By  on September 7, 2007

Celebrity hijinks. Tearful scenes. Cameras everywhere. Fiction? No, it's the SoapNet reality TV series, "The Fashionista Diaries," where six assistants attempt to land the full-time glamour job of their dreams — and deal with backstabbers, nasty bosses and sky-high rents.

However, at the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.-owned BeautyBank division, it's refreshingly a drama-free zone. Along with Seventh House PR and Cosmogirl magazine, BeautyBank has taken on two aspiring assistants for the summer, capturing both the glam and the not-so-glam moments. (In true soap opera fashion, the show's cameras caught the announcement that Jane magazine, where the Cosmogirl assistants started out, was being shuttered — and the "what-the-hell-do-I-do-now?" looks the staff and assistants alike shared.)

Over at BeautyBank, drama-free doesn't mean work-free, however. Janjay Sherman, a native of Grandview, Mo., and formerly an intern for Zac Posen, and Tina Patient of Windsor Locks, Conn., who has past public relations and fashion internships under her belt, are working under Kathleen Pierce, BeautyBank's vice president of global communications. While Pierce said she hopes to hire one of the women full-time, no promises are being made.

For BeautyBank, said Pierce, being involved in the show has several major upsides, not the least of which is increased recognition for the Flirt brand.

"It's a tremendous national platform for Flirt, in terms of getting our message out there," said Pierce, adding SoapNet has 54.4 million viewers and that enormous advertising and promotion muscle has been thrown behind the show. "It's nonstop branding, a constant visual presentation of Flirt. We have seen a significant bump in sales for the brand since the episodes have started airing. We're also leveraging our presence on the Web. The Web site shows the looks that the girls are wearing on the show, and with one click, you can buy the collection from Kohl's."

The nicest surprise about the show, said Pierce, is how realistic "we are able to be," she said, noting that roving cameras were initially a concern, given the unit's entrepreneurial bent. "Also, I wanted to make sure that the girls were legitimately working. I've been overwhelmingly surprised by how dedicated and capable they are. They're here five days a week, on time at 9 a.m., and leave that night at whatever time they get their work done."That's a point that isn't lost on Sherman. "A lot of times, as an assistant, it's give, give, give, but you don't learn," she said. "I'm getting to see how a brand is launched, and how creators are chosen and why, and how products come together. I'm looking at this show as an opportunity to send my résumé through the airwaves — it's a way for employers to see my work ethic and see how badly I want to be a part of this industry."

An upcoming Flirt fragrance launch, due in February, provided hands-on experience from soup to nuts, said Pierce. "Janjay and Tina assisted in the brand visual's shoot and they took part in the smelling sessions with Karyn Khoury [senior vice president of corporate fragrance development worldwide for the Estée Lauder Cos.] and Firmenich to choose the juice," said Pierce.

Sherman says she is "obsessed with putting the [seasonal] looks together. I love playing with the shades — and Tina and I are often brainstorming product names, which is so much fun." But not without challenges, said Patient: "More than once, we had great brainstorming sessions, only to find out that the name was taken."

But the process has stuck with her, said Patient. "I'll be standing there in the shower, and think, ooh, Raindrops on Shower — that could work as a shade name!"

The 10-episode series, put together by Disney's Buena Vista Productions in association with Go Go Luckey Productions ("Laguna Beach") and Hour One, will film its final episodes at New York Fashion Week and is slated to air through October.

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