Lessons from the Runway
I am embarrassed to admit how much I enjoy Lifetime’s hit television series Project Runway. Normally I like my shows to involve adorably geeky secret agents, sword fights, or period dress of the nineteenth- or early twentieth-century variety. The world of couture fashion and drama that is the lifeblood of Project Runway simply isn’t my scene.
I don’t pretend to understand it all of the time, but it is certainly entertaining, and Season 10 has me hooked. Plus, I find that I’m learning quite a lot from this crazy group of cutthroat designers. For example, I now know that jelly sharks work much better as a bodice decoration than Twizzlers, if you’re ever in a pinch and find yourself near a candy store. Thankfully, there have also been a few lessons that have gone a tad deeper.
- There will always be someone bigger and more important than you to answer to. Tim Gunn might pop in to tell you, as only he can, that your dress looks like “an homage to the menstrual cycle.” Or Heidi Klum, who looks so sweet but can cut oh so deep, may tell you in no uncertain terms that you failed this particular challenge.
- Own what you do and stay true to that. Otherwise you might wind up being eliminated for something that isn’t really yours, like a sparkly blue ice skating costume when your aesthetic is actually sculptural and black.
- That said, variety is a good thing, and being able to adapt to different situations is essential. There are only so many origami roses that you can send down the runway before people realize that you lack depth.
- Having personality is not the same as being obnoxious. It is possible to have one without the other, in both cases. Being loud all of the time doesn’t make people like you. It just makes you annoying.
- One of the main challenges that designers seem to face is creating clothes for women who are not shaped like super slim models. Let’s be honest, everything looks fabulous in a size 0. But what about women who actually have normal proportions? Where are the clothes for us? On the one challenge where the designers had to create outfits for real women, both the men and women floundered. One even went so far as to bemoan his bad luck at having to work with a plus-sized woman, which he thought put him at a disadvantage compared with the other designers. Maybe I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that clothes were created for people to wear, and not all people resemble toothpicks. How discouraging is it to watch designers panic as soon as they’re confronted with curves?
- While women with curves are still not on the radar of the design world, professional women have made their presence felt. A large number of challenges this season have focused on creating beautiful, versatile outfits for the working woman – something that looks professional but can be styled a bit differently to be ready for an evening out, no phone booth necessary. That’s a fashion victory we can all be excited about.
- “Make it work” – Tim Gunn’s tagline is good for more than a misplaced dart or risqué hemline. Sure it sounds pithy coming from him, but it’s so hard to put into practice. Whatever obstacle you’re facing, whether it be a lack of inspiration for a new costume for the Rockettes or figuring out how to pay your rent, you just have to take action and work it out. Rarely does the perfect design or job simply drop into your lap, so you need to be the one to make it work.