A Glorious F-U to Fashion Normies

If there is one person who can shake up the stale reality competition show format, it’s Julia Fox. The actor, model, author, sometimes singer, and one-time muse to both Josh Safdie and Kanye West has maintained the zeitgeist’s eye since the moment she burst onto the scene in Safdie’s 2019 film Uncut Gems. Already known among art world insiders for some time prior, Fox quickly cemented herself as a cultural renegade, the kind of person who could upend the old “famous for being famous” adage and, instead, make every last thing she did part of her larger artistic oeuvre. She’s the kind of celebrity who you might find on The View one morning, and then spot at the grocery store—wearing underwear and denim boots—later that same afternoon.

It’s that keen sartorial eye that remains Fox’s most compelling talent. Her Instagram grid is basically just a Pinterest board for outrageously fun avant-garde style. So, with that in mind, why not give Fox—who loves to be in front of the camera as much as the camera loves her—her own fashion-based reality show? It’s the kind of thing that seems so obvious, that you have to wonder why it didn’t happen sooner.

Maybe it’s because it had to come at the exact right time. Fox’s new show, OMG Fashun, which premieres on the E! network May 6, doesn’t just arrive at the height of Fox’s fame, but when sustainability in the fashion industry is more critical than ever. Fox—who executive produces the show—understands that when viewers hear the word “sustainability,” they might tune out; some could assume the conversation has turned boring, or has become too focused on something most of us don’t have much control over, like fast-fashion companies dominating the marketplace.

How do you keep an audience’s attention in that case? Make the most electrifying, thrilling reality competition show on the air, bring in a rotating panel of celebrity guests, and keep sustainable fashion at the forefront of the whole thing. OMG Fashun isn’t just a platitude dressed up as a competition show, it’s a television revelation and a revolution.

For such an ambitious show, OMG Fashun’s premise and execution are relatively simple. Fox and world-famous stylist Law Roach, along with each week’s celebrity guest judge—personalities include Phaedra Parks, Tommy Dorfman, and Violet Chachki, and more—gather on a soundstage gussied up to look like a storybook version of a Manhattan rooftop. Amidst the fire escapes, bird poop, and neon lights, Fox and Roach assign a group of three up-and-coming “fashion disrupters” two separate challenges.

The first challenge begins before the disruptors even arrive. They have to begin visualizing a look made of preexisting garments, fabric swatches, and objects randomly selected by Fox and her team, which show up at each disruptor’s home in a box. All three disruptors have their chance to make a good first impression with these looks, but rarely will they really stun the judges right off the bat. In their second challenge, Fox presses the contestants—and the viewer—to consider elements of sustainability and upcycling with more unconventional materials. These main challenges see the disruptors racing against time, trying to construct outfits that tackle the proliferation of single-use plastics, natural materials, sexual wellness, and more.

Wisdom Kaye, Julia Fox, and Law Roach.

(l-r) Wisdom Kaye, Julia Fox, and Law Roach.

Quantrell Colbert/E! Entertainment

Naturally, there’s a cheeky element to all of this. OMG Fashun’s title winks at the cigarette-laden vocal fry of the fashion influencer crowd, who exalt the industry without attempting to jolt the status quo. That won’t continue on Fox’s watch. The show is her attempt at making fashion’s gatekeepers wriggle in their seats, even if those seats are in the front row of a couture show. She encourages her designers to use provocative materials like condoms and insects (along with actual fabric, of course) to show how upcycling and unorthodox materials can make an entirely new outfit that is just as beautiful, if not more, than its original iteration. The results are a high-low mixture of fashion and style, often looking like editorial pieces that Fox would want to wear herself.

Making something that Fox would wear to stun the paparazzi is part of the criteria for an OMG Fashun winner. In addition to a $10,000 cash prize handed out every week, each episode’s winner will get their look modeled by Fox in a stunning Instagram photoshoot and a vignette that caps off the episode. Initially, this may seem like a paltry prize, but considering that Fox has 1.6 million Instagram followers who watch everything she does like fashion’s new Messiah, it’s a prize that could pay dividends over time. A chance to get your face out there, brand yourself, and take home a few thousand bucks doesn’t hurt either.

Katya Lee, Chelsea Billingsley, and Bradley Callahan.

(l-r) Katya Lee, Chelsea Billingsley, and Bradley Callahan.

Quantrell Colbert/E! Entertainment

If you are not yet familiar with the gospel of Julia Fox, OMG Fashun will have you closely studying the word in no time. Fox is a treat to watch each week, and part of the fun is seeing what she’s going to show up to an episode wearing. Sometimes, she’ll look like the titular saucy witch from the video game Bayonetta, sporting an asymmetrical, black bus driver wig and Walmart reading glasses.

Others, she’ll show up in a full-length tulle train and a sopping wet, gray wig in a look that’s entirely runway ready. Patent leather red boots! Ornate crowns! A desk drawer fastened to her head! It’s anyone’s guess. And that unpredictability extends to Fox’s judging and off-the-cuff remarks too. She’s damn funny, and rarely intimidating for someone so put-together. There may be quite a bit at stake, but Fox is no Tyra Banks. It’s clear that she and Roach intend to coach their disruptors, rather than belittle them just to make dramatic television.

There isn’t even that much time for that, anyway. OMG Fashun is, sadly, only a half-hour-long show (though it will air in back-to-back episode blocks). With so much to look at, laugh at, and love until I thought my little gay heart would burst, my only gripe was that this show should be a full hour long. I wanted more time to get to know the disruptors and watch them hurry to make their garments. Some additional time spent with everyone involved with the show would elevate the series even further. If OMG Fashun had hour-long episodes, I could easily see it becoming a must-watch event programming among friend groups. It already could—and should—be that anticipatory, but the chance to settle into the show’s quirky rhythm would help make the series a real moment.

But each major show in this genre had humble beginnings. The early seasons of America’s Next Top Model, though captivating, are undeniably unpolished. Project Runway had similarly scrappy beginnings before it became a juggernaut in the mid-aughts. OMG Fashun has all the right stuff, especially because there’s a genuinely useful element to its conception. Encouraging viewers to upcycle their clothing and think of new, bold ways to wear their outfits is dire. The show has already made me think twice about how I approach my upcoming closet cleaning. If it can convince even a handful of viewers to operate with the same intention, the show will be an achievement beyond how magnificent it already is. Leave it to Julia Fox, who scraped her way up to fame by making money as a dominatrix and enduring addiction, recovery, and eventually, the toxic glow of the limelight, to understand how to push the boundaries, yet again.

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