The Project Runway Season Six Finale - Before

>> Monday, February 23, 2009

Field reporter Alan Gratz here, coming to you live (in pictures, at least) from the Project Runway Season Six Finale in the tents at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Bryant Park, Friday, February 20th. See? Here's my invitation to prove it--

A little bent and the worse for wear, but still legit. I lined up outside the tent around 8:15 a.m. the morning of the show, after a restless night's sleep where I awoke every thirty minutes for the last three hours worried that I had missed my alarm. I was kind of excited. And as this was really the sole reason I had flown to New York and paid for two nights in a hotel, it would pretty much suck if I overslept.

Once inside we had a brief, brisk walk to another line, where those with invitations but no seat assignments queued up again, and those of us who already had both shot on past. I got a couple of quick shots of the "lobby" area on the way by, knowing that I would have time after the show to come back and linger. The biggest displays were for Mercedes-Benz cars (natch) and for Barbie, a fashion icon celebrating her 50th anniversary. Each of those letters was lined with Barbie dolls:

A bit eerie, isn't it? There was also a TRESemme salon, in case you needed a quick coif or a makeover before the show. There isn't much that can be done for me, alas, so I took a pass.

Inside, the tent passageways were broad and spacious--which was good, because soon we were going to be packing into them like sheep in a corral. This shot and the last are a little blurry, as they were taken in motion. I had an assigned seat, but I wanted to get inside the big tent as soon as I could for more stationary photographing. As I stood in line, mere yards away from the Bryant Park runway and mere minutes away from the Project Runway finale show, I marveled again at what a charmed life I have lived.

I was close to the front of the crowd waiting to get inside, so I could see the entrance to the tent, which is, in the fashion business, known creatively as "The Tent."

For the most part, the beautiful and famous used some sort of secret back entrance to The Tent, but I did see Chris March go in through the front door. He must have been lost.

Inside, The Tent was surprisingly smaller than I thought it would be. On TV it looks cavernous, but it is, in fact, smaller than most high school gymnasiums. That makes sense though. Take a high school gym with one set of bleachers on each side and then replace the basketball court with a runway about three yards wide, and you've pretty much got the inside of The Tent.

My seat was in the very back row in the very back corner of the runway where the models vogue and turn, but given the smallish venue there really didn't look to be a bad seat in the house. I was just glad to be inside! I sat with other folks who had won their tickets from the amazingly generous people at Blogging Project Runway, and we all spent the remaining minutes before the show celebrity-spotting and picture-snapping. I saw more people than I was able to get pictures of, but I got a few clear shots here and there...

Like Joe Faris...

Jack Mackenroth...

...and Christian Siriano, who was almost always mobbed. I can't believe I got a shot of him without twenty people standing in the way.

Closer to showtime, Heidi, Micheal, and Nina swept down the runway like royalty, and soon the flashbulbs found them--

This is my favorite shot, I think, even though it's blurry. It really captures the frenzy and the energy of the room.

The trio made their way down the runway to the bank of professional photographers and did their time in front of the cameras. It was as entertaining to hear as it was to see--the photographers are all trying to get a perfect shot with the three stars looking right at them, so they continually called out their names and begged them to look this way or that.

When the pictures were finished Heidi dropped Michael and Nina back at their seats and went backstage again so she could come out for the video cameras when the show began to tape. Everyone was asked to take their seats, and there was a little more time for celebrity-watching...

Gretta Monahan, co-host of Tim Gunn's Guide to Style, chats with Fashion Week director Fern Mallis.

And, love him or hate him, Bob Weinstein (in the blue shirt and glasses), whose company co-produces Project Runway and is currently in a legal battle over the rights to the show with NBC/Bravo.

Then the lights went down, a hush fell over the audience, and Heidi's silhouette appeared behind the Project Runway scrim...

Continue on to part two: The Project Runway Season Six Finale - During!

Previous related posts:

Leanne Marshall's show and Jay McCarroll's movie party


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