One of the main points of focus of TCA critics during Ovation’s “The Fashion Fund” panel was how the series (Jan 22 premiere) will differ from Bravo’s hit “Project Runway,” which has spawned other fashion-contest-based series. It couldn’t be further from Project Runway, argued Steven Kolb, CEO, Council of Fashion Designers.

The Fashion Fund is not a creation of television, he said. It was started 10 years ago by the Council and Vogue magazine to help people who’ve already logged at least 2 years as working designers and delivered clothes to stores. Runway’s contestants are aspiring designers. Another difference from Runway: the Fund announced its awardees before the series will begin running on Ovation. In that respect, Kolb said, it’s a docu-series, not a reality show.

Further departures from the reality playbook: the series will not focus on the personalities of the contestants or the judges, he said. Nobody gets eliminated or yelled at. “There’s a lot of TV about fashion that’s reality [TV] and that’s something we were not interested in. We really wanted to show the business of fashion and the talent of the designers that have gone through this program.” Among the fund’s judges are Vogue editor Anna Wintour and designer Diane von Furstenberg. One of the series’ highlights is watching the judges interacting with the young designers. “You really get to see from the designers’ perspectives the creative process,” Kolb said.

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