With designs selling out at H&M, Macy”s and Saks, Fashion Star is retail gold… but are the clothes actually worth buying?

With designs selling out at H&M, Macy's and Saks, Fashion Star is retail gold… but are the clothes actually worth buying

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UPDATED:

20:46 GMT, 21 March 2012

Reality series Fashion Star saw improved ratings last night as people across
the U.S. tuned in to watch Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John
Varvatos mentor emerging fashion designers.

But when it comes to innovative design and durability, is
the clothing featured on the NBC show actually any good

Contestants have been briefed to create
consumer-driven wares and stock is moving. For two weeks now, pieces picked
up by retailers H&M, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s have sold out after their
post-show release.

Dream team: Fashion Star's mentor panel including Jessica Simpson, John Varvatos and Nicole Richie. Designs have attracted criticism elsewhere

Dream team: Fashion Star's mentor panel including Jessica Simpson, John Varvatos and Nicole Richie. Designs have attracted criticism elsewhere

Lisa Vian
Hunter, a 47 year-old clothing designer from Washington, presented a simple empire
waist dress. Pockets and self-ties were stitched into the front and her
range came out in pink, black and a black and white floral print. It was picked up to be sold at Macy's.

But Vian
Hunter’s design could not be described as fresh or unique.

It was much the same story for Sarah Parrott, 31 and her
trousers as well as Nzimiro Oputa, 28 and his business shirt.

And that only goes for the designs that were picked up by
the retailers.

The most original piece came from Kara Laricks, a 38 year-old
designer from New York City. She presented a draped shift dress in red, black
and grey plaid.

Catwalk love: Lisa Vian Hunter's empire waist dress on Fashion Star

Sleek design: Sarah Parrott's trousers were picked up last night on Fashion Star

Catwalk dreams: Are the designs of Fashion Star's Lisa Vian Hunter (left) and Sarah Parrott (right) one-hit wonders or demonstrations of staying power

Critics have not been impressed. WWD said: 'Unlike some of
its predecessors, this show landed with a concept that was compelling – too bad
the clothes weren’t.'

Brian Coats, GQ’s senior fashion and market editor, tweeted during
last week’s episode: ‘So tomorrow you can go to H&M and buy a dress with
commerciality. #goodluck.'

Heather Cocks, founder of the blog Go Fug Yourself, also
tweeted: ‘This @NBCFashionStar show is making me consider going into fashion
next. I couldn't be any worse than these people. Oy vey. #fashionstar.’

Frock star: Kara Laricks' draped shift from last night's episode was one of the better designs. It came in red (above), black and grey plaid

Frock star: Kara Laricks' draped shift dress from last night's episode was one of the better designs. It came in red (above), black and grey plaid

The television program, which
was created by the same team behind The Biggest Loser, drew 13per cent more
viewers than last week.

The concept's appeal cannot be denied.
Celebrity endorsements, catty backstage contestant antics and an original way
to interact viewers (given the post-show purchasing opportunities) presented a
whole new chapter in entertainment where reality television is blended with e-commerce.

But do Fashion Star’s featured contestants have what it
takes to really become design stars and establish their own longevity in an
already crowded market

We’ll probably have to tune in to find out.