“They have been in quite a bubble since they entered the show,” says Megan Gale. “They get absolutely everything taken off them in terms of cell phones, computers, there’s no connection to the outside world, they can’t speak to their loved ones. They can’t get any creative inspiration at all, so they can’t have magazines or music or television or anything. No design books, pens, pencils, paper or anything.
“There’s a lot of things that have happened in the world (since they started) and a lot of things that have happened in fashion. But they reason the producers do that is they want then to live and breathe this show and have all their creativity come from within.”
The designers can’t even leave the workroom, studio or hotel without minders.
The hothouse effect maximises the tension for cameras and the drama when one is eliminated.
“It’s been very hard because a few of them have become friends and bonded. When there was twelve of them they were all sharing rooms, so they’ve always had a roommate and become quite close. So it’s hard for them to say goodbye as the weeks have gone,” Gale explains.
“It must be very conflicting emotions.”
Gale will debut as Host in the third series next week, replacing former host Kristy Hinze. Doubling as one of the judges she has to participate in the decision-making and deliver the bad news.
“I don’t like it but the designers know they are up for consecutive criticism from us with a critique every week, and they understand it’s part of the show. Not everyone can win, so every week they are prone to being eliminated. But it’s never nice giving that news out,” she admits.
“Someone has to leave each week. It’s not an easy part of the show to do but for the most part people have been accepting of the bad news.”
Gale concedes that the Foxtel series is the biggest television project she has tackled so far, particularly as she takes on a title as Associate Producer too.
“Everything else I’ve done has given me the feel to do this job. I loved reporting for Getaway and the work I did on Body Work also was fantastic. But of all the television I’ve done this is probably the best fit in terms of the style if the show,” she says.
“Foxtel have been fantastic in approaching me several times over the years but it wasn’t the right show or the right time for me, but when they asked me to host Project Runway it was a no-brainer for me because it was married in so well with all the other things I do in my life.
“Having been in the fashion industry for almost two decades, being the face of David Jones, having my own label, it just was such a great fit.
“They’ve given me a lot of flexibility as well because I can work on other TV channels on Free To Air provided it’s not a fashion-based show. You’re not just being a host, you’re a judge and a producer.”
Gale’s input has been on the creative rather than managerial side of production, consulting on guest judges, scripts and challenges.
“The other producers have been great because I’ve never produced before. I love being hands on and behind the scenes, and being involved in the whole creative process as opposed to just arriving on the day. I wanted to be very much across putting the show together,” she says.
Joining her this season are Alex Perry as fashion mentor (replacing Henry Roth), plus new judges Kirrily Johnston and Jarrad Clark.
“There’s not the token bad judge and the nice judge and all those stereotypical things that are part of Reality shows,” says Gale.
“I don’t really see it across this one. Obviously we try and mix things up so that people don’t know what’s going on but in terms of how we are with the contestants we are firm and critique then honestly but that’s only to help them.
“There’s not that bitchiness or malice in the judging process. If anything we find it hard to be like that. We attack it from a ‘tough love’ perspective rather than saying something controversial to get them to cry.
“And that’s one of the reasons I wanted to be involved as a Producer. I can’t afford with my brand to be involved with something that’s putting negative energy out there. It’s not what I’m about.”
Project Runway Australia premieres Monday, July 4 at 8.30pm on Arena.