Project Runway: Let them eat cake!

No television show is going to be my favourite every week. All of the shows I consistently watch are flawed. Some of them deeply. To the point where I wonder why I am still watching. Last night’s episode of Project Runway made me sad. And also angry.

Andrea, for reasons she very clearly doesn’t want to share, fled the apartment and the show in the middle of the night. And then she apparently quit via email. We’d barely begun to process this bizarre turn of events when Kooan (literally) bowed out of the competition. So then last week’s loser, Raul, was brought back in — and proceeded to go on at length about his awesomeness. Things happen for a reason, said Tim (aside: I love Tim Gunn, he was great dealing with this). The problem is the things were really kind of upsetting and if the reason was to give Raul more opportunity to self-aggrandize while making ugly clothes, I’m not sure we needed that. I entirely agree with the decision to bring him back — Andrea should have spoken up and left at the end of that challenge not hours later while everyone was asleep — but I don’t have to like him or his fashion. And I don’t.

I do like Buffi and I also like Buffi’s fashion. The dress she presented in last night’s episode was not good. The construction was off, the design was muddled, and it all came across as trying too hard. If Raul had stayed gone, Buffi would have been out anyway. But if Buffi’s design had been perfectly realized and executed she still would have been cut and that makes me angry. Buffi wasn’t brought into the competition to win, she was brought into the competition so Michael Kors could make “clever” quips about her outrageous clothes.

Fashion is subjective and I’m never going to be a Michael Kors kind of girl but let’s stop pretending that this show is about the designs. And that’s fine, drama over design is fine for a television show. It doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is that average American people tune in for the drama and take away the design. It bothers me that for ten years Nina Garcia, Heidi Klum, and especially Michael Kors have dictated “fashion” to the masses via Project Runway. And while they may have raised up what they like they have much more forcefully shot down what they don’t like. And what they don’t like is exactly what the show claims to encourage: a point of view we don’t get on the not-part-of-a-reality-competition runway. And what they really, really, really don’t like is something made for people like us.

Season 9 finalist Kimberly Goldson designed for Brooklyn. And lost.

Fabio the Freegan said “In the real world, not every woman is a twig”. And he ended up in the bottom two. I didn’t love his dress. I thought it looked like something I could buy at Forever 21. But then that’s exactly my point. I could wear Fabio’s dress. More than one person on my twitter feed said they wanted to. But Kors and company want sophistication — as defined by them. Nina wants everything to look expensive because she can afford it. Heidi wants everything to be sexy because that’s what she wants to wear. Fashion has always been a game for the aristocracy and Project Runway tows the line but good.

Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff. (Miranda Priestly, The Devil Wears Prada)

I get how it works. But at the end of the film quoted above Anne Hathaway’s character tosses her phone into a fountain and leaves the fashion world just like Andrea and Kooan left Project Runway. Andrea and Kooan, like Buffi, were never going to win the competition. They were not selected for the show to win, they were not even selected to compete. They were selected to be good TV and to be canon fodder while the Vens and the Christophers fight it out for the prize. I don’t blame them for leaving. I almost admire it. Especially Kooan. He was so excited when he arrived and he became more and more subdued as it went on. It was a bit heartbreaking to watch, I can only imagine what it was like to live through. I’m glad he pitched his phone in the fountain, I just hope he keeps making his crazy clothes.

I like a lot of the people still in the competition. Jenny Humphrey Melissa, Snape Dmitry, and Ukrainian Diva Elena are my favourites. And I really like what Sonjia is doing. I constantly want to slap Christopher and Gunnar but I generally like what they come up with. I don’t like Ven but he’s going to the end. I have no real opinion on Fabio or Alicia. I hate Raul’s attitude and his clothes are a mess. I don’t remember the other guy’s name. I’ll keep watching and rooting for my Team(s).

Buffi may not deserve to continue. But Buffi deserves better than she got. She was judged and sentenced before she sent anything down the runway. She was set up to fail. It makes me sad and it makes me angry.

(I will talk about the FASHION of this latest episode in a separate review.)

3 Comments on “Project Runway: Let them eat cake!”

  1. […] up-and-up, they’re bullshit.  My sister and I have talked about it a lot, and in her blog she lays out why: If Buffi’s design had been perfectly realized and executed she still would have been cut and […]

  2. […] already know my feelings about the episode, but here are my feelings about the fashion. The challenge was not very challenging: design a look […]

  3. […] Hanmiao was always gonna lose. She definitely falls under ‘quirks’ and to be blunt, was hired to be a weirdo early casualty (so was Merline, lbr). This team was a disaster, completely unable to communicate and they both […]

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