Did you guys know that South Bend, Indiana is the style capital of the world? I'd never have guessed it growing up there, but now that I think about it, I guess it makes some sense. Two out of two stars of upcoming stylist-related reality shows are from there: Anne Slowey, fashion director of Elle Magazine and Miranda Priestley stand-in in the upcoming Devil Wears Prada-themed show Stylista , hails from said burg, as does Vivica A. Fox, she of the identically-themed VH1 show Glam God With Vivica A. Fox. It is true that despite the highest strip-mall per capita density I've ever encountered in my not at all scientific surveying of such things, South Bend does boast a handful of stylish folks with a genuine flair for fashion and an eye for creativity. This wholly includes -- and I'm not at all biased here people -- me and my girlfriends. And my mom, who rocked those louvered Kanye West sunglasses before every hip hop artist from here to Dubai got grabby with them. The rest of the town, from what I can tell, is happy to offer itself up to a rather limited array of designers that spans from the Gap to Dress Barn, with some Wet Seal thrown in for the under-fifty set (plenty of soccer moms think it's really cute to dress up like mall rat Lolitas but once they hit the big 5-0 they beggar off. Even they have standards to uphold!).
Soooooo . . . what do we think about the forthcoming CW/Tyra Banks production Stylista? I just watched a clip for it and am on the fence. I mean obviously I will be watching it faithfully when it starts airing this fall, if only to bitch about its melodramatic treatment of the hollow, vapid world that is fashion, specifically the Elle Magazine fashion department. But in watching the three-minute trailer, I can't help but have some Major Metropolitan Misgivings. First and foremost, could they bite The Devil Wears Prada premise any more? We all know that TDWP was art imitating life (if the Lauren Weisberger tell-all-turned-movie can be considered "art" in any way, shape or form). And in imitating life, there was ample, broad-stroke hyperbole. But now we're coming full-circle. All the dramatic embellishments that made TDWP enjoyable -- faggy, bitchy fashion people reveling in their shallowness, holier than thou editrixes (sic?) putting peons through the paces with demeaning tasks that had nothing to do with their actual jobs -- are being co-opted for this "reality" show, and it rings incredibly false. It's a Hills-ification of reality -- actual people playing pre-assigned roles. I'm aware this is nothing new -- hello, The Real World -- but never has it been so unapologetically fake.
I can't explain why this irks me so much. It's such a blatant parody of the archetypal magazine internship experience that I should just accept it as such and move on. And yet ... I just want to smack everyone involved -- Tyra, Elle fashion director Anne Slowey, the eleven contestants who will stop at nothing to be Slowey's bitch, supermodel Maggie Rizer for deigning to appear as a guest on such a trainwreck of a show. Perhaps I have rage issues that need addressing.
Ugh! Stupid TV producers cashing in on The Devil Wears Prada all over the damned place. Why now for the love of Gucci? Hot on the heels -- see what I did there? -- of a spate of fashion mag-related reality shows (see Stylista and Vogue's web series Model.Live) comes news that the Style Network will host a new show called .... wait for it ... Running In Heels, which will provide a fascinating in-depth look at what goes on behind closed doors in the esteemed offices of ... wait for it... Marie Claire. I mean, don't get me wrong, I've flipped through Marie Claire a coupla times and it's totally a fine magazine. But I sort of file it in the same category as Redbook, i.e. lady mags for the over-forty soccer mom set. You know what I mean -- like, it's something I'll pick up in the airport if I've already read Vogue and Elle and Allure and all the gossip rags and I'm desperate for something amusing and girly and mind-numbingly vapid.