Project Runway, now on Lifetime, is a whole different show that is exactly the same in a totally new way. Lifetime is a channel that many of us go out of our way to avoid. Unless you’re the sort who lives for movies about battered women who get strong and move on (played by Nancy McKeon) or alcoholic/bulemics who find the courage to heal themselves (played by Judith Light), this is not really the channel or you. And yet now I find I watch two shows on Lifetime regularly enough to record them. One of them is, of course, Project Runway.
What’s changed since the move to Lifetime? What did Bravo do that annoyed and what does Lifetime do to celebrate? Here we go!
So the show moved from Bravo to Lifetime, and we geared up for a new and different season, only to have it held up in a long legal proceeding, where Lifetime was sued and then sued and everyone got mad. Meanwhile, they went and got a whole new camera crew and behind the scenes folks, and filmed the whole season … and no one but Tim Gunn really knew how the world worked. After all, there was no one who was on as much of the show as our hero, Mr. Gunn.
A great deal is ‘same old same old’. People put too much drama into making clothes, crazy people make crazy clothes, sane people make boring clothes, designers like to do too much of what they know and are accused of not being risky, while others are told “We can’t see you in your designs.” That part is exactly the same. Usually you get to keep a couple totally crazy designers around for a while, because someone ‘sane’ will make a truly disgusting design. This season the first three people we lost were two crazy-pants and a guy who couldn’t sew. Which is sort of … what I would have done, if I ran the show.
You see, normally when I watch Project Runway, I spend most of my time bitching at the hosts. Not Heidi, the others. I don’t understand Nina Garcia or Michael Kors at all, I don’t share their ‘appreciation’ of fashion, and what they see as innovative, I see as crap. At one point I decided that ‘couture’ must be French for ‘hot tranny mess.’
I admit that I sort of watch this other weird show, Make me a Super-Model, and I always root for the underdog (Salome was awesome!) and I’ve never really liked their winners. That said they have a host, Catherine Malandrino, who was conspicuously absent for much of the last season. Every time they sat to judge, they would announce ‘And filling in this week for Catherine Malandrino is …’ This became a running joke at home. We would say ‘Tonight the role of Catherine Malandrino will be played by an understudy’ and so on. Well, Michael Kors, the judge I least connect with, was missing for the first few episodes of Project Runway. Naturally we started to make the same jokes. He was ‘replaced’ by rotating judges, most of whom I found I liked.
Actually, I turned out to like all of the judges a lot more. Even Lindsey Lohan (people, when LiLo tells you that an outfit is trashy, she knows!). Pretty much everyone has been able to express themselves in a way I can understand and, when I don’t agree with them, I can feel their point of view. It could be the editing, that Lifetime is playing to a less savvy audience, but I think it’s also the laid-back attitude. The show feels more at ease with itself.
The move to LA wasn’t much of a shock, or really a change. The designers have windows, I’m sure they love that. The apartments look the same. We get an extra ‘The Models!’ show afterwards that’s pretty much useless (sorry, models, you’re not interesting). I think they’d be better off integrating the shows more. The real worry I had was Mood! If you’ve never watched the show, the designers go to a store called Mood every episode (almost) to buy their material. Mood is as much a ‘character’ on the show as Tim or Heidi is. Thankfully? Mood has an LA branch!
In the end, the change was the challenges. On Bravo, they’d have things like ‘make a dress out of lettuce!’ or car parts, or just denim jeans and jackets. On Lifetime, they seem more interested in the actual design and expression of art from the designers than gimics or tricks. The first episode was to design a red carpet dress. That was it! Then they had to design for a pregnant Rebecca Romaijn (she’s already given birth, the show was filmed a year ago), make a surf inspired outfit and a related couture outfit and make something for their models.
You right away got an idea of each designer, what they liked to do, thwie style and vibes, and how they worked. Then they pitched a couple silly challenges to make them work harder. A dress made out of newspaper was a very successful challenge, and many designers astounded me by making their paper look like fabric. They used paints for color and muslin for ‘support’, but the dresses were clearly paper. Then they had to make movie genre outfits, which was a little hokey. Making something that evoked a costume without being costumey was hard for most designers. How do you show yourself in a costume?
But there is where I feel Lifetime, more than Bravo, celebrates the designer rather than the reality TV aspect of the show. They let you watch the designers dissemble, cry, and rebuild themselves. They vote off the right people, not the people who made for bad TV, but the people who just aren’t making magic right now.
Tomorrow we get Bob Mackie. I can’t wait to see them make a Mackie Rag!