Idiot Box: “Project Runway All Stars”
I don’t claim to be a fashionista. I still trust my mom to have a better eye for what clothes look best on me, I never stay up to date on the latest trends, and left to my own devices, I would wear pajamas every day rather than try to put together a cute outfit. That said, one of my favorite TV shows is “Project Runway.” I love seeing the progression from the designers’ rough sketches to the glamorous looks that go down the runway. I love trying to figure out how in the world all the contestants manage to produce complete outfits every episode, despite the ridiculous challenges, the time constraints, and the limited budget. And, of course, I love watching the drama between the designers, laughing at Heidi Klum’s monotonous script, and listening to Nina Garcia and Michael Kors tear apart the week’s bottom three outfits.
Clearly, I’m not the only person in America who gets pleasure out of this show, as Project Runway has continued for nine seasons, with a tenth on the way. Therefore, I must not have been the only one excited this fall when I heard that Lifetime would be airing a spin-off series called “Project Runway: All Stars,” in which 13 designers from seasons 1-8 of the original show would engage in a similar competition. When the first episode aired on Jan. 5 of this year, however, my enthusiasm was instantly squashed.
The new host, supermodel Angela Lindvall, almost made me want to turn off the television. While I respect that filling Klum’s shoes may be difficult (as robotic as Klum is, her shtick is part of what makes Project Runway so entertaining), Lindvall made a mistake in trying to imitate her predecessor. Klum’s cold confidence is something that can’t be replicated by anyone—and Lindvall in particular can’t seem to pull it off.
And the same way that “American Idol” (another one of my guilty pleasures) instantly went downhill after Simon Cowell gave up his seat on the judging panel, “Project Runway: All-Stars” hasn’t benefited from the disappearance of Garcia and Kors. To put it bluntly, the new judges are just not mean enough. As harsh as Garcia and Kors were, they were usually very clear and direct in their criticisms, whereas the new judges—fashion designers Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman—seem too afraid of hurting the contestants’ feelings to give a truthful critique.
The one aspect of the show that hasn’t suffered is Tim Gunn’s replacement. Just as Gunn gave the designers useful advice during the early stages of each challenge, the new mentor, Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles, is very honest about what works and what doesn’t in the outfits. She encourages the contestants to stay true to their design aesthetic while still continuing to push boundaries.
One final complaint I have is that most of the contestants simply aren’t talented enough to produce high-quality designs. The majority of the designers weren’t even in the top three of their respective seasons, and as a result, most of the looks that have appeared on the runway for each challenge are relatively average.
After having sat through the first six episodes of “Project Runway: All Stars” in hopes that it will improve, I’ve finally accepted the fact that it won’t. Instead, I’ll just have to wait until the tenth season of “Project Runway” comes on and I can enjoy the old regulars once more.