Less pomp on the 'Project' runway this season
NEW YORK — The applause was polite, the energy muted. The scene in the tents at Project Runway's Season 6 show was surreal, at the very least: Three collections strutted down the catwalk — but the three designers who created them were sequestered backstage, unnamed and invisible, as per the NBC Universal vs. The Weinstein Company showdown which continues to keep Season 6 off the air.
NBC, which owns Runway's longtime home Bravo, sued the production giant for breach of contract for taking the series to Lifetime without giving NBC the chance to make a counter offer. Bravo announced Thursday that Isaac Mizrahi and Kelly Rowland will co-host the network's answer to Runway's departure, The Fashion Show, a competition series premiering later this year.
"I'm a little bit sad for our designers," host Heidi Klum told the audience pre-show. "Please give them all a big applause today, even though you don't know them. We're all in a bit of limbo." Clad in a shiny fuchsia blazer, matching skinny pants and spiky pumps, she introduced the judges, as per tradition: Michael Kors, in smoky aviators; Nina Garcia, in a black-belted, Michelle Obama-purple strapless sheath; and newcomer Suzy Menkes, the formidable fashion editor for the International Herald Tribune.
The ghost collections emerged. No. 1 was heavy on knits: slouchy sweater coats and raw-hemmed dresses coupled with leather (or pleather) black motorcycle jackets and high-waisted, bad-Sandy-from-Grease cigarette pants. No. 2 featured more Michelle Obama purple and touches of teal sewn into seamed and ruffled silhouettes that evoked two Runway grads: Christian Siriano's petal work and Rami Kashou's drapery. No. 3 began with a black armor-like corset reminiscent of Jean Paul Gaultier's Blonde Ambition costumes for Madonna and continued with more bondage/bandage details, including lacy lattice work woven into pants, jackets and dresses. Pied Piper-esque hats and medieval-looking chain strap wool helmets, all in black, capped the mostly black and gray looks.
"I wish we could bring out the three finalists, but we can't," mentor Tim Gunn announced from the catwalk post-show. His tone was, as he said, like "a nervous dad."
"We have a smashing, sensational season for you," he said. "We can't wait for you to see it."
Siriano, however, isn't so sure he'll be tuning in, whenever that might be. "I actually think I'm less intrigued because I know what the finale was" — he knows the end before the beginning — "so it's a little hard. But, you know, if I have time, of course I'll watch," he said with a giggle.
As for the clothes and any evidence of a Runway renaissance, "I didn't really see a fresh start, but I will say I saw some great knitwear, which is exciting." The best adjective the Runway darling could muster? Consistent. "I felt like a lot of the designers, maybe they have really similar aesthetics, whereas I think other seasons, you see so many different personalities. I felt like all these collections almost could be the same one, just a long one."
Siriano praised the last collection's "good vision" and the first for being "really cool and wearable. I wasn't blown away," but "I thought last season was so bad that, I mean, it was so much better than that."
Other Runway alums in attendance: Carmen Webber (in silver, zebra-striped leggings and feather-festooned red yarmulke-like cap), Suede, Ricky Lizalde, Blayne Walsh (in neon green pants and orange-y tan face) and Chris March, whose signature cackle cracked above the pre-show hubbub. Sitting front row was one of the men in responsible for their mini-fame, Bob Weinstein.