The Project Runway Season Six Finale - After

>> Monday, February 23, 2009

You're reading part three of my coverage of the Project Runway Season Six Finale. To read from the beginning, click here.

After the runway shows were over and Tim and Heidi had said their farewells, there was a mad rush for the runway.

I waited out some of the initial crush, and was able to get closer to some former Project Runway designers and even say hello to a few of them.

Like Chris March, one of my dad's favorites.

And Blayne Walsh, who drove everyone nuts on the show by adding "-licious" to every other word, but who earned our respect here at Gratz Industries for the way he went out on his own terms with his head held high.

And Kenley Collins, who was eager to show off her new engagement ring.

And one of our all-time favorites here at Gratz Industries, gentleman Jerrell Scott, who graciously had his picture made with me.

This year there was no designer scheduled immediately after the Project Runway show, but after a while they still shooed us all out--otherwise we might have stayed all day. I had a date with the Blogging Project Runway crew anyway--they had generously offered to treat a few of their fellow bloggers--and any former contestants who wanted to show up--to brunch at the Roosevelt Hotel.

To my great surprise, the smattering of bloggers was easily outnumbered by former Project Runway designers! Joe Faris, Kenley Collins, Blayne Walsh, Malan Breton, Jerell Scott, Stella Zotis, and Jennifer Diederich were all there--and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few more. More than one designer called it an unofficial "Project Runway Reunion," and it certainly felt that way, particularly for contestants from the last couple of seasons.

I had the distinct pleasure of sitting at the same four-top table as Blayne Walsh and Malan Breton, both of whom I was meeting for the first time. It should surprise no one that both of these former Project Runway stars were terrific, down-to-earth people. They answered my questions about the show and their respective careers with grace and patience, and in the space of a half an hour I came to understand how these were real people, not reality show contestants. That's so difficult to remember when seeing someone on television. They are, after all, on TV--they are "stars," if only for their fifteen minutes of fame--but chatting with Blayne and Malan over pancakes and bacon made it clear to me that those fifteen minutes of fame are highly artificial, carefully orchestrated, and often grossly unfair distillations of their true characters.

They call it "reality telelvision," but in fact the lives these designers lead during the filming is anything but realistic. It is, in fact, surrealistic. They are awakened in the wee hours of the morning and dragged off to a challenge, which they often work on until midnight or one in the morning, and along the way they cannot leave or have any unscripted interaction with the outside world. The next day, they may be asked to wear the same clothes as the day before (for the purposes of filming), and then change clothes in the middle of the day to pretend they are starting anew. Just two hours before they are to send a garment down the runway, when they are madly trying to finish their work on time, they may be plucked out of the workroom for interviews behind the scenes, and the snippets we see come from hours upon hours of endless questions and answers in front of the camera. They are never awake when cameras are not on them, never alone for the weeks they shoot the show, and they are tired and ragged and mentally drained. That they can get themselves up in the mornings--let alone face the challenges the producers throw at them with any measure of true creativity and skill--is a wonder in and of itself.

If I learned anything from this experience, it is that I must see these people not as TV personalities, but as real people--people who may be very different in real life than the way they are presented through heavily edited television. I still think that their true characters can be bourne out over time on the show, but particularly in a case like Malan Breton, who was vilified before and during his brief appearance on the show but who, in reality, is a perfect gentleman, a gifted designer, and a beautiful human being, I as a blogger and commentator need to remember that all is not as it appears through the magical window of the television.

Very special thanks to the great folks at Blogging Project Runway for this opportunity, and to all the former Project Runway designers who helped make my two days at Fashion Week so incredibly memorable. Cheers, and much continued success to you all!

Previous related posts:

Leanne Marshall's show and Jay McCarroll's movie party
The Project Runway Season Six Finale - Before
The Project Runway Season Six Finale - During

2 comments:

Malan Breton February 23, 2009 at 6:38 PM  

Thank you! I had such a lovely time at Brunch with you.
Kindest regards,
Malan Breton

RBW's #1 Fan,  February 23, 2009 at 11:38 PM  

Hi there! As Blayne's mom, I have to say I was very impressed with what you wrote above. The viewers only see what the producers want them to see and never really understand or are able to really see the true personalities of the designers on the show. They judge and rip them apart and are extremely cruel. But such is the life of any public personality. If the world could only see what amazingly kind, warm hearted, sincere and polite individuals the designers truly are, they would certainly judge them differently. Kudo's to you for touching on their true personalities and also touching a little on the continual grind of what went on daily during the filming of Project Runway. Thank you!

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