Monday, December 17, 2007

Bryant Park predictions

OK, yeah, sure, the designers, judges and producers already know who makes it to Bryant Park for Fashion Week in February 2008. Short of kidnapping one of the contestants or judges and forcing it out of them, we have no idea who is currently working on their collections for the "Project Runway" fashion show early next year.

But we can make predictions. Isn't that what reality TV and the Internet is really all about anyway? Of course, when Heidi sits down to read this post, she might laugh uncontrollably at our guesses. Or she may run around Germany screaming "Who leaked the info?!?" You just never know anymore.

So here we go with our predictions for the three designers we'll see again in February, in alphabetical order. Take a look and share your predictions in the comments section.

Rami Kashou: Seems all-around solid and on point with his designs.

Jillian Lewis: She's our home girl, so we're sticking to our guns and supporting the Long Island girl. Of course, it doesn't hurt that she's pretty darn good at what she does, too.

Christian Siriano: A rebellious choice which could backfire at any moment of any show. But that's the intriguing part. He's whacky and kooky in our eyes and "fierce" in his, but the guess here is that he squeaks by a few times and wins a few times. Fashion is weird that way. Besides, he needs to be on the show as long as possible, just for the humor factor.

And our reasoning for why these folks won't make it to Bryant Park:

Kevin Christiana: Seems pretty solid and confident so far. But the guess here is that he'll throw up a clunker on the runway late in the competition.

Victorya Hong: Seems to hang on too tight. The guess is she'll crack in Week 8.

Elisa Jimenez: A lulu in every sense. As amusing as her exchanges are with Tim Gunn and the other designers, at some point she will feel the wrath of Nina and Heidi.

Ricky Lizalde: Can you imagine the waterworks the week he gets whacked? The Bravo marketing people should hook up a deal with Kleenex for that show.

Chris March: In sports, the cliche is that it's hard to beat a team twice in a season. In fashion, it's easy to lose twice.

Kit Pistol: Great name, which is good enough to sell clothes. Designs? Not good enough to win "Project Runway."

Sweet P: Straddles between cool and awful. At some point, there will be less awful designs to stand in her way of the exit door.

- Mark La Monica

Week 5 poll results

As amusing as Steven was on the show, his funeral dress was even funnier. The judges and you agreed, too.

Week 5 final poll results

68% Steven
23% Elisa
7% Chris

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Tim Gunn highlight, Week 5

Is there really even a question about this week's Tim Gunn highlight? I mean, really. I'll just repeat his quote here and you make it work however you want.

"I've made more bad decisions at three o'clock in the morning than I can list."

Stunning work, Mr. Gunn. And it holds true for every person in every walk of life. Words to live by right there, people.

- Mark La Monica

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Project Runway Episode Five

In what may have been the best challenge yet, the designers get to makeover the favorite outfits of everyday women who have lost serious amounts of weight – we’re talking anywhere from 48- to, yikes, 160-lbs. Natch, the women, with their new and improved bods, want to flaunt it but their old duds are giant frights ranging from a scary, beaded polyester wedding gown, to an atrocious evergreen moo-moo.

Finally, kvetchy Christian nails the win with his fab remake of a black shirt and jeans. Guest judge, the talented Patrick Robinson, who hails from the likes of Giorgio Armani, Perry Ellis and Paco Rabanne, and is now is the head of design at the Gap, raves calling it "young and cool." Of course, Christian always has something outrageous to say. In this episode, he tells his client who has a less than ample derriere, “I’m not a miracle worker lady. I can’t make you have an ass.”

Steven is, uuucch, deservedly the biggest loser. He calls his client’s bad wedding gown “death on a stick.” He produces a grim frock made of black fabric that he purchases and then trims with bits of the dress. The judges describe the transformation as taking a joyful wedding dress and turning it into something a French maid would wear…to a funeral. It is really a dog, so goodbye to you, Steven.

The real loss on the show revolves around Jack, who, announced last week that he was HIV-positive, and this week gets sick with a raging staph infection that distorts his normally beautiful face. It’s beyond sad, and, there is a bit of cheap shot editing. That said, the show salves the pain by bringing back the fun, fabulous and yes, fat Chris. He understands the plight of the women because he has done his share of yo-yo dieting. Unfortunately, his inner costume designer cannot be tamped down and he designs a sailor suit that almost sinks like a stone on the runway.

Sexual innuendo of the night comes, remarkably from the dignified Tim Gunn. He urges Chris, who has to work through the night, to get his design elements down before sewing. “I’ve made more bad decisions at three in the morning than I can list.” Chris cracks up and others call out, “I want names.” Tim, embarrassed, says, “I really am an old fart. I didn’t even think of that.”

Victorya is soulless and isn’t even nice to her client. Ricky weeps . . . again. His client vaguely reminds us of Adriana on the Sopranos. Kudos to Kevin who makes his client looks like, “one of Charlie’s Angels.” As for our girl Jillian: great dress, but she didn’t use her client’s old clothes, replacing them with fabric of the same color. Michael Kors called it, “impeccable.” If she followed directions, she might have taken it.

– Anne Bratskeir

Week 4 poll results

Only four weeks in and we've got ourselves a favorite designer to hate. It looks like, from the results of this week's "Who would you auf?" poll that the more Ricky Lizalde cries, the more he gets voted against.

Of course, in real life, Ricky escaped the wrath of Heidi and friends.

58% Ricky
15% Chris
10% Sweet P
9% Steven
4% Elisa

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Exclusive: Q & A with 'Project Runway's' Jillian Lewis

It isn’t often that you get behind the scenes of a reality show while the competition rages on and actually talk to one of the active players, but we managed to wrangle a few minutes with Selden’s own Jillian Lewis, who rocked the runway on Episode 4 of Project Runway winning the challenge hands down.

Newsday fashion writer Anne Bratskeir gets the answers to questions we’ve all been, um, sew dying to know.

AB: How great do you feel about winning this challenge?
JL: Well, because it was a group challenge, and I was the leader, it was an especially huge moment for me, probably the best moment of my life.

AB: What’s been your toughest challenge to date?
JL: By far the menswear. It was really tough and I would not want to relive it. There was a lot of pressure. And you’re so clouded by the pressure and exhaustion that I couldn’t see that I had done a good job. I felt that it prepared me for the challenge I won. I felt it got me ready, If I could do that, I could do anything and that made me feel a lot better.

AB: Who’s your BFF on the show?
JL: It’s kind of evident by now. Rami and I worked together twice, and because of the fact that my boyfriend is from the same region (Her boyfriend, Lewaa Abdulkhalek, is from Lebanon; Rami is from Jerusalem), I’m comfortable with him. Rami is a down-to-earth, nice real person. I like spending my time with people who are real. Even when we disagree, we agree to disagree, and that’s the beauty of nice friendship.

AB: In the same vein, which contestant is the most annoying?
JL: Well, I try to avoid bad-mouthing anyone; I don’t necessarily want to go there. I think that people who are annoying have redeeming qualities; Christian has a bit of that side to him. He likes to be the bitchy one. When he gets a little older he might regret that.

AB: Is there a point on the show that you forget about the cameras?
JL: I think by the fourth episode I can safely say I was feeling a little more comfortable. The first three I was conscious of them. Even in the fourth episode, when Rami and I were feeling the tension we were prone to whispering because of the cameras. We didn’t want to make a big scene about what makes a good leader.

AB: Anything else?
JL: Yes. I noticed that my Long Island accent comes out on the TV more than I thought that I had one. I say ‘awl’ instead of all.

AB: Who are your roomies on the show?
JL: Carmen. Since she’s gone I have my own room.

AB: Be honest, who’s the scariest judge?
JL: I guess I would say, Nina, she’s a strong, intimidating female. I’m always intimidated around her, though Michael is pretty intimidating too, but I’m leaning more towards Nina.

AB: Is Tim Gunn really the sweet, gentle mentor he seems to be?
JL: He is completely what you see, I found myself thinking that he must think he’s conducting a class in a classroom, He’s so natural and genuine.

AB: Is Heidi all that gorgeous?
JL: Absolutely. She looks fake because she’s so pretty, you do not believe she’s a real person.

AB: We love your coif. Are you naturally curly or do you have to er, make it work?
JL: My hair is so curly that I actually have to use a curling iron to relax the curls. Jay McCarroll [Project Runway winner first season] calls me Captain Crunch because of my curls.

AB: Your bod is as good as some of the models. What did you have for breakfast today?
JL: I eat whatever I want, I never consider calories. Today I had cookies and coffee. I need something sweet when I wake up. My sister said when I went to the show, everybody is going to hate you because you’re so skinny. My family always makes fun of me for it.

AB: What’s the one article of clothing you can’t live without?
JL: To me, it’s really important, to look a little different every day, so there’s not one article of clothing I depend on. I like to at least feel like I haven’t worn the same thing for two weeks. There is a fleece cardigan I wear with a big shawl collar a lot because I get cold a lot. Also I rely on jeans. I know those are typical obvious answers but everyday I try to switch it up.

AB: What do you think of Hillary Clinton’s style?
JL: I think Condoleezza Rice is a notch above. Hillary can use some work but she’s not bad for her age. In the political world Condoleezza is better dressed. But these are my fashion views, not necessarily my political views.

Jillian Is The Leader of The Pack: Episode 4

At last. Long Island’s own Jillian takes the runway by storm and hands down wins this week’s challenge with the help of Rami and Kevin.

Judge Nina Garcia lays out the mission: Take three dated trends and turn them into a collection that is cohesive and relevant for today.

Each designer chooses their favorite horrid, old trend ranging from pleather to zoot suits, shoulder pads to fringe. Then, they cluster into teams of three, each nominating a leader.

Jillian plays boss lady to Rami and Kevin and she does it well. Their trends? Overalls, poodle skirts and 70’s flair. She rules her boys with an iron hand and an iron in her hand. Her collection – a sassy full-skirted dress, cute little short outfit and modern overalls (oddly, she is wearing not so modern ones), is so good that the judges don’t even bother with the whole who’s in and out suspense thing – the winner is clear. Jillian to the world: “You will keep seeing me in the top, and I will keep winning.” That’s right…own it.

But, trust us. There are big problems elsewhere. And few of them escape guest judge Donna Karan’s well-trained eye.

Ricky, who actually doesn’t cry during this episode, is the leader, but his teammate Victorya is a passive-aggressive beast who almost derails the team. At one point, she says, “I don’t mean to be a bossy cow.” Don’t milk it, sister. Ricky on the other hand, is helpful to her and edits her dress for the better. He is also sweet to earthy Elisa, who has never worked in satin. He figures out a way to speak her language – sort of nature-based psychobabble. His own dress suffers from lack of attention and is poorly constructed. Their collection highlighting neon, cut-outs and underwear as outerwear is by far not the worst but a tad clowny.

Christian as leader is, again flamboyantly cocky, and shows his disappointment when he doesn’t win for his decent takes on the zoot suit, pleather, and fringe.

Kudos to Steven for his Tim Gunn imitation: “Designers, I’m here to tell you that you’re screwed and there’s nothing you can do to fix what you’re working on. Carry on.” But levity cannot save the night for his team which must modernize dancewear, shoulder pads and baggy sweaters. Sweet P does a swell sweater dress and Donna loves it. Hearty Chris is both the leader and the loser. His mess of an evening gown with hideous embroidered jacket is all-out Dynasty. Michael Kors calls it, “Very bad pageant, mother of the bride.” It’s a sad day…Chris is out. Earlier in the day, he jokes that Project Runway should have a perfume…a mixture of blood, sweat, tears and Chinese food. He’s a funny guy. And as he walks off into the sunset he says, “I definitely hope that to this season… I brought fun. Because that’s what my life is all about.” We’ll miss him. –Anne Bratskeir

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Tim Gunn highlight, Week 4

Maybe the immortal Tim Gunn decided to mail it in this season. Maybe he's all about his own show these days. Or maybe he signed a big free-agent deal in the offseason and is loafing a bit.

But when the Tim Gunn highlight of the week comes from an impersonation of Tim Gunn, then we need to launch an investigation. Someone call Alberto Gonzales. Oops, never mind.

Anyway, props to Steven Rosengard for his impression of Tim Gunn in the workroom. It wasn't perfect, but his lines were pretty good:

"Designers, I'm afraid I'm here to tell you that you're screwed," he said. "There's nothing you can do to fix what you're working on. Carry on."

That's my home girl!

It's 10:44 p.m. and we're doing the Long Island guido fist pump!

Our local girl, Jillian Lewis, just won the Week 4 challenge.

Not so much that we're homers, but rather we're celebrating having on Tuesday scored an exclusive interview for Thursday with Jillian.

Really, we're just happy she didn't get whacked. That would have made for a pretty morbid interview, huh? "Uh, Jillian, tough break last night."

We can breathe easier now. Annie B will have the interview up for your reading pleasure before you leave the office Thursday (unless you have one of those early morning jobs).

- Mark La Monica

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Week 3 poll results

It appears the voting public hated Carmen's attempt at an outfit just as much as Tiki Barber and the other "Runway" judges.

Here are the results from our weekly poll asking who should be "aufed."

50% Carmen
25% Sweet P
8% Ricky
5% Someone else

Sunday, December 2, 2007

'Project Runway' releases sewing machine

"Project Runway" has elevated sewing beyond home ec class, so it's almost a no-brainer that there would be a trendy new sewing machine to go along with the hit show.

Brother's limited-edition "Project Runway" sewing machines are consumer variations of the industrial machines used by the contestants. They're touted as being great for beginners and experienced seamstresses. Not included: Tim Gunn at your side with advice on how to "make it work," but use your imagination.

These models start at $299 for the basics and go to $499. To find a store near you, go to 800-4Abrother.

-- Anne Bratskeir

Is 'Project Runway' on the verge of being out?

. . . Entertainment Weekly think so!

In the news and notes section of its Dec. 7 issue (the one with Will Smith on the cover), EW suggested that Season 4 is slwoing morphing into the Real World, where the designers are becoming more of "characters" than they are people vying for a huge career break.

"Things have already become too self-conscious in the House of Heidi," wrote Ken Tucker. "You know it when a wannabe scrawls Gunn's mantra "Make it work!" on a wall before the man himself has even had a change to utter it."

Interesting. What do you think? Is "Project Runway" creeping up the ramp in the bay as it jumps the shark?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tiki Barber's fashion sense worth a few bucks

Pics from Tiki Barber challenge

Missed Wednesday night's 'Runway' action or just want to relive the hits and misses designed for Tiki Barber?

Click the below pic for a 'Project Runway' photo gallery.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Episode Three: The Tiki Barber Affair

Sometimes reality shows push the limits too far and "Project Runway" did just that in episode three.

The challenge? In a day-and-a-half, design an on-air outfit for "Today Show" correspondent, Tiki Barber, the former Giants running back -- something conservative but cool that would fit his neck, skinny waist, and self-proclaimed "big butt."

Few of the designers had any menswear experience, and it showed. In the end, the looks fell into three distinct categories: Okay, not bad and absolutely horrible.

Kind-hearted Jack who shares his boxer shorts with other contestants to help them make their patterns -- he is almost nude in the workroom save for a towel -- wins it with a checked shirt and pinstriped pants. Tiki likes it and says he’ll be wearing it on the Today Show soon . . . we have our doubts but cannot wait.

We think Kit should have taken top honors with her navy fleece blazer, cool shirt and khakis, definitely decent. Kevin also gets honorable mention for his vest, pants, lavender shirt and pocket square. Heidi does not dig the look. “I would not like to see my husband in that,” she says. Kevin, no shrinking violet, retorts, “C’mon, Seal would look great in this.” So not happening.

Carmen deservedly goes home for her dreadful ensemble. Michael Kors says her pants look like something out of the film “Boogie Nights,” and adds that the “crotch is out of control.” She makes a horrid little jacket that sits at the waist, and Tiki frets that it would make his “butt look big.” Because she runs out of time, she throws a bolt of fabric around the model’s neck instead of a shirt. It’s shmata time and it ain’t pretty.

But, in fact, the challenge was just plain too hard and it wasn’t that fun to watch. Ricky’s angst is over-the-top and he wins the award for the contestant most likely to need a Valium. He completely bugs out and nearly gets “aufed.” Jack admits he’s HIV-positive. Sweet P designs a tie for a 7-footer (Tiki is 5’9”) and a shirt with a bizarro collar. Tiki’s wife, Ginny, floats into the workroom while the kids are sweating bullets and critiques. She is a little too mean and we don’t want to know that Tiki’s wife is the boss of his clothes.

For the record, hardly any of the contestants even knew who Tiki Barber was. Ricky admits it, but says, “He’s gorgeous.”

Steven sums up his knowledge of football with a fashionable flair: “It’s the one time on TV that spandex is acceptable.”

-- Anne Bratskeir

The Tim Gunn highlight, Week 3

As much as everyone loves Tim Gunn's "Make it Work" catchphrase, it's getting a bit stale, which is why the style guru doesn't really say it much except for during his first trip to the designer workshop. We think that's a contractual obligation.

However, Tim Gunn's facial expressions are taking centerstage this season as the crazies on Season 4 of "Project Runway" baffle him.

When attempting to decipher whatever Ricky Lizalde was doing with the fabric he gave himself, Tim Gunn gave a look of stunned confusion. That "Am I looking at what I'm looking at? No, really, am I?" glaze.

His head dropped, the glasses slid down, the hair was out of place, the mouth was agape.

Then, he says "Ricky doesn't look good. Ricky looks a little panicky."

Then, they cut back to that look. You knew right there Ricky was going to be one of the two worst.

OK, really? Seriously?

If anyone cares to discuss Jack's use of nutjob Christian as his man purse, we'll be happy to go back and forth with the comments.

He looked like a pet monkey clinging to the zookeeper's arm.

Week 2 poll results

This week, our beloved readers agreed with the "Project Runway" judges and voted to whack Marion from the show after he made that nouveau hula skirt/dress.

The results of our poll:

51% Marion
32% Christian
6% Carmen
6% Someone else
4% Steven

Friday, November 23, 2007

SJP to sell Victorya's 'Project Runway' dress

from the AP

It’s instant gratification for “Project Runway” fans: A version of Victorya Hong’s winning dress from Wednesday’s episode will be available for sale as early as Friday.

The dress is being offered as part of Sarah Jessica Parker’s Bitten line, sold at Steve & Barry’s stores nationwide. The “Sex and the City” star was the week’s guest judge on the Bravo reality show about fashion.

The challenge put to the aspiring designer contestants was to create an outfit appropriate for Parker’s casual sportswear collection, known for its cheap pricing compared with other celebrity clothing lines.

The Bitten interpretation of the dress will be offered in black or burgundy for $19.98, and the vest that goes with it will come in gray or black for $14.98.

“I loved Victorya’s design immediately when I saw it during my appearance on ’Project Runway,”’ Parker said in a statement.

Hong’s original dress will be on display at Steve & Barry’s flagship Manhattan store for several weeks.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Project Runway Episode 2

Magic moment: Big Chris is so feklempt he is sobbing. The challenge is to design a two-piece outfit for a pop culture and fashion icon. The contestants wonder aloud…who is it? Madonna? Britney?

Nope. Sarah Jessica Parker. Truth told, we’d be shaking in our Manolos and so were the designers.

There was, of course, a hitch. It had to be dirt cheap – total material costs of $15 to sell in SJP’s Bitten line for mass marketer Steve & Barry’s at the bargain price of $40.

Chris tearily warbles. “She’s the reason I moved to New York…” It's a touch stalker.

In a mere 30-minutes contestants have to sketch the ensemble and go one-on-one to pitch the look to the gal who is arguably the queen of New York fashion. She in turn picks seven of her faves, who in turn pick seven partners to produce the look. The winning team: Victoria and Kevin with their fluid smock dress topped by a saucy racer back vest. Really cute. Though for our money, it was Elisa and tattooed Sweet P who did the job best – a swingy light brown cape atop a turquoise mini-dress. They were in the running but Elisa grosses Heidi out big time by admitting she uses her own spit to mark her dresses. “You should not tell people that,” says Heidi, nearly fainting. Earlier in the show the earthy contestant explains to shocked Sweet P that the spit “imbibes,” the fabric, “with energy.” Sweet P makes the sign of the cross on herself as if to say, “Holy Mother of Mod.”

The judges were dead on when it came to the worst look, though SJP almost weeps when he gets the boot. Marion, who partnered with Steven (please note the dimples on that guy), produces a hideous sweater of mole brown with Pocahontas fringes over an ill-fitting skirt. It starts the journey semi-okay but the fuzzy knit fabric appears to stretch and grow. Michael Kors describes the look as, “Cousin It,” and Heidi despises it. ”It makes us sad. It looks like it came from the basement,”she says. Christian who partners with Carmen comes closed to getting “aufed.” He earns a well-deserved comeuppance, in part for his arrogance. When Tim Gunn suggests a little adaptation on his sleazy, way-too-tight dress and spacey little jacket, the whippersnapper retorts, “I think it’s perfect.”

A note: We say the keeper of the night was Ricky’s charming, frothy red dress with a wide black belt. Ricky, don’t lose that number.

– Anne Bratskeir

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Tim Gunn highlight, Week 2

Tim Gunn kinda let us down this week with his performance, but with the writers strike still going, we'll let him slide.

OK, we're kidding about that part, but he didn't bring his A game to the designer workroom here in Week 2. If they lined up clips of all his episodes, this one would make it to the final minute of the show with overly dramatic music as the judges decide which of the last two clips to erase from the DVD box set.

However, since we're committed to finding one Tim Gunn highlight each week, here it is. And once again, it involves Elisa. They need to keep her around for a while because she's crazy.

Tim Gunn was somewhat baffled at Elisa's decision to hand-stitch everything not already nailed down in the workroom.

His response: "Elisa, that's cuckoo."

That just ain't right

It's 10:09 p.m. and Wendy the model just got whacked from the show. (I start watching a few minutes after 10 so I can capitalize on my DVR and skip the first two rounds of commercials.)

I understand that's how the show works, but that hardly seems fair. A model gets whacked from the chance at big exposure and some impressive benefits for no reason other than a designer's whim.

Correct me if I'm wrong, and I may indeed be wrong here, but the designers make the clothes for these girls to wear. When a designer collection gets panned, they don't kill the models - unless of course they fall, stumble or moon the writers. So why is it that these girls lose a job just because a designer made something awful looking?

You know that cliche about chicken salad? Say it to yourself now since I can't print it here.

Back to the show.

- Mark La Monica

Seriously, how lucky is Seal?

The luckiest man on the planet, next to Justin Timberlake in the late 1990s/early 2000s and David Justice in the mid-90s, is clearly Seal.

Here, Seal talks about his wife Heidi, his family life and his new album.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tim Gunn's best gift ever

Over here at Newsday, we put together this big holiday gift guide. We do it every year, as does nearly every other newspaper.

One of the parts of the package this year was asking famous folks what their favorite gift they received was. Here's what Tim Gunn had to say, complements of our very own Anne Bratskeir:

"Eight years after I started taking piano lessons, my grandmother gave me a piano. I was about 18 years old when I got it, and I still have it. I think of her every time I see it."

See other celebs' choices, including Michael Kors, at Newsday's holiday gift guide.

Week 1 poll results

The good people who read this Project Runway blog set the tone early in disagreeing with Heidi, Michael, Nina and Monique.

They whacked Simone. You whacked Elisa.

Our Week 1 reader poll:

60% Elisa
21% Simone
4% Ricky

Be sure to vote each week in the poll. It hit the site (over there in the top right corner) every Wednesday and remains open until Monday at midnight.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Runway racks ratings

If you watched Project Runway last night you were not alone. Bravo TV wants us all to know that the fourth season kick-off of the design diva competition was the highest rated premiere in the network's history. Get this: 2,890,000 viewers tuned in vs. 2,411,000 from last season (according to Bravo). The gang -- Heidi, Michael, Nina and Tim -- must be kvelling. And it was a juicy premiere, but frankly, we can't wait for the designers to get down and dirty. (Oops, Elisa already did that...right?)

-- Anne Bratskeir

The Tim Gunn highlight, Week 1

Every week for three seasons, Tim Gunn has delivered something worth talking about the next day. Season 4 will be no different.

So, every Thursday, we'll hit you with our Tim Gunn highlight of the week.

In Episode 1, did you happen to catch Tim Gunn's looks of bewilderment, awe and shock whenever he went near Elisa?

What brilliance on the part of the producers. The only hope is that is was true curiousity at watching her mash fabric into the grass in Bryant Park and again in the workroom and not a staged look with several outtakes on the cutting-room floor.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Project Runway: Episode One

It’s conceivable that Project Runway producers recruited a couple of patients from the loony bin to help balance the contestant pool this season. No offense to sweet Elisa, 42, from Pasadena, TX, but in the first challenge -- an at least 50-yard-mad-dash to three tents in Bryant Park stuffed with $50,000 worth of fabric, she goes psycho Mother Nature-style getting on her hands and knees grinding her fabric into the grass to “imbue it with a natural element.” That is some good TV.

The designers, an evidently talented bunch, all have to create an ensemble that defines them. Elisa ends up ditching the grass stains and produces a turquoise dress that is smashing in front, but bombs because of a frightening multi-color tail that smacked of well, toilet tissue meets a PiƱata. It looks like she was “poo-ing fabric,” says Heidi Klum, articulately summing up the look. Nothing like a little bathroom humor. Elisa’s poor model trips down the runway, but the judges don’t nix her. Instead they axe appealing, regular gal Simone, 32, from San Francisco, CA, who does a fairly boring little empire waist number that is so badly made that judge Nina Garcia basically shines hot lights on the lass. “Why is the quality of construction so horrible?” she asks. We love the Nina but what did she expect the girl to say? “Bad construction is the new black?”

Okay, ones to watch include Rami, 31, who hails from Jerusalem. He wins with his swank gray sheath though he’s a tiny bit smug. There’s Selden, Long Island’s own curly-haired Jillian, 26, who is easily “in” with her coral pouf that features a fitted bodice. Then, there’s creative little Christian, (the youngest on the show at 22, from Annapolis, MD) whose asymmetrical hairdo is inspired by the tropical flower, Bird of Paradise and is filmed asking, “Don’t these bitches know I am way better?” Need we say more? He’s clearly miffed that he didn’t win though does get judge accolades. We did not love his camel/plaid ensemble and nor did Heidi, who admitted that it was growing on her only after peer pressure, and what appeared to be one withering look from Michael Kors that read, “Be quiet, look pretty, and say Auf Wiedersehen.” (Though, truth told, they really like each other in real life.) Also, for the record, Kevin, 30, of Fairfield, NJ wants us all to know he’s straight even though he’s a designer. Duly noted.

As for intentional comic relief, it’s all about rotund Chris March, whom we hope they’ll keep around if for nothing else than his fabulous laugh and endearing “whatever,” attitude. Monique Lhuillier, (for those who don’t know it, she designs glam evening wear and wedding gowns, and some call her “Little Oscar,” as in de la Renta), is darned poised on the show in her role as guest judge.

To note: the tattoo factor – who needs clothes? Sweet P, 46, has them everywhere, but we guess that was in fashion with the motorcycle mamas she used to ride with – for real. But almost everybody on the show seems to have at least one. We tried to count them all but couldn’t keep up. We need to be busier. – Anne Bratskeir

Monday, November 12, 2007

Long Island designer rocks the 'Runway'

The fourth season of Bravo's hit series, 'Project Runway,' kicks off Wednesday, and if the first episode is any indication, it is going to be a doozy.

Long Island's own Jillian Lewis, who grew up in Selden, is among the 15 contestants.

Newsday fashion writer, Anne Bratskeir, supplies some background info on the rising designer:

The fashion bug bit her hard in the late '90s, when big, wide-legged pants
were making a splash on the high fashion scene but not sold in stores on Long Island. She did what any hardcore fashionista would: She made them. "People were really responding to what I was wearing, so I stopped dancing and turned my attention to designing." She became so focused on her own small manufacturing business, making silk-screened warm-up pants for $35 a pair, that, she says, "My boyfriend broke up with me, my friends stopped calling. I underestimated the time it would take.

Read the full article on Jillian Lewis. And tune in Wednesday to root for your hometown girl.

A few of Jillian's sketches are below:

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Project Runway's fantasy league

Seriously, folks, that headline is not a joke!

Project Runway has launched a fantasy league of sorts where you get to pick the winner of each challenge, the loser who gets kicked off the show and the winner of best hair. It's a weekly thing with the overall season winner earning a trip to the season finale viewing party.

Here's the link to join the league.

And you thought all the hype and hoopla surrounding fantasy football was enough insanity to last a lifetime. Not so fast, my friend.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Tim Gunn Q & A

It borders on illegal to watch "Project Runway" and not wish you could rent out Tim Gunn to help get you through those tough days in life.

As we approach the start of Season 4, Blogging Project Runway scored a sit-down interview with T-Gunn. It's quite good. So go read it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

'Project Runway' gives a sneak preview

The folks at Bravo's "Project Runway,” are leaving no cuff unturned when it comes to hyping the Nov. 14 premiere of the reality series.

On Tuesday, they choreographed a sneak preview, emceed by the show's host Heidi Klum -- drop dead gorgeous in a blue mini-dress -- in a dramatic clear plastic tent erected on the plaza at Lincoln Center.

Each of the season's 15 contestants sent three signature designs down the runway -- from bloomers to ball gowns with some especially potent misses and many hits, boding well for the coming season. Of note, and not necessarily in a good way: the odd staining technique of Elisa, 42, of El Paso, Texas, and the antics of Christian, 21, of Annapolis, Md., this season's youngest contestant, who went positively Zoolander at the end of the runway, totally out-mugging his model.

As for the playing field, which includes Long Island's own Jillian Lewis of Selden, the show's father figure, Tim Gunn, who watched from the sidelines said "This is the first season that any one of the designers could win."

In other words, stay tuned.

-- Anne Bratskeir

Video: 'Project Runway' sneak peak

Friday, November 2, 2007

Tim Gunn on Season 4 of 'Project Runway'

Our boy Tim Gunn talks about the designers and the new season of "Project Runway." Watch the clip below, then see the video player on the top right for more videos.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

'Runway' practice

The much-anticipated Season 4 of "Project Runway" begins Nov. 14 at 10 p.m. on Bravo.

But, you get can "auf" earlier than that.

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, Bravo is hosting its first consumer fashion show to help kick off the new season. Season 4 designers, which includes Long Islander Jillian Lewis, will show three looks that define their styles.

If you can't score an invite, swing by Lincoln Center on West 64th and Broadway around 11:30 a.m. to say stand on the street and say hi to famous people.