Monday, January 7, 2008

Hershey’s Times Square Hits the Runway

I’m a die-hard fan of the cable TV show Project Runway. I love the fun challenges, the creative fashions, and of course, the quirky contestants. Season four is well under way, but this week’s challenge had to be the best yet.

The remaining 10 contestants went on a field trip to Hershey’s Times Square (a.k.a. The Sweetest Place in New York). Their challenge: Create a look using items from the store as their raw materials.

Contestants had the run of the place and no budget. Like all Project Runway episodes however, there was a catch. “You have five minutes to grab whatever you can get your hands on,” said fashion guru and Liz Claiborne chief creative officer, Tim Gunn.

What was more hilarious than watching the contestants shove packages of candy, pillows, teddy bears and mugs into huge plastic bags, was watching them try to determine how to create a unique look based on Hershey’s candy bars, chocolate kisses, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Reese’s Pieces, Kit Kats, Twizzlers and York Peppermint Patties. The styles ranged from classic and wearable, to campy and downright ridiculous.

In the end, 26-year-old Jillian Lewis, a designer/illustrator for Ralph Lauren, was the only contestant brave enough to work with actual candy. She paired a sexy, strapless corset outlined in red and black Twizzlers with a mini-skirt that featured fringe made out of the red licorice.

While she got kudos from the judges (designer Michael Kors called the look “deliciously chic,” and Elle magazine’s fashion editor, Nina Garcia congratulated her on her hard work), 31-year-old Rami Kashou’s “fun, futuristic, yet girlie” halter-top party dress made of Twizzlers pillows and York Peppermint Pattie wrappers took this week’s top honor.

As always, the show had a bittersweet ending. A “sad brown dress,” according to supermodel host and judge Heidi Klum, got free-spirited Elisa Jimenez “Auf’ed” this week.

All of the contestants should be proud of their work, however. Hershey’s Times Square plans to auction off each designer’s look, and the profits will be donated to the Young Survival Coalition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to issues facing young women with breast cancer.

It seems this episode, called “Eye Candy,” wasn’t just my favorite. Each week the show sponsors a poll that asks viewers to text their vote. This week, when viewers were asked what was their favorite challenge, 60% said this was also their favorite.

This result eclipsed the 30% of viewers who preferred a challenge that required contestants to create a look for Sarah Jessica Parker’s Bitten line that is sold at Steve & Barry’s.

— Deena M. Amato-McCoy

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