5 Novel Ideas for All the New Fashion Reality Shows


There will be no shortage of ways for you to get your fashion-reality-competition fix this fall. Project Runway is now in its ninth season, NBC will debut Fashion Star, Joe Zee’s All On the Line continues on Sundance, and WWD reports that an Alexa Chung-hosted 24-Hour Catwalk is in the works as well as two Project Runway spin-offs focusing on accessories and past contestants. Since TV producers can’t seem to come up with a new concept, I’m not holding my breath for any unique challenges either. Here are my spins and (somewhat) constructive criticism on the same-old challenges I seem to see every season of every show.

  1. The Crazy Material Challenge
    At this point, the need to shock the viewer by forcing designers to use a material for clothes that is so unusual has been played out. It will almost be more shocking to have the designers make something out of cotton. The only way to improve this is maybe a living material. Like snakes, or moss.
  2. The Design For Someone Unfashionable Challenge
    It’s the classic clash of folks of different strokes. How can a fashion designer ever design for someone who delivers the mail/is overweight/wears diapers/doesn’t know tulle from toile? So let’s make them design for Michael Kors. The man can whip up a mean camel cashmere poncho, but the leather blazers need to go.
  3. The Glamour/Celebrity Client Challenge
    The designers always get so excited for this one. Finally, the type of customer who understands their vision. Newsflash: celebrities don’t have good taste, they just employ people with good taste. Why not just go to the people who actually have a point view? I want to see Anna Dello Russo work with these designers and enjoy, 1: seeing what the competitors create for the queen of maximilism, and 2: she says crazy things that make me laugh.
  4. The Strange Inspiration Challenge
    In which the competitors are usually taken to a mystery location or given an odd tool (camera, mitre saw, hole punch) and forced to design around that or use the tool as a starting point. This challenge always pushes the designers to work outside the box. Nina Garcia, have you ever thought outside of the box? Your hairstyle, which has remained completely unchanged from the highlights to the layers since episode one, says no.
  5. The Team Challenge
    The designers always hate working with each other because their vision is far too progressive to ever be cohesive with anyone else. This is always the episode with the most drama/tears/yelling. Let’s skip the design aspect and just make them play a team sport. Fashion enthusiasts on the baseball field? There’s more potential for tears there than any broken sewing machine can provide.

There you have it, my tips and critiques of fashion reality shows. Which challenges do you want to see the designers go up against?

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