Nicole Richie On Fashion Star, Sexist Designers, And Jessica Simpson

Last night, before setting off for our second Black Keys concert in as many days, we stopped by Anna Wintour‘s least favorite restaurant, Miss Lily’s, for some pre-dinner drinks celebrating tonight’s premiere of NBC’s fashion-reality-competition show, Fashion Star. While there, we talked to Glamour editor in chief Cindi Leive and celeb-cum-designer Nicole Richie about their experiences on the show.

Leive, who appears on an upcoming episode, says that while she signed on for “fun”, she got a lot more than she bargained for.

I just thought it sounded like fun. I thought it was a great idea for a show, by the way. I was shocked that no one had thought of it before — the added twist of being able to buy clothes in real time is incredibly smart and interesting. And I thought it was something Glamour should be part of. So I taped it and ohmygod did I come home with a new appreciation for what goes into making reality tv.

I think it’s very easy to get jaded watching reality tv, like, ‘All these people are just here to get famous.’ But there is no question that they would kill to just become designers. It was all about the clothes for them, all about the fashion.

But while Leive politely declined to give us the scoop on her upcoming episode (“I’m pretty sure Ben Silverman would come over here with a machete if I start talking about it”), we did chat with Richie about her experience — and about Nicholas Bowes, that sexist menswear designer who told Jessica Simpson she didn’t know anything about menswear.

To be honest, we were pleasantly surprised by Richie’s nuanced take on the show. She’s clearly found success as a designer for a reason, but for a celebrity mentor on a reality show, she genuinely seems to care.

I love the idea of helping designers in the most positive and effective way as possible. My job as a mentor was really to hold their hands in this process and let them know that no matter what level you’re at, we’re all going through this process together. Being successful in one season doesn’t mean being successful the next season.

There’s so much focus out there on who can be the most creative and while that’s lovely and I’m all about appreciating one’s artistry, there’s a difference between being an artist and an actual brand. You can be the most talented artist out there and never have any success because you don’t know the business side to it. And this show really focuses on that. It really helps the designers transition into becoming an actual brand. It shows them how to listen to buyers but stay true to themselves.

Richie told us the best piece of design advice she’s ever received was to “be open to criticism”, which was fitting considering her experience with the aforementioned Bowes.

Jessica handled it a lot better than I would have. There was a side of me that just wanted to get up out of that chair. But she handled it so well. Look, at the end of the day, I don’t think he even understood what he was saying. But it’s a perfect example of an artist not being open to criticism, because his big thing is that Jessica is a girl and she doesn’t understand male fashion, but he’s saying it in front of two female buyers who ultimately have the choice to buy his clothes or not. So, you know, that’s really what it’s all about.

Indeed.

Fashion Star premieres tonight at 9:30 EST on NBC.

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