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Fashion reality shows have made them all the rage

Christian Siriano, Rachel Zoe, Tim Gunn, Brad Goreski, Kelly Cutrone and Nick Varreos all found fame.

March 11, 2012|By Susan Denley, Los Angeles Times

Fashion reality shows have had a big payoff for some participants, catapulting them to full-fledged stardom in the world of style.

Christian Siriano was a design student who had apprenticed with industry bigs Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood before he won "Project Runway's" Season 4. Since then, his independent label has become a powerhouse, showing in New York each season, appearing in fashion magazines around the world and dressing stars including Christina Hendricks, Nicki Minaj, Sarah Jessica Parker, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Vanessa Williams, Fergie, Rihanna and "Project Runway" host Heidi Klum. He has had design partnerships with Puma, Starbucks, LG Electronics, Payless ShoeSource and Spiegel. In 2010, at age 24, he was listed by Crain's New York Business as one of its "40 under Forty" up-and-comers.

Rachel Zoe, a freelance fashion stylist whose clients have included the Backstreet Boys, Lindsay Lohan, Mischa Barton, Keira Knightley and Nicole Richie, is the center of Bravo's "The Rachel Zoe Project," which takes viewers into the world of celebrity dressing. Since its premiere in 2008, the show has made the 40-year-old Zoe a household name and a regular in the pages of People. Last year she stepped up from stylist to fashion designer with the launch of her own women's wear collection. She's been a consultant for Piperlime.com, collaborated with designer Judith Lieber on a collection of handbags and been the celebrity face of Samsung's BlackJack cellphone ad campaign. She shares fashion advice on the Zoe Report website and wrote a book, "Style A to Zoe," with fashion journalist Rose Apodaca.

Tim Gunn spent many years laboring in relative obscurity on the faculty of the Parsons School of Design before becoming the on-air mentor to the competitors on "Project Runway," starting with its initial season in 2004. Gunn, 58, subsequently landed a gig as creative director at Liz Claiborne; starred in a Bravo spinoff, "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style," for two seasons; and wrote two books, with a third, "Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible," scheduled for publication this September. He has made guest appearances on sitcoms including "How I Met Your Mother" and "Gossip Girl" and is a host of ABC's daytime talk show "The Revolution."

Brad Goreski was only a few months past graduation at USC and had worked for three months as an assistant to Vogue's West Coast editor when he was cast on the initial season of "The Rachel Zoe Project" as one of the star's assistants. Three years later, he and Zoe are no longer speaking for reasons that remain mysterious. But Goreski, 34, just finished the first season of his own show, "It's a Brad Brad World." His client list has grown from one — Jessica Alba —- to include Demi Moore, Christina Ricci, Rashida Jones, Shay Mitchell and Noomi Rapace. He published his first book, "Born to Be Brad: My Life and Style So Far" with Elle columnist Mickey Rapkin, last week. And he has a contract to be the exclusive stylist for the Kate Spade fashion line.

Kelly Cutrone played herself in MTV's reality show "The Hills" and its spinoff "The City," employing wannabe fashionistas Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port at her fashion publicity and branding company, People's Revolution. Cutrone parlayed that into her own Bravo reality show, "Kell on Earth," and two nonfiction books, the 2010 memoir "If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You," and 2011's "Normal Gets You Nowhere." She joined "Dr. Phil" as a contributor in 2010, and this year signed on as a judge on "America's Next Top Model."

Nick Verreos was a freelance patternmaker, co-designer for a small, Los Angeles-based women's line called NIKOLAKI and an instructor at Los Angeles' Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising when he appeared on Season 2 of "Project Runway." Since then Verreos, 45, has found fame as a frequent red carpet commentator for outlets including TV Guide Network and E! Entertainment. He appeared on MTV's "The Hills" and the WB's "Crowned," has been part of the Glam Squad on MSN.com's "Style Studio" and written about fashion for Us Weekly.

susan.denley@latimes.com

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