Can “Project Runway” Turn It Around?

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I don’t know about everyone else, but “Project Runway 4” has left me copying the chant of Comic Book Guy from “The Simpsons”:

“Worst Season Ever!”

Seriously, I am to the point where I really do not care if the episode for the week is new or not anymore. We were promised the most talented designers this show has ever had, but when you measure them up to some of our past season faves, none of these folks have anything on Kara Saun, Daniel Vosovic, Laura Bennett, Mychael Knight, and Chloe Dao.

So what is going on here? What’s with the sudden slump? And can this show be saved in time for “Project Runway 5”?

What can the producers do to freshen up the format for “Project Runway 5”?

Here are some of my thoughts on ways to reinvigorate the show next season. Of course I’m no expert, I’m just a fan who is growing frustrated with a show that was once appointment TV.

* New Judges:

While I myself liked both Michael Kors and Nina Garcia, I think that the are both now working way past their expiration date. Some of their criticisms have been a bit off. Some of their raves this season have been completely off. And sometimes it just seems like they don’t even care. And while Ricky’s outfit for Levi’s may have been “Well Constructed”, I can’t help but feel like their sudden vote of confidence for him was influenced by the producers.

To reinvigorate the judging panel I would move mentor and audience fave Tim Gunn into one of the judging slots with Heidi. That would leave two open spots for two new dynamic judges. And if Nina and Michael are kept around, I would like to still see Tim as a judge. With Tim now a judge, his fashion expertise will keep questionable judging decisions in check.

*New Mentor:

With Tim now a judge, we would need a new mentor in the Parson’s work room.

Who would know what the contestants are going through better than a former “Project Runway” contestant? I would pick 2 well loved designers from seasons past to replace Tim and offer advice to the newbie designers. Why not get Nick Verreos and Kara Saun to work as a mentoring team? They are both talented, well loved by fans, and can offer up valuable advice to the current crop of designers.

*Overall Judging:

Stop judging all designers differently. They all need to be judged in the same way. Also, this show is a shot at the big time, so unfinished garments should automatically send your ass home. This is a test of skill, and with being a good designer you need great time management skills. What happens in the real world if you don’t finish a garment for a client right before a big event? Are you going to use glue to finish it off? No, because it’s not acceptable.

If a designer comes to the show and just turns out to be an EPIC failure with the construction and finishing of their garments, they need to be sent home automatically at judging.

This approach may remove some of the suspense from who is being “Auf’ed” that week. But I am almost certain this would raise the level of competition between the designers.

It would also ensure they keep their super duper ideas within reason in order to effectively manage their time.

*Models, This Is Also A Competition For You Too:

Really Heidi? Cause this season I don’t think so.

This is probably the least I have seen of the models in 4 seasons of the show. Models are important to the show based on the fact that most of them form a bond with their designers. In seasons past, the models and designers were close. So close that when it came time for a designer to make the choice to save or swap, when it was a weak designer making the decision, it was always tense.

You could also always see the disappointment when a model who likes their designer is suddenly chosen by a designer who pretty much sucks.

I think the show should go back to focusing on the models as well. I also don’t see why they couldn’t wear the dresses in this year’s prom dress challenge. They also could have sported casual wear. And it wouldn’t hurt to probably throw in a few girls who used to be on another show like “ANTM”. You get crossover viewers that way, and I’m sure this show could use all the viewers it can get.

*Team Challenges:

Why the frak is the leader always sent home? Sure it’s the Team Leader’s “Vision” that may land their ass in the bottom 3, but still. There was no way (based on her previous work) that Kit should have gone home this season before Ricky. Sure Kit’s hoop dress was fugatrocious, but Ricky’s wasn’t even worthy of a display at “Easy Pickins” on Fordham Road.

I also think that there shouldn’t even be a team leader to begin with. Everything should be decided mutually. That way people can’t hide behind the “I was just completing his vision and doing what he asked me to do!” excuse. 

Also cut down the amount of team challenges. Team Challenges should only have 2 designers. And maybe when the show gets to only 5 contestants remaining, the producers should resurrect the Season 1 challenge where they all had to create a cohesive line together. That was a good challenge that worked well and I would like to see return.

Another idea? Maybe when it gets down to the “Final 3 4″, do another similar challenge of creating another line but this time have them compete with some talented former PR Contestants. That way the show can back up it’s claims that “This season has the most talented designers yet!” especially if they can win against former contestants.

And what PR viewer wouldn’t want to see former faves potentially schooling the newbies in the Parson’s work room?

With the final 4 coming together to do something like this, it could really show the audience and the judges who is really worthy of showing at Bryant Park.

Speaking of Final 4……..

*No More Final 4:

Do you all remember when making it to the final 3 was an accomplishment?

Now contestants are happy to be either the decoy collection or the 4th person. That is no good. Bryant Park should be the ultimate prize that each designer tirelessly works all season to get. Being a decoy collection should not be an option.

Work hard to make it to the Top 3 or the only way you will be at Fashion Week is as a spectator on the sidelines.

Also, make the “Project Runway” contestants sign forms preventing cast offs from showing at Fashion Week during the year their season is airing. If you are a designer with plans to show at Fashion Week anyway, don’t appear on the show. Just go straight to Bryant Park and let your designs speak for your talents. Don’t use this competition to get ahead if you have the resources to show at Fashion Week anyway.

Let designers who are willing to be on the show and are hungry to actually make it to Bryant Park compete for the prize.  

*The Finale / Season Filming Schedule

The show should start filming sooner in order to be ahead of Fashion Week in New York. Also, Bravo should air the episode where the mentor checks up on the designers (working on their collections at home) a week before they are to show their collections at Fashion Week.

During Fashion Week, Bravo should air a special LIVE episode of the show that will just showcase each designers runway collection LIVE. This way the internet won’t beat the show in revealing each of the designers Fashion Week lines.

In the following week, then do another LIVE reunion with the contestants, a recap of the Fashion Week shows, the awarding of the “Fan Favorite” cardboard check, and finally the crowing of the new champ.  

Crowning a winner LIVE always makes for good TV.

Overall “Project Runway” is the one good “Reality Competition” program on Television. All different demographics of people watch this show. It used to be pretty innovative and good television and it still can be at times. In season’s past the designers were a relatable bunch who all left impressions on the audience. While the designers this season ranged from really funny (Christian, Chris), technically proficient (Jillian, Rami, Jack) and under the radar cool (Kevin, Sweet P, Kit), the rest of the bunch were just OK.

We need more dynamic people who are all equal in their appeal and talent. We need more innovative challenges that utilize models. Go back and recycle old challenges, it’s OK producers, we will understand.  While you are at it, try to limit pointless field trips. And most importantly, us fans just need our faith restored in a show that seems to be stuck on stall right now.

I am hoping that this show can really do something to restore my interest next season. It’s a great show that I don’t want to see get lost in the interchangeable Bravo line up of long faced Millionaire Matchmakers, Top Chefs, and washed up Supermodels clinging to former glory by teaching lame reality show contestants to make “Blue Steel” faces.

“Project Runway” should be the HBIC of the Bravo line up. But if it keeps on going the way this season has been going, I fear it will have only one season left before it is “Auf’ed” for good.

What do you think? Have you enjoyed this season as much as seasons past? Let me know below! 

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2 Comments

  1. the problem isnt even with how bad the designers are, its how mind numbingly stupid the challenges are… design for female wrestlers??? i mean come on… what happened to cool challenges like “make something out of the materials in your hotel room”… creative shit like that

  2. […] before the finale, but hey this season has been a scheduling mess anyway. Hopefully they will take listen to my suggestions for improving Season 5 […]


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