Monday, August 23, 2010

Et tu, Project Runway

For the past three seasons of Project Runway, everyone I know was complaining about their judging. Some blamed the move to Lifetime, others -- a short stint at LA (Season 6), etc etc. Season 6 of course, suffered from the absence of regular judges, but I still think that the judges themselves are really the issue. At this point, guest judges are the main source of interest for me; the permanents are in a bit of a rut.

The three of them represent the least creative aspects of fashion. Michael Kors is no visionary -- his designs are a tad stodgy and quite safe; Nina Garcia then peddles those designs to the general public via Marie Claire; and Heidi Klum herself is a conservative and safe dresser. She wears things that are either very on trend or things made specifically to avoid notice by the fashion police.

True, in the past they HAVE used 'wearable' as a dis -- but I suspect that they were not advocating avant garde sensibilities as much as drawing a line between high and low fashion. In the last three seasons however, what with the recession and all, even fashion mags started making nods to affordability. At the same time, F21 etc knock off newest runways so quickly that the line is blurring. The new democracy in fashion did strange things to aspirational fashion. I mean, a strange limp rag someone's wearing could be the latest Alexander Wang, but it also could be your grandfather's long johns. There's just no way of telling sometimes.

And since the judges are traditionalists (who have products to sell and sponsors to please -- thank you, Piperlime wall of accessories), they have retreated into the realms of pretty and wearable, the sorts of things they imagine 'women in the streets' would like (not that they've met any lately, but hey, they are the ones telling us plebs what to think). The substitution of BlueFly by Piperlime is also symptomatic of this mentality of fashion mags becoming cost-conscious as a way of courting consumers. I think this is what explains Michael C's surprising win. So I'm guessing that the next PR winner will be Peach, with her if Betsey Johnson designed for JC Penney esthetics.

But really, all they need are better judges -- the judges with sense of adventure, great personal style, and no fear of the fashion police. Judges who are fabulous. Like these ladies:

(Photo by Danielle Levitt; the article and the rest of the credits are here.)

Now, this is the Project Runway I cannot wait for!


Maurice Broaddus said...

the sad fact is that those judges are perfect to lure in someone like me, a casual observer who'd be scared off by cutting edge fashion.

Fish Monkey said...

This is an excellent point, Maurice! Accessibility of fashion is an interesting conundrum.