Fashion Star



Brand names get lots of attention in fashion design show.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Talent and hard work, along with quite a bit of luck, can help you reach goals, gain (at least temporary) widespread recognition, and achieve dreams. That said, there's also an emphasis on competition, cattiness, and interpersonal drama.

Positive role models

Many of the designers are very sincere and have worked hard to make it to this point in their careers. The mentors are by and large helpful and encouraging. The buyers also offer a lot of constructive criticism. Some contestants are extremely catty and insult other competitors.


Occasional tense exchanges or dramatic gestures -- for example, at one point a designer pushes objects off of a table when he's disappointed with the outcome of a judging round.


Some dresses and lingerie showcase women's bodies in a suggestive manner.


Occasional use of words like "hell" and "damn," plus references to body parts ("hoo-ha").


Fashion Star is judged by buyers for three major clothing retailers: Saks Fifth Avenue, H&M, and Macy's. An actual price point is put on a designer's creation if the judge likes it, and viewers can actually buy the winning designs after the show airs. Maybelline is another sponsor. Sponsorship images and mention of these brands are constantly referred to.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Fashion Star is a reality show that highlights the branding and marketing aspect of being a clothing designer. Major buyers from H&M, Macy's, and Saks Fifth Avenue serve as judges, and brands are given major screen time, with the stores' logos emblazoned on raised judging platforms. Designers are asked to consider the ways their designs can be made more retail-ready, with a garment's ability to be sold privileged above all other factors. (And viewers can even buy the winning designs right after the show airs.) If you can get past Fashion Star's heavy consumerism, there's not much else here to worry about, save for occasional catty comments between designers.

What's the story?

In FASHION STAR, 14 designers compete in weekly challenges to sell their designs to three major fashion retailers. Designers who don't get an offer on their design are up for elimination each week, with one designer going home every time. A panel of mentors advises the designers on ways they can make their garments more retail ready in an effort to help them win the grand prize -- a contract that will sell the winning designer's collection in three retail stores, a prize supposedly worth $6 million.

Is it any good?


Fashion Star excels at presenting an exciting, polished look at ready-to-wear designs. There's a lot of surface in this show, but not necessarily much heart or emotional appeal. The majority of each episode is presented on a stage (with a live audience) that makes it look more like American Idol than Project Runway. Designers' back stories are used as segues between the presentations of each week's collections, along with minimal time spent in the workroom. This makes the overall effect very different from almost any other fashion reality show -- and helps to distinguish it from Project Runway-type spin-offs -- but not necessarily in a good way.

The pounding soundtrack (Lady Gaga shows up, along with other top 40 dance artists), strobe lights, and Hollywood glitz make Fashion Star fairly fun to watch, but they also make it more like a game show. Jessica Simpson's runway commentary is often awkward (she actually offers much better advice on the workroom floor than she does on stage), and overall the advice is so limited that there's just not much to this show. Add that with an emphasis on arguments between designers, and this isn't great stuff for tweens or young teens. Older teens with an interest in fashion might find something of minimal value here. Just make sure to pepper the after-show conversation with your opinion about fast fashion and consumerism.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about consumerism. The designers sometimes change their designs -- be it through color, cut, or shape -- to make them more retail ready. Do you think that making something appealing to a mass market is more important than following your own artistic vision? What's the show's perspective on this question?

  • One of the designers dismisses the female mentors' feedback because he designs for men, and he doesn't think women can judge menswear. What do you think about this perspective? Do you think women can judge men's clothing? Can men judge women's clothing?

  • Do you think that a garment is better if a lot of people like it? Do you think a garment's design can be good, or even excellent, even if not many people like it? Why or why not? 

  • Fashion Star uses a lot of lights, loud music, and glamorous touches when presenting the designers' collections. Do you think that the clothing would look as good if it was presented in a less flashy setting -- such as in your living room? Why or why not?

TV details

Cast:Elle MacPherson, Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:Streaming

This review of Fashion Star was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Check this one out before sharing with fashion-crazed teens.
  • Fast-paced fashion competition milder than Project Runway.
  • Wisecracking fashionistas say everyone can look good.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 11 years old March 8, 2013

A few issues. : I

I love fashion star! I can't wait for the next seson! This show does have somke languge issues and lingerie and skimpy swim suits are modeld. But if you like fashion this is a good show for you!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent Written byalicia37 March 20, 2012

Great Show!!!!

What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much consumerism


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide