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Netflix’s first reality show on fashion is finally here, and we are excited to see the contestants duke it out and see who will emerge as winners.

Starring Queer Eye’s style expert Tan France and model-fashion influencer Alexa Chung, Next in Fashion will follow 18 fashion designers as they compete in various challenges created to test their sartorial skills. The show will also feature special guest judges, including celebrity stylist Elizabeth Stewart and Instagram’s Eva Chen, who is director of fashion partnerships at the social media platform, and the final episode will also feature Elizabeth von der Goltz, Global Buying Director at NET-A-PORTER, as a guest judge. The winner of the show will win the grand prize: $250,000 and an opportunity to debut their collection at NET-A-PORTER.

“The winner’s collection will be launched on NET-A-PORTER on 5 February and it is inspired by the shapes, volumes, colours and prints from the finale episode that is translated into a collection we are very proud to carry and launch on NET-A-PORTER,” says Elizabeth.

Here, we sat down with Tan France for an exclusive interview on his thoughts about fashion, the show and its contestants, and what’s coming up next for Netflix.

Related article: Alexa Chung And Tan France’s ‘Next In Fashion’ Trailer Just Aired

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1) How excited are you to be involved in this project? Tell us how you got started. How did you and Alexa meet? What were your first impressions of Alexa?

I met Alexa at a party for Victoria Beckham in London in February 2019. When we were looking for a co-host for Next in Fashion, she was the perfect fit. She is the ultimate style icon, an incredible fit, so it all made sense. I couldn’t be more excited to work with her on Next in Fashion. It’s the easiest job I’ve ever done despite filming for 15 or 16 hours a day because she makes it so fun and light-hearted. I think our chemistry show on the show.

2) It’s your first time being a judge for a fashion competition series, could you share how
you found that experience and what it was like working with Alexa?

I loved being a judge. I found the process a bit difficult because we became so emotionally involved with the designers, but I felt comfortable in that space with Alexa. Both of us are designers who have had successful brands, so being a judge of design felt like a natural fit. However, I was the one that would do the elimination each week and found that to be really challenging because we cared so much about each of the designers and what they were creating.

3) It was mentioned before that Next in Fashion was created with diversity in mind. How
and why do you think this matters, especially in the current fashion climate?

The production company made sure that the show was diverse by casting designers from across the globe and models who were diverse, but anything that I do I would always want to make sure that there is diversity at the forefront and making sure that it represents everything that Netflix represents which is inclusion and diversity.

4) Knowing that you’re a veteran in the fashion industry (a fashion stylist on popularly-watched Netflix series Queer Eye), how has this journey on Next in Fashion impacted the way you view fashion now?

It didn’t change my view on fashion, but it reignited my absolute passion for design. I haven’t designed in nearly four years because I sold my companies. It reminded me so much of what I loved about it. It’s the creativity; it is the art; it is the self-expression… Everyday I was inspired by what the designers were doing.

5) We saw the episode where you cosplayed as Ariana Grande, where did the idea to do that come from? Tell us how and what inspired you to do Ariana Grande.

It was in a meeting about my “Tan’s Tips” segment and it was for the Streetwear episode and I talked about how the ultimate streetwear queen at the time was Ariana. As it made sense that I would dress as her, literally with just that one mention the production team rushed to action and we were able to create the wig and clothing that day. A little behind-the-scenes notes… the shoes were two sizes too small so I could only stand in them for as long as we shot. As soon as I turned the corner, I fell to the floor. And the wig is purposefully not put on perfectly because I wanted it to be funny which is why you could see my hairline.

6) How do you think this show compares to Project Runway? Or do you think there’s something new which Next in Fashion brings to fashion reality TV?

I absolutely think there is something new. I think the comparison is understandable because these are two fashion competition shows, but I think that is where the similarities end. I think the tone of our show is very different. We are championing positivity at all times. We don’t lean into negativity at all. We want to show that fashion can be fun and positive. Our designers themselves are established designers that have either worked for major fashion houses behind the scenes or they have their own very successful fashion brands like Angel Chen in China.

7) What are your thoughts on Asian fashion and do you think that there’s unexplored talent here?

I am obsessed with Asian fashion and design. When I travel, I often travel to Asia. I visited Shanghai at least 20 times just in the past 10 years. It’s the place that inspires my own wardrobe. I do think that we don’t have as much Asian-inspired design here in the west. But I am glad that we have represented that on Next in Fashion with the likes of Minju Kim and Angel Chen.

Related article: NewGen 2020: You Could Be The Next Big Fashion Designer

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8) Do you have a favourite contestant in Next in Fashion? Can you reveal who’s your favourite and why?

I can’t answer that obviously as I am one of the judges. But you will clearly see who was my favorite in the end when you see who won the show because all of the judges felt unanimously that that person deserved to win.

9) If you could list the top qualities that determine whether a designer is the next big thing in fashion, what would they be?

Honestly there’s just one. Somebody who is thinking differently and uniquely. Someone who is offering us something we don’t see on the runway already. That’s what our winner offered us.

10) What message do you hope to get across with Next in Fashion?

I hope people understand the incredible craft it takes to produce these garments you see on a red carpet or runway. Also that what these designers are doing is creating artwork. I want people to see that there is a fun and positive side to the fashion industry and that it isn’t as cut-throat as one might assume.

11) What’s next for Next in Fashion? Can we expect a second season soon? Do you think there’s a possibility of a spin-off in the future?

It’s early days so we don’t know, but it’s absolutely something we’re praying for!

Catch all episodes of Next in Fashion on Netflix now.

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