Project Runway is a reality show currently airing on Lifetime that pits aspiring fashion designers against one another to create designs and eventually show their work at a runway show in Bryant Park. Also, there is partial nudity. Sometimes.
Project Runway starts out each season with a dozen or so budding megalomaniacs with a desire to become fashion designers. Each episode revolves around a humiliation-I mean elimination-challenge that gives parameters to the designers to create a "look" that they show to the judges at the end of the episode via runway show. Each look is then scored and the judges pick the person who didn't humiliate themselves as the winner and a loser who gets the brush-off from Heidi Klum.
"Fuck you so hard, Heidi Klum."
The challenges vary from episode to episode, such as "make a dress from newspaper" to "make a dress from newspaper for Natalie Portman" to "just make another dress already." The creation, while following the parameters given, should still be fashion-forward (read: trendy) and well-made and tailored (read: not fucked-up). Unfortunately, despite the givens and the talent of the contestants, there is always one contestant a season who creates a black dress with white trim, which the judges always call "the French maid uniform" without sexy results.
Not what we were expecting.
When the number of contestants has been whittled down to three or four (read: enough people have shit themselves from humiliation), the show sends them home for three months with a fistful of cash to create their own fashion line. The designers will then show their lines during one of the quarterly fashion weeks in New York, a winner is picked and then everybody fades into obscurity until Bravo or Lifetime decide they need more money.
Heidi Klum is host, judge and executive producer of Project Runway. Thankfully (or horrifyingly, whichever you prefer) due to the exposure the show gives Klum, it is clear that Tyra Banks is not a singularity in the model-turned-actress-turned-host-of-her-own-reality-show-that-debases-fashion-industry-hopefuls niche. Klum, not to be out-done by Banks, has started a new show that runs after Project Runway about the models featured on the show, called Models of the Runway. Here she is free to fully critique the models on their performance each week, with, "You kind of look old/fat/not very pretty/heavy" or whatever other advice she likes that will send the girls running for the nearest gas chamber.
Pictured: Klum out for a casual night.
Tim Gunn, host and advisor of Project Runway, former faculty member of Parsons The New School for Design, chief creative officer for Liz Claiborne and personal tailor to Barney Stinson, is also the fucking man. Seriously, this guy has enough grace and charm that he could remove your teeth with an electrified cattle prod and you would thank him for it.
"Looks like we need to edit. How chic would this be without the bicuspid?"
Michael Kors is an American fashion designer and judge on Project Runway. Kors' judging style can be described as over-the-top, as he tends to be direct yet descriptive with his judging: "She looks like Barefoot Appalachian Lil' Abner Barbie." or "She's pooing fabric."
"She looks like her ass is on her front."
Nina Garcia, in addition to judging on Project Runway, has held the title of fashion editor at both Elle and Marie Claire magazines, as well as being the earthly bound mouthpiece for the Devil. Host Tim Gunn often counsels contestants "Don't upset Nina." The camera always cuts away directly after Gunn says this, as he continues with, "She'll eat your soul. On a slice of twelve grain, I'm not even kidding." Garcia seems to have an actual allergy to bad taste and bad designing, yet the appearance of such things only enhances her hunger.
"Rouching with crimson tulle? I'm starving."
Where would we start?
Santino, season 2's "bad boy" who gained enough notoriety with thinly-veiled homoeroticism and shouting matches with Nina Garcia (see above) to send him to fashion week with a line that showed that he fundamentally misunderstood the shape of a woman's breast?
"Suede" from season 5, who prematurely and inconsistently referred to himself in the third person?
Sweet P from season 4, who, with the 2010 body of an original roadie for the Grateful Dead, the voice of Shirley Temple and the fashion and sewing talent of an elephant with cerebral palsy, won the hearts of millions?
Pastels in the spring? Groundbreaking.
Fashion, like any other branch of the art industry, has its share of memorable and flamboyant characters, but Project Runway contestants tend to put the horse before the cart considering they aren't even successful or famous yet. Take for instance Season 5's Kenley Collins, who was so convinced of her own brilliance that she would blatantly ignore the parameters given to her for the challenge. She would then scream and cry so much when the judges said "this isn't exactly what we asked for" that two-year-olds would have grabbed her by the shoulders and shaken her violently. Collins' crazy has burst naked and screaming into the public spotlight recently as she was arrested for violently assaulting her sleeping fiance with a laptop, several apples and her cat.
Behold the face of terror.
Despite the fact some outward appearances of the contestants are just dazzlingly painted storefronts for a personality and talent that aren't there, the exception to the rule seems to be Season 4 winner Christian Siriano. A recent fashion school graduate when starting the show, Siriano threw temper tantrums with the best of them, including a petty brawl with a teenage client and crying in front of Sarah Jessica Parker due to what the judges called (and we're paraphrasing here) a "1980's La Croix abomination." And yet, his skill managed to shine through the remaining episodes, winning him the show and being voted that season's fan favorite; a large feat for someone who looks like the result of carnal love between a cockatiel and Crispin Glover.
The cockatiel could not be reached for comment.
Siriano's star is still shining brightly after his time on the show, currently working on his own line of clothes that have been picked up by Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as collaborating with Puma, Bluefly and Victoria's Secret, and publishing a book on fashion - effectively making him one of the only contestants from a show about creating and setting fashion trends to actually create and set fashion trends.