Project (almost) Runway

Confession of the Week: Heidi Klum is my hero.

Every week I tune into Lifetime’s Project Runway to watch the latest in competitive “design-offs” between up-and-coming fashion designers. Heidi (I call her by her first name because she needs no last name—she’s the Oprah of reality-television’s fashion programming) is host to the hour-long fashion-fest and delivers the best line to designers as they wait in bated breath for the results of their designs. She either says, “You are in,” or “You are out.”"DISPLAY DIVA." Stephanie Gruber of Lowellville High School in Ohio was the 1st place winner with her simple and chic black dress from Cache (412/788-2338, cache.com) at the Mall at Robinson. Photo by Carrie Snover.

I almost tried my hand at designing many years ago and if I had known a show like Project Runway was in the future my life might not be the same. I would have applied to the show, been cast on the show, met Heidi, been face-to-face with her and as she spoke those words to me I would have just died…waiting in bated breath for her to tell me, “You are in” or You are out.” And of course I would have been out (I’m not the designing-type). I am the judging type—not in a bad way—just in the way that I get requests to be a judge for different events and competitions as it relates to fashion. My latest invitation to be an “almost” Heidi—so to speak—was for the annual Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s Fashion Your Future Scholarship Competition at the Mall at Robinson last Saturday. I love runway shows, except there was no runway, but window displays instead—close enough—and there were no live models, but bust forms instead (again, close enough).

That’s all beside the point—it was fun. I helped judge the window displays of the four finalists (seniors from local and regional high-schools who beat out hundreds of finalists to earn a spot in the final leg of the competition—the window display design-off). The finalists were judged on their effective use of space, effective use of budget allotment, design elements, use of lighting, etc. Each student received high marks, because each one gave their window display 100 percent of their creativity, time and effort. Lucky enough for the contestants, the Art Institute shared the scholarship and each contestant won a portion of the $19,000 reward (1st place took home $10, 000; 2nd place took home $5,000; 3rd place took home $3,000 and 4th place took home $1,000).

If this had been Project (almost) Runway and I were (almost) Heidi, I would definitely have said to each contestant, “You are in!”

Visit the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for more information.