Sundance and that "powerhouse" stylist/editor/media meister, Joe Zee have brought us a cutting edge fashion reality show designed to take struggling designers and through expert advice and tough love, showing them the way to success. The premiere was last night and I think this is a brilliant new reality format: fast paced edits, a cheesy music track best suited for flaccid porn and NO VOICE TRACK. (Due to a technical error the broadcast in Brooklyn Heights that night was was missing the voice track.)That's right, from the moment I tuned in and for the complete hour of this nail biter, I heard nothing with the exception of commercials where Joe imparted his wisdom on everything from coffee shop mugs and spoons he collects and the advent of the BCD vs. the LBD, fash-o-nyms for the little black dress (dead) and the bright colored dress (ALIVE).
This ultimate reality show looks to have tons of pathos, strangely passive designers and a wildly gesticulating host. Joe Zee's hand gestures are clear proof of his expert credentials as an editor of consequence. Even the way he holds his Blackberry or tips a champagne flute at a meeting between his pet designers and a team of Barneys Co-op buyers and a few king making freelance fashion writers drives home his unquestioned authority. At one point he hammers away at the importance of a hanger's aesthetic appeal, I think. The design company Radenroro, a struggling pair of designers whose names I didn't catch, seem to be suffering a certain malaise. Joe swings his arms alot and they stare dumbly, smile sweetly and weep (silently) throughout the show. They even design what will be a winning collection in under 3 minutes on scrap paper, without any fabrics and also waste more precious time repeating these sad sketches on state of the art computer screens with Joe looking on in grave seriousness. Can't he see the waste of energy if energy is the right word? What about thought? Imagination? Skill? Fashion design has worked its way down, down, down the evolutionary ladder at break neck speed.
The clothes look random and the quality, fabric and concept are mysteriously lacking in substance. The only unifying element is an inexpensively made over sized label haphazardly tacked on by a surly sewer who clearly hates her job. Joe's mission statement is to guide, cajole, educate and basically wipe the butts of these clueless savants so they're ready for their close-ups. He looks to be the only one on screen who's ready, I think.
The endgame is a meeting with the fashion director of Nordstrom's. These poorly constructed, ill-fitting and ill-conceived clothes are trotted out to their unwitting audience complete with an army of dressers, a sea of shoes and tables of accessories. The same bad stuff that is definitely the worse for wear-ing gets the nod and we see in the credits that Radenroro will be available at Nordstrom's this spring. I'm happy for them but can't help feeling I missed something, I think.