The season 7 finale of Project Runway is now behind us. (For those who haven't Googled it yet, Seth Aaron won.)
People have been mumbling with increasing intensity about the decline of the show, myself included. PR was so ground-breaking in the beginning, especially for those of us who love fashion. To see the process of design from conceptualization to production was amazing. Throw in some silly challenges, judges with legitimate fashion cred, and contestants with colorful personalities and you had reality TV gold.
So if you agree with me that it’s failing now, WHY is it failing?
First of all, I think the talent has declined. I went back and looked at collections from the first few seasons. Jay McCarroll, Daniel Vosovic, Santino Rice, Chloe Dao and Jeffrey Sebelia had tons of originality, even if they were rough around the edges. Leanne Marshall and Irina Shabayeva (seasons 5 and 6) were forgettable.
In hindsight, I think the show peaked at Season 4. That was the season of Christian Siriano and Chris March. Sarah Jessica Parker and Victoria Beckham were guest judges. It was the perfect intersection of over-the-top designs and riveting characters. This is a TV show after all. It has to be entertaining.
There was a year-long hiatus between seasons 5 and 6 because of the lawsuit and subsequent move from Bravo to Lifetime. Losing momentum and leaving the public consciousness is never a good thing for a pop culture phenomenon.
Season 6, the first season on Lifetime and in Los Angeles, has been pretty universally panned. The characters, clothes, and challenges were boring. Michael Kors and Nina Garcia were notably absent and the show lost its edginess.
Which brings us to this season. The show was back in New York, which is a definite improvement. The contestants were much better cast, too. Anthony, Ping, and Jay’s bitchiness all kept me entertained. But everyone seems bored, especially poor Tim Gunn, who actually looks pained to utter his famous tagline. I don’t think I heard it in the last two episodes at all. And the judging choices: Molly Sims and Faith Hill? This is not the cutting edge of fashion.
Project Runway is entering its eighth season. Seinfeld lasted nine. Is it time for Project Runway to give up, take its last bow, and admit that sometimes you’re out? Either way, I will watch until the bitter end.