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October 13, 2006

Filed under: movies»television»project_runway

Television Week, Part 5: Runway Landing

To say that fashion is not my strong point would be the understatement of the decade, which is coincidentally about the last time that I probably gave any thought to my wardrobe. T-shirts, cargo pants, and Chuck Taylors do not a fashion statement make, and I'm pretty happy about that.

So why do I get as much enjoyment from Project Runway?

For those of you who have skipped past Runway, the show is a competition for clothing designers, who each construct a new garment every show. Every week one designer is eliminated, there are different requirements for each challenge, standard reality show blah blah blah. Of course, where most reality shows are concerned, the contestants aren't using any particular trade skills, and the competition is fairly silly. The winner of Survivor doesn't go out and live in the wilderness, and the contestant on the Amazing Race probably doesn't go traveling after the show ends. America's Next Top Model, of course, involves primarily the genetic lottery of being freakishly tall and skinny women.

Runway, on the other hand, does involve people who will leave the show and try to make clothing. In some cases, you wish they wouldn't. But either way, every week the designers are creating a new garment using a combination of talent and training. And here's the thing: even if (like me) you hate fashion, and you can't stand models, it's still impressive to watch the contestants put their clothes together--not the least if they've had to make them from recycled materials, or whatever ridiculous conditions apply that week.

And even though I personally have no knowledge or interest in fashion, that still doesn't stop me from watching each outfit walk down the runway at the end of the show and deciding whether or not it looks good on the model. Because deep down, I think everyone probably suspects that they have fantastic taste in clothing, all evidence to the contrary.

There are other aspect to the show that are fun to watch. Tim Gunn, the visiting advisor from Parson's School of Design, has a kind of warm geniality that Santa Claus would envy. The contestants themselves, being creative and hard-working people, are interesting to watch. But I never, ever thought that I would ever find myself watching a reality show for the clothes.

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