Working her magic
a designer turns old duds into fashion-forward frocks, and charms viewers in the process.
SHAREEN Mitchell is called the fairy godmother of cost-conscious fashionistas, and when you watch Dresscue Me, you’ll understand why.
A self-taught designer and vintage guru, Mitchell owns Shareen Vintage boutiques in Los Angeles and New York, and she is the star of Li’s new reality series.
Having an impeccable eye for trends, Mitchell unearths treasures from trash. She works her magic to breathe new life into old, overlooked outcasts and transforms them into fashion-fashion frocks. Yes, ladies and gents, retro fashion is alive and kicking in Dresscue Me.
At the Shareen Vintage stores, it’s high fashion style without haute couture cost, as each priceless piece from the past is kept at under US$200 (RM638).
Armed with invaluable insider experience from her years at Mademoiselle and Vogue magazines, the former actress has a deep understanding of what works – and what doesn’t – for women of all shapes and sizes. Her philosophy is to never let a customer leave her shop looking anything less than lovely.
Mitchell welcomes exclusively female clients into her boutiques, touted as the fashion world’s best-kept secret. Her “no-boysallowed” policy – clearly stated on a sign at the store entrance – makes me sad, as that means I will never get to set foot into Shareen Vintage.
As the central character, Mitchell – who looks a little like Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas – cuts a commanding figure. She is stern but fair with her employees, and you can’t help but admire her ability to transform junk into wearable pieces of art. But as Mitchell’s character is so strong, the show’s supporting players – who are meek in her presence – sort of fade into the background.
Her relationship with husband JD also plays into the series, as he provides much-needed support and balance to her artistic temperament. At times, his character is almost too good to be true. Does such a patient and good-natured man really exist?
I enjoy the segments in which customers sashay into Mitchell’s shop for retail therapy. The camera zooms in as Mitchell listens to her customers’ stories and ultimately gives them the makeover to help them look and feel their best.
It’s also fun to follow Mitchell on her hectic buying trips that include sifting through heaps of old clothes. These scenes make you want to go through your neighbourhood’s scrap area, hoping for the same discoveries.
Viewers also get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of her efforts to launch a new fashion line and establish a presence in the fast and furious New York scene.
Apart from recessionistas and fashionistas, Mitchell is adored by A-listers including Scarlett Johannson and Andre Leon Talley of Vogue, and costumers for 1960s-themed TV series Mad Men. All of them – including the viewers, I’m sure – find their imaginations fired up by Mitchell’s carefully curated discoveries of restored and reconstructed vintage designs.
If you’re a budding fashionista, you cannot watch an episode without gushing to yourself: “Gosh, I want that outfit!”
In the second episode, I was thrilled to see the appearance of evanescent TV host Cat Deeley. As a long-time Mitchell client, Deeley stops by to look for a dress she can wear to an awards show.
The duo have a blast catching up, and Deeley walks out with not one, or two, but three garments – an 80s cocktail dress, a high-waisted 80s skirt and a bat-wing top. In my opinion, Deeley anchors So You Think You Can Dance? with much wit and flair, and now you know where she gets her fabulous outfits from.
In the same episode, Mitchell invites her employees to a launch party at another boutique called Madewell, and even throws in a limousine ride to the store.
However, one staff member Marie almost jeopardises the night by arriving late, and Mitchell (nearly) loses her temper. But the success of the event overshadows the mishap.
The happenings in this show are not overthe-top, compared to say Keeping Up With The Kardashians, but you don’t tune into Dresscue Me for the drama. You watch the series for its focus on women from all walks of life, and their quest to upgrade their wardrobes without breaking the bank.
And yes, its celebration of vintage couture is awesome. n DresscueMe premieres at 11pm on Li (Astro Ch 706) tomorrow.