Project Runway 3, Week 6

Reality television should come with a warning label. I’ve managed to avoid it almost entirely, then a friend who loves Project Runway started inviting people over. Now I’m hooked. Healthy? Probably not. Entertaining? Hell, yeah.

The group I watch with has nicknames for many of the designers: Blondie (Alison), Square Head (Robert), Meth Man (Bradley), Tattoo Neck (Steven), Ohio (Angela), Basket Hat (Vincent). In the short time I’ve been watching, I see a disturbing mini trend, and it’s not about fashion. In Season 3, episode 4, “Reap What You Sew”, the designers were divided into teams to create a look for Macy’s owned brand, INC. Bonnie’s and Robert’s designs were the two worst. Robert’s had an ugly jacket, a shapeless top, and a skirt with a back slit unwearably high. Bonnie’s also had a jacket, though not as bad as Robert’s, over a cowl neck, and pants that the judge Nina sneered looked cheap. Bonnie was criticized for not being fashion forward enough, and she was cut. I thought Robert’s outfit was much worse–ugly, mismatched, and poorly made. The implication is it’s better to wear a jumbled attempt at fashion than a more conservative ensemble.

On last night’s episode, “Waste Not, Want Not”, Alison and Vincent’s designs were voted the two worst. The judges noted that the model could not walk in Vincent’s dress, and wondered why he hadn’t made it a mini dress. But the vitriol heaped on Alison seemed far greater than she deserved. Her constructed paper dress wasn’t great, but its unforgiveable sin was that it didn’t flatter the model. “She looks like a plus model,” Heidi Klum spit out. Michael Kors said he couldn’t believe a woman designer would do such a thing. So while Vincent was merely chastised, Alison was sent home. The implication is it’s better to wear something ugly in which you can’t move than wear something not ugly that isn’t slimming.

In both episodes, the male designer made the uglier, less wearable outfit. Yet the female designer was voted out. While it would be foolish to criticize a fashion show for valuing style over substance, I didn’t see style in either Robert’s jacket outfit, or Vincent’s weird art dress. Maybe they’re favoring the men designers over the women. More likely, though, they’re favoring stronger personalities over weaker ones, as noted by Manolo the Shoeblogger.

Then again, that wouldn’t explain the choice of the winning design, though. For the second week in a row, supposedly nice guy Michael Knight’s design won. While it was good, and won the coveted comment of “I’d wear that” from the judges, our group thought bellicose Tattoo Neck Steven’s design had the most style and substance.

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