Lifestyle

Designer chosen for NBC reality show

Islander Lisa Vian Hunter models one of her own designs at her shop, Vian Hunter in Madison Park, last Wednesday. Vian Hunter was one of 14 designers chosen to appear in a reality show on fashion. Clothes designed by the contestants will be marketed immediately after the broadcasts.  - Chad Coleman/Staff Photo
Islander Lisa Vian Hunter models one of her own designs at her shop, Vian Hunter in Madison Park, last Wednesday. Vian Hunter was one of 14 designers chosen to appear in a reality show on fashion. Clothes designed by the contestants will be marketed immediately after the broadcasts.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Staff Photo

Fashion designer, Lisa Vian Hunter, an Island resident and owner of Vian Hunter House of Fashion, is one of 14 contestants on NBC’s new series “Fashion Star,” which will premier in March.

Designers of all levels will compete for a grand prize of $6 million in orders for collections in H&M, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. The winning designs for each episode will be available online immediately after the show and in stores the next day.

Vian Hunter’s fashion career took a nontraditional path. At age 39, with two children, she graduated from San Francisco’s Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.

“Some things take time in life,” said Vian Hunter, who grew up in Northern California.

With her husband’s support she opened a store in Palo Alto, but once the recession hit things became difficult.

Vian Hunter and her family moved to Seattle on a whim. It was a priority that their children attend a good public school, and they found that Mercer Island fit the bill perfectly.

She got to know Seattle by researching the different shopping neighborhoods. In November 2009, Vian Hunter House of Fashion opened its doors on East Madison Street.

Last spring, the designer was intrigued by an email from the casting agents of NBC’s “Fashion Star.” After a series of interviews, Vian Hunter was chosen as a contestant. The show was filmed over the summer in LA. She was excited by its unique concept.

“The clothes that we create on the show are accessible, wearable and they’re sold in Saks, Macy’s and H&M,” she said. “Whatever designs are purchased for that episode are available to buy online and the next day in the store. It is just an enormous opportunity that us little folks don’t (often) come across.”

“I just love the late ’50s and early ’60s for design inspiration. It was such a feminine time,” she said. “I find that the designs from that era translate really well to modern times with a few adjustments here and there.”

She said her designs are timeless and appeal to everyone.

“I have sold to teenagers and my mom, who was in her late 70s,” she said. “It really doesn’t have an age because the clothes aren’t trendy. The clothes are going to be in your closet for a long time. They’re not going to go out of style.”

Vian Hunter said “Fashion Star” is not your typical reality TV Show. “This show really emphasizes fashion. They are not emphasizing the drama between designers. If there are tears on this show, it’s because a designer is having a meltdown over a design; there were no catfights (or) pushing.”

Breanna Lai is a University of Washington News Lab student.

See more photos on Chad Coleman's photo blog Focus Northwest.


 

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