I've been a fan of Project Runway since it started 11 years ago, and every year I'm excited for each new season that comes. I'm also a fan of PR All Stars and PR Accessories, but the original remains my favorite (I just ♥ Heidi & Tim). When Fashion Star came out last year I was very happy to see a new contest dedicated to fashion designers (it is still my dream to one day become one, and I would LOVE to eventually participate in both shows... Am I being too greedy? hihihi). However, both shows are very different, and I've finally decided to share with you my pros and cons :)
Before I do so though, I would like to talk a little bit about each of them separately. I'll start with Project Runway 'cause it is the pioneer after all. Project Runway gives young (and not so young), experienced (and not so experienced) fashion designers the opportunity to show in NY's Mercedes Benz Fashion Week if they are to be among the 3 finalists, and the winner gets many juicy prizes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Super model (and gorgeous) Heidi Klum is both the host and one of the 3 regular judges together with fashion editor Nina Garcia (wich by the way, is Colombian) and fashion designer Zac Posen (up until last season the third judge was fashion designer Michael Kors). I must say, I really like Posen's sweetness and awesome outfits, but miss Kors' hilarious sense of humour.
The designers' mentor is the fabulous style guru Tim Gunn. For each challenge he takes the designers shopping at MOOD and critiques their work in order for them to figure out if they are doing well or not, and decide whether to continue the way they are going or make some changes so that they can 'make it work!' and continue in the contest. During past seasons, designers faced the challenges individually (with the exception of a couple of challenges). This season on the other hand, they've decided to make designers work in teams so that they can experiment what the fashion world is really all about: teamwork. In my opinion, some designers don't really think of this new mechanism as a formative experience, but as an easy way to stay in the game. Why? Because not everyone works or has the same level of taste and skills, and this means that sometimes the best designers get pulled down by the worst ones in their team or the bad ones avoid elimination thanks to the good designers in their team.
On the other hand, Fashion Star's dynamic is completely different from that of Project Runway, but let's first talk about the changes the show has had this season compared to its first one. This year, model and TV personality Louise Roe has taken super model Elle Macpherson's role as presenter. They both are very beautiful and have sexy accents, but I must say I prefer Roe's hosting style. She seems much more at ease on the stage while Macpherson kind of looked stiff and not completely involved with the audience. Another thing that changed this season is the stage: it is now simpler (less colorful) and has no distracting dancers in the background. The mentors remained the same, although this time instead of mentoring together all of the designers each has chosen 4 to work with as a team. Now there's team Jessica Simpson (singer and fashion designer), team Nicole Richie (reality show character and fashion designer) and team John Varvatos (fashion designer).
As part of the program's original format, there are 3 buyers from three of the biggest stores in the US ready to buy, produce and sell the designers' creations. Last year the stores present were Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Swedish fast fashion brand H&M. This year H&M was replaced by another big name, Express. Each week designers are given a theme to use as inspiration to design a garment for S/S in two color ways that then is shown to the buyers, mentors and public on the runway. After the runway, the buyers get to bid for the garments they like and the one that gets it, produces and starts selling it the same evening the show takes place. One of the designers that doesn't get its garment bought gets eliminated at the end of the evening. The winner of Fashion Star will sell its collection in all of the three stores mentioned above.
Now let's compare both shows:
- Designers work on challenges: there's an inspiration theme and also a purpose each time.
- Designers get to not only show their creative skills, but also their pattern-making and sewing skills.
- Designers must complete one complete look (sometimes the challenge requires to complete more than 1).
- Viewers know exactly how much time the designers get to complete the challenge (usually 1 day).
- Viewers know the designers' budget for materials, and where they get them (usually at MOOD).
- Designers get to experiment with fashion: some challenges are unconventional or avant-garde.
- The mentor guides the designers and gives critique that allows the designers to reflect on their work without giving them the correct answers upfront.
- Designers get lots of feedback from the 3 regular judges plus the guest judges.
- Designers learn how to style their looks.
- The winner gets lots and lots of awesome prizes, including a cash prize and expensive equipment to develop a collection.
- The winner gets economic funds to develop a collection, but no assurance that it will be bought and sold by an important fashion store.
- Designers have the opportunity to have their designs bought and produce on every episode allowing them to understand if their styles are commercial or not, and what they can do to improve.
- Designers get to earn money each time their designs are bought after the runway (they don't have to wait to win the whole show to do so).
- The winner knows that its first collection will be sold in all three super stores (this implies lots of doors opened).
- The winner gets a cash prize too.
- The winner gets immediate success (that can be maintain afterwards depending on its hard work). Last season's winner Kara Laricks (whose designs are absolutely beautiful and cool) has been able to maintain the success gotten during the show thanks to her dedication, and is building a great career and brand.
- There are no challenges, just themes. For example, last Friday the theme was 'sex sells'.
- Designers only design one garment per runway.
- The viewers don't get to know how long did it take the designers to create the designs for the runway.
- The viewers don't get to know how much was the designers' budget for materials nor where they them from.
- Designers proceed based on their designs, but not based on their total package as designers (pattern-making and sewing skills) because they have a staff of professional seamstresses to rely on.
- Mentors', more than guide, instruct the designers which way to go with their designs. Designers can choose to ignore what they say, but the solution is bluntly given to them.
- Feedback received from the judges or mentors is very limited (or at least that's how it appears to the audience).
- Designers must only create commercial (but with something interesting) garments if they want their designs to be sellable.
Ok... this post has gotten longer than expected. Hope not to have bored you, hihihi. So far these are my pros and cons... if something else comes to mind, I might update it (lol... it might get even longer). So, which one do I prefer? Well... both shows are great and I really like them both, but I think at the end Project Runway does prevails as my favorite one because it is the one that pushes more the designers to excel both creatively and technically.
(all images were taken from google images and then doodled on by me)