For the past three weeks, I have been following The Fashion Show, Bravo’s slapped-together replacement for the recently departed Project Runway. It’s certainly a low-frills, bitchier show than it’s predecessor, especially with Isaac Mizrahi, who manages to make Michael Kors look like your nice gay uncle. That’s because he’s the other gay uncle, the one whose zingers really do sting. Like Kors, he is actually qualified to evaluate fashion as he has been in the industry for over 20 years. He judges the designs, but also gives some Tim Gunn-ish feedback when the designers are working. Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child fame, on the other hand, doesn’t fill Heidi Klum’s fashion icon shoes as she’s more of a self-styled fashionista who’s been to numerous shows. This is like throwing an armchair quarterback in to the game. As for the third judge, thankfully they did away with fashion editors (the Anna Wintour parody would have been too much) and go for fashion executive Fern Mallis. Unlike Project Runway, where the weekly walk was for the benefit of the judges, The Fashion Show’s designers’s models parade their designs before not only before the judges, but also industry people and an audience.
The cast of hopeful designers, perhaps some who didn’t get picked on the previous seasons of PR, also provide no shortage of drama. Infighting starts early on, especially when the flamboyant Merlin gets into an argument with Daniella, culminating in Merlin stating “It’s male domination, girl!” and Daniella retorting, “Male? Where?” As for insecurity, Isaac Mizrahi’s comment to one designer (who barely escapes being eliminated in the first episode) causes her to quit at the beginning of the second episode.
The comments from the judging panel ranges from high praise to over the top ridicule. As I mentioned earlier, Mizrahi’s comments can be very cutting. Kelly Rowland will also bring up the meanest comment an audience member says about the worst designer’s garment, which saves her from saying something she doesn’t know anything about. Given that there are two major fashion schools in NYC, I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt get her a crash course in the language these designers speak. There are also a few catch phrases used towards the end of the episodes, but not with the same charm as Project Runway’s. “Goodbye darling” isn’t as warm as “Auf wiedersehen” and “You’re hanging on a thread” is more than tired.
I’m watching, but I’m definitely awaiting the long-delayed start of Project Runway on that other channel.