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After Project Runway Crossover, Andy Cohen Recalls Horrible Real Housewives Outfit Choices Early On And More

Along with friendship drama, the Real Housewives franchise has also become synonymous over time with... interesting fashion choices. (Of late, there has been a lot of Meredith Marks’ signature blazers with shoulder pads on Salt Lake City and Erika Jayne’s skin-tight dinner latex on Beverly Hills.) But a few Housewives alums took their aesthetics to new heights in a Project Runway crossover episode. Guest judge Andy Cohen had an especially interesting seat on the panel – because he remembers the absolutely horrible outfit choices in the very early days of the franchise and more.

In the crossover episode on Project Runway’s Season 19, contestants were paired with notorious Real Housewives stars to design a reunion dress in keeping with their styles and personalities. Potomac’s Wendy Osefo, Karen Hugert and Gizelle Bryant, New York City's Luann de Lesseps and Leah McSweeney, as well as Orange County’s Gina Kirschenheiter and Shannon Beador were among the “models.” The results were certainly... interesting. But regardless of what viewers really thought of the final pieces, Bravo executive producer/reunion host Andy Cohen knows how much worse it could really be. He reflected to Vanity Fair:

In the early days of Orange County, the fashion was just terrible. If you look at the first few years of reunions, Orange County, Atlanta, and New York, they were basically wearing—I don’t even think what they would wear to a cocktail party. I think it was more what they might wear to a PTA meeting. But as it’s gone on, the [reunion fashion] has really amped up, and I think people have loved seeing what they wear now. They were meant to be aspirational, and that’s what they are.

A little shade from Andy Cohen is to be expected. But really, though. Early Real Housewives fashion is in a league of its own – even beyond Gizelle Bryant’s often-critiqued style. But then again, the franchise launched in 2006, so in all actuality, their Snooki-like up-dos and lack of team-sized “glam squads” are simply signs of bygone times. In fact, the same could be argued of the old Bravo reunion sets as well.

Longtime Project Runway host Christian Siriano called the crossover episode “chaos” and “one of the most intense groupings of personalities ever in the show's history.” He also added a little more shade to Andy Cohen's pile, saying that the contestants’ “elegant approach” to dressing the Real Housewives' finest is “not always the case when the reunions happen.”

Ouch. Real Housewives reunions indeed feature looks that can be less-than-elegant. Yet, not as much lately, in comparison to those early aughts days. They've evolved, according to Andy Cohen, who continued,

[A] reunion-show dress at this point actually means something. For the Housewives, getting ready for a reunion—this is like their prom dress. So in that same way, I think it makes for a logical challenge. I love the dynamics that play out when you have a Housewife as a client to a designer, and seeing the interaction between the Housewives and the designer who wants to win the challenge.

A best dressed winner was already crowned in the Jan. 6 episode of Project Runway. However, the debate will probably continue for some time as to which Real Housewives castmate is really the worst dressed of the bunch. (A certain controversial star comes to my mind.) In the meantime, one person has since snagged the title for supposedly being the Most Successful of the franchise, and the answer might surprise you

Lauren Vanderveen

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.