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LORI RACKL: From screen to the store with ‘Fashion Star’? I’ll buy that

FASHION STAR -- 'What's Your Story' Episode 101 -- Pictured: (l-r) Nicole Richie Oscar Fierro -- (Phoby: Tyler Golden/NBC)

FASHION STAR -- "What's Your Story" Episode 101 -- Pictured: (l-r) Nicole Richie, Oscar Fierro -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

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90-minute premiere from 8:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday. Regular episodes 9 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays on WMAQ-Channel 5.

Updated: April 12, 2012 9:53AM

Watch and wear. That could be the name of NBC’s new series “Fashion Star.”

Hosted by leggy Elle Macpherson, the show features 14 designers competing for the chance to launch their collections in Macy’s, H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue — a prize supposedly worth $6 million.

Each week, the designers’ creations get paraded down a catwalk in front of a panel of celebrity mentors (Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos) and a trio of buyers from the aforementioned stores. If the buyers like what they see, they bid on the clothes, which the public can purchase online that night or the next day in the top-bidding store.

It’s a unique concept, although that’s where “Fashion Star’s” originality ends. Everything from the flashy set to contestants’ hard-luck back stories to the verbal dressing-down competitors endure from the judges is the TV equivalent of a Louis Vuitton knock-off at Maxwell Street Market. But this tired reality competition format gets a fresh boost of energy when the models strut their stuff on the runway to the tune of Lady Gaga and other pop stars.

Chicago designer Barbara Bates is among the 14 hopefuls vying for the “Fashion Star” title. So is the diminutive, eccentric and weepy El Salvador native Oscar Fierro, whom Nicole Richie seems to want to put a leash on and make her pet.

“Designing to me is a way to escape the misery,” a teary Fierro says, referring to his troubled past in Central America.

Contestants face elimination each week if none of the buyers bite at their sartorial offerings. The celebrity judges get to save one favorite among the bottom three designers, while the buyers decide which of the remaining two will get the boot.

Bottom line: If you’re a fashionista, you’ll like watching these designers crank out their custom clothing and see the finished product showcased on the runway. Just remember to keep your credit card handy.

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