Alexa ChungTan France
(Image credit: Variety)
The reality TV show, Project Runway premiered in 2004, and since then, it has had fashion enthusiasts glued to their screens for 18 seasons. “In fashion, one day you’re in, and the next day, you’re out,” famously says Heidi Klum at the beginning of each challenge. With Next in Fashion airing on Netflix at the end of January, Project Runway finally has a competitor. So, who’s in, and who’s out?
Eighteen contestants with diverse backgrounds are paired up into groups under the watchful eye of hosts, Queer Eye’s Tan France and fashionista, Alexa Chung. The bar is set very high, as many of the competing designers have already established their own brands, and have designed pieces for the likes of Beyoncé, Rita Ora, Ariana Grande, and Fergie. It’s interesting to see that some of the teams already knew each other, which helped them join forces to produce designs within two days. The themes spanned from the red carpet and streetwear to lingerie and military.
A lavish runway receives a selection of audience members, who sit back and watch the models on the catwalk wearing the designs. France and Chung are joined each episode by a celebrity judge, and they all decide on the winner of the challenge, along with the three worst designs. Out of the bottom three, two designers are sent home. The judges often commentate on how the designs look on the runway, which provides insight on the ones they favour and others they don’t like. Constructive criticism is then given during one-on-one encounters, as the judges get a closer look at what the contestants have created from scratch.
The teams are split up later in the show, for each to work by themselves. The judges are very fair with their verdicts, almost too honest. During one of the 10 episodes, they refused to send anybody home when they could not reach a unanimous vote. When it came down to the final two contestants, each designer was expected to produce a full collection for the chance to have it featured on online luxury fashion retailer, Net-a-Porter, and a cash prize of $250,000. Both collections were extraordinary, but the winning designs were otherworldly futuristic.
What’s really remarkable about Next in Fashion is that materials are available in abundance, as opposed to Project Runway often putting constraints on resources, which sees the contestants scrabbling to make ends meet. The time constraint is still there with Next in Fashion, but the focus is on the “future” element. With Next in Fashion, you are looking through a portal towards tomorrow’s trends. The judges are not just looking for decent designs that are already being sold in stores, but rather shifting their focus to what the future holds in store. Next in Fashion highly capitalises on the “next” element in Klum’s famous saying, which is challenging for the designers, yet very entertaining to watch.