Last month, when Project Runway ended with perhaps the worst reality-TV judges’ decision we’ve ever seen, we vowed to give it up forever, leaving a fashion competition-shaped hole in our lives. We could only hope that Bravo’s revamped The Fashion Show could fill it. Although the first season, which aired last year, was little more than an insipid Project Runway clone, Bravo promised Season 2 — featuring the legendary Iman in place of the lackluster Kelly Rowland as Isaac Mizrahi’s co-host — would be something completely different. And so far, the show, which premiered last night, is living up to the hype. After the jump, we’ve compiled 10 reasons to dump Project Runway for The Fashion Show.
1. Iman! While Heidi Klum is a vaguely annoying host who seems enamored with her own adorableness, Iman is a regal and exacting — but never grating — presence. And Heidi may be a supermodel, but Iman is an icon. (Also, we can’t be the only ones daydreaming about Iman’s husband, David Bowie, guest judging.)
2. The structure of the show is stronger and more realistic. The fashion industry tends to involve groups of people working together to realize a broader vision than a single designer rushing to complete a single garment under ridiculous time constraints.
3. On the whole, the outfits are looking better, and the designers don’t seem as rushed. And that makes for a more enjoyable runway show.
4. By splitting the cast into two fashion houses and forcing them to work together, the producers are not only simulating real-life conditions; they’re also creating an organic source of creative conflict, which should make the show interesting.
5. The fashion show itself is important. Not only do the designers have to style their models, but they need to create an appropriate and appealing presentation. We’re sure we’re not the only ones who got bored seeing the same white stage and shadowy lighting every week on Project Runway.
6. The characters are great. An early favorite is Cesar, the sweet, middle-aged man who took time off from the industry after his partner died of cancer. It was wonderful to see him win with a beautiful, feathered gown. And what about Golnessa and Cindy, the contestants who are also business partners? Their connection has already raised some eyebrows — namely, Calvin’s. He, meanwhile, seems like a very promising villain.
7. The talent is diverse and at a high level. No one made a garment this week that looked totally unfinished — a common feature of Project Runway that often makes the final fashion show underwhelming. We’re fascinated by the flamboyant Jeffrey Williams, with his Prince-style pompadour and flashy, unisex clothing line.
8. The producers made a great decision in kicking off the premiere by having each designer send a model down the runway in one of their prior creations. It gave a helpful sense of their individual aesthetics and experience levels, outside the constraints of any timed, focused challenge.
9. Isaac Mizrahi is a good mentor. He’s no Tim Gunn — no one is! — but his advice last night was smart and solid, and he wasn’t afraid to call it like he saw it.
10. The judges are better. Sure, Nina, Michael, and Heidi are good for a few sound bites. In the past few season, though, their critiques have often been mystifying, with some winners and eliminations seeming entirely random. (It goes without saying that we will never forgive them for picking Gretchen over Mondo in the most recent season finale.) By contrast, Iman and Laura Brown (of Harper’s Bazaar) made fair and reasonable points, as did guest judge Rachel Roy. Last night’s decisions seemed entirely sane.