Watching the presentation for Fashion Star right now, at which we learned that Ben Silverman isn’t concerned about producing shows in the United States and Nicole Richie has awesome turquoise shoes, I was struck by how much the show sounds like an extension of Bravo’s brand. The way it works is this: designers compete to have their designs purchased by companies like Saks and Macys, who will have those clothes in stores the day after each episode airs, and at the end of the season, one designer will win a deal worth, in Silverman’s words “more than $6 million,” which I expect means in the expected income instead of the actual cash value of the prize.
I was working on a piece that didn’t pan out last year about Andy Cohen, Bravo’s former programming director who is now going full-time on his talk show. And at the time, the thing we discussed a great deal is the extent to which, if you have enough money, you can live in the world of Bravo’s shows. You can go to Lisa VanDerPump’s restaurants in Los Angeles. You can hire Kyle Richards’ husband (or any of the guys on Million Dollar Listing) to sell your house or help you buy one. Consultations are available with Patti Stanger if you’re looking for love. You can go to any of the restaurants where the Top Chef contestants and judges work or consult (this is totally why I went to Craftsteak in Vegas).
Fashion Star is essentially a lower-rent, fast-fashion version of this, coupled with instant gratification. I think we’re going to see a lot more of this trend, where television networks both create a compelling world and then give you a little bit of a way to live in it. Glee is particularly up front about this, and the revenue it rakes in from iTunes and concert tours will probably keep it alive even as the ratings dip.