OK, so I admit it – I’m a heretofore closeted Project Runway fan. But I’m here, I’m ready-to-wear, get used to it. It’s not that I’ve chosen to out myself at this point, it’s just that after a string of sad-sack, cry-for-help blog entries, I find myself far too exhuberent over Jeffrey Sebelia’s triumph to keep hiding under a the guise of a strict diet of thinking-person’s television dramas. I don’t love reality t.v., and in fact, for the most part, I find it to be mind-numbing, intelligence-insulting, anxiety-provoking, values-mocking drivel. But that was before I accidentally discovered the magic of Season 3 of the Runway.
Ah, Heidi Klum. Such the uber-bitch that given her German sensibilities, I can safely say that “uber-bitch” is a term that would be defined in the Dictionary of Abstractions with nothing more than a photo of Heidi. Off scene, she was scrapping with Elle Macpherson over who is the real “The Body”. On screen, she’s taunting her contestants in alpha schoolgirl mode: One day you’re in, one day you’re out. Kayne (or whomever), you’re OUT.” OOh, Heidi, can you say Aufwiedersein again…please?
One day, boredom left me channel surfing, which usually means that I click haphazardly between Bravo, HBO, IFC, TBS, AMC and Encore (okay, and sometimes Lifetime, fine, I admit it). And I kept finding myself clicking back to Bravo, on which I repeatedly heard the nasal voice of the fleshy-faced Vincent talking about this dress or that jacket “getting him off”, to which I saw the sleekly red-headed NYC snot-nose, Laura, respond by rolling her aristocratic eyes. I found myself clicking back to watch for the curly-haired, large-nosed Angela, who incongruously hailed from Ohio and yet possessed a distinctive New York downtown AND Jewish sensibility. There was something about this depressive underdog that I just utterly identified with, and it wasn’t just the hair, the nose and the Jewishy thing. And it was easy to keep clicking back to this show because it was on for like eight hours straight.
I quickly learned the personalities and styles of the big personalities on the show, and those who stayed the longest: Vincent (everything good “got him off”, but the man had no sense of proportion), Laura (mother of five, going on six, sleek red hair pulled back in a tight low pony, her architectural background paving the way toward her distinctive, clean, Prada circa 1997 meets St. John circa now style, Angela (she of the fabric rosettes and the questionable ability to follow directions or act even remotely adult-like), Kayne (red-headed seamstress boy with some issues regarding his “taste level”, as the judges often said), Michael (the perfect boy, sweet, talented, visionary, although woefully inexperienced, although inexperience can be cured with…experience), Uli “I am from Miami Beach” Herzner (she of the repetitive prints, fabric rolls, and flowy sillouettes), and Jeffrey (ah, Jeffrey, with the scrolling neck tats, but most importantly, with the serious ability to think outside the box, to take risks that make good sense, and damn, the ability to execute his ideas when given a proper amount of time in which to do so).
After Vincent and Angela left (for the second time, in each case…ah! the drama!), I found myself drawn towards Jeffrey. Michael was just too goody-two-shoes for me. Uli’s outfits are far too unstructured for my taste. Laura’s designs began to steer away from the structure that I adored about her initial works and replace them with stupidity, like chartreuse sashes and long sleeves on an evening gown. And feathers! And a ridiculous white-white Collar That Ate Manhattan. More than anything, it turned out that Laura was a jealous, back-stabbing beeyotch, who accused my Jeffrey of subbing out the actual sewing of his line. Uh, sorry Laura. He just works faster than you. He doesn’t have five kids. He’s not pregnant with his sixth. And he actually works as a designer already. So, is it any wonder that he was able to get his line done in the time allotted, and with the quality appropriate for a stroll down the catwalk at Bryant Park?
Whatever. We’ll likely see Laura again, perhaps designing for older women who shop on the designer floors at Bergdorf. Uli will definitely be a force in the summer and in resort-wear. I can see her opening up a shop in South Beach. I can see Michael scoring a gig designing for a bigtime designer, getting the experience he needs and THEN going out on his own. But Jeffrey is the one who will have the spread in Elle Magazine. And Jeffrey deserves it, for his designs, for his charisma, for his truthfulness to his own aesthetic and finally, for his ability to handle Laura’s attack with grace and calm.
And if Jeffrey’s yellow-plaid-cotton evening gown ever is up for sale, I want to know about it. I want that dress.
You do NOT have to care about Bryant Park or what Katie “Free Katie” Holmes and Scary Skinny Spice buy on their jaunt to the Paris shows to love Project Runway. You simply have to love watching creative types letting their personalities leak out as they do what they do best. It’s not the Apprentice, with it’s sexed up, greed-is-good, fake-glitzy NYC aesthetic. It’s not Survivor, with its Corporate Politics without access to food or a razor aesthetic. It’s not American Idol, with its viewer-voting and star-MAKING point-of-view. Instead, it’s a dramedy starring people who are already sort of stars in their own right, who are not expected to change and grow, who do not need to backstab anyone to prove their worth (paging, Laura, can you hear me?), who operate without any internal need for censors, who don’t need to (and usually DON’T) look good, themselves.
And it helps if you enjoy watching grown men acting like bitches because Tim Gunn and Michael Kors are those guys. Tim Gunn, the Parsons School of Design Director of Fashion, with his “I don’t understand what you’ve got going on here….okay, make it work!” is just so bitchy! And Michael Kors….if he ever were to read this, I hope he would catch the fact that I think that his shoes are the coolest, but they hurt my feet like medieval torture, and then I would hope that he would say something appropriately bitchy back.