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Fashionista Smackdown: Klum Vs. Welker

By Bacilio Mendez II, Senior Associate Editor

Posted on December 15, 2006

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Heidi Klum … well, you already know her.


Kristine Welker
, however, you may not. She is Vice President and Publisher of CosmoGIRL! (a Hearst publication) & the reason you should be Googling her right now is because, in my humble opinion, the “Born to Lead” Design Search is genius.

Think Project Runway, but without all the disgusting reality TV trappings. No back-biting, no sabotage & no ridiculous stagings of calling people’s character into question.

I know what you’re thinking: “Why should I watch if no one’s going to get berated for my enjoyment?”

Well, the contestants are all students at FIT & the winner receives a $10,000 grant from Macy’s and a partnership with Necessary Objects to produce a Holiday fashion collection that will be sold in a minimum of 20 Macy’s department stores. How cool is that? You could actually own something by one of the designers featured in the search this holiday season.

I mean honestly, does anyone actually own something by any of the designers from Project Runway? Does anyone even know someone, who knows someone, who has purchased anything by anyone who has ever been on Project Runway?

Obviously, there are people who do, but I’d rather support a student from FIT than someone who just made for good TV.

I respect Welker for choosing to work with FIT students, not just because it gives those who are already serious enough to persue an advanced degree in their field a chance to really excel, but also because it just makes business sense. Think about it, Heidi Klum has open-calls all over the country to find a dozen or so contestants a year; what a terrible waste of time & resources.

By teaming up with FIT Welker already had 125 highly qualified designers to choose from. Brilliant! Identify where the talent is & get them on your side.

Welker one, Klum, love.

And having a major department store carry the winning designer’s work during peak holiday shopping time?

Welker two. Klum, zip.

Also FIT gets to show off what amazing students they have & give their program the best promo ever. What does Project Runway tell anyone about Parsons, except what the workrooms look like & how funny Tim Gunn is? There’s no look into their program & when you break it down there have been 1, 2, 3, 4 contestants with degrees from Parsons, while there have been 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 from FIT. (The others mostly hail from RISD, FIDM, SCAD & Otis, with a lawyer or an architect thrown in for good measure.)

That’s three to nothing, Klum.

Not to mention that Welker’s project just makes you feel good. After watching the Webisodes you don’t hate anyone, you want all of the designers to win. You feel inspired by the students’ desire & humility. You can relate to them & when it comes down to it, regardless of whether they win or not, they’ll still have a degree & a great future ahead of them.

Do I really have to keep score anymore?

Perhaps, I’m a bit naive, but I’ll take the uplifting webisodes over the flawlessly produced & snarky any day.

I say bravo to Hearst & Kristine Welker! (pun completely intended) & I urge you to check out the “Born to Lead” Design Search webisodes.

You’ll thank me later.

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