Why Vogue Chose Ovation TV for Its Reality Series With Anna Wintour

Five Other Networks Were Interested in the Show

By Published on .

When Vogue Editor Anna Wintour shows up this December in "The Fashion Fund," she won't appear on a high-profile network such as Bravo or A&E, but on the lesser-known art channel Ovation TV -- a station that Time Warner Cable dropped earlier this year.

Anna Wintour in 'The Fashion Fund'
Anna Wintour in 'The Fashion Fund'

In "The Fashion Fund," Ms. Wintour is one of several fashion bigwigs who select the 2013 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. The competition, now in its 10th year, pits 10 emerging designers against one another as they vie for a $300,000 grant. An earlier iteration of "The Fashion Fund," which offers a behind the scenes look at the competition, ran on Hulu.com and Vogue.com in 2012.

When the six-episode show moves to traditional TV, it will be on a network that appears in roughly 50 million homes nationwide, about half as many that receive Bravo and A&E. But the Conde Nast title selected Ovation in part because the network would celebrate fashion as an art form.

But Conde Nast Entertainment said Ovation is "the perfect home for the series."

Conde Nast Entertainment, Vogue and the CFDA, which stands for Council of Fashion Designers of America, worked with Break Thru Films to produce the series of six hour-long episodes.

Vogue certainly had its share of suitors for the show. Five other well-known TV networks were interested in "The Fashion Fund," a person close to the company said. But the Conde Nast title selected Ovation -- which had approached the magazine about the partnership -- because it felt the network would celebrate fashion as an art form.

Conde Nast Entertainment declined to name the other networks.

"Ovation is the right brand and environment for this series which focuses on the real story behind these talented designers in their quest to build a business and earn respect among the top executives and designers in the fashion industry," said Dawn Ostroff, president of Conde Nast Entertainment said in a statement.

The partnership with Ovation, and another between Vanity Fair and Discovery Communications announced on July 29, is part of Conde Nast Entertainment's mission to enter traditional TV. Two years ago, the company hired Ms. Ostroff, a former TV executive, to run the business. "The Fashion Fund" and "Vanity Fair Confidential," a crime documentary that will run on Investigation Discovery channel, marks Conde's first steps into TV.

Ovation, meanwhile, has been in a rebuilding phase since Time Warner Cable knocked the station from its lineup in January. The cable operator's decision led to layoffs at Ovation, according to published reports, and a revamping of sorts.

Since January, Ovation has adopted the tagline "Art Everywhere" and sought to broaden its coverage of the arts with more original programming.

"We need to make sure both consumer and other businesses know we are an arts network," said Robert Weiss, Ovation's chief creative officer. "Art is part of our everyday lives. It isn't just ballet and operas, but fashion, movies, museums, hairstyles."

While Bravo and A&E have moved away from their focus in the arts to become more pop-culture and broad entertainment networks, Mr. Weiss believes there is still a market for art that appeals to millennials. But he is careful not to cross over into reality TV and insists Ovation's nonfiction programming will be documentary-driven.

In a press announcing its partnership with Conde Nast Entertainment, Mr. Weiss referred to "The Fashion Fund," as the "real deal."

"There have been a lot of fashion competition series on television, but nothing comes close to matching the authenticity and talent found in 'The Fashion Fund,'" he said.

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