About a week ago I was commenting to my gentleman friend that I think my perennial favorite television show, Project Runway, may have jumped the shark... Between Miss "I can't sew" from Trinidad/Tobago winning season 9 to the relatively boring looks and personalities of season 10, I suspected for some time that the show may not run too much longer. When I heard that Michael Kors had left the show and that season 11 would consist of nothing but team challenges? It sounded like a death knell to me...
Now I think I was wrong.
While the idea of an "all team challenges" season seems cooked up merely to instigate drama, after actually seeing the first episode I think it may be just the boost the show needs. The 16 designers arrived with no idea about the "twist" that was awaiting them but were quickly divided into two teams who amply demonstrated the best and worst of teamwork. The "Dream Team" and team "Keeping it Real" (seriously guys?) were given views of NYC as inspiration and tasked with designing ensembles which demonstrated their personal style while utilizing the advice of their team members.
Despite their ridiculous name, "Keeping it Real" did a fantastic job of working together. You could sense a real camaraderie between the designers who gave each other useful and valuable criticism and assisted each other with drafting and construction. When the two collections walked out on the runway they were the clear and obvious winners. In contrast, the "Dream Team" decided to work under more of an "every man for himself" model. While there were some strong looks, they also allowed each other to flounder and the end products suffered for it.
I loved all of the top three designers. I will admit to having initial doubts about mustachioed Daniel Esquivel and Patricia "Water Lilly" Michaels due to their personal style but they ended up being the clear standouts with a sleek black suit with an exaggerated peplum and an artistic cutout leather dress, respectively. I'll be especially interested in watching Patricia. In each season they always seem to cast one "offbeat" designer who marks with spit instead of chalk, uses themselves as a dress form, or dresses like something out of a cartoon. Usually this designer is eliminated fairly early on for creating peculiar designs that are either a bit too "out-there" or bit too "home-made." I initially had Patricia in this category, especially when she started hand-painting her textile, but she clearly has a great eye as she created a chic and original look out of something that could have been very "craft show" in less skilled hands.
I can't say I was sad to see Emily go. She annoyed me from the get go with her talk of being young and inexperienced but just so talented that everyone else should pack their bags. Girl may have a vision but she bit off way more than she could chew and frankly I don't believe that she spends every evening after work sewing. Someone who spends every evening sewing would not have created the hot-glued organza mess. Honestly she would have been better off sending her muslin down the runway and claiming it was a homage to the garment district or something...
As for the changes to the structure of the show, I think I like that Tim Gunn's critique is more workshop style with the entire team chiming in with ideas. As for Zac Posen... I like the man's designs but I am so far unimpressed with his judging. I miss Kors's clever (bitchy?) quips. When it comes to being a TV personality, you, Zac Posen? Are NO Michael Kors.
Of course you could prove me wrong. It's happened before.