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Reality TV Interview

'Fashion Star' Sarah Parrott Q&A: 'I was pulling out my hair'

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Fashion Star: Sarah Parrott

© NBC Universal

There's another episode of Fashion Star tonight, and one question we'll be asking is, 'Will Sarah Parrott get yet another offer from H&M?' The design newcomer has already scored four consecutive buys from the retailer. But will she ever woo Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's?

Sarah recently chatted to reporters about her success and the pressure to impress the buyers, so read on to find out what she had to say...

Do you feel that you get enough feedback from the mentors during the design studio and in the showcase?
"Actually, what you don't see is that we do get critiques from all three mentors and all three buyers. I think with the airing of the show they're only showing one. But we get feedback from all three in every single showcase."

Did you ever worry that you'd lose your style to please the masses?
"No. I mean, for me personally, that was something that I did struggle with, to be honest. I came into this and the whole point of the show obviously is to build a brand, but with building that brand you want to remain true to your aesthetic. That's what sets you apart from other designers. The mentors, for starters, they were all pretty different in their own respects, and each buyer is looking for certain things. Obviously you've noticed I have a niche for H&M. For me, I don't think that's a bad thing because for me that obviously shows that I do have a clear vision on my aesthetic, that I am brand recognisable. But you know, the premise of the show is to essentially be in all three retail stores, so it's hard to remain as you are as a designer and still appeal to every single one, because they're all looking for something different. So it's hard to listen to what they want and then say, 'OK, but what is right for me as a designer? If I change for Macy's are you going to see me as a designer, the same person, for H&M?' So it's tough."

Is there anything you would have done differently during the show?
"Yeah. I mean, look, there's always times when you look back and you wish you would have done this. I look back on week one and I did black leather and I'm like, 'Oh, Sarah, it would have been so much cooler if you did leather but did it in a bright fun colour for spring'. I always look back and say, 'I wish I would have done this' or 'I wish I would have done that'. But I can't really dwell on the past. I've been fortunate enough to be in H&M, so I can't really say I wish I would have done something different because for me it's been an amazing ride. I'm kind of just pushing forward, not really looking back at what I've done wrong or what I've done right."

At this point in the competition were you feeling under extra pressure to get offers from Saks and Macy's?
"Yeah, absolutely. I think when we came into the show, it wasn't really clear that we were supposed to appeal to all three. You just want to really stay in the competition, you just want to get a buy in general. But over the weeks as they progressed, they kept saying, 'Oh, how do you feel not being in Macy's and Saks, they're not bidding on you'. So then I became a little bit more self-conscious and aware of the fact that, 'Wow, maybe I do need to start focusing more on getting into the other retail stores'. We filmed this a long time ago, it seems like, and I'm looking at it now and in hindsight I'm kind of like, 'Oh, you know what? The stuff in H&M, it's selling out'. For me that says a lot. I look back on the past and then I look at where I am now and I'm almost kind of like whitewashing it all."

How were you gauging your progress and success in the sense that you've sold consistently, but not to Saks or Macy's?
"I'm gauging it really well. Within the time period that we were filming and within that moment, I was stressed out. I was like, 'Ahh', pulling out my hair, almost to the point that I was becoming so self-conscious of the fact, 'Why am I not selling this?' In the moment, what I should really have been thinking is, 'This is amazing that H&M finds you so highly interesting - they like your stuff!' I wish I could have just lived in the moment then and taken that for what it was. I look back on it now and in retrospect what I should have taken from that moment was saying, 'You're so fortunate you're having all this success with H&M because H&M is huge'. While I do want to be mass market and in all retail stores, for me it tells me that I do have a certain design aesthetic and that says to me that you have a brand. So right now, seeing all my stuff in H&M, I'm living in the moment. I'm taking that experience and I'm doing what I should have done when I was on the show. I'm living it like this is the most amazing time of my life, and I'm just taking it one day at a time and just really enjoying this, because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Fashion Star, s01e04

© NBC Universal



It feels like a couple of times you've started over at the last minute. Do you work best under pressure?
"It seems that way, yes! You know, you have only so much time to sketch it out and then you only have so much time to buy fabric. Everything's under limitations. So I think for me I tend to have a very Type A personality when I'm designing and it's hard for me to get things exactly how I want it and as perfect as I want it. So when something's not working for me I tend to want to find another source, another way out. So like what happened with the pants - I was doing a skirt, I made pants, and it worked out so much better for me. I think that pressure sometimes creates something fantastic. It doesn't always have to be a complete disaster."

Do you think you change things around because you're a new designer, or is that just part of your creative process?
"I don't know! I think within the show it's hard because you only have so many days to create not one look, but three. And all three, you want to make them different. So that becomes stressful, and then obviously you're in the situation where you're thrown into a room with other designers and you're looking at what they're doing, who's getting bought here, who's getting bought there. For me personally, it began to eat away at me after a while. It was like, 'Maybe this isn't right, maybe this isn't good'. I kept second guessing myself. I didn't really have the time or the luxury to second guess myself. I had my designs and that's what I had to do. I think when you pull the trigger that fast you're always really going to second guess yourself. I think maybe I was just more open with my feelings than everyone else was. We were all under pressure and we were all stressed. Some people maybe thought their stuff was amazing from the get go. I think I just have more of a Type A personality where I hope it can be as perfect as it can be, and with the time allotted I just never thought that it was. Just to overthink things is kind of my own personal nemesis, I think. Maybe it has to do with that. I think it was just the environment in general. I don't do that now - working on my fall collection, I'm not really like that because I have the time to sit back and re-evaluate, whereas with the show you don't really have that luxury."



Do the mentors give you general fashion advice, or try to help you with each specific retailer?
"Did they help us with each retailer? I can't personally say I remember that - they most certainly could have. I think the point of the mentors is they're trying to steer us in a direction where it's best for us and best for our design aesthetic. You know, for me to appeal to all three buyers obviously has been a challenge. But I think the mentors are trying to pull the best designer out of you and in the process they're giving you all their experience they've had. That's why they're there, because they've been through all this. Each of the three brings something completely different to the table. So they're there to lead us by their past experience and trying to support us in being the best designers we can be. They put their own design aesthetic aside and say, 'OK, how can I figure this out with you, how can we make this work for you? I see where you're wanting to go, let's figure it out together'."

What's it been like seeing your clothes go on sale and know that people are buying them?
"It's amazing! It's amazing to see the clothes in the store, because obviously that has never happened for me. But then to hear that they're selling out in 15 minutes, 10 minutes, eight minutes - people on the West Coast were complaining that they couldn't get the clothes. That is just icing on the cake. That was something that I didn't even think about, that would even really happen. I was just so excited just to be in the store. But now realising that people are trying to find ways to even purchase the stuff is beyond, it's a total out of body experience."

Do you have a favourite design?
"I love week one. I love how it turned out. I love how H&M has kept true to the aesthetic. Obviously there's some things that have been tweaked here and there, but week one is pretty spot on. And then I really love how the red dress turned out from week four. I'm actually really excited. It looks so much more expensive than I thought it would. It looks exactly how I did it on the show, just a different fabric. So I'm really, really pleased how the red dress turned out, but I think the red dress is a classic one that I think can take you pretty far. I guess I'm supposed to say everything because I'm a designer but I don't know. I guess I would say one and four would be my favourites. I probably would still wear both of those."

Fashion Star airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on NBC.

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