Well, now that the "cat's out of the bag", as it were, I can talk about one of my favorite shows on TV (or YouTube) Project Runway Canada! I was asked to participate in the first ever season of our Northern neighbors' version of our most beloved show and of course, I said "Yes!". I was either to be a judge or a "guest mentor", but did not know which one (I don't think the producers did either until very close to shooting). I finally got the call and they told me that I would not be flying to Toronto to shoot there but that they would be coming to LA instead. You know I already had my outfits packed and ready to go whenever the call from Canada would come in.
The Challenge was to be the Resort Challenge and instead of Paris where Season 3 of the American version of the show traveled to, these Canadian designers would be coming to Huntington Beach and then working at my alma mater, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM). Since I am an instructor there, it made perfect sense.
The night before we filmed the scene at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa, I was driven secretly late at night to the hotel where I was to stay overnight. The designers were having a nice dinner and enjoying the "resort" surroundings that evening but in the event that they were wandering around the hotel, they wanted to keep me hidden and "locked in my room", for fear that they would see me.
The next morning, I shot the scene in which I introduced myself to the group. It was funny to see their reactions because it became very obvious who knew me and who had no idea. Stephen was the first to be all "No they didn't!". He recognized me right away while the rest, for the most part, either were too stressed to show emotion, or actually thought I was the Hotel's Venezuelan-Greek Concierge telling them they had to leave! As the day proceeded, the rest of the designers began "opening up" more and more to me, yet I still felt that a couple had this "You are NOT Brian Bailey, and don't even think of replacing him!" look on their faces.
We then traveled to Mood Fabrics where they had to shop for fabrics. Afterward, we went to FIDM, where their workrooms would be. This was to be their "home" for the next two days. They loved the FIDM workspace. They especially liked the Industrial machines we had. The workroom is the same one used in my Advanced Fashion Design class so I felt right at home there. The show follows the same "script" of its American counterpart and so does its mentor. I was asked to come and survey what they were doing and just give my "two cents". I tried to vibe my best "Instructor Nick", being helpful with my advice, giving my constructive criticism in a way that would not be hurtful. Since I already felt a bit of distancing from the designers because I was not the mentor they had been used to for all this time, I treaded carefully but added some fun to lighten the atmosphere which was palpably stressful.
I was excited to see their varying ideas come to life and after the second day, very surprised to see how much they had done and so quickly: They were obviously a very talented group. I thought Bidell's outfit for himself was a bit CRAZY. In fact, I dubbed it "Jedi Resort". The dress for his model surprised me in its prettiness, especially in that green "Tye Dye" fabric. But I somehow had this weird feeling that the judges back in Canada would think it was F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S and would give him props for being original and creative. I loved Stephen's and thought he hit the mark when it came to resort. I just feared they might think he looked a bit too "gay postman" with his own outfit. Marie Genevieve's was tres chic. And Shernett's seemed complicated in terms of its construction (especially for resort wear) but I appreciated her skills in tailoring. I especially loved the complicated fitted jacket she made. Lucien's was my least favorite. I was worried for him. His own outfit was a bit "Eurotrash" to my liking (and I love me some Eurotrash!) and his model's dress was Cavalli five years ago. But I loved his draping! Somehow I knew he would be in the bottom when judging came about. In the end, it was Shernett's time to go. Of course, I, along with all of you guys, had to wait to see who made it "In" and who "Just didn't cut it". I had no idea of the final conclusion to this Challenge.
In the end, I had an amazing three days working with these talented group of designers and being part of the show. I know you may not believe me when I say this, but I didn't do this to have "more camera time". I was just honored to have been asked and happy to do what I normally do twice a week at FIDM--teach and mentor my students. I am hooked on this show and can't wait for the Finale episode which has already been filmed at Toronto Fashion Week. I am dying to see who wins the first ever Project Runway Canada! Click HERE to watch the entire episode.
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