TLC in town: A Makeover Story visits Charlottesville

[Note: please also read our makeover essay on page 55.–ed.]

Makeover madness has been sweeping the country, and now it's blowing right into town. A Makeover Story, a lunchtime staple of The Learning Channel, will bring two Charlottesville women and several local businesses into living rooms across the country.

Victoria and Sahara Muradi, Afghani sisters whose family moved to America from their war-torn nation in 1982, beat out hordes of entries for the makeover show that receives 1,000 applications every week, according to Erin Sullivan, an assistant producer for the show.

What set the Muradis apart?

A good story, for starters. Sahara, 17, moved in with her big sister so she could finish high school (their parents move frequently for their father's job). Victoria, 26, a graduate of Smith and Harvard, has an impressive job as assistant dean of admissions for UVA.

"They're extremely attractive," says Sullivan. Still, the show felt they'd be able to transform each of them. Adding to the sisters' appeal, she says, was the opportunity to do both a makeover and a make-under.

Producers thought that older sis Victoria needed more color in her wardrobe while Sahara, who'll be a senior at Monticello High School this fall, needed to dress a little younger and simplify her style.

"She was taking two hours to get ready for school," Victoria says.

Producers settled on Eloise, an upscale boutique on Water Street, to dress both sisters, and on Saturday, July 26, the store closed for the day to accommodate the shoot.

Creating the show is a three-day process that Victoria calls "exhausting, but really fun."

First, the women were filmed in their "natural habitat," to show what their lives are like and examine their beauty routines.

The next step? Selecting an outfit. Since the show concludes with the "big reveal," when the makeover recipients see each other and viewers see the final result– the Muradi sisters took turns at Eloise so they wouldn't know what the other selected. Each tried on six to eight outfits, and four per woman were selected to air on television.

Sunday, July 27, was hair and makeup day at Vanity Salon, and as Sullivan notes, that's where things can get tricky.

"People are so attached to their hair," she says. Although Sullivan claims there's never been a "bad big reveal," she concedes there can be a few moments of shock when the makeover subjects first catch a glimpse of their dyed and plied locks.

In this case, both women gave up nearly a foot of hair but Victoria says she and her sister were thrilled with their new chin-length bobs.

The final portion of the show gives the made-over twosome a chance to show off their new look. Friends and family gathered Sunday night for a housewarming party at Victoria's new home. The evening affair marked the first time in three days anyone had been able to see the two.

"The whole 'reveal' process is that no one has any clue what you look like," Victoria says. "It was a little difficult, but once we came out, it made everything much more dramatic."

The Muradi's "Story" will likely air on TLC in December.