Isaac Mizrahi

"Fashion Show" star Isaac Mizrahi. Photo courtesy of Bravo

We admit it: StyleList was feeling a bit been there, done that about the second season of Bravo's "The Fashion Show: Ultimate Collection."

That was until we dialed up runway and QVC designer Isaac Mizrahi to chat about his returning role as the show's mentor/judge, his sartorial charms convinced us the show was worth a second look.

Mizrahi promises more drama thanks to the rivalry between "fashion houses" of aspiring designers -- a new twist this season -- as well as the inspired casting of iconic supermodel Iman as judge/host.

And that's not all. Read on...

StyleList: I have to confess I enjoyed the first episode.
Isaac Mizrahi: I loved it too. It's so ramped up. It's bigger and better and more fun than the first time.

SL: What does this show have that the others don't?
For one thing, it's this incredible Bravo expertise. They created this whole genre. Plus, this idea of two rival fashion houses. It's more real world to have houses compete against each other. Succeeding in fashion has nothing to do with making an umbrella dress or some crazy project.

SL: Iman's clothes are incredible. Did you have a hand in her styling?
IM: Iman dresses herself! She has an entourage of hair, makeup, and accessories people. She needs her own control tower at the airport when she lands for all her fabulous things. She's going to be wearing some amazing designers; there's some Marchesa, some Lanvin. She brings it to the table.

SL: So, no Isaac Mizrahi for her?
IM: Actually, the pink sequin sheath she wears in the promo shots is mine and I think it's fabulous on her.

SL: How did adding Iman change the show?
IM: Her face is legendary, she's an icon. She's been around the block and seen things rise and fall. She does her accessories line for HSN, and she's been in the high fashion world for many, many years. In the end, what I valued most is just her crazy perspective on things. She's so plugged in vis-à-vis the popular culture.

SL: You play the tricky role of judge and mentor. Did you manage to stay objective?
IM: It's a delicate balance. My natural instinct is to take them under my wing, but I can't. I just have to come in and ask a lot of questions and hope the questions guide them. You'll see me say things like, "I thought I told you to go simple." I modeled my role on what Tom Colicchio does on "Top Chef."

SL: Did you learn anything new about fashion from the contestants?
IM: It re-taught me a lesson: in fashion, sometimes you just never know how things are going to turn out or who's going to have the next great idea. I was quite ready to write some of these contestants off, and the next thing I know, I was completely dazzled.

SL: Was there a dream judge or muse you wanted for the show?
IM: We had Rachel Roy on the first episode and she's fabulous. There were a few designers I wished could come on. [Lanvin creative director] Alber Elbaz just couldn't make it work, and Marc Jacobs. But we have a lot of celebrities. We had Johnny Weir judge, and he is fashion itself. Mary J. Blige is there in the end, and c'mon, how good does it get?

SL: You have a "Real Housewives of New Jersey" versus the "Real Housewives of Orange County" challenge. Was it a fashion smackdown?
IM: It was so fabulous and a great leveler for the contestants because as amazing as these ladies are, they are not models. They have a slightly bigger body, and let's face it, there's a lot of enhancement. They are average women with larger than average breasts, egos, and personalities.

SL: Do you have a favorite "Real Housewives" outpost?
IM: New York. There's just this smart balance of high glamour and low glamour. When everyone looks like Charo, it's boring.

"The Fashion Show: Ultimate Collection," airs Tuesdays at 10/9 C.

Speaking of surgically enhanced "Real Housewives," read our chat with Atlanta's Kim Zolciak.