'Project Runway' gets a dose of 'Real Housewives' energy as stars from across the franchise play models and muses.
The Real Housewives are bringing it to the runway... Project Runway. This week, seven franchise stars -- Potomac's Wendy Osefo, Karen Huger and Gizelle Bryant, New York City's Luann de Lesseps and Leah McSweeney, and Orange County's Shannon Storms Beador and Gina Kirschenheiter -- step in as muses and models for the remaining designers competing on season 19 of the award-winning fashion competition.
The challenge: The designers need to create reunion-ready lewks for the 'Wives to wear the next time they sit down with their castmates (and Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen, Runway's guest judge this week) for that end-of-season face-off.
"First of all, I thought maybe there would be some sort of judging capacity, because I don’t look at myself as a ‘model’ at all," Shannon cracks to ET of taking on the experience, which the women shot last summer in New York City. Social posts at the time had Bravo fans thinking the network was reviving its crossover commercials from years past (think those "Summers by Bravo" ads), but alas the Bravo-lebs were in town for this opportunity instead.
"I love the show, I’ve watched it for years and I was super excited to be included," she adds, a sentiment Wendy shares.
"I said, 'Are you kidding me?' Like, my bags were packed yesterday!" Wendy exclaims, Zooming in from a Turks and Caicos getaway with her family.
"A, we get to do Project Runway, which in itself has this storied history and is just phenomenal. But then you get to meet other Housewives from other franchises that I admire? It was just a dream come true," the professor gushes. "I, the whole time, was just in heaven."
Wendy compares the experience to her own, personal BravoCon (the fan convention the network launched in 2019, but has postponed since due to COVID-19), confessing she fangirled when she saw Shannon on set.
"I went up to Shannon and I was like, 'Shannon Storms Beador! Love you!' And it was just amazing," Wendy says. The feeling is mutual, as Shannon says meeting Wendy and her Potomac co-stars inspired the longtime RHOC star to binge RHOP.
"It’s interesting because when you meet other people that are on different Housewives franchises, there’s this instant connection because there’s not many people that understand what you go through when you’re on a television show, so it was so nice," Shannon says of the sorority-like atmosphere of the crossover event. "I feel as though I created a friendship with each and every person."
The episode reveals some little-known facts about the Housewives, including the rules the women must follow when dressing for their reunions, rules that are city-specific. For example, on Orange County, dresses have to be cocktail length or shorter; no ballgowns. "One of the better attributes for me is my lower legs, so I’m quite happy with that restriction," Shannon admits.
"I thought the Potomac rule was just look fabulous and be able to read a ho," Wendy laughs. "I thought that was the rule, but then I learned from the other women they have other rules in their franchises, like their dresses have to be a certain length or they do something with certain colors. I didn't know that, so I was able to learn from them as well and that was fun."
The fact that RHOP's reunion fashion rules are seemingly unwritten turns into a bit of an issue on the episode though, as Wendy winds up confusing her designer, Kristina Kharlashkina... which leads to some drama. In a sneak peek at the episode, Kristina is in tears and proclaims, "She's such a diva! I cannot work with her!"
"Is it me? Am I the drama?" Wendy asks, referencing that now-infamous TikTok trending audio of Drag Race contestant Scarlet Envy asking the same questions.
"So my thing is this: I am there for the designers," Wendy says. "I am just a model. I am there for you. I want you to win, but then it comes to a point where it's like, 'OK, so what are your thoughts?' And it's like, do I tell the truth or do I lie? So I was stuck between this weird spot of being a 100 percent team player and also saying, you know, these are my thoughts."
For many of the designers, it's a lesson in working with opinionated clients. Shannon, for instance, needed her garment to be built with Spanx in mind ("There would be no life without Spanx for me!" she explains to ET), while Wendy wanted to show off her recently surgically enhanced breasts and behind (a major point of conversation on the most recent season of RHOP -- a conversation Wendy says she's done having).
"Yeah, I never want to talk about my body again," she laments. "When it's something new, you talk about it, but ... eventually it becomes a part of you. Like, no one just sits there and talks about their arm. No one's like, 'Hey, hey, your left arm looks great!' It's your freaking left arm. So now, I'm over it."
"Somebody said this comment, and I thought was so funny: They're like, 'No one gets braces and hides their teeth, right?' No one does that. You don't get new teeth and then say, 'Oh, I don't want anyone to see.' So, of course, if I paid money to get new boobies, I would want to share it with the world," Wendy goes on to note. "I just was in a space -- and I continued to be in a space -- where I'm just loving all of me. ... [And] if I'm thinking of the reunion, and I want to be sitting -- not sitting, sit-ing -- I want to show something, you know? I want to give the people something to talk about."
Fans will have to tune in to see how that turns out, but (slight spoiler alert) Wendy did not wear the final look at Potomac's season 6 reunion, which taped months after this Runway episode ("But I'm OK with that," she quips). Shannon, however, says she's ready to rock her final Runway design when the OC 'Wives gather later this year to shoot their season 16 reunion.
"I have requested, I want to wear it for the reunion so [my designer, Bones Jones, is] going to remake the dress for me," she reveals. "It was just so much fun to be part of such an iconic show. The cast, the crew, the designers. It was such a great experience!"
While Wendy, too, looks back on the experience as a good one, the design process proved tough for her in the moment. Viewers will see Gizelle and Karen were quick to catch onto Wendy's unenthusiastic response to Kristina's design at their first fitting, with Wendy flipping Gizelle the bird after she told Wendy to fix her face. It's fun shade for the duo, who spent most of RHOP's recently wrapped sixth season at odds. They shot this episode of Project Runway after completing production on season 6 of their show, but before it aired... and before they faced off again at the reunion.
"When we were in the workroom, I was like, 'Hey! Hi, Gizelle. How you doing?' You know I have absolutely no issue. I have moved on, I'm at peace, and I'm doing great," Wendy explains, admitting that she got back in her feelings about what they went through as the season aired (Gizelle brought up some unfounded rumors about Wendy's husband on camera, leading to a domino effect of drama between the pair that never seemed to get resolved). She says she's now moved past all of it.
"For me, once the season is over and ... once I say my piece and once that thing is said, I move on," Wendy explains. "I'm done. That's why when I say it, I say a lot -- and it may seem like, 'Ooh that's fiery!' -- because I'm not going to address again."
"I've moved on," she adds. "I don't know, maybe [Gizelle] has issues with me, maybe she has things she wants hashed out, but for me, I'm at peace, I'm happy. I'm on a family vacation with my beautiful family, you know? I'm really in a good place. So, I've moved on. If she has something else to say, you know, my door is always open."
Sounds like quite the set-up for season 7 of The Real Housewives of Potomac, which has not been officially announced by the network but is safe to assume is happening. Speaking hypothetically of a return to the show for what would be her third season, Wendy says the vibe will be "good fun."
"Girls just want to have fun, that's my space," she says. Fans have noticed that Wendy has been spending quite a bit of time with co-stars Candiace Dillard Bassett and Askale Davis in the off-season.
"I just want to have fun," she reiterates. "I mean, look at the world we live in. We're all going through it. So when you're around your girlfriends and you can share that space, you want to have fun. You turn on the news, there's nothing but bad stuff. I don't want to go through that, I don't want the drama. I want good, good fun... and maybe a little bit of shade. Just a little bit."
Wendy throws some of that shade during her chat with ET, labeling the recent Gucci gift-gate between her RHOP co-star Mia Thornton and superfan/season 6 reunion guest host Nicki Minaj a "disaster." Mia went off on social media, slamming the rapper for seemingly snubbing her family from a round of high-end Christmas presents after her fellow 'Wives shared photos and videos of their kids excitedly opening Nicki's luxury surprises. Nicki shut down Mia's claims of favoritism, though, tweeting that her team had tried to get in contact with Mia to no avail; Mia had switched her social media accounts and apparently blocked Nicki's accounts from following her... a fact Mia forgot.
"What a disaster," Wendy scoffs. "I feel like when people give gifts, it's from the kindness of their heart, I didn't know it was going to turn into that."
"I can only speak for myself, my family, my kids got gifts -- thank you Nicki, we appreciate it!" she adds. "She got her Zen Wen candle [from my line, Onyi Home Essentials], she loves it."
Wendy and Nicki have bonded over more than just gifts, though. Apparently, the rapper gave her stamp of approval to Wendy's mixed-up attempt at quoting her verse from "Monster" on The Wendy Williams Show back in November. While promoting Nicki's guest spot on The Real Housewives of Potomac reunion, Wendy guest host Michael Rappaport asked the Tears of My Mother author if she was a Nicki fan. Wendy immediately responded with, "Am I a Nicki Fan?! Pull up in the Sri Lanka, what?!" combining two separate bars: "Pull up in the monster, automobile gangsta / With a bad b***h that came from Sri Lanka."
"I was so confident in my answer, I knew those were the lyrics -- I knew those were the lyrics to the song 'Monster,' because that's, like, my favorite Nicki Minaj verse, one," Wendy says. "Two, I got off stage, text message from my husband: 'Are you serious?' I'm like, huh? But nobody's gonna notice, like, nobody cares. You guys get the point. So, for it to turn into this is hilarious."
The audio of Wendy's mistake became a TikTok trend, with countless users lip-syncing to the clip and poking fun at their own fandoms.
"My brother, Jordan, is in college, so they're like the big TikTok generation," Wendy shares. "When I tell you him and his friends Facetime me, like, at least five times a day and they say, 'Pull up in the Sri Lanka! Ha! Ha! Ha!' and they hang up, I'm like, 'OK. Can you guys stop?' Like, it has been crazy. I've enjoyed it though, it's been funny. Because it was literally my moment of, no, I got this. I know these lyrics."
Wendy says Nicki reached out after the interview went viral, and has since slid into Wendy's direct messages a few times to make light of the mistaken lyrics.
"Like, one of her messages for part two or part three [airing], she was like, 'We pulling up in the Sri Lanka tonight?'" Wendy recalls. "Ever since we did the reunion, Nicki Minaj has been so graceful. We talk in DMs all the time, which is wild to me!"
Hopefully Nicki pulls up in the Sri Lanka for Wendy's Project Runway appearance, too.
"Please tune in to Project Runway and shoutout to my amazing designer, Kristina, who is super, super talented -- and all the designers who are beyond talented," Wendy pleads. "It's a great episode! Make sure you watch it."
Project Runway's Housewives-themed episode airs Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.