The hip series Project Runway is a pop culture sensation. International supermodel Heidi Klum returns as host, heading a glamorous panel of celebrities and fashion icons in search of the next star fashion designer. The third season of Bravo's reality hit boasted the most evenly matched upper roster of aspiring designers thus far in the series, and maintained the show's reign as one of the best in reality television (it's been nominated for an Emmy every year). It also featured not just one clichÃ©d villain, but several: Keith, the impossibly arrogant menswear designer who believed he was "above" all challenges (and refusing to design the dog outfit mandated as part of that challenge); Jeffrey, the tattooed rock-star designer who was as condescending as he was innovative (yet, because of his bluntness, successful sobriety and impossibly cute son, you couldn't help but like the guy a little); and Vincent, the slightly perverse '80s-era designer who famously cashed out his 401(k) to try the business again and whom always seems two sandwiches short of a picnic. The season's challenges included making a dress out of materials from the contestants' apartments, modernizing the look of a fashion icon (from Audrey Hepburn to Madonna), and designing an evening gown for Miss USA (the later fallen Tara Conner) to wear in the Miss Universe pageant. Later in the season, the remaining finalists were able to jet off to Paris to be judged by designer Catherine Malandrino, whose criticisms were actually harsher than host Heidi Klum's ("You look rideeeculous," she tells one. "You look like a fehk pop stahr." ). Other guest judges during the season included Vera Wang, Kate Spade, Ivanka Trump, and Richard Tyler.
Project Runway stands out from many other reality shows in that talent was actually a requisite and there was no audience voting to keep undeserving contestants in. Not to say there weren't any frustrating contenders overstaying their welcome (Take Angela, the farm girl who claimed her dresses were "mistaken for Yves Saint Laurent" back home, but felt the need to smother all her creations with rosettes), but the competition was evenly, satisfyingly matched toward the end. The DVD includes the reunion episode, which features a tense exchange between Keith and Klum and pokes fun at den father/breakout star Tim Gunn's "$3 vocabulary." A couple of bonus features follow the finalists post-show, profiles Gunn, and shows an assortment of outtakes. Not featured on the DVD? The many, many Saturn Sky Roadster promotions that preceded every commercial when it aired on television. And for that, we happily say Auf Wiedershen. --Ellen A. Kim