2012 flashback: Edmond Newton on NBC’s ‘Fashion Star’ before ‘Project Runway’

More than three years before Edmond Newton made the finals of “Project Runway,” I wrote this about his appearance on NBC’s short-lived copycat show “Fashion Star.” He finished 10th.

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed March 13, 2012

NBC is jumping into the fashion world Tuesday with “Fashion Star,” a new reality competition show that sounds on the surface like “Project Runway” — but has a far bigger prize.

The winner will receive an estimated $6 million in orders for collections to be sold in three major retailers: Macy’s, H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Taped last summer in Los Angeles, each week features buyers from the retailers,each retailer bidding for the best designs. The winning outfits will be available for sale in those stores after each episode airs. The show wants to create a big, new fashion brand.

NBC invested in big-name talent with fashion credentials to boot.

Executive producer and host:

Elle Mcpherson, who runs a successful lingerie collection and has been a fashion icon for 30 years.

The celebrity mentors:

Jessica Simpson, who broke through as a singer and reality show star but has made more of an impact with her popular Jessica Simpson Collection, which includes shoes, accessories and handbags.

Nicole Richie, a big reality star a decade ago with Paris Hilton, now runs a successful jewelry line under the name House of Harlow 1960.

John Varvatos, a high-fashion menswear designer whose lines also include fragrances, watches and belts.

The contestants:

– Two metro Atlantans — Marietta stay-at-home mom Sarah Parrott and Atlanta male hair-stylist Edmond Newton – are among the show’s 14 contestants.

thumbnail sketches of each:

Sarah Parrott

Age: 31

Residence: Marietta

Fashion background: Minimal. She sold hand-made clothing in high school but pursued communications in college instead of fashion. She then got married and had two boys. She turned 30 last year and faced a quandary about pursuing a fashion design career. “I needed to either pull the trigger or let the dream go. I pulled the trigger.” She entered a collection at Charleston (S.C.) Fashion Week and won the People’s Choice Award there. “Fashion Star” came calling soon after.

Design aesthetic: “I would describe it as very clean and edgy. I want you to feel pretty but also really cool. I try to infuse both those elements into everything I do. I want a blazer to go with anything in your closet — pants, skirts, tops, dresses. I want everything to be accessible and incorporate everything together.”

Impressions of the show: “Every other person has either been in the fashion business for awhile or were at least tinkering in it. I had the least experience. Everyone was shocked that I was so new. They were impressed. I impressed myself!”

Inspirations: Giovanni Valentino, the Olsen twins, Helmut Lang, Jason Wu, Elizabeth and James

Edmond Newton

Age: 32

Residence: Atlanta

Fashion background: He was a model for a few years starting at age 17. He is also a professionally licensed barber who ran his own shop in downtown Atlanta from 2005 to 2009 called NoirSoul. He has been trying to break into fashion design for years and tried out every year for “Project Runway” since 2004 but never made it onto the cast. “Trying out so many times prepared me for ‘Fashion Star.’ ”

Design aesthetic: “I’m a fashion rebel. I like individual style, somewhat high-profile glam.” On the first episode, he created three dresses, including a bubble cocktail dress he was especially proud of. He said this on the show: “My style would be Studio 54 meets 2012.”

Best advice from a celebrity mentor: “John Varvatos told me to introduce a high-end collection first, then make collections more affordable. Start at the top. You don’t want to start from the bottom and work your way up.”

Impression of Nicole Richie: “A little firecracker. She’s cool. She’s crazy. She’s a teeny tiny little thing. Her eyes are captivating. She’s a fun girl.”

Impression of Jessica Simpson: “She says what’s on her mind, a real Southern country girl. She has a real big heart and wears it on her sleeve.”

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