Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lelia Shams Breaking the Mold in Style Network's "City Girl Diaries"

By Laura Medina

Ever wish there will come a show that will fill in the yearning since "Sex and the City" departed?

Wish fulfilled. The Style Network will air on Sunday, July 21 at 9/8c, five beautiful 30-something best friends are taking viewers on a high-class journey through their fast-paced New York City lives,

First thing this morning, one of the cast members, fashion designer Leila Shams chatted over the phone with a select panel of journalists, including this scribe, to discuss her own fashion line, "Lelia Shams," being a "City Girl Diaries" cast member, and doling advice to aspiring fashion designers and her unique perspective on being a designer in their media-easy/friendly/hungry world that we live in.

A veteran fashion designer for DKNY Jeans, Express, Bebe, and Buffalo Jeans who struck out on her own then got "rehabbed" by the stern Joey Zee ( creative director of Elle) on Sundance Channel's "All On The Line for only that one episode for that only one season,  this mere toe-dipping in the reality show pool made it easier for Leila to be comfortable with the longer format of the Style Network's "City Girl Diaries."

During this conference phone interview, Leila was willing to dispense lessons she learned from running her fashion design business while being on reality shows...what looks good on TV doesn't look the same on real folks. 

Her being on "All On The Line" didn't directly lead her to "City Girl Diaries" but she realized that importance of reality TV for fashion designers, emerging and established, in regards to pushing yourself out there.  Thanks to "Project Runway," "All On The Line," and "Fashion Star,"  the mainstream is taking these show much more seriously.  Paraphrasing, "Sure, when "Project Runway" first started out, nobody took Tim Gunn, Michael Kors seriously but now, they do."  Due to the rising acceptance of these reality shows, fashion designers such as John Varvatos and Michael Kors, are now household names which become brands, and that is very much to fashion designers.

Because of "All On The Line" then "City Girl Diaries," it makes it easier for Leila to attract backers and sponsors.  All this attention increased sales on her site.  It also help her learn to "tone it up for the runway then tone it down for the real people."

Making that transition from a TV guest to a full-time reality TV cast member did made Leila worry about what her first-generation parents think but so far, so good.  The show is an antidote to "The Real Housewives" franchise.  Leila called the show a "feel good show" where everything is fun and good. 

Yes, the legendary "Sex and the City" was the impetus for "City Girl Diaries;" but that is where "City Girl Diaries" left off and takes off.  None of the cast members are molded on those four archetypal characters.  More than anything, they're breaking the mold.  Remember, this is a reality show.  

Leila, "We're not Real Housewives.  We're real career women.  We're all in monogamous relationships.  Only one is dating.  We're just showing part of New York life.  It was so much fun hanging out with the girls.  A no-brainer.

"City Girl Diaries" also glimpse into each woman's livelihood and what it takes.  

Leila isn't afraid to say that there is a difference between being an artist and being a fashion designer.  She may had inherited her artist leanings from her mom but Leila isn't shy about saying a fashion designer needs to know business and a good factory to manufacture your orders.

She offers other nuggets of wisdom.  Move to New York, like she did for Parsons, to get a firm fashion education from veterans who are now teaching, i.e. go to college.  Even, she admits she was the worst student but you have to..;and you have to work hard to show your instructors then the working industry veterans that you're serious about what you're doing to make it worth their while. 

Leila can't help but notice the increased up-tick in design students due to "Project Runway."  As a veteran fashion designer, she said it was easier to gain notice starting out because, again, Leila recognized the importance of social media.  But now with so much media outlets, it gets harder to connect.  She loves Tumblr.  However, she never gives up on connecting with as much outlets as possible, "Bloggers are the new "Vogue," the new editors."

As a veteran fashion designer, Leila is insightful enough to notice the difference between New York fashion industry and Los Angeles' fashion industry.  Sure, it's great to gain your education and foothold in New York because the industry is more centralized and organized but when it comes to experimenting with new ideas, new concepts, new market, and investors, Leila can't help but show LA some respect.

Asked what to do if considering relocating to LA or becoming Bi-Coastal, Leila witnesses the fashion shows and the trade shows in LA getting bigger each and every time.  Because the fashion business in New York is more established, more centralized, and more organized, New Yorkers are much more jaded by the industry.  Whereas in LA, there are people who are more fantasized and intrigued by the fashion business which means these people are more willing to spend and support designers as investors.

Being a full-time cast member on "City Girl Diaries" isn't the only thing changing Leila's life.  She's expecting to be a mom to a daughter.  

So, watch Leila juggle her fashion business, her relationships, her friendships, and her impending motherhood this Sunday night at 9pm on the Style Network.  You might watch her expanding to then developing a girls clothing line in the process.  All in a day of a life of a fashion designer.

No comments: