Alibi V.16 No.48 • Nov 29-Dec 5, 2007 

Idiot Box

The Girlie Show

“Fashionably Late with Stacy London” on TLC

Outspoken fashion commentator Stacy London is best known for her work alongside Clinton Kelly on TLC’s clothing-conscious makeover show “What Not to Wear.” There are plenty of makeover shows crowding the airwaves these days, but “What Not to Wear” stands out for its personality, its sense of humor and its downright practical advice to some of America’s most poorly dressed individuals. (Plus, it’s just fun to razz clueless people and their god-awful sense of style.)

Now, London is now seeking to parlay her fame by creating the world’s first fashion-based talk show. ... Although, for all I know, there could be dozens of them over on the Style Network. My interest in fashion is limited, and the fact that I find “Fashionably Late” more than fitfully entertaining says quite a bit about the show, its producers and its host.

Patterned (so to speak) after your typical late-night chat show, “Fashionably Late” sets a fine after-dinner mood. London is loose and dishy, and her set resembles a cross between a New York loft and a trendy nightclub. The set actually includes a wet bar (complete with hunky bartender), and London isn’t averse to sharing a shot with guests before the interview segments (which may also contribute to the show’s loose feel.)

London doesn’t start off with a monologue exactly, but she frequently pops into the audience to analyze clothing choices, talk shop or bestow Oprah-like gifts (lots of handbags, shoes and coats). In-between gabbing with models/actresses (Rebecca Romijn) or actresses/models (Mariel Hemingway), London mixes things up with in-studio segments (giving audience members makeovers or hosting impromptu fashion shows) and pre-recorded bits (a visit to a makeup factory, for example).

Over her years on “What Not to Wear,” London has crafted a recognizable television personality, complete with catchphrase (the interjectional “Shut up!”). She milks it more than usual here, but I suspect the “Chatty Cathy life of the party” isn’t far off London’s day-to-day persona. She wouldn’t look all that out of place on “Sex and the City,” but she’d be more attractive, funnier and certainly better dressed than the four leads. There’s no arguing that London knows her way around fashion and she isn’t above dumping on stupid trends. One recurring show segment even allows ordinary Manhattanites to “road test” cresting fashion trends, deciding whether or not assorted haute couture concepts (trash bag dresses?) should make the transition from runway to sidewalk.

With its cute shoes, cocktail recipes and clothing talk, “Fashionably Late” feels like a good, old-fashioned girls’ night in. Although she occasionally mentions men’s fashion, and will sometimes give tips on how to dress your beau, there isn’t a lot here for the straight men in the audience (aside from ogling the occasional model-slash-whatever). Nonetheless, like its host, “Fashionably Late” is stylish, sassy and fun to spend an hour or so in the company of.

“Fashionably Late” airs every Friday at 8 p.m. on TLC.