The stone-cold beauty of ‘Project Runway’

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The stone-cold beauty of ‘Project Runway’

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Lee So-ra worked as a fashion model for 18 years and is now a successful entrepreneur and host of “Project Runway Korea.”[NEWSIS]

On the American television program “Project Runway,” Heidi Klum is known for her blunt assessments, ordering hack designers off the show with a curt, “You’re out.” On the Korean version of the show, Lee So-ra plays that role.

Known back in 1992 as “Korea’s No. 1 fashion model,” Lee, 41, entered broadcasting riding her success in that industry. Her cavernous eyes are said to be her most appealing feature - both as a supermodel and a TV show host.

But those eyes are not just for show. They also have a reputation as piercing and discerning.

After finding success on TV and in photographs, Lee attempted a career as a fashion designer, and launched her own training wear line, Woodry, in 2006. She proved her unmistakable fashion insight in just three years.

Lee’s instincts as a fashion model and a businesswoman made her perfect for “Project Runway Korea,” a survival reality show on the cable channel OnStyle where contestants compete with each other to create the best clothes under time pressure. The local producers licensed the format from the Bravo network in the United States.

Season one of Project Runway Korea wrapped up to audience acclaim, and Lee So-ra is still holding the microphone for the next one, which started on Jan. 30.

“I just couldn’t hide my excitement as soon as I heard that Project Runway would be produced in a Korean version,” Lee said.

That enthusiasm - and her famous fashion sense - won her the job, but she doesn’t play to make friends, saying thins like, “The fashion industry is stone cold,” in a monotone voice. Lee’s attitude was a pivotal reason the program was a hit.

That doesn’t mean she’s totally unsympathetic. Lee said, “Being in the public eye and being the one who has to eliminate one contestant [each week] is the hardest part.”

The program has 15 contestants, with one eliminated every week after a certain mission. Lee said, “I tried hard not to include my personal judgments” in the process.

For Lee, looking stylish on every show is also important. “I try on at least 10 outfits and accessories before each show to pick out the most stylish outfit for the day,” she said.

“I wish to remain in people’s memory as a supermodel even after I become all wrinkled,” Lee said.

But never happy to settle for one role, she quickly added, “Also as a successful businesswoman and a show host.”


By Chung Kang-hyun [estyle@joongang.co.kr]

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