The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Friday, February 18, 2005  

Austin Scarlett Meets Donald Trump

In “Runway Traffic,” the first part of “The Transom” column in the February 18 issue of the New York Observer, Rebecca Dana takes note of an intriguing, almost surreal, out-of-the-tube chance encounter between two reality-TV stars, cheated “Project Runway” contestant Austin Scarlett, and cheating “Apprentice” whipper Donald Trump:

In the moments before Donald Trump barreled through a packed house at Michael Kors’[s] runway show last week, a thin man stood in the center of the tent, mindlessly patting his starchy coif. It was Austin Scarlett, the delicate wunderkind of Bravo’s “Project Runway” and a reality-show star to rival Mr. Trump in general hairdo fluffiness. Mr. Scarlett was busy flashing his Brite Smile across the room, and The Transom had begun to approach, transfixed. “Hellooo,” said the fashion designer, television-star and Kate Moss body double, as if we were a Texan tourist in the market for boots and he a clerk in the Barney’s shoe department. “How can I help you?”

But before we could answer, there came The Donald, plowing a course to Mr. Kors, a plucky Melania in tow. [Ed.: I bolded “Melania” because I’m guess -- and only guessing -- that’s the first name of the latest Mrs. Trump.] We were thrown back from Mr. Scarlett, whose limbs flopped but whose tresses remained in a neat, blond wave. He recovered, a beacon of graceful femininity in the crush of over-stylized women, rushing aside so the busy billionaire could pass. Taller than you’d expect, and prettier and glossier of the lip, Mr. Scarlett retreated to his second-row seat, smoothing the red ruffles on his shirtwaist. [...]

So--“What’s it like to be Michael’s judge this time? Well, I’ll just say it was an honor to be invited to the show. It’s nice we were worthy of the sacrifice of one of the valuable seats that could have been saved for a buyer or a member of the media,” he told the inquiring Transom, earnestly and without a drip of sarcasm. . . . Mr. Scarlett was sincere, and seemed sincerely flattered to be there. . . . Modestly, post-Trump trample, Mr. Scarlett offered an evaluation. Running one finger through his shiny mane, he took a look back at the crowd and declared, “It’s all just very glamorous. I don’t know what else to say.”

Totally in character, that, and in every sense of the term. When I started watching “Project Runway” -- `round about, well, episode one -- I was prepared to dislike Mr. Scarlett. But the guy grows on you, and I suspect most regular viewers would agree that in addition to possessing enormous talent, he’s a fun, amusing, principled, gracious, urbane, and well-mannered man who easily outclassed most of his competitors, including the entirely unworthy, out-of-her-league contestant who nabbed his just reward.

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