This is a talent competition that is everything a talent competition should be: challenging, joyful, emotional, and all together wonderful, a celebration of art and struggle.
From Tim Gunn to the edit, the contestants are treated like their adult counterparts. And there’s a good reason for that: Their work is not only indistinguishable from clothes produced on the regular show, it’s often better. Their avant-garde challenge produced what Tim said was the best avant-garde challenge he’s seen on Project Runway.
The contestants—I don’t want to call them kids—are supportive of one another, they struggle, and they cry when they’re eliminated, typically causing judge Kelly Osbourne to hide her face behind her cards because of what she’s done. But failure and disappointment are part of life, and these contestants take their eliminations better than many contestants on Project Runway have.
Some of the contestants are still finding their way, and that allows the show to look through a new window into the creative process.
One moment that will stay with me is Cartier’s dress for the firefighter challenge, which looked far more creative and fashion-forward once it had been turned inside out, exposing the amazing seams she’d created. Tim pointed it out to her but even though she flipped it around, she still resisted that change, as she did during a future challenge when the same thing happened again. Those happy accidents weren’t enough to prove to Cartier that she was holding herself back by sticking to what she thought she should create—rather than what she’d actually created.
I hope Lifetime and Project Runway Junior can see the incredible show they’ve created in this spin-off, and keep it going—just like it is!—for many seasons to come.