Hunter Bell’s Winning Designs Off to Brisk Start

As the winner of "Fashion Star," the designer received $3 million worth of orders from Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and Express.

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NEW YORK — Hunter Bell won NBC’s “Fashion Star” Friday night — and sales of her winning designs at leading retailers got off to a brisk start as a result.

This story first appeared in the May 14, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

As the winning designer, Bell received $3 million worth of orders from Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and Express. Bell also designed some additional pieces that are being featured at Macy’s and saks.com.

“It’s doing really well,” said a spokeswoman for Express, which is carrying the collection in 15 stores, as well as on express.com. “Our buyer, Erika [DeSalvatore] really pressed Hunter to go for her personal style, which she felt reflected the Express style.” She said that Bell’s look is “very put together and has a really sexy aesthetic.”  Express’s offering includes a moto vest for $59.90 and a black moto dress for $69.90.

Macy’s took out a full-page ad in Sunday’s New York Times recognizing Bell’s victory and introducing the collection. Macys.com features such looks as a lace peplum top and lace pencil skirt, selling for $69 and $79, respectively; a mesh top and printed shorts for $59 and $49, respectively, and a lace peplum top and lace cigarette pants for $69 and $79, respectively.

Holly Thomas, vice president, national media relations and cause marketing at Macy’s, said, “The customer reception has been very positive. Throughout season two of ‘Fashion Star,’ many of our Macy’s purchases have sold out online in a matter of hours. Likewise, we are seeing strong interest in Hunter’s collection, which in addition to macys.com, is also available in 50 Macy’s stores.”

Bell dropped by Macy’s Herald Square on Sunday to chat with customers about the reality competition and the clothing she designed.

Saks, which sent out an e-mail blast about Bell’s win early Saturday morning, is offering a variety of Hunter Bell looks on saks.com, such as a white sheath dress for $206, a white maxidress for $280, red palazzo pants for $220 and a red blouse for $179. 

Bell, 32, still was dealing with the excitement of her win on Monday. “It’s quite a feeling,” said the designer, who was reached at her New York showroom. “I’ve been holding it in since November [when the finale was taped]. I just hope and pray that this opens doors for stores to recognize me. Hopefully they will give me a second look, and the consumer will recognize me as a designer who they can look up to and support by buying the clothes.”

Bell, a native of Florence, S.C., said her favorite part of being on the show was being able to grow as a designer and learn about herself. She said she tried to stay consistent week after week so her look would be recognizable. “I’m a contemporary women’s designer who appreciates femininity and edgy details,” said Bell, who graduated from University of Alabama and went on to study at Parsons The New School for Design.

Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos served as celebrity mentors on the show. In addition to DeSalvatore at Express, the buyers were Caprice Willard for Macy’s and Terron Schaefer for Saks.

Plans are for Bell’s collection, Hunter Dixon by Hunter Bell, to get a name change to Hunter Bell next spring. Her line is carried in 100 boutiques nationwide, including Anthropologie. The company produces 100 percent of its collection in New York City.

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