Monday, November 09, 2009

(Above: Althea defends her design)

The show has been known, however, to occasionally choose the quietly sweet. Take, for example, Chloe Dao from Season 2, and Leanne Marshall from Season 5.

Runway has always let “characters” stay on for longer than they should (Santino, anyone?) And some “characters” have actually won, starting with Season 1’s flashy Jay McCarroll, who, it’s been said, has his own show in the works. Swishy Christian Siriano, winner for Season 4, was full of “fierce” bon mots.

Which leaves only a single previous season where the show’s nastiest contestant has won – Season 3’s Sebelia – and anyone who followed that season may share his fellow finalists concerns that he didn’t actually sew as much of the runway show work as is required. (For the record, we were very impressed with pregnant-with-her-sixth-child during the entire season architect Laura Bennett, who had only her sewing-since-childhood to reference her collection.)

This season will prove interesting, if only for the fact that it is the first time that all finalists contributing to Bryant Park are women.

Speaking of women, when the series moved to Lifetime, they added 30-minutes of “bonus” programming in the form of “Models of the Runway,” in which the designers models competed against each other for a similar prize – Bryant Park and money (although models “only” take home $25,000).

The “new” addition seems very much a creation of Klum’s, who probably thinks models are a lot more interesting than most people (for obvious reasons). While a couple of the model contestants were dynamic and likable -- Koji and Katie -- the majority of them really do fare better when they're doing what they do best, walking the runway and not talking.

“Models” really stretches and stages scenes. These include segments like ridiculous burlesque lessons and “bonus” skin-care sessions. The former was an excuse to throw in a little sex (these beautiful girls are surprisingly un-sexy, especially since they are conversing, which eradicates any mystery to their stoically elegant runway personas. We so hate to say it, but they’re just more appealing silent).

The latter session was wholly absurd, as a “doctor” was brought in to tell them how great the Loreal Skin Genesis is for their “age group.” Advertorial anyone?

This isn’t an original notion, as many others have mentioned it, but how many times does Tim Gunn (our absolute favorite) have to remind designers to send their models to the “Garnier” make-up room and to “choose generously” from the Macy’s wall? This is beyond product placement, and you know what? We get it. We get that on “America’s Next Top Model” the finalists do a “Cover Girl” commercial, for the opportunity to do a “real” one.

Others may complain, but despite its obvious issues, we still love “Project Runway” and look forward to it each week. They’ve already cast Season 7 and are glad that they’re not going to wait as long to air the next season (we hope).

But for now, we’ll cross our fingers for Carol Hannah, and enjoy the cute visits Tim Gunn makes to each of the finalists’ homes, meeting their families, commenting on what they’ve made so far, making us wish he would come to our house, etc.

Project Runway airs Thursdays on LifetimeTV at 10 p.m.