As ‘The Fashion Show’ proves that it’s not just a ‘Project Runway’ knockoff, hosts decipher whether Prejean and Obama share same beliefs on gay marriage
During a recent conference call with the judges of "The Fashion Show" — designer Isaac Mizrahi, singer Kelly Rowland and fashion-biz exec Fern Mallis — the trio addressed the "Project Runway" comparisons.
There’s no getting around it. Both reality-competition shows feature designers who are put through the paces until contestants are whittled down to a winner. And both are produced by Bravo. But remember — after a bitter courtroom battle, Bravo recently lost "Project Runway" to the Lifetime network.
Can there be more than one?
Crime drama series — like "NYPD Blue" "CSI" and "Perry Mason" — are constantly churned out, and oftentimes, the genre improves. "The Fashion Show," which premiered this week, definitely adds some stronger features to the formula. One is audience interaction: At the end of the season, viewers will get to vote for the winner, who will have their designs sold by an unspecified retailer.
But the biggest difference is Mizrahi.
When it comes to praise or disproval, he’s one of the most precise judges to ever appear on TV.
"It’s really not a blazer. It’s more of a bolero," he corrects one designer. "I am really offended by you’re your choice in fabrics," he tells another.
You could put Mizrahi at a binary microprocessor convention and he’d come up with great observations. But when it comes to label queens, spotting a counterfeit is an art form.
Which brings us to Carrie Prejean.
Since she came out against same-sex marriage rights, the first runner-up at the Miss USA Pageant has compared her beliefs to our promising black president. Both do not favor same-sex marriage and define the union as between "a man and a woman."
I decided to take this matter to a versatile expert when it comes to criticism.
But first, I wanted to tell the judges about one of this season’s contestants — Andrew Christian, the gay underwear designer who introduces himself as "The Panty Christ." That was the headline came from my article that ran last year in Dallas Voice.
Howdy, y’all. I wanted to tell you — I’m the guy who coined Andrew Christian’s nickname. "The Panty Christ" was my headline from an interview last year. It was a phrase that had never before been attributed to Andrew. And I was beyond hilariously flattered when I heard him drop that on the show.
Mizrahi: That’s crazy. You know, that’s the name of his company, darling. It’s The Panty Christ.
Wait, he’s naming a line after it now?
Man, I want a free jockstrap out of it.
Mizrahi: I’m sure you could arrange that, darling.
That’s why Bravo is such an excellent network. The producers don’t shy away from fully representing a gay demographic.
But what makes "The Fashion Show" remarkably different from "Project Runway" is you, Isaac. Your critiques are scalpel sharp. You’re nothing like nice-guy mentor Tim Gunn. And frankly, I don’t think Michael Kors holds a candle to your ability to pinpoint your criticism so exactingly. Your critiques really get to specifics, which is so constructive.
So, Isaac — can I put your acumen to the test?
Right now, fashion beauty Miss California, Carrie Prejean, says her beliefs about same-sex marriage are exactly like Barack Obama’s. Curious — can you spot the difference?
Mizrahi: Wait a minute. Can I spot the difference? Of course, I can spot the difference — because it’s a lie, isn’t it? It’s a total lie. I don’t know enough about it, really. You’re putting me … a little bit … I don’t agree with Miss California. And I don’t think Barack Obama is against same-sex marriage. Is he?
He’s not for it.
Mizrahi: He’s not?
And Prejean says, "What’s wrong, gay liberals? I’m exactly like Barack Obama."
Mallis: Barack Obama has the whole country to navigate. And she’s in California — a state where she should be a little more in tune.
Mizrahi: Well that, too. And Barack Obama isn’t running for Miss America. I, I, I … I can’t even comment on Barack Obama or his position on gay marriage. I can’t because I don’t know enough about it.
I just think he’s way too smart to be against gay marriage. There has to be a loophole in the way he’s putting it. He’s just way too smart for that.
I know that if I was marrying my boyfriend, Arnold, and I invited the Obamas, they would show up. And they would probably get me exactly what I wanted from my registry at Tiffany.
Are you getting ready to pop the question?
Mizrahi: I just know that [Obama] must be playing some kind of political card at the moment.
Mallis: Like the biggest political card in the world.
Mizrahi: Where she is just — I don’t know what she’s playing. She’s playing that "dumb blonde" card.
Mallis: Beauty queen! Beauty queen!
Kelly Rowland: I think she should take responsibility for what she said.
Mizrahi: Well, wait a minute, Kelly. She did. She’s actually out now crusading against gay marriage, if you can believe that. Maybe that’s the difference — I think Barack Obama is not crusading against gay marriage, and she is. And she’s also using as God as, like, you know, her spokesperson, which Barack Obama is not.
I tried to get in one more question, but my line to the conference call was instantly disconnected as a PR rep said, "We’re moving onto the next person in the queue."
I could hear Mizrahi groan with relief.
Ladies, get your hair did — with up-dos and baby’s breath. Dudes, break out your semi-formalwear.
East Dallas retailers House of Dang!, co-owned by Andrew Bayer and Doug Voisin, is hosting a creative-formal "prom" on Saturday, which will be held in the boutique’s backyard.
Brush up on your New Wave dance moves, too. A special emcee will crown a queen and king. And make sure to look cute — for your prom picture.
May 9 from 6 p.m-10 p.m. at House of Dang!, 4219 Bryan St.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 8, 2009.