"What Not to Wear" is a reality show in which the unsuspecting fashion-challenged have their personal styles critiqued and corrected by style experts Stacy London and Clinton Kelly. The show typically begins with footage of the victim, er, subject going about his or her normal routine, which is abruptly interrupted by cameras, lights, and a crowd of friends and family (subjects are nominated by loved ones) who announce that the participant is a poor dresser -- and everyone knows it.
Participants' initial reactions of shock and horror are softened by the offer of an all-expense paid trip to New York, $5,000 to spend on a new wardrobe, a fashion consultation, and a hair and make-up styling (on Friday's special cruise episode, the New York trip is replaced by shopping at scheduled ports of call). The prize is awarded in exchange for complete fashion submission -- participants must agree to have their tasteless clothes criticized and then thrown out by Stacy and Clinton (ugly apparel gets dumped in a big trash can for dramatic effect, but the clothes are actually donated) and allow the TLC fashion team to completely transform their look.
Kearns, 42, a data manager and single mother, boarded Norwegian Gem for her seven-day Bahamas cruise with no knowledge of her impending venture into reality television; Kearns' best friend and cousin, who accompanied her on the cruise, nominated her for the show. While Kearns was lounging in the atrium, secret pre-recorded footage of her fashion faux pas began playing on the atrium's two-deck-high LED screen. Kearns was then ambushed by the "What Not to Wear" style team, a camera crew and style expert Stacy London (Clinton Kelly could not make the sailing, an NCL spokeswoman tells us).
So how did Kearns react when the "What Not to Wear" crew surprised her in the atrium? You'll have to watch the one-hour episode, premiering tomorrow, to find out if she smiles graciously or runs to the bathroom in tears before accepting her prize: the chance to shop for more dapper duds in Port Canaveral and Nassau under new fashion guidelines. What we can tell you is that the episode features plenty of footage of Norwegian Gem, including the Bliss Ultra Lounge, Bar Central, the spa, the pool deck and Stardust Theatre (where the big reveal of her new look took place in front of her fellow cruisers).
While Norwegian Gem is an appropriate ship to host "What Not to Wear" -- the newest addition to NCL's fleet was marketed as the line's glamorous and trendy "It" girl when it debuted in 2007 -- NCL is no stranger to reality TV. Style Network's "How Do I Look?" shot a special wedding-themed episode aboard Pride of Hawaii in 2006. Other reality shows that have recently taken to the sea include "America's Next Top Model" (which shot an episode onboard Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas in 2007) and Food Network's "Dinner: Impossible" (which went cruising with Princess during last year's Alaska season).
--by Caroline Costello, Editorial Assistant