Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Project and City Make It Work – Again

Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and Tim Gunn stand under the temporary street sign, "Project Runway Avenue," at the intersection of 39th Street and Fashion Avenue in New York City's Garment District. In addition to having a street named after it, "Project Runway" was also presented with a proclamation, pictured on a tripod below. Photos courtesy of NYC & Company.

THE fashion world experienced a minor rumble when it learned “Project Runway,” an almost instant favorite of the set and Middle America, was out at Bravo. For a few terrifyingshockingconfusing moments, Armageddon.

A collective sigh of relief went up when “PR” was in at Lifetime Television. That, relief however, was tempered in double-quick fashion on the right coast when it got wind that Season 6 would unfold in Los Angeles. Why not Mars?

My viewing last season was at best, spotty. No longer was I rushing home from parties on Thursday – the busiest party night in Gotham – to catch the first airing of each episode. I even missed several reruns. Are you ready for this: I missed the finale, though I have a good idea who won. My lack of enthusiasm can be diagnosed in two words – Los Angeles. Lovely city, angelic really, but not for “PR.” On the left coast the show didn’t pop, it was like a black dress that makes ZERO impression because it needs a smashing necklace or brooch. Or both.

I’m convinced that “PR” will have its swagger back this seventh season with the usual collection of talented designers and models, all doing their thing in New York. I like the sound of that – New York – and so does the city. Indeed, absence has made the city’s heart grow fonder, if the fanfare with which it is welcoming back its own ahead of Thursday’s debut is any gauge.

This very chilly a.m. at the “Needle Threading a Button” sculpture (39th Street and Fashion Avenue) in New York’s Garment District, Tim Gunn, Nina Garcia, Michael Kors, past contestants and models were feted with a street naming – “Project Runway Avenue” temporarily replaces Fashion (aka Seventh) Avenue. And the show also netted a proclamation from the city deeming today, 13 Jan. 2010, “Project Runway Day.”

During the speechifying, just about every speaker claimed with Atlas-strength conviction that New York City is the fashion capital of the world (FCOTW). Are you listening, Paris?

CEO and President of Lifetime Networks Andrea Wong told the crowd, including Harvey Weinstein whose Weinstein Company produces "PR," that she considered it a great pleasure to be “standing in the heart of the fashion capital of the world” to tell all who has ears that “PR” is cable’s No. 1 reality show among women. And for the first time the show will be viewed in HD, all the better to see shoddy, and superior work.

Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Lieber, sounding like a contrite lover, used his time at the podium to assert the city’s strong commitment to the show and to the fashion industry. He also unfurled an impressive list of stats to support the case for Gotham as the FCOTW: More than 800 fashion companies, which is more than twice that of the next biggest competitor – Paris; more than 175,000 New Yorkers working in the fashion and retail sector; half a million visitors to the wholesale market; quarter-million attendees at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, and so on … “We’ve managed to stay the fashion capital because this is the place where guys like Michael Kors want to be. This is the place fashion talent want to be,” RL declared.

“Tim, Nina and Michael, again, it’s a pleasure to have you all back home, where you belong and to all the incredibly creative young designers who are here today with us. “Know that we really do want you,” said deputy mayor with bended-knee sincerity. “We really want your ideas and we want to make sure that this is the place that you can do business successfully, as well, as you go through your careers. So welcome back to you all and here’s to a great new season.”

Speaking of which, “PR” mentor TG confided without elaboration to Yours Truly, “There will be lots of sashaying” this season. He was a bit more unguarded, though, about what he missed about New York: “The energy. Being able to walk everywhere. In L.A., you have to have a car.” He did, however, like the weather. “But after a while you got tired of beautiful weather,” he said glumly.

Judge MK, who went gloveless and sockless (“Socks are for wussies.”) in 20-something degree temps, also talked up L.A.’s wonderful climate as a selling point, and his mother. “My mom lives there, so I got to see mom.” But for this New York boy, there’s no place like home. “I missed the energy of the streets, which is a big inspiration for designers, you know. And the mix of people that provide New York” with its unique vibe.

Fashion designer and bystander Gemma Rowlands concurred, echoing the sentiments of fashion stylist/personal shopper Pilar Katz and other onlookers. “I feel like New York is more gritty and L.A. is more shiny and not as fashion forward as New York. But she added, “and then again it doesn’t matter because it’s the designers that make it, not really the place.” That is clearly open to debate.

As if a street and a proclamation aren’t enough, for the last two weeks or so, NYC & Company, New York City's marketing/tourism/partnership organization, and The Westin New York at Times Square, have been offering Westin guests a complimentary customized two-hour CitySights “PR” bus tour with their reserved room on select dates.

"We are excited to welcome back “Project Runway” to New York City, which served as the vibrant backdrop for the television program for five seasons," said George Fertitta, NYC & Company CEO. "In celebration of the show's homecoming, New York City invites everyone to experience the fashion design landscape that has contributed to so many recognized talents and their creations."

The last opportunity to get on the bus is 16 January. Sights/sites include Bryant Park, home to Fashion Week; Parsons The New School for Fashion Design building, the venue for each episode’s design challenge; and Mood Designer Fabrics, the supplier of the raw materials for many of the creations. Also on the itinerary are sites from previous seasons. The Westin has further gotten into the spirit by decking its doors with custom-built “You’re In” hangers, instead of the familiar “Do not disturb” variety.

Ah, what reunion sex!

”Project Runway” has its seventh season debut at 10 p.m. on Thursday (14 January) on Lifetime Television … Learn more about NYC & Company at ... Visit and enter the rate code RUNWAY to book a room.

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