David M. Russell/AETN
When will people learn you can’t take a model, a designer and a prize package and replicate the magic of Project Runway? Many have tried and few have succeed. The new series Styled to Rock, produced by Rihanna, gives the show a punky makeover. Project Runway: All Stars has some major upgrades from last season. But is there room for more than one Project Runway?
Styled to Rock is the umpteenth attempt at using the same format of Runway. Rather than focusing on the design, this series focuses on styling and costuming for musicians. Unfortunately, supermodel host Erin Wasson has the charm of a frozen waffle.
People take for granted that Heidi Klum was an actress and a television host before she produced Project Runway. Tim Gunn has become a celebrity due to his loving nature, distinct voice and stellar vocabulary. Their Emmy is proof that they are a major part of the show’s success. You can't just pull people off the shelf and expect the same magic to happen.
Project Runway: All Stars may have the exact same premise as the original but at least it innovates. It gives designers we have come to love a chance at redemption. Judges Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman also speak more authoritatively and diplomatically about fashion. Casting has improved this season with charmless model Angela Lindvall and severe mentor Joanna Coles replaced by opinionated Alyssa Milano and effervescent Zanna Roberts Rossi.
These are not the only attempts to clone Runway. Here are some others:
The Fashion Show
When Bravo lost Runway to Lifetime they tried to keep viewers with The Fashion Show. Mizrahi served as designer judge and Kelly Rowland served as host. The show received a slight upgrade in season two when supermodel Iman took over as host.
Launch My Line
Bravo tried again with this series. Dean and Dan Caten, of DSquared, hosted this series that featured “professionals” paired with designers. Seemingly random people in fields ranging from event planning to architecture had to create their own fashion line.
Not to be outdone by the shamelessness of Bravo, Lifetime tried to create a spin-off of Runway hosted by Molly Sims. Designer Kenneth Cole served as judge in this inversion of Runway. Designers create accessories ranging from jewelry to headpieces and style them with provided clothing.
This show tried to bring Runway to network television. Jessica Simpson, Nicole Ritchie and designer John Varvatos judged designers and offered them a chance to sell their line at Express and H&M. The show had too much product placement and was a little late to the game in Runway rehashing.
Styled to Rock seems like the hundredth show on Bravo to try and recapture the audience of Project Runway. C’mon guys, can you let it go already? The only difference between Project Runway and Styled to Rock is intermittent appearances by Rihanna. It also seems to rest on celebrity more than talent.
Each week, designers must create an outfit for a guest judge with an additional twist or challenge thrown in. The only difference is the "rock" angle allows the designers to produce more flamboyant, avant-garde, and "costumey" pieces. They also get the luxury of using "rock" as a reason their work is unfinished. The format is a little different, to avoid copyright infringement, and has the top and bottom designers separated before their designs are finished at a process called "The Pull."
Judges include Pharrell, supermodel Erin Wasson and Rihanna’s stylist, Mel Ottenberg. The winner gets a cash prize, appears in Glamour magazine, and they end up sewing costumes in a basement working on Rihanna’s design team. It seems like a really elaborate job interview to become a design assistant for a celebrity. Also, most celebrities tend to wear high profile fashion designers. If the prize incoporated music video or tour costumes, it'd be a better career win for a new designer.
Wasson and Ottenberg do not have much in the way of personality. They’re so robotic and monotone that even a cogent, thoughtful critique comes off as catty. They don’t have the likable personality that earns their snarky comments. Rihanna and Pharrell also seem like they want to be in the show as little as possible. Rihanna gives confessional interviews about the challenge but doesn’t interact much with the designers. Pharrell is a “mentor” but does not appear during the design phase.
The show does promise tons of drama. They have selected a random array of contestants. Flighty leatherworker Ahni Radvanyi won the first challenge with a very well-crafted body suit inspired by Nicki Minaj. However, she described the process as "giving birth to a thought baby" with her "brain juice." Andre Soriano channels every gay Project Runway contestent ever with sassy commentary, short shorts and a shredded T-shirt. There's also icy latex-fetish designer Laura Petrielli-Pulice. These crazy contestants guarantee that fur will fly. That fur will then be glued on a bra and worn by Rihanna onstage.
The celebrity judges include popular musical acts like Big Sean, Kid Cudi, Kylie Minogue, Carly Rae Jepsen and...Khloe Kardashian? Glee star Naya Rivera and Kelly Osborne will also appear.
Clearly, Styled to Rock is resting more on celebrity than on making celebrities. Project Runway is like PR/design bootcamp. Talented designers come up with great soundbytes and amazing designs. Styled to Rock has designers contructing psuedo-glamorous outfits for celebrities. Only time will tell if this series can shine bright like a diamond.