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'Fashion Star': EP Ben Silverman, Host Louise Roe Spill Secrets on Season 2 Revamp

"It's really a more dynamic and dramatic show," Silverman says of NBC's design competition, which premieres Friday night.

From left: Jessica Simpson, John Varvatos and Nicole Richie
NBC

Fashion Star viewers get their first look at the design competition's revamped format when season two kicks off Friday night.

As previously announced, NBC's reality show is getting a new host (Louise Roe replaces Elle MacPherson, who remains as an executive producer) and new buyer (Express replaces H&M). At the same time, the mentors will have more of a hands-on role in helping the designers. While they will still be competing as individuals, the designers will now be grouped in teams working with Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie or John Varvatos.

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Executive producer Ben Silverman told reporters in a conference call this week that he felt the mentors needed to work more closely with the designers and be a bigger part of the process.

"But the big change this year is the mentors actually have teams and are actively participating with specific designers week in, week out and giving them not only advice but also working with them to try and lobby and get the stores to buy their products and their clothes," he added. "So it’s really a more dynamic and dramatic show with deeper rooting interests that connect [the mentors] more profoundly to the contestants but also puts them at a little bit of odds with the buyers in terms of being now aggressively lobbying or pushing them on behalf of their contestants."

(Incidentally, Lifetime's design competition Project Runway also is utilizing a teams format for its current season.)

Silverman added that the buyers get even more competitive this season, with multiple bids on different designers in the premiere.

As for the cast, Silverman noted that there are both accomplished designers as well as promising newcomers who take part in the competition this season. He said they also "represent all different shapes, sizes and walks of life."

Roe, a British fashion journalist and TV personality, added that another new aspect is that is that viewers will be able to buy the clothing as soon as the buyers buy them, rather than having to wait until the end of the show. She said that the ability to actually buy the garments is one of the aspects that drew her to Fashion Star in the first place.

"I’m always wanting to be a part of any kind of new way of looking at things and doing things within TV and the fashion industry," she said.

Additionally, "I love interviewing people," she said. "It’s one of my favorite things to do in the world and to get inside the heads and lives of all these other interesting, fascinating people some of whom were overflowing with confidence and some of whom just didn’t believe in themselves when they really should have was just amazing and to bring out their stories on stage and see literally their dream come to life or get crushed was just to be the sort of conduit to that and was awesome."

Asked what kind of themes the designers will be competing in, Silverman replied: "Does sex sell? That's one of them." Roe also reveals that another challenge will find the designers creating garments for women of "all shapes and sizes" and not just runway models.

As for new buyer Express, Silverman said there were 10 other companies "desperate" to take H&M's spot after the retailer dropped out in June. "Express … just upped the game big time and really know their consumers so well," he added.

Fashion Star premieres at 8 p.m. Friday on NBC.

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