1. It's not a traditional makeover show. Granted, it looks like one on the surface: two Project Runway alums travel around the country to make special occasion dresses for the "fashion-hungry" masses. But, surprisingly, this show is not about making small-town women feel like hicks and laughing smugly at their bad fashion sense. It's also not about changing their personal style; it's understood that these ladies will probably go back to their t-shirts and hunting gear after the show. Rather, it's about helping them celebrate a big moment in their lives in style. Also, there's a nice diversity of age and class on the show. (However, it must be noted that seven episodes in, there's only been one woman of color. Here's hoping they step it up!)
2. It has a huge heart. The show manages incredibly touching moments without overdoing it. Santino, who was a bit of a villain on the second season of PR (despite his epic and widely beloved Tim Gunn impression), is surprisingly sweet and gentle on this new show. He seems to genuinely love every woman they dress and they, in turn, respond immediately to his dashing charm.
Santino: Do you think we’ll still be friends after this adventure?4. It showcases sewing across the heartland. While Project Runway features trips to the fabric mecca Mood, the fabrics in On the Road with Austin and Santino come from places like Cathy's Quiltin' Square and Doylene's Fabric Store (which is on a dirt road and strongly resembles a shack). It's definitely an interesting—and sobering—look into the state of garment sewing across the country; namely, that dressmaking resources are scarcer than ever, being replaced by quilting fabrics and novelty-print cottons. But the lack of luxury fabrics sets the stage for innovative solutions: our two designers fake expensive-looking fabric by layering teal tulle over a rich purple cotton and repurposing components of flea market dresses.
Austin: I certainly hope so…
Santino: Because I wish I could quit you.
5. One-liners galore. These dudes are funny. Some random choice quotes:
- Santino, lounging about in a terry cloth robe and drinking wine: "Why is it that we have to suffer for fashion?"
- Austin, trying to repair a rocking chair: "Maybe some eyelash adhesive will work."
- Santino, as Austin tries to cut down a pair of antlers to make a purse handle (long story): "I'm not afraid of power tools, but I am afraid of Austin with power tools."
6. Austin's hair. Austin's personal style is unmistakable, and the crowning glory is his locks, which are often curled and topped off with jaunty scarves or chapeaus. I loved seeing that he applies hairspray with the exuberance of someone performing modern dance. Also, on being handed a hardhat to wear in a brick factory: "Not good for the hair! You don't have a bouffant size, do you?"
7. It bridges political gulfs. An overly grand statement? Perhaps. But in a country where the right to marry is denied a major segment of the population, there's something heartwarming about someone as flamboyant as Austin getting Red State folks to double cheek-kiss like they were born wearing Marc Jacobs.
8. An inspiring dedication to craft and couture. Even though the pair is working with the tight deadlines of Project Runway, their work is painstakingly meticulous. The dresses they make incorporate impressive draping skills, expert inner construction, and dedication to the handwork of couture. Austin's background is in high-end bridal gowns, and he whipped himself into a couture frenzy when the pair got their first wedding dress assignment: "I almost don't even want to use a sewing machine; I want it all to be like little petite main, little, like, mice handstitches." (Santino's reaction: "Ughhhhhh.")
|All images courtesy of Lifetime Television|
10. The opening credits. Watch Austin's delivery of the line, "Our designs grace runways around the world!" and try not to crack a smile. I dare you.
Are you lovely readers watching this epically fabulous show? (Hint: there are full episodes online here.)