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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Project Blah-way

I've been hooked on Project Runway since the very first episode of Season 1. Finally, a reality show that depicted a truly creative process and all of the challenges, hang-ups and rewards that go along with it. Say what you will about the so-called evils of the fashion industry and of modeling, fashion design is an art. It's reflective of historical and social context, grows upon previous eras and movements while often winkingly referring to them, and is very often used to create a statement.

In its first incarnation, Project Runway presented viewers with the brilliant madness of fashion design asking a bunch of unknown designers to translate creative themes into practical, aesthetically pleasing, and wearable garments. And because it was new to us, we weren't yet familiar with its editing ploys, didn't understand that the designer who was presented as the most competent throughout the show wouldn't necessarily be the victor, and we scratched our heads at why the obvious villain was being kept in the mix for so long (it's the ratings, stupid).

But now, three seasons in, Project Runway is looking played-out. Several weeks into the season we endured the show's first true scandal when contestant Keith Michael was booted for allegedly keeping pattern books under his bed. Later, contestant Jeffery emerged as the new villain, unabashedly bating poor Angela's mom into tears during the every day woman challenge. Crazy pants Vincent, he of confoundingly ugly garments was kept around purely for ratings. The creative themes of the challenges while promising in theory, fell flat when executed by the contestants. Design a couture gown in 48 hours? Come on, really. Make an outfit out of trash? Blah. Design a black and white dress? Sigh.

In a not particularly interesting twist, this season the show decided to allow four, rather than three designers to show their works for the Fashion Week finale in Bryant Park. In previous seasons, four designers actually showed, but only three of those collections were depicted on the show. Most likely because diligent spoiler hounds were easily able to uncover this truth through simple internet searches and the fourth "red herring" collection was always available to be seen on-line, the show did away with the whole "final three" and let all of the designers who showed in Bryant Park be eligible for the win.

With two previous seasons to go on, the editing style of the show has grown predictable. So unless Bravo has gotten smart and decided to change up their story editing strategy, here is my prediction for tonight's outcome.

Michael Knight: Already voted the fan favorite, Michael has been a front-runner for much of the season. Like Kara Saun and Daniel V before him, he laid low for the first several challenges, before emerging several weeks in as the apparent favorite. But like those two, I predict that he won't quite be able to pull off the win. Photos of his Bryant Park collection depict a problematic collection of urban hoochie wear not quite ready for prime time. I'm afraid that his booty check from the fan favorite vote is as much as Michael is going to win this season. It's a shame too, because aside from being hot, he seems like a truly nice person with a bright potential in the industry if he can manage to appreciate his strengths and grow on them.

Jeffery: Has received the Santino "villain" edit for most of the season. Viewers of Part One of the Finale know that there is currently a question over whether he actually sewed his collection. Much like Kara Saun's "shoe gate" of Season One, I expect this to blow over within the first ten minutes of tonight's broadcast. Like Santino, he was partially redeemed when as viewers we learned of his troubled past and dark history with an abusive father, drugs and alcohol. Still, a redemption arc only goes so far. Bravo doesn't want us to leave the season hating Jeffery quite as much as we have for the last three months, but I doubt they'll go so far as to reward him for his bad behavior. And it's too bad, because at his best, Jeffery's garments mix whimsy with punk rock and display an interesting eye for detail and draping. He already runs a successful company that caters to the LA rock scene, and I predict it will find future success based on the exposure Project Runway has granted it.

Laura: Arch, impeccably dressed with a keen sense of sarcasm and wit, Laura has been around all season to offer amusing color commentary on the madness around her. Her garments have been consistently strong, if not a little one-note. As a fan of neutrals, I like Laura's work, but much of it seems a little "old" to me and I can't tell who could successfully wear it other than old society women with no breasts. Laura lost me however in the last episode by calling into question the origin of Jeffery's collection and calling him out as a possible cheat. She simply came off as a big ol' tattle tale, a trait nobody likes. I seriously doubt they will reward her with a win at this point.

That leaves one other contestant.

Uli: Turned out some consistently strong designs all season and even won a challenge or two. Uli has been criticized for being too limited in her design vision and creating too many flowing halter dresses with wild prints. Like last season's winner Chloe, Uli has been edited to be likeable, innocuous although a little boring. In the last possible elimination challenge however, Uli came up with a design that based itself on her previous work while appearing different and new to the judges. At first I thought it looked exactly like everything else she made all season, but on further inspection I see that she thought to streamline the silhouette, which helped to change it up a bit from her previous succession of long, flowy things. I suspect that learning from her success in this challenge, Uli will build her runway collection off of similar looks, and being the best over-all bet out of the four finalists, will pull out a win.

Of course, I could be totally wrong. We'll see what Nina Garcia, Michael Kors and Heidi Klum have to say tonight at 10 on Bravo.


Blogger Golden Silence said...

We'll see. Wanted Michael to win, but unfortunately his Bryant Park collection is atrocious. Just have to tune in tonight to find out.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Frankly, Scarlett said...

Yes yes, jeffrey's definitely going to get kicked off and run home to his, may i say, brutally unattractive wife. Casa Red will be pulling for Lauren this evening.

5:06 PM  

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