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Friday, January 10, 2014

Project Runway All Stars: Season 3 Finale

Posted By on Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 11:35 AM

click to enlarge seth_aaron_henderson.jpg

Well, Seth Aaron did it, and it was well deserved, because his final ensemble really did look Spanish-inspired, and the fact that he made his models wear his "signature" Harry Caray glasses was adorable.

However, now I am left with the same feeling I have most seasons: Why do the men always win All Stars?

Top Chef is the most egregiously sexist reality show; when given two options for elimination they almost always go with the XX chromosome. I can't say that Project Runway is the same though. I generally agree with the judges 90 percent of time, and since the show has moved to Lifetime only women have won. So what are we left with? The idea that men are bolder designers that take more risks on All Stars? I'm afraid so.

In this sense, Korto's second place finish is a good metaphor for the entire franchise. She created beautiful clothes that "wowed" on the runway, but in the end could not win out over Seth Aaron's cohesive "Ole!" collection. This is the second time that she's made it to the finale and lost, and viewers could see it in her face. She's tired of being second. But her clothes are not maverick, they don't have that over-the-top oomph that some of the male designers on the show have mastered, like Mondo. The women on the show generally create wearable beauty but it's the men who think of what they do as performance art. Oh I know there have been women who have done this too -- remember the eccentric Ping?

But wait, you say. What about Elena?

click to enlarge Elena's cocoon - HAUTETALK.COM
  • Elena's cocoon
Her clothes were very bold and different. She came in third, and though some of it drifted off into Ninja Turtle land, overall she did a great job. I had to ask myself why she wasn't in the final two though. If those clothes were created by a man, would he have won? Would we have seen what he did as fresh and exciting? Would we have paired it against Seth Aaron and declared the work "the stamp of a true original?" Or is it when a woman has a specific look that she has honed, we see it as a weakness and not a strength? The phrase "We've seen this same silhouette before" has come from the judges a lot, and it is generally lobbed at the women designers.

So what does all this mean? I have no idea. I'm sure some graduate student in Women's Studies can come up with a theory that will have to do with the pressures of finding your voice in a male dominated field, and the underlying male-friendly gaze we all harbor, buried deep in our socially constructed psyche. When you look at the overall winners for Project Runway, the women and men are nearly equally matched, though there were many eliminations that erred on the side of the males before a woman on each season rose to the top. I blame the patriarchy. And Michael Kors. Heh.

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Katy St. Clair


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