Well, This Is Bad Timing.
Are people still attached to the hope that eventually Project Runway will become a legitimate institution in the world of high fashion? No, ha! That would be silly. Mall fashion, maybe. I did hear the distinct sound of a window being shut recently, though, one through which the last of that hope may have disappeared, I think. I'll go with guilty pleasure, at least until pleasure takes a hike as well.
So it is always with a mixed feeling when the Lifetime show (or any of its spinoff ilk) come sniffing around Portland for fresh blood. On the one hand we need designers to stay here and help build on the important work of legitimating localized production. On the other hand... many people have a dream that they will someday be filmed crying on cable television, and I totally get that. So I'm only going to say this once. They're sniffing. Go here if you want them to smell you.
I don't know that I plan to religiously report on each episode of the premiere season of Under the Gunn, the Project Runway spinoff show that features two Portland designers, Brady Lange and Amy Sim, but I do think it's of some importance to keep you abreast of the major events affecting those who represent our city on the small screen. And thus, the spoiler-y highlight reel from last night's episode:
It's a strong indicator of how far the new Project Runway spinoff Under the Gunn has to go to build a following anywhere near as strong as the franchise's original anchor, that I had to dig a little to find even one blog recap of the show this morning. This will make at least two!
I had more than one option for seating at last night's screening at the Back Stage Bar, but local PR alums Michelle Lesniak and Bryce Black were among those who came out to support local competitors Brady Lange and Amy Sim. The show itself is a touch convoluted. There are the designers' challenges themselves, and then there is a sub-competition between three mentors—PR formers Anya Ayoung-Chee, Mondo Guerra, and Nick Verreos. For the first outing, only half the designers even participated (Lange among them), doing a standard "create a look in six hours that expresses who you are as a designer" challenge, in order to give the mentors an idea of who they would prefer to work with, much like kids picking teammates for a recess-hour scrimmage:
All three mentors cooed with enthusiasm over Brady's portfolio, perusal of which marked their first review for mentoree consideration. This was somewhat lessened by their visit to the studio, where his in-progress signature sportswear look (finished off with the zero-hour flourish of "BL" initials stitched across the front) caused some mild consternation. As the mentors made their selections, Brady was made to languish on the bench a bit uncomfortably long, until Anya and Nick came forward with their desire to work with him—Brady chose to join Team Anya. One designer was eliminated, the Southern Melissa Grimes, who failed to impress with an all-polka dot ensemble that was cute enough, but not fashion forward.
Personality-wise, recent SCAD graduate Blake Smith seems like the first to be shaping into a real character—his astonishment when Brady told him he was wearing not only a top of his own design but his jeans as well was particularly precious. Brady comes off fairly true to life—modest and funny with a little whiff of diva just under the surface—which is refreshing for these often misleadingly edited affairs.
Aaaand, that's pretty much all we know. Presumably the other half of the designers (Sim included) will be put through the same wringer next week. Then we'll start to see if the show, and our local competitors with it, can wind up some good momentum... things still feel a little wooden at this point.
When it rains, it pours, I suppose. Within hours of Seth Aaron's record-breaking win of Project Runway All Stars being televised (he's the first to have won PR proper as well as the All Stars spinoff) comes the news that two Portland designers are going to be competing on another new spinoff, the Tim Gunn-centric Under the Gunn: Brady Lange and Amy Sim.
Though it looks essentially the same as the rest of the shows that make up the franchise, the deal with Gunn seems to be that not only are the design competitors in question subjected to the usual types of challenges, but three former PR competitors (hi, Mondo!) will also be tested to see if they have what it takes to be Gunn-esque mentors. The judges this time will be Rachel Roy, stylist Jen Rade, and Marie Claire Senior Fashion Editor Zanna Roberts Rassi, with guest judges said to include Heidi Klum (inevitably) and Neil Patrick Harris (?!).
The show premieres on Thursday (Jan 16) at 9 on Lifetime.
It's been almost a year since Michelle Lesniak's season of Project Runway was on the air (as is pretty typical with local competitors, she won, NBD). However, Vancouver's Seth Aaron, whose successful progress on the show back in 2010 I faithfully recapped episode by episode, is about to wrap up Project Runway: All Stars.
I haven't been watching it. If I can relate to unknown designers participating on the original show for the exposure and the chance at scoring a chunk of change, the All-Stars bit seems to be mostly about perpetuating reality TV fame. You've already been exposed, and all that. However, it seems Seth might be about to make some reality television history (oh boy!). All kidding aside, he's a finalist on tonight's last episode, and if he wins, he'll be the first Runway competitor to have taken the prize on both the original and the spinoff, which has got to count for something, right? Maybe an extra prize car? Anyhow, if you'd like to tune in, it's on at 9 pm on Lifetime, and here's where we're at:
Yeah. Looks like he's got this.
Further cementing Portland's status as the unofficial outpost city of the Project Runway franchise comes the news that Vancouver's Seth Aaron Henderson will be competing on the next Project Runway Allstars, which is somewhat intriguingly being hosted by Alyssa Milano. So... there's that!
During his initial stint competing, Seth Aaron was almost methodical about jumping through every hoop to win Season 7, and dude has some serious chops. I don't even think he cried, and everyone cries on Project Runway. And while I'm still waiting to see any former contestant from this show have a meaningful career in high fashion as a result (still convinced Christian Siriano is a decoy), at least Seth Aaron is getting back into the TV-fashion game, which is better than no game.
The new season begins October 24 on Lifetime.
And then it was over:
It's spoilerville after the break!
I feel like this always happens. Whenever the finalists on Project Runway are released from their gilded cage to go home and begin work on their fashion week collections, it's like the blood suddenly rushes back to their heads all at once and they over-think themselves into some pretty weird ideas about clothes. Here's where Portland contestant Michelle Lesniak Franklin's at:
Oooh ooh ooh, last night's two-hour Project Runway special, featuring the final challenge prior to sending these poor exhausted people home to work on their NY fashion week collections, had a whole lot of action and airplane time. Apologies are owed to the earth for the squandering of precious fuel that took this cast of characters to points across western Europe for one day. Meanwhile, in Portland contestant Michelle's world:
Ok... let's talk about this:
Nothin' but spoilers after the cut.
We were down to the final six contestants on last night's episode of Project Runway. And how is Portland champ Michelle Lesniak Franklin faring? Let's just say that there's a lot going on here:
Full wrap-up (with spoilers) beyond!
Things were looking up on last night's episode of the old "Proj Run," just by virtue of the absence of male strippers alone. As for Portland champ Michelle Lesniak Franklin, she had nowhere to go but up after her horrible stab at the horrible idea that is "steampunk." This is better:
Hit the jump for all the spoilery details!
After last night's disastrous episode of Project Runway, Heidi eliminated everyone, including dud of a guest judge Emmt Rossum, and all the contestants packed up their bags and weepily made their way home. Alas, I kid, but seriously: it truly was dreadful.
Because everything has to be a popularity contest, the Alliance For Audited Media has released its numbers for which celebs garned the highest and lowest pickup rates for grocery store glossies like Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. It's a somewhat inscrutable look into the mind of the last-minute impulse consumer's attraction to Lady Gaga (who had the highest selling Vogue cover of the year), and somewhat puzzling rejection of Rihanna (her Vogue appearance rated 32% below the average copies sold). This handy slideshow tours you through the highlights and lowlights, if you want numerical confirmation of, say, the Kardashian's (possibly? please?) waning popularity or to wring your hands over the stupidity of customers who failed to pick up Architectural Digest's issue featuring Valentino and his pugs—don't worry, I've got a copy you can borrow.
Last night episode of Project Runway was a doozy, with another unconventional materials challenge featuring... Duck brand duct tape. Based on that info alone, can you guess how Portland contestant Michelle Franklin did? Here was her submission for the runway:
Another week, another chapter in the drama that is Project Runway. Our Portland champion Michelle's contribution to the challenge:
That's right, it's a women-of-a-certain-age challenge! Spoilers ahead:
Last night the beleaguered and increasingly obviously cracking up contestants of Project Runway's Season 11 were dragged into a mega-douche cowboy themed bar in Manhattan to be introduced to their next challenge: designing for country music superstar Miranda Lambert. Here's what Portland player Michelle Lesniak Franklin submitted at the end of the day:
Hit the break for the full recap (be warned: it ain't pretty).
Finally! Last night's Project Runway was the first good episode of the season, with an old school unconventional materials challenge, Portland contestant Michelle Lesniak Franklin getting more face time with the cameras, and the coolest looks to have come down the runway from these folks yet. Even if the flower concept did originate from Glade air freshener (shudder). Here is Franklin's contribution:
I am trying soooo hard to enjoy this season of Project Runway. I didn't for once go into it with a chip on my shoulder or a wag in my finger. I was honestly looking forward to just kicking back and having fun with it.
But so far? It just keeps on being boring. For once I'm hoping that the producers are about to unleash some new horrifying twist and throw everyone off their games. Needs more tears, needs more blood. As for Portland contestant Michelle Lesniak Franklin, she's doing okay:
Well that was kind of a snoozer. On last night's episode of Project Runway the losing team (a sinking ship that, unfortunately, Portland contestant Michelle Lesniak Franklin is on) had to limp into the second challenge of the season minus the player it lost on Episode 1. And this week's challenge: designing uniforms for eccentric millionaire Susan Sarandon's "ping pong social club," Spin NYC. Here's what our girl came up with:
Spoilers beyond the cut!
The first few episodes of a new Project Runway season are always a blurry and crowded. There are the contestants who stand out to you right away (in good and bad ways) and there are a whole lotta "meh" people in the background who it will take you a few episodes to register.
Now, being the first one kicked off the show is the ultimate humiliation. It's like, just go crawl in the corner and die, as one of my co-viewers put it. Luckily what transpired on last night's premiere was all about just desserts.
Spoilers after the cut!
Who would have seen it coming that the accessory choices of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia would be the subject of more attention than Michelle's Reed Krakoff inauguration dress? Lo and behold, the Twitters are atwitter about this:
It is probably some weird academic/judge-y/Skulls and Crossbones type shit, but nobody can seem to say for sure. Other theories include "Olympic beret," some kind of shout-out to Renaissance painters/Vatican palace guards, or "Inquisition headgear." Whatever the case, it will probably have a Twitter account of its own by the end of the day.
We saw it coming, but now it's official: Michelle Lesniak Franklin of Garnish Apparel's team and her own Michelle Is Well line (which debuted at the 2011 Portland Fashion Week as part of the Emerging Designers Competition—I was a judge and she was one of the lead contenders to win), will be one of the Season 11 contestants on Project Runway, which debuts January 24 on Lifetime.
Yet again the show's producers have wound up with someone whose work I have seen but am not intimately familiar with, and a relatively unknown name among Portland's industry watchers. As bullshitty-at-best and destructive-at-worst as I think this show is, I have to admit I'm kind of looking forward to this. Maybe I'm getting soft, but it's a guilty pleasure that I and my one friend who still watches it have come to enjoy when we have the excuse of a local contestant, kinda like eating Cheetos—but only on road trips. In the meantime, you can brush up on her here, with Q&As and videos like this one:
I don't supposed they'll let her bring the jogging chihuahua, though. :(
Yesterday it was announced that Michael Kors was stepping down from the next season of Project Runway, which premieres January 24. In his stead will be Zac Posen, who had better have some colorful, bitchy quips up his sleeve, considering Kors' zingers are some of the show's only meagerly redeeming entertainments. I only mention it because there is some plausible speculation that Portland might have another contestant in the mix this go-'round, despite my repeated warnings. Don't worry, I'm not suggesting you have to watch it. (I'll do that for you, and report back succinctly, sans Lifetime TV movie previews.) But if you're ever heard a politician, economist—or anyone who has the ears of those in a position to lend support and lay the groundwork for infrastructure—talk about the city's growing design and manufacturing culture and its potential impact, this reach of acknowledgement on a national stage (however highly questionable and potentially career poisoning) comes up every single time. We don't have to like the stupid reality show with the Sports Illustrated/Victoria's Secret/never-been-a-fashion-model host, but deliberately ignoring it or denying that anybody's paying attention doesn't seem like the best option, at least not until the next Pendleton Portland Collection comes along.
Also in PR news, the show is desperately trying to keep it interesting/even further from the truth, with a new format:
Project Runway’s Season 11 returns with a twist that throws 16 eager designers into a panic when they discover they will be participating in the series’ first-ever TEAMS EDITION, premiering Thursday, January 24, at 9pm ET/PT. This season, the controversial “team challenges” are taken to a whole new level when the designers must work together for every challenge while ensuring their own garments stand out on the runway to host and judge Heidi Klum, Marie Claire’s Fashion Director Nina Garcia and featured judge, award-winning fashion designer Zac Posen.
The game-changing new element will push designers to work collaboratively but who will be a team player and who will throw their teammates under the bus? Tim Gunn, will, once again, serve as the mentor to the designers, as they sew their way to New York Fashion Week at Lincoln Centerwhere Michael Kors will serve as the finale guest judge.
And! If you hate surprises, the list of guest judges is after the cut.
There's some buzz on the ole Facebook right now about Tim Gunn was hanging out at the Doug Fir this afternoon (which the Fir confirms). WHAT COULD THIS MEAN?? The hush-hush scuttlebutt is that it has something to do with yet another Portland Project Runway contestant. The next round of the Heidi Klum show premieres on January 24, and the contestants haven't been officially announced yet. The show's contracts have some seriously harsh tokes for would-be informants, so it's going to take a lot of sleuthing and a little luck to find out if it's true. In the meantime I'm clearing Thursday nights, just in case.