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'Fashion Star': Mentor Jessica Simpson continues successful foray into fashion

by jmaloni
Tue, Mar 13th 2012 04:25 pm
Pictured from `Fashion Star`: Nicole Richie, John Varvatos, host Elle Macpherson and Jessica Simpson. (photo by John Russo/NBC)
Pictured from "Fashion Star": Nicole Richie, John Varvatos, host Elle Macpherson and Jessica Simpson. (photo by John Russo/NBC)

Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni

Who better to learn from than Jessica Simpson?

OK, sure, she had a little tuna confusion on MTV, and she still can't pronounce the name of her future husband Eric Johnson's home state (It's Massachusetts). But for the aspiring creators on NBC's new reality series "Fashion Star," she is the epitome of what it takes to make it big in the world of "Project Runway," QVC and Joan Rivers.

Simpson was a former pop icon and sometimes movie actress when, in 2005, she launched the Jessica Simpson Collection. It sort of seemed like an odd idea at the time, considering the "Newlyweds" and "Dukes of Hazzard" star was oft maligned for her red carpet looks and even more so for her fluctuating figure. Still, Simpson said she had a "fire" inside her to design.

For the next seven years, Simpson completely poured herself into her company. What began, then, with just shoes, now includes 22 different product categories in the Jessica Simpson Collection. She has outerwear, handbags, jewelry, luggage and fragrances.

Oh, and total sales topping $1 billion.

"I never expected to do what I've done in the fashion world, but I'm very - I feel very blessed to be here and (for) everything that we have accomplished," Simpson said. "And I think that just keeping the mentality - I mean, we started off with accessories, and so I originally thought I was just going to do shoes and handbags. And, you know, with the success of that, it just gives you more and more opportunities; so the sky's the limit.

"I mean, even with music, and acting, and being a mom and, you know, anything that I want to do, I know that I can do - and life is definitely always about expanding, and that's how we grow. And so I'm just really happy to be where I'm at, and I'm proud to say that I get to do everything that I love to do."

On "Fashion Star," Simpson will serve as one of three mentors (alongside Nicole Richie and John Varvatos), weekly doling out advice to aspiring designers.

"I think any designer that can understand what people need to be wearing right now is the biggest and best step that you can take," Simpson said. "Instead of putting your ego first, you put the buyer first. And I think that that's a really important thing just to know what the consumer is wanting to wear. I mean, that's the hardest part and that's, you know, that's really - it's the hardest part, but it's also the easiest part. It makes for the best business."

"I really just wanted to be there and to hang out and talk with the designers and, you know, make sure that they did have a vision that they listen to the buyers and what the buyers want," Simpson added. "I mean, that's really, really important to be able to give to Macy's the colors that they're wanting or the styles that are selling best for them on their floors."

On "Fashion Star," 14 designers are competing for a grand grand prize: $6,000,000 in orders for capsule collections in Macy's, H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue stores.

Additionally, the looks that win the weekly fashion show will be featured the next day in one of the three stores.

"We have 14 great designers and it's about picking the designer that really has a vision and can be around for the next 20 years or 30 years," Simpson said.

The winner of "Fashion Star," she said, will be the designer who best combines talent with determination.

"We like the daring designers and also the designers that will really listen - will really listen to the mentors, and listen to the buyers, and really understand the business," Simpson said. "So I think that it's definitely just a mix of someone that's really creative and someone that really understands the business. And if you don't know the business yet, you can definitely learn, because Lord knows I came into this business not knowing anything about it."

"Fashion Star" airs at 9:30 p.m. tonight on NBC. Follow the show online at http://www.nbc.com/fashion-star/, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NBCFashionStar, and on Twitter @NBCFashionStar.

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