'RUNWAY' DESIGNS LOOK AWFULLY FAMILIAR: REPORT
July 19, 2006 -- CALL it "Project Scandal."
After just one episode, charges are flying over a contestant/designer who may have pulled the wool over the judges from Bravo's "Project Runway."
Wannabe-superstar designer Keith Michael may have plagiarized the design sketches he submitted with his application when he tried out for the popular reality series, according to reports that first surfaced on the Internet yesterday.
The sketches appear to be direct copies of outfits from other designers' spring collections, which appeared on the runways last year.
Michael's sketches were briefly shown along with those from other contestants during the premiere of "Project Runway" last week.
Some people suggest that Michael - who is considered one of the show's frontrunners - made the sketches by using a filter on the popular computer program PhotoShop that can turn photos into drawings.
Speculation is high that the judges may have known or learned later that Michael submitted copied sketches and will boot him out of the contest on an upcoming episode of "Runway."
Side-by-side comparisons of Michael's drawings indicate that his sketches are nearly identical to designs by Giambattista Valli, Marni and Lacoste from last year's spring collections.
Bravo officials declined to comment yesterday, but Michael, in a message posted yesterday on omgblog.com - which was among the first to point out the similarities - said the drawings were not submitted as his own work but as an assignment on "trends."
"For the record, I submitted five portfolios for the judges' review," he wrote. "The one you seem to be focusing on was a research assignment I did for a client in which I reviewed key fashion trends. . . . The panel of judges that reviewed my work had many years of experience behind them. I found them neither ignorant, uninformed or misguided about their own profession."