We’re pleased to bring you an excerpt from Anna David’s Reality Matters (a perfect book for people who love reality TV as much as we do). Jancee Dunn’s The Cutting Crew perfectly captures the magic of Project Runway.
Oh, how do I love thee, Project Runway? Let me count the ways. The heart of the show is witty, cultured Tim Gunn, former chair of fashion design at Parsons (and now chief creative officer of Liz Claiborne). One of the highlights is his visit to the workroom to inspect the designs-in-progress. He frowns in concentration, one hand in his chin. “Talk to me” he’ll say after a long silence, and the contestant ramblingly explains his or her vision. If he’s pleased, he says “Carry on.” Less skilled contestants get a diplomatic “I’m concerned.”
Much has been made of Gunn’ extensive vocabulary and liberal use of words such a “constructivist” and “egregious” and “amorphous.” “Why is there so much consternation and Sturm und Drang?” he’ll ask a blank faced designer. Gunn’s eloquence help to tamp down that sheepish self-loathing that reality television can elicit – the ame tawdry shame that wait at the grease-soaked bottom of a McDonald’s bag after a binge.
I’m desperate to be Tim Gunn’s friend, and fantasize about meeting him at the Neue Galerie uptown for Viennese coffees at Cafe Sabarsky before taking a troll in Central Park, where we discuss art, literature, life. Alternatively he might summon me to an elegant little pre-opera supper at his apartment before we attend a performance of La Gioconda together at the Met, where we discreetly squeeze each other’ arms during moments of high emotion.
There are many other soothing constants that I look forward to each week, like the pitiless tradition of tossing out an extraneous model during the first few minutes of the show (they also compete for a spread in Elle Magazine) just to whet the audience’s bloodlust. Auf wiedersehen, Tatiana!
I love the endless, brazen product placement, as Gunn says straightfacedly “you have an hour to send model to the TRESemme hair salon and the L’Oreal Paris makeup room and please borrow generously from the Bluefly.com accessory wall.” I adore the way the most minor setback is blown to Titanic proportions (Tim to season five contestant Keith “Your model, Runa, had to drop out.” Cue dramatic music and a tight closeup of a white-faced Keith, blind with hock as he struggles to absorb this telegram delivered…straight…from…Hell.)
Want to read more? The book went on sale today and is available here.