Project Runway Review: Handbags At Dawn

September 16, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

PROJECT RUNWAY: Wednesday 16th September, Sky1, 8pm Alert Me

Project Runway is back for a sixth season, the show that takes a bunch of seamsters and seamstresses through the mangle for the chance to launch their career in fashion.

This year the show takes place in LA, and as the world’s premier celebrity playground, the first task is naturally red carpet-oriented with the designers having to create a red carpet “look” that shows innovation, and their “point of view?. Whatever that means.

They’ve got two days and $200 to put everything together, their efforts judged by a panel of experts who will decide who’s “in?, eliminating the designer deemed more “out? than stone-washed jeans.

Our host is Heidi Klum, with fashion legend Tim “Make it work? Gunn offering guidance. He’s lovely, is Tim Gunn. Warm and gentle, critical without being nasty, it seems he genuinely wants his mentees to blossom. Without his calming influence the contestants would probably become stiletto-wielding psychos and turn the show into a massive cat fight.

Among those dragging their over-stuffed suitcases into the typically vibrant ego holding area (or apartment), are the plus size (or “plus sexy?) clothes designer Qristyl, ex-Crystal meth addict Johnny, and the endearingly humble Malvin: “no-one can ever describe the type of garments I do, there’s not a vocab for them yet?.

It isn’t easy to tell whether all this big talk is for real, but it doesn’t really matter. They’re probably not sure whether they’re for real either.

Disappointingly there’s a very clear wheat/chaff divide among the contestants. Where there are the deluded out-of-touch ones, there are the talented, rational, intelligent ones. By their degree of pupil dilation or upward vocal inflection it’s possible to tell who the final five or so are likely to be.

This week everyone seems far too nervous to let their egos fly, though there does look to be hissyfit-throwing potential among many members of the group.

After minimal drama the boys and girls get their frocks made, sending them down the runway before the judges who include top designer Michael Kors, Marie Claire fashion editor Nina Garcia, and a – ooh – mystery celebrity guest.

Yes, Project Runway is formulaic, the seams very much visible with each contestant tediously ticking off another demographic. But this reality show’s worth your time because it has an actual craft at its heart, rather than being a personality contest. It’s nice to see the process of garments coming together after a nebulous idea and a rough sketch.

Failsafe TV.

Leonie Mercedes

Meet more designers, product designers, in our review of the Beeb’s Philippe Starck-fronted competition Design For Life, or have a look at our take on the fashion-forward flick The September Issue