You are a star of a fashion-based reality show. You are one of the show’s signature charms. You inhabit the “avuncular mentor” role. You are both impossibly erudite and genuinely warm, in a somehow winningly stuffy way. The word “natty” seems to have been invented specifically with you in mind.
In the earlier, better days of the program, your task was to offer insightful, honest critiques of the participants’ work. You were very good at doing so, in a manner that was appropriately straightforward yet still kind and supportive. You’re still pretty good at it, though maybe you seem to phone it in a bit some days. You remain one of the most appealing parts of the show, nonetheless.
However, over time your job has begun to involve a not inconsiderable amount of shilling. As the product placement has become increasingly ham-fisted season by season, your task has been to introduce challenges to the participants supposedly inspired by cars or scented candles without succumbing to existential despair. You are meant to direct the designers to use the “[rotating sponsor] accessory wall” “thoughtfully,” as though if you don’t intone the name of said sponsor every week the designers will lose their marbles and start using the shoes as earrings. You are enjoined to speak the words “L’Oreal Paris Hair and Make-up Room” as though they still they are weighted with import beyond simply “the place where stylists are paid per mention of L’Oreal products.”
[Lengthy aside: OK, “Project Runway.” It’s time for a get-a-grip chat with me, your old pal and fan Russell. We have to talk about this last season. I had… issues.
First of all, as adorable as I happen to find Zac Posen, he is no Michael Kors. Your show needs Michael Kors. Please do not skimp on the Michael Kors next time. I don’t know why he couldn’t be a regular judge this past season, but if it happens again I would rather wait until he’s free.
And seriously, the product placement is beginning to seem like the only reason you’re still going. The “all challenges are team challenges” gimmick was transparently just that, and not successful. It dragged the few talented designers this season down by saddling them for way too long with the rest of the no-talent weirdos you stuck them with.
But those weirdos. Those WEIRDOS! They were worse than usual this season. I couldn’t stand them. How did Richard even end up on your show? Why did you keep making people work with him after he’d been booted off, when it was blindingly apparent that he had neither skill nor the ability to work with others?!? Even though I thought Michelle deserved to win, it was patently unfair to let her work with Amanda on her finale collection but stick Stanley with Richard. Shame on you.
Speaking of the finale, you have some serious, serious problems to deal with when viewers are asked to accept that Patricia deserved to be there with a straight face. She seems like a truly sweet person, and some of her looks were cool. I loved that floaty blue number she made with the micaceous paillettes. But those were the exceptions. The overwhelming majority of what she made would never be worn by any woman anywhere except those who forgot to refill their thorazine prescriptions. Her presence in the finale was only slightly redeemed by the pleasure of watching Nina Garcia struggle and fail to choke back her obvious contempt and incredulity.
Look, people. I love your show, or at least I have enough residual affection for it to keep watching. While it would be nice if you’d discover another Christian Siriano, I’m not demanding it. But if you keep subjecting me to episodes featuring irritating people of minimal talent as they playact inspiration from Glade products, I’m out.]
Where was I? Oh, yes. Making you pretend that you’re Tim Gunn.
As you have tired of your new role as professional tout, you have asked for some changes in your contract. Specifically, you’ve stipulated that, if you’re forced to hawk products, from time to time they can be products of your own choosing. Every once in a while it’s your choice what you use the show to promote.
So what lucky item is the beneficiary of your newfound power? What good or service receives your prime-time benison? My answer would be O’Keeffe’s Working Hands, easily the best product I’ve ever used to combat the effects of cleaning my hands before and after every patient encounter during the harsh winter months. It may not be glamorous, but I want the company to stay in business forever because my mitts are hamburger come December without it. I have no idea how to turn that endorsement into a fashion challenge (though I wouldn’t put it past “Project Runway” to give it a shot at this point) — super mega bonus points if you can think of an appropriate design challenge focused on your product.