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The Dartmouth
May 23, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Haute Hufft: Tantrums and Tiaras

Kate Hufft

The Dartmouth Staff

Every Wednesday at 10 p.m., I enter the classic internal debate: to go to meetings, or to stay home and watch Project Runway?

Often P-Run wins.

Even though P-Run will air about twenty times again this week, I still sometimes can't resist the urge to hang out at home with Michael Kors, Tim Gunn, Heidi Klum and the quickly dwindling group of catty, talented designers and nameless models.

And I do feel like I know them all (except the models, who walk in the shadows of the designers).

What once was sixteen designers is now down to five. The drama has risen. And it's starting to get personal.

Every week, as Heidi says (in a itsoft German accent), you are either in or you're out. If you're not careful, you could be the recipient of verbal wrath from some of the best names in the business: fashion designer Michael Kors (full of wit), Elle Fashion Director Nina Garcia (very scary), supermodel Heidi Klum (the best looking pregnant lady of all time) and an x-factor guest star, who ranges from Olympic figure skater Sarah Hughes, to P-Run season one's winner Jay McCarroll, to ready-to-wear designer Diane von Furstenberg and haute couture gown designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka.

I was a bit hesitant at the beginning of this season. Not about the show itself, but about the cast. Nothing, in my mind, could compete with the fabulousness that was Jay McCarroll, the flamboyance of Austin Scarlett, the secretly conniving ways of Kara Saun or the terribleness of Wendy Pepper.

But I've been pleasantly surprised.

Project Runway really has something for everyone. It may seem like the target audience is fashion-loving girls and gay guys -- and no doubt, for a television network that created Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, this is exactly who they're targeting. But, the clear-cut competition around which each episode is structured, plus the entertainment factor provided by crazy characters and catty discourse allows the show to appeal to even the hardest of guys. (These hard guys may not know it yet, but if they watched the show for just 10 minutes, I'm sure they'd be hooked for life. It's like a super-addictive drug. After just one try, all you can think about is how many days 'til next week's all-new episode, where you can once again get another hour-long fix.)

And P-Run has a seriously strong fan-base. The blogosphere surrounding the show is unreal. There are girls out there hoping that Daniel Vosovik (the Marc Jacobs look-a-like, and my personal favorite) is bisexual instead of gay so they can get a piece of the designer meat.

I don't hope he's bi. I just hope he wins. He hid from the limelight in the first few episodes, allowing the obnoxiously loud Santino "I'm a god" Rice, to steal the show. It's only recently that Daniel has emerged as the designer to watch, and Santino has had a few very creative, but off-target, designs in the last few episodes.

I don't doubt that Santino's a great designer. He's meant for couture, but not necessarily ready-to-wear. Michael Kors claimed in this past Wednesday's episode that Santino "doesn't think about the woman" when he designs his clothes, and only thinks about the costume effect. And Santino already has admitted he wants to follow in the footsteps of John Galliano, Dior's head designer, who, along with Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, is described by New York Times' Cathy Horyn as "the last bastion" in haute couture. Santino will definitely succeed in the fashion world.

And not just because he's a great designer -- but also because he's gay. According to another article in The New York Times by Eric Wilson ("In Fashion, Who Really Gets Ahead?"), the fashion world is so dominated by successful gay men that fashion-friendly women even have trouble making it in the cut-throat biz. Maybe it's true. Maybe it's not. But in this past episode, it was down to four men and two women (a rather unequal split) -- though a man, the very effusive Andrae Gonzalo, received Heidi's end-of-show kiss-kiss "Auf Widersehen," bringing the boy-girl ratio to 3:2.

But before he left, Andrae provided some backstage entertainment, which, along with the clothes, is really what makes the show. One of the highlights of the past episode was Santino's rendition of Tim Gunn (Fashion Director at Parson's New School for Design and "fashion consultant" on P-Run) in a made-up story about Andrae and Tim going to Red Lobster together and getting in a tiff -- which the real Tim Gunn insisted upon witnessing. ("Andraaaae, I don't understand why you had to throw that lobster on my lap. That's so childish of you, Andraaae.") It's indescribable. It just has to be watched.

That said, the whole show is simply pretty indescribable. The catfights (for example between the axed-last-week Zulena Griffin and the somehow-still-on-the-show Kara Janx), the love-hate relationship between contestants (like the absolute hatred Santino felt for the mousy and annoying Diana Eng, who liked to use magnets and removable parts in her designs; or the caring moment when Daniel convinced a discouraged Nick Verreos not to quit the show). The only designer who hasn't caused any problems seems to be Chloe Dao, whose clothes and attitude win her an "in" card every week. She's so un-controversial, that I almost forgot to mention her. But there's a high chance she'll make it to the final three.

I'm very much looking forward to the final countdown. It should be full of drama, maybe some tears, and some very interesting designs. The fun is in the competition. And of course the cattiness.