“Project Runway” returns tomorrow night


Yay! Project Runway is back. Season 4 premieres tomorrow night. I must remind myself to breathe. Oh, how
I love fashion and style! And Heidi Klum. And Tim Gunn.

But what really captures me is the thrill of
watching creativity from its infancy to its final product. That’s
the essence of Bravo’s most-watched show. Never mind that often
the challenges tossed at the contestants cause creative brain freeze, and never mind that you wouldn’t want even your worst enemy caught
dead in some of the creations that actually win a particular challenge.
It’s the process that makes the show work, not just the final articles
of clothing.

Of course, I can’t make a
Halloween ghost outfit out of a white cotton sheet, so the creative
energy on this show is awe-inspiring for me. Style, fashion and diva
attitudes are a luminous mix of entertainment! OK,
fine: I also enjoy watching the models glide down the runway each week,
but I swear that is merely a secondary reward. I swear. (By the way, one of the models, Marie, identifies as lesbian on her MySpace page.)

The 15 new contestants
(8 men and 7 women) have been announced, and each sent three items down
the runway with typical mixed results
during a brief show in New York a few days ago. But I say the quality of design looks great.
Take a look for yourself:

Media coverage of the showing
named several of the male designers as front-runners for this season.
Of course, here on AfterEllen.com it’s all about the women, so here are
the bios of the women in this season’s competition: Carmen Webber, Elisa Jimenez, Jillian Lewis, Kit (Christina)
, Simone Leblanc, “Sweet P.” (Kathleen)

and Victorya Hong. Keep in mind that
on this show and in this industry in general, grand personalities are the order of the day. The bios of the women
do not seem to be too outrageous, but the devil is always in the details
(not just in Prada), and the show will no doubt go about its business exposing
the devilish details.

The female contestants include
an Asian American, an African American, a woman who got
her nickname from her membership in all-women’s motorcycle "gang," and a woman who set my girl-who-digs-girls sensor on alert
with her use of the terms partner and mate with nary a gender pronoun
in sight. Alas, when I actually listened
to the interview with Elisa, I did hear her also refer to her partner as her boyfriend.
Drat. Oh, well; there may not be
any out lesbians or bi women among the contestants, but there are out gay men. Also,
these are some very accomplished contestants.
Most already have their own labels and their own clientele. The
level of competition should be higher than the first couple of seasons.

So bring on the mind games, hemlines and low-cut necklines, and let the strapless, backless, sequined madness begin!
And as a viewer, I have one expectation of season 4. As Tim Gunn famously
implores, "make it work, people!"

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