You may add Eila Mell to your ever-growing list of interesting “fashion people.” Mell is journalist who has written for Marie Claire, Zink Magazine, The Huffington Post and The New York Times among many publications. I was lucky enough to get a few minutes one-on-one to interview her about her new book, Project Runway: The Show that Changed Fashion.
The book has an unusually large number, and variety, of sources. Mell interviewed more than fifty fashion influencers and experts in order to write it. She took care to include voices from the business as well as the design sector of the industry, a strong point of interest for students of fashion.
Mell told me that a special attraction of the project was to work again with the designer Viktor Luna, a long-time friend—and that she loved to wear the chic apparel he makes specially for her. The two are also developing a new TV show, No Wire Hangers, that will offer a behind the scenes look at the fashion industry.
I was curious about Mell’s choice to write a book about a TV show, since television and digital media are already effective ways to reach a mass audience. She told me about her love of reading—with an actual book in hand. The enduring physical nature of a book was another advantage, compared to the relatively ephemeral nature of a TV show. But don’t worry. An e-book will also be available.
The central point the book makes about the enormous influence that Project Runway has had rings true. There has been lively discussion in the industry about the pros and cons of various media and their affect on fashion. But Project Runway certainly had an influence on me. I remember watching it in high school. Tim Gunn and the determined designers really may have contributed to my development of a serious interest in fashion. Project Runway also brought student applications flowing into Parsons and FIT, and gave recognition to an impressive number of aspiring designers. Mell put it frankly: “Project Runway, for many, made it an option to have a career in fashion.”