Project Runway finally returned after months of delay following its switch to Lifetime from Bravo. Was it worth the wait? Did it live up to expectations?
For weeks now, I have been nervous, anxious, and even a little frightened about the return of this show that is a crucial part of the fabric of my television nightlife. What if Lifetime ruined it? What if – well, I had too many what ifs to go into here. With the wait finally over, I wasn’t freaking out about it the way designer Johnny Sakalis would later on, but I wouldn’t have minded if Tim Gunn had shown up in my living, put his arm around me, and said, “It’s ok, Julie. We’ll make it work.
I have to admit that because of loyalties to my beloved brothers and sisters (and brothers who wish they were sisters) at Bravo, a part of me was looking for Lifetime’s incarnation of this fabulous show to underwhelm, starting with its move to Los Angeles from New York. But first, they aired a two-hour All Star special. Very smart. The whole night was smart. Two hours of All Star designers, then an hour of the actual Runway, and then an hour featuring the models.
Seconds into the All Star special, as I sat in front of the TV with my shears at my side, poised to rip into Lifetime for tinkering with Runway, I realized there would not be a need to get nasty. In fact, once I saw those familiar faces begin to arrive at Atlas and catch us up on their lives (read Fancast’s Where Are They Now special on Project Runway favorites), I fell into that old, familiar, comfortable Runway zone. Of course Santino would arrive last. Of course Chris March would make a tin foil modl of Beyond’s body. Of course Jeffrey started a band with his new hipster girlfriend.
I knew pregnant Heidi Klum was drinking fake champagne at the celebratory roof toast. It didn’t matter. I was drinking herb tea. I cheered nonetheless. Welcome back, Project Runway.
As for the action:
The All-Stars: I loved this two-hour special. It was like meeting up with friends. But I did have numerous observations. I was wondering what was up with Jeffrey’s moustache and then burst out laughing when he said, “You maky remember me as the guy who made someone’s mom cry.” I enjoyed the blinged out work room with everyone’s names at their stations. Chris March, do you have a sleep disorder? He fell asleep not once or twice, but at least three times. Tim’s reaction was priceless. As were Santino’s dead-on Tim impressions. Nevertheless, he still annoyed everyone.
I’m going to skip some wonderful moments; watch for yourself. In the end, I was surprised by Chris, who pulled together an incredibly cohesive and impressive collection, and his reaction to the praise he received from the judges not only brought tears to his eyes, it had me reaching for tissues, too. Jeffrey’s designs – not hot. I laughed at Korto’s quip about being “always a bridesmaid.” The final four were (Daniel V. Korto, Sweet P and Chris. And the winner? SPOILER ALERT. It was Daniel V. But I was ok with that. Well done, Daniel. Well done, Lifetime.
Project Runway: There was not a taint of age on this show despite the year it spent on the shelves. Its move to the West Coast was fine. We met the 16 designers and saw them hurry off to Mood to pick fabric for their first challenge – designing a red carpet outfit that captured their design philosophy. As always in the opening show, there were a lot of new names and faces to learn and personal stories to absorb. Ra’mon-Lawrence Coleman dropped out of medical school to design. Malvin celebrated androgeny. Logan was “more of a guy’s guy” and like most macho dudes a self-declared “strong pattern maker.” Qristyl Frazer, who makes clothes for real women like herself, said, “I don’t call it plus-sized. I call it plus-sexy.” Nicholas said he’s known in New York City as “the feather prince,” and Gordana’s confidence scared me slightly when she stated, “You give me a sheep, I will make you a sweater.” And so it went. Like everyone, I knew we had fan favorite when Johnny revealed that he had tried out for Runway three times in the past but didn’t get picked because he had a crystal meth addiction. I thought, yep, that’ll do it. At the same time, he had me in his corner.
The Winner: Christopher Straub won the first challenge with a stylish cocktail dress. Michael Kors and guest judge Lindsay Lohan liked it. Me, well, I’m not picking any favorites. Christopher didn’t stand out in a dramatic fashion. I saw a few things that impressed me.
La Lohan: Lindsay is how old? Twenty-three? At that age, she shouldn’t look as hard-edged, or sound it, and yet…wow. She laughed at odd times, didn’t have much to say. Why was she there again? Why were the designers excited to see her?
The Whackness: Designer Ari Fish provided one of the show’s trademark OMG moments when she revealed she didn’t sketch and instead stood on her head and mediated on her red carpet design. At that moment, I knew she was a goner. It turned out she was the first to hear Heidi say, “Auf wiedersehen.”
Tears For Fears: The stress and pressure was too much for designer Johnny Sakalis (watch his casting session), who crumbled under the weight of massive performance anxiety and ached to speak to a sponsor. He cried. He thought about quitting. Enter Tim Gunn, who consoled him with a pep talk and hug and told him to “make it work – and you will.” Johnny returned. Yeah! “You can’t explain how it feels to have Tim Gunn sit there and talk to you,” he said.
Tim Gunn: Heidi may be the star, but it’s Tim’s show. Has anyone else noticed the similar between Barack Obama’s catch phrase “Yes, we can!” and Tim’s, “Make it work!”
The Models: I enjoyed seeing the models, a side of Runway we haven’t glimpsed. But after three hours, I was too exhausted to care.
End Thought: After all was said and done, I had one word for Lifetime’s excellent effort: Bravo! (And I mean that in the best possible way.)