ride. So I'm kind of just pushing forward, not really looking back in what I've done wrong or what I've done right.

At this point in the competition did you feel extra pressure to get Saks and Macy's to make offers for your clothes?

Sarah Parrott:
Yeah, absolutely. It's one of those things that when we came into the show it wasn't really clear that we were supposed to appeal to all three. You just want to really stay in the competition. You just want to get a buy in general. But over the weeks, as they progress, they kept saying, ???Oh, well, how do you feel not being in Macy's and Saks? They're not bidding on you.??? So then I became a little bit more self-conscious and aware of the fact that maybe I do need to start focusing more on getting into the other retail stores.

But I also look at it, we did film this such a long time ago, what it seems like. And I'm looking at it now and in hindsight I'm kind of well what? The stuff in H&M is selling out, so for me that says a lot. I look back on the past and then I look at where I'm at now and I almost am kind of whitewashing it all.

It seems like a couple of times you've started over at the last minute and changed whatever you're doing. Do you think you work best under pressure?

Sarah Parrott:
It seems that way, yes. It's kind of one of those things, when you start doing, you have only so much time to kind of sketch it out, and then you only have so much time to buy fabric, and everything within limitations. So I think for me I seem to have, like, a very Type A personality when I'm designing, and it's hard for me to get things exactly how I want it and as perfect as I want it, so when something is not working for me I tend to want to find another source, another way out.

So that's what, like, what happened with the pants. I was doing a skirt. I made pants. And it worked out so much better for me. I think that pressure sometimes creates something fantastic, and it doesn't always have to be a complete disaster.

What's it been like seeing your clothes go on sale and knowing that people are buying them?

Sarah Parrott:
It's amazing. It's amazing to see the clothes in a store because obviously that has never happened for me. But then to hear that they're selling out in, like, 16 minutes, 10 minutes, 8 minutes, people on the West Coast are complaining that they, didn't get the clothes, that is just icing on the cake.

That was something that I didn't even think about that would even really happen. I was just kind of, ???Oh, wow.??? It was just so much more exciting just to be in the store, but to now kind of realizing that people are trying to find ways to even purchase the stuff is beyond. It's a total out-of-body experience.

Question:Sarah Parrott:
I think that they gave advice on both the things. For starters I think that they would kind of help us with each retailer. I can't personally say I remember that. They most certainly could have. I think what the point of the mentors is, they're trying to steer us in the direction where is best for us, is best for our design aesthetic. Appealing to all three has obviously been a challenge. But I think the mentors are trying to pull the best designer out of you and in the process they're giving you all of these experiences that they've had. That's why they're there is because they've been through all of this. Each three bring something completely different to the table.

So they're there kind of using their past experience and trying to support us in being the best designers that we can be. And they kind of put their own design aesthetic to the side and say, ???Okay, how can I figure this out with you? How can we make this work for you? Like, I see where you're wanting to go, like, let's figure it out kind of together.???

The past four weeks that audiences have seen, how are you gauging your success? You haven't sold to Macy's or Saks but you have sold every single week to H&M. So how are you kind of gauging your progress?

Sarah Parrott:
I'm gauging it really well. We filmed this obviously eight months ago. Within that time period that we were filming and within the moment I was stressed to the nines. I was kind of pulling out my hair almost to the point where I was becoming so self-conscious of the fact that why am I not selling to this? And at the moment what I should have really been thinking of was, ???Wow, Sarah, this is so amazing that H&M finds you so highly interesting. They like your stuff.???

I wish that I could've just lived in the moment then and taken that for what it was. And I look back on it now and in retrospect what I should have taken from that moment was saying, ???You should be so fortunate that you are having all of this success with H&M because H&M is huge.??? And while I do want to be mass-marketed and all of these things, in all retail stores, but for me it tells me that I do have a certain design aesthetic and that says to me that you have a brand.

So right now seeing all my stuff in H&M, I'm living within the moment. I'm taking that experience and I'm doing what I should've done when I was on the show. And I'm living this. And I'm living it like this is the most amazing time of my life and I'm just taking it one day at a time. I'm just really enjoying this because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

You mentioned hair-pulling and kind of being a little bit flustered, we noticed that that's kind of part of your process as you've been designing stuff every week and everything you've sold. Is that something that just comes in part because you kind of came into the fashion world a bit late and with as much experience as the other designers or is that just your unique creative process?

Sarah Parrott:
I don't know. I guess I didn't really know. Because I am emerging, it's such a funny thing. I wasn't literally pulling out my hair. I'm just kidding. I came into the process and I think, within the show it's hard because, you only have so many days to create not one look, but three. And all three, you want to make them different. So that became stressful.

And then obviously you're kind of in a situation where you're thrown into the room with other designers and you're looking at what they're doing and who's getting bought here and who's getting bought there and you start to kind of like, well, for me personally it just kind of ate away at me after a while. So it was ???Oh, maybe this isn't right. Maybe this isn't good.??? So I kept second-guessing myself and I didn't really have the time or the luxury to second-guess myself. I had my design and that's what I had to do. And I think when you kind of pull the trigger that fast you always are going to second-guess yourself. I think maybe I was just more open with my feelings than everybody else was. I mean, we were all under pressure and we were all stressed.

Maybe some people thought their stuff was, like, amazing from the get-go. I think I just have more of a Type A personality where I hope that it's as perfect as it can be, and, with the time allotted I just never thought that it was. Just the tendency to overthink things is kind of like my own personal nemesis, I think.

But I don't know. Maybe it has to do with that. Maybe - I don't know. I think it was just the environment in general because I don't typically do that now. I mean, just working on my fall collection, I'm not really like that because I have the time to kind of sit back and re-evaluate whereas the show you don't really have that luxury.

Looking back at the past four weeks and your process to design the garments that got sold every week, do you have a favorite design from one of your Fashion Star runways?

Sarah Parrott:
That's so funny because my sister-in-law just asked me the same exact question 20 minutes ago. I'd definitely say that I love Week 1. I love how it turned out. I love how H&M has kept true to the aesthetic. obviously there's some things that have been tweaked here and there, but Week 1 is pretty spot on.

And then I really like how the red dress turned out from this week, Week 4. I'm actually really excited. It looked so much more expensive than I thought it would. It looked exactly how I did it on the show, just a different fabric. So I'm really, really pleased with how the red dress turned out. But I think the red dress is a classic one. I think that one can take you pretty far.

So I don't know. I guess I'm supposed to say everything because I'm the designer, but I don't know. I guess I would say one and four have been my favorites, I think. I would probably still wear both of those.

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