Project Runway: High Fashion to High Street

Posted on April 12, 2019

We have now entered the phase in our blogging careers where we can reasonably pass ourselves off as venerable old statesmen on certain matters; foremost among them being the history of Project Runway. We can remember a time when the show seemed to think casting one black designer per season was enough. We can remember a time when the judges routinely dismissed or derided the work of black designers who were working in an aesthetic particular to their backgrounds; i.e, streetwear, Afro-centric, or Ebony Fashion Fair-inspired.


Having the legendary Dapper Dan on hand to inspire the designers and to critique their work felt like the show returning to its roots of centering and featuring big names from the fashion world, but it also felt like the show had grown up a little on matters of diversity and representation.

To be fair, Project Runway evolved on these matters well before this episode, but as people who’ve noted this deficiency in the show since Day One, it was wonderful to see designers like Bishmie, Venny and Renee in awe of Dapper Dan and tremendously appreciative of his work and input. It was just as wonderful in its own broadly representational way to let Jamall express his confusion as to who Dapper Dan was.

Christian remains a very good mentor, touching on aspects of design, styling, fabric choices, time management, and taste in specific ways that have paid off for the designers who listened to him. He seems a bit more tuned into what the judges want to see or how they’re going to react.


And we remain impressed by the direction of the show, which is slowly allowing each designer time to introduce and familiarize themselves to the audience. Details of their lives and backgrounds are integrated far more naturally and organically into the episodes, usually to show how a specific challenge forces them to draw on their backgrounds for inspiration.


This is probably our favorite cast in nearly a decade. We don’t know if the season was exceptionally well cast or if the cast was advised not to be camera-hogging drama queens, but the camaraderie and support they all show each other is a refreshing change from the wild-eyed fluorescent-lit shouting matches and fits of pique that characterized some latter seasons of the show, making it unwatchable at times.
This is one time where we don’t feel bad if our reviews are a bit repetitive from week to week. We would much rather write (and you would much rather read, we’d wager) a “The show is still working like gangbusters” review each week than another “OH GOD WHY ARE WE ALL STILL WATCHING THIS SHITFEST?”


Our point: for the first time in way too long a time, Project Runway is great again.

Now let’s rip the runway.




We realize Hester has her detractors, but she’s a pretty good designer working in a very specific aesthetic. We really like the hoodie and the bike shorts. We think the sheer part would’ve worked better as a skirt than an oversized pair of boxers. She could get away with calling this streetwear, but it’s really club wear.




Not the time for cool minimalism. This is okay, but wrong for the challenge.



Renee loves incongruities in her designs. The buffalo check feels like an appropriate reference to street wear and we love the pants, but the tuxedo jacket is just a bit far out from the rest of the elements.




The judges are clearly in love with Sebastian if they felt they could wave this disaster by without comment. It’s horrifyingly bad.




If that skirt had been turned into a pair of wide-legged pants, this could have been a contender for the win. Which reminds us, for all the complaints viewers have about one-day challenges, the fact remains that good designers can turn out fairly amazing work in that short a period of time. There were some clunkers on that runway, but it wasn’t a parade of half-made designs.




She tried to meld her all-black minimalism with streetwear tropes and we’d say she accomplished that pretty well, but it was never going to be in the top simply because all-black minimalism is a bad starting point for streetwear.




The other real disaster of the episode. We suppose we can understand why he wasn’t sent home for this because he clearly had some ambitious plans and showed some interesting techniques and elements in the design. Still, an Elizabethan tea party aesthetic was never going to work and he should’ve listened to the people trying to tell him that.




Rakan’s going to go home sooner rather than later; not because he’s a bad designer but because he’s a stubborn one. He waves off all criticisms or critiques and tends to treat everyone who gives him one as a fool who doesn’t understand his brilliance. There are things to like about this look, but it has nothing to do with the challenge and gives the impression he can’t step outside his design box an inch.




Ooof. We were not sorry to see him go. The constant crying and woe-is-me-ing had gotten old a while back. The sniffling and nose rubbing over the loss of his “good friend” (of about ten days) Afa – and the attempt to use that as an excuse for his poor work – was reason enough to show him the door. But we think the judges sent him packing because this design is just a big pile of poorly executed nothing. At least Jamall and Rakan had a point of view to their pieces.



Garo Sparo

Garo finally gets to step up and show the judges what he’s been saying all along he could do. Like Christian, we thought the choice of tweed was highly questionable, but he pulled it off. Those pants are great and the corseted waist pulls the whole look together (pun unintended).




Really great work from Venny this week. As soon as he said his inspiration was a sneaker it all made perfect sense. It’s styled to perfection and it feels very fresh and of-the-moment. The only reason this didn’t win was because one other designer managed to out-do him.




This look had us both doing something we haven’t done in more years than we can count: we were shouting “OH YES” as it walked the runway; excited to see an effort so well-executed, so of-the-moment, and so ready to walk an actual runway. He nailed this one hard, offering the best look of the season so far.



[Photo Credit: Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo, BravoTV]

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