The Insider: An Ill-Fitting ‘Runway’ Closer

Sep 14, 2008  •  Post A Comment

“Project Runway” is leaving Bravo with a runway show that includes more whimpers than big bangs from the six designers who showed collections Friday in what has become the coda to New York City’s Fashion Week in Bryant Park.
Project Runway Finale
Over its five years on Bravo, the runway taping has turned into a must-be-there event that outgrew one tent and tightly packed another that could accommodate 900 people, plus phalanxes of photographers stacked up opposite the end of the runway.
The buzz built from zero to 60 in a few seconds after the door opened and the tent filled with celebrities ranging from Michelle Trachtenberg, in a beaded faux-leopard number she accessorized with her very attractive beau, to Judith Light, who was, The Insider is sorry to report, way too casually tressed, especially for a gate-crasher.
It was as fun as ever to see the “Project” alumni. First-season winner Jay Carroll was carrying one of his circle-dotted fabric bags and sporting a comb-up of at least four inches. Christian Siriano, last year’s pocket-sized winner with the big personality and even bigger ruffled designs, was wearing black shirt, black vest with a big chunky pin that screamed “thrift store” and black jeans with (over)exposed silver zippers on both back pockets.
Blayne, the ’licious designer who was booted just last week for trying to pass off lack of taste as avant garde, was posing for fan photos in clean hair (a first this season), and a turtleneck that nearly covered his ears when he pulled it up, which he did often.
Jillian, who lost to Christian last season in spite of a pretty and accessible—yet forward-feeling—collection, was wearing a softly fitted off-white sweater of many textures, most notably popcorn stitches, and nifty touches like a peplum and deep ruffles at the wrists.
There were the always-entertaining fashion don’ts in the crowd, most notably a furry vest that was pushing the season by about two months and a pair of too-tight, stretched-to-the-max, latex-like black leggings that were pushing credibility.
Alas, we wuz robbed of a likely fashion don’t when Jennifer Lopez, who was to have been the surprise celebrity guest, called in sick the day before.
Host Heidi Klum looked very Veronica Lake in controlled waves and a forest green number that contributed to a throwback air—until she turned around and we saw an exposed tan zipper that ran down the back of her skin-tight dress.
Ms. Klum chirped her thanks to Bravo for “a great five years,” and to Magical Elves, the company that helped turn “Runway” into a Peabody-winning hit.
She chirped that she was going to give a quick kiss to Harvey Weinstein, the Miramax mogul who dealt “Runway” to Lifetime, “because he’s cute” (he isn’t, of course) and “because I can” (ooooooKAAAAY).
She chirped that “Runway’s” urbane and unflappable mentor Tim Gunn was going to sub for J.Lo, an announcement that evoked the biggest round of applause all morning.
Then began the parade of collections, including red herrings designed to keep fans from knowing who really made the final three that will compete in the two-part finale, which will be telecast on Oct. 8 and Oct. 15.
Jerrell, a promising designer wearing a nifty, heavily embellished vintage jacket, led off with a collection that was all over the map, from a bling-blank short dress to a stunning gown that screamed “Sarah Jessica Parker” with its yards and yards of creamy gold folds and cream tulle.
Suede, the designer who talks about himself in the third person, presented outfits that screamed “Barbie’s country cousin.” Some even trailed threads that hadn’t been clipped.
Joe, who had been one of the more consistent competitors this season, trotted out too many variations on denim, leather and gold-embossed velvet (or suede, it was hard to tell) and Western accessories that screamed “Ralph Lauren for Target.”
Kenley, who has been stuck in a plaid yesteryear all season, whipped up a lot of skirts not even a size minus-2 woman could carry off, a couple of examples of great painted fabrics, and a feather-and-tulle wedding gown. There were feathers everywhere, from a circle creating a turtleneck effect on a skinny, long black dress to the tops of models’ and Kenley’s head. Unfortunately, Kenley’s turquoise feathers looked like dealy-bobbers.
Korto, another of my favorites in a field of no breakout designers, wowed with vivid colors and her use of pin-tucking and ruffles, all accessorized with her own jewelry, inspired by the Africa of her birth. A long turquoise halter dress that fit like skin was a genuine knockout. Her craftsmanship was by far the best.
Leanne, a mousey woman who’s prone to getting carried away with flappy thingies she’s made from fabric, was all about flappy thingies on the runway. The craftsmanship required was impressive, but the effect wasn’t–except for the stunning bridal gown that had big flappy thingies in the front and billows in the back.
The feeling of being utterly underwhelmed–a first for this “Project Runway” fan—had just settled in the pit of the stomach when Heidi chirped: “Guess what? That was it. Toodle-oo. Auf wiedersehen.”
So long, “Project Runway,” it’s been good to know you. I can’t imagine following you to Lifetime and La-La-Land, a move that screams, “It just wouldn’t be the same.”

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