The Project Runway Designers Have to Work With Real Women

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Photo: Courtesy of Lifetime

This week’s challenge was a doozy. The designers were forced to use bright, tacky red, and had to incorporate the Campbell’s logo into their dresses, which, let’s face it, is probably the worst Project Runway sponsorship deal ever. A soup company? Really, Lifetime? Really? But we haven’t gotten to the most difficult part of last night’s task: They had to design for real women, not models. Real women, who have breasts and hips and thighs and arms, and aren’t a size 0 or 2. As Seth Aaron put it so aptly: “It’s the largest challenge that I’ve ever faced as a designer.” Emphasis on largest, of course.

The women had all suffered from heart issues, and to their faces, the designers were nothing but sugar and cream. But after they left, the contestants' true feelings emerged. “She’s got a real full figure, I’m going to try to slim her,” said Jesse, looking scared. “Julie needs to look taller,” said Jay. Anna must “break up” her client’s body shape, and JaneJane basically imploded at the thought of having to make a garment for someone other than an emaciated teenager. “These women aren’t 34-25-35. So to make a gala-worthy gown in ten hours is daunting,” she said. Tim, the voice of reason, took them all to task. “I’m glad that we have an opportunity to work with real women for just this reason. It’s a good lesson,” he said. Is fashion so disconnected from “real women” that designers have panic attacks at the thought of making a gown for a slightly imperfect body? Perhaps. We understand that much of their fear was connected to the fact that they're used to cutting sample sizes, and this threw them off their game, but come on, people, you’re able to make a dress out of burlap but not a dress that’s a size 10? Jesus — oh, Jesus — you were “excited” because your model was “really, really tiny.” For that annoying comment, and for all your lack of self-awareness about the “amazing stuff” you’re supposedly making, we’re not sad to see you go. And now on to the runway show, with guest judge Marchesa’s (and Harvey Weinstein’s) Georgina Chapman!