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PROJECT RUNWAY.....Judging the Castings of Season 3 Project Runway in Chicago

The dapper Tim Gunn and myself

The Mentor and the "Brokeback Cowboy" Project Runway Designer
Tim Gunn, Kelly from GenArt Chicago and myself

Striking A Pose: A Yoga Sandwich, me and the two Yoga-loving Cameramen!(look at my big old smile!)
Dateline: CHICAGO
Just got back from "The Windy City"(it was actually snowing!), where I was for the Chicago Casting of Season 3 of "Project Runway". I was honored to be asked to judge the next batch of designer hopefuls who want to embark on the crazy ride that I just went through.
Along with Tim Gunn, Kelly from Gen Art Chicago, an Elle Accessories editor , we saw approximately 200 "designers" hoping to be "in" to the next round. Chicago, I must admit was an interesting experience, to say the least. I can sum it up in three main categories:
1) The Students, who were either just out of design school, or in their Senior Year. Most were eliminated from the start when we soon realized the garments they brought were "Senior Thesis" student work. As an Instructor myself I have to admit that their unique design style has not been fostered yet and they require more time before they embark on this journey we call "Project Runway". Their work just looked so "student-esque"(again take my word for this).
2)The Moms, who brought their "Happy Hands at Home" (Tim's words not mine) creations .These women were so full of candor and emotion when they would describe how they have been "knitting" or "sewing" for years(showing us examples of their work) and how this was a lifetime dream. Marla must have inspired them. However, while their work was exceptionally made, it might have lacked a design aspect or unique style that would make them viable candidates to be in the NY stage of Fashion.
3) In came the designers and behind them came their "models" with the Ghetto Fabulous Prom dresses with cut-outs where they should not be, straps grasping skin that should not be grasped and skin being exposed that would make a "Muffin Top" blush! How they thought that they belonged in New York and/or be in the show was beyond me, maybe the Soul Train Music Awards, but not "Project Runway".
There were some good designers, whom we let "In" . We were moved by their unique spirit, design talent and vision. We sort of knew it right away that "Project Runway" would be good for them and visa versa. On another note, Tim Gunn , and the producers also commented that I(sort of) created a new phenomenon. I asked why? Well, nearly HALF of the aspiring designers were Instructors of some design school or another! I got a kick out of that.
Halfway through the casting, I asked Kelly (GenArt), where were the local Chicago Designers? I knew that there must be a small circle of the talented "underground" Chicago designers, the ones that GenArt sponsors, for example(we have those here in LA and in NY as well) .She said that they just did not want to show up, for whatever reason. I was troubled that they might have felt it was "below them" , because I once, thought that as well, before I decided to go to the casting myself last year. How unfortunate that we did not get to see them , they were missed .I hope they did not feel that being a part of "Project Runway" would be "below them" because for me, it has "projected" me to a place that would have probably have taken me longer to get to without my participation on the show.
Finally a few suggestions to Season 4 castings: No "Pitchety Patchwork "(yes, it's the new 'whickety whack') tops and jackets! We saw one too many of these jigsaw puzzle-looking contrast-fabric tops and jackets that even Grandma won't wear for Christmas or Thanksgiving! Next: Bring a model who actually is with an agency. And I advise students to have a couple of years under your "design belt" after graduating from Design/Art School, so you can foster your own individual ideas and creativity -- and have something other than "Senior Thesis Garments" to show prospective judges. I had an amazing time seeing Chicago designers and would-be designer hopefuls. We did find some talent and hopefully one or two of our choices will make the cut. We shall see over this summer.

25 Responses to "PROJECT RUNWAY.....Judging the Castings of Season 3 Project Runway in Chicago"

a chicago fan said...

Nick, you and Tim look SO dapper and charming -- but no surprise there! I hope you enjoyed your brief visit in Chicago. I would've loved to stop by the auditions to catch a peek at the action but it was a bit too cold ;) Still, the city was undoubtedly enlivened with yours and Tim's presence! best wishes, Celia

pc said...


Meeting you and Tim last week is probably the highlight of the year for me, at least in the top 3 for sure. Both of you were so gentlemanly to us squealing, overly excited fans. We were so glad you liked the dirty martinis we sent up and trust us, being lawyers, we know what it's like to need a drink (or two or three) after a long day. I wish you the best and hope to see more of you in the future!


P.S. I'm going to send you the picture we took to your nikolaki e-mail address.

jjay said...

dayum nick! tell us how you really feel about chicago designers. oh well, if anyone would know, it's you. it sounds like what you saw was mostly a H.A.M. (hot ass mess). that's too bad. i would have loved to have seen the ghetto fab prom dresses. it sounds like there was enough H.A.M. with bisquits and gravy for everyone!

pr fan for life

Anonymous said...

Hi Nick:

I would love to see you and Tim in a show together. Whether it be reality tv show or a sitcom.

You're both just the cutest.


Ashley said...

Haha, the auditions sounded like both and fun and some an absolute disaster. The pictures are great, the both of you look so dapper and sophisticated. I'm looking forward to this season and seeing you for the Chicago auditions, especially the ghetto fabulous prom dresses! Mucho amor y felicidad a usted

Meghann said...

I'm dying about the pic of Tim Gunn and the "brokeback cowboy"!!! Nick-I LOVE your posts!

Chuku said...

Oh man, those descriptions are hilarious. Hopefully we will get to see some of the disaster applicants on PR3 like they do on American Idol.
"Ghetto Fabulous Prom Dress" has now been added to my vocabularly.
However, blushing muffin tops...
And let's be fair, Marla did a pretty good job considering her experience. Or am I way off on this?
Be well!

Mar said...

You and Tim are both HOT!

You've been so busy lately and that's great news!

Please keep us updated!


Faith said...

You were in Chicago this weekend??!


Heather said...

great photos and commentary as usual. I really wasn't expecting to watch PR3 (I didn't watch PR1 and the only reason I stuck with PR2 was b/c of your personality!), but now I know that I need to at least watch the episode where you will be helping with the judging, which means I will probably get sucked in!

I am curious though, since Danny V was fresh out of did his audition differ from other recent grads?

Heather said...

PS: love, love, LOVE you in the jeans, cowboy boots, and big ol' belt buckle look!!!!! GIDDYAP!

Anonymous said...

Great recap on the Chicago auditions and as always GREAT pictures. Glad to see you "retired" your red jacket. However, would you consider putting it up for auction? I'll bet you would get a lot of response.

Aunt Teak said...

hi nick -- wasn't Daniel V. just bar'ly out of school when he auditioned? or maybe still in school? *he* was pretty good. :o)

George said...

Nick, you are so great in consistently and quickly keeping us up to date with all the great things you're doing.
We'll all have to wait several, several months to see this taping of you in Chicago!

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Jen said...

Nick! I love you! You were my fav on Project Runway and I wish you all the best!

Oksana said...

Nick I found this awesome high quality picture of you at Smashbox!

Oksana said...

oops, the link didn't show.

so I put it as my "web page"

DiiVa said...

Can't wait for season 4!!!!!!!! Thank you for the update!! Love Love Love you Nick!!!!!!!

Hapto said...

okidokie.... please define 'pitchetty patchwork'
is it like this? ?

I'm good for the running, I love what I do, but want to make sure I'm not wastng my (or your) time. ;-)

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Margaret said...

Nick, I wish I still lived in Chicago and had come to the auditions just to meet you and Tim! Truth is, though, I've done more costume design than fashion so you guys would have dismissed me pretty quickly. Oh well. Love reading your blog too! Thanks for keeping us all posted.

Anonymous said...

Hello. Sorry to bother you, do you know if it's too late to apply for the next season of Project Runway? I live in Los Angeles and I'd LOVE to try out!!!

Thank you!

I'm at

if you want to peek at my work.

Rebecca said...

After hearing you speak at the FIDM open house, and meeting you for a whole three minutes, my original interest and love for fashion has gone off the wall. You had mentioned a trunk show in manhatten, and I'm wondering if I missed it or if it's yet to come! I'll be looking out for you more in the big bad city!

A dedicated fan,