Project Style’s Nick Verreos Q&A
By Ashley Bennett
Describe the “Project Style” event. How did it originate? What’s your goal of creating an American Idol-like event based around fashion creativity?
Three years ago, I was approached by Forest City Enterprises to host a fun “stylist” competition at several of their malls across the country. The contest was “Project Style” where budding “stylistas” from different areas would submit videos of themselves in outfits they had styled and then people would vote on-line on the best one. Subsequently, the Finalists would end up in the Final Project Style Contest at each of the local ForestCitymalls. And that’s where I came in, being the “Fashion Host with The Most” of each final contest! I love doing these contests and especially seeing what these budding fashionistas do with a mall gift card and how they style and shop for their looks. Forest City Enterprises created and implemented this on-line fashion competition, Project Style, to highlight their wide variety of fashion retailers and remind customers that shopping for fashion is fun. I just think it is such a fantastic idea howForestCity brought fashion-minded customers’ dreams to life by creating a virtual runway via Project Style.
As we know TV fashion competition shows like “Project Runway” are very popular and the fans love the whole “You have one hour to shop for fabric . . . Five hours to make a dress . . . now Go!” element. Well, with “Project Style,” we’ve taken some of those elements and changed it up to bring in the “style yourself” quotient. The goal is to showcase the creativity that is out there, seeing what fashion savvy shoppers can do with a limited budget, give them a fabulous runway to show it off, and then, win gift cards to shop some more! It was a genius idea forForestCity to come up with this!
What brings you to the IE (and more specifically Victoria Gardens and the Promenade in Temecula) out of all possible places to host?
Last year, I hosted “Project Style” at VictoriaGardensand the Promenade in Temecula and it was a huge success. And yes, I also had a great time seeing all the different outfits these fashion savvy shoppers came up with. In both locations, the shopping and style quotient was very high level and the crowds (family and friends) really got into it during the stage/runway presentations. So, naturally, I am happy to come back. But beware Victoria Gardens and Temecula: I am expecting sooo much from you! Style with a capital “S”!
What can the audience do to participate/vote?
The audience at the mall centers can be there to cheer on and support the top trendsetters on stage. I remember last year at one “Project Style” final, one of the finalists brought her entire High School Cheerleading squad to cheer her on! That was fabulous. In addition, as the MC, I also try to get the audience/mall shoppers involved by asking their opinions and why they think the outfits onstage/runway worked or may not have worked. Ultimately, it’s up to the judges to choose the winner but sometimes, the hootin‘ and hollerin‘ of the crowd might help.
Five finalists will be picked to debut their talents at the live “Style Off.” How will you narrow down the applicants for this event? What exactly are you looking for in an up-and-coming fashion addict?
If you think you have what it takes to be a top trendsetter…if your friends always say to you “OMG! I always love the outfits you wear!” or “You should be a Stylist! You put your outfits together perfectly and are so original!” then this is your chance to prove it! We are asking for people to submit applications/videos of themselves to each Forest City Mall center close to where they reside. Five finalists will be picked to debut their talents at a live “Style Off.” The monthly on-line competition culminates in a final live style-off event at each center. At this live style-off, all Project Style finalists will be presented with the Final Challenge: to style the perfect ensemble in one hour using only a $200 Mall Gift Card. The finalists will hit the runway modeling their outfits before a panel of fashion industry experts. This is my favorite part because we get to see how they styled themselves and I get to ask why they chose a certain top, skirt, pant, bag, etc. Judges at each center then determine the results and announce the winning Top Trendsetter, presenting a $1,000 Mall Gift Card. One Thousand Dollar Gift Card! Hello!
The Top Trendsetters at each center will then compete in the final, national on-line contest which I will personally judge, along with Style Network’s Jeannie Mai. One winner will be selected and receive the Grand Prize of a trip to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week inNew York City!
In terms of what we are looking for, successful participants and past winners have been fashionistas who love to express themselves through attitude, wardrobe and appearance. These budding stylists don’t always follow current trends, but instead, reinvent fashionable looks through style elements that better display their own unique sense of style. And for me, also, it’s important that they really utilized the stores at their local Mall center; that they shopped at three or four places as opposed to getting it all from one store.
What must event participants do to prepare themselves for the competition? Do you have any words of advice for them?
Be a fashion individual. Don’t be a “Fashion Clone.” I’m not looking for someone who styled themselves to look exactly like an Abercrombie & Fitch or Gap catalog—”style it up!” and mess with it. Add your own unique twist. In terms of preparing, look at European Fashion magazines like Vogue Italia and see how fashion editors style different editorials. Take a look at magazines like Lucky or InStyle. It doesn’t have to be crazy or avant-garde but it should project a unique point of view and really reflect your personal style as you will be the model!
Is there anything else you would like to mention that we didn’t already cover?
Well, above it all, I would tell the applicants to have fun! Project Style celebrates style, fashion, originality, individuality and yes, also reminds people how fun shopping can be! So, most importantly enjoy yourself—oh and don’t forget to bring the Super fablousness! I always say “Why do something 95 percent when you can do it 110 percent!”