The prize: A one year junior editor position at Elle magazine, a clothing allowance, and an NYC apartment. The challenges: One humiliatingly menial and one "editorial" challenge per episode. The contestants: 11 very stylish sadomasochists. The show: Stylista.
We’re introduced to a ton of contestants in quick succession: Cologne, 21, a Berkeley student who styles herself very well. William, a 26 year old freelance fashion assistant from England. Jason, 25, an aspiring fashion designer. Kate, 22, a former law student with huge knockers (this will be important later). Devin, 19, a NYU fashion student who claims she would actually give her left arm for this opportunity. Johanna, 28, a military analyst/Chinese linguist who seems like my kind of people. Danielle, 22, a clothing store manager who feels like an outsider because she’s bigger than the rest of the contestants. Megan, 22, a boutique owner and the contestant we’ll probably love to hate. Arnoldo, 23, an Ivy League graduate/poet. Dyshaun, 24, a wardrobe stylist and Megan’s partner in awfulness. Ashlie, 22, a fashion buyer.
We also meet Brett Ramey (Elle photo director) and Malina Joseph (Elle fashion bookings editor), who present the contestants with their first assistant task: to get coffee and a healthy breakfast for Anne Slowey, Elle’s fashion editor. They have 40 minutes to buy the food at a deli and present it artfully. On Stylista, Anne Slowey will be playing the part of Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. However, she lacks the force that Meryl Streep put behind the role–instead of striding into the room intimidatingly, she lumbers in painfully. I suppose that’s what happens when you spend your adult life in stilettos. The aspiring Andreas are all duly terrified, though.
The contestants get a lesson in Anne Slowey’s world: Coffee should be iced, almonds should be soaked overnight, melons are never to be mixed with other fruit (agreed, though I don’t know why I feel that way), and wheat is out entirely. Although Ashlie was so late buying food that she almost didn’t complete the challenge, Anne chooses her breakfast, specifically complimenting the "minimalist, Brancusi-esque candleholder."
I am going to choose this as the moment to link to Anne Slowey’s must-read Fashion Week food diary. It almost makes me feel sorry for her. (Spoiler Alert: Very little actual food is involved.) Anne further informs the contestants that she’s looking for someone who’s passionate about fashion, has great ideas for the magazine, and who has great personal style.
The contestants traipse along to meet Joe Zee, Elle’s creative director, who gives them a primer in personal style. He dings contestants for offenses such as inappropriate cocktail hats, cleavage, scarves, and…um…everything, in William’s case. Danielle gets props for her use of color, with no mention of her weight, which is a pleasant surprise for both me and Danielle.
Their editorial challenge is to update their personal looks. First, they’ll be headed to H&M for a shopping spree in three teams. Ashlie picks the teams, choosing the fashion forward folks for her group. But before they go shopping, they head off to their new apartment to pick rooms. And that’s when we’re reminded that the fashion industry is made up entirely of the people we hated in middle school. Dyshaun and Megan are the worst offenders, calling Kate "boobs" and being unabashed in their bullying. Awful! Kate’s upset that she got called out by Joe Zee for her cleavage, and is afraid that she can’t handle this "torture." Dang, no wonder she was a law school dropout. It’s only the first day, Kate! Suck it up and cover ’em up!
At H&M, the teams each have 45 minutes and a $1,500 clothing allowance. Wow, that’ll go pretty far at H&M. I once got a suit there for less than $70. Of course, I assume it was made by Malaysian children, but their tiny little fingers did a great job on the stitching! (Disclaimer: That was a joke. Sweatshops are bad. Hopefully H&M doesn’t use them.) After shopping, the teams put together three outfits each for a fashion show in front of Anne Slowey and other Elle staff, and then do a "contributors page" with photos from the fashion show and short descriptions of the fashions.
Team Underdog: Kate, Devin, Jason, and William. They get along well as a team, aside from Kate. She loves her boobalicious clothes, and doesn’t want to sacrifice her own boobalicious style. Their "classic chic" show is mostly just classic, without much style or trendiness. Devin tries to make their contributor page layout boldly yellow and trendy, though, so I guess it’s all good. Or not, since she actually made the page yellow. It’s awful and migraine-inducing, and Anne Slowey craps all over it. Joe Zee correctly points out that it has a high school yearbook look to it. Their looks, however, get props, though Kate gets criticized for sacrificing her personal style. While getting praise for listening to Joe Zee and covering up. Um, contradictory much?
Team Rockstar: Ashlie, Cologne, Dyshaun, and Johanna. Dyshaun takes the lead, styling-wise. Their "spring trends" show looks pretty good to me, honestly. Great mix of professionalism and flair. They focus on the layout for their contributor page, trying to make it as professional as possible so that it will fit right into Elle. The page is really cute, though the judges question the work appropriateness of a couple of the outfits.
Team Megan Sucks: Megan, Danielle, and Arnaldo. Unsurprisingly, Megan takes charge in helping her teammates "hone their style." Arnaldo earns my enmity by saying "I like to think in the box, out of the box, and sometimes take the box and turn it into a triangle." Things like that make me want to shave Arnaldo’s head. Danielle takes the lead on their layout for their page, while Megan informs her team that they have 30 words to use total (wrong, though she totally doesn’t take the blame when the judges point it out). Anne Slowey loves the layout (though it doesn’t fulfill what they asked the teams to do), and Megan gets props for her outfit (boo!). They think Arnaldo is both boring AND gimmicky (which takes serious skill), and think Danielle chose the wrong look to feature.
The judges appreciate Team Rockstar’s effort to make their page blend in with the rest of the magazine. And criticize Team Underdog for failing to do the same. Team Megan Sucks gets slammed for failing to even do the assignment by only having one 30-word piece. Team Rockstar wins the day, while Team Megan Sucks lands in the bottom, and Arnaldo is eliminated. I can get behind that. And I think I can get behind this show. It’s nothing new or groundbreaking, but it should serve as an adequate replacement for Project Runway.
Will you be watching this one past the first episode? Do you have any favorites or least favorites yet?