The Fashion ShowSeason 2 • Episode 10
The Fashion Show's second season came to a close last night with plenty of confetti, but little fanfare. This might be good, because the show's under-the-radar status seemed to heighten its fashion credibility. But it might also be bad because what were the stakes, really? TRESemmé awards the winner, Jeffrey, $125,000, and Harper's Bazaar will feature his clothes in the magazine. But so many past winners of fashion reality competition series haven't been able to leverage the prize money — if they took it — into successful businesses. Project Runway offers designers the chance to show at New York Fashion Week, which elevated the competition, even if no buyers are there to plot orders. But The Fashion Show's contestants showed in the studio they've shown in all season, which didn't make the finale feel much different from past episodes. The main differences were that Harper's Bazaar had two editors present (Glenda Bailey and Laura Brown) instead of one, Mary J. Blige served as the big finale celebrity guest judge, and each designer showed ten looks instead of a couple.
Part of the problem might be that reality fashion-design competitions need a new formula. Or at least Bravo might have spent more time thinking up a new one for this show. We know that at the end, when Iman asks the designers to make one more look, one of the losing contestants will be back to help them. This gave producers a convenient way to reunite Dominique with her straight designer lust-object, David, so that they might quiet their unrequited love. However, without a finale warm-up episode, even this felt anticlimactic. Project Runway sends Tim Gunn cruising around the country in whatever automobile is sponsoring the show to critique the collections and hang with the fams. Had, say, Isaac or Laura done this, they might have followed up with Dominique about her feelings for David, so that when he walks into the room as her "extra set of hands," viewers, too, feel a warm fuzzy firework inside.
But there was still a lot to appreciate about The Fashion Show's second season, mostly Isaac Mizrahi and Iman, who consistently offered articulate, brutally honest critiques. There was also Calvin, who came on as the hateful loon that seemed destined for elimination within the first three episodes but lasted the whole season, surviving mostly on a character arc that turned him into kind of a lovable guy. It would have been hard to get upset if he won after he reiterated that he planned to donate all his winnings to the Gay Men's Health Crisis, which was helping his partner through a fatal illness. It was also hard to be upset that Jeffrey won after he explained that his finale dress was the dress he always wanted to make for his mom, who died of breast cancer when he was 20. Another thing to appreciate about the show was that Jeffrey won. He was the obvious choice, because Calvin had been so mean, and Dominique had been so annoying, all season. But also, his collection was the best of the three shown last night.
Another thing that helped contribute to the show's fashion credibility was that the drama between contestants didn't overshadow the stories about their designs. A show like America's Next Top Model could never pull off such a feat, but did The Fashion Show? Tell us if you want the show to return for a third season, and review the final three collections in the slideshow.