Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Fashion Show

Last year, Bravo created a new reality competition show called "The Fashion Show." The show came after Bravo lost the hugely popular (and good) "Project Runway" to Lifetime. And while Lifetime seems determined to run the great show into the ground, Bravo didn't do much better with "The Fashion Show."

The original format seemed like more an attempt to replicate the format of "Project Runway." It involved around ten contestants, mostly working on their own clothes, sometimes working in teams. One of the judges was a major fashion designer (Isaaz Mizrahi) and the contestants showed their work in a weekly runway show. Almost exactly like "Project Runway."

The few things that they did differently showed why "Project Runway" worked so well. Rather than actually providing insight and input during walk-throughs, like Tim Gunn on "Project Runway," the judges (Mizrahi and Kelly Rowland from Destiny's Child) just grunted and made funny faces at the designers, never actually critiquing or providing guidance. That guidance was part of what made "Project Runway" so great; Tim Gunn's personality and the quality of his input made the show enjoyable and fairly informative.

Another difference on "The Fashion Show" was that the designs were shown in front of a room full of "fashion experts," who rated the designs; the judges then choosing their favorite out of the top three. The bottom three were given a closer inspection to determine quality. Both of these aspects, while seemingly good ideas, seemed useless in the greater context. The input of the "experts" took a backseat to the judges' opinions, making the group of experts tangential and pointless.

While I don't if they've fixed all the problems in the second round of the show, there are some promising changes that tell me that Bravo is interested in making a show that stands up in its own right and not a copy of "Project Runway."
  1. New judge: Kelly Rowland was a likable personality, but she's not a fashion icon or a fashion trendsetter. She didn't add to the show. Thankfully, they've replaced her with fashion great Iman. While, based on the previews, I feel she may be trying to "Heidi" it up, I think this is a good change.
  2. Change in competition: Rather than contestants all competing against each other week after week and only sometimes working in teams, contestants will be placed into one of two teams and required to create a whole collection every week. This is a huge change from the way "Project Runway," its offshoots or its copies have organized the competition. I think it could be an interesting change. However, there is that possibility that, since they will always be on teams, it will become more of a personality/conflict show than one focused on talent.
What stuck out to me about the first season is that I didn't remember any of the designers or what they created. With "Project Runway," I can recall designers I liked from almost every season and what they created. Hopefully, with the new season of "The Fashion Show," there will be some truly memorable designers.

While I don't think Bravo will ever recreate what they had with "Project Runway," this new format of "The Fashion Show" is promising...I'll give it a chance.

Out with the old...

In with the new!

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