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[Disclaimer: I do not know much about fashion. I will make fashion-related errors throughout this season's recaps. Corrections are welcome, but don't be a dick about it. There were too many people in the first episode to put together a seamless and funny recap. It's more informational than I usually like, but also necessary.]
True inspirational story for the holiday season: About a year ago I was goofing around with my own little (now more or less defunct) blog which had a steady readership of about 30 people. I wrote short little recaps of “The Amazing Race,” “The Apprentice,” and a little show called, Project Runway on Bravo. I watched and recapped every episode on my little blog from Day one of what quickly became my favorite Reality/Contest/Elimination show of the year. It was also about a year ago that my friend EdHill told me about the existence of this site called TVgasm and how these guys did exactly what I did – just a hell of a lot better and with a lot more words and pictures. Then, one day a TVgasm reader mentioned “Project Runway” in the Forum and EdHill linked my little blog there saying, “This blog recaps that show.”The next thing I knew, I had many more readers and an email from J-Unit asking me if I’d be interested in trying to write for his site, specifically about “Project Runway.” So I spent like 12 hours one Saturday combing back through my blog entries, trying to capture the essence of the first 8 or so shows in a feeble attempt to catch everyone up in the hopes of going forward from there. I sent this first effort off to J-Unit and was told, “Thanks, but no thanks – the show is too far along in its season and besides, we try to be more descriptive here.” (I’m serious, this is 100% true) I huffed and puffed and immediately forgot about writing for this site. I didn’t, however, forget about “Project Runway,” which continued its incredibly strong rookie season and finished off with the best reunion show of any reality type show I’ve ever seen. (And, as you have figured out by now, I followed up with J-Unit a few months later and got the gig.)
As if that weren’t enough reason for me to love “Project Runway,” After watching the first hour of the two hour premiere this week, I was reminded all over again why I feel this show is simply the best. Although it’s certainly still too early to tell, it appears as though the show will avoid the dreaded Sophomore Slump. Why? Off the top of my head, here are the reasons why the show rules, in no particular order:
- Heidi Klum is beautiful and deliciously robotic a la Chenbot.
- The show tests skill and creativity, not lying and cheating.
- There is no luck involved.
- There are very few commercials.
- After commercials, they pick up right where they left off, not with a rehashing of the last scene.
- Cool music
- Real, not wannabe, models.
- I actually learn stuff
- The gay dudes are just dudes, not necessarily, “The gay guy.” (Austin Scarlett notwithstanding)
- The challenges were dreamt up by creative, smart people.
- Eliminations are based on skills, not Neilson ratings.
- Eliminations are done in a pretty cool and unique way.
- For the most part, the contestants are professional and very well-spoken by reality TV standards.
- Asians, blacks, and Latinos are representing.
- The innovative challenge within the challenge with the models also vying for a lucrative contract. (Morganza notwithstanding).
- These people possess skills I will never, ever begin to have.
- The show’s website is informative and laid out pretty well
- Tim Gunn is the man.
What’s more, I’m not even really into fashion or design at all, but I still love the show. Heck, I go to a local sports bar every Sunday to watch football. I played hockey. I drink light beer. I get my hair cut at a barber… That said, I don’t dress like a complete tool either. Oh, and I’m straight. Speaking of which, have you ever seen a cuter pregnant woman than Heidi Klum? The woman is flawless, even with child. (Or was did she give birth to a baby seal? Har-har.) Actually, I have seen a cuter pregnant woman, but I’ll keep that revelation to myself for a couple months.
Ok, so what about the actual show? Due to my lengthy and somewhat unnecessary preface, this recap will only tackle the first hour of the premiere: “The Road to the Runway.” It immediately jumped into the fray, with short little snippets from the tryout/interview process from different locations. In New York, last season’s winner Jay McCarroll helped out with the selections. (Jay was sarcastic and funny last season – and talented.)
Whereas “American Idol” spends several weeks on this winnowing process, PR whipped through it quickly and sparingly. SUCH a breath of fresh air. We saw a bunch of freaks, sure, but instead of giving them the airtime they so pathetically yearned for, we only saw them for a second or two with no audio. Instead, we “met” the folks who actually made the cut – imagine that. It’s completely opposite of AI and it’s great. The first designer to make it was Diana Eng, a RISD (Rhode Island School of Design, which has more freaky people than any other college in the world by the way) student from Florida. I immediately took to Diana, as her design ethos involves math, science, and computers and in her words, “I’m a hybrid nerd/fashion designer I guess.” She’s totally the girl we all cheated off of in math class. Go Diana with your awkward well-spoken bad little self!
The second day of auditions in NYC brought some more annoying freaks (including Austin Scarlett to help judge) that we’d have to pretend are “for real” on other shows until we met Zulema – another very well spoken and intelligent reality contestant! Love. This. Show. Unfortunately for Zulema, she bears a striking resemblance to Miss Jay Alexander from America’s Next Top Model fame. Welcome to the show, Z!
After New York, the production traveled down to Houston where second runner up Wendy Pepper joined the judges. Wendy Pepper, for those who are not familiar, tried her hardest to ruin season one. She sucks – for she brought “strategy” and backstabbing to the show, which made no sense in the context of what was going on. She was a total bitch and simply didn’t “get it” last year. So I was pleased when she walked the tryout line and said, “Hi! I’m Wendy! Did anyone see season one” only to be greeted by crickets. Chloe made the cut there and it was off to Miami.
Season One’s lothario, Robert, was there to help judge. If Robert was in charge, rest assured every hot girl in a bikini would have made the cut but alas, he wasn’t. Instead we got Heidi, an annoying loudmouth from Alabama. Out in LA, season one runner up Kara Saun help pick a couple more gay guys (Nick and Raymundo) among others. Raymundo mentioned that his old-school Mexican father would be upset knowing his son was on the show because, “He thinks this is very gay.” See, that’s funny because, y’know, Raymundo is FLAMING. And if his father is denying that, well… Let’s just say he can’t possibly be.
A dirty looking younger Donald Sutherland character named Santino joined the fray, and then Daniel “Feel your bliss” Franco showed up… Again. You see, Daniel was unceremoniously booted in round one last season, after failing miserably at making a dress out of butcher paper in the initial grocery store challenge. (By comparison, Austin Scarlett won that challenge with an impressive dress woven from corn husks.) Daniel Franco was back to prove he had skills and brought along some beautifully crafted jackets to drive his point home. He still has a problem with puffery (verbally and facially) such as when Kara Saun suggested that, “design is not about the hairdo” and he responded, “That sounds like truth to me.” Hey Daniel, a simple “Yes” would suffice.
So Tim Gunn suggested the judges “caucus” about whether or not to give doofy Daniel another chance. “Caucus?” Awesome, Tim, awesome. Despite being called, “Annoying,” they decided to give him a second shot.
Now in Manhattan, all the contestants met for the first time (we were introduced to several others – Guadalupe the odd little SCTV character with the Bruce Lee haircut, Kirsten who designs sexy swimsuits for rich people, Andrae the bald guy, Daniel Vosovic the Adrien Brody look-alike, Kara Janx the South African lady with the coolest last name ever, Emmett the uppity dandy who knows Tim Gunn from Parsons already, John the chubby gay crazy dresser, and Marla, the old lady. It’s tough to get them all straight at this point.
So let’s get rid of two people! Yeah! This was the “semi-finals” after all where the judges would decide who would actually be on the real show. Heidi Klum arrived and brought them into the workspace for the first time. Each designer (and many of them are already successful designers in their own right) was given 6 yards of muslin (I had to look that one up) and $20 bucks and tasked with designing an outfit/dress that expressed who each person was in one week’s time.
Oh pregnant HeidiKlumenspiel… I want to rub your belly. Anyway, once Heidi brought the gang to the workspace, Tim Gunn arrived to tell them that they had 2 hours to get their shit together, meet their model and get her hair and makeup done before the first runway competition. We got a little bit more insight into Andrae’s thinking (“Muslin is such a white trash fabric”) and Zulema Miss Jay (“John’s dress is so simple.”) See, I thought John’s dress was pretty nice – a simple little orange summery dress – but what do I know? Nothing these people do is “simple” to me.
The models arrived and were fitted and made up and boom – time for the first runway where, as Heidi told us, “One day you are EEN, the next you are OUT!” Don’t let her pretty smile and round belly fool you – Heidi is ALL German bondage and domination. As before, the judges are Heidi, Fashion icon Michael Kors, and Elle fashion editor Nina Garcia – the toughest critic of the three.
The models strutted their stuff and aside from the rather unattractive first girl (runway models are all about the body though); it was a generally lovely show. Apparently muslin is a crappy coarse cotton material that is wicked hard to work with – hence the challenge. Once again, I was blown away by what some people can do with 6 yards of crappy fabric. Some of the dresses were really quite nice looking. And for what it’s worth, I do believe Maria is my favorite model out of the gate – but I really don’t have enough to go by yet.
The runway show was well edited, had cool background music, and showed off each designer’s creation as well as the anxiety written across their faces. Poor little Diana Eng’s dress had some issues with her magnetic clasps that seemed to have “reversed polarity” in transport. Yeah, I heard that taking the train from Providence, RI to Grand Central involves an interstellar trip through a worm-hole. But I can’t be mad at little Diana Eng… No one can.
After the show, five people were called back to the runway: Santino (he just looks smelly, doesn’t he?), John (Bob’s Big Boy gone gay), Heidi (Sweet home Alabama), Daniel Franco (sigh), and Diana (No! Not Diana! The polarity reversed damnit! It’s not her fault!) Actually, another great aspect of the show is that these five represented the winner AND the losers. Dispensing with all hype, Heidi immediately announced Santino’s intricate little baby doll dress the winner and sent him on his merry way. All three judges totally agreed his was by far the best design.
The judges then asked the others about their ideas and told Heidi that her simple white dress was merely, according to Michael Kors, “A bando with an a-line skirt.” Ooooh, total fashion bust! He also said that John’s orange summer dress, which only took 8 hours to create, could be found, “On the back of a ret dye bottle!” Oooooh, SNAP! If I only knew what that meant! (But I know it was another total fashion bust!)
Diana Eng and her Magneto dress were still “EEN,” (“in”) so it was down to retread Daniel Franco, John the fop, and southern hick Heidi. Before he knew what hit him, the Kluminator told John he was “OUT” and that was that. That’s right, a flamboyant dresser who was a total character, dismissed because his design was weak – NOT kept on the show because he was “wacky.” Best. Show. Ever. This gave us a rather funny/sad moment when John went backstage and everyone thought he was therefore still in the running. Everyone raised up high fives and offered congratulatory hugs to him only to be told that he had been cut. WHA-wha-whaaaaaaa.
In the end, Heidi (whose dress was my least favorite) was told that she was also “OUT,” and that Daniel would live to see another day. True to form, hot Heidi offered redneck Heidi her “Auf Wiedersehen” send-off. “Aw heck, I don’t know what that means,” retorted not-hot Heidi. With that, hot Heidi whipped her with a cat o’nine tails and sent her on her way back to Alabama.
As the first hour ended, nein-hot Heidi did the impossible: Four clichés in one sentence. “There’s a plan for me, it is what it is, I gotta have faith, and I gotta keep on truckin’.” Oh how I wished uber-hot Heidi heard her to dole out some more punishment, but alas, she was not.
Part 2 coming soon!