Lifetime’s Project Runway began its ninth season this week and Thursday nights will be a shining star in the sky of all fashion aficionados across the fruited plains.
Supermodel Heidi Klum is the hostess of this fashion design reality competition, which nets the winner a bevy of prizes including money, magazine fashion spreads, and exposure to the world of fashion design that will open many doors.
Tim Gunn is listed as a “mentor” on the show’s web site. Gunn is a beloved staple of this show and he does his mentor duties well. He consults with the design contenders as they sketch, craft, sew, and fit their creations. Tim leads the contenders in visits to the fabric stores, goes to the finalists’ hometowns, gives needed morale boosts as required, and points a wrong-headed designer toward a better vision.Michael Kors is a designer well-known for his own fashion line. Kors is a permanent judge on the show, along with Nina Garcia, fashion design editor for Marie Claire magazine.
Throughout the season various other celebrity judges are invited to help judge the fashion entries, determine the winning design, and the designer who will be “out.” This season Kim Kardashian will be a guest judge; Christina Ricci was the guest judge for the premiere show.
The premiere show began with 20 contenders vying for the 16 slots available. Four would-be contenders were eliminated before the needle was even threaded. The remaining 16 competed in a challenge that was both absurd and amazing.
The contenders were wakened from their sleep by Tim, commanded to grab their sheets to wrap around them, and instructed to follow Tim to the Project Runway work space. This space is in a separate building, thus the contenders were seen walking along the streets in their night clothes with their sheets wrapped around them.
Once the contenders arrived at the work space they were then instructed that using only the clothes they were wearing, which was what they’d worn to bed the prior night, and the sheet wrapped around them, they were to design an outfit that would strut their fashion style.
Viewers across the country were gasping in shock at this challenge, a little hilarious, a little audacious. Most of the men were wearing only raggedy t-shirts and comfortable boxer shorts. The women were wearing anything from jogging pants to somewhat exotic nightgowns.
In fact my eyes began to glaze over, considering this silly task a waste of time and that the resulting “reveal” of the fashion parade of models for the judges would be dull, drab, and uninspiring. Part of the grand fun of this show is the ersatz fashion show as the models strut the zany, pretty, original, even the ugly, fashions the contenders dreamt up in keeping with the current challenge parameters.
Indeed some of the designs were hideous, looking like old fleece workout pants cut with pinking shears and adorned with randomly applied jetsam and flotsam to disguise. The contenders, as always, were given access to a room full of fabric dyes and accoutrements to jazz up their creations. To my surprise, however, those creative contenders dyed their jockey shorts and beige sheets, cut and chopped filmy nightgowns, found enhancing ribbons and bows and came up with some very enchanting designs.
The contenders are a mixed brew. One fellow, the winner of this challenge in fact, is in his 50s, deciding after suffering from loneliness due to the death of his partner to finally take a stab at fashion design, always his true love. His design created a very fetching dress from his boxer shorts!
One other contender claims to have never sewn a stitch and, indeed, her introductory “line” included drawings only so she’s telling the truth. She came up with a very handsome well-tailored pant and top from her bed sheet.
Anya Ayoung-Chee and Bert Keeter are, for now, the design contenders to watch.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on this fabulous fashion reality TV contest eagerly awaited by so many. So watch the show and check in on The Morton Report to read the updates.
Project Runway, Lifetime, Thursdays at 9/8 central.