Category Archives: Project Runway

Crazy or Annoying: which is worse?

So new season of Project Runway is in gear. I think PR is my favorite reality TV show. It’s certainly one that has the most social acceptability. This is probably because it’s not one where they randomly go out and pick people who’ve never sewn before. The contestants have actual ability and backgrounds in fashion design. The focus is also usually on the talent and less on the personality.

This week the contestants had to pair up to design a gown for the reigning Miss USA to wear in the Miss Universe pageant. Okay, not so exciting. I must say Miss USA was surprisingly articulate and had pretty good taste. The emphasis this week was unfortunately more on the personality issues. On the one hand, we have Vincent, who seems high-strung and not in a good way. Keeping in mind that this is TV and people can end up looking totally opposite from who they are in real life, something ain’t right with the man. Also, so far his aesthetic is not one I’m loving. Then we have Angela. Angela, who was, well…really, really irritating. She apparently knew this was not her forte, which I can respect. But she spends her sketching time campaigning the contestant who designs pageant gowns for a living to pick her if he wins. Then she goes up to pitch her own idea to Miss USA, and hasn’t even bothered to make a presentation.

Guess who get paired together?

Vincent, in addition to not being terribly stable, apparently can’t play well with others. To an extent never before seen on Project Runway. He won’t let the woman do anything at all. Tells her to stand three paces away from him, and then seems surprised when she disses him and his design on the runway.

To my surprise, it’s Angela who gets lambasted by the judges. I’m not sure if it was because she was inarticulate (again, that pesky editing) or what, but she’s in the bottom two. Go figure…

Project Runway – the Finale

Yesterday was the long-awaited finale for Project Runway. Things I liked:

  • All the collections were very different – I loved that they were all coming from very dissimilar points-of-view.
  • They gave the “decoy” the same amount of money for her collection. Frankly, I thought Kara Janx was pretty darn strong, stronger possibly than the other three.
  • I liked that none of them seemed to let personality conflicts get in the way of their work. They are professionals. They know what they’re doing and that’s fun to watch.

Things I didn’t care for:

  • Forcing the designers to create a 13th look at the last minute – according to the divine Tim, they thought the drama wouldn’t be there otherwise. I don’t think the producers understand that part of what makes this show so cool is that people watch just for the fashion and the construction. You don’t need manufactured drama.
  • Interrupting the fashion show for the designer voice-over.
  • Less emphasis on how the designers put everything together. There wasn’t the same level of detail when it came to the model selections, the accessories, the hair, the make-up.

As for the collections of the top three, I admit to being a spoiler addict. I was clicking through Getty Images on my lunch hour the day of the show like tens of thousands of other people. At the time, I wasn’t sure about any of the designers. My big question was what exactly was Chloe Dao thinking. Her collection looked like bad 1980s-inspired promwear. Santino’s shocked me in that I liked most of it. Daniel V., well, I’ve liked Daniel V. all along and I think I pegged him as the front runner.

But there’s something about seeing the garments in motion. Santino’s didn’t fit his models all that well, although again, I found myself liking his stuff. I liked it a lot. Daniel’s line is probably closest to my personal taste. But Chloe’s . . . it was totally different from the stills. There was something there. I wish I knew more about couture. I think it was a well-deserved win.

It’ll be interesting to see the next season. I hope to god they allow all the designers to pick different models each week. It would also be nice if they went back to their original number of designers. Too many people just makes for an overly inflated program. Also? I really don’t need to see any of the old contestants on the show again. I just don’t.

The Ginger Rogers Syndrome

My favorite reality show let me down yesterday. What sets Project Runway apart from a lot of the other programs I watch in this genre is the importance of talent over personality. It’s not really like Survivor or The Amazing Race or heck, even America’s Next Top Model. Sabotaging your colleagues gets you nowhere on this show. Strategy doesn’t really factor into either. The host and judges associated with the show have too much invested in the “real” world of fashion design. The emphasis is on the work product. I love that.

Except that in tiny print at the end of each episode’s credits about how the judges conferred with producers. This is how Wendy Pepper managed to get to Fashion Week. Her so-called strategy was useless, but as a polarizing person on the show, she generated a lot of feedback. Of course, when she got to Fashion Week, she was almost immediately discounted by the judges and you knew she didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell.

This season’s Wendy is a guy named Santino. Don’t get me wrong. He’s significantly more talented, but he’s a camerawhore. He’s casually cruel and insecure. You can practically feel the producers salivating every time he speaks.

So this week’s episode had the remaining designers creating a dress for Sasha Cohen to wear at an exhibition performance. I don’t know a lot about figure skating but I do know that their costumes need to function. I’ve seen competitions where bits and bobs have fallen off of costumes; Dick Button and Peggy Fleming gasp and we watch anxiously hoping that the skater doesn’t hurt themselves.

The designers came up with some costumes that ranged in quality. The one that one did nothing for me personally, but it looked fairly skate friendly. The two bottom designers were the aforementioned Santino and a man named Emmett McCarthy. I can’t say that Emmett’s designs set my world on fire, but his creation seemed a lot better than Santino’s.

Santino’s outfit reminded a lot of that story they tell about Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in Top Hat. Reportedly Rogers told the costume designer what she wanted for one of the numbers. It was a lovely confection covered with ostrich feathers. Beautiful. Except that the feathers kept detaching and distracting Astaire. In another film she had a gown that had bell sleeves and was beaded. Again, beautiful to look at, but as she danced the heavy sleeves started swinging and whacking Astaire in the arms and chest.

Now Santino’s gown was ugly. At least the costumes in Rogers’ films were beautiful. But what figure skater wants to be risking injury and/or death to wear a horrific looking thing?

Guess who got eliminated? Heaven forfend the one who makes for better TV should be axed…

The Good Kind of Reality TV

Watched the finale of Project Runway . To my great joy, the person who deserved to win won.

What I’ve really loved about this show is that until recently the focus has been on the talent and on the design aspect rather than the “drama.” There’s a place for reality show personality driven dreck. I admit that. In fact, I have a couple of shows that I watch for that factor.

But. How refreshing was it to see a group of talented people who for the most part knew what it was they were doing. They weren’t people of the street who thought they could be designers, but who had never created a garment in their lives. They were designers, or at least people who had some kind of skill set that made their dream a plausible one.

As the show went on, they started focusing more on Wendy Pepper (I refuse to link to her site). She’s a dressmaker from a wealthy town in Virginia, who was under the strange impression that she was on Survivor. I suspect that the producers and Bravo wanted to show more of her because they wanted to play it safe. The show was a new concept and a different way to go and we all know how networks hate to take risks. But I think it detracted from what really could have been an outstanding show.

Rock ‘n’ Roll

Sunday is usually laundry day for me. The worst part of apartment life is having to schlep your laundry to the laundromat and back. It’s always that much more awful in the winter. But I digress. Anyhow, so I was doing massive amounts of ironing and tuned into Bravo so as to have something mindless to watch as I pressed.

They were showing doing another marathon of Project Runway and I caught the latest episode. I don’t mind the marathons really. To be honest, most of their programming isn’t exactly must see TV for me so I often miss these things when they originally air.

The episode in question had a would-be pop singer trying to change her image. The designers needed to come up with a concept, pitch it to her, and then the three designers she picked had to lead design teams and create the outfit. Okay fine. The singer is busy doing her own self-promotion, which is why she’s doing this, whether or not this woman can actually sing–I don’t know. Never heard of her and I have to wonder: had she not done the show, would I have? Then of course, there are the umpteen million ads for Banana Republic. And heck, they even have commercials hawking the furnishings that the designers have in their Project Runway apartments.

Which in a desultory way brings me to my point. Reality TV has nothing to do with reality. I think by now, we all know that. I’ve heard people say that it’s so pervasive because of the audience. Don’t think that’s really true. Otherwise why are they tuning in droves to see traditional fiction-based shows like Desperate Housewives and Lost?

People, it’s so pervasive because of the money. Think about it. It’s not just the savings of salaries for cast. It’s all the product placement opportunities, the tie-ins, the promotions.

And it’s lame. The episode that started me writing about this was fairly blah. The singer had was unintentionally hilarious. Best moment was when she told the designer, “I’m really into French prostitutes.” The chick who has gone back to thinking that a strategy really matters here opted to give her teammates the silent treatment, because hey, nothing says “I am a talented professional” like behaving like a second-grader in front of a national cable TV audience. The singer herself had absolutely no taste. And the judges chose to eliminate someone who did the professional thing, rather than the drama queen who had a temper tantrum and disrupted work flow.

There’s only so much grade-school hijinks I can take.

A reality show where talent is a must?

Yesterday afternoon, while I was ironing, I happened to catch three episodes in a row of Project Runway. For some reason (the host is also a supermodel) I thought it was just a knockoff of America’s Next Top Model, which though highly entertaining is really a travesty of itself. Watching a travesty of a travesty of a travesty–not so appealing.

Turns out I got the concept wrong. It’s a show about fledgling fashion designers. They start out with 12. Each week someone gets eliminated. Big prize is a spread in some fashion rag, a 100 grand, and a “mentorship” with Banana Republic’s design team. Not sure what the last is all about, but anyhow. It’s a surprisingly good show.

For starters the contestants have well, talent. Not only that they’ve either got degrees in design or they have design businesses. So unlike ANTM which has drugstore clerks from East Nowhere who merely dream of a career, these people know what they’re doing.

To be sure they’ve picked a group of designers who have the drama element down, but it’s interesting, the one contestant who seemed to think she was on Survivor? was in the bottom for two episodes until she realized she needed to concentrate on herself and her work.

Makes for a nice change.