Friday, January 20, 2006

A Letter to The Project Runway Producers

Dear Project Runway Producers,

My readers are probably the biggest Project Runway fans there are and I'm detecting a feeling of disappointment among them regarding Season Two.

First and foremost, this show is about FASHION. We want to see beautiful, original garments. We want to see how they are sketched, how the fabrics are chosen, and how they are sewn and made. We are interested in what inspired the designers and how close they came to acheiving their particular vision with the constraints that they are given.

We enjoy watching them work through their mistakes and overcome their misgivings.

Oh yes, we enjoy the drama and the tension and the personalities of the designers - but NOT at the expense of excellent garments.

Lately, (the Banana Republic Challenge and the Ice Skating Challenge) it seems that the designs are sub-par. Everyone would agree that the best part of the ice skating episode was seeing Emmett in the pink blouse and Tim on skates. Is that what the show is about? I thought it was about fashion and design. Not mockery.

Why not relax the restraints a little and let the designers shine? How about giving them enough time (and lighting) in the fabric store actually locate what they need? There will still be drama and fun. But we would like to see better results. We would like to see some truly beautiful dresses. How about it?

Laura Kluvo


Anonymous said...

love it! i totally agree. i think last season's garments were just...i dunno..they had a lot more variety and originality. they need to get out of their comfort zone more. love the blogs! it's great to click "refresh" and see a new blog posted!!

Anonymous said...

I agree! I have been increasingly disappointed in the quality of these garments in comparison to last season. Originally, I believed that it might have been the designers themselves, but I don't find that to be the case upon veiwing their earlier work.

Your blog is so informative!

Kathleen Bolton said...

Though I thought the worst part of the show was forcing the designers to wear tacky skating costumes ("It's so campy! See, see" elbow jab), I agree with everything else. I'm less interested in the kitsch, and more interested in the fashion. Don't get me wrong, I love the drama of two bitchy designers going after each other over a sewing machine snafu, but I'd also like to see them come up with a coherent outfit. Like the lingerie challenge, I didn't particularly like any of these designs. And though I'm not a rabid Emmett fan, surely, surely the monstrosity Santino foisted up us was the most egregious package to hit this runway this season, and he should have been punished for it as have the rest of them who blew it--das boot.

I think the sadness comes with the realization that the designs do indeed take a back seat to everything else. And that's a bummer.

Anonymous said...

While I have to agree in principle, I think there are still too many designers remaining to really be able to effectively focus on the design process. Hopefully once a few more are "out", we'll start seeing more focus on that. If nothing else, I want the design process to be front and center when it comes time for the final 3 to do the runway show.

I do, however, agree that the challenges themselves don't some up to par. Give us challenges that let the designers make REAL CLOTHES, not silly skating outfits or 'lingerie'.

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree. I loved seeing Tim on ice skates! I'm loving the interaction among the designers! I'm also loving the challenges this season. What I do find disappointing, though, is that unless there's something dreadfully wrong with my television, the worst designs keep "skating by" (you know what I'm talking about!)

LauraK said...

You guys know I love to stir things up. Keep the comments coming!

AJ said...

I think that a lot of the limited designs come from the sponsors that the show now has. In the first season, the challenges were more generic for the most part. It seems that now the show is more mainstreamed and the designs are more focused.

I agree w/ anonymous about it not being the designers. I think it's what the designers are asked to do. To this point, then challenges have been extremely focused on a single element (ie: Nicky Hilton, Ice Skating, etc...) Hopefully the rest of the season will give us a bit more variety and let the designers have a chance to shine.

I mean many different ways can an ice skating outfit really go?

The Scarlett said...

Laura, have you actually revisited Season 1 lately? I mean have you watched whole episodes? I'm sorry, I like Season 2 so much better. While I didn't like some of this year's challenges (like Team Lingerie), I find that the designers this year are so much more professional. Getting to know the contestants as well as their designs has made me invest more in this show than in the original. Plus, I think the pacing is wonderful this year including the disection process of the judges. Season 2 is better in my book.

LauraK said...

One good thing about season two: More of the designers, less of the models. The designers are far more interesting - thanks for letting them shine. Of course, next week there should be plenty of model drama....

Anonymous said...

It really saddens me to see a designer being kept around for the sake of "good television". You know to whom I am referring! He has no talent. Even worse, his designs are just plain ridiculous. Yet, week after week there he is. At least The Pepper had technical skills and understood the challenges. SantEgo just regurgitates the same cr*p every week. So tiresome. Thank goodness for TiVo - I can just fast forward right through him.

hellparadiso said...

My theories: Yes, Santino is being kept on the show for drama. People love to hate him. People tune in every week not to see what beautiful garment Chloe or Emmett or Nick or Daniel produces, but what monstrosity Santino pulls out his a**. They tune in to see him insult Nina or Michael, and that is why he is still on the show. Incidentally, my husband and I both realized early on this season that it's NOT about the designs. We just enjoy the glimpses of genius when we get them.

And glimpses they are. In the Banana Republic, whose creation did we see the most of as it was being created? Kara and Zulema. Why? They didn't win. They didn't lose. It was because Kara was crying. Whose design did we almost see the least of? Daniel and Andrae. Why not, producers? They won, after all! We should have seen quite a bit more of them.

So we enjoy the drama, and we roll our eyes at Santino, and we rewind and rewatch the "good parts" over and over again to make up for it all. Hopefully, enough fans of the show will complain about this that they might change something next season. I, personally, hope the show is around for a long, long time.

eric3000 said...

I agree with The Scarlett; I'm liking the challenges better this time. Sure, the grocery store challenge was good, but creating an outfit based on the idea of envy? Are you kidding me? I did hate the lingerie challenge, though. And I do like the fact that they don't waste time picking all new models every week.

geekygirrl said...

Season 1 was fun like a sparkly new penny. You didn't know what to expect, and every situation was so exhilarating! Its always hard to have to do it again and retain that spontaneity - as anyone who has been married for 15 years (like me) can tell you! So, I think Season 2 has been quite good so far. I like the fact that the designers are better, more professional. They seem to have less time (no working all night) and this may impact the designs. My advice for the producers would be:

1. Keep the focus on the fashion. Let us hear more of the conversation between the designers and their clients, or more about the requirements. Let us hear more of the debate between the judges.

2. Use your website more effectively. Still shots are easy, fluffy filler that substitues for real content. The web site may be the place to post some of the things from #1 above. I'd love to see the dossier on Nicky Hilton!

3. Keep Tim's podcasts coming! Maybe add more? I'd love to hear Emmett's blow by blow account of the lingerie challenge!

4. The competition between the models has little interest or drama. Focus on the main idea of the show, and take away anything that doesn't contribute to that. That said, the models are important to the designers, and just assigning them for the duration of the show doesn't feel right either. There should be some way for the designers to choose models at the start of each episode and then quickly move on. Emphasis on "quickly."

5. Do not let people like Nicky ("sleep walker") Hilton and Sasha ("glue sequins to my skin") Cohen choose the winner. The judges should choose who's in and out, with the input of the clients.

6. Have better photos of the outfits on the web site. I'm frustrated when a photo doesn't show the hem of a dress, or that the backs aren't shown, or that we can't see the quality of construction, good or bad.

I'm hogging space from others, so I'll sign off.

Anonymous said...

Santino is a preening peacock and a hack and his screeching is getting tiresome. Wendy was last year's drama queen, but I agree with gigi, at least she was skilled and listened to the challenges and sometimes she hit it out of the ballpark (like her Banana dress). She also came off as someone who would be fun to have a drink with. Santino comes off as someone to avoid at all costs. It's past time to auf that pretentious queen and get on with the show.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the comments about Santino - I think the show would be much less interesting without him and his designs really are interesting. If you want to talk about rehashing the same designs every week, look at Chloe - her "Clothes off your back" design and her "social scene" dress were almost identical. and she keeps going back to the same color. Santino has a similar vein in all his clothes because he has a point of view, not because he lacks creativity, and I'm not sure the same can be said for some of the other designers.

Also, I agree about the photos on the website - they should show full size photos, front and back, for people who are interested in seeing the whole garment close up.

AJ said...

ellen, I agree! I was wondering where all the Santino bashing came from!

To say he's cocky and arrogant is one thing, because he is. To say he lacks creativity is quite another.

I honestly think he gave up on the skating challenge, but other then that he has shown amazing vision and creative design skills.

I think he has trouble executing his visions into proper designs, which is EXTREMELY frustrating (trust There is a reason he becomes defensive with the judges. To have a clear cut design in your mind and to not have it protrayed correctly is difficult to deal with and to have people criticize it would be infuriating.

I actually prefer his reactions to someone like Diana who didn't seem passionate ENOUGH about her designs.

Even in the lingerie challenge, his drawings were great and I thought the idea of German inspired underwear was cute and original. It didn't execute well because of time however. I think he's an asset to this show on a lot of levels. He's gives great TV and has talent to spare...we'll see what happens in the coming weeks.

Kim in Oregon said...

I loved seeing Tim on skates!

I also realized we saw almost NOTHING about Daniel V. and Nick and their garments. I would like more about the process and less about Santino. Much, much less about Santino.

Anonymous said...

You go girl!

Moi ;) said...

Way to go, Laura. SO glad you wrote this!!!

>>I think he has trouble executing his visions into proper designs, which is EXTREMELY frustrating<<

If that's truly the case with Santino, then he shouldn't be there. He's not ready. If I went to play a concert and didn't have good reeds to play on, I'd sound like trash because I couldn't execute my ideas, and I'd be fired, too.

Now, we all know that TV is all about the advertising $ and the ratings. But Project Runway is going to get ratings with or without Santino's whinings. There are a lot of quality designers, there are a lot of different personalities, and the challenges have been diverse and worthy.

The one thing we don't need is the same old-same old rantings shoved down our throats every week. There were plenty of other ratings-getters (ahem - Marla? Diana's weirdness? Andrae's fit?) and to think that all we want to see is Santino is the network's big mistake. Don't underestimate your audience, and make the mistake of thinking that we're stupid. We can see a crappy looking bird suit at the local Halloween store.

There are more talented designers this season than there were last season. To over-focus on one is not good TV. It's boring.

Irene Done said...

I can certainly understand the desire to see more process and less "restraints" as Laura calls them. We're all watching because we love fashion. But I think the restraints are important -- maybe even the most important aspect of the show.

I don't care what your job is, you're almost always asked to produce results in less than ideal circumstances. Designers, like writers or architects or plumbers, never get the perfect budget, timeframe, client or team to work with. It's a fact of working life. PR just pushes this fact to a comic extreme but in ways that make sense for the industry, like working for a client or learning self-promotion. So the designers must show that they're versatile problem-solvers. Just as it's naive for people to think they can design clothes without knowing how to sew, it would be equally silly for anyone to think they can be a designer without knowing how to work within constraints, to make trade-offs without sacrificing their vision. And the work-arounds can be just as inspiring as the creations. Who didn't respect Zulema more after the Banana Republic challenge?

A lot of the soap opera antics and mockery also lets us bond with these people. So for me the show usually has the right mix of process and drama, especially since there are extras offered on the site (although, yeah, more and better runway photos would be nice).

I really enjoyed reading everyone's opinions. It's certainly an interesting discussion topic!

hellparadiso said...

geeky girrl, I totally agree with point five! Does anybody really think Nicky Hilton and Sasha Cohen get to choose what they wear when they go out/perform? I know that some bigger stars get to select between a few options, but I'm not sure that opportunity is extended to Nicky, and after years of considering figure skating and researching the commitment it takes, I can assure you that Sasha's coach picks out her outfits time and time again.

I also agree with Irene. While Laura's letter is extremely well-written and brings up some very interesting points, I'm not sure it's fair to blame the producers for the designers' "lack of creativity." In fact, I was always under the impression that the producers are posing situations to the designers that are very similar to real-world circumstances. Most designers probably don't have more than a day or two to construct an entire outfit. Also, look at some of the details. Does anybody here REALLY think the overlock machines were broken on accident? I mean, these are professional television producers working with professional fashion world people. SOMEBODY had to have said, "Hey, they're going to need the overlock machines. Let's make sure they're functioning properly." I think it's more than obvious that the machines were tweaked before filming began to see how the designers would handle it.

My point is, if we don't like the designs we see, it's not the producers' fault. All the producers can do is edit the show to make it the most entertaining. That is their job. Although, I do agree that the target audience would probably be more entertained by more focus on fashion, and less focus on personality.

My favorite parts of the show?

The issuing of the challenge, the selection of fabrics, Tim's "visits" with the designers, and the runway show. Everything else is filler as far as I'm concerned.

woof nanny said...

Did you actually mail this letter, Laura? You should! I think Santino has raw creative talent and potential, and that is why he's still there (not for drama). He needs to learn not to go over the top, but the potential is there.

fashionasart said...

Bravo!!! A beautifully crafted and tastefully discrete note to the PR Producers. Unfortunately, this season is already "in the can", as they say (others, with the "b##ch
gene" might change that to "on the can", as in toilet); So your remarks are really concerning Season Three (if?!!! It'll all depend on ratings).

Don't lose faith though: episode 8
promises a giant dose of beautiful couture. But, quite simply, there may NEVER NEVER be another Austin--or KaraSaun, for that matter. Austin in another age would have designed for Grace Kelly, a princess long before she actually was a Princess (as another poster has noted; what a difference a capital makes); And KaraSaun, for one of the Immortals whose sexality was a lttle more "in your face". Rita Hayworth and Ava Gardner come to mind.

Finally, in my opinion you were accurately reading the group mind of posters here and elsewhere.
Although I am compelle to admit to a certain partiality toward the drama component and personality squabbles and bondings, maybe because of my background in the theater (or alternately, because I come from a family sadly where such blatant displays of emotion were forbidden). Certainly designers, as any other class of human beings, do not work in a vacuum.
They carry their friendships, their passions, their habits (yes, even or especially the dysfunctional ones), their biases and their sorrows with them wherever they go/ whatever activity they happen to be involved in. That's just the way that life is. And why, I ask, should it be any different here?


PhillyKat said...

I'm not sure what's missing this season, but we all agree something is gone. Personally, I'm thinking these designers aren't as talented, with some glowing exceptions of course. We haven't really seen anything as breathtaking as Austin's O'dell dress. Then again it could also be that they're NOT "voting off" those that should be. I'm really not understanding how the judges make their decisions. (I still think if Kors had been there during the lingerie challenge Franco would still be in the competition.) I agree the dress up in the skating gear was a little unnecessary.