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Tommy Hilfiger tranforms Erika Van Pelt, can't help Philip Phillips on 'American Idol'

Erika Van Pelt was practically unrecognizable on Wednesday

Erika Van Pelt was practically unrecognizable on Wednesday night's "American Idol." She got a new sleek, jet black, short cut -- and an all-black outfit to match. (March 21, 2012) Credit: Fox

Tommy Hilfiger, whose clothing has been labeled "Americana Prep," has made no secret about his other passion: Music.

He's worked with artists from Britney Spears to the Rolling Stones. So when it was announced Hilfiger had been named "image adviser" for "American Idol," many were curious to see what he could do to amp up the contestants' looks.

Hilfiger started off with DeAndre Brackensick and right away, told him to let his hair down, saying, "Who has that hair? Nobody else has that hair." As for his outfit, the designer said they didn't want to do "too much." "We want to give you a look ... a look that enhances the look that you've got already," Hilfiger said. The result wasn't anything exciting, much like his performance of Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young." Some tight, black jeans and a black leather jacket with what looked like a sleeveless, white leather vest layered on top. I didn't get the point of the shades hanging off his V-neck tee. But he did look comfortable in the clothes. And he did listen to Hilfiger and kept the curls loose.

Hilfiger took on Erika Van Pelt next. Again, he started off with comments about hair, saying her current style takes away from her look. He asked Erika about which artist she most admired and she replied  Pink. With that in mind, Hilfiger suggested a punk cut. "It could be amazing." And Erika was totally up for the change. The piece was clearly edited down and there was no mention of what she'd be wearing, though they did show a quick clip of Erika at the salon getting her new 'do but saved it all for the big reveal.

And boy, what a change! She was practically unrecognizable. She got a sleek, jet black, short cut -- and an all-black outfit to match. It was a huge transformation. She looks a lot more polished and put together. Her cropped leather jacket with colorful crystals on the lapels and the skinny, black jeans were figure-flattering and trendy. It seemed Erika's new look gave her even more confidence. She sounded great and got kudos from the judges on her performance and her style. Seems like Hilfiger was spot on with his advice for Erika.

Joshua Ledet said having Hilfiger on the show was going to be "so much fun" and when they met, Joshua showed the designer an outfit he brought along, also all black, like Erika's look. But Hilfiger said he thinks Joshua "is more special than that," and suggested a tux, maybe a black-tie look for the young singer. Hilfiger says "by dressing him up," he'll look more polished. "Cleanly polished, he's going to look like a very experienced superstar," Hilfiger said.

Joshua started singing Joel's "She's Got a Way" sitting down, so it was tough to get a good look at what Hilfiger did. Once he got up though, we saw he was wearing all black, but not exactly black tie, like Hilfiger had proposed. He wore a skinny black tie with a white stripe and crystals on it, like what guys wore in the '80s, and, like with DeAndre's look, I was kind of underwhelmed. Also, it looked like he was not even wearing a matching suit. It might just be the lights, but the black pants didn't seem to be the same shade of black as the jacket. I think it fell a little short of the polished look Hilfiger was aiming for with him. And, disappointingly, the performance was a little lackluster as well.

Who knew -- country singer Skylar Laine is a big Diddy fan! She acted downright giddy over Diddy when she met him. And she also said she was "really excited to work with one of the biggest designers in the world." First thing Hilfiger noticed about Skylar, of course, were her boots. He said he wants to "evolve" her look without abandoning the boot idea ... he wants to "celebrate" country-western because it's a big part of America, and he wants to make it a little more glamorous. He put her in a cropped leather jacket and a snakeskin print tunic over black leggings ... but what? No boots? She had a pair of black, high-heel pumps on instead. But she looked cute and her outfit was age-appropriate and on trend. Not sure about the earrings ... maybe there was a two-for-one-sale or something, but they look very similar to the long, silver dangling ones Erika had on earlier.

When it was Elise Testone's turn with Hilfiger, one of the first observations he made was that she's all "layered up" and "hiding her body." The designer said that's a big no-no. I think a bigger no-no was the woolly cap she was wearing when she met with Diddy, but that's another story. Once they got down to business, and Hilfiger found out she likes the look of the '60s and '70s, the designer suggested high-waisted bell-bottoms (and that's not surprising since he got his start in the business selling bell-bottoms). Elise said she was really excited Hilfiger "kind of got her" and the designer said he hoped there would be transformation from head to toe. But once again, like with the boots he suggested for Skylar, the bell-bottoms are nowhere to be seen. Instead, she hit the stage in a merlot-colored, deep-V, maxi dress with a long, sleeveless, chiffon vest and it suited her. She looked good, but not what everyone was expecting after the consultation.

Philip Phillips is up next. And during their style consultation, Hilfiger does not sugarcoat his opinion. "Not to be rude,' he says, "but I think you need some help." The singer takes it gracefully and says "I'm just like a simple kind of guy." He says he just wants to "bring the music first." He's got his priorities right, but as Jennifer Lopez and many others have pointed out, "the whole package is important." Philip brought out his collection of gray tops to show the designer, to which Hilfiger commented "Gray is the worst color to wear on stage because it's very drab, it's very boring, very dull." Hilfiger drove home the point by saying that voters might be influenced by not just what they hear, but what they see. "I think America might not vote the same because they are not looking at a star." Harsh, but he might have a point.

But yet, when it comes time for the performance, there's Phillip, wearing all gray! The crowd, and the judges, don't seem to care much about his look after he's done. They won't stop clapping and cheering. As Lopez told him "You are who you are and you have to be who you are. And that's it." Steven Tyler says "I'm glad you are wearing gray," and then tries to help him out by throwing him one of his glittery scarves to wear. Hilarious!

Hollie Cavanaugh did a 180 in the wardrobe department this week. Last week, Jimmy Iovine said the only thing he didn't like about Hollie's performance was her look. He said her long gown was something an old lady would wear. Hilfiger starts off by agreeing with him. Hollie told the designer she likes glitter, sparkles, sequins. "I think we can transform her and make her look like a real star on stage," Hilfiger said. Hollie did look more sophisticated, and not in a dowdy way like last week. She wore a cream-colored jacket with sequins at the cuffs, a cropped sequin bustier and high-waisted wide-legged pant. Her hair is soft and wavy and complimented her look.

After the break, it was Heejun Han's turn. When asked about whose style he admires he responded Michael Bolton. Oh, boy. When he shows up on stage, he is sort of channeling Bolton in a tux but then ... he ripped off the jacket and shirt and started prancing around to "My Life" in a bright red, button down shirt with a colorful T-shirt layered over it. Yes, Heejun took Hilfiger's advice and went with his own style.

Jessica Sanchez, who said she loves shopping and clothes, shared that when she found out about their new image consultant, she was "freaking out." About the black lace dress she's considering wearing, Hilfiger says "on a petite girl, you either want to be very long or quite short." But he approves of what she's picked out and says "it's very cool for you and I think the audience will love it." Then, to the camera, he gives her high praise: "Jessica's got the ability to not only be a music icon, but a fashion icon." Look out, J.Lo!

Colton Dixon is the last one up and, once again, Hilfiger is fixated on the hair. "My hair's my baby," Colton tells the camera. He's not too happy that Hilfiger "discredited it," right off the bat, he says. But he got positive notes when he was able to tell the designer exactly what his fashion style is. Once he showed up on the stage, it looks like maybe he did take some advice from Hilfiger after all. His hair appears to be all one shade now, except for that blonde patch in the front, but the cut looks the same. He does know his own style and didn't deviate from it Wednesday night.

As for the judges: Steven Tyler was all about the stripes with a black and white pinstriped jacket topping a black and white striped shirt. Randy Jackson donned a black jacket and went for some color with a black shirt accented by a colorful polka-dot-like pattern.

And looking positively understated on Wednesday night's show ... J.Lo. She kept it simple and classy in a tight knee-length leather skirt and black body suit, both by designer Maria Lucia Hohan, paired with Giuseppe Zanotti shoes, and her standard amount of bling [Norman Silverman earrings and a Hermes cuff]. Maybe after hearing Hilfiger say Jessica is hot on her [Louboutin] heels as a contender for fashion-icon status, Lopez will be back to her usual flashy style next time.

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