For two seattle designers, a brush with reality TV was surreal: design god John Varvatos draping fabric and Jessica Simpson poring over fashion sketches. Add model Elle Macpherson to the mix and you have NBC’s Fashion Star, which recently featured locals Lisa Vian Hunter and Lizzie Parker as they competed against 12 other designers to sell garments to buyers such as H&M and Saks. Now back at home after being eliminated from the show, both Parker and Hunter are working the judges’ nuggets of knowledge into fresh designs available at their own Seattle shops.
Hunter’s Vian Hunter shop (Madison Valley, 2814 E Madison St.; 206.860.5030; vianhunter.com) oozes Audrey Hepburn cool with perfectly poised LBDs, revamped vintage fabric skirts and burnished tops. The fabric-driven California transplant (who says her biggest challenge on the show was the 45-minute time limit for shopping) is now working to expand the brand into multitiered collections all channeling classic 1950s and early-’60s shapes, ranging from a luxurious European-style line to a more casual day-wear line, the budget-friendly LVH.
Parker was initially worried that her easy, breezy knits would be overlooked in a sea of evening gowns and woven fabrics, but it didn’t take long for Varvatos to take notice. “He encouraged me to be innovative within the knits I already do well,” she explains. Back at her Issaquah headquarters (317 NW Gilman, Suite 24; 425.427.0708; lizzieparker.com), Parker has certainly taken up his challenge; her new garments are flush with a creative waxing treatment that produces a leather-like sheen on knitwear. This rocking new edge permeates her incredibly wearable pencil skirts, duster jackets and simply chic dress with asymmetrical hemming.