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Tough love on ‘Project Runway Philippines’

By Nestor Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:12:00 09/19/2008

Filed Under: Entertainment (general), Television

MANILA, Philippines?We caught ?Project Runway Philippines? on its first telecast weeks ago, and liked its stylish approximation of the original American franchise, with host Teresa Herrera ranking high among our list of the show?s plus points.

At the end of the episode, however, we were turned off when the first designer voted out was the tilt?s most mature finalist, who was decades older than the other contestants.

Senior designer

We wondered why a senior designer was included among the competition?s finalists in the first place?and then immediately given her walking papers. It didn?t make much sense, and came off as rather cruel.

There were other low points, like some people trying to sound stylish, when, in fact, they weren?t. But, we still ended up with a positive view of the tilt, because some of the finalists? ?creations? were truly promising.

That?s why, in the succeeding weeks, we would watch ?Project Runway Philippines? from time to time, to see how the highly stressed finalists were faring.

Our heart went out to them as they did their darndest to beat deadlines, deal with each other?s quirks, put up with catty remarks?and avoid getting eliminated.

As we kept watching, we saw how some designers? work improved from challenge to challenge. Some ?favorites? emerged, only to end up on the ?thank you- girls? heap after a few more telecasts. This made us realize how subjective some of the show?s jurors? verdicts could be. They meant well, but their personal preferences sometimes clouded their judgment.

On the other hand, we saw that some of the jurors? ?tough love? approach was meant to psychologically prepare the finalists for working in the fashion industry after the competition. They more than implied that, even if a young designer was talented, he wouldn?t survive in the fashion trade if he were clueless and feckless.

Over and above all ?practical? considerations, however, it?s the quality of the finalists? designs?and execution?that should separate the couturiers from the costurera and the bordadora. A young designer can be tough as nails and ?practical? as all heck, but if his or her creations aren?t great, what would there be to develop and showcase?


But, the nurturing and development of exceptional talent is an art in itself?and some so-called mentors practice it clumsily. It?s one thing to be ?honest,? but quite another to be vicious in the disparaging comments made about a young design artist?s work. If a comment is too harsh, it could end up stunting or even killing the very talent it?s supposed to help develop.

So, we trust that the juror-mentors on ?Project Runway Philippines? can cut the show?s harassed surviving finalists some slack, and remember that they are young and vulnerable. ?Tough love? is fine?as long as the emphasis is on the noun, not the harsh adjective.

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