Harper's Bazaar's Laura Brown breaks down The Fashion Show's first mini-challenge.

The first thing I remember, as I tottered on to The Fashion Show set, was the red zoot suit. Or was it a onesie? Was he a sherpa, a racecar driver, an extra from Fame?

Merlin! Ah, his name is Merlin. Well, it all makes sense now. And who is the chap with the Japanese sandals? James-Paul, OK. Resist the urge to ask him if Japanese sandals are more/less comfortable than stilettos. The young man with the topknot? Johnny. The broad, nervous smile? Reco. And … ladeez! There are girls too. Rapidly compute the saucy-looking brunette Daniella, big-haired blond Haven (watch out, boys!), and the enigmatic Anna, standing in the back.

I honestly don’t know how Bravo finds these great characters — who also, fortunately, have the ability to make frocks. Because while it would be terribly chic to have everyone dressed in YSL, it wouldn’t be very entertaining, would it? And that’s why we watch television.

So, to the Harper’s BAZAAR Mini Challenge! Isaac Mizrahi reveals the task at hand by unraveling a T-shirt from around his neck and announcing that our “kids” need to make a Little Black Dress out of it, stat. They look scared. Shrink a little.

Meanwhile I think to myself: does anyone here ever even wear black? Not the most minimalist bunch, this lot. But hey, Godspeed! So, Kelly, Isaac and I retire to our greenrooms to be fanned by palm leaves (this is not true) while our designers put the pedal to the sewing machine metal.

In what seems like seconds later, we’re back. It’s judgment day. Now, we all joke that we love to judge in fashion, but I have to tell you, I’m no Simon Cowell. If I’m going to say that someone makes stripper clothes, I’m going to say it with a smile. 

But for the record? I had no idea that Reco had actually designed stripper clothes. I must say though, all power to him because no one’s going to fall out of his look. The seaming was indeed impressive — and might even allow for a navel piercing too. Modern!Oh God, Lydia and that purple thread. Why the purple thread? It’s an LBD, not a craft project. Too Baby’s First Dress. I sail past a couple numbers that look like they’ve fallen victim to Edward’s scissorhands, and look more like customized T-shirts than actual dresses. Until I come to Johnny’s: cool, simple, and sleek, with three shoulder pads as a detail on one side. Sure, it’s an airbag, but at least it’s interesting. I also liked Keith’s, fastened with a simple bow. Less is more, don’t they say? Merlin too, with his little number: “business in the front, and party in the back.”

The one concoction that really did me in? Markus’s. The Dress with the Hair. A girl puts that on, and mama’s gonna look like she needs a wax.
The one concoction that really did me in? Markus’s. The Dress with the Hair. A girl puts that on, and mama’s gonna look like she needs a wax. Women pay vast amounts of money to remove hair from their bodies, not add it! Sigh. Whatever she is wearing, a woman still wants to feel like a woman. Not a plaything for nerds or an extra from Planet of the Apes.

But anyway, congrats to Johnny, Keith, and magical Merlin for winning the first HB Mini! Smiles are back. I can’t stop looking at Hair Dress.

As I leave everyone in the studio, with Isaac about to hit them up with their Elimination Challenge, I think, “This is only day one.”

So, I tip my hat to these “kids.” They have such a burning desire to succeed in fashion, they are willing to endure a sometimes brutal spotlight because they want what they want so much. They are tougher than I am, I’ll tell you that.
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