Along with “I have a great idea about how we can make money together,” my least-favorite thing that people say to me when they hear I make clothes is the title of this post. Project Runway is about the last thing I would ever want to do. I’m pretty private and introverted and I hate arguing with people, so I wouldn’t make good TV. I need a lot of sleep and take a long time with my sewing, so I wouldn’t make good clothes. And I pretty much hate the *F*A*S*H*I*O*N* kind of thing–the “glamour” and the “cutthroat world” and anytime someone says “the industry” and all that. I have, at the same time, a higher and a lower opinion of fashion than “the industry” does–I think it’s an art, capable of expressing exactly the same things as music, dance, painting, poetry, which is something designers and editors always seem to resist; but on the other hand I don’t think it’s that big a deal. I don’t eat, sleep, and breathe fashion, or any of that. And all these things seem to be a big part of Project Runway, its mystique, its allure, its raison d’etre.
But the biggest reason is just that I think these judged reality shows are bullshit. No, I don’t mean I think they’re fake or secretly manipulated or whatever. They might be, what do I know, but even assuming everything is on the up-and-up, they’re bullshit. My sister and I have talked about it a lot, and in her blog she lays out why:
If Buffi’s design had been perfectly realized and executed she still would have been cut and that makes me angry. Buffi wasn’t brought into the competition to win, she was brought into the competition so Michael Kors could make “clever” quips about her outrageous clothes. . .Kors and company want sophistication — as defined by them. Nina wants everything to look expensive because she can afford it. Heidi wants everything to be sexy because that’s what she wants to wear. Fashion has always been a game for the aristocracy and Project Runway tows the line but good.
Even more egregious than Project Runway is Top Chef. There have been 9 seasons, and only one female winner. That woman, in the final episode, was up against another woman and one man, Richard Blaise, who was asked back for Top Chef All-Stars, and we were constantly reminded that he “choked” on the final challenge, so we all would remember that he didn’t lose to a girl, he lost to himself! Essentially, the judges (to be frank, especially Tom Colicchio) are egregiously sexist, and it comes out in their judging. Then there was the even-sillier Work of Art, which is Top Chef/Project Runway for “fine art”, in which everyone seemed to be rewarded or punished in proportion to how much their works expressed whatever stereotypes and prejudices the judges immediately formed upon seeing them. In the finale of the first season, the three finalists were described as conceptualist, feminist and “someone who is maybe taking on issues of race.” Guess which one’s the white dude!
Now, all this is kind of a lot to talk about when someone gives me the compliment of thinking I sew/design well enough to do well in a competition. I understand what they’re saying, and it’s a nice thing to say. But it’s kind of like wishing my worst nightmare upon me. So, thank you, but I really would rather not try out for Project Runway. Also, while I’m on the subject, I also would rather not sew the T-shirts that you design the graphics for. I’m sure it will be as big a moneymaker as you say, but I’ll let someone else get that payday.