It’s fair to say that Project Runway is not the reality juggernaut it once was at its peak. Once known for its colourful personalities and outstanding fashion, it can barely say it’s known for either anymore. In spite of the lack of impact it even has anymore, the personalities of the show have since been pushed to the background in favour of the fashion process, and the quality of the show has suffered as a result. However, occasionally the casting agents send through an angel sent by the gods for the sole intention of bringing fun and colour to the proceedings.
They remind everyone that design can be fun, not just because of what you make but because of how you approach the design process. They twirl around the workroom, making up catchphrases and spewing hashtags forth with little regard as to the desired peace and quiet. They cast their fellow cast members in hypothetical Project Runway Theater Productions. Merline had no concern for the sanctity of what her fellow more boring cast members decreed as acceptable workroom behaviour and instead set out to annoy them all into having a personality. Season 14, in essence, was the season of Merline Labissiere breathing light onto the world.
It was of course not without its roadblocks. She had various detractors at the start, such as inhabiter of Delis, Kelly, or Diana Ross idolizer Laurie. Her biggest was “mumsy” designer Joseph who made it his mission at the start of the season to “tame” Merline, roping in her personality and considering it an accomplishment. It admittedly worked, as she was subdued for most of the season outside of her final episodes and her challenge win, which is why she doesn’t make it higher on the list. But her very presence had a profound effect on the rest of the cast, helping them into more entertaining heights when the situation called for it as well.
Due to some arbitrary decision-making by the judges, Merline was eliminated one placement before Fashion Week and thus was extinguished one of the only lights in a dark cast. She’s not the only person in her season to make this list, nor is she the most notable, but she made an impressive impact for someone on a show seemingly allergic to outrageous personalities.