Jessica Simpson Swim Fashion Show

A thin layer of what appeared to be industrial-size Saran-Wrap covered the runway, but it surely wasn't the only plastic present at the debut of Jessica Simpson’s new bathing suit line at the Raleigh Hotel Saturday, July 14. Before the show started surgically-enhanced, wanna-be models strutted up and down the white catwalk, skillfully gliding through the preparatory chaos of silver (or sailor, depending on your perspective) tongued photogs and head-set clad PR girls on the verge of Red Bull induced melt-downs. Perhaps it was the backlash of the previous night’s stigma (Friday the 13th), but extremely odd music played as the masses slowly squeezed inside the narrow, white room showered in femme sky-blue and hot pink lights.

Photo by Jamie Puntumkhul

A tune that distinctly stood out was Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”, an obvious but playful jab at the present media who have in the past few years taken Simpson from lime to spotlight -- souring only a handful of relationships along the way. This is why it was confusing that “Respect” was followed by a Maroon 5 song whose lead singer, Adam Levine, was briefly linked to Simpson shortly after her divorce to Nick Lachey. Perhaps Simpson was trying to further establish a point, but if this were true, wouldn’t “You’re Body is a Wonderland” by John Mayer be more fitting? Even weirder in this musical trilogy of mixed messages was Madonna’s “Holiday,” which Simpson was accused of ripping-off in her single “A Public Affair.”

Yet, there was one thing Simpson was very clear about as The Guess Who’s version of “American Woman” blared overhead and models with meatless rib cages began working the runway – her love for “Don’t Mess with Texas” aesthetics. Models in red, white, and blue suits donned with polka-dots, denim, and nautical stripes for every body type sashayed down the catwalk, each paired with cheesy Lone Star accessories like cowboy boots and Stetsons. Yet, the theme soon died with the conclusion of “American Woman” and Prince’s “Kiss” picked up the pace, creating an entirely new vibe which can only be described as a big, hot mess.

Simpson – who revealed during the after-party press junket that she had worked very closely on the line with her mother, Tina Simpson – did manage to get a few things right. More conservative suits looked more Jessica and less Tina, and a leopard print one-piece paired with a belt (because who doesn't need a belt at the beach?) garnered applause. Yet, despite all the cuteness, there were a few pieces that demonstrated the singer’s questionable taste. Two bikinis, for instance, with ruffled skirt bottoms (most likely designed for ladies with hip and thigh issues) seemed more appropriate for a chimpanzee dressing up as a woman rather than an actual woman. And, even after the southwestern style segment that dominated the first quarter of the show, there was still a lot of help to be had in the accessories department. Two of the hats literally looked like poofy shower loofas, minus the rope and an accompanying bottle of moisturizing soap. Not to mention there was not one design that you wouldn’t be able to find at a Target or Marshalls.

The true cherry topping this train wreck of togetherness were scrolls that models threw into the audience at the end of the show. The scrolls revealed a cheaply illustrated replicas of tabloid covers. The faux covers featured phony pictures and headlines about Simpson, such as “The Secret Behind her Wig Line” floating above a picture of a bald Jessica Simpson. Also emphasized on the top of the phony rag, was a bold headline that read “Lies and Stripes: Jessica Simpson”, which confirmed the badly executed theme of the show and the star’s C+ attempt at humor which, backed with her constant usage of unclear punch lines, probably reflected her high school report card. -- Elyse Wanshel

CLICK HERE to check out a slideshow of the event.

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