From the very beginning of Ovation’s panel for its new show, “The Fashion Fund,” at Friday’s Television Critics Association press tour, it was clear that the participants aren’t television people.
First off, two of the panelists — I’ll give you the spoiler alert here that they didn’t give us, the duo called Public School are the winners of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, a program that awards one emerging fashion designer (or team in this case) with a $300,000 grant and a mentorship with an established designer.
“We didn’t plan on this being a reality show. It’s a docu-series,” the Council of Fashion Designers of America president Steven Kolb told reporters. “It’s not about the winners. It’s really about the unfolding of the process.”
And despite Ovation’s heavy use of Vogue boss Anna Wintour’s image for the show’s promotion, Kolb said, “It’s not about the judges. It’s not about Anna or Diane Von Furstenberg.”
Clearly, Lifetime’s long-running “Project Runway” is the bar in which we measure fashion shows. But, the panelists seem to have a disdain for the competition show.
“It’s probably a different level,” one-half of winning design duo, Public School’s Dao-Yi Chow, said. “The Vogue Fashion Fund is really monumental for your success. A show like “Project Runway” is more for TV. And when you speak to established designers, this is a rite of passage for young designers who have an intent to make a career out of fashion.”
“The distinction is the word career,” Kolb pointed out. “These are not aspiring designers, they’re already in it.”
Sorry, “Project Runway” fans. Oh, and if you are one to believe the stories about Wintour being the inspiration for “Devil Wears Prada,” the panelists want to correct that misconception, too.
“She was the coolest person ever. She was very nice and sweet as can be,” Public School designer and Fund winner Maxwell Osbourne said.
“The perception isn’t reality,” runner up designer Juan Carlos said. “She cares. She gives you a level of feedback that shows she cares. I think the best advice I got was from her.”
“The Fashion Fund” premieres Jan. 22 on Ovation.