Saturday, November 21, 2009

Project Run to L.A.

     Project Runway concluded its sixth season this past Thursday.  This was the first season on Lifetime, after a five year run on Bravo.  It was also the first season set in Los Angeles, the previous five having taken place in New York.  Little about the show changed in its new setting.  Though the contestants were no longer at the Parsons School of Design, the fabulous Tim Gunn was still there to guide them along, offering them his advice and wisdom.  There were perhaps a few more celebrities stopping by, and the two popular judges Nina Garcia and Michael  Kors were unfortunately there a little less, though of course they were present at the finale.  Other than that, it seemed to be business as usual on the actual show.  There was a spinoff series as well this year, Models of the Runway, that showed what happened to the models between runway shows.  It was uninteresting and certainly unneeded, especially the final episode, which featured flashbacks from the season.  This replaced a better idea, which was a reunion show that brought back the designers.

     The talent this season was fierce.  While inventiveness had been prevalent in the past, it was frequently overshadowed by the drama, in fighting in the work room.  There was still a bit of drama this year, but not as much.  Irina, the winner, was a bit harsh at times, and there were a couple of tear eruptions during the runway shows, but for the most part, the talent shined.  As a fan since the beginning, the drama has always been my favorite part, but the show still managed to reel me in without as much of it.  What was truly inexplicable, though, was that Christopher Straub made it to the Top Five.  He placed at the bottom week after week, and yet he kept hanging on.  Thankfully, he did not get to show at Fashion Week in Bryant Park.

     The top three were Irina Shabayeva, Carol Hannah Whitfield, and Althea Harper.  Though each presented a fantastic collection, the judges were a bit harder on them in the final show than they usually are, perhaps because expectations of these three were so high.  Unfortunately, Irina won the day.  Supporters of Irina will note that she frequently placed in the top, and had consistently good designs week after week.  And I don't put any stock in the rumors of Althea copying off of Irina, especially in the finale.  They were states apart working on those collections.  The real shame is Carol Hannah, though.  She was the sweetest of the contestants, and battling her illness in the final days leading up to the runway show, she definitely had viewers rooting for her.  Many of us are terribly disappointed at her third place finish.  True, her collection did not tie together as well as the others, but for goodness sakes, she actually used color!  Irina's was predominantly black!

     This past year and a half, Project Runway has been mired in legal battles, as networks fought over who would air it.  Because of that, fans of the show had to wait over a year between the completion of season five and the start of this most recent one.  The good news to come out of all of that fighting, and the fact that Runway filmed this season quite awhile ago, is that TV's best reality show will be returning in two short months!  Season seven premieres in January on Lifetime.

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