anne_mikolay_120After watching several seasons of Lifetime Television’s popular series, Project Runway, I have a request for the show’s fans: please define the term fashion forward?

Even though fashion forward has me baffled, I applaud the creativity of Project Runway’s contestants. If someone told me to design an outfit using pet supplies (or to wear such a creation), I’d laugh so hard my bladder would explode. Indeed, I chuckled when this season’s designer wanna-bes raced around a pet store desperately seeking inspiring merchandise, and I scoffed at the suggestion of making a dress out of bird seed, as one contestant successfully did. That particular episode of Runway taught me a lot about thinking outside the hackneyed box. Who knew you could dye doggy training pads and sew them together into a fashion forward skirt?  Who knew a bird seed dress could be stunning?

Stunning…yes. Wearable? Absolutely not. Parading around clothed in bird seed may be fine for models on the runway, but what happens to such a dress outdoors where birds are flying overhead? If a garment is well crafted yet totally ridiculous, is it fashion forward? Will a model’s stylish, trendy apparel be the same when worn by the average woman who merely wants to look presentable at work? Project Runway contestants rarely produce attire for the real world, but they are not supposed to. Where is the entertainment in seeing “regular” ladies glide along the runway in mom jeans or casual Friday chinos? If Runway featured the same clothes found on department store racks, nobody would watch.

Though the premise of Project Runway is obvious, I still laugh at the term fashion forward. A google search defines Heidi Klum’s favorite phrase as “trendy,” “hip,” “slick,” “cool,” “the opposite of fashion backward,” and my personal favorite, “runway weird.” Whatever it is (impractical and ridiculous!), I find fashion forward television quite entertaining and unintentionally amusing. And educational. Heidi Klum and her television entourage have taught me there is a big difference between fashion and clothes. Dyed piddle pads are fashion. The stuff in my closet is clothing.

Thank God I’m not a fashionista!


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Anne Mikolay

Anne M. Mikolay joined The Atlantic Highlands Herald as a columnist in 2008. Prior to penning “The Armchair Critic,” Anne wrote feature articles for The Monmouth Journal. Her work has appeared in national...