Just plowed my way through the two last seasons of Project Catwalk and must say that I’m sad to see it go.
The first season was sort of bland (OMG, Liz Hurley hosted that poor season like a wind-up robot) and you couldn’t help missing the charm of “Runway” while watching it.
The second season was annoyingly focused on the “Big Brother/Real World”-style tabloid social issues going on in the house and edited the judging aspects in such a weird way that the actual fashion aims of the show were almost lost. How the hell were we supposed to understand any of the judging when they didn’t even let the audience know for half the season what they were looking at or referring to? So much nonsensical build-up and crappy reveals.
It wasn’t until the third season that they really seemed to reach their own balance in show format. Third season had much better prizes (they actually got to show at London Fashion Week, rather than a mock-up!), got rid of gratingly high-pitched Julien MacDonald, showed a more human side to usually-harsh mentor Ben De Lisi (who up until then had just seemed like an evil, bossy Tim Gunn knockoff who couldn’t keep his hands out of designer projects) and had genuinely lovable contestants. We also saw a LOT more construction and workroom drama, which is exactly where the camera belonged. It still had that harder (dare I say cattier?) edge than “Runway” — no immunity, more opportunities for designers to sabotage each other, the mentor turned judge, a large dose of drunk partying, and an actual section of the judging where contestants can trash others to advance themselves. And of course, like all such shows when the seasons progress, the quality of the contestants were finally reaching a stage where I didn’t feel like I was watching something from back in design school.
I would have been happy to see another season done the way the third was, and do think that it was cut prematurely short — possibly due to the mediocrity of former seasons. Though it’s understandable that the producers might have wanted to go out on a good note rather than letting the show decline into old age, there was just so much potential in a London-based series that I can’t help but mourn its passing. I mean, short of having one based on Paris or Milan (both of which, I think, would never even consider soiling their reputations by stooping to such lower levels of media), this was the closest we were getting to seeing stuff coming out of more progressive fashion cities. As much as I love New York, they’ll never get the medal for sending out truly wild stuff onto the runways. Seeing varying tastes is part of the attraction of watching all these different versions of the same show.
Next up? Project Runway Canada!