Tag: Project Runway

Project Runway finale party!

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008 | All Things, Events, Friends

Well, it wasn’t quite effortless, but in the end I made it onto the list for tonight’s Project Runway finale viewing party at the Tribeca Grand Hotel. Most who know me know that I’m a huge Project Runway junkie, so this was a big night for which I have SC to thank — both for putting the plans into motion and for rallying to the adventure, despite battling a 103 degree fever.

When would we have this opportunity again, after all?

Contestants from all four seasons of the Bravo reality series were on hand for the broadcast, which took place in the hotel’s subterranean screening room. But before the airing, there were cocktails, champagne, passed hors d’oevres, and lots of people watching. Among the constantly popping flashbulbs, I very quickly overcame my initial reluctance to snap copious photos of the festivities. It seemed that at every turn was someone I recognized from television: Ted Allen of Queer Eye and Top Chef fame, Kara Janx (Season 2), Malan Breton (Season 3), Alison Kelly (Season 3), random models scattered throughout — instantly identifiable for towering head and shoulders above everyone else…

And at the center of it all, in the press area, was tiny 21-year old finalist (and fan favorite) Christian Siriano. Hmm, interesting…

Project Runway press

Christian Siriano

Now at that point in the evening the finale had yet to air, so the season’s winner was not publicly known. We had our strong suspicions, but although several in attendance clearly had inside information, they were sworn to secrecy. SC and I had no luck wheedling the information in advance out of the The Weinstein Company producer we met at the coat check.

Tim Gunn was one of the most popular guests at the party, chatting with everyone (designers, reporters and lay people alike), and being generally charming.

Tim Gunn

Finalist Rami Kashou (below) arrived about an hour before the show, all smiles, followed last of all by Jillian Lewis, petite and beautiful in her strapless, lacy metallic minidress, and escorted by her boyfriend/business partner Lewaa Abdulkhalek.

Rami Kashou

Victorya Hong, whose new line na•be — nah-BEE, Korean for “butterfly”– launches in Fall 2008, was accompanied by her tall, bespectacled husband, and smiling more than she ever had on the show. Tim gave a dishy, refreshingly candid post-show interview in which he confirmed what a “sourpuss, a crabby apple… a sour pill” Victorya was throughout the entire PR run. (Me-ow!) Christian was considerably less harsh in his characterization of her… but he may not be the most impartial judge as we all know how he feels about Asians, generally.

[Update: Oh, snap! Victorya responds to Tim’s comments via Blogging Project Runway!]

Victorya Hong

Chris March in animal print (of course!) and a dry-eyed Ricky Lizalde in red patent cap (ditto!), with Andy Cohen, Bravo’s senior VP of Programming:

Ricky Lizalde & Chris March

I was pleasantly surprised to run into KC seated with another editor on a banquette outside the theatre. We spent a brief time catching up, and before we knew it, the 10PM hour drew nigh, and the guests were herded inside for the finale broadcast.

By the time Heidi Klum announced “This… is Project Runway!“, almost every seat in the theatre was taken: Tim, the three finalists, a couple of their models and assorted VIPs were seated on couches in the front row, facing the hovering cameras, while several of Season 4’s contestants clustered in a row near the rear. CS and I were relegated to perching on the steps along the side — total fire hazard, but at least we were in good company with PR stylist Nathaniel Hawkins behind us and, for a while, the Project RunGay Boys.

Kathleen “Sweet P” Vaughn, Jack Mackenroth (his boyfriend, Top Chef Season 3 runner-up Dale Levitski was not in attendance), Victorya, her model Jacqueline and Carmen Webber (seated):

Project Runway audience

Last year’s PR winner Jeffrey Sebelia, Santino Rice (Season 2) and Kit Pistol (Season 4) watched the broadcast with fans in Los Angeles.

Here in New York City, the screening was rather lively, with much cheering from the audience for all three designers. Commercial breaks were muted, and offered everyone a good opportunity to speculate amongst themselves and to dash to the bar for refills.

The Bryant Park collections drew lots of appreciative oohs and ahhs for Christian’s, Rami’s and Jillian’s work. (Not aired: Sweet P’s and Chris’s showings before guest judge Posh at Fashion Week in early February — decoy collections which predated the broadcast of their subsequent elimination episodes.)

I will say that Bravo did a reasonable job maintaining suspense when most (including judge Michael Kors) seemed to have the winner of this contest pegged early on. And though I’d found Christian’s preening — dare I say: bitchy — affectations throughout the season pretty off-putting at times, it was rather endearing to see him humbled at the end — clearly wanting the win so much, but extremely nervous that it would slip away.

It didn’t, of course. Christian Siriano wins Project Runway Season 4! (“Hello, did you have a doubt? Come on, what up?“) Later that night when Christian was presented with that comically giant $100,000 check in front of his competitors, they seemed as a whole thrilled for him, which suggested to me that his antics didn’t generate too much ill will, and were probably exaggerated for good television.

Post-show, Tim with Kevin Christiana (whom I startled on the way into the party by inadvertently squealing his name… forgetting for a moment that this wasn’t my living room and that the contestants could, you know, hear me) and Sweet P, pretty in purple.

Kevin Christiana, Tim Gunn & Sweet P Vaughan

When we congratulated Christian’s runway model Lisa for winning the spread in Elle magazine, she thanked us sweetly and beamed in her new outfit — a one-shouldered dark blue ruffled mini-dress, created by you-know-who the night before, just for this occasion.

Season 1‘s winner Jay McCarroll, whose “homelessness” as reported in a New York magazine feature on the post-show difficulties faced by Bravo reality stars turned out to be greatly exaggerated. With Nora Caliguri (Season 1) and her sister.

Jay McCarroll

The party continued late into the night at Marquee, but CS and I headed home with our TRESemmé gift bags, having had our fill of fierceness and fabulosity for one evening.

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Die Zauberflöte

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007 | All Things, Arts, Music

At the Metropolitan Opera House tonight with HYB for Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute). Mozart’s final opera is the tenth most frequently performed opera in North America. I’d seen a fairy-tale-like production (with Andrew Porter’s English translation) at the New York City Opera across the plaza a few years ago; this season, the Met brought back Broadway and film director Julie Taymor’s 2004 production.

Set in an imaginary Egypt, the action revolves around a prince and princess overcoming adversity to unite. Along the way, there is a bird-catcher, a high priest, a moor, serpents, beasts, assorted royal attendants and genii and perfunctory ordeals by water and fire. No ninjas, though. It’s all fairly ridiculous, but the music remains sublime. Taymor’s staging features an incredible variety of figures swirling the stage; I especially liked the flying birds, giant kite-like dancing bears and the magnificent star-shimmering Königin der Nacht (Queen of the Night). The puppet animals were created with the input of Michael Curry, who also designed the award-winning creatures for The Lion King on Broadway, adding to the feel of spectacle on the kaleidoscopic, mirror-lined stage.

Not everyone’s a fan, though. Three years ago, New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini found Taymor’s production to be a mishmash of imagery, so cluttered with puppets, flying objects and fire-breathing statues that it overwhelmed Mozart’s music. His review this year focused on 36-year old German soprano Diana Damrau‘s impressive turns in her dual roles as the Queen of the Night and Pamina during the Met’s Die Zauberflöte run–a feat never before attempted at the opera house in a single season. This night Damrau inhabited the ingénue role; after this season, she will be retiring her Queen, one of the most difficult roles in the standard coloratura repertoire, with its two relatively short, but flashy arias O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn” (Oh, tremble not, my beloved son) and the famously treacherous Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” (The vengeance of Hell boils within my heart). The role, which amounts to just about twelve minutes of stage time, demands five staggeringly high F6’s–a fourth above “Soprano C,” and the highest note in the standard operatic range.

The Magic Flute

Intermission in the Eleanor Belmont Room, a club used by members of the Metropolitan Opera Guild. We were there courtesy of SYB’s guest passes; the private lounge is otherwise only made available for pre-performance dining and intermission coffee and cocktail service for Contributing Level (or higher) Met Guild donors.

Belmont Room

On the Plaza, “it’s sew time”: the launch party for Season 4 of Bravo’s Project Runway. Ever since Top Chef ended its run last month, Project Runway has become my favorite reality show on television right now. The Daily News breaks down the reasons for Runway’s superiority, including “Contestants actually have to do things that take – gasp! – talent,” (the “talent” being something other than, say, “knowing how to snag a man” or “losing 80 pounds“), “It’s just so incredibly gay,” and finally “Who are we kidding? Can there ever really be a full explanation for love?

Project Runway tent

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