Megan’s back on Project Runway
FOUR years after calling it quits on stalking the catwalks of international fashion shows, Megan Gale has settled in nicely to the new runway she calls home, as judge and host of Foxtel reality show Project Runway.
As Gale strides into her second season – Project Runway’s fourth – of unearthing Australian designing talent, Gale has never looked back on her decision to become fashion commentator, presenter and designer with her own label. ‘‘ I have wonderful memories of my time doing the runway, but I don’t miss it in the sense I could go back to it,’’ Gale says.
‘‘ I’m happy with my decision to leave it behind and I haven’t regretted it.
‘‘ You miss an aspect of anything that you loved but I never think, ‘ did I do the right thing?’
‘‘ I left when I was ready, I’m still involved in an industry I love, and I’m still learning.’’
For Gale, who took up the role of host and judge on Project Runway last year, the looming season is a chance to relax further into the role, as well as continuing alongside great mate Alex Perry and new judges – designer, businessman and entrepreneur Peter Morrissey, and fashion consultant and former fashion editor Claudia Navone – to find Australia’s next big designing talent.
If it means delivering a few home truths along the way, they’re just doing their jobs.
‘‘ There are no nasty judges on this show, but we are realists,’’ she says.
‘‘ Peter describes it best – sometimes we have to deliver a gentle slap and apply a cold cloth.’’
Coming in for that tough love this year are 12 new faces – some kids fresh out of design school and others who have worked on the fringe of the industry and are now taking a bold roll of the dice to try to make it on their own.
The contestants set to stitch and bitch their way through this series – Jamie Ashkar, Leah Da Gloria, Natalie Cook, Sasha- Rose Hartley and William Kutana from New South Wales; Tristan Melle, Christina Exie and Jordan Court from Victoria; Alexandra Ovijach, Savva Argyrou and Natashya Manfield from Queensland, and Mladen Milicich from Western Australia – may mean nothing to viewers just yet, but Gale says they are perhaps the most diverse group yet seen on the show.
‘‘ It’s a great mix of styles and personalities, their ‘ handwriting’ as designers is so varied. And it’s that injection of new talent each season that keeps this show fresh,’’ Gale says.
She says judges Morrissey and Navone are a great addition.
‘‘ We are bouncing off each other really well. We don’t always agree, which I love, there was a bit of argy-bargy and winding each other up, and it’s great when you feel comfortable enough to do that,’’ she says.
Perry, as famous for his acidic tongue as his incredible red carpet creations, says Morrissey and Navone are the perfect design and commercial balance.
‘‘ Claudia brings high- end glossy fashion mag perspective to it, because as a designer that’s gold – you want to see your designs in those magazines,’’ he says.
‘‘ She knows high- end international fashion. And Peter brings that total commercial sense of what works.
‘‘ He’s had spectacular highs and lows and survived. He has a terrific grasp on commercial fashion and the
balance between the two is fantastic.’’
Perry may be the master of the curt one- liner, which is reality television gold, but says he has no time for anything but talent and hard work when it comes to his mentoring role on the show.
‘‘ In the end, it’s not about who is great television talent or who plays the game,’’ he says. ‘‘ It’s about being great designers. ‘‘ The majority of people on reality television now have grown up watching it, so they’re very savvy to how it works, what the deal is. They know the game.
‘‘ You can cull out in the auditions the ones who just want to be on TV. I don’t
. . . sometimes we have to deliver a gentle slap and apply a cold cloth – Peter Morrissey
care what their personality is, I want to see their work.
‘‘ I want to cut through the theatrics, the kooky hair. Show me you’re a designer because that’s what will carry you through the next 12 weeks.’’
Morrissey has mentored children via the Qantas Share the Spirit program for the past seven years, and is relishing the experience of working with upcoming designers.
‘‘ I’ve wanted to do this show ever since it started, and I’ve loved every minute,’’ he says of his new role.
He’ll know he’s been a success if he can get the message through to contestants that ‘‘ their job as designers is to make people feel a certain way, not just look a certain way’’.
‘‘ A dress isn’t a dress until it makes a woman feel beautiful,’’ he says.
‘‘ If I’m criticising it’s because I believe you can be better.’’
For Gale, a second season of presenting also allows her to settle more into her ‘‘ own voice’’ on the show.
‘‘ Alex and I were the new kids on the block last season, then we found our feet and found a rhythm and flow,’’ she says.
‘‘ Last year because I was new, I was a good girl, did what I was told, said what I was told to say, and sometimes they weren’t the words I’d use.
‘‘ This year we’ve agreed to free it up, I’ve ad- libbed a bit, this feels more personal, more me.’’
And just as she hits full stride on the catwalk, Gale is on the verge of baby steps into another longheld ambition: acting.
After a long wait for a role, including the disappointment of being cast as Wonder Woman for the now- abandoned George Miller movie, Justice League of America, Gale may finally have her big break.
She is cast in Miller’s upcoming Mad Max: Fury
Road, starring Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy, although, true to form, the secretive director told her little about the role before she left for filming in Namibia. ‘‘ I learned this with Justice
League. George Miller is completely secretive,’’ Gale says.
‘‘ It’s something that’s been on the cards for quite a while, and if we manage to do this together it will be a fantastic experience.’’
PROJECT RUNWAY, Arena, ( Foxtel), Monday, 8.30pm