FACES IN THE CROWD: While flamboyant contestants and celebrity guest judges have added flair to past “Project Runway” finale shows at Bryant Park, the season six finale had little of it — largely due to the fact that the designers who made the looks strolling down the runway were kept under lock and key backstage. Because season six has yet to air, and won’t as long as the program is involved in a lawsuit between NBC Universal and “Project Runway” producers The Weinstein Co., the identities of the finalists were kept secret.
That meant muted enthusiasm from the crowd, a point even “Project Runway” host Heidi Klum acknowledged. “I’m a little bit sad for our designers that they don’t get that recognition today.” Klum held court in the front row with judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia, who is now fashion director at Marie Claire, and guest judge Suzy Menkes, the fashion critic for the International Herald Tribune. The front row also included John Varvatos, Marie Claire publisher Susan Plagemann, and New York Observer owner Jared Kushner, who sat with his sister. A smattering of “Project Runway” alumni dotted the crowd, including season five winner Leanne Marshall and season one winner Jay McCarroll.
At least one person found the show’s anonymity a blessing. Christian Siriano, the season four winner who produced his first runway show the night before, said not knowing the designers beforehand allowed him to focus on the clothes and judge them on merit rather than the designer’s popularity. He hoped that would help edit less-talented designers from the competition. “Every year, there’s always a weed or two that manages to make it through ‘Project Runway’,” he said, without naming names. — S.D.S.