Preparing for takeoff
A look at 'Project Runway' designers' chances of getting off the ground
By Erika Gonzalez and Lisa Bornstein, Rocky Mountain News
August 22, 2006
Forget Donald Trump's aspiring apprentices selling lemonade in Times Square and Survivor's starving castaways.
If you want to see really skilled reality-television stars, tune in to Project Runway. From crafting garden-party dresses out of, well, gardens to adding a bit of flair to the U.S. Postal Service uniform, these driven designers have done it all.
In its third season, the show is racking up ratings gold for cable network Bravo. The show's Aug. 2 episode was the most-watched cable show of the day, with 3.4 million viewers.
Here's a guide to the contestants still attempting to stitch their way on to the stage at Olympus Fashion Week. Or in the words of the show's wise and likable mentor, Tim Gunn, which designer we think will and won't make it work.
Here's a look at the contestants, as well as the brand names we'd stitch onto their clothing labels:
• Michael: Rising Star
• Laura: Chic Supermom
• Robert: Inconsistency
• Jeffrey: Tattoo You
• Vincent: The Mad Hatter
• Kayne: Pageant Queen
• Angela: Basket Case
• Uli: Flight of Fancy
• Body of work: The 28-year-old has been on a roll from the first challenge, when he concocted a flirty cocktail dress out of coffee filters. His sexy, hot pink halter and matching hot-pants combo (inspired by Foxy Brown's Pam Grier) won him his first challenge. The gold corset, fitted skirt and wrap he crafted out of plastic, gold mylar and peanut sack put him in the winner's circle a second time.
• You'd find these clothes at: Barney's
• Sweatshop etiquette: Cool and collected, Michael has never had a meltdown. He also hasn't clashed with any of his fellow competitors.
• Victories: two
• Odds: Michael's innovative, creative designs should make him a shoe-in for the finals. But beware less-gifted whack jobs Vincent and Angela, who could outlast the diverse but quiet designer.
• Body of work: As she's an architect by training, it's no surprise to see the 43-year-old designing well- constructed garments with clean lines. From the high-waisted beige pants and silk shirt she made for a modern-day Katharine Hepburn to the crisp, white and black trimmed party dress she sewed out of a peanut sack, Laura creates clothes for lunch on the Upper East Side. Her most exciting creation: the long, slate-gray, faux-fur-trimmed jacket she made out of her hotel-room furnishings.
• You'd find these clothes at: Ann Taylor
• Sweatshop etiquette: Give her a whip! The mother of five verbally spanks anyone whom she thinks misbehaves.
• Victories: none
• Odds: Laura is consistent but also borders on consistently boring. Even if she doesn't break out of the box, the drama she creates may secure her a place in the finals.
• Body of work: The 36-year-old designs clothes for Barbie dolls, and on the show his best designs have come out of games that involve scavenging. His first dress, made out of apartment furnishings, was a gorgeous white frock with straps made from silver beads. His most recent work turned discarded foil into a bold cocktail dress. In between, most of his stuff is far too dull.
• You'd find these clothes at: Dillard's
• Sweatshop etiquette: He's one of the most pleasant designers but enjoys getting catty. When Kayne mentioned that Laura kissed him, Robert warned, "I hope you don't get a rash."
• Victories: none.
• Odds: Robert came out strong in the first episode but has since faded, ending up in the bottom two multiple times.
• Body of work: He started on himself, tattooing his tree-trunk neck with an ode to his son. One of the artiest designers, the 36-year-old usually works his mouth better than his needle - until last week, when he came up with a paint-stained stunner of a paper dress with a painted-on belt.
• You'd find these clothes: On the runway - only.
• Sweatshop etiquette: He compensates for his lack of success with an ego bigger than his giant neck tattoo. The nastiest of the remaining crew, he's won no friends, which will cost him in any future team challenges.
• Victories: none
• Odds: Jeffrey is seemingly unconcerned whether anyone will ever wear (or even want) his clothes. Not good.
• Body of work: When Vincent isn't busy muttering to himself, he's designing clothes that look as if they were stolen from a band of stoned gypsies. His potato-sack sundress accessorized with a bizarre straw hat? Check. The staid, ill-fitting gown he created for Miss USA featuring bows as sleeves? Check. His Twiggy-influenced Raggedy Ann dress? Check.
• You'd find these clothes at: Goodwill
• Sweatshop etiquette: He hears voices (no, they don't belong to the other people in the workroom).
• Victories: Are you kidding?
• Odds: If America were voting, Vincent would be out. His antics, however, have the producers hooked, which could keep him alive.
• Body of work: Whether he's designing a tropical-print halter dress (and matching headband) for a haughty dog owner or demonstrating his forte with a strapless, fitted gown for Miss USA, the 27-year-old is all about color and flamboyance. It's a combination that served him well until last week, when he made a dress that looked as if it had been lifted from the set of a '60s sci-fi film.
• You'd find these clothes at: David's Bridal
• Sweatshop etiquette: He's loud and proud, but kind when it matters most.
• Victories: one
• Odds: Kayne has a big personality, a big mouth (he blew the whistle on cheater Keith) and big talent. He could go all the way.
• Body of work: Think Forever 21 crossed with early Madonna. Cheap and cheap. The 33-year-old likes bubble skirts and lurid colors, but just when you think she's bought a ticket home, she shows up with her sophisticated black Audrey Hepburn shift.
• You'd find these clothes at: 1984
• Sweatshop etiquette: Some (that is, Jeffrey) say she breaks sewing machines, but she insists she just found them that way. Occupies that delicate space between the clingy middle-school loser and the aggressively defensive high school loser.
• Victories: one
• Odds: Angela, you'd better keep flying that freak flag, or else you're going home - drama is the only thing keeping you around.
• Body of work: Quiet, consistent and enormously gifted, the 35-year-old has turned out a procession of beauties, specializing in unusual pattern combinations and flowy fabrics, as in an animal-print mix of purples for Diana Ross.
• You'd find these clothes at: Garbarini
• Sweatshop etiquette: Either she's really good or she's paid off the producers - we almost never see her in the workshop.
• Victories: one
• Odds: The self-taught East German native and Miami resident has proved herself to be one of the show's top artists. Now she just needs to extend her reach.