Barbara Bates

Interview by Alison Peeples

Barbara Bates

Fasion Star

Fashion Star, the upcoming NBC show about the search for the future of fashion, hosts a variety of very talented designers from across theUnited States.  The beautiful Elle Macpherson is the host and Nicole Richie, Jessica Simpson and John Varvatos are the mentors to these aspiring designers.Chicago is proud and excited to have one of our own on the show!  Barbara Bates, aChicagonative and recent breast cancer survivor, has been working in the fashion industry for over 25 years. I got to chat with her about her experience on the show last week, and she is a doll!

How did you hear about the show and opportunity?

A friend sent me an email about the show, and her message concluded with “see you on the big screen”. That really resonated with me because a documentary on my foundation, The Barbara Bates Foundation (  had just won an award and we got to see it on the big screen. At first I poo pooed the idea, but again I was inspired by my foundation, so I was ready to make it on the big screen again.

What was the best part of participating in the show?

I have had so many plights and things to take on in my life, a teenage pregnancy and breast cancer. Fashion was the vehicle that got me to a stage to make my voice heard on those issues that I am passionate about.

In addition, getting the opportunity to learn about manufacturing on a larger scale was great. I was used to manufacturing 20 pieces, and the show allowed me to learn from people who manufacture thousands and hundreds of thousands of pieces. Finally, the fact that our pieces were sold the next day at mega-retailers was amazing, and the show itself took care of all of it.

What can we expect to see from you on the show?

I was able to dig deeper into what I do as a designer. I’ve done lots of high-end custom pieces in my work before the show. The style and flair that we needed to create for the masses was something new for me.

Which mentor on the show did you connect with the most?

I connected best with Nicole Richie, her taste is truly a cut above. She is very fashionable and unique, and while fashion is all relative, our tastes and styles were the same. She knows what she likes.

What was the experience like, what will the show be like?

There is really nothing like it on T.V. It’s nothing like Project Runway or a normal reality show. There’s no cursing, or fighting or anything like that. There’s no controversy, the show has enough going on for it that people will come back each week to see what

Where do you like to shop in Chicago?

Anywhere and everywhere! But two specialty stores are Blake and Ikram.

What do you think makes Chicago people fashionable?

Chicago fashionistas take risks…they mix it up with fashion from the east and west coast.  And a true fashionable person doesn’t carry attitude, no ugly attitudes PLEASE!

Be sure to turn in to see Barbara in action in the series premiere on Tuesday, March 13 at 8:30 p.m.  We’ll be rooting for her!

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