Been down this runway before

Mannequin2Perhaps The Apprentice has morphed our perception of reality shows. But we tuned into Heidi Klum‘s new reality show, Runway, on Bravo last week, and all we kept thinking about was the Donald—right down to the moment where one of the wannabe fashion designers, having settled on a model to wear his design, shouted, "You’re hired," and did that funky little Donald hand gesture.

The Apprentice-like premise of the show—no doubt like a dozen other reality shows we haven’t seen—is to put 12 aspiring designers in a swank New York apartment and make them sweat it out (hope the armpit stains don’t show) week after week in design competitions, until only one remains. They include a woman named Starr (that’s two r’s, got it?) and a guy named Austin Scarlett—yes, Austin Scarlett—who’s like Carson Kressley, only with a lot more goop in his hair and a lot less confidence.

And then there’s Heidi Klum, who’s so nice and pretty but tries so hard to come off as a nasty drill sergeant, or maybe she’s channeling bitchy Caroline from The Apprentice. You just keep thinking she’s going to order each of the contestants to run 10 laps around Manhattan if they screw up a hemline. (Banana Republic plays the role of the sponsor.)

In the first show, the competition was centered around innovation, so the contestants were taken to Gristede’s—yes, a grocery store—where they had to buy all of the stuff (you couldn’t call it fabric) to make their design for the week. The guy who made a vest out of brown butcher’s wrapping paper lost, and Austin Scarlett, who made a dress out of cornhusks (which dried up mid-design because he didn’t refrigerate them) won.

If you start seeing cornhusk sweater-vests in the window at Banana Republic, you’ll know why.

—Posted by Catharine P. Taylor