Tag Archives: ProjectRunway

Project Runway: Junior “It’s a Wash”

Our second episode of Project Runway: Junior continues to follow the formula of the parent show, with an unconventional challenge. Since the kids are younger and more gullible, they bring them to the car wash where they get their materials in a limo, so they’re thoroughly fooled going in. But because they’re also young, they handle the bait and switch well. No one insists they are real designers and that not being allowed to work with fabric is some how nonsensical. Those who do say “I’ve only ever worked with fabric,” say it in a way like they’re very inexperienced, not like this is somehow a thing Project Runway should respect.

Along with the far more positive attitude from the cast, I’m finding that PR: Junior works because we are functioning with lowered expectations. These are, after all, kids. Last week’s designs were nothing that would blow one away upon first glance. None of them are going to come along, and say, turn out an avante garde piece on par with Chris March and Christian Siriano in Season 4. But, let’s be frank–no one on Project Runway proper is going to either. This is partly a function of the format change as Lifetime and Weinstein tightened the purse strings, and the standard of two-day long challenges shrank down to one day challenges. The time to conceptualize and create on that level no longer exists. Not to mention that as the show ages, fades from the headlines, and is no longer being referred to by websites as “The Greatest Show on Earth,” it attracts more of the “reality show attention needer” type, and less of the “seriously talented” types. (American Idol has the same problem. The future Kelly Clarksons simply no longer show up.)


Still, the unconventional challenge, by virtue of being more of a crafting and creativity challenge, offers these kids a chance to show up their adult counterparts. Let’s see if anyone is headed in that direction as Tim checks in.

  • Jesse: He has a concept of keychains as fringe going on one shoulder. He also seems really surprised Tim likes it.
  • Bridget: She’s down on herself for not knowing how to work with the materials, but Tim points out her real issue is that she keeps changing her concept.
  • Peytie: She’s got a mop crop top. Tim is very concerned about time management.
  • Matt: His top is a bit janky, though the idea is solid. Tim points out he can solve his tube skirt (made of tubing, natch) problems by splitting them in half.
  • Zachary: I would never know his top was made of pinwheels, which is good. He doesn’t like his skirt, and neither do I, but Tim tells him to commit.
  • Samantha: She is semi cheating with car wash gloves. It looks like a Jim Henson creature.
  • Jaxson: He is trying to make shorts out of fringe.
  • Ysable: She’s trying to make a bra out of sponge. Tim is worried about her flag skirt.

And that’s all we have time for! Maya, Victoria and Zach, better luck next time. (Let’s hope getting skipped means there’s a next time.) The models come and go, volunteer to play with hot glue guns, and generally cheer on their designers.


Day of runway, and we definitely have discovered who has the time management issues. Jaxson is especially in a bad way, causing Maya, who is finished, to come over and help him. Matt seems to be building his tube skirt on his model with less than thirty minute to go. There’s a lot of hot gluing models into craft projects as Tim calls time.

Let’s see what the judges make of this.

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Project Runway: Junior “The Junioring of Reality TV”

This week, Lifetime unveiled their fifth attempt at a direct Project Runway spin-off since moving to the network in 2009. Project Runway: Junior is now their second attempt at an underaged version of the sewing competition, replacing last year’s Project Runway: Threads. Unlike Threads, which featured a different crop of kids every week doing a single challenge, Project Runway: Junior will follow the regular Runway format, with twelve contestants over the course of the competition.

The “junioring” of reality series is nothing new–reality series have been attempting to do “younger aged” versions of their shows ever since the craze took off in the early aughts. (Does anyone else remember American Idol‘s American Juniors?) But the timing wasn’t right back then, and to be fair, many of the formats to the popular shows of the time did not lend themselves easily to the younger set. Idol, for example, was partly as popular as it was because of Simon Cowell crushing the dreams of the deluded. This did not go over nearly as well when the deluded was an 11-year-old instead of a 41-year-old. Shows like Survivor require the artifice that the cast is left to fend for themselves on an island. That does not work when parents have to be on set as part of union rules.pr-junior-ep1-episode3


It wasn’t until Master Chef: Junior came along a few years ago that the format to have kids on as contestants finally found it’s groove. One of the reasons that the “Junior” concept has begun to resonate with audiences is the turn to a more positive, happy reality type show. (Great British Bake Off, the most humane reality show ever conceived, is a hit while shows that made their bed on cruelty, like Idol are out the door. This isn’t a coincidence.) It’s not surprising either that the reality show that made it work was also one where the challenge was one that could be scaled down to be handled by teenagers. Rachel Ray’s Kids Cook Off followed soon after, and this year saw the début of Chopped: Junior after several teen-aged specials of the program ran to great success. The reason for this? The kids are fresh-faced. They’re not desperate. They may say things like “I’ve never wanted this more in my life” but when you’re fourteen that’s what, five years at most? When you’re 50 and saying that, it’s a lot more serious.

Project Runway was the first to attempt to adopt the format outside the food genre last year with Threads, but they got nervous about bringing on kids and having them film for a full 12 weeks, which is why the format wound up being 3 different kids competing every week, with eight winners altogether over the two month run. But that didn’t bring in the ratings they were hoping for, which is why the format has now been tweaked to follow the more traditional one. Twelve teenagers, between the ages of 13-17, are competing. Of the judges, only Christian Siriano remains from the Threads cast, joined now by Kelly Osborne, who is a regular guest judge of the other iterations of Project Runway, not to mention out of a job since quitting E!. The third judge is the “Nina Garcia” stand in, except instead of the editor of Marie Clare, it’s the editor of the more age appropriate Seventeen Magazine and Cosmo, Aya Kanai.


Also, recognizing the success of the original iteration of Project Runway relies on certain continuing presences, Junior has tapped Tim Gunn to do his usual mentor thing. Unfortunately, Heidi could not be convinced to turn up on camera, so model Hannah Davis is standing in for her. It should be noted how much more cheerful Gunn seems filming in the première episode. He was blunt, post finale last week, that Season 14 was “lackluster” (a feeling I agreed with after seeing the final lines.) Working with the kids and their positive attitudes and cheery innocence on Junior seems to have refreshed an invigorated him, much like the show is hoping the kids will do for the audiences watching at home. Gunn did admit in an interview that the kids weren’t total innocents though, they can’t be in this day and age, and more than once I could hear what he meant, as the kids spat out reality show style soundbites like they were preprogrammed  to do so by society.

But of course, the question is, as always, how did the clothes look? Can the kids sew and sew well in the time allotted?

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Project Runway Season 14: Ashley’s NYFW Collection

In retrospect, once Ashley was tapped to appear on TV as a finale collection, it was a forgone conclusion that she would probably win.

After all, as hard as the fashion industry has worked these last few years to try to seem more inclusive, change has been slow. Remember, this is an industry that fifteen years ago was totally insular. ten years ago it was only just starting to open up, thanks to the internet, and shows like Project Runway. But even though there are forces trying to get them to change, models of color are still a rare sight on catwalks, and plus sized models non-existent. The most famous plus sized model is a Size 12. Most of us wish we were a Size 12.


So it’s hard to push back against Ashley’s win. After all, hers was not only the only plus sized collection shown on Project Runway, it was the only plus sized collection that received any coverage at New York Fashion Week. And when you have a historical, ground breaking, insert-your-adjective-here show like that, to not then also give it the win would have just confused people.

Not to mention that, Carrie Underwood noted at the final runway–this was very *feminine* collection. For a society who usually defaults to portraying larger women as dressing in unisex, unflattering or male clothing in pop culture, this was revolutionary. Ashley didn’t just show plus sized clothing, she showed plus sized girls in midriff bearing tops.

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Project Runway Season 14: Kelly’s NYFW Collection

If life, and reality shows, were fair, Kelly would have won. Not because of her collection. I’m not going to sit here and tell you her collection was the best of the four. Because I don’t think it was. I actually wasn’t very impressed with any of them, when it came down to it.

But reality shows have a rhythm to them, and if you’re a smart player, you’ll follow that rhythm, and build yourself a growth arc that the show can latch on to. Kelly came in with this “Kelly from the Deli” persona, and started off as a midpacker at best, and slowly built her way up until she had won more challenges than anyone this season. She played smart. As Nina noted at the final runway “She’s so polite. She always says she’ll work harder.” Don’t think that doesn’t count for a lot with the judges, as well as the viewing audience. I saw a lot of people who watch the show, after the first part of the finale, talking about how they were rooting for Kelly. In terms of how to play a reality show game, she won, hands down.


The problem is that Project Runway sees itself as being the fashion version of American Idol. It’s not content, as say, The Voice is, to be a reality TV show that’s entertaining, but will never produce a major star, and will be completely forgotten about in three months when the next cycle begins. Even before producing Christian Siriano, the show had pretensions of being the inside track to success in the industry. And that means sometimes, when they get the industry’s attention, they then have to abide by the industry’s taste levels. And sadly, as fun as Kelly’s collection was, it was nowhere near those upperclass taste levels.

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Project Runway Season 14: Edmond’s NYFW Collection

Edmond was a man who clearly trained himself to thrive on Project Runway, after trying out every single season. He was really smart about the unconventional challenges. He sewed like a speed demon, often times making two or three outfits per challenge. But as the prize got closer, you could see him start to self sabotage, leading to nearly being auff’ed right before the finale.

That semi-self sabotage seemed to spiral directly into the finale collection. When Tim came to see him in the first part of the finale, he was the most behind, with the least defined concept behind his line. And though he did somewhat re-right himself, cutting away the over embellishments early on to keep his “wow factor” pieces at the end, I would say that inability to present a clear concept other than “Generic Evening Wear,” such as the gown above, which is beautifully made, but nothing we haven’t seen before, guaranteed he couldn’t win.

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Project Runway Season 14: Candice’s NYFW Collection

Our fourth place finisher Candice, had problems with her finale collection from the start. When Tim comes to your house and tells you your collection is going to wrong way, you don’t dismiss him. I think that from that moment on , Candice was probably doomed. Even if she had a week or another seven weeks to remake, the panning of her collection by the judges was so not something she was ready to mentally handle, I’m not sure she could have solved her problems, which by that point were baked into the text.

But it didn’t help that she also took the wrong notes from the judges last week either. Her choice to cut all the cherry blossom looks in favor of just leather was a freaked out over reaction. As we saw, the only cherry blossom piece that made it in–and only because Candice ran out of time to make anything to replace it–was Nina’s favorite. It was the direction she probably should have considered going, instead of heading down to leathertown.

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Project Runway Season 14: Finale Part 2

Last time on Project Runway, the first part of the finale showed Edmond and Candice receiving serious critiques of their collection, while Kelly and Ashley were merely steered towards a better way of styling what they already have. Interestingly, when we rejoin the episode with tonight’s installment, instead of everyone heading to Mood, and Edmond and Candice buying fabric to make new outfits, only Kelly and Ashley feel like they need to go. This is so totally backwards, the show has to find a way not to send anyone.

So for the first time in my memory, instead of those who want to go to Mood going, Tim goes to Mood for them, like the most dapper assistant who ever assisted. He brings back a bag  of notions for Ashley, and 20 lbs of glitter for Kelly. (He can barely contain his glee over the latter.) Everyone settles down to work, and await Tim’s return to double-check the direction they are going. (Which clearly won’t be that far off the one they were already on, since no one actually went shopping.)pr14-ep14-episode7

Before we get into to the Tim critique, we should note that the fashion press spoke long ago on the subject of these collections, and we won’t even be seeing their favorite on the runway tonight. On every blog that covered the Project Runway show last September, and every celebrity site that makes it their business to post all the pictures of every pop culture event (think Zimbio), one collection got far more pictures and words dedicated to it, and that was Swapnil’s. (It’s not the first time a dummy collection has stolen the show, Alexander Pope did the same thing in Season 12. But it is a bit of an embarrassment when it happens.) Ashley came in second, though that was partly due to the groundbreaking nature of her collection. (Buzzfeed, among other sites, did a write-up for her journey and published it prior to the finale.) Rounding out what most of the fashion world judged to be the Top Three on the night was the other dummy collection we won’t see: Merline’s. Edmond got some love for his upcoming evening looks. But Candice’s barely registered. And poor Kelly’s collection was completely ignored in some places. More than a few sites I rolled by yesterday while prepping for this episode didn’t have a single picture of any one outfit from their collections. Candice at least got her finale walk shot in a couple of places, but Kelly? Nada.

Keeping this in mind, let’s check in with Tim.


  • Kelly: Tim clearly adores glitter, and wishes he could sit around and pour it over chunky platforms for the next two days with her. He also suggests mixing and matching her pieces.
  • Candice: She’s thinking of cutting everything that was dramatic and fun about her collection, instead of toning down everything else so she has one or two wow pieces. Tim doesn’t dissuade her.
  • Ashley: Tim actually bought her a print, which matches the rest of collection really well. Tim is more concerned about the janky zippers.
  • Edmond: He’s editing out the ruffles on the more minor pieces to be able to keep them on the dramatic ending pieces. Tim is more concerned about his lack of focus.

The model fittings happen in two rounds over the next day and a half. There’s our last ads for the Name Dropping Hair Salon and the Product Displaying Make Up People. Since sponsor Lexus somehow got skipped in having an episode dedicated to them this season, they also swing by the show off their cars. Because we really care about what the contestants ride in at 4am to the presentation.


After some backstage drama, broken zippers, a few sharp words from Tim about keeping an eye on the details and as least one minor breakdown, it’s time to get down to business. Time for what we care about–the clothes!

Continue reading Project Runway Season 14: Finale Part 2