NEVER TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING: Lifetime sure loves fashion reality. Not only is the channel debuting “Project Runway All Stars” this Thursday, but it is also spawning another fashion program on Jan. 10 with the premiere of the reality show “24 Hour Catwalk,” which has a very familiar premise. Host Alexa Chung will be joined by judges Cynthia Rowley, James LaForce and Derek Blasberg for the hour-long program, with each episode featuring four designers battling it out to create their own collections in one day. The usual fashion industry hysterics ensue. Rowley said Tuesday, “Under these kind of time constraints, limited resources and sleep deprivation, several contestants just lost it and things got a little out of control — screaming, crying and one guy took off all of his clothes. I’m not sure how that one will be edited. But all of this makes the show very entertaining.”
The backside-baring designer was Michael Batory, who is known professionally as Indashio. “I made myself a cape with a big ‘I’ on it for Indashio and I bared it all,” he said. “I felt the show was a little staged. When they were doing the judging, I went a little apes–t and told all the judges what I thought. But it was really fun.”
Barred from seeing the final cut, the designer is understandably “partially petrified” about seeing his Jan. 17 episode. “Not everyone will like my style. I am loud and obnoxious and a swashbuckler, but at the end of the day I am just passionate….I was very candid about how I felt really betrayed. I was not expecting Zac Posen or Esteban Cortazar, but I thought the level of the designers would be more like my level….I went a little crazy after the show. I went to Massachusetts for two weeks and came out to my mom.”
The new show even prompted LaForce to bare a bit of himself. “When we were shooting our promo footage, I was in the dressing room and overheard Cynthia and Derek talking about the ‘mean judge’ in their interview, so I figured that was my cue. I streaked the set in my underwear and orange socks,” he said in an e-mail while hiking Machu Picchu. “I can’t imagine why that footage ended up on the cutting room floor.”
Rowley said shooting “24 Hour Catwalk” in the weeks leading up to New York Fashion Week was like being on jury duty and doing a show at the same time. “I would go to work super early for three or four hours, go to the shoot for six hours, come back to work for five hours and just go home to sleep,” she said. “When we were shooting, the contestants would be completely stressed out and then I would go back to work and be in the exact same position. Sometimes I would start to cry when they did due to my own stress and my compassion for theirs.”
Lifetime has picked up 10 episodes of the show from Jane Street Entertainment. (LaForce got the nod through Keanan Duffty, whose wife and business partner, Nancy Garcia, is the show’s fashion consultant producer.) With three other shows in the works, Rowley’s celluloid life is pretty much a given. Even her home life has become more camera-friendly. She and her husband Bill Powers, a judge on Bravo’s “Work of Art,” swap pointers about on-air tweeting and talking points. “Our kids think they are going to get voted out of the house all the time,” Rowley said.
“TV is really important. Look what it’s done for Heidi [Klum], Tyra [Banks], Nina Garcia and Michael Kors. It’s incredible. You can’t get away from the fact that it is the best way to speak to your consumer. It is a great way to connect if there is sort of an authentic and genuine premise that seems real and sends a good message out.”