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Reality Check: Catwalks and Catfights on "Project Runway"

Okay, I finally succumbed to peer pressure and watched the third season premiere of Bravo's fashion reality series Project Runway. And, guess what? I was hooked.

From the champagne toast on the roof to Heidi Klum's adorable German accent to Tim Gunn's studio walkthrough critiques, I couldn't get enough. While I've always kept the series on my televisionary radar (I know all about Santino), I tried to resist the lure of yet another reality TV show. It was a mistake because Project Runway is the perfect summertime reality show: bubbly, cool, and buzz-inducing. Like a chilled glass of champagne on the roof of an Atlas apartment complex.

Part of my newfound appreciation of the show comes from the fact that, for the most part anyway, these 15 competitors actually have talent and experience as designers, unlike say, most of the chefs on Hell's Kitchen. (Which, to be honest, is more about Gordon Ramsay than the competitors anyway.) It's always hard to root for people, regardless of their personalities or moralities, if they haven't got the skills to back it up.

I was also extremely happy to discover that the irresistible Heidi Klum is a far superior host than the robotic Katie Lee Joel of Bravo's sister show Top Chef. Klum's articulate contributions as a host and a judge have already earned her a place in my heart. She's a level-headed host whose knowledge of fashion and modeling make Klum the ideal person to sit at the judge's table and her heartfelt auf wiedersehen's to guillotined contestants is also rather endearing. I'm also vaguely fascinated with Parsons School of Design fashion design chair Tim Gunn and loved the way that he made the contestants question their design choices in the studio, though in many cases the designers went back and ripped off the additions the following morning. (I was surprised that Gunn wasn't actually a judge as well, a la Top Chef's Tom Colicchio.)

The first challenge was a whirlwind of chaos. Tasked to construct an outfit from materials found only in their brand new apartments, contestants stripped the flats of every piece of fabric and decor as humanly possible, only to discover, after slaving away until 1 am at the studio, that their rooms were left in the same destructive state as they had left them. (Whoever destroyed their entire bed? Genius.)

As for the designers, they're a motley bunch. What was up with Vincent's basket-turned-hat? Chillingly awful. Or Stacey's sheer whiff of a dress? (If only she knew how to work a sewing machine...) But I loved Keith's winning design; his duvet cover dress was elegant and beautifully cut and the red buttons on the back were a whimsical surprise. The design was imminently wearable and sleekly feminine, a runway triumph of design and form. Not too shabby for a menswear designer who had never actually made a dress before, no? I was also really taken with Laura's gorgeous fur-trimmed coat, which, yes, was very reminiscent of Clara Bow; Robert's white and chain dress with the red bows was also divine. I wish that Cosa Nostra designer Jeffrey would have taken a step back and rethought his design; the coat and dress did not go together by any stretch of the imagination. Which is sad because I had high hopes for Jeffrey.

Right now, I'm routing for Keith, but if the previews for this season are any indication, he seems to have become a bit of a diva. But isn't that half of what Project Runway is about? Proving that you have the skills and bitch-goddess attitude to make it as a top fashion designer? (Just look at gleefully bitchy Runway judge Michael Kors.)

While I might be a newbie to the cutthroat, catfight world of Project Runway, I've already fallen in love with this topsy-turvy fashion reality show and my blissful heart is already racing with anticipation for next week's episode. Until then, auf wiedersehen.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Big Brother 7: All-Stars (CBS); My Name is Earl/The Office (NBC); Smallville (WB); Master of Champions (ABC); That '70s Show/That '70s Show (FOX); Everybody Hates Chris/Love, Inc. (UPN)

9 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); The Office/America's Got Talent (NBC); Supernatural (WB); Grey's Anatomy (ABC); So You Think You Can Dance (FOX); Eve/Cuts (UPN)

10 pm: Without a Trace (CBS); Windfall (NBC); Primetime (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8-9 pm: My Name is Earl/The Office.

On tonight's repeat episode ("Cost Dad the Election"), Earl attempts to patch up his relationship with his estranged father by re-nominating him to run for mayor. Afterwards, it's a special re-airing of the pilot of The Office ("Pilot"), which is hands down my least favorite episode (too much similarity to the UK original for my taste).

9 pm: The Office.

On tonight's second repeat episode of The Office ("The Secret"), Jim must pretend to be Michael's new best friend after spilling his secret crush on Pam to him. Oh, Jim. Why would you ever confide anything in Michael Scott?


Anonymous said…
I knew you'd be hooked!

I was definitely not a Keith fan from the "Road to Runway" show, but I liked him more last night. Seems from coming attractions, though, that my initial impressions may have been correct.

I loved the winning dress and Robert's dress, but my favorite of the night was the coffee filter dress. Loved it.
Jace Lacob said…
OMG, you're right. I forgot about the coffee filter dress. I thought it was stunning and so original. I'm surprised the design didn't score higher, in fact.
Anonymous said… has two episodes of MY NAME IS EARL and one of THE OFFICE on tonight's schedule.

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