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Reality rules couturiers’ runway

TV show set the style

Manhattan’s clicky couturiers and their entourages are a colorful bunch. But for the longest time, any depiction of fashionistas on the smallscreen failed to successfully capture the industry’s over-the-top antics and bitchy fun.

“Fashion had never been portrayed well on television,” Michael Kors says. “For some reason, shows just didn’t get it.”

These days, with long-running hits like CW’s “America’s Next Top Model” and the breakout success of Bravo’s “Project Runway,” cablers are finding viewers can’t get enough of life behind the seams, and the industry’s top players are lining up to become newly minted television stars.

“When we first approached the industry, they pooh-poohed the idea of doing a reality show,” says Ken Mok, exec producer of “Model,” now in its 10th cycle, which was shot in New York City. “Now that our show has helped push fashion into the mainstream, everyone wants to do it.”

Kors, who has been a judge on “Project Runway” all four of its seasons, admits being skeptical at first, but now says, “I thought the audience would be fashion fans and people who love clothes. I had no idea the audience would be as broad as it has been.”

The designer says his star has risen along with the popularity of the show. “Because of ‘Runway,’ we have quite frankly a new generation of fans who had never heard of Michael Kors before.”

Mok and “Runway’s” Desiree Gruber and Jane Cha may make celebs out of their latest fashion finds with “Perfect Fit,” a new reality show they’re producing for the CW, where contestants vie for an editorial job at Elle.

Elle’s creative director Joe Zee and news director Anne Slowey will serve as judges with some “big names” from the industry making guest appearances.

“Runway” made a household name out of recently departed Elle fashion director Nina Garcia. Editor-in-chief Roberta Myers admits participation in these shows is “a calculated risk,” but says so far, for the world’s largest fashion magazine, it’s paid off.

” ‘Runway’ has been a great showcase for the magazine and the brand,” she says. “We’re believers.”

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