"Project Runway" show features phantom finalists

Fri Feb 20, 2009 4:18pm EST
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By Christopher Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - If fashion shows are staged to publicize designers, what then to make of the "Project Runway" show on Friday that presented the designs of the hit television show finalists under a veil of anonymity?

The unusual anticlimactic ending to the reality series was the unhappy result of a protracted legal battle that has kept the show's current season six from premiering.

Rather than the practice of seasons past, when the show's finalists competed at New York's Fashion Week after viewers watched them on the series for several weeks, no one has seen this season's contest.

"We're all in a little bit of a limbo," said model Heidi Klum, the show's co-creator and host. "No one has seen the show yet ... and I'm a little bit sad for our designers because they won't get the recognition."

The legal battle began when Weinstein Co., the show's producer, took the hugely popular "Project Runway" off cable network Bravo, where it had been for five years.

Weinstein sold the "Project Runway" rights to rival station Lifetime.

Bravo's owner NBC Universal filed a lawsuit, and a court ruling has barred Lifetime from showing the season, all of which was shot in Los Angeles. It is unclear if the shows will run once the legal dispute is resolved.

So on Friday, the "Project Runway" finalists showed their collections without showing their faces.   Continued...

<p>Project Runway judges (L-R)Designer Michael Kors, model Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia pose for photographers before the Project Runway show during New York Fashion Week, February 20, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Thayer</p>