Thursday, October 2, 2008

Designing for Darth


I don't remember many of my dreams, but this little fragment from last night's brain festivities was still floating around in my head when the alarm went off. Since Kirsten was having trouble getting up for work (I think I counted 14 snoozes) I decided to tell her about my dream, thinking it would make her laugh and wake her up a bit. It didn't really, but that's not because it isn't hilarious.

Here's a little background to the origins of my dream: part of getting back into the swing of home life has been the non-stop marathon of Project Runway episodes that Kirsten and I have been slamming. In addition to following the current season 5, during which I got hooked, Kirst has been kind enough to download the previous four seasons and re-watch them back-to-back with me. This can sometimes get ridiculous. For instance, last night we caught the new episode from season 5 and then polished off four more from season 3 before bed. That's almost four hours of fashion TV. Project Runway? More like Project Funway.

I know exactly why I love this show so much. It's because, more than any other show I can think of, it focuses almost entirely on the creative process - making something from nothing. Beneath all the contestants' catiness and the superficiality of the industry, it's really about getting in touch with our God nature, the power to make light where there was darkness. A lot of non-narrative TV - game shows, sports, and reality-based competitions like Project Runway - are more about the annihilation of an opponent, basically a destructive act. And if they're not, they're focused on making wealth for its own sake. Project Runway is a show about people using their favorite talent and testing themselves to see what they are capable of.

That's why I love it. And I think I have another theory about why so many others are drawn to it (a few years ago I began to notice a disturbing trend among my friends: our social plans were being re-routed around some fashion show they were into. I'd get this: "Sure, let's meet at the bar, but not until 10... a few of us are getting together to watch Project Runway at my place first." And this was not just my girl friends, but guys. And not just guys but dudes.) I think that the most common forms of culture and expression are music- or narrative-based. And while talent varies widely, almost everybody feels they have some insight into how to movies, books and music are made. Most people can sing a little. Most people can write a little. Most people can photograph a little. Most people can act a little. But how many people can sew a little? How many people can conceptualize a garment a little? I think that Project Runway, by focusing on fashion creation, has tapped into what is essentially a mystified art-form for the average person. Yet, while the medium is exotic, it still retains elements of the basic creative process, which the rest of us can identify with. And that makes for a really compelling contrast.

To add to the appeal for me, there's Tim Gunn, a fashion educator who acts as a mentor to the show's contestants. He's just a really positive, caring and decisive man. I'm consistently impressed by his tact and directness, and the way all of his impulses seem to be to build rather than to tear down. He has my vote for President of the United States if he wants it. Project Runway? More like Project Tim Gunnway.

So anyway, the dream. The dream was Tim Gunn pulling the contestants together at the start of an episode and saying: "People, today we're going to be designing for a fashion icon. An intergalactic fashion icon." And that's when the camera pans over to Darth Vader. Tim Gunn says: "Your assignment is to create a look for Darth Vader that is fashion-forward, but practical." I don't remember much of the rest of the dream, just some contestant standing on the runway at the end defending their creation and arguing with Darth Vader, who was taking issue with the fact that the Vader suit they'd created was not very functional: the breathing apparatus was poorly designed.

1 comment:

Marie Lasferatu said...

I can't stop laughing.... Love it.