Sunday, August 17, 2008

one of the true joys of life: "Project Runway" in its Canadian and American forms

I came to "Project Runway" a little late. I'd heard of it, but I resisted seeing it. In general, I'm not a big television watcher, and I tend to assume television shows suck. However, I went to a big house party, and everyone stayed up 'til 3 AM (including then six year-old Iris) watching "Project Runway", and I was hooked.

The Wall St. Journal reported that sewing machine sales and sewing classes have skyrocketed due to "Project Runway." This illustrates how inspiring "Project Runway" is: you see the creative process, and you feel more creative yourself. I look at the world differently now and feel more likely to create and to find innovative uses for everyday objects. Iris loves to sketch outfits now, and even Lucy has developed a catwalk strut as a result of PR.

Our dear Hughman is recapping the current series over on Pink Navy, and so I won't both summing it up myself. Let's just say that once again there's a spunky bunch of egotistic designers, and our darling Tim Gunn is aristocratically overseeing their endeavors (the man once said, off the cuff, "It's looking a little Happy Hands At Home", which struck me as one of the more brilliant ripostes, even though, of course, my own creative endeavors are nothing but Happy Hands At Home). Tim Gunn is a walking Wodehouse character.

The Canadian version of Project Runway, rather unimaginatively named "Project Runway Canada", was even better than the American version. PRCanada had designers even more talented than the usual sprightly American casts. They had challenges even more clever than the usual American ones (my favorites were designing a bathing suit for a plus-sized model -- and they really DID use plus size models, not what is called "plus sized model" in this country but doesn't even qualify as overweight on the BMI scale-- and creating cocktail dresses out of broken umbrellas). PRCanada has Iman as a judge and host, who makes American host Heidi Klum look like a bubbleheaded idiot. (What drives me crazy about Heidi Klum is that she speaks in such a high, girly voice and that she always wears dresses no longer than her crotch and stands with her legs waaaay splayed apart. The woman seems to have a fetish about having people look up her skirt). Iman has such gravitas and a thoughtful, deep voice. On the downside, the other PRCanada judges were personality-less, unlike dear, bitchy Michael Kors and outspoken, glamorous Nina Garcia, and their sweet and caring mentor, Brian, wasn't as good with the bon mots as Tim Gunn.

However, Brian grew on me as the season progressed. He clearly worked hard, cared about the designers and inspired them to excel. I fell for him when cranky enfant terrible Biddell whined about having to make that plus-sized bathing suit. Brian firmly told him that the women who could afford to buy Biddell's clothes were not going to be the size zeros who model them on the catwalk and that he needed to learn to love every voluptuous inch of them. Bravo, Brian. Biddell took the point.

Last night I saw the first episode of the British version, "Project Catwalk." It completely and utterly sucked, and so I shan't bother to watch the rest of the series. (It was reported to me that "the bit torrent for Project Catwalk is really weak", signifying that the internet as a whole has formed a thumbs' down opinion of Proj. Catwalk). How could the Brits take such a clear winner of a formula and fail to copy it adequately? The only thing they did right was to cast Liz Hurley as the spokesmodel, and Liz seemed more interested in getting to know the designers than Heidi Klum (who evidently is quite cold towards them when the cameras are off). The cast seemed thrown together at a moment's notice (including a teenage first year fashion student who seemed quite obviously unprepared, a stay-at-home mother of several blind children who didn't function well out of her house, and an older designer who didn't seem creative in the least). However, the joy of Liz Hurley soon paled, as the Proj. Catwalk people insisted on a constant voice-over of her bright, burbling voice. Instead of showing us the idiotic designers having a drink, we had to hear Liz tell us they were about to have a drink, then tell us that they were having that drink, speculate that they were going to have hangovers, then inform us that few of them had hangovers, and so on, and so on. The Proj. Catwalk people seemed to feel they should make it a "Big Brother" sort of show, and their focus seemed to be on their relatively inarticulate and uninteresting contestants interacting in a small and crowded house. There was virtually no creative process shown whatsoever, completely stripping the show of its interest.

Incidentally I looked "Project Catwalk" up on Wikipedia and learned that three seasons have been made, with Kelly Osborne hosting the last two. Kelly Osborne? A drunken teenage American reality star? Obviously the Brits have given up on producing a quality show about creating amazing and imaginative clothes on a shoestring and are still aiming at that "Big Brother" trainwreck feel.

At least we still have the American Project Runway. If you haven't seen this current series yet, read Hughman's recaps to catch up and join the fun. And perhaps someday, if we are very good, we shall be rewarded with another season of Project Runway: Canada. Pray, my darlings, pray.


Epiphany said...

holla atcha, girl! ;)

Piph isn't that crazy about this season's contestants. She thinks they're more than a little boring-a-licious. Piph has no clue who's gonna take it all home, as none of them is shining, either design-wise or personality-wise.

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm missing the arrogance of Jeffrey and Santino!

According to Blogging Project Runway, there is also an Australian version. They frequently have links to their episodes. Let me know if you check them out!

And I *thought* there couldn't possibly be two Hughmans! I was right!

the Drunken Housewife said...

I will check out the Oz version and report back.

I know there was also an Italian one, but as I don't speak enough Italian to follow it, I haven't tried to get it.

the Drunken Housewife said...

p.s Me & Iris met Santino once, and he was such a darling, so sweet and approachable.

emily said...

Yeah, I'm kinda missing Santino too.

The Project Rungay boys have been my source for recaps, but I'll definitely have to check out Hughman's blog...

hughman said...

thanks emiily but it isn't actually my blog, i'm just grateful to have been invited to be a guest blogger on Pink Navy. hope you enjoy!!

hokgardner said...

I've been missing Iman while watching the newest season of PR. My oldest daughter is now hooked, and she has a surprisingly astute eye for design given her love of wearing non-matching clothes.

Carol Ann said...

This week we got to see Tim Gunn utter the immortal line, "It looks like a pterodactyl from a gay Jurassic Park," and that makes it all worthwhile. Loved the drag queens, and it looks like Laura Bennett is back as a judge this coming week.

Anonymous said...

I know this is a very old entry, but I hope you have see the Australian "Runway". All the contestants were so gosh-darn nice to each other! (Well, mostly.) It was heartwarming.

And Kelly Osbourne was a truly terrible host. She pouted continuously.