Thursday, June 11, 2009
So, is anybody else watching Bravo's spite-knockoff of Project Runway, "The Fashion Show"? I am guessing that a lot of the aesthetic look of Project Runway is owned by Bravo, such as the time lapse shots of New York, the "_ Hours Until Runway Show" graphics, and the music. This makes me very curious to see what Project Runway will look like in its new home. I'm guessing if the look and feel, if not the actual content and stars, of Project Runway are the intellectual property of Bravo they're going to have to tweak, if not the format, at least the superficial look of the show. The parties have shown themselves extremely willing to engage in litigation so Weinstein shouldn't take any risks.
So, I don't have cable. In a way this is good because to watch Project Runway I have to bum off a friend and invite myself over. Which means that I don't watch it alone. I didn't realize how much having a friend to gossip with increased the enjoyment of watching the show, but watching The Fashion Show online (I won't link because it's probably not legal but you can find it easily enough) by myself is not quite the same.
Nor is the show.
Kelly Rowland: Wha? I mean, I loved Destiny's Child back in the day, but seriously, what is this woman's cultural relevance? And she doesn't overcome it with her wooden presence and complete lack of understanding that the definition of "fashion" is not "stuff I would wear."
Isaac Mizrahi: A funny, genuine person. But he's not warm enough to be Tim Gunn or bitchy enough to be Duchess Michael Kors. Also, he appears comfortable on film, but not remotely natural. He keeps doing the Michael Scott thing where his eyes cut over to the camera.
Fern Mallis: Why don't they use her more? She really could give Tim Gunn a run for his money. She is sweet and encouraging and knows everything about fashion, especially its marketability. An internship with Fern Mallis should be every aspiring designer's dream. I think that should be the prize, and that she should replace Kelly Rowland in the workroom visits. But she's probably too busy with her real job. Of which Kelly doesn't have one.
There is the usual mix of silly, unwarranted divas and a few people who keep their heads down and let their talent shine through. Actually, I'm not sure there are any of those, but there is some genuine talent.
As in Project Runway, there's a lot of harping on the finishing of garments.
One of the contestants got very pissy about being called out for poor sewing, saying repeatedly, "I didn't know this was a contest for America's Best Home Sewer" (a line, might I add, that he ripped off from Tim Gunn, who said it about all the people who came to Project Runway auditions with portfolios of garments sewn from commercial patterns although I can't find the source for this).
Isaac--who has publicly emphasized the importance of sewing to designing in the past--said, "You can't write recipes without knowing how to cook."
I totally agree. I am not a designer, as I am continually telling people who say, when they find out I sew, "You should go on Project Runway!" I have drafted a few simple projects, but in the end I have neither the skills nor the vision to be a designer. So I am not saying this from a place of thinking that I'm better than anyone.
But to me there are two components to fashion design. The first is artistic. But the second is engineering. If you can conceive of a garment but cannot carry it out into wearable execution (and production sewing is yet another ball of wax), your work is art but it is not fashion design. And that was the issue with this designer. He created a bodice that would not stay up without duct tape. If he doesn't know enough about sewing and construction to understand that two jersey triangles without straps, boning, or structure will not stay up over a woman's breasts, he is not a designer. He is an artist, perhaps. But not a designer.
I would quibble with the judges on finishing techniques. You don't have to know finishing techniques to be a designer. That is something you can leave to skilled workers once you're successful enough to hire them. I think I'm even ok with safety pins, assuming they're standing in for viable seams. But garments that do not function as garments? That is not successful fashion design. Unless you're Viktor & Rolf, as demonstrated at right.
Overall, the show is going well, but hasn't quite decided what it is. I love the emphasis on saleability, and that the weekly prize is production and sale of the winning garment (with well-executed details and surprisingly affordable price points) and the final prize is an entire line sold on bravotv.com. However, the judges seem conflicted about this. At one point, when the guest judge likes the losing design because it's something his clients would buy "without even thinking about it" (because it is flattering, innocuous, and easy to wear), Isaac says, "This isn't the salesman show."
But...it actually *is* the salesman show. Notwithstanding that mandate, the judges often choose the garment that will be the most difficult and expensive to produce, with the most fashionified silhouette suitable only for fashion insiders with model figures. I'm not sure how--if ever--this tension will be resolved. It doesn't necessarily have to be for the show to be enjoyable, but the home sewist/armchair dreaming designer would love to know which it is.
The Fashion Show airs on Thursdays on Bravo.