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Gilles Mendel has a reputation for polished romance and elegance, but what does he know about prom night in New Jersey on Bravo's hit reality series "Project Runway"? Although Betsey Johnson or Jessica McClintock might have been more obvious choices to kvetch about a prom dress challenge alongside judges Nina Garcia, Michael Kors and Heidi Klum, it was the reserved Mendel who was in the hot seat on Wednesday's episode, which found the wannabe designers laboring over special-occasion frocks for nine New Jersey teenagers from St. John Vianney High School. (Before they could make off with their custom duds, the teens had to endure a runway march and heated critique, which felled at least one girl, who fainted due to the combination of intense heat and high heels — a bit of drama that was edited out.)
As for Mendel, he admitted he never attended prom growing up in Paris. "In France, we have debutante balls, which are more my idea of proms," he told WWD Thursday in between fittings for his fall runway show. "But I have a daughter who is almost 16, so I'm getting to know proms pretty well." Mendel said his guest-judging appearance on the Klum-helmed show was an easy transition since he's known and dressed the model for some time. "When she started the show, she always mentioned that one day I should come over and be a judge," he said. "I was very excited because I think the show is a lot of fun....I like the [premise] of challenging young kids to make a product in such a short period of time." Short, too, was the amount of time Mendel spent filming the episode — roughly three hours, from hair and makeup ("a little touch up," he assured) to the announcement of the challenge winner (an azure halter number by Victorya Hong, one of Mendel's favorite contestants) and loser.
As to whether there were any future, say, Gilles Mendels in the fourth-season pack of "Project Runway" contestants, the designer explained, "Overall, I think they were quite talented and the dresses that I saw were pretty..." He paused. "...OK....The authority of a TV show might not be good enough at the end to make a successful fashion house. That's a different ball game." — Nick Axelrod
BACK ON THE SCENE:
Annemarie Iverson has returned to the halls of Hearst Magazines. The former editor of YM and Seventeen is filling in for Alexandra Parnass, beauty director, who is on maternity leave. Iverson was the beauty and fashion news director of Harper's Bazaar in the Nineties before rising to editor in chief of YM and later Seventeen when it was owned by Primedia. Iverson's position is a temporary one until Parnass returns. — S.D.S.
MOSS TAKES MANHATTAN:
Kate Moss reportedly banked nearly $10 million last year and she is showing no signs of easing up. Being the face of Yves Saint Laurent isn't enough for her new year — Moss has shot Longchamp's spring campaign with Mario Sorrenti. The duo have paired up for the fifth consecutive season, with the Brooklyn Bridge and towering skyscrapers of southern Manhattan providing the backdrops for the new Eighties-inspired ads. If last year's earnings are any indication, luxury campaigns are incidental for the resilient supermodel. Nearly $4.3 million of last year's payout was said to come from her Topshop deal, $3.2 million stemmed from her affiliation with the fashion label Skate, and modeling contracts kicked in the rest. — Rosemary Feitelberg
The spring Y-3 campaign was inspired by the video aesthetic of the Eighties, with its grainy quality, movement and action. But behind the scenes virtually everything other aspect of the campaign is new to the brand, according to a spokeswoman. Craig McDean photographed four models in color — a departure from the black-and-white images of past seasons — to be reminiscent of still frame movie shots off a VHS tape. Also new for spring, Vogue contributing editor Tabitha Simmons styled the campaign, which was art directed by Doug Lloyd of Lloyd & Co. The ads will break in the March and April issues of Vogue, Vogue Paris, L'Uomo Vogue and Vanity Fair Germany, among others. — A.W.