By Nathan James
Take a moment to consider your daily wardrobe. The look you show the world through the clothes you wear is a statement about your taste, color preferences, and self-image. Your garments are a powerful definition of who you are, and what you do. But there's an equally powerful story to be told about how those skirts, dresses, slacks, blouses, shoes, and accessories come into being, before they find their way into your closet.
That's the aim of a fascinating new television series now in production on the streets of New York City. Entitled Fashion In The Fast Lane, the program is an in-depth look at aspiring designers and models seeking the big break that will accelerate their professional careers, as they create and showcase new designs from the ground up. "It's something you've never seen before," Yvonne Forbes, one of the show's Executive Producers, said during a recent IT TV interview. "We have about four networks looking at us now. I sat down with [co-Executive Producer] Ernest Jackson, and we came up with the idea." Industry interest in the series is drawn by its unique concept, as developed by Forbes and Jackson.
The creation of fashion is a complex process, and on Fashion In The Fast Lane, viewers will discover how this takes place. Each designer/model pair selected for the program must work together to impress the show's cast sufficiently enough to advance to the next level. The competition for a chance to sign on with a major label, or model with a big-time agency, is keen.
Taking the audience through each show is celebrity stylist, author, and TV personality Delvon Johnson, who hosts each intriguing episode. "This is my dream," says Johnson, "and I am so blessed to be working with such amazing people." Johnson's past accomplishments have prepared him well for his starring role. "I've styled Karen Gravano of Mob Wives, Momma Dee and Shay Johnson at Love And Hip Hop Atlanta,and the models of [haute couture designer] Adrian Alicea's Fashion Week shows," Johnson recalls. He's also hosted fashion shows for plus-size retail chain Ashley Stewart, and the annual Fire Island Black Out festival. On Fashion In The Fast Lane, Johnson will head up a stellar cast of well-known industry names, upon whose deliberations the aspirants' fate will rest.
When the hopeful designers and models arrive on the set, they'll soon meet legendary names in the business, such as Coco Mitchell, the iconic supermodel who has graced the covers of the world's major fashion periodicals since the 1970s. Mitchell, who has worked with some of history's greatest designers and labels, joins the cast of Fashion In The Fast Lane with great enthusiasm. "I'm happy to be a part of this wonderful new project," Mitchell stated at the show's public debut during Beauty With Pure Purpose, a September benefit recognizing women living with breast cancer and alopecia. Mitchell brings her keen eye and unvarnished "realness" to a show where appearances are paramount.
Adding a designer's perspective to the program are high-end swimwear and accessory creator Sonjja Baram and haute couture specialist Marco Hall. Each has spent decades perfecting their craft, and both have enjoyed international acclaim for their work. Baram, a Midtown Manhattan socialite, has her collections on sale now with the upscale Henri Bendel clothier, and is known everywhere for her innovative genius. She eagerly lends her talent and expertise to the show. "This is going to be something special," Baram reflects, "and people won't forget it." She is a fixture on the New York fashion scene, and Fashion In The Fast Lane is a bold new step in her creative journey.
Baram's colleague, Marco Hall, has been dressing the stars for two decades, with provocative, eye-catching pieces that have set the tone for celebrity wardrobe on both coasts. Hall, who operates a boutique, Karma Consignment, on Newark, NJ's trendy Halsey Street, has created garments for such household names as Natalie Cole, Erykah Badu, Rihanna, Olympic gold medalist Gabi Douglas, and scores of other notables. His works have appeared on film and television, as well as in the pages of countless industry journals. "I'm going to bring my best game to this show," Hall observes. "I see it as a great opportunity to shine." Hall has recently turned his focus towards plus-size creations, noting that "real women--in the real world--have curves." The show will feature models of all sizes and descriptions, the producers confirm.
Celebrity hairstylist Marissa Shockley-Wilson will join the show in a recurring guest role, making sure the models and designers are superbly coiffed. Fresh from a recent engagement on Love And Hip Hop Atlanta, Shockley-Wilson comes to Fashion In The Fast Lane with a strictly no-nonsense demeanor that brooks no criticism. Will she see eye-to-eye with the host and cast? “Stay tuned,” says producer Jackson. Another notable who will appear throughout the season, is renowned international celebrity photographer Roxanne Lowit, through whose lenses the world has taken on a dramatic new shape. Lowit, whose work has been featured in V Magazine, Glamour, Vogue, and Vanity Fair, will be a vibrant presence on the show, doing the photo shoots that will help determine who merges onto the “Fast Lane”, or exits to the Off Ramp.
Guest judge Andrew Jacovou comes to Fashion In The Fast Lane with a wealth of knowledge borne of his lifelong commitment to the garment trade. “I’m thrilled to be part of the show,” Jacovou rhapsodizes, “I’ve been in the business 40 years, and I started out as a tailor.” The industry mogul, a Ph. D., whose career accomplishments include working with design giants such as Calvin Klein, applies his experience in design and business management to the show, with an artistic talent that is unmatched in his field. “I take whatever people’s visions are, and turn them into reality.” Jacovou is a diligent creator of bold new looks, and is eager to meet the contestants trying to make it onto the Fast Lane.
The faces of Fashion In The Fast Lane are in the capable hands of Samantha Von Sperling, the series’ on-camera makeup artist. Von Sperling grew up in the fashion world, and sees the show as her penultimate achievement. “I’m so excited I can barely breathe,” she says. “My whole life has led me to this moment.” Von Sperling is an ambassador for the program’s official makeup product sponsor, Cinema Secrets, a major, professional-grade cosmetics line. In dozens of television appearances ranging from Fox & Friends toInside Edition, the celebrity image maker (Von Sperling is the CEO of Polished Social Image Consultants) and etiquette expert has demonstrated her poise and grace, with a sharp understanding of how to bring out the best in her clients. “I’ve been an image consultant for 15 years,” Von Sperling relates, “and a makeup artist for 20. It’s in my DNA to analyze a situation and make it pretty.”
Complementing the cast is a diverse Executive Team, including Yvonne Forbes, whose PR and modeling firm, LaBelleLaDiva Enterprises, has played an integral role in the show's development. Her firm offers public relations, event planning and fashion show production, model training, and makeup artist services. Forbes is known as an award-winning national and international plus-size model, whose business acumen keeps things at the show running smoothly. Working with her, is Ernest Jackson, co-CEO of the publicity agency MNS Media, a well-connected professional whose resources are driving Fashion In The Fast Lane to new heights. Jackson’s agency represents some of the top names in American popular culture, as well as several dynamic, up-and-coming figures to watch. Both of them impart a polished, winning appearance to the series.
Joining Forbes and Jackson is PopImpressKA Journal art magazine publisher Olga Papkovitch, whose global reach serves to give the show an international flavor. Papkovitch is an impressionist whose works have been exhibited on two continents, and her artist's eye gives the program its matchless look. Sonjja Baram and series star Delvon Johnson have dual roles as producers of Fashion In The Fast Lane, and rounding out the production team is series writer Nathan James, an author, journalist, playwright, and screenwriter. James is “deeply gratified to have the privilege of bringing such an amazing project to life on the screen, and to work with people of such immense stature in the fashion and entertainment industries."
Trailers for the new series are in post-production as of this writing, and a massive model casting call, at which the pilot episode will be shot, is soon to rock the New York City fashion scene. A 2014 release is planned for this groundbreaking new show, Fashion In The Fast Lane promises to change the way you look at the garment trade, and the clothing in your own closet. To discover more about the series, visit www.fashioninthefastlane.com.
Photos: Ardranae Byer & Fashion In The Fast Lane
November 4, 2013