Dear Lifetime network execs, Project Runway producers, Heidi, Tim, Michael and Nina:
While we're more excited than a fashion model at a crudités tray that Project Runway's ninth season starts tonight, we can't forget how you did us wrong last season. You know, when you made that gi-MONDO mistake in picking the winner?
Gretchen, the overconfident "gritch" who sparred with Tim Gunn and bullied other contestants on the show, sure did make swell clothes. But she should not have beaten Mondo Guerra, the infinitely more creative designer who stole our hearts when he took the risk and, in the single most moving moment in the history of Project Runway, announced he was HIV-positive on the show.
We're still reeling at your ill-fitted choice. Here's how you can make it up to us: Give us a dream season.
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We want big-name stars who mean something to fashion (Please, tell us the reports that Kim Kardashian is a judge aren't true), mind-bending challenges and exotic locations.
In fact, here are 10 ways you can soothe the sting of your Mondo-mistake and make this a dream season for us. We realize you've wrapped filming on this season, but hey, this is our dream, after all, and in our dream, you'll leave everything else on the cutting-room floor and get to shooting these episodes.
Please, make it work.
1. Pip, Pip, hooray!
As the worldwide Middleton-sister obsession continues to grow, so does the pair's fan base of fashionistas. Because Kate and Pippa are known for their Euro-conservative style, it would be a royal thrill for the contestants to create a monarch-appropriate outfit for one of them. Who wouldn't want to watch a show with one or both of the Middleton sisters on it? Given that Kate's a bit busy being a duchess and all -- she's spending some time getting to know the Queen-in-law at the Scotland manse later this summer -- we'll take little sister Pippa instead.
One of our favorite challenges last season had the contestants creating looks inspired by hats designed by milliner-to-the-stars (and royals) Philip Treacy. This season, have them design a hat for Pippa, and sit her down side-by-side with Treacy to pick the winner.
2. FLOTUS among us
In Season 8, we loved the Jackie Kennedy challenge in which designers were asked to create sportswear that the former first lady herself would wear today. Since Michelle Obama has also become a fashion icon, she would make a perfect judge AND star of her own challenge. We can think of lots of outfits contestants could design for her, from activewear (including gloves) to don while gardening, to a killer couture gown to wear to a state dinner, to an all-American look she could wear to the 2012 Olympics in London.
Think a first lady would never go on a reality show? Au contraire! Obama, in fact, just made her reality-show debut, filming an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition last week that will air this fall. Give her a call!
3. Men's style for the masses
In Season 4, the contestants were asked to design an outfit for a former New York Giant. This out-of-the-box challenge threw the designers for a loop since most of the contestants' expertise lies mainly in women's clothing.
Every guy we know needs a little help with his wardrobe. How about having the designers make a knockout look for ordinary men (not celebs, who have access to stylists anyway) who need an outfit for a specific kind of date (a formal dinner, a theater night, a museum visit, etc.).
The show could design an app detailing the winning look and runners-up so that every average Joe (and, more likely, their significant others) could study the successful outfit, heed the advice and find out where to buy something similar in a store near him.
4. Let them go Gaga
Who might be the single most interesting, crazy, exciting, maddening person to design a look for? Lady Gaga, of course. After all, the woman's most memorable "outfits" to date had her a) wearing meat and b) emerging from an egg carried down the red carpet.
Have the designers outfit her head to toe (because no detail goes unnoticed when it comes to Gaga's looks) for next year's MTV Video Music Awards. We can't wait to see the runway full of models with Gaga-esque wild hair, outrageous clothes and sky-high heels.
The challenge here would be to take the look over the top without making it a costume. After all, Tim Gunn would never allow designers to send "costumey" pieces down the runway on purpose.
5. Healthcare reform
In Season 1, the designers had to run around with postal workers all day to experience life in their shoes. Then they had to redesign the workers' uniforms and ensure that they were both practical and stylish. We loved the use of "real people" in this challenge and would love for the designers to take on another industry.
How about healthcare? Have the designers head to a hospital and redesign boring, frumpy scrubs for doctors, nurses and other workers. We know they'll come up with stylish yet practical options. Extra points to anyone who bedazzles a stethoscope.
6. Go on location
New York is the perfect place to host the show, don't get us wrong. But mix it up a little and whisk the designers off to a few exotic locales around the world, Bachelorette-style. (Not every week, mind you. We'd miss our favorite reality-show dog, Swatch, at Mood fabric shop after too long.)
We love it when you make the designers take inspiration from a specific location, such as the New York Botanical Garden in Season 5 and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Season 4. Why not jet them off to Europe for a little inspiration at the Prado in Madrid or the Louvre in Paris? For an even more exotic challenge, take them to Egypt for a little pyramid inspiration, or let them absorb the culture of places like Hong Kong, Dubai or Tahiti. We're ready to go with them!
7. Uniform appeal
We crave the episodes in which you throw the dreaded kid challenge into the mix. The designers typically have a hard time working with children or teenagers, and the youngsters have little patience for sketching, measuring, pinning and fitting. It's reality gold.
This season, have the designers take a crack at making school uniforms. Challenge them to come up with something -- anything -- that breaks the plaid skirt white-button-down khaki-shorts mold, while staying appropriately modest for school. We bet there'll be some major whining involved -- and not by the kids!
8. Oprah! Oprah!
Need a midseason ratings boost? Forget the marginally famous starlets we've heard are appearing as guest judges (Zoe Saldana, Christina Ricci, Malin Akerman) and go for the gold. Without a fall talk show to plan for this summer, what else has Oprah got to do these days? (Don't answer that, Oprah.)
Have the contestants design something smashing for her to wear to a red carpet event or something smart to wear in the office -- she is, after all, CEO of her OWN Network now. For a twist, let her BFF Gayle King be the judge.
We don't really care what the challenge is or how it goes down; we really just want Oprah to announce the winner with her signature bravado on " PRO-ject RUUUUN-way!"
9. Send Kim K. down the aisle
We can't believe we're suggesting this (See above sentiment about having Kim Kardashian guest-judge), but here's a way to make it interesting: Challenge the designers to make Kim's wedding dress. The real challenge will be working with Kim -- and her mother, and her sisters.
Her wedding, like sister Khloe's, is sure to be a TV hit. (Hello, cross-network promotion!) We have a feeling that Kim's a woman who knows exactly what she wants in a bridal gown, and she has access to the most sought-after designers around. Bring on Vera Wang and Monique Lhuillier to judge the winners, and then sell the winning design in a mass-market store like David's Bridal.
But you'd better move quickly on this one -- Kim's marrying NBA player Kris Humphries in August.
10. Bring back Mondo, and keep Gretchen away
We love it when past winners appear on Project Runway -- we'll set the DVR for just about any show Christian Siriano's on. But, as Tim Gunn as our witness, we vow to turn off any episode Gretchen appears on.
We want to see sweet Mondo back as a judge, sitting alongside Nina Garcia and Michael Kors and debating the finer points of design on any of the challenges this season.