Sunday, August 7, 2011

Make it Work

It's back: reality TV show extraordinaire and one of my all-time favourite guilty pleasures, Project Runway, has returned to our screens. I know it's the done thing to be all snoot-snooty about reality TV but, as far as I'm concerned, Project Runway is The Shit.

Much of the credit has to be laid at the feet of the judges and in particular, I suppose, Heidi Klum, who fronts the show and does her best to anchor it. The thing to understand about Heidi is that she likes to wear very very short dresses. I mean, okay, maybe that's not The Thing but that's definitely A Thing you should remember about her. Do not try to make Heidi cover up her legs or suggest she should wear something that covers The Good China or you will regreat it. No, the other thing about Heidi is that she just seems like she's having a great time. While her fellow judges fret and frown Heidi constantly seems like she's just back in town after spending a week having cocktails and hot monkey sex with Seal on a beach somewhere. Even when she's ripping into someone she keeps that beautiful smile on her face and that twinkle in her eye. Plus, you know, she's really pretty. How does she do that?

Nina Garcia is also a hot piece of arse but in a different way. She's very glossy, very serious and can basically shoot laser beams out of her eyes/cut a bitch. If you want to impress someone it's probably Nina because unlike Heidi she's not half cut on pre-show cocktails and unlike Michael Kors she hasn't spent the past hour coming up with cutting one-liners. Nina actually seems to care about the clothes. In many ways this means she has the most boring, least rewarding role on the show but the net result is that she plays a great straight woman to a) Heidi's hilarity b) The Madness of Michael Kors.

Because Michael Kors. Oh. My. God. Never let it said that the man is not talented because, yes, he's a hugely successful designer. But on Project Runway Kors shines not just like a man whose love of fake tan has reached dangerous levels (although, seriously) but like a man who has just come off his meds. This is a man who is not afraid to stick the boot in when he doesn't like what the designers have served up. The following are things Kors has actually said on the show about designs created by designers who are standing right in front of him.

“She looks like a Pole dancer in Dubai”

“She looks like an Amish Cocktail Waitress”

“She looks like a transvestite flamenco dancer at a funeral”

“She looks like her ass is in her front.”

“She looks like Barefoot Appalachain Lil’ Abner Barbie.”

But it's not all about the judges. The thing that makes Project Runway good and the reason that I watch it is that the contestants actually have talent. I mean oodles and oodles of talent. The things they can do with a bedsheet or a bunch of plastic cups and some thread are truly mind-boggling and some of the clothes they produce in about 24 hours are staggeringly beautiful. Yes, others manage to churn out some Red Hot Messes but that, naturally, is part of the appeal. Unlike some famewhores I can mention the vast majority of designers also appear to be there to, you know, become better designers or to have a shot at their own line, as opposed to a burning desire to Become Famous. Accordingly the editors do, thank Christ, do their best to avoid endearing backstories until the last few episodes and concentrate on the competition and the clothes, which are bloody exciting enough thankyou very much.

And acting as a bridge between the judges and the contestants, mugging for the cameras and weeping when his favourites depart is the loveable Tim Gunn, mentor/voice of reason to the contestants and silver fox, if you like that sort of thing. I know I said earlier that Heidi does her best to anchor the show but forget that, it's Tim who really holds it all together with his nods to the viewing audience and the blend of devastatingly criticism and wishful-thinking praise he doles out to the contestants. Although he appears onscreen Tim somehow manages to be that best of all things: the snide friend, sitting on our couch and drinking wine, saying what a bitch that Gretchen is and how he hopes Wendy Pepper dies in a freak yachting accident. Grab us another glass, Tim, and microwave me some popcorn while you're at it - the show's about to start.

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