For five seasons "Project Runway" has been a midweek treat for fashion junkies like me, who tuned in faithfully, rapt in every stitch on the way to the New York Fashion Week finale and one designer’s ultimate victory.
Now a legal fight between NBC Universal, parent to Bravo, and the Weinstein Co., the show’s producers, threatens to give one of the best things to happen to the genre an undue snip, and leave style fans on the sewing room floor.
What will happen to this show where contestants are judged solely on their own creativity and skill? They don’t get "life lines." They are not subjected to popular vote. They don’t have to depend on alliances.
They just need the good nature and the guts to defend the piles of fabric, buttons and pins that they called their vision.
It’s brought us some good times:
I still pine for season one winner Jay McCarroll’s mini-dress interpretation of the Chrysler building, a silky belted number combining smoky grays, ribbon detailing and pinpoint geometric details to produce a dead-on interpretation of one of New York’s most recognizable landmarks. If you’re reading Jay, I need that in a petite!
The same season saw lovably over-the-top designer Austin Scarlett create perhaps the most memorable look of the series in a chic, wearable A-line dress made from, of all things, layers of dried corn husks.
Woven in with talent, of course, was drama.
Season two’s quirky Santino Rice cemented a tradition of smart allecky designers with his dead-on imitation of starched show mentor Tim Gunn. He was surpassed only by this season’s resident villain Kenley Collins, whose hand-painted, pinup inspired looks propelled her into the finals, teeth sucking and eye-rolling aside.
Last year’s winner Christian Siriano earned the title for most acid-tongued of the series: He spent most of the season pronouncing his competitors’ designs butt ugly, and recently tapped Leanne this season’s Bryant Park winner by default, "Because everything else was not cute."
There were fights over the wrong-colored thread left carelessly lodged in communal sewing machines–the nerve!–and for good measure, tears, tears, tears. Who knew chiffon could be so tragic?
But scandals didn’t get any bigger than Kara Saun’s season one "shoegate," the last-minute debacle that resulted when Saun inexplicably tried to use high-end shoes she’d gotten for free in her finale show, a violation of the rules.
Saun ultimately tanked, the first in what would become a chain of black designers reaching the finals only to fall short of the finish line. Their losses culminated in the last minute defeat of this season’s Korto Momolu, and seemed to highlight a concern that’s gotten increasing attention in recent years–that for black designers, perhaps even more than for black models, shattering fashion’s glass ceiling remains elusive.
Whether Project Runway will launch another designer into the fashion elite remains to be seen.
A New York Supreme Court justice recently issued a preliminary injunction blocking a $150 million deal to take the show to Lifetime network until NBC’s suit trying to stop the move is settled. The new season had been scheduled to start in January.
Meanwhile, Weinstein Co. has filed court papers alleging Bravo did not properly promote the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
For now, it leaves Project Runway without a home, and fans like me on pins and needles.