February 20, 2006 12:00 PM

By Tom Gliatto

Bravo (Wednesdays, 10 p.m. ET)

REALITY

A seamless match of Survivor‘s competitive hunger and Zoolander‘s vogueing nuttiness, Project Runway is currently propelling forward to its March 8 conclusion like a model marching along to notions of destiny, however vague. This second season has been fabulous. What viewer can forget design hopeful Andraé Gonzalo’s grandiose fit of laughing sobs? It put Diana Ross in Mahogany out of my mind forever.

Divas aside, Runway is an instructive, inspiring look at fashion at its roots, its subsoil. Literally: One challenge required contestants to make dresses from fresh plants. But design requires not only a sensibility’s growth, but its disciplining. Lately we’ve seen Santino Rice, whose aesthetically overreaching designs look like something Dali might have made for H&M, slapped by the judges again and again. And from Nick Verreos we learned that you can only go so far with Paris Hilton and Mykonos as inspiration. But isn’t it wonderful that he got anywhere with that concept? There are losers here, but no perfect zeroes.

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