Ever since a girlfriend and I had weekly “Project Runway Date Nights” years ago, I have been hooked on the show. It was such a fun time! We would take turns “hosting” our dates, and always served up a little nosh and a few glasses of something yummy to enjoy during the show. We loved to critique the critiques, judge the judges, and root for our favorite designers all season long.
This was the year before The Year I Started to Sew, and – really – Project Runway was my inspiration. Whether it was watching the designers create that inspired me, or the thought of handling all kinds of FABRIC (I have an addiction), the result was an inexpensive Brother’s sewing machine purchased a whim (The “Project Runway” model, of course), and the launching of a whole new way to express myself.
Project Runway has all the makings of great reality television. There’s the exciting competition for the Holy Grail of becoming the next “It Girl” of the fashion industry ($100K cash ain’t too shabby, either ). There’s beautiful fashion, awesome guest judges and shade galore (No “T”, No Shade, Gurl!”). And one of my favorite parts: the heart warming “overcoming the odds” stories that never fail to bring a tear to the eye and inspiration to the heart. Stories like Mondo, who – after 10 years of silence – came out on
the runway as being HIV positive. (He won Season 8, and is huge in the industry now.) Or Ashley, the uber curvy retro girl with the purple hair who began sewing as a way to self-medicate from a lifetime of bullying. She ended up taking the whole shebang in Season 14,and now has a line of Plus Size clothing in JC Penneys.
Every show has an element of surprise thrown in, too. Maybe 2 designers will be eliminated instead of 1, or Tim Gunn gets so mad, he drops the F bomb! (For some reason, that was HUGE!) Whatever makes up the Magic, it works and they have millions of fans out there to prove it.
I know some folks consider Project Runway beneath them. And that’s ok because I love me a little mindless entertainment at times. (I’m also a big “Drag Race” and “Chopped” fan). What may come as surprise to the PR Nay Sayers is that there is wisdom to be gathered from the show…little “keepin’ it real” tips I use in everyday life, like
MAKE IT WORK
Ok, even people who’ve never watched the show are familiar with this iconic encouragement by the great Tim Gunn. As mentor to the young designers, it’s Tim’s job to help them figure out how to take hideous mistakes, unconventional materials and their own emotional meltdowns, and turn them into a Top Look within the allotted time. (And there’s never enough time.)
“Make It Work” moments usually show up when a designer hits a brick wall. Maybe they didn’t buy enough of the right fabric, or Heidi surprised them with the dreaded Black Bag “gotcha” of a Team Challenge (ooooh, they hate that one!) Often times, Make It Work moments hit when a contestant is feeling overwhelmed. From all accounts, it’s a very stressful competition – and that’s just dealing with all the bitchiness. It’s not uncommon for a normally “together” designer to start falling apart at the seams under the pressure. They want to give up, or run away in tears.
That’s when Tim, like everyone’s favorite Uncle, comes to the rescue!
Well groomed with exemplary taste and manners, Tim dishes out just the right amount of Tough Love and encouragement with equal panache. He reminds us that many times, when we are feeling stuck, our best way forward is to simply accept what is, and then just get busy. We might need to reevaluate our plan….think outside the lines…..pull the “issue” apart and start over. Whatever it takes, we don’t give up.
Make It Work Moments can be some of our best, most enlightening experiences. They are our chance to turn a train wreck into treasure. I’m in the middle of a Make It Work moment myself, in fact. After being surprised with an Unconventional Challenge I never saw coming last year, with all the drama, tears and stress that’s gone with it, I’m doing a Life Redo. I’m editing. I’m tearing things apart and reconstructing them. I’m dreaming of the Big Win (in my case, staying cancer free and enjoying my life), and daily seeking new inspiration to keep moving forward.
And sure enough, there’s a voice is in my head. One I’ve listened to and admired for years. It’s saying to me:
Don’t lose yourself in the challenge!
Stay true to who you are!
MAKE IT WORK!
Thanks, Uncle Tim… I’m going for it!
(This is the first installment in a series I’m writing called, “That’s Sew Smart or “Everything I Needed To Know About Life, I Learned From Project Runway.”)