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TFS: Mid-Term Report Card!

We've been putting this off for a while now because we knew that in order to make our case, we were going to have to produce a post practically Proustian in length (alliteration + literary reference = QUALITY BLOGGING). Get yourselves a cup of coffee, darlings. You're going to need it.

Despite what Andy Cohen said to us at the finale taping, we have not "given up" on this show. There are a couple of reasons for that. One is that we love fashion/creative reality shows, but the big reason is that we've been rooting since Day One for Bravo to get this one right. We felt that they were really screwed out of a show they'd done an awful lot to promote and find its place and we felt that they really deserved a chance to create a suitable replacement. Unfortunately, we think they rushed this one into production too quickly before they could really figure out what they wanted to do.

When we look at the show it seems really obvious to us that Bravo attempted to differentiate it from Project Runway as much as they could, especially with the introduction of a voting audience, but also in smaller ways: eliminating the mentor role, making sure none of the judges was a model or fashion editor, and introducing a mini-challenge. Those smaller changes don't bother us but that big change with the audience bothered us the minute we heard about it (and we heard about it long before we reported it to you guys). We'll return to all this in a bit because it's all window dressing. The real problem with this show is that in their attempts to differentiate if from PR, they threw out the wrong things.

In our minds, there are many ways you could do a fashion design competition show and differentiate it from Project Runway. Foremost among them is to just do away with the runway show completely. The fashion industry has many ways of presenting its wares and they don't all revolve around walking models down a runway. It struck us as very strange that they would even attempt to keep the runway portion at the end since the show that everyone knew it was replacing; the show that everyone was going to inevitably compare it to, has the word "Runway" in its title. We would have thought that would have been the very first thing to go when devising its replacement. We realize that a lot of you are probably scratching your heads and wondering what the hell we're talking about. Hold that thought.

Now, as we said, they eliminated both the model and the fashion editor from the judging pool, replacing them with a judge who knows the American fashion industry like the back of her hand and a judge who's there merely to look pretty and who doesn't appear to have anything interesting to say about fashion outside of "I'd buy that." The latter turned out to be worth not much to the show in the long run, which neither surprised nor really bothered us. It's the former judge whose performance has been so disappointing. Fern demonstrated fantastic judging skills when she was on PR and occasionally we see glimpses of that on TFS, but for the most part her performance has been terribly disappointing. Based on her previous appearances on PR, we have to assume that the fault isn't hers. It's Isaac's.

In fact, as much as it pains us to say this, Isaac is a BIG problem with this show. He hogs the spotlight way too much and as the central judge, he determines the tenor of the judging. It's a situation that doesn't play to Fern's strengths. One of the many things that Nina and Michael get right is that they have always treated the other judges, not just Heidi, but any guest judge that happened along, with respect. Isaac just can't do that. He's too much of a bitch. Whenever another judge speaks, he gives off the distinct impression that he's allowing them to speak. Isaac is a colorful personality with a great deal of industry knowledge who's usually quite good on camera. He's been cast in the wrong role, is all. Now, hold that thought too.

Let's talk mentor. The most common complaint we hear about this show is the lack of Tim Gunn. Well, kittens, that was a given going into it. There simply was never going to be a Tim Gunn on this show and we initially thought it was a good idea not to even attempt to replace such a singular personality. There is no one in the public eye quite like Tim and if they had put in some pale shadow of a replacement, the poor person would have been raked over the coals. Having seen most of the season, we've amended that somewhat. No, they shouldn't try to replace Tim, but someone needs to walk through that workroom and offer their thoughts.

One of the best parts of PR is the viewer experience of watching the creative process unfold. For whatever reasons, that aspect is completely missing from TFS. Like we said, the creators of this show chose the wrong parts of PR to eliminate. Having Kelly and Isaac walk through the workroom without actually offering their thoughts on the process makes absolutely no sense from either a viewer perspective or from an in-show perspective. What we mean by that is the viewer does not get the enjoyment of watching creative people defend their work to a mentor and the designers do not get the help with their work that anyone would need in a crazy, unrealistic situation like that. It's completely pointless and in fact, it makes our blood boil every time we're subjected to it. All Kelly and Isaac do is walk in, ask a couple questions, and all but roll their eyes at the designer before moving on.

Which brings us to our next problem: the utterly execrable staging on this show. Look, we're not naive. After 3 years of blogging and having met countless reality show contestants, hosts, and producers (and getting to hear a TON of behind-the-scenes gossip), we're more than aware that there is very little "reality" in your average reality show. There has to be a certain amount of staging. The problem is, these people are terrible at it. Those little hallway conferences between Kelly and Isaac are the most cringe-inducing scenes on the show. Part of what makes PR work is the fact that Tim, Nina and Michael are all very well-spoken and can deliver a line or make a point not only with panache, but with clarity. Heidi less so, but her talents lie elsewhere. She's great on camera, she can fake a great personality, and she speaks from her gut. When she hates something, you know it and when she loves something, she can't hide it. She's not the most articulate out of the four regulars on PR but she's never had a problem getting her point across, even when she confuses bagels with hotcakes.

Let's pause and recap for a second. The runway portion is too derivative of PR; the judges are not suited to their roles; Fern is lost, Kelly is useless, and Isaac is hogging the spotlight; there's no mentor; and the staging is terrible, not least because the principals are all very bad at getting their points across effectively. With us so far? Okay, moving on...

Another huge problem with this show is the format. We'll just quote ourselves on this one:

"[T]he judges are forced to restrict their decisions to whichever garments got the lowest and highest scores, which means by definition, the judges are forced to judge their way around other people's decisions and criteria. It's a murky process made doubly so because we have no idea who the vast majority of these people are (except for a shot of maybe 6 or so every episode) and we have no idea what information they've been given about the challenge and what the designers were required to do. '90% of the audience said they wouldn't buy your outfit.' Well, okay. Who the fuck are they, then?"

We suspected as much when we first heard about the judging audience and we're sorry to see that we were right: it just doesn't work for this format. Now, one of the things that really differentiates this show from PR is the prize at the end: there is no Bryant Park finale. Instead, the winner gets to have their line produced for sale. That was the ONE thing they got right in this show. It instantly sets it apart from PR, which, much as we love it, has too often had a "Here's your money and your car! Good luck!" aspect to it (which is why so many winners of PR haven't exactly set the fashion world on fire). The problem with TFS is, they had this great idea to make the show different by offering a different prize at the end, but they never gave a thought as to how that ending should have informed everything that came before it.

Project Runway deals for the most part with "high" fashion. The finalists all get to appear at the premiere American fashion event and the challenges quite often revolve around high-end clients and sensibilities. We had assumed going into TFS that it would be more focused on the retail and ready-to-wear end of things, but it hasn't worked out that way. They've had socialite clients and "inspiration" challenges when what they really should be focusing on is the nitty and the gritty of trying to design something for mass production, which is something they never really deal with on PR. There have been some complaints about how the judging on this show tends toward giving the win to pieces that will be relatively easy to manufacture but that's one of the things we LIKE about this show. It should be built into every challenge and every judging point. The designers should be aware of this every time they put pencil to sketchpad or go shopping for fabric. That's the real world of the fashion industry. That's what hundreds of lower-end designers have to deal with every single day: how to produce a garment that will sell and how to keep the costs down to make it profitable.

Wow, you're still reading this? Good for you. Okay, we've done enough bitching. Bravo, if you decide to do a Season 2 (and we hope you do), here's what we propose:

Go all in on the retail aspect of the show. Every week, the designers have to produce some garment, bearing in mind that it's for mass production. They have to find the cheapest fabric and design a piece with as little frippery as possible so that it can be manufactured at a reasonable price point. We can't speak for everyone, but we don't mind if we don't get to see gorgeous gowns every week. If they have to design a decent pair of jeans or a salable trench coat or a killer pencil skirt, so be it. It's not the end product so much as it's the process we all enjoy watching.

Don't fire Isaac. We realize that some of the readers might not agree with us on this, but when he's on, he's really on. So put him in a position where he can really be on. He shouldn't be a judge. He should be the mentor.

Now, now. Sit down for a second. Hear us out.

The best way to fulfill the mentor role without drawing comparisons to Tim is to put the most un-Tim-like person you can find in that role and Isaac fits perfectly. What we propose is that instead of casting the show with a bunch of designers, cast it with a bunch of newly graduated design students and put them in the role of Junior Designer to Isaac's Senior Designer. This accomplishes several things. One, if you put a bunch of hungry kids in there, it'll be a hell of a lot more entertaining. Two, they'll all be much more likely to know how to sew since they're fresh out of school and we won't be subjected to a bunch of safety-pinned garments. Three, we suspect Isaac will be a lot gentler on a bunch of kids than he would be on a bunch of semi-established designers. Have Isaac come in every week with an assignment ("Design a work outfit/dress/coat/whatever for sale at X price point. Here's an inspiration board for you. I want to see your sketches in 30 minutes.") and have him guide them through the process. He'll get plenty of chances to be bitchy, but more importantly, he'll get plenty of chances to be instructive, which we suspect is a talent of his we're not seeing yet.

Fern should be the lead judge. She's a goddamn expert and she's playing second fiddle to Isaac, which is a travesty. Get rid of the judging audience and get rid of the runway show. Instead, as co-judges for Fern, because mass production is the focus of the show, bring in a couple of actual buyers every week. You can't tell us that in all of Manhattan, you can't find two buyers with the kind of wit and personality to make a show like this entertaining. We've met buyers; they can be quite snappy and savvy, and the good ones have seen it all. There's a couple Gunn-esque diamond-in-the-rough potential reality TV stars somewhere in that industry. We know you can find them.

Instead of having the models walk a runway, do it salon style and have them walk around right in front of the judges/buyers. Let every judge walk up to the garment and look at the seams and the pattern and the buttons and the zippers and everything that makes up the physical part of the garment. Not just to critique the execution, but to look at it to determine whether it's worth manufacturing. Instead of wasting time on a runway show that only draws inevitable comparisons, use that time so the judges (and us) can look at each garment, with the designer standing by to defend it. TFS doesn't let us see the garments very well and we only get to hear a couple designers defend their work each week. Have them ALL defend it. Have them stand right there as the judges declare their work crap or gold.

Unfortunately (for her), there's no role for Kelly in all this. You'll pardon us if we fail to shed any tears about that.

That about wraps it up. Think about it, Bravo. And please, do something about the lighting, for god's sake. If you heed nothing else in this post, please just take care of that.

Okay, readers. Let's hear it.


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I actually agree with EVERYTHING you've said. Wow. Glad you had the gumption (no bad words for this mommy) to come right out with it, ignoring the possibility that Bravo could cut you off from the wonderful access they've given you (and your readers).
My only addition to your suggestions; why not include a regular,everyday consumer (moi?) in addition to the buyers as an auxiliary judge? Get the end-user's POV?
Keep it up boys! I love reading your input/opinions/snarkiness...

I agree with almost everything you wrote. I do think that the show needs a host, and I propose Veronica Webb. She flat out sucked on Tim Gunn's show, but she was great as a judge on this show, and she's reasonably personable on camera.

I hate to do this to Kelly, but I think that someone who can talk about the clothes a little more technically than Kelly needs to be host. I was shocked how well Veronica did when offered the chance to talk about clothes on the runway. Her comments were succinct and on-point. I suspect she'd actually manage to be a more-or-less expert host without trying to grab the attention from Isaac.

That sounds like a great show. I'd watch that for sure!

I think that with your suggestions this show could definitely be a contender with PR instead of the knock off that we all think it is. I really, really hope that Bravo reads this and listens to you guys.


If Bravo doesn't take your advice they are dumber than those NJ Housewives.

And now that you've solved the riddle of TFS, there are some other things that could use you attention and innovation: Healthcare, Afganistan, North Korea...


I agree with everything you said in this post. Izaac is grating and domineering, and I think that despite his type A personality, he wants the designers to flourish and his current position prevents him from guiding them. He did very well with Pollo and the Geisha a couple of episodes back...

Surely we could find something for Kelly aside from "hanging by a thread" she hasn't been allowed to say much, perhaps there is a voice (and brain) beneath her lovely exterior.

"Isaac is hogging the spotlight"
"He hogs the spotlight way too much and as the central judge, he determines the tenor of the judging."

That is so true and one of the things I dislike so much about the show. I don't think Isaac is a bad guy, he just needs to channel a little better his advices and cattiness.

I think the show her great potential and your suggestions would certainly improve the show.

Great post, guys!

I would totally watch this show! You guys did a much better job at eloquently pointing out the flaws and giving praise where praise is due for this show.

I love the idea of students having to work for Issac - its totally brilliant!

YES! You boys just set out every one of my complaints of he show and how I have been thinking they could be fixed. Esp using younger designers that wouldn't be all "whatever, I already have my own label and buyers so I don't need this show." It is what made Christian such a wonderful contestant on PR. I also think the junior designer to Issac idea is perfect. The episode where that was their task was one of the best of the season. And either figure out how to make those mini-challenges fit with the show or ditch them completely. Right now they are just a waste of 10 minutes. As for Kelly -- I'm just not buying it :-P.

your version sounds truly exciting! oh Bravo, give it a try!

"Tlo said: ...she can fake a great personality..."

BTW, this line cracked me up. Love. It.


"Have Isaac come in every week with an assignment ("Design a work outfit/dress/coat/whatever for sale at X price point. Here's an inspiration board for you. I want to see your sketches in 30 minutes.") and have him guide them through the process."

Excellent idea!

Love this idea. Particularly if the weeks' challenges revolve around re-inventing wardrobe pieces like overcoats, fall coats, summer dresses, etc. Things the audience can relate to but would still enjoy watching a salon show comprised of ... i.e, ready to wear but beautiful, cool ready to wear pieces.

Like Isaac as mentor -- he's GREAT at talking about creativity, sources for ideas... can see him really inspiring a cadre of young designers (as well as by extension, the audience at home).

Second the praise for Veronica Webb! Would love to see her join the judging panel along with 1 smart, savvy buyer.


What of the mini-challenge? It works on something like Top Chef because there is a finished product that is, hopefully, edible. Not to mention, it is more than possible to cook in twenty minutes or however long. For TFS, it is mostly conceptualize or rearrange something but do it fashionably. I wouldn't mind seeing their sense of fashion tested, but they have to be time appropriate while not being kiddy projects.

According to the clothes I am wearing, I am no fashion expert. I love PR because of the creative process and this blog. I hate how on TFS it is suddenly day two. I need the process, and it's not like anyone can see the clothes anyways. I feed off of their agony, doubt, over-confidence, ineptitude, and languor.

Isaac as a mentor. Fern as lead judge. Well-lit salon shows. I think most sane people would agree 100% with your suggestions. Fashion-forward, but with retail in mind.

No, you left out one major piece of the puzzle -- yourselves. You two should be the producers. No explanation necessary. It's plainly obvious you have the vision and the chops now.

The only reason you shouldn't become the producers is that we, your loyal minions, would lose this precious bright spot of wit and wisdom on the Web.

Awesome Critique T Lo!

I agree about Fern expertise being under utilized, but I think the audience particiapation is just a cloak for the producer manipulation. If they eliminate the dramatic intervention by producers it might be a better show , and different from PR.

I'm not missing the "mentor" charactor as much as some viewers. I think Tim's role is more for the viewers than the designers. Someone gliding through the workroom tossing out catch phrases like "Carry on" and "Make it work" isn't really very helpful to a frustrated or overwhelmed designer.

I wouldn't want the design restrictions to be too realistic like real life (boring). I like the fantasy design school element of both shows, but they could give a retail price point as part of each challenge. It is difficult to have that restriction with the designers shopping for 2 yds of fabric at a high end retail shop like B&J or Mood. In real life fabric is purchased by the bolt wholesale at much less $ per yard.
I like the idea of presenting the garments in a showroom setting ( but on a model), as though you were showing them to buyers.

Presenting the garments in a showroom atmosphere is a great idea. Also having the previous challenge garements hanging around would help the guest judge see the designers full body of work.

That's all I've got. ;)

"Wow, you're still reading this? Good for you."

I was kind of proud of myself at that point.

Also, I agree with everything. Getting rid of Kelly was inevitable. I assumed from the start that if the show made it to a second season she would be replaced by a real celebrity.

I would watch THIS show in a second.

You've done it again. You have presented a lot of great ideas and maybe if Bravo wants to keep this show going hopefully they will listen to you. I think saying they rushed this show without thinking it through, sums it well. Then again if the show is not brought back I dont think I would shed any tears

Not that I would care if Kelly stayed or went, but I wonder if she too is suffering from being in Isaac's "shadow". So far she seems ill suited to this format but she might occasionally have something useful to say but is having a hard to expressing it or getting the chance to.

This entry really proves how invaluable I feel you boys are as a bridge between the fashion world/tv and the viewing public. Some time back someone on the PR fan blog in their naivate wondered why they should bother with Tlo when Jay, an actual designer, was already writing snarky blog entries for Elle. They didn't, realize underneath all the zingers, how perceptive and articulate you 2 actually are when it comes to fashion even though you are not "industry insiders".

You put a lot of effort into your blog and you communicate your thoughts better than most who discuss fashion online and with great humor. I've loved reading your blog since its inception and look how far you've come. You've definitely earned your fandom especially since you 2 are not part of the industry. You're doing this for love of fashion. It's always pissed me off how when people on some of these blogs disagree with another person's comments and try to invalidate those comments as irrevelant since the poster is "not part of the fashion industry"



Just a few things to add:

1. Mini Challenge: not bad in concept but it takes up too much time.. Id rather see each garment being constructed (which I feel like I never do) and critiqued.

2.Senior Designer: I dont think it should be Isaac each week. I do think Isaac should be the mentor (great idea!) but I think they should get a new senior designer each week. This will really differentiate the challenges... and makes each individual designer bend their style to fit w/in a new designers look each week. If Isaac is the designer each week I think it will get old, and the person with the most "Isaac-like" style will have a huge advantage. What I liked about PR is each challenge played to different peoples strengths


My advice to Andy Cohen and Bravo-read this, re-read it as many times as you need to, and then follow TLO's suggestions for refashioning TFS into a show that is really worth watching.

"(alliteration + literary reference = QUALITY BLOGGING)"

Ha! Love it.

"Isaac is a BIG problem." "The fault isn't hers. It's Isaac's."

At this point I'm ready to say the Iran election & aftermath is his fault. But you've come up with a great solution. Like Sewing Siren, I'm not sure a Tim Gunn figure is needed, but Isaac's conflicting roles are a big problem with the show. And since he's associated with the show and has a made-for-tv personality, dumping him isn't the answer. Just get him out of the judging chair. (I also like That Girl's idea to have Isaac as host/mentor, with a different senior designer each week.)

I also like that you've made easy-to-mass-produce part of the challenge. If it had been from the get-go, viewers wouldn't have been pissed off when a better design lost to an easier-to-produce one. Brill.

I'd like to add two suggestions:

As TLo said, let us see the process, and also LET US SEE THE CLOTHES!! Yeesh. Let the viewers see the freaking clothes, please!

And, because I've been harping on this all along (and why stop now?): instruct the editors to stop editing for bitchy one liners, and start editing for storytelling and through-line.

By the way, TLo: 98% of the audience said they would watch your show!!

Love all of your suggestions and do think that would make a show worth watching. I've felt for some time that Isaac would make a much better mentor than judge. He seems to want to teach and I think he'd excel. I loved watching him with EPL and Samurai during the 5 minutes w/Isaac challenge.

The only other thing I would love to see is, if Bravo is committed to the idea of selling the winning look every week, for God's sake, do it right! The cheap looking, ugly knockoffs that they are producing now are an embarrassment to the original designs. At this point, the "highlight" of each episode seems to be seeing how badly Bravo can screw up the original design with bad fabric and poor choices.

As a viewer and lover of fashion who comes from an engineering background, I would love to see a show, as you have laid out, that focuses on the transition from design/cpnception/sketch to runway to manufaturing to mass market retail. I want to actually LEARN something.

You girls have it the nail directly on the head and driven into the bulls eye.


I agree with everything you've said, TLo. Bravo would be fools not to listen to you and take your suggestions to heart.

One of my biggest issues with this show has been Issac. I adore him and loved his previous show, but on TFS, he's too bitchy and not really at all what I've seen him be like before. I think by having him as a mentor, he would calm way the hell down, be much more fun and charming and really offer something constructive.

If the show looks like it does now for Season 2, I dont think I'll watch it. Make some changes, and I think I would.

You've nailed down a lot of problems with TFS, but one of the main problems with this show is something that plagues most competition-based reality shows nowadays, which is the lack of creativity regarding the show's structure itself.

Why does every reality competition have to start with 10-20 contestants, each being eliminated down to the final 2, 3, or 4? When "Survivor" started the trend, it was unique, and it works for a lot of shows, but I'd be thrilled if one broke the mold, and a fashion design show would be a perfect place for that mold to be broken.

Start with a small cast of competitors, no more than, say, 5. They're on every single week, and their scores for each round of the competition puts them ahead or behind the other competitors. Let's see creative people learning from their mistakes (or not), growing as characters (or not) and seeing how each deals with the pressure of winning and (especially) losing a couple of times in a row.

Style Network's "Running in Heels," which you recapped once or twice, makes me think of that. In a way, it wasn't a competition show, but the three interns were certainly competing towards being hired by Marie Claire. If the competitive element of that show was brought to the forefront, you'd have something totally different than every other reality competition out there, which would definitely set it apart from "Project Runway," "Top Chef," "Top Design," "Top Makeup," "Top Topmaker," etc.

Please send an invoice to Andy Cohen/Bravo IMMEDIATELY for "Consulting Fees". They should listen to everything you said if they plan on doing a Season 2.

The other think I LIKE about TFS is the fact that the models play absolutely no role at all. They are simply walking mannequins, which is what most models are. Keep the models anonymous.

Well done!!


With your comments, TLo...THIS is a show I would watch. They would still have plenty of opportunities to do dressy and flashy things from time to time depending on the ultimate retail outlet (but God forbid, not David's Bridal!). I gave up on this show in the first couple of episodes...the lighting was horrific, and I simply could not stand Isaac and his endless bitchiness. I want to see a competition based on fashion, not a Heather Mizrahi bitched-up love in. Bravo: READ THIS & Heed!

Tom C.

AMAZING report, guys. I agree with every single thing you've observed and proposed.

Bravo, listen to TLo, for the love of all that is holy and fashionable! :D

Well, let's face it. A lot of us here only watch the show because of your commentary. Bravo should read this post carefully and rethink what they did and perhaps consider some of your suggestions. It would be a much better show, for sure.

I would like to see mini-challenges that actually involve styling these clothes for mass marketing--stage them in an editorial, create a window display...just do something else other than a runway.

I would also LOVE to see the introduction of a pair of designers who already co-design a label. Can you imagine the quality of garments and the potential for design when you actually get an established partnership on the show?!? Sign them up as a pair and eliminate them as a pair. Hell, make one entire season of the show nothing but design pairs!!!

Tampa Bay: "As a viewer and lover of fashion who comes from an engineering background, I would love to see a show, as you have laid out, that focuses on the transition from design/cpnception/sketch to runway to manufaturing to mass market retail. I want to actually LEARN something."

Similarly, one of the things I liked about PR from the start was watching how people with a talent and set of skills I don't possess could make something out of nothing. TFS is a different show, but that has to be part of what comes through. If bitchery and bad behavior were enough, I'd just watch the NJ housewives.

So I read your suggestions and pictured what you were saying actually appearing on a T.V. screen. I asked myself, would I tune in to watch a show put together like TLo suggests?

Answer: Absolutely! I especially like the idea of Fern and company getting right up close. It kills me how some shitty stuff has made it onto the runway but was not easily seen by the judges from afar.

I won't watch another season of TFS unless there are major changes. i like all that you propose.

A+ Move to the head of the class.

Seriously, great ideas. :)

I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment that a younger crop of designers could vastly improve this show. I think something is lost when the designers are thinking, "Oh well, if this doesn't work I'll just go back to my thriving business," instead of, "This is my one shot." The younger, less established designers are just hungrier!

I'm all in for a Season 2 - IF - there is some substantial retooling. I love your points and suggestions. I agree with Issac being a mentor, the role fits. And for crying out loud let Fern judge, it's her forte and she knows what she's talking about. Bubye to Kelly; sorry girlfriend but you don't have the cred to critique or judge. Get Veronica Webb - stat! She was excellent and could easily fill a Heidi role but in her own classy way. Having different Senior designer each week is an excellent idea and Issac could be the designer one week (for her ego if nothing else).

The only other things I would like to see is the producers scale back and just produce, not dictate the outcome as much. The editing dept. could use some mentoring also to add some dignity rather than snark.

Thanks TLo, you guys are so right on the mark. I've been waiting forever to get to your report card.

Mariana (The Unoriginal)

"Anonymous said...
I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment that a younger crop of designers could vastly improve this show. I think something is lost when the designers are thinking, "Oh well, if this doesn't work I'll just go back to my thriving business," instead of, "This is my one shot." The younger, less established designers are just hungrier!"

They are hungrier and they're the ones who really deserve an opportunity like this.

I want people like Jay, Christian, Chloe, Laura...people you had never heard before, people who had never showed their collections before, had never dressed any celebrity before.

Andy are you reading this??

pay attention Bravo, these boys know what they are talking about. their ideas are way more interesting then this show has been so far.

The audience vote is a no-no. I don't care who they are. Have three, five guest judges, I don't care, but no audience or live vote. That is was too American Idol and I can't stand it.

First off, I think you guys are incredibly intelligent and witty, and I agree with everything you said.
Secondly, I think it is so cool that from this little blog, you have gotten to the point where producers actually take your opinions into consideration. That is something to be proud of.

**starts the slow clap**

AWESOME post!! =)

Great suggestions, guys, and I hope that the people at Bravo take them into consideration. It's not a bad show, I actually enjoyed it, but it needs a LOT of fixing.

I think Sewing Siren made a great point saying that Tim Gunn's role is as much for the viewer as for the designers. For me, the average not-incredibly-fashion-knowledgable viewer, Tim was the person who summed up what was great about each look-in-progress, what sucked, WHY those things were great or sucked and how they could be made better. His segments weren't just a step in the creative process - they were a tiny lesson in fashion design and even personal styling for Ms. Middle America over here. I think Isaac would be fabulous in that role.

I am usually a lurker and I dont post, but I am hoping Bravo is reading this, so I wanted to agree with everything you said. I think the show you invision would be amazing and I would totally watch it.

(And Bravo, just so you know, I always fast forward through Kelly and Isaac when they go through the workroom and gossip and the hall AND I fast forward through the judges discussion because I just dont care about what they have to say)

So glad you brought up the mentor point. I think it's just cruel having Isaac & Kelly walk through and treat the designers like crap before they even get their creations to the runway. Not that I mind seeing some of my non-favorites shake in their boots but why do evil when you could be doing good and actually help these designers improve? I think I saw glimpses of Isaac's good nature when he was showing of his collection to Johnny & Merlin. I remember thinking, "who's that man pretending to be Issac?" so I'm sure he could do great in a teaching/mentor role.

Hope Bravo listens to you guys cause the show has just been one nasty stink bomb so far.

Also I know Bravo thrives off drama but why does this show seem so much meaner and harsher than the others? Is it really necessary to strip down the contestants humanity and only show them behaving like asses to each other?

There are other aspects of the RTW world that could make good challenges too - like taking a size 0 garment and scaling it up to a 16 (AND having it still look good!). We could still see crazy fresh-from-the-runway high fashion garments...that the designers have to modify for RTW.

You guys are brilliant with the critique and commentary.

The Bravo people should listen to you as you have your finger on the pulse of things.

I also really like the idea of having an average buyer coming in and offering opinion.

Bravo must have a bunch of generic office staff in the NY Office to come in and act as the customer who will sign a confidentiality agreement.


This was a wonderful and constructive critique. Let's hope the producers pay attention and make most, if not all, of the adjustments you suggested.

Part of what I used to like about most of Bravo's offerings was that they offered (albeit limited)insight and instruction about certain industries. In essence, viewers received some tutelage while being entertained. Unfortunately Bravo has gone overboard with the mean-spirited bitchery aspect in many of their newer offerings. At this point the only shows I watch on the network is this show (still holding out some hope) and the Top Chef series.


" Genie said...
First off, I think you guys are incredibly intelligent and witty, and I agree with everything you said.
Secondly, I think it is so cool that from this little blog, you have gotten to the point where producers actually take your opinions into consideration. That is something to be proud of."

At this day and age, blogs are the ultimate focus group for any network. Whoever hasn't figured that out yet is a fool. We love the show, we watch and discuss it on a daily basis. We know what we want.

And in my humble opinion, this is one of the wittiest and well written blogs about fashion and reality shows out there. Heck, about anything. Period.

They should listen, and listen carefully.

I absolutely agree with everything you said - please, Bravo execs, listen to this and please make these changes, the show would be so much better!!!

I admit that I am one of the people who stopped watching TFS on TV and just read the blog. That said I would totally go back to watching if the changes you suggest were implemented!

I also like the different designer apprenticeship each week idea.

Thank you guys, you rock!!

I really hope Andy Cohen reads this. It makes a lot of sense, and it might take Bravo out of the "Tacky TV" category that those insufferable housewives shows have put it into.

I agree, they need a mentor, and it doesn't have to be a Tim Gunn impersonator.

Dear Andy,

Perhaps you'll read this to see how people respond to TLO and their well spoken ideas. So, I'll add a few of my thoughts which may help understand the viewer.

I am not a fashion insider. I am a fashion idiot. I'm not up on trends, don't know designers, and am lucky if my clothes match each day. (unless, maybe not matching is a tread?) I never expected to like or even understand PR. Then Tim Gunn walked into the workroom and when he talked to the designers, he was also explaining things to me. (Oh, thought that was horrible. Yes, did think that was interesting.) Suddenly I began to understand fashion.

With the Fashion Show, I'm back to being lost. The mini challenge seems to distract from the main challenge. The hallway conversations are the least like Tim explaining things to the designer and me. I have no idea why the audience votes on certain things. Designer bitchiness doesn't work when I have no idea why they are even being bitchy.

I don't hate the show. I'm bored with it mainly because I'm lost most of the time. The mentor role doesn't just help the designers. It helps the viewer understand the design process. You need someone in it. Isaac would probably be a load of fun to watch in that role.

Let me just say how much I appreciate the fact that not matter how many invites you get from Bravo, you guys are still true to yourself, your blog and your readers. I thank you for that!

Phenomenal post!

FYI Andy Cohen is on vacation this week; he's in St. Tropez. I posted on his blog on Bravo that TLo did a "report card" and has some excellent ideas and critiques. I'm pretty sure he reads TLo so he can catch up when he gets back.

Oh, and here's something I forgot to mention; the only thing I'd add to Tlo's list of suggestions:

Are you listening Bravo?:

Spend some money to hire a f&*#ing LIGHTING DESIGNER!!! What is the point of pitting on a show if the viewers CAN'T SEE IT!


I like your suggestions, but I think that the salon judging/defense of individual garments would be cumbersome when there were twelve or fifteen designers. I think they should start with twelve (or however many), give them a series of relevant smaller challenges in the first two or three weeks, and then make a cut to eight or so to eliminate the obvious non-contenders. And then maybe cut another two designers every two or three weeks. But I suppose that would decrease the drama.

Also, while I like the idea of Isaac as the mentor, I think the designers should have to work with a variety of professional designers, so having someone different showing them the inspiration board each week would be cool. Then Isaac could help them with completing the challenges.

This may be slightly off-topic. I just want to say how grateful I am to the poster at the Bravo TFS Message Board who posted a link to your site after Keith had been eliminated. I enjoy your site very much; thank you for it. I prefer reading and posting here to doing that on the Bravo TFS MB, not only for the sheer quality of what you present, but also because I hate wading through the childish gigantic "siggies" on the Bravo site. Thank you so much for making a serious fashion news and discussion place for adults. Thanks for giving me a look at the new lines of various design houses, and more, with enjoyable commentary. I may not agree with everything you write, but I always enjoy reading it.

I have to say that I agree with everything you've said. I really hate not getting a good look at each piece and one of the big things that I hate about the show is that we don't get to hear each designer defend his/her design. But, if you really want them to design for production, than they need to get out of B and J, one of the most expensive fabric stores in NYC.
This could be a great show if only they'd come up with a total idea instead of just changing aspects of PR.

I stopped watching this show awhile ago. But the show you just outlines, I'd definitely watch that. Really great ideas, Bravo should pay you for this.

I've got to say, I agree with everything you've said. I'd love to see Isaac step back as a judge and forward as the mentor. What if each week they were producing a garment and, in the end, all of the winning week's garments actually make up a collection? Like, that's the goal each week. Produce a new garment that shows each designer's own voice, but also fits into the 'collection'. To be honest, I came into the show expecting it to be very retail-minded because of the final prize, and was surprised it wasn't. The idea of having the 'target company' to please, as well as a 'price point' to meet is an excellent idea. The designers can be judged on reproducibility as well as profit. Doing primarily ready to wear would really set this apart from PR.

Using recent graduates as the contestants might make less drama and bitchery, but it WOULD differentiate the show from PR. And I'm sure a bunch of hungry young designers could produce some drama as well.

I ADORE you idea of having buyers as guest judges. I'd LOVE to see Veronica Webb as the host, she did so great as a guest judge, and I'd love even more to see Kelly GONE. This seems like it was just a publicity thing for her. I mean, really, she spent the most successful part of her career parading around in Momma Beyonce's hot glue and sequin monstrosities. I'd like to see each week bring one buyer and one designer in as the guest judges. I mean, they had Erin Fetherston on the show and she got one line in. I'd be willing to say she'd make a good permenant judge considering she's not only a good designer, but she has a line at Target, and that SCREAMS ready to wear.

I like the Harper's Bazaar mini challenge in theory, but I think it needs to be reworked. Harper's Bazaar is a MAGAZINE, so my first thought involved something with a photoshoot or editorial, but I couldn't connect the dots. I know this isn't the 'stylist' show or the 'jr editor' show, but what about the contestants putting a proposal together with styling and set design for a one or two page spread featuring the previous week's winning garment to be used as a feature in the magazine? When designers do ad campaigns they play a hand in deciding how it will work, and this is somewhat similar?

I agree with everything you said! Once again you guys nailed it.

Just your description of what you think would make for a better show has gotten me excited and it is already a show I want to watch!

Personally, as a viewer who cannot afford the super high end items, I'm much more interested in things I CAN afford, and things I would actually see on the rack. After watching Season One, one of the first things I wanted to own was a Kara Janx wrap dress. I'm just saying.

Issac is awful on the show now, which is a disappointment to me too, because I have liked him in the other roles I've seen him in (television appearances and such). You hit the nail on the head with your new role for him - it feels so much more comfortable to think of him in that situation. Also, I'm so sorry, but he cannot fulfill the role of bitchy judge when he is most famous for his Target line. (Which I admit to having purchased here and there and am certainly not ashamed of it!) He is the poster child for talented, capable designers who need their clothes to sell at the end of the day.

As I said, you guys nailed it. Bravo, are you listening?!?! TLo just did all the work for you!!

I like the idea of keeping a smaller group of contestants (6 or 8 or so) around for a while and letting points accrue over challenges ... instead of having a weekly offing.

Mini-challenges used intermittently, not every episode (a la Top Design) ... and become opportunities for designers to get more points.

But I don't like the idea of having 2 guest judges a week. Really would prefer to have a set panel, or at most one guest judge (perhaps whoever was the guest senior designer that week), so that the judging is informed about the contestants' outputs over the previous challenges. That is part of what I like about Nina & Michael's judging ... and what I've disliked about "the audience" judging at TFS.

Wow! TLO you should be receiving a nice, fat consultants' check about now - this is a very constructive and useful critique of a show that is in desperate need of some adjustment. Here's hoping that Bravo producers are smart enough to take your comments in the spirit in which they're intended.

Myself, I've found the mini-challenges to be frustrating - one week ok, the next not. And the time devoted to this segment clearly takes away from what we get to see of the creative process of the main challenge. Although given some of what has been presented thus far, perhaps this is not such an awful thing.

I'd also like to see the fresher faces in the competition. Virtually all of TFS participants were shown as being founder of some design company but one would never get that from looking at their products on the runway. Somehow PR managed to find contestants who know how to design and sew and that made for some hot competitions. While on TFS, it's been more like watching to see what kind of hot mess makes it to the runway this week...

So Bravo, if you're reading this, please just take all of TLO's suggestions - you'll wind up with a much stronger, far more interesting show that might actually capture viewers (as opposed to losing them).

and TLO, Bravo doesn't know how lucky they are to have you blogging about their show! Quality, indeed! Kudos for a well-thought out evaluation!


I totally agree! The show is watchable, but with too many "cringe" moments. Your ideas would savage an otherwise blah show.

SHIT, Tom, Lorenzo, get your own show coz I would watch it in a nano-second. I hope TFS takes your tips

I'm not interested in making freshly-minted graduates be junior designers.

For me, more than half the fun is trying to figure out what a designer's aesthetic is and watering it down so it can be filled into another designer's doesn't seem fun or very interesting. I'm afraid the show would end up with a hella lot of Daniella's; kinda blah but just good enough not to be colouring out of the lines.

And I'd think the *last* thing most recent graduates want to do is ape someone else. Yeah, yeah - most recent graduates think sun shines out of the butts. But they're *suppose* to think that way. For many, this period may be the most freely creative and productive of their young career lives. What kind of designers are you going to end up seeing on the show who know that'll be tampered down; the ones who are willing to put a lot more of their inspiration and imagination on the back burner in order to get the task done. Which seems the opposite of what makes PR so much fun - putting the* designer's* ideas and thoughts out on that runway within a loose design brief.

Or, look at it this way - would the Roasted Chicken Diva even have *applied* for this new version of the show? Um. No.

Everything you said here was spot-on. Seriously, Bravo should hire you both as consultants.

TLo, Bravo should pay you big time for this analysis, and hire you as "producer-consultants."

I agree with everything you've said with a few additional thoughts.

First, putting Isaac in a mentor role doesn't necessarily stifle his camera-hogging ways. Somebody needs to actively ride herd on him so that others have a chance to shine, much less actually speak. Also, he needs to be more positive and complimentary when appropriate. Perhaps it was just the editing, but it seemed to me he was always haranguing and criticizing in a belittling manner.

Second, I do like the idea posed by another of the posters that he should strictly be a mentor, while the show has a different guest designer each week that the designers "apprentice" to. However, the problem with that suggestion is that nobody of note would be caught dead on this show now until AFTER it is cleaned up. Even PR didn't really start attracting the big designers as guest judges until it had proven itself a winner. Luminaries such as Vera Wang and DVF have no need to appear on a cringe-worthy, clownish show to get their names out. So I question whether this extra feature, while spectacular, is even do-able after a disastrous first season.

Third, Isaac cannot be in the judging sequences in any capacity. He. Needs. To. Shut. Up. And we, the viewers, need a break from his strong personality. For example, Isaac's competitive comments and shutting off the conversation when another designer/judge made a self-promoting comment or two was offensively rude. Worse yet, Isaac clearly couldn't contain his competitiveness. Let them do it, fer Pete's sake. Let's call a spade a shovel here -- they come onto the show for the publicity. Let them speak, so long as they don't drag on and on about it. I mean, would it have killed us to hear the other guy finish his thought about the shoe line he designs?

Fourth, I applaud TLo's suggestion that the show be QUITE clear that the goal is RTW, and that all challenges clearly communicate that goal. Further, it is absolutely critical that this re-focused goal be clearly communicated to contestant-wanabees during casting, so we don't have any more embarrassing "This just isn't for me" resignations by designers who apparently were misled into participating. And also, so that we don't have frustrated designers repeatedly trying to show beautiful, glamorous clothing that simply is too much for RTW.

Lastly, I have no problem whatsoever with having a fashion editor, model, etc. on the judging panel, even if it does mirror PR. As a viewer, I care only that the analysis is perceptive, fair, and well-spoken. That each judge also be telegenic and have a sense of humor would also be a bonus. This show needs a LOT of help. The judges should be selected from the entire panoply of experts in the fashion industry, for the purpose of making this show the very best show it can be, period.

"Anonymous said...
I'm not interested in making freshly-minted graduates be junior designers.

For me, more than half the fun is trying to figure out what a designer's aesthetic is and watering it down so it can be filled into another designer's doesn't seem fun or very interesting. I'm afraid the show would end up with a hella lot of Daniella's; kinda blah but just good enough not to be colouring out of the lines.

And I'd think the *last* thing most recent graduates want to do is ape someone else. Yeah, yeah - most recent graduates think sun shines out of the butts. But they're *suppose* to think that way. For many, this period may be the most freely creative and productive of their young career lives. What kind of designers are you going to end up seeing on the show who know that'll be tampered down; the ones who are willing to put a lot more of their inspiration and imagination on the back burner in order to get the task done. Which seems the opposite of what makes PR so much fun - putting the* designer's* ideas and thoughts out on that runway within a loose design brief.

Or, look at it this way - would the Roasted Chicken Diva even have *applied* for this new version of the show? Um. No.

7/8/09 10:39 AM"

But you're missing the point. The point is to make this show NOT Project Runway.

Oh, for selfish reasons only, I hope you don't go to work for Bravo. I love your objective views and opinions without being beholden to someone. This is the best blog on the web, for heavens sake!

Bravo, TLo! Actual Bravo, take heed and get it together.

Really brilliant suggestions. I totally agree that the prize should have set the tone of the show.

However, IF they want to do a runway again, for God's sakes, don't construct and ugly, poorly-lit runway that looks like a community theater stagehand's version of a runway or maybe, at the most, an under-budgeted student ruwnay show. I mean, purple and gray? With terrible lighting and camera angles that obscure the clothes, not highlight them?


Excellent assessment!!

My favorite suggestions:
Isaac as Mentor
Fern as Lead Judge
Kelly, home on her sofa

Replacing a beloved character with a wildly different character is a wise, and proven, tactic. Look at sitcom history -- Frank Burns replaced by Charles Emmerson Winchester. Coach replaced by Woody. Selma replaced by Roz.

And I think Isaac would work well as mentor AND host. Combined with Fern & Fernettes as judges, there's no need for a Kelly.

The only criticism I would add is the issue of editing. TFS appears to have been edited to resemble one of those execrable Housewives shows. That's a very bad idea. Although I wonder if that was an attempt to save a show that wasn't working.

Excellent ideas! I hope they listen.

MouseAnony said...
However, the problem with that suggestion is that nobody of note would be caught dead on this show now until AFTER it is cleaned up. Even PR didn't really start attracting the big designers as guest judges until it had proven itself a winner. Luminaries such as Vera Wang and DVF have no need to appear on a cringe-worthy, clownish show to get their names out. So I question whether this extra feature, while spectacular, is even do-able after a disastrous first season.

I think with the ready to wear concept it doesn't need to be DVF or anyone of that caliber. Just designers for more commercial places... like maybe Victoria's Secret Senior Designer could come on for a swimsuit or lingerie challenge... or someone from Levis could come on (like on PR but not make them run through a warehouse and use old jeans to make it).

Forgive my inevitable re-iterations of what's been said:

Good job! Of course I'd think so - I agree with your points. Especially, I would LOVE to see the garments and their details, and to hear them critiqued by professionals, and then defended - it would be SO fascinating compared to this dreary show. And I agree that Fern was often wasted in the 5 or so episodes I've saw at least part of before I gave up.

Also, I am a fan of the Isaac-persona shown on his talk show, and I would really love to see him exercising some expertise rather than only over-dramatic and under-supported criticism. He might be entertaining and likable.

oh, and that throw-away re: Heidi: "she can fake a great personality"! Just slipped that in there to give me the first coffee-snort of the day, did you?

I hope Bravo takes your suggestions and puts them into place. I've enjoyed the show - along with your commentary - but making the changes you suggest will make it so much better!

and I did proof read.

"I saw" not "I've saw"


I'd watch that show too.
Nice work.



I hope they take every last one of your recommendations. I'd especially love the format of the contestants as junior designers under Isaac....and Isaac truly is perfect for that, both in terms of personality and experience...his Target line is the best example I can think of of a designer managing to infuse cheap, mass market RTW with a higher-end sensibility.

Agreed with what you said but I saw another BIG problem. Maybe it's Isaac, maybe it was Merlin, maybe it really was intentional, but this season has felt a lot like watching gay men be nasty to, be nasty about, outtalk, and generally tell to F off, women. (Ask a, well, non-fag-hag woman friend of yours about this if you're recognizing it at all.)

I think that this is a a great plan for the Fashion show to succeed. A very good critique of a first half of the first season. I really hope that some (if not all, ideally!) of this is incorporated by Bravo.

*slow claps*




Thank you for putting in the time and thought about this.

I just would've said, sack Kelly, and that's just about it.

All spot on. I would watch this show, and it wouldn't feel like a poor (pathetic) man's PR. It would use Isaac much better.

I do have to say, though, that when I saw the headline, "Midterm report?" my first reaction was, "Oh, crap this thing's only half over?"

Sharon: I'm glad you brought this up. Personally I think it's the editing. It's clear Merlin had an issue with the Anna-Daniella-Haven clique and made it sound like they were a pack of mean girl bullies. Yet as we found out in her last episode Haven is actually a sweetheart who has shown great kindness and support to others

And they only recently showed any lightness or humor in the psiodes by the little clips during the breaks like the "vagina skirt" incident last week's episode


I agree with this post also! I have pretty much stopped watching this show all together and it's because of all the points you guys articulated in this post. Isaac and Kelly's eye-rolling in the work room, Kelly in general, not showing the designer's creative process of making the clothes, etc. Honestly, if the changes were made that you suggested, I would definitely be as avid of a watcher as I was with Project Runway. Thanks for another great post!

T&L - great post - just a couple of extra thoughts.

1. I ADORE the idea of retail focus. And I'd love to have the price point dropped to sub-$100 each week. THAT's how they could find a large market of dedicated semi-fashionistas. Even this season, there were looks I'd have purchased (even with the foreign exchange rate) if they had been a little cheaper. Make a certain number available at a cheaper price point each week and the buzz for the few that were lucky enough to get them would grow.

2. I think you missed one part... the requirements for the designers themselves. Frankly, I'm not as concerned that someone doesn't know Madame Gres as I am that they come on and can't sew a zipper. Esp if the focus switches to retail, sewing skills will be SUPER important. Might even be cool to drop the "I've had 12 years working for X" characters and instead grab all new grads/self-made designers. Some of the freshest & most innovative PR/PR Canada/Catwalk contestants are the ones that haven't been working in the field for years.

You've produced a very thoughtful discussion. I actually disagree with some of your points, though I appreciate the care and thought that went into developing them.

I think the real solution isn't to dumb down -- focus on ready-to-wear for the masses, use young designers with a senior designer role -- but, instead, to go upscale from PR. Have really smart, intellectually challenging, conceptual exercises for the elimination and mini-challenges, and go upscale by focusing on experienced designers. The cool thing would be to focus on actual design, in a way that PR -- with its obsession with reality show "characters," and producer manipulation to advance characters instead of real talent -- cannot.

I think the core solution would be to have experienced designers who are ready to make a name for themselves on their own, and then pair them with junior designers who would be in a subsidiary contest (the way the models are on PR). There would, of course, be classic reality show moments -- which designer would try to throw the assistant under the bus? which designers can communicate their visions? which designers have their own great sewing and construction skills, so that they can produce doubly-complicated work to get a leg up on the designers who rely entirely on their assistants? But the thrust would be less on copying the reality show tropes that PR embodies and more on the real work of design.

As time has gone on, PR -- although still the gold standard to which TFS is being compared -- has declined in quality. The intellectually interesting challenges faded away into goofs and stunts. Too many times now we have seen patently unqualified designers advance because they are characters at the expense of more talented but less interesting types (Kaynebow v. Allison, for example) and highly manipulative judging decisions (everything about Kenley, for example, or how about the great push to keep Santino on the air as long as possible). TFS could buck the trend -- not be a knock-off of PR as it has devolved today, but instead embrace the high concept, high quality aspects that PR left behind or minimized.

Now this is a show I'd watch! (Sorry, I gave up on TFS 3 weeks ago). I especially love the idea of ditching the runway in favor of an intimate and brightly lit salon.

Bravo take note: We want to see the creative process in action! We want to LEARN something when we watch PR or TFS.

~applause and wild cheering!~

I agree with absolutely every point you've made.

OMG, you two are even more suited to this endeavor than I thought...and that's saying something! Having been a buyer for a major department store, your description is exactly the way clothes are chosen for sale in the retail arena. Watching Isaac mentoring young would-be designers in their attempts to reach that moment would be thrilling, at least to me, and have natural highs and lows, real emotion, creating a kind of vicarious 'sweat equity' for the viewer in the process. That is a fashion reality show I would truly enjoy watching. You two should be co-producers on TFS. It would be a much better show as a result.

I agree with your sage advice.

however, I think watching regular retail outfits, like penceil skirts or jackets, lacks too much flash. It's fun to see more creative flare.

Now you guys have to go into show development and make the big bucks!

Maybe Bravo should hire you all as the judge/mentor!

Thanks for this excellent post TLo!

I'm another viewer who gave up on this show after about 4 episodes (although I continue to follow along via your blog - at least here I can SEE the damn garments). The show has been a real mess, and absolutely no fun to me as a viewer. But your suggestions on how to improve it are really great!

I especially like your idea of getting rid of the runway and having a "salon show" each week instead. It would be great for viewers (and judges) to see the garments close up, and for the designers to defend their outfits before receiving informed
critiques from the judges. The voting audience has been a disaster....

I agree with ThatGirl (and others) who would like to get rid of the mini-challenges - they just take time away from the main challenge, and god knows the designers (this season at least) need more time to produce better garments.

I doubt Bravo needs advice on this one (since I have a feeling that sales have been dismal), but please stop producing the winning garment each week and selling it on - the garments have all been an embarrassment. Save the production of garments for the winner, and do a better job of it!

Buyers? You guys are truly genius!

Buyers? You guys are truly genius!

Fern should be the lead judge

Gosh I feel like one of the very few who does not want to give her a pass. Some of her comments have made me wonder WTH is wrong with her. And I don't know how much of that we can blame IM for. Her projecting that JP has a POV - is maddening and confusing.

Her kind of attacking Anna for the assignments in the prior challenge seems extremely hypocritical; especially since on "She's Got the Look" the judges declared the mini-challenge *Brilliant* for teaming up the 2 competitors that HATED each.

I'd be slightly concerned about judge's bias with NO guest judges - in a way similar to the audience. I mean what is their bias. Could someone like JP do NO WRONG? Like someone else mentioned Kenley; where for some reason, no matter what she did or what she said, she'd be kept, when someone WE felt had a great but different aesthetic would be out because of a judge's preference. Yes I know that this can always be an issue, but with the same judges every week, the alternate view would never be heard.


Not the kind that carry wastewater away, but the kind that can sew lightening fast on industrial machines.

Let the designers design. You'll have a wider range of talent and finally...there will be no excuses.

I wanted to LOVE this show, then after a couple of episodes, I wanted to LIKE this show, then, I wanted to at least TOLERATE it.
TLo, we would miss the heck out of you, BUT, you boys should be a huge part of this show (ahem, possibly co-hosts?). Your observances and ideas are absolutely stellar and right on point. BRAVO!!!!

Oh since many probably don't watch "She's Gor the Look", Fern was a judge on that episode.

Oh, and ladies:

We've GOT to get a ShellyO in Rome and Moscow update.

Great suggestions, TLo. I love the Senior Designer-Junior Designer idea, and would love an opportunity for Fern Mallis to be the great judge we know she is.

But I do think the Mini Challenge is a problem in and of itself. We've seen very few challenges that actually reflect the job and abilities of designers. Get rid of it, and we'll have more time to see the clothes and get to know the designers.

Which is another problem I have with TFS - the editors really dropped the ball on this one. I find most of the designers completely unlikeable, and those I don't dislike, at this point James Paul and Anna, I just don't know anything about. I think in their rush for drama, they forgot to give us any protagonists. I'm not rooting for any of the characters, I have no emotional connection to the show, so why should I watch?

Hope Bravo takes your suggestions. I have a lot of love for this network, and I'm rooting for it to produce a quality fashion program.

>they really should be focusing on is the nitty and the gritty of trying to design something for mass production,<

Amen, amen, and amen to everything else also.

flaming_mo said, "Unfortunately Bravo has gone overboard with the mean-spirited bitchery aspect in many of their newer offerings. "

I so agree. They've really gone on a downward trajectory. Boo hiss (which I think is the opposite of "bravo").

suzq -- I'm on the same page with you! Have design assistants to focus on the sewing, so that the designers can really focus on DESIGN. That would certainly be a step away from aping PR -- we won't have people critiqued for wonky zippers but, instead, design choices and other skills associated with being a designer (communicating your vision to your worker bees, planning time appropriately so that your vision is clear enough in enough time for your worker bees to get stuff done).

Anonymous 10:39 AM -- tots agree with you, too. If the show concept changed to have the contestants in a junior designer role, always trying to develop work for someone else's vision, we would surely end up with many Daniellas -- and the cool thing about a show like this (namely, watching the creative process) would be reduced considerably.

too many cats


And an additional Amen for Brooklyn Bomber's noted downward trajectory of Bravo.

Thank you, the only place I would differ is expanding the challenges to showcase a young designer's style. Working only within an established designer's storyboard can only hold a designer and audience for so long. Let the designers give us their take on a lady's business suit, or a great pair of jeans for those who have hips.
While I have liked a few of the mini-challenges, shoe one comes to mind, they generally take time that would be better spent on the design process. Unless, they become the lead in of the main challenge.

SPOT ON T&L! I absolutely agree with you both. Ready-wear with an "Apprentice" vibe would work better and Isaac needs to shift to the "mentor" role. I really like him even picked up a pair of his eyeglasses at Target (LOL). If TFS goes with a more "Apprentice" angle Isaac would make a great Trump. Maybe the prize should be working a year for the Mizrahi design house.

Some of the challenges could be not only twenty-something girls, but include men's, children's and non-frumpy mom-wear. A mini challenge could be design an outfit for a Macy's store window or design a charity t-shirt--most sales wins.

How about we all copy this post and send it to Andy Cohen @ Bravo? They HAVE to listen and do some revamping on this show ... especially if they want to it to survive if Project Runway takes off on Lifetime.

One thing that's always irritated me is that consultation in the hall. Why are they in the hall? Why is everyone standing up? Seriously, WTF?

I know it's another small attempt to differentiate the show from PR, but quite honestly it's ridiculous. And it also subliminally makes the point that they're not talking about the clothes for that long.

I like the audience thing, I think the audience should be full of buyers, and while the salon portion or runway walk is airing, they should put a few of the most descriptive comments in subtitles or voiceovers. The audience should have NOTHING to do with the judging, but I think seeing people respond to your work is valuable.

I have to admit to having never seen a full episode of TFS. Lots of snippets, but not the full show. The reasons for this vary, and they all rest on the faults you have pointed out.

I agree with you that Bravo clearly got screwed out of PR, and I'm not a huge fan of Lifetime, so I am pained that I have to follow PR there.

If Bravo is smart, they will heed every single one of your brilliant suggestions. If they do that, I will definitely give TFS another (more complete) chance.

TLo- you are BRILLIANT.

Bravo? Are you reading this?!

It might be hard to make Isaac the mentor... it makes him seem like he's not the star of the show anymore.

In PR, Heidi is the host so it's really her show. Although we all love Tim, Nina, and M. Kors. Will Isaac be willing to not be host of the show?

Bravo needs to hire you too. Immediately!

I hope they do every single one of these things. Sorry, Kelly.

Agree with all your points, especially the Kelly one. Would be nice if they were tasked to design occasionally for Saks or Bloomies, too, instead of only / always Target.

My main addition would be to ask if it would be so terrible to have some professional sewers on hand in case the designers needed them. In both Project Runway and the current trainwreck, we hear repeatedly that "I'm a designer and would not be expected to actually sew in the real world." Maybe add penalty demerits if they have to use a sewer, but just have them there as a backup to get rid of that whiney excuse.

I probably won't bother with TFS next season, if it's the same format. If, however, they heed your advice (salon format, inspection of designs made for mass manufacturing, Isaac as head designer), I'll be cranking up the Tivo. 'Cause that'll be one GREAT show.

Oh, these are good -- the points in the post and all the comments.

If Bravo took this reformulation and ran with it, possibly they could get sponsor money by having the young designers (guided by Isaac) tackle the esthetic of a different major store/catalog label every week: Chico's, Lane Bryant, Talbot's -- mixing up age and size demographics of the retail market.

Because, if the designers just had to realize Isaac's vision every week, they'd have to change the show's name to "Junior Miz."

(ducks and runs)

I also like the idea of sewers (if they insist on getting people who can't sew)

It reminds me a bit if Top Design, where the designers had carpenters and they still managed to take control on of the design and turn out some cute work.

I think the editing of the show is responsible for some of TFS's problems. I wonder how much Fern critique is edited out in favor of more Isaac's drama, etc.

I agree with EVERYTHING you've said except the part about firing Isaac. I think Isaac should be fired. It is pure tedium watching him and if I have to hear his trademark "darlings" one more time I'm going to croak.

I agree with EVERYTHING else. Get rid of the runway, make Fern lead judge, get rid of Kelly, make it mass-market, and okay, if you do all of it that way, I may let you keep Isaac.

Otherwise, I am not interested in Season 2. I really hope Bravo is reading this article.

I LOVE your ideas. I would totally watch a show like that. It would be significantlt different from PR, Isaac and Fern would be playing to their strengths, and we would be rid of useless mini-challenges and stunt casting. I hope Andy Cohen and the producers and reading this blog post and take your suggestions seriously.

BRILLIANT. I agree with everything, this sounds like a show I would love. I really hope Bravo's reading.

Are y'all on Bravo's payroll? You should be.


too many cats said...

And an additional Amen for Brooklyn Bomber's noted downward trajectory of Bravo.

Add another amen for the downward trajectory of Bravo. the world really doesn't need more table-turning trashy houswives

Such a good critique, guys. I was nodding all the way through.

But as a few other posters have indicated, you didn't talk about one of the biggest problems on the show: the revolting execution of the garments offered for sale. Producing the winning garment each week is a cool prize, and since it substitutes for the usual reality-show prize of immunity for the next week, it ups the drama ante because a designer could win one week and go buh-bye the next.

If they're going to keep the garment production prize, which I think they should, they need to make some changes. The first one is to get the designers out of the fabric store, and let them choose fabrics from a stockroom filled with the actual fabrics the production factory will use. I'd also like to see the show team up with a nationwide retail chain like Macy's... or even Target! Have someone from the chain as a principal on the show, so we can learn about how garments go from sketchbook to display rack. Make the grand prize be that the line will be produced for sale at the chain, even if it's only sold in select markets and on the store's website. That's what I thought the prize was going to be, when I first heard the concept. Selling on Bravo's site alone isn't nearly so cool.

I'm still watching the show, but mostly to finish what I've started and because I enjoy keeping up with the commentary here... but if Bravo doesn't make some major changes, I don't know if I'd be willing to commit to watching Season 2.

I'll be repetitive, since I got late to the post: Amazing analysis of the show and impressive suggestions! A post like this shows that this is no ordinary "fashion" blog..... it shows that TLO not only know about fashion, but about business, so I hope that Bravo is reading this and will make all the necessary adjustments for Season 2; if not, they are toast!
like Kelly would say: "TFS, you are hanging by a thread!!!!"

Ditto to everything y'all said. I love the idea of making young, new designers go through their paces and create actual, wearable, retailable garments. I think a show where the contestants had to design for the real-world retail market would be fabulous. It would be especially amazing if each week was designing "for" a specific retailer; people here have already mentioned Target, Victoria's Secret, Levis - why not throw in delias, for the junior market, and Lane Bryant, for the plus market? The Banana Republic challenge on PR was (in my opinion) a great one. This would make the designers know their audience - unlike dipshit on TFS, who only designs for .01% of the population.
And we at home would eat this shit up. Provided Kelly goes away, and Isaac is restrained in some way.

I'd watch that show in a heartbeat. I'd even consider buying cable again so that I *could* watch it.

I stopped watching TFS after a couple episodes and couldn't figure out why. This nailed it, and nails a show I'd watch. As much as I love to see pretty/pretty impractical clothes, I buy Isaac's Target clothes and not haute couture. I want to see how things I wear are made, not how they are made to look gorgeous on the runway and then like crap on Bluefly. Even though the SJP challenge on PR resulted in totally unwearable stuff, I was intrigued by the process (I didn't know how some things are harder to mass-sew than others) and would watch a show with a similar premise.

I loved Isaac's talk show and want to see that side of him come through. He pained me on TFS because it was so fake. He gave great advice when sketching outfits for audience members, so I'm sure that he's got the ability to give quality advice to designers.

One more suggestion: Pay attention to the darn lighting!

I agree that a mentor is needed. I am not sure if Isaac is the solution, not sure if he can put his ego aside. The problem with Project Catwalk of England was similar in that the mentor was the judge and the mentor got way too involved in the design process, imposing his own ideas on the designers and sulking when they did not follow his lead.

I am sorry to say that I agree about Kelly. She was delightful as an inspiration for a challenge in PR Australia, but her knowledge does seem to be summed up with "I like it I don't like it." And while I agree that Tim Gunn is unique he is not all THAT unique. PR Canada and PR Australia both have amazing mentors who are as different from each other and from Tim Gunn as can be but are his equal in being able to focus a struggling designer and in giving useful and insightful critiques.

Andy, while I love camp as much as you seem to, camp alone does not a show make. Bye to Isaac, please.

"It's not the end product so much as it's the process we all enjoy watching."
Thank you TLo. I sincerely hope the people at Bravo read this and take it to heart.
Quality blogging indeed.

I am in agreement on most of your ideas, but I think I'd be pretty bored seeing a pencil skirt challenge or a work outfit challenge, all of which have to be made cheaply. Honestly, that's not "the process" that I tune in to watch. I watch to see the wild, raw, creative process that comes with an avant garde challenge or a challenge to make a cocktail dress out of flower shop materials, making something completely breathtaking and new from nothing. I am always facinated by what comes out of the designers minds. If they had to scale way back on the creative process to make a mediocre item that would sell to the masses, I'd be bored to tears and could care less. Here's a dress that could sell for $49 ~ Meh...

Pretty sure this post was intended for Andy Cohen, who more or less requested it...

Pretty sure this post was intended for Andy Cohen, who more or less requested it...

the first lulu

There's quite an echo in this room by now, but for good reason. EXCELLENT post TLo. Thank you for the great time and thoughtfulness you put into your suggestions. I truly hope that Bravo producers read this blog AND the comments. Many salient points have been made.

Tops for me are:
—Isaac as mentor and host; Fern as head judge, plus another industry insider (from another part of the fashion industry than Fern) also on the judging panel
—A well-lit salon where each and every design can be examined and critiqued up close.
—A revolving cadre of senior designers for weekly challenges. And they would also be guest judge.
—I like the mini-challenge, if it's done well. For example, remember the season of PR (PRC??) where everyone first met on a boat, was given a length of white cloth, a pair of scizzors and a model, had a very limited time to whip up a garment, minimal sewing required; then to everyone's shock, the judges actually eliminated a contestant before they even saw a runway. The whole idea was to see how creative they could be with very limited constraints.
—I do however think it could be very boring if only pencil skirts and the like were being retooled. There has to be SOME upscale element involved, even if it's at a lower price point. I'm a bit of a larger gal, but I hate Lane Bryant with a passion, mostly because there is almost no creative design involved, no tweaking of the basic elements, no wow factor.
—I'm torn about whether the contestants should all be fresh out of school or established; I like the mix, but I do think that poor editing and producer's manipulation need to be addressed.

Wouldn't it be cool if next season we could all tell that some of these very ideas from TLo and friends have been incorporated into the show????

OK, not only are you the Queens of the Blogisphere, but now you are proving yourselves to be mini TV moguls, too. What a hoot it will be to see you on that Forbes list of the most influential people in Hollywood...

OK, not only are you the Queens of the Blogisphere, but now you are proving yourselves to be mini TV moguls, too. What a hoot it will be to see you on that Forbes list of the most influential people in Hollywood...

Hi, guys. I haven't read your blog in a long time -- glad to see you're still at it. You rock, and you have become very good writers. When's the book deal??

I agree that Isaac should be the mentor -- sort of like Ben deLisi on the British "Project Catwalk." That was hysterical when the great British designer turned out to be from Brooklyn.

Love you,

Lots of great ideas. Hopefully someone will listen to them.

Personally I would like them to deal with the sewing issue by getting someone to sew the damn designs for each designer. It annoys me that some good designs get lost in the translation because the contestant does not have good construction skills.

I think that sewers in the design room, under the Bravo guidelines, would only become more fodder for the silly drama that they think we want to see. Make sure the designers understand that poor quality will lose the contest for them; they'll learn.

the first lulu

Anonymous at 1:05pm said:
"I watch to see the wild, raw, creative process that comes with an avant garde challenge or a challenge to make a cocktail dress out of flower shop materials, making something completely breathtaking and new from nothing. I am always facinated by what comes out of the designers minds."

ABSOLUTELY!! Nothing else matters if we don't have that.

Agree with Moi and joyjoy's cmt:

If Bravo took this reformulation and ran with it, possibly they could get sponsor money by having the young designers (guided by Isaac) tackle the esthetic of a different major store/catalog label every week: Chico's, Lane Bryant, Talbot's -- mixing up age and size demographics of the retail market. Yes they could allow some boutique, couture, but since the prize is more on the retail side, shouldn't the designs and judging be based on that also?

I do not understand why scaling clothes up in size is like the anti-Christ. If SOMEONE, would do that they'd make a killing.

Since size (what 12 or 14) is the average, and I cannot tell you how often, the only clothes left on the clearance racks are 0 - 6 (sometimes racks and racks) - you have to wonder why making clothes that would actually SELL is not the goal - at least for the BUSINESS side of the business.

Please size 2's, don't try to contend that there are plenty of size 14s or 16s (or up) on the clearance racks - usually that is when they have plaid the size of a sofa or are cheap pcs of crap.


Ask said: Fern should be the lead judge

"Gosh I feel like one of the very few who does not want to give her a pass. Some of her comments have made me wonder WTH is wrong with her. And I don't know how much of that we can blame IM for. Her projecting that JP has a POV - is maddening and confusing.

Her kind of attacking Anna for the assignments in the prior challenge seems extremely hypocritical"

I'm not willing to give her a pass either. Along with your examples, I also thought she was way off-base about Merlin's coat/sweatsuit ensemble (as were the other judges, of course). I have not been impressed with her performance on this show & would not be upset if she were replaced.


Yes, yes, yes.

As much as improbable as this may be, I once suggested that the format be geared towards creating clothing for less-than-model type figures.

Instead of the "real woman" quota challenges that we see every episode, why not aim for larger sizes? 6-8, 8-10?

Isn't that more or less the bell curve?

"Please size 2's, don't try to contend that there are plenty of size 14s or 16s (or up) on the clearance racks - usually that is when they have plaid the size of a sofa or are cheap pcs of crap."

The size 0-4 range of my local sales racks is EMPTY, so I don't know where you are looking. Lot's of 10s and 12s, but, then, you are correct, ugly crap for my more bodacious sisters size 14 and up.

One salesgirl at a local store told me that when new items come in, they send lots of mediums and larges and exactly ONE EACH of X-Small, Small, and X-Large. So, basically if you don't fit in a tight middle range, you are SOL.

I've really enjoyed this thoughtful post and conversation. I *want* to like TFS, but for me (and it sounds like for others) there are two big problems -- tone and focus.

Tone -- some of this may be editing, some may be producers decisions/ coaching of Issac and Kelly. But it seems like the show is trying WAY too hard to ratchet up the drama. Too many team competitions, dramatic personalities and pointless interactions. I&K go through the workroom, but give neither the viewer nor the designers any insight into what they're thinking, other than a few catty remarks? Why? What did we just get from that? What I think the producers don't realize is that having your work judged and critiqued fairly, honestly and constructively IS dramatic. It's like Issac said -- your ego should be attached to the work that you do. Let someone do their best, then tell them how to do it better. They'll have a hard time hearing it, but we'll all learn, they'll grow and the viewers will enjoy it.

Focus -- it's related, in some ways. If they show had a more clear focus ("we're developing the best new junior designer for an affordable ready-to-wear line and giving them a huge break early in their career") then they wouldn't try to rely so much on the mean-spirited tone to make it interesting. I care less about what the focus actually is, so long as it's clear and consistent. I'm a little dubious about watching "Issac's best new junior designer" because I want to wear Jay McCarroll's work in 15 years, and tell everyone about how he was my favorite as early as his "envy" outfit. I'm less excited about seeing someone become a backstage player. Also, like an earlier poster said, this is a great time for young designers to really be creative and experiment. So, maybe consider doing the format the way you discussed, but use the mini-challenge to sketch something as though you were a junior designer for Issac, then in the "real" challenge make the outfit as you would for your own ready-to-wear line.

Finally, I have to say a little something to defend Kelly. She's been a front row staple at fashion shows for years now, and always looks amazing -- well beyond the generic "I would look great with that much money, too" look, more like someone who knows and loves fashion. I think that she's not well suited to the catty, pointless tone that this show has. Give her a chance to really be constructive before we write her off. She's got a lot more to prove than Issac or Fern, but neither of them have shown me much on this show, either. She could be a great host, once she loosens up (and freeing her from Issac and the nasty tone of this show might do the trick). Fern can be one judge, but I think there should be a 2nd, permanent one (and they should explicitly take past performance into account when judging). The 2nd judge could be the person in charge of actually producing the winner's clothes.

Well done, TLo -- excellent suggestions. I'm another reader who's only been sticking with TFS for your commentary, but these changes would make for a show that I'd really enjoy. Except for one: if a show used its contestants as junior designers to Isaac week after week, I think I'd tire of it pretty quickly.

I could get behind that concept if Isaac were substituted for a designer the that I REALLY LOVED ... but I'm not that big a fan of Isaac's aesthetic to begin with, so I don't think it'd keep me coming back for more after a few episodes.

I think the best way to keep a broad audience (including me) interested is to bring in senior designers from a variety of different places. Isaac could still be a mentor in that kind of a show, I think. And it'd inject more variety and give the audience a glimpse into more designers' points of view. Some other commenters have already suggested this kind of idea, but I just wanted to chime in with them!

Heather Groves

I agree with everything. I love Isaac but don't think his personalitiy is meant for judging. I agree oen role he would work in would be as a senior designer with newly graduated design school students who presumably can apply whatever theories on selling clothes, etc. they picked up at school to whatever whacky challenge is on the table.

I can't remember who, but someone in another post on this site mentioned the idea of having a show where stylists sketch outfits based on the week's theme (which is what we currently have mainly) with the seamstresses provided. Every week there could be a competition where the hook is can the seamstress translate their look into something that resmembles the stylist's sketch...and if there are budgetary and mass fashion considerations all the better.

Regardless, thank you Tom and Lorenzo for your wonderful insight and commentary. This is a great place and I love your idea for a redo (I just brought up the other idea because I think there are game elements that could be picked from there too.)

Bless you a thousand times! That's exactly what my sister and I have been saying (sometimes yelling) at the show as we've watched. It has such potential! I hope you're paying attention, Bravo!

We are tickled a bright gay shade of pink that this post has been received so well. We honestly had no idea what the response was going to be.

We want to clear up two things that we were probably not particularly clear on:

As much as it may seem so, this post was not intended to be a direct appeal to Andy Cohen or anyone else at Bravo. That would be slightly presumptuous of us. We realize that members of the Bravo family do check in from time to time and we'd love it if they read this post and took it to heart, but we're not so full of ourselves as to think we have a direct line of influence.

Secondly, we weren't very clear on the RTW/retail aspect. We don't necessarily mean that they should be designing for Target every week (although once in a while would be fine). Ready-to-wear encompasses a fairly broad range of retail outlets, from Bergdorf to Walmart, as well as a fairly broad range of garments, from activewear to formalwear.

Great comments. As I posted one day on Facebook, you guys need your own show!
I think your suggestions are wonderful. I think making other styling/fashion elements mandatory on some challenges would be fun to watch too, such as handbag and shoe design. (The shoe mini-challenge earlier in the run doesn't count!)

"TLo said...

We are tickled a bright gay shade of pink that this post has been received so well. "

And that's why I love you both. : )

Absolutely. I hope they take every bit of that advice. I stopped watching TFS due to all those cringing moments. I'd LOVE to watch something that delves into the creative process.

I'm so proud of myself but I agree with it all... almost. As I read I thought I was about to get really bitchy, and my fingers were itching to forgo the rest of the post and comment but I presevered!
Okay let's see, I think that Kelly should play Heidi. She should be a host. We don't need to see her much, she can introduce stuff, you know walk around on the intro, say names and the like, but that's it!

Hmm, let's see oh the show part! I'm young, but I'm old school... I LOVE A SHOW! Frankly I don't see why you can't do both. Show your designs to the buyers, have that small showcase, right before you put them out on the runway. This way the judges will have so much to work with. They will know what potentials buyers see as well as that audience, composed of whoever they are(I heard they were just randoms... and a couple of bloggers).

Hmm... let me see if I remember anything else, oh I whole heartedly agree with the salon type thing because I really would like for those buyers to be able to touch that garment. Texture is portrayed to a point through television and seeing it, but feel that garment and see just how close you could come to replicating it on a large scale!

I think I gave you guys praise on the Senior designer Junior designer deal so long ago. I do think that Issac doesn't need to be in with Kelly much, just as we see that Tim and Heidi aren't together that much on PR....

I think that's all. Just a few thoughts. Now I'll go through these 151 comments before I go off to finish my Paris Couture Wrap up!

the first lulu - I get your cmt about Lane Byrant, BUT...

Where do you find clothing for larger sizes?
LB, MAXX/Marshalls and occassionally some few morsels in SOME of the department stores, is all I see.

I'm from a large city in the midwest, but have worked in a fair nbr of other locales, and even most of the department stores usually have dowdy shapeless stuff in cheap fabrics or loud prints and mostly only in black. What's a woman whose frame STARTS at a 14, but wants somewhat stylish clothes supposed to do?

I have no problem realizing that desingers first choice will be tiny sizes, but many of us aren't and would be willing to buy but can't find.


Not sure about the junior designers, but that *would* differentiate TFS from PR. And a variety of senior designers would be better than just one.
Can't understand why IM fails so miserably on this show when he is lovely and watchable on others.

Wonderful ideas boys. That's why I love you!

One suggestion I would add is allow more time for construction of the garments, so we can see some well made clothes for a change.

A-G-R-E-E-D. perfection. Andy Cohen, take notes.

I tried all the comments, I really did guys but it was just a tad too much... I dropped back into say that I want to second what That Girl said about the Senior designer thing. I would love to see maybe Isaac be senior designer sometimes, but bring in others to spice things up. Plus, this could expose viewers to the industry more... like me and my neophyte knowledge... hehehe

I agree 100%. And I know the folks at Bravo read you guys every day. I mean, where else do you get that many comments/suggestions on The Fashion Show? No other site.

Alright, if someone has already said this, don't shoot me. :)

I'd really like to the see the design intern style. And price point. And better yet, on some challenges were the price point is higher, the designers have to make choices between using nice fabrics or more frippery, etc. Actual decisions someone has to make when designing ready to wear. High end fabric or more difficult construction.

If they reformatted the show, I might consider watching.

I do have a little protest for the "reality" aspect as a WEEKLY thing. If they're continually met with challenges that require a stricter price point, OR a simple garment, OR an ease of manufacturing, I'm all about it. However, combining those each week would soon add up to a boring show, I feel. With the listed budgets for each challenge on this show, I feel they're not going far enough. With a $350 budget, the challenge should be more Couture than being influenced by a Tarot card given to you--especially one from the minor Arcana (even though just writing it out, it seems more exciting than it was). I say, go BOLD or go PRACTICAL; no more middle ground. I think PR had a good blend of this.

I'm with you on everything else, and I even LOVE Kelly Rowland. Hoping for some revisions, and NOT just because I'll be freshly graduated for the new season.

Agree 100% boys. Also, I'd love to see more closeups of the work...and not getting to hear critiques on those that fall in the middle is a travesty. Like Johnny's green skirt with cage? I really wanna hear what they think about it.

Come on Bravo! Give us something good to watch!!!

anonymous 12:56 said And while I agree that Tim Gunn is unique he is not all THAT unique.

Something (or someone) is either unique or not. There are no "degrees" to uniqueness.

C'est moi, c'est moi Lola

For the most part boys, I agree with your recommendations for TFS.

Mentor or no Mentor, SOMEONE who isn't a judge has to query the designers about what they're trying to achieve.

"Real fashion for real people' is the tagline for the show. I wish they would have had the focus on that more, so that we would not be tortured with JP and Johnny Samurai declaring how they don't design for real people. That is just going to piss off the audience.

However, I have to agree with the anonymous poster who talked about crossing the line where all we see is a pencil skirt and nothing of who the designer 'is'. That might be an unintended flaw in your idea for the renovated TFS, and it might make the show less interesting.

I also agree with Brooklyn Bomber about Bravo's race to the bottom in their programming. I've been busy watching a great Tour de France this year, and I haven't missed Bravo one bit. And once TFS is gone, I don't know how likely I am to return, even for Tab's show.

Congrats on a very astute analysis boys, and we'll see if Bravo will change the show for the better!

I offer only one addendum to your excellent suggestions: I think that even in the "real world" design scenario you've described, it's okay to throw in a few insane twists now and then, because the more arbitrary restrictions you give to a creative person (up to a point) the more paradoxically creative they become.

Think about those final elimination challenges on the first 3 seasons of PR, when they just said, "Okay designers, here's some money, now just go to Mood and buy some fabric and make whatever you want, as long as it's really YOU!" Result: the worst dresses ever. Whereas you take someone like Leanne or Korto, for example, and tell them to make a dress out of car parts, you get exquisite work that they never would have come up with if you'd just sent them over to Mood.

Obviously in a retail-focused show you can't do dresses out of flowers or car parts, and that's FINE. The weird materials thing is really PR's shtick so there's no need to steal it. But even in the reworked TFS you're envisioning, there ought to be some kind of offbeat inspiration, some dose of eccentricity that informs the challenges and pushes the designers out of their comfort zones. There's a a lot of middle ground between balloons-out-the-anus avant garde and "oh look, another pencil skirt."

Totally agree. Great post, great advise to TFS. I love you guys for putting this site up.

I have wondered why Bravo made this show. Obviously to replace the lost PR, but was their intention just to make a quick knock-off to capitalize on the PR audience for the short term or actually create a new, different show which expands the genre and offers the viewer something they can really love and learn from and be loyal to. I say this because I am sure this will be read by the makers of TFS and I want to goad them into creating a GREAT show not just another tired reality show. I loved PR and will watch it. But there is room for another point of view.

TLo's observations are spot on. Heartily agree with the Isaac as mentor idea, and Fern as judge, sack Kelly (if she can't contribute more than her hanging by a thread line - which is humorously reminiscent of the role Sigourney Weaver played in Galaxy Quest).

PATRICK (9:25)'s idea of shaking up the elimination paradigm altogether is interesting. Having the contestants on a point system would solve some problems. No one would be aufed for a having a bad day (Merlin?). The judges wouldn't be in the position of justifying keeping a contestant who's overall work has been interesting/excellent even tho they are having a bad day and just produced a steaming pile of crap (Christian's prom dress, Jeffrey's horrid Mother's dress, JP's droopy drawers dress). Both PR and TFS are more interesting to me when they finally get down to 6 or so designers.

Overall, I am FOR changes to TFS that would show more of the creative process. More of the construction process. More attention to the garments produced. And PLEASE let me see it close up - see the construction, see the details, see the fabric.

Also, have to second the many previous posts complaining about the bitchiness and meanness of the show. An image that I have stuck in head forever is Jeffery putting Ulle's fabric around his shoulders like a cape and swirling around. There was a joyous aspect to some of the PR episodes that I sorely miss in TFS.

the first lulu

ann asked—

"the first lulu - I get your cmt about Lane Byrant, BUT...

Where do you find clothing for larger sizes?
LB, MAXX/Marshalls and occasionally some few morsels in SOME of the department stores, is all I see."

You are 100% right. It is so frustrating, and often humiliating. When shopping for an occasion (say, a wedding), wandering all over JCP, looking FIRST at the sizes available, THEN the style, FINALLY "do I even like it?There do seem to be plus size designers who are internet exclusive, but I bet you are like me in that you've got to try the clothing ON. Chicos and jjill sometimes have their larger sizes, which seem to sell out fast; but they also don't carry for the more bootilicious of us.

For the above mentioned wedding, I was ready to sew something myself (haven't sewn for years LOL), til I lucked into a great dress at a department store, after exhaustive shopping.

I'm always highly offended when designers such as James-Paul and Daniella make their over-the-top rude comments about models and real persons *body flaws*.

It would be a great challenge to force these designers to think larger. Many cute details can be translated "UP". Proper proportion is key. Look at how darling Jennifer Hudson looked on the MJ tribute.

TLo-- I love you even more! You articulately said everything I have been thinking over the course of this season. Working backwards from the retail end of Fashion is just what this show needs.

Andy, please read and re-read this fabulous essay on TFS. If TLo's suggestions are implemented I will be back and actually watch the show, not just read TLo blogging about it. I think many other people will also come back to the show as well.

One more suggestion for next season:

Get rid of the British Judy Tenuta, pleeeze...

I haven't watched much of TFS this season because of most of the complaints you listed.

However, if Bravo hires you two as producers and goes forward with your ideas - I'm a fan!

Totally brilliant; you've nailed it. Bravo, please listen! Cheri

Why are so many people obsessed with pencil skirts as if T Lo proposed an all-pencil-skirt fashion competition?

Just another voice applauding your critique. You've put into words what I've been trying to articulate all these weeks watching . . . the creative process is missing. In PR or some of the better cooking competition shows, I'm always terribly excited to see the end product. On TFS, I'm always feeling very 'meh' at the end. I have no investment in what these people are making because I haven't really seen their process.

And praise Jesus that you mentioned the lighting. It's beyond atrocious.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for addressing so many problems, including some problems I didn't even know were bothering me. Your observations are spot-on and I would definitely watch your new show. We don't need a PR retread, but we can use something different and fresh.
I happen to like Isaac's personality and don't see him as hogging the limelight, but I do see where he would be better as a mentor or senior designer.
There are two things I would ask of Bravo
1. Let us hear commentary on every design. I want to hear what the "experts" are saying, whether I agree with them or not. Worse case scenario is having to listen to an idiot like Perou on "Make Me A Supermodel", who actually had nothing to say and took a lot of time doing it.
2. As the writer at 9:17 said, "let us see the clothes". Even if the lighting were better, the designer's clothes are on the screen for so short a time, one can't focus on them. These are talented people [you only cast talented people, don't you?], so let us see what they came up with. I think you could clip a few seconds of bitchiness elsewhere and give us a few more seconds of the clothing.

Love the idea of senior/junior designers, love the idea board, the fashion buyers as judges, the budget, etc.
For gawd's sakes, make Fern the head judge! She is amazingly talented and experienced. Why is she wasted here?
About the runway audience: If they are industry experts, well okay then. But shouldn't we know who they are? At least a rough idea. And if their vote is so important [97% said they would buy your look], why don't we hear what they thought of all of the designers? Flash it on the screen as the looks go by. Tell each designer, critique every look, not just the best and the worst. I'm sure the judges have an opinion on every look, so lets hear it.
Finally, I think the designers should have some type of "burden" for their previous work. The designer that does 4 great looks and one awful is not the same as the designer that does 5 awful looks. [Even if "one day your in and one day your out"] And they should not be judged the same. What the heck, mix it up a bit - eliminate two or three at once. The field could definitely be narrowed faster in the beginning, at least by eliminating those that don't want to be there. {why is Johnny still there? Flying under the radar to get to the finale, are we?} Eliminating one a week is such a tired format. Try introducing some new talent half way through. Try anything!

Why don't you guys produce a show.

Agree so much with Tlo. I LOVE PR because of the process. The challenge, the sketching, the fabric selection, the work, changing ideas sometimes after a mentor comes up with suggestions, the styling and then the show. A mentor is needed, Isaac would be good. Andy, please listen to Tlo. The drama/catfights, etc aren't why my friends and I watch, we love the whole process!

Andy, if you're reading this:

1. You are awesome, and

2. PLEASE listen to TLo! The show they suggest would be a surefire hit.

Now THAT is a show I would love to watch!

Also, If anyone is still scrolling down to the comments at this point..

I feel the need to mention that the challenges often are too vague.

Should the be designing a look *Insipred* by a Bgirl, or designing a look *for* a Bgirl.

And TLo, you are correct in wanting to know *who* the audience is, but I also want to know *what* they know... How are the contestants being evaluated? Simply on if the audience likes it? What about how it deals with the task at hand? (Unless they embrace the RTW as you suggest, then the "Id buy it" is a good way to judge them)

I just think the audience, unless its the same people each week won't be able to tell if a designer is boring, and a one-note. It makes it way to easy to be safe in this competition by recycling the same patterns. Cough, Cough, Daniella, Cough.

Brilliant on all levels...When
BRAVO takes these ideas and runs with them will they have to pay for your intellectual product?...just wondering...

Agree 100% with everything TLo (and most everyone else) has said. And in addition to fixing the lighting, which is a must, please Bravo: more and better shots of the clothes! What is the point of doing a show about fashion design without giving viewers a good look at the end products?

I am not completely sold on Veronica Webb as a permanent judge or host. Yes, she gave a really good critique when she was a guest judge. However, the reason she didn't work on Tim Gunn's show (imho) was that she was very cold on camera. She just doesn't come off as a warm, friendly personality, and she still didn't in her guest stint on TFS. (Watch it again if you don't believe me - her delivery was very clinical.)

In small doses she's fine and gives good critiques. Anything more than that and her coldness will end up coming through again.

If I could change only one thing, it would be GIVE THE DESIGNERS MORE TIME (and sleep). It's just painful watching these people try to function on 4 hours of sleep, and continually put out garbage because they don't have time to finish. With an extra day of work I think we'd see a lot more quality garments from ALL contestants, not just the speed-sewers.

THAT is a show i would watch. what we have now is a show that i want to like, but really am frustrated with. i miss well constructed clothing! it's been so disappointing to watch week after week and be let down when i so badly want to like it. if Bravo knows what they're doing, they'll follow this game plan.

Excellent recommendations! I'd watch the show that you proposed. But, what should they call it? The Fashion Show doesn't make sense with the format you've suggested.

Excellent post guys, tons of good ideas and I agree with most of them. Personally, though it may be cliche, I like the runway show though perhaps the model could simply walk a small distance in front of the judges so they could see how the garment moves and whether or not it's easy to walk in. Lets face it, most ladies are (or should be!) guilty of doing the trot out of the dressing room just to see how the clothes feel on.

Second, I thought for sure you bitches would be all for doing away with Issac but I like the idea of him as a mentor/senior designer. The only problem with that is it might get boring seeing Issac's inspirations every week, or maybe I'm wrong. I think having a new designer every week with Issac overseeing the work might be more interesting.

"Unfortunately (for her), there's no role for Kelly in all this. You'll pardon us if we fail to shed any tears about that." Forget the lighting! If nothing else Bravo should heed THIS little tidbit. Kelly is simply unwatchable, she adds nothing to the table and has shown a very mean and nasty side. Sack her!

Agree, agree, agree. Your format change to the show with Isaac as lead designer is GENIUS. Have you guys called Andy Cohen and suggested these changes? I really think the show would improve ten-fold with these changes.

Anonymous 10:24 said...
"I'm not interested in making freshly-minted graduates be junior designers.

For me, more than half the fun is trying to figure out what a designer's aesthetic is and watering it down so it can be filled into another designer's doesn't seem fun or very interesting... .


Or, look at it this way - would the Roasted Chicken Diva even have *applied* for this new version of the show? Um. No."

Anonymous 10:39 responded:

"But you're missing the point. The point is to make this show NOT Project Runway."

I'm not missing the point (and I was running out the door to work. I really have to stop reading this blog before heading out in the morning :::sigh::: so I couldn't say "I agree with mostly everything else you say Guys!!").

The Junior Design move would dilute what excites me about watching these creative people. I want to see *their* creativity. All of it. Every wacky bit of it (if they can pull it off). That will count against them if they're given constrictions like that of a Junior Designer.

I have zero interest if the show essentially becomes something like that stupid, vapid fashion magazine intern monstrosity that I sat through for half an episode before turning it off and then spent the remainder of the show just rolled my eyes reading the recaps on the blog. I'm afraid that if you go after recent graduates, that's basically the age range you're going to be left with.

A focus on retail, without segments on things like costing, labour and marketing is great, in theory, but the show's only an hour.

I really wish it wasn't because I think another fascinating aspect would be to have this segment explored. Maybe not marked for judging every time, but at least explored (I really liked the confines of the brief on PR with the SJP Bitten challenge - though that was *too* cheap, I thought).

Oh, T Lo, this post is exactly the reason I love the blog. Long, concise, a very good critique, and to top it off, a reference to Proust.

I wish you guys could do this everyday.

As for TFS? It hasn't been holding my attention very well, but I admire the "junior designer" perspective you suggested. It just seems to me that it would be a better planned show that way, and not nearly as much of a PR knock-off.

I love the suggestions. I would watch that show religiously.

And can I just make one tiny suggestion as well? Pick up the pace in the judging. That process is slow and boring and watching the models plod in and then hearing Kelly repeat the same boring mantra before and after commercials and all the "dramatic" pauses. Pick up the pace already. It's BORING. If I am not watching it on TIVO and fast forwarding thorugh it, it's all I can do to stay tuned in to see who wins and who gets booted. It's excrutiating. It's unnecessary...that screen time could be used for real judging and critiquing of more than just a few outfits.

And those mini challenges are a waste of time....more on the creative process, please, and the judging. Less stupid things for the designers to do...more actual design work.

I agree with EVERY WORD. You boys know your shit. You should produce a show!

Oh, and if they take your advice, you need to get a producer credit on the new version. And some cash.

Great ideas! I, too, most enjoy seeing the creative process and understanding why the judges did or didn't like the end result. To allow more time for those elements, why not eliminate the time spent showing the designers dressing, going to the workroom, leaving the workroom, etc., except for those instances when the designers are saying or doing something interesting? When the editors need to tell the audience, say, that "we've come to day 2" they could insert a graphic that says "Day 2." Similarly, get rid of the catchphrases, or use them only when the host can't think of anything better to say. A non-scripted goodbye could be more interesting, and couldn't be less interesting than the present scripted goodbye and pointless "you're hanging by a thread."

Also, I want to understand how the judges finally reach their decision on who to eliminate, but the format doesn't allow that because the editors want to keep us in suspense over the commercial break on who will be eliminated. But honestly, how often are we really surprised? I don't think I have been surprised by the elimination once this season. So there's little to lose but a lot to gain in letting us see how the judges finally decide.

"Start with a small cast of competitors, no more than, say, 5. They're on every single week, and their scores for each round of the competition puts them ahead or behind"
I like this idea. Maybe between 5-10 designers. If you have them working together for a longer period of time, the personalities will come out and the friendships (and rivalries) will develop naturally.

"Summer" upthread mentioned a couple of things I've been thinking, such as ONLY providing the designers with fabric that can be used to mass-produce the garment. Then they won't have a debacle like Anna's tarot dress.

I think it would be great to have Isaac as the host/head designer--but NO VOTE FOR HIM (or soup either, ha). The mentor should never be allowed to vote. If he doesn't like it, they can get somebody else. I'm not married to having Isaac or Fern continue on the show, although they both have a wealth of knowledge about ready-to-wear. They could be guests or appear semi-regularly. Kelly should not be the host, since she has difficulty reading and speaking.

Each week, they could have a guest designer from a department store or clothing store chain, like Erin Featherston for Target. Then they could follow her vision and board, with the mentor's guidance. Erin would vote, and therefore have no mentor role. I was thinking there could be a great marketing tie-in for Target here, but if viewers want to see a mix of high and low end, they could rotate stores/designers. Even Prada makes RTW!

The weeks that they have simpler challenges, like the pencil skirt, they could throw in a mini-challenge.

I would also like to see more technical, insider stuff about fabrics, sewing techniques, pattern-making, etc. Maybe have a spotlight every week about some technical aspect so that we could learn about it.

The show should be called "Ready-to-Wear: Real Fashion for Real People."

In addition, I'd like to see a show called "Fashion School," with a group of students, a mentor, and judges, with assignments that relate to what students do in fashion schools. This would show the learning process and development of talent, and could give exposure to the artsier, edgier side of fashion. I'd like to see more sketching!

What gets me about "reality shows" is that when they started, there were some unique, colorful characters, like Richard Hatch and Susan whatsherface and Rudy (Survivor first year)--then the producers started scripting and tightly controlling the shows to make them more "entertaining," therefore KILLING any spontaneity the real people had. It's the REAL folks like Tim Gunn, etc. that we want to see BEING THEMSELVES, not being squeezed into the roles of villain, hero, bitch, colorful gay guy, etc.

Either or both of the above shows could save Bravo from being a "Housewives" laughingstock and give it the Emmy potential that it is so badly lacking.

Oh, and my suggestion for the larger ladies who can't find great clothes: learn to sew. Also, I had a larger friend who said that the stores/designers are missing out on a great market because if a few of them had quality, well-designed clothes for larger sizes, they could charge more for them. She felt that larger size women would be willing to pay more than those women who can find their size anywhere.

Sorry this is so long!

Let's hope you guys have as much influence as I suspect you do. Those all sound like great changes. I love the idea of having the judging be salon style. It IS the process that is fun to watch, not the end product (which often sucks anyway, the way the show is set up now). I love the new show you've described.

I think you're spot on with this analysis. You've pointed out everything that Bravo SHOULD do to make this show really sing. Are they listening? I hope to hell they are.

Didnt read all the comments yet (so as not to be biased), but here are my thoughts:

1. I LOVE Isaac. Unzipped is one of my favorite movies. Unfortunately, the tenor of the show and his role makes him bitchier than necessary. He has a very funny, dreamy quality (again, see Unzipped)that is not being tapped. He can be a judge or mentor but definitely not both. I think he would be a fabulous judge if he were not restrained by the judging -- right now he has to follow the lead of the invisible audience rather than giving his own insights. He is as witty as the Duchess at the very least if he is allowed to be free.

2. On the mentor bit, definitely get rid of the hallway conversations. No use whatsoever. Even the visits to the workroom are nonsensical since they do not offer any advice or feedback (they either seem to come too late in the process or Isaace and Kelly just go hmmm... before moving to the next person).

3. On Kelly - she looks gorgeous, but I dont think she adds much - not opinionated enough (except on her dumb comments on B-girl challenge), no technical knowledge, no forecasting expertise. Her knowledge as "one who sits on the 1st row of every fashion show" is not a good enough qualification. Every commenter on this thread follows fashion very closely. 20 other bloggers are nerdier and more fashion-crazy than her and probably 10x wittier. Maybe she is all that, but they have not shown any proof of that. I dont think she would have done well in the fashion history exam, for example. That's how lame the show has edited her to seem.

3. Not sure what to do with Fern. Maybe its the editing, but again no insights from her. TFS needs to figure out what kind of show it is (by answering #5 below) and then they can best figure out how to use Fern.

4. The best thing about PR (and Top Chef etc.) is really watching the creative process and the corresponding expert critiques and we get very little of that in TFS. No elaboration or discussion on how to make things, for example. The PR challenges of weird materials (such as car parts)illuminate challenges for these designers to solve and it is the problem solving process that is most fascinating. In addition, with the 2 best/2 worst judging format, we dont get to hear what the judges think of the various outfits. As the # of designers winds down, I miss how the PR judges discuss with each contestant why, what and how they did each design. Instead, the critiques are made by invisible people in Zagat-like soundbites and Kelly reads them out. There is no discussion and not much defense. The other designers that are neither the best nor the worst dont get any feedback and do not develop.

4. Minor - when the judges jump off the stool to discuss who is being sent home, they look stupid.

5. Judging by group is lame since the winners will always go towards the average. Its just a fact. Also, it is a totally different question between "Do you love it? Is it fabulous?" or "Would you buy it?" By making a personal purchase the KEY criteria, it totally alters the flavor of the show -- from picking who the designers are, to not having sewers, to choice of material, to choosing inspiration. After all, I choose my clothes not because of a tarot card but I will wildly applaud a creative interpretation of it if I am not forced to wear it. Finally, I am not buying any of their crap. Not one design has blown me away and the Bravo interpretations are so stupid and cheap looking.

Finally, the forced catchphrases are so stupid. Being "auf'd" and "make it work" happened because Heidi is German and Tim just really happens to say that. The "hanging by a thread" and "not buying it" is even lamer than those Top Design catchphrases. TFS is way too scripted.

"I think that she's not well suited to the catty, pointless tone that this show has."

Think the melt-down criticism over hip-hop / B-girl challenge is a case in point. Both this show and the previous Project Runway tend to be too NY- and East Coast-centric. Styles that would be suitable for Atlanta, Dallas, Miami or LA would be hooted off the stage in NY as being totally "inappropriate", while this crew of NY-based judges can't seem to wrap their sophisticated minds around the fact that not everyone in the rest of the country is enamored of hip-hop "style", or cashmere layering and thigh-high boots because it's just too damned hot to wear in a warmer climate.

This is one reason I've very much been looking forward to seeing an LA-based Project Runway to see if that tilt becomes more balanced.

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