Dallas fashionista Gregg Asher leads the ‘charge!’ on ‘Million Dollar Shoppers’
Gregg Asher wants to make one thing perfectly clear: The dress he wears in the premiere episode of the new reality show Million Dollar Shoppers is a man’s garment. And like every bit of clothing he wears, it’s from his own wardrobe.
“I don’t ever wear dresses, but if a designer puts a man’s dress down the runway, I’m gonna wear it!” he proudly crows. There’s something liberating about wearing a one-piece and running around. It’s breathable!”
But, I point out, he ruins the comfort by walking around in 6-inch stilettos.
“Well, you have to keep it real,” Asher concedes. “What can I say? I like to be taller.” (For the record, the dress was the only item of menswear he did have on in that scene, though he’s happily being a gay man — he likes being a gurrrlll, but “I never want to be a girl — I don’t want cramps.”)
Asher sticks out even on the streets of New York City, where much of the series, which begins Thursday, was shot. So you can imagine how, growing up in small-town Arkansas, Asher made an impact digging through bargain bins looking for couture. But the Dallas-based fashionista and personal shopper always likes to have fun with fashion.
“I love sparkle and rhinestones, so I always try to throw some of that in there,” he says. “I have fun with fashion, rather than take it too seriously. I was lighthearted with it — you have to have fun, [especially] when you’re spending that kind of money. Tayler is more like the man of the group and I’m more like Crissy from Three’s Company.”
Tayler is Asher’s best girlfriend “from a hundred years ago,” the second half of the only team on Million Dollar Shoppers, the Weinstein-produced series for Lifetime that, on each episode, matches personal shoppers with clients who have more money than taste, and hopes to show where a retail consulting can up the level of style … with limits.
“This isn’t really a styling show, it’s a shopping show,” he says. “We always do a look-over through [the client’s] closet to see what they love, but if they want a bathing suit and maybe are too old for what they want,” they might suggest something that is more body-flattering than they would choose for themselves.
“I think everyone has their own taste level, and it’s why a lot of these people are open to having people guide them,” he says. But guidance doesn’t always translate into tastefulness.
“The fact is, the woman [in the premiere] was getting an award for philanthropy, and yet she thought it was appropriate to wear a bustier [to the awards banquet]. I can’t even imagine what was going through her mind. It’s not every day you’ll find someone who’s not a hooker who knows where to find a bustier.” (He ended up calling Cyndi Lauper to get her advice.)
Asher admits that the show — which he hasn’t seen yet — doesn’t entirely reflect how personal shoppers really operate. He didn’t pick his clients, for instance, and the producers allowed for more back-and-forth shopping trips to extend the drama. “There are episodes where we did take pictures and send images” to the client, though they may not make the final cut. “But they all really did have money, and they were buying with their credit cards.”
Asher is no novice to reality TV. You can catch him in the background of several different series. In fact, he came to join the cast of MDS when a friend of his was auditioning for The Real Housewives of New York City about five years ago.
“She was not chosen [for Real Housewives], but I was put in the back pocket as a person who had some fashion background. So when they decided [to make MDS], having me was a no-brainer,” he says.
Asher has spent six or seven years personal shopping, originally in Dallas to help out Tayler, who is based in New York. But every few weeks he flies up to assist with her Big Apple clients as well. (He’ll next be in New York the week before the premiere, attending a dinner party held by producer Harvey Weinstein to honor the cast.)
Weinstein’s full-throated support of the show gives Asher hope that a second season will follow the initial six-episode commitment to MDS. If so, it would give him the chance to do something he really wanted to this season: Showcase Dallas ladies.
“Everyone has such faith in it, I think they are already plotting for a second season, and if they do, we’re looking to get two Dallas women to go abroad with us. That’s something to look forward to — it needs some Dallas girls in it,” he says.
He admits he’s slightly nervous about the reaction — reality TV “really opens you up to some scrutiny and criticism,” and his boyfriend, while supportive, “is a little antsy about it all.” But Asher hopes his eye for style comes across as luxurious and opens up more opportunities to share his fashion sense with the world.
“I would love to make a line of products that my family in Arkansas can have a piece of,” he says. “And I have some great looks in me that will blow some minds.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 4, 2013.