|Tara and Ambria having a slight altercation on Fashion Hunters|
Fashion Hunters is my Guilty Pleasure. The new half-hour "reality" show on Bravo is PBB (People Behaving Badly) and has NRSV (No Redeeming Social Value). It's like watching a bad accident— you can't turn away. The fact that fashion is its hook means there is some wonderful eye candy permeated by the thought, "there but for the grace of God go I".
The premise: Fashion Hunters is set in an upscale consignment shop in New York City, STA (Second Time Around), part of a nationwide chain. They deal in high-end designer cast-offs. While there may be some $49 frocks for sale, the lures (and the show's hook as well) are the unwanted couture of the rich and mostly un-famous (though Lauren Bacall's Louis Vuitton suitcase did make an appearance one episode). The suspense is "will the girls (and one guy) snag a great designer piece from their semi-willing consignees (who are often changing their minds about letting go) to bring more prestige and profit to the store?". That is unless one of them buys it first. The episodes are fluffed out with industry guests such as Simon Doonan and Jackie Rogers.
We also get drama: Will Ambria go beyond Tara's pricing guidelines yet again? Will Ambria pay her rent or buy those Manolo Blahnik's? Will she be able to resist her ex-boyfriend? (Ambria has a lot of issues). Will Karina be able to hide her latest purchase from her husband? Just how rich is she anyways? Will Tara throw out that African print dress Wilson hates? Will Wilson find anyone who doesn't think he's fabulous?
While watching all this breathlessly I keep thinking, "Why would anyone open themselves up to this scrutiny and/or ridicule?" It isn't as if they don't know they're being filmed. You can sometimes see the mikes and of course the cameras must be in full view of the participants, right? Even the hapless consignees (who often come across the worst) had to have signed off on it, yes? What do they get out of it? Not a million dollars as on Survivor or The Amazing Race. Not "true love" as on The Bachelor. Not their own line (Project Runway) or tv show (Design Star) or job as an apprentice with Donald Trump. Andy Warhol didn't think of this: We might get fifteen minutes, but a lot of people want more.
What does Fashion Hunters say about fashion? I've turned a deaf ear to status accessories for years and won't ever wear anything with a visible logo. I did have a knock-off Chanel bag once, but it was Chanel-style, not pretending to be Chanel and not bought off a cart on the street. With the exception of Carolina Herrera's perfume "Carloina Herrera" (which I love) most designer fragrances smell like money (for them). So what is the deal that you would rather buy a Dolce & Gabana coat than pay your bills? Even thinking about that scares me. How slippery a slope do some people travel? And should we be watching them? Is Fashion Hunters any different from The Biggest Loser or Hoarders? The difference between people who are fatter or more untidy than we'll ever be and women who have run amuck tracking down Fashion like so many scalps is the possibility of becoming the latter but never the former. The television screen serves as a safety shield that keeps us from shopping with them.
By the way, Fashion Hunters airs on Bravo Tuesday nights.