There have been eleven seasons of Project Runway and two full seasons of Project Runway: All Stars. Usually the show turns out lots of pretty dresses and other things you might imagine on a high-end-ish (this is reality TV after all) runway. Sometimes they go a little funky or costumey or tacky, but rarely do they ever pick something truly outside of these norms for the win.
This time, however, they did.
Michelle Lesniak Franklin from Portland, Oregon did her take on a steampunk collection. I personally liked her since the first episode of the season, where she described her ideal client as “a hip girl who can recite the entire periodic table of elements”. So sort of like me and a lot of the women who probably read this blog. I rooted for her all season (even when she was getting screwed over by the judges) and she finally came out on top a couple weeks ago! Yay!
In geekdom, there are a lot of different points of view when it comes to fashion and you see it at cons; our version of a catwalk so to speak. In general, you have your cosplayers, your more goth kids (who Saika calls “the people who fell into Hot Topic”), and your steampunk. If you follow more mainstream fashion, you know costumes, Hot Topic/goth gear, and steampunk are not exactly trending right now (or ever). So to have a popular reality TV show acknowledge someone who has more of a steampunk aesthetic is a big deal. It says that geekier fashions have a place outside conventions—that your leather jacket with 5,000 buckles is cool and not bizarre.
So congratulations, Michelle, and thank you for making the fashion world acknowledge that steampunk has its place there!