When “Project Runway” first started, it was among the first reality competition shows to focus on creating fashion. But as time has gone on, the formula has gotten old.
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In the seventh season of “Project Runway” (its second season on Lifetime after its migration from Bravo), not much has changed. A pregnant Heidi Klum still hosts the show, Tim Gunn encourages everyone to “make it work” and judges include fashion personalities Nina Garcia and Michael Kors.
Last season, Lifetime tried to shake things up by moving the setting to Los Angeles. The move failed commercially and creatively. This season, the show moves back to New York and once again the contestants are living in the Atlas Apartments and working at Parsons School of Design. While the network is trying to gain back fans of the Bravo edition, the show’s content certainly isn’t helping.
When Lifetime took over the program, many fans of the show were upset to see the fashion-forward content move to a channel dedicated to sappy housewife movies. Lifetime tried to keep the same look and content while adding creative elements to distinguish the new program from its first incarnation. The end result is exaggerated drama and a lack of the once-abundant fresh ideas. Instead, the challenges have all been done and the contestants have all been seen.
Per usual, the contestants are introduced as they move into their new apartment. And, as always, each designer is completely different from the next, though stereotypically so. There’s the costume designer, the white-collar worker-turned-designer, the punk-rock designer and the flamboyant gay designer, all of whom we have seen before. Each designer thinks his or her fashions are the most innovative around. And once again, the first design challenge is to create something from fabric that is strewn throughout Central Park.
The show creates false drama surrounding the question of whether anyone will finish his or her garment. Every time someone is struggling for time, they freak out about not finishing — but they always do. Everyone is forced to work very quickly and the result is shabby construction that makes the clothing look unfinished.
The resulting designs of the first episode had some fairly decent-looking pieces, like designer Seth Aaron Henderson’s flannel dress. As usual, the winner of the challenge was one of the contestants who was struggling for time at the start and was worried he wouldn’t finish. However, no one created truly original pieces that would make viewers keep tuning in.
There are few major deviations from the original formula, the first of which is that the winner of the show will get a technology suite (whatever that is) to help design his or her clothes, a fashion spread in Marie Claire, the opportunity to sell their line on Bluefly.com and $100,000.
Die-hard fans will still love the fashion created on the show, but those looking for something new and innovative will find it to be lackluster.