"Stylista," which begins on Wednesday on CW, is selling itself as "The Devil Wears Prada" in reality-television form. But it may even surpass its predecessor as a treatise on the empty ambition and distaste for civility that girds so much of Seventh Avenue. "Stylista" shows that catfighting in the fashion world doesn't always have to bow to cliché. People are apparently capable of annihilating each other in novel ways. You can do so much better than "that dress makes you look like a Buick" if you really, really try.
Consider Ashlie, one of the show's 11 contestants for a junior editor job at Elle magazine and one year's free rent. Early on, she looks into the camera and disparages one of her undermining rivals in Devil-worship terms: "She is horrific. The girl is the double spawn. Like don't try to act like, you know what I mean, all innocent. You're Rosemary's baby. Accept it."
A few seconds later, Ashlie takes her grievance directly to the source, telling her enemy, Megan, that she is "Satan's little hand foot maiden."
Ashlie seems to thrive on confrontation, and it is hard to know why, given her particular gifts, she is selling out to the gods of Balenciaga when she seems to have such a bright future producing political attack ads.