It's no secret that fate of Project Runway is as unfinished as a few of the garments that have been shown during the past five seasons of the hit reality series. Legal troubles have got the program in limbo, stalling (and possibly preventing) its move from Bravo to the Lifetime network.
But faster than the return of legwarmers crashed and burned, Bravo has reportedly created a knock-off series, tentatively called Fashion House, to replace its ratings darling. And all we can think is, Another one? Hasn't fashion TV gone out of style yet?
When America's Next Top Model and Project Runway launched, they seemed new and fresh and different. Unlike the purely voyeuristic shows that were already out there, both programs explored uncharted territory and contestants actually had to have some sort of special skills to participate. Plus, they offered a glimpse into the dramatic and bitchy world of fashion, which equaled a reality TV goldmine.
Naturally, the imitators weren't far behind. Once Janice Dickinson was done as a judge on ANTM, she got her own show, The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency. And frankly, it made ANTM seem as smart as The West Wing.
And it's only gotten worse from there. Not only have ANTM and PR lost their shiny luster, interlopers such as America's Most Smartest Model, Glam God With Vivica A. Fox, The Rachel Zoe Project, Shear Genius and Stylista -- have hopped on the long-departed bandwagon.
And on Nov. 11, Lifetime is rolling out Blush: The Search for the Next Best Make-Up Artist. Even if they play upbeat techno music and feature rapid-fire scene changes, can you think of anything more boring than watching people cake on eyeshadow, apply false lashes and buff blemishes for an hour?
I'd rather topple off a pair of 8-inch platforms into a bed of Tyra Banks' used hair extensions. Since when is fashion about following tired trends?
Besides, do contestants even benefit anymore? With constant turnover of reality TV out there, 15 minutes of fame has been reduced to about three minutes. The only person who has been catapulted from obscurity to fame and career success isn't even a contestant -- it's PR mentor Tim Gunn, who is now a bonafide celebrity.
Now to be fair, most people, including myself, have better things to do than track every move of reality show winners. But if any of these folks were making it -- truly making it, like, on the level of Gisele Bundchen or Marc Jacobs -- we'd know.
Does anyone even consider Adrienne Curry, the first winner of ANTM, a model anymore? We think she's more synonomous with embarrassing VH1 reality shows and marrying Christopher Knight, whose most recent claims to fame includes his stints on Celebrity Circus and Celebrity Family Feud.
Try looking up ANTM alum CariDee English and you'll see more stories about her alleged make-out sessions with teen skateboard sensation Ryan Sheckler and her speeches about psoriasis awareness than modeling.
Meanwhile, the two PR winners who have probably seen the most success are the same folks who had established careers upon joining the cast. Season two winner Chloe Dao already had her own thriving clothing boutique, which is still going strong today. Recently, she sold out her 13-piece collection on QVC and was tapped to create a line of electronics accessories to be sold in stores like Target, Circuit City and Best Buy.
Season three champ Jeffrey Sebelia came to PR with an pre-exsisting clothing line, Cosa Nostra, and celebrity clientele. Since the show, he's launched a contemporary women's clothing line, Good Vig.
Sure, other winners from both shows are gainfully employed in their respective fields. But we have to wonder if that's because of the spotlight and humiliation that comes with reality TV, or in spite of it. The jury is still out on that. Still, we're not total curmudgeons.
Our best bets for long-term success include season three ANTM winner Eva Marcille (who dropped Pigford from her name). She models, but she's also become a decent film and TV actress. Currently, she plays Tyra Hamilton on The Young & the Restless. Laugh if you want, but once upon a time, Eva Longoria called Y&R home, too.
We also have high hopes for PR winner Christian Siriano. Immensely talented for his young age, he's also got an engaging personality -- we predict both will take him far.
Certainly, viewers can enjoy much jackassery on the newest diluge of fashion programs. But as for producing the next great stylist or make-up artist? Does anyone really care? Or should fashion TV just go the way of peg-rolled jeans? As much as we love clothes, style and TV, we're leaning toward the latter.