Journalist Eila Mell has spent many years writing about fashion, theater, and film and interviewing some of the biggest names in the fashion and entertainment industries. As Eila launched her new book Project Runway: The Show That Changed Fashion she shared some surprising insights about the show, now in its tenth season, with me and Emily Sandberg.
Do you think Project Runway is a viable platform to launch new designers?
I think Project Runway is a very viable platform for new designers. They are introduced to many key players in the industry. The status of being on the show can propel their career forward and advance their name recognition. They not only have the invaluable opportunity to work with Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, but all of the show’s guest judges are top notch.
How do you think Project Runway has informed the average American’s view of the fashion world?
Project Runway has brought the fashion industry to the average person. The show has given people a glimpse into the world of fashion they otherwise wouldn’t have had. For example, how many people knew about Fashion Week prior to Project Runway? It has also helped people have a greater understanding of how designers work. Obviously established designers are not designing their collections in such a short period of time, but it definitely suggests what the process is. In addition, Project Runway has allowed many designers to showcase their talents and expand their audience base. Before Project Runway, where did you find people like Francisco Costa, Zac Posen and Georgina Chapman on television?
What challenges did you find when researching your book Project Runway: The Show That Changed Fashion?
Writing Project Runway: The Show That Changed Fashion was a pleasure. I would say the biggest challenge I faced was having to decide which designers I could interview and include in the book. Every single one is in there, but I couldn’t interview everyone (much as I would have liked to)!
On Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Heidi Klum stated, ‘We had a lot of cowards on the show’ in reference to two designers walking off. Why do you think many of the contestants struggle to cope?
What people might not realize about Project Runway is that, although the show airs weekly, the production schedule is daily for 4-6 weeks without a single day off. In addition, the designers have no TV, radio, internet or communication with friends and family. Keeping that in mind, it’s not hard to see why it might be a struggle for some.
Why did you want to commemorate Project Runway with your coffee table book?
This season marks the show’s 10th anniversary. I felt this was the perfect time to commemorate a show that has really changed the way so many view the fashion industry.
What do you think people would be surprised to know about the show and those involved in it?
People might be surprised to know that the contestants have to work without air conditioning (the show is shot in summer). The air conditioning is too loud for the cameras.
Now in its tenth season, how do you think Project Runway has maintained its longevity?
I think the show has been around for ten seasons because it has integrity. Situations aren’t manipulated to titillate viewers. Project Runway is a show about talented people doing what they love to do, and I think the audience enjoys watching the creative process. I also think the cast (Heidi, Michael, Nina and Tim) is part of that equation. Tim brings so much to the show. The judges have a great chemistry, and approach the judging from different angles in a way that blends perfectly. One should not underestimate Heidi Klum; She helped create the show, is one of the producers and is the ideal host. She is smart, funny and honest, and I think the audience appreciates that.
What projects do you have in development that you’re excited about and would like to share?
I am excited to continue writing books about the fashion industry. In addition, I have a blog called Not Without My Gucci, and I have just signed on as a stylist for a new project.