Yesterday, a slew of reviewers concluded that Bravo's new reality-competition program The Fashion Show was a terrible Project Runway knockoff. We watched the premiere episode and didn't find it that offensive. Don't get us wrong — Project Runway will always hold a special place on our hearts. But that could be why the reviews of The Fashion Show were so scathing — reviewers are so attached to Project Runway and its pioneering ways that it's hard to support a potential threat. And The Fashion Show — even though it's not the most fabulous reality-TV program in history — is a threat, in a way, because it's unclear what Lifetime will do to our beloved Runway when season six airs in August. And really, it's not like The Fashion Show is the worst show ever made. Sure, something about the production values makes it feel like a Stylista–Project Runway hybrid, but it was entertaining. And while we'd be more than content catching a rerun of it on a hung-over weekend morning, we still plan on watching the second episode (at least). Here's why:
1. Isaac Mizrahi is brutally honest. Clearly, his standards for the designer contestants are too high. "I thought to myself, if any of these people worked for me, they’d be fired immediately," he says during judging, and understandably so, since the clothes were not cute. He's the Michael Kors element, the nasty version of Tim Gunn, but there's something so real about that.
2. Kelly Rowland is incredibly awkward. Why is Destiny's Child's Rowland on a show about fashion? Producers must have realized the audience would need an explanation, so in the opening she tells us she has "sat front-row to many fashion shows all around the world." Her awkwardness peaks when she growl-yells at the designers "NOOOOWWWW" and makes a motion with her hands like she's shaking a baby. Her critiques consist of scripted lines like, "Are you guys communicating as a team?" and editorializing, such as, "I'd need some butter and a miracle to put that on me." So that's how Destiny's Child did it!
3. James-Paul. This contestant used to work for Vivienne Westwood, and you can tell by looking at his clothes. He says he makes patterns with squares and rectangles, and he won the first challenge with a dress that really wasn't half bad. We're curious to see what else he comes up with.
4. Merlin. This contestant wins the award for most ridiculous. In fact, he might be the most out-there contestant to land on a fashion-design-competition show in history. The first day, he wore a hat with a feather that extended eight feet behind him with a marching-band uniform and knee-high white leather (pleather?) high-heeled boots. The clothes he designs are as horrendous as his own style, which is more entertaining than looking at decent work. Back at the apartment, he relaxes on the couch with the group with a glass of wine, wearing only underpants and a shirt. He's Lady Gaga meets circus performer, but with a real foreign accent.
5. Reco, the contestant who used to design stripper clothes. Skanky outfits always amuse!
6. One team managed to make the models feel fat, which is truly a feat. The main challenge was to design a must-have piece and show it with five different looks. One team came up with a pencil skirt that was supposed to double as a tube top (ew) and was so tight the models could hardly squeeze into it. We've watched plenty of model- and fashion-reality shows, and usually the eating-disorder stuff doesn't breach until at least episode three or four. The Fashion Show made no mention of this shiteous garment inspiring disordered eating among the models, but it already has a head start, should they choose to develop that story line.