One of the best ideas Project Runway ever came up with was following the final three home to get to know them better and having Tim as the guide just makes it all too perfect. See, Tim’s appeal works on so many levels. On the one hand, he’s such a sweet, genteel, open guy that it’s a pleasure just watching him interact with people. On the other hand, he’s so … of a certain place, we guess is how we’d put it, that there’s a certain devious glee in seeing him plunked down in alien settings and watching his unflappability try to assert itself. If you look closely, you can see the little gyroscopes spinning as he tries to get his bearings. “Yes! Concrete septic tanks! That’s why you’re a fashion designer, Jay!” Too cute for words.
On the other, other hand, Tim is so good at connecting with creative people and drawing out their thoughts and getting them to defend their work that the whole thing is illuminating in addition to being entertaining and a little schmaltzy.
We love seeing the designers’ backgrounds and day-to-day life. It fills in the blanks, not only on their personalities but on their aesthetics as well. Of course these things are edited to tell a story and we can’t ever really lose sight of that, but it’s not hard to draw a straight line from Jay’s rural background to his knits and quilting-inspired collection, or from Kara Saun’s Hollywood career to her ultra-glam, movie-inspired collection, or from Wendy’s old-money, horsey set world to her somewhat traditional, mature collection.
Of the three, Jay’s was probably the most interesting. It was a bit of a surprise to see how organized and focussed he seemed to be, especially in a setting that, at least on the surface, wouldn’t lend one to think it was a place to cultivate an explosive creativity.
Wendy was interesting in that she seemed to be desperate for Tim to recognize her in some way. Desperate for his input; desperate for his approval, not just on her collection, but on her life. It was a little icky how she trotted her daughter out to perform in front of the cameras but we’re going to be uncharacteristically generous and leave that one alone.
Kara Saun: all professional. Here’s my collection, Tim. Here’s where I buy my fabric, Tim. What do you think, Tim? What should I be doing next, Tim? Not that she wasn’t sweet. She clearly loves Tim but she also clearly values his opinions highly.
More than anything else, though, the reason we love the “home movies” is because this segment is the closest the show ever really comes to depicting the process of fashion design. No designer gets locked in a room with a dozen other designers and told to make a dress in 12 hours. That’s not fashion; that’s reality TV. Getting to watch the designers, alone and without any drama, designing clothes and discussing their work with a stylish, debonair, kind and knowledgeable teacher? That’s just fabulous as far as we’re concerned.