‘Fashion Star’ contestant Nikki opens up about confrontation with fellow designer
The challenge was to create a store window display that would make consumers stop in their tracks, whip out their wallets, and purchase the clothes on the spot.
“Fashion Star” contestant Nikki Poulos didn’t feel her clothes needed a stunt like that, and she seemed to let her partner Barbara Bates handle most of the heavy lifting.
Instead of helping to come up with a concept and back story for their store window, Poulos let Bates brainstorm and conceive the idea by herself. The result was a photo-shoot-styled window with each dress under a spotlight. Afterwards, Poulos’ designs were purchased by H&M, while her partner Bates was one of the bottom three designers.
“I call a spade a spade. There’s no BS involved with me,” says Poulos. “For some people who dance around the truth, I can be a little upfront and a little too assertive for them. I have to own my personality and I have to own my design strategy and the way that I work.”
Although Poulos makes no apologies for her actions, she says she believes the relationship the show portrayed on that particular challenge may have been misconstrued.
“I do work well in a team, and I think that it’s important to remember it’s a TV show. There’s a lot of editing that goes on there,” says the Australian designer. “Barbara and I actually worked really well together. Barbara is very much the Chicago, sort of nuts-and-bolts, ballsy, tough woman. And a lot of what she says is filled with humour. Maybe it came across that she’s a little more aggressive that she actually is.
“And I think a lot of the editing makes me come across as…well, I am a little assertive. I am very assertive,” she says. “(But) I never say anything with ill-will or malice. I think for some people my honesty and upfront-ness can be a little bit confronting for them.”
Instead of focusing on the gimmicks of the show, Poulos says she would rather pay attention to the fashion and design parts of the competition, but she concedes she can be somewhat difficult in that regard as well.
“We start our designs before we actually meet with the mentors, and the mentors come in about halfway through the process,” she says. “But you’ll see that sometimes they’ll tell me something is a good idea, and you’ll see me say, ‘Hmm I not sure about that, I think this is what I’d like to do.’”
“I don’t want to seem arrogant, and the initial feedback is really great, but for me I was always really clear about what I wanted to do,” she says.
Poulos doesn’t completely disregard what other people advise her on, however; she says she values all the feedback she has been given on the show, and notes which of the mentors really struck a chord with her.
“John Varvatos offered me the best advice. And I don’t necessarily think that it was on a design level, really. It was on a personal level about my brand identity,” says Poulos. “I remember in the second week I actually had a really nice heart to heart with (John) about that, about that moment when I realized this was my opportunity for me to carve out my own niche, my own brand.”
So far in the competition, Poulos has sold four designs over five weeks; two were sold to Macy’s and two to H&M. Poulos says she feels that success has definitely cemented her role in the fashion industry.
“That, for me, really validates me as a designer. I know that my designs are very easy to look at,” she says. “It’s that easy feeling – its easy glamour. I’m not a couture designer and I never claimed to be. The show’s not about that. It’s about a commercial designer. It’s about reaching the everyday people. And when my designs sell out really quickly, it reassures me that I’m on the right track.”
Tune in Tuesdays at 10pm ET on CTV two and find out if the mentors helped Sarah get purchased for another consecutive week.