I love Project Runway. I love the eccentric motley crew of novice designers; I love the challenges; and I especially love Michael Kors and Nina Garcia. Minus the seemingly contrived All-Star (aka “Let’s-give-poor-little-queer-Mondo-a-prize!”) season, my eyes have devoured every episode of every season.
Season 10 is two episodes in, and Ven is the unanimous front runner (while Buffi seems to be emerging as the Chris March/fan-favorite of the season). But, this year, joining the collection of quirky queers that always make up a sizeable percentage of the show’s 16 contestants is a lesbian designer—and, correct me if I’m wrong, the show's first lesbian designer.
Alicia Hardesty is a 27 year old designer who hails from Kentucky but who lives in L.A. She is the creator of Original Tomboy, a brand developed for the queer woman who “re-define what it means to dress ‘like a girl.’” It's no surprise that she names Tilda Swinton as her style icon.
(from OTB's Fall '12 Collection)
So far, Alicia has remained safely, albeit nondescriptly, in the middle of the pack with her three designs (two were required for the first challenge):
The question that Alicia's appearance on PR this season brings to mind—a question that I have variously thought about before—concerns the extent to which "lesbian" fashion, or gender-bending fashion for the gender-bending woman, can succeed on the runway. But, thinking about it for just a minute, perhaps the question does not quite fit the haute couture moment. Because I think fashion idealizes the gender- ambiguous woman—from Victoria Beckham's austere aesthetic to the 70s-inspired, geometrically-patterned suits that are en vogue this year, clothes for the woman who wants to "re-define what it means to dress 'like a girl'" are readily available and are tres fashionable.
(On point in Prada)
So why hasn't Hardesty captivated the judges yet? In the coming episodes, will she be able to move beyond J.Crew/Land's End to give the judges something a bit more haute couture? Designs that are less catalogue and more runway? .... Would doing so compromise her aesthetic? Is going "more runway," in effect, less lesbian? less queer?