All On The Line S2E3: Kathy Wilson Atelier

Posted on December 12, 2011

Meet Erik and Kathy Wilson. At first, they were giving off the “bitch and doormat” vibe, but they managed to subvert our expectations.

Kathy is a chic little number herself and is struggling to get her line off the ground.

Erik is deferring plans for law school and Kathy has one more chance to make her fashion career work before she has to pick it up and let her husband have a shot at his dreams. In other words, it’s ALL ON THE LINE. Thematically pure! That’s how we like our reality TV, bitches!

Together, they make bland clothes!

Or rather, she makes bland clothes and he blandly nods his approval of her bland clothes. And who does Doctor Zee call to help shock these two out of their blandstravaganza?


Adam Lambert; that’s who. Kathy is charged with designing a piece for him. He says he wants to change his style a bit.

She comes up with this:

Now, we have to say, we like the design quite a bit, though it’s not without its issues. That detail on the shoulder is interesting but a bit overdone.

And it looks better from the front than it does from the side or back.

Everyone in the room loved it, but we sat there watching with big question marks over our heads. Didn’t he say something about wanting to change his style a bit? Come on now. If you held that jacket up to anyone on the street and asked them who it looked like, they’d all say “Adam Lambert.” She gave him something exactly in his existing style.

Next up: focus group of opinionated women. Heaven. We want to grab a coffee with these bitches on the way out and make fun of what the receptionist is wearing. Anyway, they all say the same thing: Kathy has a cute and sassy personal style but her line is as exciting as room-temperature milk.

Joe gets her an appointment with buyers from Scoop and she has several design meltdowns in a row over it, desperately casting about for something that looks hip and not quite hitting the mark each time.

Eventually, Joe, ever the master stylist, realizes that the simplicity of her menswear means it goes from bland to chic when styled for women. He urges her to make only a small line of womenwear for the Scoop meeting and she falls apart again. The good news is that throughout this process her husband grew a set of balls and she became much more sympathetic to his feelings about his deferred career. So we got a meltdown, but not in the typical “she’s a bitch and he’s a wimp” setup that reality TV tends to trade in. Even though they were as frustrating as any of Joe’s “clients,” we had to admire them both a little for immediately understanding what the other one was going through and needed.

But in the end, she still only managed to show up with some very basic pieces. Joe worked some styling voodoo and turned what looked like a sales rack at Banana Republic into something quite hip and modern. In other words, he saved their asses.

Case in point: you can barely even see the dress when she first comes out. Joe styled it up to make it look fresh. Although it’s a cute dress on its own. It’s just that it’s too plain.


Very chic little look, but again, it’s all styling.


We can’t say we loved the way this looked. The fit was awful and given what we presume the price point would be, it’s not a very rich-looking fabric.


That is a genuinely great little top. The styling sells it, of course, but not so much as to detract from what a good piece it is on its own.


Full-on Annie Hall drag, right down to Joe ripping his own tie off at the last second in order to give this look some life. The results here are, sadly, more a testament to his skill as a stylist than to hers as a designer.

Joe’s like Fashion MacGyver. Next week, he makes a pair of sandals out of his belt and wallet!


It’s just all right. We really don’t like the proportions of the shorts.


In the end, they’re “in negotiations” with Scoop, which sound a bit tenuous. Sometimes styling can make or break a line. There’s no crime in the fact that Joe singlehandedly saved it for her. What she really needs to figure out now is how to do the kinds of well-made classics that she favors but make them look chic and up-to-the-minute, stylewise. Doctor Joe can’t come around every season and work his magic for you, honey.



Please review our Community Guidelines before posting a comment. Thank you!

  • angela rose

    these two were actually a bit of a snoozefest. and it’s one thing to include your partner, but he’s not the designer.  I think trying too hard to work together actually got in her way.  on the other hand, his opinions about what she had already designed were quite spot on. 

    overall impression: 3 yawns.

  • angela rose

    these two were actually a bit of a snoozefest. and it’s one thing to include your partner, but he’s not the designer.  I think trying too hard to work together actually got in her way.  on the other hand, his opinions about what she had already designed were quite spot on. 

    overall impression: 3 yawns.

    • I always think of what they’d get if they tried dragging my husband on-camera because his money was going into my work.  He’d be sitting there going, “I don’t know.  That’s her department.”

  • MilaXX

    The Adam Lambert jacket looked like his regular stuff. I would have loved to have seen her make him a classically styled jacket. Adam’s a tall guy and I would have love to see him in some old school glam. As for the line, this was one person who would have done well designing for herself. As mentioned she had a great personal style. As for Joe Zee, I couldn’t love him more. I actually cheered when he whipped his tie off and started styling those looks within and inch of life.

    • Oh, couldn’t you just see him in full Cary Grant drag?

      • You’ve got the Drag part right

      • Anonymous

        He’d be swoon worthy. Or even more swoon worthy, perhaps.

        Cary Grant with eyeliner. The possibilities . . . .

    • Do you watch American Idol? He did some old school glam the week they had to sing standards. He looked amazing. It’s easy to miss because of the make-up and the hair, but Adam is one of those guys who can pull of just about any look.

      • MilaXX

        more of an occasional AI viewer, but if he wanted a different look, that seemed like a no brainer

        • Anonymous

          I can imagine the image someone conjures for me, and (sometimes) remember something I’ve seen, but I can’t look at someone and conjure up in my  mind what would work for them. I find it fascinating when people can.

          (And every time I try to see the Adam Lambert underneath the makeup, all I come up with is a very Joe Average guy with nice eyes and a good enough build to wear clothes who might have played JV sports in high school. Maybe varsity if the school wasn’t very big, but he still wouldn’t be fast enough to be a star.)

  • Maria Rosenfire

    Joe Zee is a god. Look at his fabulous, tieless little self, watching like a proud mama duck as his boring little designers send their bland (but really quite wearable– I’d totally buy a few of those if they were less expensive) looks down the not-runway.

    • MilaXX

      I agree that lavender dress is cute, but the fabric looks like a cotton blend & I wouldn’t pay more than $75 for it, preferably less than that.

  • sweetlilvoice

    Good episode. I’m glad they got rid of that little bitch fest between the guy and Joe. That was tiresome. I doubt that the deal goes through with this couple, as the one buyer said “We don’t have a stylist on hand to pull the looks together at the store.”

    It was nice to see a couple that were decent folks after that disastrous episode with the lingerie designing couple who refused to take any of Joe’s advice and just showed crap.

  • Anonymous

    Joe Zee totally saved her ass because this was all about the styling.  As standalone pieces, they’re not bad and might be pretty marketable at a low enough price point.  I could see some of them on the racks at Banana Republic.  But I think her work is too bland and boring to sustain a company.

    I agree that the hubby should have had a say in the business operations, since his money is funding it and he’s deferring law school.  But he’s not a designer and it seems odd and inappropriate to have him commenting on design elements and helping with the clothes.

  • “Joe’s like Fashion MacGyver. Next week, he makes a pair of sandals out of his belt and wallet!”

    T-Lo, you have made my afternoon with those two sentences. Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    There isn’t one piece here that is innovative.  Given $400 and a week, I could manage to find and purchase pieces that replicate these looks.  I love this show but am always shaking my head at the end wondering what makes these people worthy of this opportunity.

    • It seems like the designer’s that are worthy turn out whacko in some way at the end. What I can’t get over are the ones that come late to the meetings!

      • Like the people who didn’t call?!?!  I do get that sometimes one is unavoidably detained, no matter how important the occasion, but how are you not on the phone giving constant updates?

  • Anonymous

    Haven’t seen the show, but my gut reaction is that everyone is not cut out to be the face of a design firm. Someone has to design those basic basics found in every department store under various names, none of them famous. Honey, it sounds like it’s time to give your husband a shot at his dreams.

  • Anonymous

    I liked that we finally had a designer who didn’t show up late for the appointment with the buyer!!!

    And yes, Joe definitely worked magic in the styling, but I can’t say I care for belts that are slung around pubic level.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not as sold as everyone else on the show was about that Adam Lambert jacket. It looks like something a maitre d’ would wear on Deep Space Nine. 

  • scottyf

    Things that make watching AOTL fun for me:

    1. Joe Zee is hot.
    2. Joe Zee knows a lot about the Business of Fashion. I learn a lot.
    3.Seeing creative people on Reality TV who are more interested in Craft, than becoming a D-list celebrity.

    Things that make watching AOTL hard for me:

    1. Trying to scrape up enough empathy for Kathy and Erik’s financial plight while drooling over their FIERCE multi-room flat in Brooklyn.
    2. Not getting angry over the fact that Kathy and Erik have never been to Africa, yet name their garments after clothing that in no way shape or form reflects the culture or places referenced.
    3. Working up any anxiety or angst for Joe every time he tries to convince us that his reputation is at stake if the buyers don’t like his client’s line.

    And most difficult thing about watching AOTL:

    4. Trying to suspend disbelief that Joe and Keith Pollack aren’t jumping each other’s bones in the nearest broom closet every time the camera cuts.

    Just thought I’d share. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Oh yeah, the Africa names drove me nuts as well. 

    • Anonymous

      thank you. i wanted to slap them for the africa stuff. i didnt see the big brooklyn apartment. had i seen it, it would have only encouraged me to slap them more.

    • “Not getting angry over the fact that Kathy and Erik have never been to
      Africa, yet name their garments after clothing that in no way shape or
      form reflects the culture or places referenced.”

      I was really put off by that. They didn’t seem like complete morons, so I was surprised they didn’t realize how bizarre that was. Joe looked at them like they had lobsters coming out of their ears, but they didn’t pick up on it.

    • Now I am The Bee

      And once again, Scotty–this is why I love you. 

  • Mary McClelland

    This was the first time with this show where I really felt Joe missed the mark. I usually think he instinctively understands there is a great designer in there, thus understanding a company that will like their aesthetic and be interested in their designs. Sometimes the designers doubt themselves too much to make much of his advice or he believes in them more than they believe in themselves, but this time I don’t think this designer had any edge or spunk and I don’t think Scoop was the boutique for her.

    I wish he would procured a buyers appt with J.Crew or Banana Republic because THAT is this girl’s medium. She is not hip. She is not fashion-forward. She is a talented seamstress with an eye for safe basics that are a great market and important products but NOT the product line at Scoop.

    See she made BR clothes. And they would have been ga-ga for them especially with the styling. And let’s talk about that. Once Scoop realizes that her entire line save for that one cute top is all smoke and mirrors negotiations are going to be off. Or perhaps they purchase THIS collection but next season when she produces another line of staid boring basics found at any mass retailer for a fraction of the price in fabrics that are hardly anything miraculous I am sure Scoop will not renew.

    Hip and trendy isn’t her thing. That’s fine, but Joe should not have encouraged her to pursue it, nor deluded her into believing it was easily attainable for her season after season. I think the fact that middle-aged celebs have favored her designs says it all.

  • Anonymous

    That jacket for La Lambert was EXACTLY what everyone expects him to wear.  Black? check. Overly designed “edgy” details? check. Too tight? check.  Ugly? check.  I don’t watch this show so I can’t comment on the boring clothes but I will say, being in the same boat myself all my life, La Lambert has a fat girl in him SCREAMING to get out.  One day, in the not to distant future…… BAM!  He’ll be William Shatner or Alec Baldwin.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, he has that look.

      But maybe he’ll be the exception and learn the virtues of rigorous exercise & small portions before the first 50 lb weight gain.  It’s a joyless thing to do continual battle just to stay 10-15 lbs. over where you’d like to be, but I like to think some of us in that boat will beat the general trend.

  • Anonymous

    I have never seen a show or read an article that taught me how important good styling is as well as this one.  Joe Zee: styling genius!

    I just don’t know whether Kathy has what it takes to have a career as designer of her own line. She has a lot of personal style, but she is in love with safety.  As the Adam Lambert challenge made all too clear.

  • Anonymous

    I’d like to know what happened to that Namibia dress. The drawing was quite a stylish dress….and then it turned into that ‘sister-wife has a night out’ thing.
    Assuming she does get an order from Scoop, I’m betting on a one season wonder. She truly seemed incapable of designing anything stylish on her own.

    • Anonymous

      weird, right? many of the drawings don’t match the actual clothes.

    • I know! It could be an OK, though not great, dress. It’s a popular style at the moment, with the empire waist and the short, flowy sleeves (I hate those sleeves), but the fabric she used is horrible.  Total “sister-wife-has-a-night-out”; or, if I’m being kind, Karen Lynn Gorney in Saturday Night Fever.

      • Now I am The Bee

        Yeah no kidding.  That dress–I wore it out to the disco in 1978 because it was so close to what the dancer wore in SNF.  I was so cool back then….

      • Anonymous

        YES. I had a very, very similar dress in a black & white  print.

  • I think maybe hubby should go on to law school.

  • Anonymous

    She is biological-girl Olivieriririrrier.

  • Anonymous

    That lavendar dress is horribly made.  I don’t get how designers allow work that shoddy to be shown with their name on it.   

    I’m sad to say that I don’t see Kathy continuing in the business.  She does not have a modern vision much less one that’s hip.  Joe was so right about how adorable and chic she is personally and yet she cannot translate that to her own line.  Based on what we saw, I highly doubt we will see her clothes in Scoop any time soon. But I liked her and her husband so much that I hope I am wrong.

    • Too often, people start out designing before learning to sew.  I truly believe that you are better off learning to MAKE clothes before learning to DESIGN clothes, because everyone I know who sews (after pillows) made clothes for themselves first, allowing them to see what worked and what didn’t, for them personally and narrowing their style accordingly.

  • Anonymous

    Ugh, why can’t I find this show on TV?  

  • Anonymous

    I hope Erik is working on his law school applications.  I think his time has come.

  • Anonymous

    Joe’s like Fashion MacGyver. Next week, he makes a pair of sandals out of his belt and wallet!

    He should be on PA then!

    I hope Erik gets into law school because yeeesh. that cute top y’all love looks like something from Forever 21

  • Sal

    their work was SO BORING and PLAIN. Luckily Keith pollock’s delightful derriere kept my attention through out the entire episode.

  • So many times, I find myself wanting the outfits the designers are wearing rather than what they are selling. What gets lost between a cool personal style and bland clothes?

    • Anonymous

      The ability to design and/or construct said ‘cute’ clothes. A great stylist or even just a great shopper is a far different creature. 

    • A lot of it is the ability to know your customer — it seems to me that she’s defaulting to these bland pieces in an effort to make something every woman wants.  Which is not how a major label works.  You have to find the pieces that some women will forgo food to own, at the price of the some other women who won’t it at all.  Because those basics can be purchased cheaper from non-designer labels. 

      Also, really look at what she’s wearing.  Take away her hair, her face, her accessories and just look at the individual pieces.  They aren’t that stunningly interesting or innovative. Much of her style is just that — style, not wardrobe.

      • Anonymous

        Huh, somehow I missed your comment & said the exact same thing. Only less knowledgeably.

    • Anonymous

      Plus, I sometimes think designers aren’t afraid to go ahead and Make the Statement in their own attire, but they are trying to make what they sell “more accessible,” or they are targeting a market that they don’t really have a great feeling for.

      A number of Project Runway designers appeared week after week dressed wonderfully in stuff they made themselves, while trotting out models clad in garments that were lackluster at best.

  • Now I am The Bee

    THese people are not designers.  SHe is a seamstress and he should go to law school.  Yes–someone has to design all the basics that we own, but don’t they have little interns and students to do that?  I like tis couple, and I feel bad about the con man who took them for 25K (I’ve had freinds who fell for the sme thing–just dispicible that someone would do that…) but I saw nothing she designed that was exciting.  Even the cute lavendar dress was horribly made–a symptom of not giving it enough time. 
    So–I hope they do well, but alas, I don’t think they will. 

    Also–nothing annoys me more than seeing a Maybeline commercial loosely disguised as a make-up consultation.  They do that on PR and PA as well and it bugs the hell outta me.  Isn’t it enough that thier commercials are on every single break??  Sheeesh! 

  • Anonymous

    I felt Joe’s styling swamped some of the looks. And I’m confused. Where was the pretty b&w dress that was earlier on in the ep? Why were the men’s clothes not recut to better suit a woman? Why did those horrid shorts remain horrid when they had time to regig?

    I liked this pair, though. They were professional and communicated with each other in a real, loving, respectful way.

    Also, Joe describing a Scoop woman as ‘tanned’ was hilarious. She was orange! Donald Trump orange. The only thing in the world that tans that colour is an actual orange!

  • TN

    Eric Wilson is super cute, and very hot, and definitely has the demeanor of a military man.  Onto the fashion, I don’t mind it, I think it would sell great in like Macy’s, but maybe not Scoop.  I think they can make money off of their current collection, since Kathy is in this situation, I think she has to think would she rather make money or work on something young and cute?  Since she looks like she can’t do both, according to Joe.