2011 Fashion TV: Project Runway empire expands to accessories

Posted by: Justine Benstead

I have a confession, everyone: I love reality TV. I limit myself to a select handful of shows (if by handful you mean that I have extra fingers to hold on with), but I just can’t get enough of the amazing cake and culinary shows out there.

The show I love most of all, however, is not about cake, but about clothes, and it is a powerhouse in fashion TV here in the United States. This fashion TV reality competition easily out-sews and outshines the others. It is, of course, the number one name in fashion TV: Lifetime Television’s Project Runway.

Heidi Klum’s incredibly successful fashion TV show has spawned fashion TV spinoffs in 19 other countries, including South Korea, Turkey,  Japan, Malasia, and, of course, a two-year stint in Canada from 2007-2009.

Project Runway's designer Anya Ayoung-Chee, Season 9, Episode 12.Fashion trends have been forecasted on the fashion TV show’s pre-fall runway for nine seasons and counting, with Anya Ayoung Chee sewing up the latest season’s top spot - despite her very, very short history with sewing and virtually no professional training. Anya is a former beauty queen of Trinidad who developed an interest in designing her own costumes, and she is also a great example of how an amateur with a passion for fashion and an eye for fashion trends can develop a skill set and create something truly amazing.

The fashion TV show Project Runway has been so lucrative that the first season of Project Runway All Stars was originally set to air in November 2011, featuring some of our old favorites from the original eight seasons. Fashion TV, just like fashion trends, can, of course, be unpredictable (after all, I hear that one day you are in, and the next day you are out), and the show is now set to air in early 2012.

But fashion TV fans, don’t despair! 

The staple of fashion TV has seen very few successful spinoffs, unlike my beloved cake and cooking shows, and the new Project Runway spinoff, Project Accessory, is filling in the 2011 fashion TV reality slot nicely.

The Lifetime show is hosted by another gorgeous former supermodel, Molly Sims, and follows the same format as the original fashion TV staple. Twelve designers compete for an In-Style feature spread and $100,000 from eBay Fashion for their startup.

Repurposed Wood Pendant.Although I had split feelings for a split second- was it a sell-out, would it be boring- I knew that I wanted to love the new fashion TV show from the beginning. Luckily, after three episodes, I can report that it’s easy to do so. The fashion TV show is filmed artistically; the designer’s creations are legitimately complex pieces of jewelry or shoes and seem relevant in fashion, and the challenges have been interesting.

Of course, on the flip side, the Lifetime Television brand’s signature showcasing of drama amongst the contestants is already prevalent in the fashion TV show’s resident self-proclaimed “rocker girl,” designer contestant Nicolina. She says rocker, I say talker.

Modern 3 in 1 Metal & Brown Scare Set(Necklace-Bracelet).Three episodes of the new fashion TV accessory show have already aired, and each has brought fresh inspiration to fashion TV. The show immediately highlights the connection between fashion and you with a first episode focused on upcycling material for accessories. The designers are sent to a storage unit to dig up some unique and unconventional materials- think matchsticks, couch springs, bits of chandelier, and maybe a little material, if they are lucky- which they will then break down and rebuild into a beautiful, unique accessory for a basic t-shirt and jeans.

I was immediately drawn to the practical nature of this challenge and the entire concept of DIY jewelry made from recycled materials. In a tough economy, it’s hard to keep up with fashion trends and be kind to the budget. With a little creativity, we could create our own fashion trends by upcycling material we find in local consignment shops or our own rooms.

Permanent judge for season one of the fashion TV show, acclaimed designer Kenneth Cole, told Reuters, “Accessories are critical. In a difficult economy, no one looks to start from scratch."

Repurposed Kofe Leather handbag.The show offers insight into how to update a look with accessories, Cole explained, by pairing "last year's dress, a different pair of shoes, or last year's suit, a different tie.”

In the second challenge on the fashion TV show Project Accessory, the designers are tasked with creating a fashion piece to compliment an original Swarovski crystal accessory as well as creating pair of shoes, so clearly this task is not for beginners - although some of the designers were beginners, themselves, when it came to the footwear. But just watching the way each designer created a distinct look using the same basic dress on the fashion TV show was inspiring.

Literally eleven different looks walked the runway, but it was the same dress. This is one of the biggest differences distinguishing this fashion TV show from Project Runway: you can more easily see the quality of the designer’s work on Project Accessory because of the uniform base.

In this week’s fashion TV episode of Project Accessory, “Bling It On,” the uniform base is elevated to the next level as the designers are forced to contend with one of the biggest challenges in fashion: bodysuits. Latex-looking bodysuits, at that! And with the fabulous and fashionable Kelly Osbourne as a guest judge, it was essential to not pull a major fashion faux pas.

(Side note: Kelly is a critic on another of my favorite fashion TV shows, E’s Fashion Police. Perhaps we will see another piece of fashion and you in the future that highlights this show’s attention to fashion trends and Joan Rivers’ fantastic sense of humor).

In the meantime, give the new fashion TV spinoff Project Accessory a try. At the least, you will be entertained; at best, you will be inspired. Now, I’m off to watch the latest episode on TiVo!

Butterfly Dream Hand Painted Butterfly Crystal Ring.Now that you’re read this piece and probably searched the Internet for at least the first episode, you’re ready for some further inspiration to create DIY jewelry!

Simply click through some of the beautiful product photos pictured above.

The Butterfly Crystal ring was selected to reflect the Swarovski crystal challenge and the Re-purposed Kofe Leather Handbag to represent a clutch created in the repurposing challenge. All of the pictured items are available on iCraft and might be the perfect inspiration piece for your own foray in fashion accessory design!

Do you enjoy fashion TV? Have you created jewelry before? Have you had any experience in upcycling or repurposing material? Share your stories (success or sob) in the comments section below.

Happy designing!


Photo Credits:
Anya Ayoung-Chee's Season 9,
Modern 3 in 1 Metal & Brown Scare Set(Necklace-Bracelet) by bijoudelunel
Repurposed Kofe Leather Handbag by Arlumizu Designs
Repurposed Wood Pendant by Billie Van Guilder
Butterfly Dream Hand Painted Butterfly Crystal Ring by SiniAmos

  • Category:
  • Fashion & Style
  • Tags:
  • 2011 fashion
  • fashion tv
  • in fashion
  • project runway
  • fashion trends
  • fashion accessories
  • Project Accessory
  • Lifetime television
  • DIY fashion
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Justine Benstead
Tampa, FL, US

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