Everything I Learned About Creativity, I Learned from Project Runway
Everyone has to start somewhere.
Currently, Project Runway’s in its ninth season and it is still one of my favourite shows, just as it has been since season one. It’s one of the few shows I actually care enough about to keep up with on a weekly basis, and I credit it entirely with my having any sort of vocabulary for fashion.
Before Project Runway (BPR?), my world was a dark place, filled with simple phrases like “it’s pretty!” or “I don’t like that colour.” I had some sense of taste, but I had no idea how to articulate any of the particulars of it. Project Runway was the first experience I ever had with a critical vocabulary when it came to fashion.
I’m truly amazed by the skill of the contestants on the show – to see something in your mind’s eye and execute it under the gun (Tim Gunn, that is, hyuk) is really quite the magic trick. I usually watch the show and feel like I need to be doing something with my hands; knitting, cooking, or even tidying up. It’s inspiring to see creative people work. It’s inspiring to see things being made.
But more important than the successes are the failures. The looks that had just as much time and care put into them but didn’t quite work. Sure, it makes for great reality TV when Michael and Nina get to spit vitriol at shabbily made clothes, but more importantly, it forces us to confront failure. To develop a vocabulary around WHY something doesn’t work. It helps us figure out what does.
There’s also something wonderful when you see designers pick themselves up from the bottom three and defend their aesthetic. There’s something so fierce, so brave about that kind of creativity, and I in no way mean in a Tyra sense. There’s something very nourishing about watching that, as a creator of things and as an admirer of created things.
So Project Runway, a show about clothes, is really a show about much more – just as fashion is. At its best, a great runway show never limited to gut reactions – it’s challenging, exciting, delicious and disappointing. It’s the fruits of human creativity, and it plants seeds in all who care to look a little closer.
Without Project Runway, I probably would never have known what princess seams were, or how a muslin works, or what pushes something into the realm of haute couture. And I’m so glad that a generous example like Project Runway exists, where I can safely learn the art of critique, construction and creativity – safely, without being Auf’d myself.Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and get yourself both into and out of a few satisfying creative tangles.