Friday, October 14, 2016

Project Runway: S15 E5 "There's No I in Team"

15 seasons, and yet Project Runway still manages to get the team episodes right. Don't get me wrong, there's still a lot of typical season 15 ridiculousness in this episode. But I'm not going to lie, guys, I think this might have been the best 90 minutes of the season thus far. And I also have to admit that I don't really understand why. I don't fully understand why I love PR's team challenges so much. They tend to be crass and manipulative and loaded with manufactured (as opposed to organic) drama. Once you get to the judging, they always feel like the judges (looking at you Heidi) are trying too hard to force tears on the runway and cause someone to throw a teammate under the bus. On paper, I should hate all of these things, and in a lot of ways I do. When all of the mean girls ganged up on Ashley last season, I hated it and did not think that it made for great television. But that's not to say that it wasn't effective. But this episode, this was a kind of poetry in motion, and I loved just about every second of it. Even when I was rolling my eyes at it. And why might I have been rolling my eyes? Well....

The Challenge

Here we go again with the judges and the producers just cramming in way too much into one challenge. First off, this is the Mary Kay challenge, which in and of itself doesn't mean much. But it's also the first team challenge, and the designers are working in two teams of six to create a four look mini collection. How much money do they have to do so? Well that depends on how much money three "mystery investors" decide to invest into each team. You see, the teams also have to pitch their vision for their collection to these "mystery investors," each of whom have $1000 to divide between the two teams however they see fit based on their pitches. Also, each person on the winning team gets $5000 just for shits and giggles. Seriously, the longer Tim was up there with the guy from Mary Kay, the more I just wanted him to shut up and pick the teams already. 

The episode opened up with the guys from room 310 (Rik, Roberi, Alex, and Cornelius) waxing poetic about how much they all loved each other, how much they were certain one of them was going to win it all, and just generally sucking each other off is the least orgasmic way possible. So when Rik, by virtue of his win last challenge, gets to pick his first teammate, of course he picks fellow 310er Alex. The button bag, in all it's totally unstaged, completely random, wisdom picks Brik to be the first member of the other team. I mean come on, does anyone really believe that there was another name in that bag other than Brik's? How this fucktard is still on my screen is beyond me, but I refuse to believe him being picked first was anything other than purposeful from the producers. 

Whatever, what follows is what we all expected. Room 310 is quick to stick together, and then they end up with Nathalia and Mah-Jing to round out the numbers. Everyone else is on Brik's team, may God have mercy on their souls. 

Room 310 gets right to work and quickly seems to be sympatico with one another's visions. Mah-Jing is the only person who thinks their color pallette is a bit too drab, and maybe they should freshen it all up a bit, but who really cares what he thinks, he's not a 310er! Meanwhile Brik's team can't even decide on a color pallette, and Dexter's the only person interested in talking about how they're even going to win the money needed for the challenge. From the start, they seem to be doomed, but no one seems to be asking Brik what he thinks, which makes me think there's hope for this team yet. 

Alex has experience making pitches and working in the industry, so he throws his name in the ring to be the person making the pitch. Dexter's insistence on talking about how they go about selling their idea means his team picks him to make the pitch. Automatically there's a clear difference to how these two teams are going to be doing things, but it's neither bad nor good in general. 

The 310ers have decided to be Team Unity, and we shan't say anything more about that. They go to make their pitches to our mysterious investors. Who could it's Heidi, Zac and Nina obviously. As soon as Tim said there were three of them, we all knew who it would be, so the show should just fucking stop it already. Anyways, for Team Unity, Alex does all the talking, and he's good at it too. He answers all of the investors' questions, he presents a clear image of who their girl is, and based on their sketches, he shows something that looks like a polished and cohesive collection. 

Brik's team has decided to be Team Button Bag, and we shan't say anything more about that. Dexter starts talking but he is often helped by Jenni in particular and the other members of his team. They present a clearer picture of unity and democracy than the other team does, but I didn't feel like they presented a very cohesive look at who their girl is. Based on those sketches, I don't think anyone is assuming the same person is wearing each of their outfits. And then they totally flub on Zac's price point question. It appeared, to me at least, that Team Unity won the pitch portion of the challenge.

There's $3,000 in budget to be awarded between the teams as the judges see fit. This is tricky. In a perfect world, each judge would have split their $1,000 evenly between the two teams and we'd have an even playing field. But I doubt they would have been allowed to do that even if they'd wanted to, so inevitably the team that won the pitch was always going to end up with way more money than the team that lost. And that does not a fair challenge make. The question was always going to be about whether or not the team with more money had a distinct advantage over the team with less. We'll circle back around to this idea later. 

To my surprise, Team Button Bag won the pitch by a landslide. Zac allocates his money in a $800/$200 split; Heidi allocates her money in a $600/$400 split, and Nina joins Zac in the $800/$200 club. The larger amounts all go to Team Button Bag who ends up with a budget of $2,200 compared to Unity's $800. That's $800 to make a total of four looks. On top of that, considering Team Unity's upwardly mobile girl working in an office and their moderate price point, they have to make four looks that are classy and expensive looking, but would be sold at a moderate price. In short, they're screwed. 

I wasn't in the bag for either team up until this point. This is partially because I'm not in love with any of the designers yet. But I do love rooting for an underdog. So the moment the scales tipped so drastically in Team Button Bag's favor was the moment I decided I wanted Team Unity to win. I certainly thought the story of how the unity of the 310ers would boost their team up to heights that would surpass their paltry budget, while all the money in the world couldn't save Button Bag from Brik's poor taste and their lack of a cohesive vision would be the better story to tell. I hoped and hoped for it with all my might, but would I get it in the end?

Based solely on Tim's visit, I certainly thought so. He liked Unity's cohesion, and thought they'd youthed it up a bit. Nathalia's coat is the only thing that doesn't really belong, and to her credit, she immediately starts to change it. Conversely, he points out the lack of unity in Button Bag's collection and how simple Erin's coat is. Erin's response is to sew some kind of embellishment onto the pockets and call it a day. Brik and Jenni decide to use that interesting, but ultimately unflattering mohair fabric to create an entire new look. Brik and Jenni working together on a dress...this bodes well. 

The Runway

Team Unity
Look 1: Hm…. The color in the print certainly brings in a youthfullness that I appreciate. I agree with Cornelius when he says it looks polished, but I don’t know that I think it looks expensive. If there wasn’t that strange glittery sheen to the dress, I might be more excited about this, but I can’t see a woman at a tech company wearing this to work.

Look 2: I love this but I hate the fit of the pants. What material was used? It almost looks like a neoprene, but that can’t be right, can it? It doesn’t look like it hangs the way a jersey would, but I don’t know. The pants throw me off, but I think the top and the belt are spot on.

Look 3: I thought that if I looked at this long enough I would love it and see something good in it. I was wrong. That print worked a lot better as a jacket or a top than it ever could as a pant. And that jacket…I don’t know. Is it ugly? Or is it just boring and odd? I don’t know which, but I know I hate it. And the cut of the hem of the blouse underneath it is just not good. It’s purposeful, but I can’t see anyone, certainly not the woman they described, wearing it.

Look 4: All that ass! Sorry, I went to a place. I certainly think this looks young, and I say that as a good thing, but not a great thing. I think for an evening look this works, though it is ill-fitting. I think I could even argue that the same woman wearing the first two looks is likely to wear this on her night out. So I think all of that is good, but there’s something, and I can’t figure out what, that’s stopping me from being totally in love with it. OK, but not great.

Team Button Bag

Look 1: I don’t do this often, but as soon as this look turned the corner, I literally exclaimed “DAMN!” out loud and with some force. Let me get this out of the way first: I hate the detail on the sleeve. It looks stupid and childish, and like a forced way to bring cohesion to the collection. But everything else about this is great. It looks polished, well tailored, expensive and yet affordable (because it’s denim). A woman walks down the street in that and you think she looks like a million bucks without having to have spent a million bucks. I love it. Except those damn sleeves.

Look 2: That bib is disgusting and wrong. When she was walking out, I thought they had done something unique to the cut towards the bottom of the skirt, and I was impressed. But then she passed the light and I saw that it was just that the skirt was riding up and wrinkling, and I was bored. I’d like it a lot more without that stupid bib piece, but even then it’d just be a boring simple dress. That bag isn’t doing anyone any favors either.

Look 3: I am an out and proud gay man, so I want you to understand the magnitude of my next statement: I would let the woman wearing that outfit do whatever in the world she wanted to me. Powerful, stylish, sexy, unique, well made, and well thought out. I can’t say enough good things about this. I almost want to critique her styling as I’d like to see it on someone with their hair slicked back in a tight bun, but that’s just me. I’m in love!

Look 4: I love Erin, but I think this is a swing and a miss. Or at least, I think it’s very much not for me. I can’t say that anything about it is objectively bad, but I can say that I stared at it for awhile and just never felt any affinity for it. I thought the yellow and the mohair would go together better than it ended up doing, and there’s nothing remarkable about the look outside of the jacket. And I don’t think the jacket is remarkable for the right reasons. So no on this for me, but if someone disagrees, I won’t be surprised.

The Judgement

For my money, the outcome of that runway is that both of those teams are pretty much in the middle with one of them just being slightly higher than the other. However, much to my chagrin, the team that's higher is Button Bag. The fact of the matter is that they had two looks that literally took my breath away (one of which even made me question long standing aspects of my sexuality), while Unity had one look that impressed, and even then just the top of it. 

So I'm robbed of my perfect storybook ending to this challenge, but I think it's important to note that Unity wasn't done in by its small budget. I don't think more money would have saved them because they didn't seem to have as clear a vision of who their girl was as they claimed in the pitch. But more on that in a minute.

The judges agree and Team Button Bag wins while Unity loses. But they liked way more of Button Bag's looks than I did. Heidi waxes poetic about how great the little embellishments on the cuffs of Dexter's jacket and pants are. They all seem to love Erin's jacket, though I'm not totally sure why aside from the fact that it's yellow. And no one can say enough good things about Laurence's jacket. Nina points out that the moment she saw it she knew it belonged to Laurence, and you have to agree with that. Luckily, they all admit to hating Brik and Jenni's ugly ass dress. So they haven't gone completely crazy. When the team's asked who should win, it seems pretty well split between Dexter and Laurence with Erin getting a couple votes for some reason. 

Over on Team Unity, all of the comments are about the lack of this girl matching up with the girl they pitched. Nina points out that if any girl walked into her office dressed like that she'd ask her where they were going. Zac says that if they'd pitched evening wear at an entry level price point, they might have been in the top. Nina shoots that idea down by pointing out Alex's dress and the mess that is Roberi and Nathalia's look. And then something amazing happens, or at least I think it's amazing, when the team is asked who should go home, everyone to a person names his or herself as the weakest link. Admittedly, Rik doesn't say himself, but he doesn't name anyone else either. Mah-jing clearly has the best look out of everyone, so it'd be ridiculous of him to say himself (although he does point out that he's been in the bottom before). Instead he very tactfully and gracefully says Alex with a list of very reasonable reasons. I think this moment more so than anything that came before is what made me so impressed with this episode. I can't remember this kind of honest selflessness in a team challenge on this show ever before. 

Dexter wins, and Alex loses. There's something fitting about that as both of the people who kind of took the reins and led there team are rewarded and punished respectively. But here's where I think I'm going to get a bit controversial: If I were Tim, I think I would have saved Alex here. Listen, I know the save isn't something we've ever really agreed on here. Either we feel as though it's used in pity (as with Justin a few years back) or we feel like it's ridiculous and just proprietary (as with Edmond). For the record, I loved Justin being saved, but I was in the minority, but that's neither here nor there. My reasoning this time around is simple: Tim didn't seem to hate what Alex was doing when he saw it in the workroom, so he can take some portion of the blame here for not steering him in the right direction. But also, Alex was just in the top three one episode ago, so clearly there's something to him that deserves to stick around. I for one would like to see more from him. I don't think the judges got rid of someone who could have won the whole competition here, but there's a part of me that thinks maybe he just deserves to stick around for a little bit longer. Based on how emotional Tim was when he came into the Greenroom, I thought for sure that he was going to do it. Alas, no such luck. Goodbye Alex, your slow and sleepy tones will be missed. 

Loose Threads

--Speaking of Alex's visit to the top three last week, how about the fact that Roberi was in the top three as well and both of them end up in the bottom two this week?

--Mah-Jing was our source of manufactured drama this week; which shouldn't be surprising as he plays the role so well. He's a very sensitive man, but all his complaints about being left out fell on deaf ears to me. This fact was made all the more apparent by the end of the judging when he's pointing out how welcomed in the group he felt. 

--Conversely, Mah-Jing's story about his Chinese/Black background was really nice and illuminating. I can see how his years of bullying would have made him into the crybaby (I mean gentle soul) he is today.

--In my notes, I started out by questioning if Mah-Jing or Alex was getting the stronger loser edit in this episode, but by the mid-point I was firmly on Mah-Jing. Alex's story about dropping out of high school was touching, and clearly the kind of last hurrah spotlight we're used to, but the way that Mah-Jing dominated the middle of the episode made me think for sure that it was his time. 

--I'd love to hear what you guys think about the pitch and the allocation of money aspect of this episode. I was firmly against it as I thought it was unfair, but then seeing how the losing team was done in by their lack of vision and not their money, I'm not so sure any more. It seems like a realistic aspect of the fashion world (much like when the contestants work with clients) that I'm starting to think could enhance the show. I don't think every episode should feature it, but maybe an episode or two a season could? That'd be interesting. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Project Runway: S15 E4 "Sink or Swim"

I hope no one minds if I start with the most important aspect of this week's episode first. I know I should build up to this, but I've never been one for burying the lead: HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWATCH!!!!! Everyone's favorite fabric store pup turned another year older during the filming of this episode. And I think I speak for everyone when I say that if there's any great takeaway from this season of PR, it's that that sweet little fella is still with us. Many happy returns, Swatch!

Now that that's out of the way, I guess we can get back to the more mundane subject of just what PR is doing this season. I've been asking that since the beginning, and I think I'm ready to stop asking. Not because I don't think it's still an appropriate question, though I am wondering if I'm not just overthinking it all a bit, but simply because I don't think there's an answer.

When I was in my first collegiate-level Creative Writing class, my professor told us about a theory about the Grotesque. As she put it, Zombies are scarier than Aliens because zombies are still too close to human for comfort. Aliens and monsters tend to look, act, and think nothing at all like us, so there's a slight level of safety with them. But zombies tend to be just off from center in a way that we find highly disturbing. Anyone of us could become a zombie at anytime, and that hits us where we live. That's what grotesque ultimately means: almost normal, but not quite, and therefore frightening.

That's what I feel about this season of Project Runway. If there were massive changes being made to the format of the show, we could point to them and draw up a reason for their existence. But instead, all the requisite parts of a PR season are still there, they just feel slightly off. Like starting with an unconventional materials challenge, or going four episodes without a team challenge, or bringing in "real women" in the second week only to not use them at all, or having a Heidi as client challenge in the fourth episode, or all of the fashion spread and put into production rewards that have already been doled out. All of these things are typical to a season of Project Runway, but they don't usually all happen in the first four episodes, right? Or am I just misremembering things again?

But the point is, I don't think there's a reason behind any of it. So at this point, I'm giving up on asking. From now on, I guess I'll just talk about the episodes on face value and try to determine if they're good or bad episodes of this show we've all been watching for so many years.

The Challenge

This week, the contestants are charged with getting inspired by some of Heidi's line of swimwear to create a swimsuit and coverup that would fit in with her collection. The winning look, of course, will be produced on Heidi's line. On top of that, they're also designing the textile to use for their garment. So we've got a challenge that combines swimwear with Heidi as the client and create your own textile. Should be a hoot and half. 

One of the more interesting aspects of the textile design section of the episode is just how little product placement there was. They seem to be using advanced tech to do the drawing, but there wasn't the typical waxing poetic about the HP whatever the hell. 

Per usual, some of the designs are good and highly personal, others seem a bit more basic. Sarah's girl laying down on a beach blanket is a bad idea from the start, but she seems so excited. Alex's using the design of his tattoo is really personal and unique. It's almost got the same feeling as Mondo's poz sign dress from the same kind of challenge. 

Heidi's visit is as colorful as always. As is typical of a Heidi as client workroom visit, she does most of the talking while Tim just kind of lets her. The main takeaways are how shocked I am that Cornelius seemed to be planning on leaving his bottoms as high waisted as they are on the model form. I mean come on, anyone can see that that's a bad plan. Also, Heidi hates everything about Jenni's entire look. She goes so far as to try on the bathing suit bottoms and walk around with a look of serious disappointment. Jenni's big idea for this? Keep everything the same! Always a brilliant course of action. 

Allow me to say that I love these challenges. Much like menswear, asking the designers to create swimwear or even lingerie showcases just how difficult that sort of thing is. There's so little fabric, outwardly it seems like there's so little actual design to the whole thing, and yet they give the contestants so much trouble. Cornelius and Tasha in particular are struggling with the entire concept behind designing and creating swimwear. My continued crush on Tasha means I'm more than a little worried for her in this one. 

The Runway

Rik: Yes to this! One piece!!!!! This would fly off the rack like it’s no one’s business. I don’t feel any kind of way about the coverup, but I will say that I like how quickly and easily it comes off. And the back! This is super sexy, and the textile is great. This works!

Erin: Her coverup doesn’t come off? Is that good or bad? The front of that top is very very open. Which also I can’t tell if it’s good or bad. At least it looks purposeful and not like poor fit issues. All in all, I guess it’s ok. But I question how well it suits the challenge.

Cornelius: This is hideous. I don’t think his print is as much of a problem as it could be, but the high waist on those bottoms isn’t being hidden enough by that coverup to get away with. The coverup itself is basic and simple. And the straps on that top are glaring and out of place. 

Nathalia: Getting rid of the framing around the print was the right way to go. This looks a lot more mature and sophisticated. I think the textile is too busy and it hurts my head a bit. It feels like a magic eye, and that’s a bit much, but she’s not wrong about how it blends from far off, so there’s that. 

Brik: Ok, I’m going to try and not let my general hatred of him get in the way of this reaction. I think there’s some odd bunching fit issues with the bottoms in the front. It’s the opposite of camel toe, take that how you will. Other than that, I actually do like the bathing suit. I don’t love the cut of the top, but it’s not horrible either. And the textile works because of its simplicity. The coverup is fucking horrible though. We’ve seen a lot of pattern mixing on this show over the years, and when it works it’s great, but when it’s horrible, like here, then you kind of want to kill the whole thing with fire. I like this more than I have anything else he’s done thus far, but it’s still just a step or two in the wrong direction. 

Jenni: The edit to the bottoms makes this work a lot more than it did in the workroom. The strings on the sides call to the cut of the top, and there’s something smart about that. I don’t love the coverup. It’s original, which I want to give her credit for, but there’s something about it that just feels off. And the unclasping of it to just reveal her vag is…odd I think.

Laurence: I like the cut of the back. It adds a bit of sexiness to a look that’s everything but sexy. The textile is boring, sadly, and the suit is ultimately unflattering. I wish we could have seen her take the coverup off, because I’m curious about how that happened. 

Alex: I would have loved to see the back without the coverup. I like this a lot. I certainly think getting rid of the big blue blocks on the side was the way to go. I’m curious to hear what others think of the coverup. I can see how it could read as matronly, but I actually really like it, and it’s certainly nowhere near as old as Sarah was making it sound. 

Tasha: Well, no wardrobe malfunction, so that’s good. I think there’s something very easily commercial about this. It’s simple and ill-fitting on her model, but I could easily see someone wearing it. But I also don’t buy women’s bikinis, so maybe I’m insane? The coverup, sadly, is too simple and under-designed. For someone who’s never made a bikini before, I’m more impressed than I expected to be, but I do love her so take all this with a grain of salt.

Mah-Jing: The coverup isn’t denim, right? It looks too light and flowy for it to be. I like this more than I expected. I do not like the cut of the bottoms. Something about them look matronly to me. But the top is sexy, and it all works together. Nice rebound from the last challenge. 

Dexter: Dexter’s problem in the workroom was how dedicated to that snake eye he was. The success here is that he ditched it and went with a more basic snakeskin inspired print. So this came together nicely. Everything except that weird black bar across the bottoms. What the fuck is that?

Sarah: That textile is hideous and should be burned. And that coverup is easily the worse so far. With that being said, I do like the cut of the top. That little cut out right at the cleavage is smart and sexy. 

Roberi: Does she have camel toe issues? There’s something worrisome about that part of the garment. But everything else I really love. It’s vibrant and colorful, the coverup works well with the rest of it, and the cut of that swimsuit feels fresh and new in so many ways. I like it a lot. 


First off, who the hell is Lucky Blue Smith, why have I never heard of him before, and who do I talk to about getting him in my bed? Don't get me wrong, he's way prettier than I tend to like my men, but there's certainly something about him all the same. Those eyes, those lips, that soft spoken come hither voice, that man was doing it for me in this episode!

In any event, Rik, Roberi, and Alex are in the top, and Sarah, Tasha, and Jenni are in the bottom. 

The striking cut of Roberi's swimsuit and the way the coverup goes so well with it are the selling points here. Lucky likes the coverup more than he does the swim suit, and he's just so smart and classy and handsome that you can't help but to agree with him, right? No but really, I love the coverup, but it's really the cut of the swimsuit that I found the most striking. Nina points out later that the feathers would actually look just as good on a white fabric as they do on the black, and I think she's spot on. 

Alex's look seems to be Nina's favorite as she says she'd buy the whole thing and wear the coverup everywhere she could. No one says it's matronly, but I find myself wondering if Nina wanting to wear your outfit is a good thing or not. 

Rik is the real success story here. Going from the bottom in the last challenge all the way to the top here is really impressive. And everything on his look just works. From the pattern to the cut of it, to the genius and simple coverup. Lucky points out that it can be worn on the beach and then into a shop next to the beach without someone feeling like they're just wearing a bathing suit, and I think he's spot on about that. It's great work all around. 

As for the ladies, Jenni starts out by saying that she knows how Heidi feels about her look, and Heidi says she wants to hear what everyone else thinks. Turns out they all agree with Heidi. Which again leaves us wondering why she didn't change the damn thing. Admittedly, I thought the changes to the bikini bottoms were an improvement, but apparently I'm alone in that assessment. Zac has the most hatred for the look calling it granny stripper and sporty on top, slutty on bottom among other things. 

They point out how under-designed Tasha's look is and how much the coverup detracts from the two-piece and the textile itself. But that's not to say that they liked the textile to begin with, Heidi just thinks she should have fully committed to it and went all out. Which I can't disagree with. 

But from the start, it seems clear that Sarah is the weakest link here. This won't come as a surprise to some of our commenters who have been pointing out Sarah's shortcomings all season so far. And the most apt term for her looks thus far this season has been boring, but here she produces something that's downright ugly. Zac says the bottoms look like a boy's underwear, and Heidi is the only person to rightfully slam that horrible coverup. She started off the episode talking about how she didn't want to be safe anymore; I guess the point here is be careful what you wish for. 

Rik wins, Sarah goes home, and I don't think there's really any complaint to be had over this. Next week is the first group challenge of the year. I'm curious to see what this brings. 

Loose Threads

--Brik is still with us. At least this week he didn't actually have the ugliest thing on the runway so there's that. He did, however, like Sarah's look, which I think tells us everything we already knew about his judgement and taste level. He also had that "My name's Brik. I like Bricks" moment which I wish I could unhear. Something about it came off as very "I'm Groot" to me. 

--Anyone else noticing, and equally sick of, Mah-Jing's "I'm so straight. Look at how straight I am. Oh lady's bodies!!!!" routine?

--Tim in shorts....I got nothing. 

--Along with the continual conversation about Jenni's laugh, I think we should start talking about Alex's speech patterns. He's a sweet guy, and I like him, but he's only 30, and yet he talks and looks like he's much much older. When he speaks, I nearly fall asleep.

--Anyone have any thoughts about the fact that the three top looks were from men while the three bottom looks were from women? It's probably a little sexist to think so, but wouldn't you assume the ladies would have been better suited to making flattering swimwear for a woman's body than the collection of gay men on the show? 

--After some quick googling, I find out that Lucky Blue Smith is a model. He was scouted as young as 10 and was modeling by the time he was 12. Currently, he's 18 which makes me feel all kinds of creepy and cradle-robby, but only slightly so since he's still legal. Either way, he was easy on the eyes, but I also found him honest in his critiques. He may not have been the most insightful, but he also didn't play with kid's gloves which I always appreciate in a guest judge. I've talked about him too much haven't I? It's a bit creepy isn't it? I'll stop. 

--I do want to point out one more thing before I go, I'm very happy with the abundance of one-pieces on the runway. The one-piece is making a massive comeback lately, and seeing it on PR with the acknowledgment that it can be elegant and sexy was a great touch. Sorry, but I live in Florida and am at the beach or the pool every weekend, and I've been seeing one-pieces everywhere, so if it had been nothing but bikinis, I would have been pissed. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Project Runway: S15 E3 "Blacklight or Daylight?"

One unconventional materials challenge, one ready-to-wear for the "everyday woman" (though they
didn't use such a woman to judge or model said challenge), and now a gimmick challenge. What do you think PR is doing this season? It's not being different on a foundational level, but it does seem to be doing it's typical things in an odd order. And if I read the preview for next week correctly, we're already at Heidi's challenge? And with 13 contestants left? That might not be as off the mark as it sounds, but it certainly feels odd. Not to mention the fact that we won't have had a group challenge through four episodes. If PR is attempting to spice things up by throwing challenges at us in a different order than we're used to, I might commend them for it.

On the one hand, it's a quick and easy way to change the show without actually changing anything. But on the other hand, part of the fun of some of these challenges is that they tend to come when the competition has been whittled down to people strong enough to make the best of them.

For an example of this, let's look back to the type of challenge that this one most closely resembles: The Rainway from two seasons ago. That was episode eight and featured nine contestants. It was quite a spectacle. Not every look was great, but the stand outs from the episode (Sean and Kini's looks) were show stoppers.

I'm writing this review two days after having watched the episode (sorry, I've been busy lately), and I'm struggling to remember a single look from this week. Was anything on this episode really show stopping? Or maybe I've gotten a bit ahead of myself. Let's go back.

The Challenge 

Tim and Heidi come out and have fun with the blacklight. Heidi explains that this challenge is about creating a day-night look that looks as good in runway lighting as it does under a blacklight. It sounds, by her explanation, that the looks should be ready-to-wear and transitional. But there's a point at which she says that the look should be runway ready. So are they making high fashion, or real clothes? It's not very clear to me at least, but what do I know?

Back in the workroom, there's a tenuous connection made to Lenscrafter's Transitions Lens, but it doesn't really work. Which isn't surprising since most of the show's weak product placement of late hasn't been as smooth and effortless as the show would like to think. 

The contestants sketch and head off to mood with a little blacklight flashlight, but it's all pretty standard. Except for the absence of Swatch. We haven't seen him since the first episode, and I'm guessing that his old age is probably keeping him home more often lately. At least, I hope that's all it is. 

Tim's visit isn't really special either. He flat out calls Kimber's look ugly, which is a funny change of pace from his typically tactful approach. He looks at Dexter's fringe look and points out that he needs to go farther with it. It's surprising to me that he doesn't say the same to Alex who's big idea is to make a basic dress that just kind of changes color under the blacklight.

Meanwhile, Mah-Jing is obsessed with thinking about his fiancĂ©'s future wedding dress. As a result, he makes this ill-formed, misshapen, poorly-constructed white dress that Tim rips apart. It's not a make it work moment so much as a burn it down and rebuild from the ashes moment. 

Starting all over again becomes something of a motif in this episode. Jenni also has problems with her look that causes her to go back to the drawing board a couple times. By the end of the day, a lot of people have looks that are totally different from what they started with. On a one day challenge, that can always be risky. 

The Runway

Cornelius: I hate it. In the day light, it’s a boring ass white dress with nothing special about it at all. In the blacklight, I think it looks childish and haphazard. 

Jenni: This is another one that didn’t do anything for the daylight portion of the look. It looks like unflattering underwear and a clear rain coat. I want to commend her hand painting of the flowers, but no one wants to wear this. 

Alex: Alex nails it on the head when he points out how bored he is with the transition. I knew this when he was talking about his look in the workroom: the pink simply changing to orange isn’t enough of a change to really wow anyone. However, his dress is pretty and fashionable, so I’ll give him that much. He’s probably going to be safe, but he didn’t embody the challenge well. 

Mah-Jing: He seems to think that the mistake was in the pink paint leaving those streaks on the daylight look, but my question is what would the dress have looked like even without that mishap? It’s sad and boring in day, and messy at night. And the braided cord thing he did added nothing to the overall look. 

Nathalia: I think this is beautiful, but I do not agree with her assessment that it turns into a totally different garment in the blacklight. When the model unzips it, I love it a bit more, but I think the same thing about her transformation as I did about Alex’s. 

Roberi: There’s something weird and freaky about this dress that I love. It’s got a kind of Jim Hensen feel to it, but it works. It also looks like something that you wouldn’t expect to transform nearly as much as it does, so when the blacklight comes on, you’re pleasantly surprised. This might be the first look of the night that works in both forms of light. 

Kimber: I’m going to say no, but it’s a soft no. I think she 100% chose the wrong fabric, and I don’t think her painting on it to make it pop in the blacklight did her as many favors as she hoped it might, but I don’t think the dress itself is horrible. The pattern is, but the dress made out of that pattern is OK.

Sarah: Did she actually change the collar at all? It doesn’t seem like it. I can appreciate the transition. On the skirt in particular, I think it takes something that seems a little boring and makes it a lot less so. But I doubt anyone’s jumping up and down for this look. 

Rik: I like this, I really do, but I also fully recognize that there's a serious taste level problem with it. I don’t think anyone would want to wear it out in the daylight because where are you going dressed like that other than to a club? But as club wear, I think it works.

Tasha: When I saw it in the workroom, I was hoping she was going to do something different with the top. Maybe some cut outs on the front or something. Because as is, it looks unflattering. But I love the skirt and I like the back of the top a lot. So that makes up for a lot of it, but this isn’t winning any awards. 

Erin: I certainly think she did a good job of embodying the challenge, but I’m not in love with this look. She can do better, and I think we all know it. It’s just a bit boring. But I do think it looks like two different looks in the two different lights. 

Brik: Get the fuck out! I’m so done with him

Dexter: Ok, not great, but ok. I wish he had done something more spectacular with the fringe. But it’s nice, I guess. It feels more ambitious than a lot of the other things on the runway. 


Jenni, Erin, and Cornelius are in the top. Kimber, Rik, and Mah-Jing are in the bottom. The most surprising thing about the safe announcement is that they allow Laurence, who has immunity, and Brik who creates the worst thing maybe in the history of the show to skate by without so much as a word of reproach. 

When they introduced the idea of the blacklight challenge, my first thought was who would be ballsy enough (pun intended) to just jizz on their dress and call it art. Turns out the splooge comments are directed at Mah-Jing, and not without reason. His dress is called a crime scene and a motel bed sheet respectively. No one points out the useless cord thing which...I mean come on!

The comments on Kimber's dress are tepid at best. She's clearly in the bottom, but no one outright hates the dress. Zac says he had high hopes when he saw the fabric, but the complete lack of any kind of transformation makes it a disappointment. But the lack of overt disgust makes me wonder if they couldn't replace it with Brik's look and get rid of him once and for all. 

The comments about Rik's look are all about the sheer lack of taste with it. They get the model to turn around and notice the obvious butt cheek issue for the first moment. I don't spend any time in strip clubs, so I'm not the best judge, but I did think the claims of her looking like a stripper were a bit far. Maybe a rowdy club girl, but a stripper? I think the bigger complaint is about the way the laces on the skirt are creating weird bunches in the fabric. I like Rik's outfit, but I do think the complaints are warranted. 

Also in the surprising category, at least to me, is how much the judges love Jenni and Cornelius. No one comments on how Jenni's painted flowers are literally falling off before their very eyes. They also don't talk about how unflattering the two pieces under the rain coat are. With Cornelius, all of the conversation seems to be about the dress' transformation. No one mentions the plain white thing it is in the daylight. There's some talk about the unfortunate dart at the crotch drawing even more attention to her vag than the big smiley face there, but that's about it. They really like the emojis and feel like the look is very current. I hate it, but what do I know?

The highest praise, and this should come as no surprise, is for Erin's look. Nina comments that the look perfectly encapsulates demure and sexy, and I think she's spot on. This is a look that works both for day and night, and the transformation of it in the blacklight is breathtaking. 

Erin gets yet another win, and Kimber going home means Mah-Jing sticks around for another day. More importantly, Erin is sitting really pretty with two wins and three visits to the top three. I can't remember the last time we saw this kind of dominance from someone right out of the gate. But after three episodes, this is shaping up to be Erin's competition to lose. 

Loose Threads

--The opening to this episode was pretty great. Two people talking about how horrible it must be to be in the bottom and how useless someone in the bottom must be while Kimber, who was just in the bottom, is sitting right there. I can't believe how hard I laughed.

--Mah-Jing has a tearful facetime conversation with his daughter that doesn't really do much of anything. Apparently, he's just a crier, as he cries multiple times during the episode. Personally, I thought his tears in the confessional after the phone call were more effective than the needless crying during the call.

--The winning look also gets a spread in Marie Clare, but that seems like a pointless afterthought.

--I cannot express how boring and pathetic I thought Brik's look was. That he's just safe without so much as a word from the judges is ridiculous to me. He can't be long for this world, but I can't help but to wonder what it is that the judges see in him that's kept him around this long.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Project Runway: S15 E2 "Just Fabulous!"

The early passages of Project Runway are often a mixed bag. For that matter, the same can be said for most reality TV series. At least when it comes to things like American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance, you've got an auditions phase during which you can get to know some of the contestants and pick early favorites. With PR, it all kind of just starts. You don't know who any of the contestants are, and they don't really know each other yet. And there are way too many of them to begin with. With too many contestants and not enough time to get all of their personalities on screen so you can make a judgement, you're usually left judging them based solely on their work. Which is just horrible for a Fashion show, I know.

And then an episode like "Just Fabulous!" comes along and the producers and editors try to sway you in one way or another. It's either a success or a failure, and which category it falls in often has to do with execution. "Just Fabulous!" introduces a villain and the notion of a rivalry in the workroom, but I'm not sure I think it does so well.

The episode starts with the news that Cornelius (young black guy with hipster glasses) was insulting Dexter's (other black guy with stupid haircut) look from the last episode. Rightfully so since it was hideous, but Dexter took offense. It's worth noting that all of this sniping took place off camera. Presumably, Cornelius had all these negative comments during the greenroom segment of last episode, and yet no one seemed to think it was important to capture this moment for posterity.

Either way, this news makes it back to Dexter, presumably through someone telling him what happened (again, Dexter finding out what was said behind his back isn't caught on camera), and he decides that he hates Cornelius who never has anything nice or positive to say about anyone. I'm not willing to claim that this isn't true. The moments we spend with Cornelius aren't exceptionally pleasant. But what he says mostly amounts to a young person holding himself to a higher standard because he came on this show to win. I'd say that I feel like we've seen meaner mean girls than this on the show before.

But on the other hand, perhaps what he's been saying off camera really has been so heinous and beyond the pale that he's really just the worst. The problem with that, as I'm sure you've already spotted, is that he's saying them off camera. So in the meantime, we're all just left with having to take everyone else's word for it that he's the monster they're making him out to be. Either way, this isn't really good storytelling.

The Challenge

This week is the Just Fab challenge which is...I'm honestly not too sure. The designers go out to a pier where they end up being confronted by a group of 100 "everyday women." These women are not their clients or the models, but they're certainly there. I guess to remind the designers what real women look like in case they've forgotten over the course of the one challenge where they designed something for a model. 

In actuality, their challenge is to design something for the Just Fab woman. Who is every woman, of every size, shape, and color. So they're final look has to fit their model, but also has to look as though it would be flattering on a non-model. It's versatile ready-to-wear which still has to be fashionable. And the winning look will be produced and sold on Just Fab. How hard can it be?

Oddly enough, not very hard at all based on Tim's visit. He has very little to say to any one contestant. Laurence has a lot of work to do to make her look into something that would be suitable for other body-types, but there's little doubt that she'll be able to pull it off. Kimber hasn't started sewing at all yet, but she assures Tim that the sewing will be the fastest part of all this. Tim tells Brik that he's trying to do too much and to scale his look down a bit, and he takes his advice. All in all, it's another ho-hum day in PR land. 

The Runway

 Laurence: A jumpsuit is never going to be my favorite, but I certainly see how they tend to blur the line between fashion and ready to wear. This look suits the challenge surely, and I think the pop of orange in the back makes it special, but I'm not in love with it.

Rik: I don't hate this, but I do think the pattern mixing gives me a bit of a headache. It's cute and chic, and I can't think of a moment were I've ever seen an outfit that looks like separates but is connected in the back. So that's special.

Alex: I hate the big bow on the front, but I love everything else. This woman looks smart and professional and well put together. She purple fabric seen through the sheer top is really eye-catching. And I love how he paired it with that bag. I wish the front were different, but I do love this look.

Jenni: Much like a jumpsuit, I'm not a huge fan of the drop crotch either. But there's something special and evocative about this. I think the bigger weakness of the outfit is the top and that bathroom rug treatment around the shoulders. It doesn't strike me that a bigger person could wear this, not at least without looking silly, but it's not a bad outfit.

Kimber: This outfit is cute, and I love the peak at the lining in the pockets, but this certainly could not be worn by a plus-sized woman. Or it could be, but I don't know many women of size who would want to wear it. The lack of sleeves and the key hole cut out in the back seem like automatic no's for most normal sized women. But maybe I'm wrong, or at least maybe it's cute enough to overcome those issues.

Linda: No!

Nathalia: I think I'm in love. I don't know that I think this is easily reproducible, but that's just a guess based on very little knowledge of clothes manufacturing. But it's still stunning. That jacket is out of this world. I like that she calls in androgynous because I think that's true and it's main selling feature. I'd like to see it with the jacket all the way off, but even with just the peak at the blue straps in the back, it's stunning. I love this.

Sarah: Cute, but boring.

Mah-Jing: I like this, but I think it's sold a little bit more off of the accessories than the dress itself. It's nice, but I didn't really have very strong emotions towards it until I saw how the clutch and shoes accented the orange stitching. The cut of the dress is nice, and everything about it is good, but the accessories are the only thing that made it really memorable.

Cornelius: I think this would be better with a different textile. The pattern on the top and the skirt don't really clash, but they also don't compliment each other in any way. The most interesting part of the outfit is that it's a hoodie, but you really couldn't know that until she turned around, and by then I was already against the look.

Tasha: I'm trying to decide if I love this or if I just love Tasha. This is another look that I don't think would sell well to a bigger woman because of the midriff exposure, and the sheer fabric that hangs down gives her the odd look of someone with a pouch or something. Honestly, I initially thought she was wearing a fanny pack or something. But even with that being said, I find this unique and charming and I like it.

Brik: While I certainly find this bland, I don't hate it. Also I think there's a problem on the butt with the pattern not matching up, right? Either way, Tim said to pair down the original concept and he did and ended up with this. Maybe he paired it down too much? I don't know. It's not great, but it's not ugly either. I agree with him that women would want to wear it, but when they did, I feel like they'd just blend into the background too much.

Dexter: Here's what I'll say about this, in the wake of last week, I'm happy to see that Dexter can do something simple and not too flashy or out there. But I can't really see someone as wanted to wear this. It's not the most unflattering thing ever, but it's just kind of there. It doesn't stand out and isn't as cute as the other jumpsuit we had on the runway tonight.

Roberi: Ok I guess. I like the jacket, but I can't say that I see much cohesion between the three pieces.

Erin: I can't tell if I love this but want to hate it or if I hate it and want to love it. I think I want something happening in the front to break up all that white, but at the same time, I get it. I do love the fabric though and I really want to touch this dress.


Before we get there, this week sees the greenroom moment from Cornelius that I guess we needed last week, but again I say, did he say anything that was just horrible? He compliments Brik as a designer and a person, but rightfully points out that his pants are ill-made and unflattering. Is that so wrong?

Erin, Laurence, and Alex are in the top. Kimber, Brik, and Linda are in the bottom. It seems like the writing's on the wall that Brik after two challenges in the bottom is going home. Zac couldn't even muster a response to what he saw. Nina finds there to be too little personality in the whole thing. Guest judge Dobrev thinks it's business on top and couch party on the bottom, and that makes sense. This woman doesn't know who she is or what she wants, or at least Brik doesn't know who she is or what she wants. 

Linda is also slammed for her use of knit in the dress and the sheer sloppiness of the kimono styled jacket. I'm interested in the judge's point that this should have been her challenge, but I don't see why. Aside from the fact that she's an older, everyday woman. But that doesn't mean much. 

They do love Alex, Laurence, and Erin's looks though. Heidi points out that after two challenges, she feels like she knows who Erin is as a designer, and I can't help but to agree. The selling point on Erin's dress is the moment she belts it at the waist. I wish the model had done that on the runway (and during the closer look, Heidi says the same. Erin really thought about this challenge, and I'm impressed. 

Alex's point about making the top sheer so that his woman can add any color she wants under it was very smart. Heidi points out that not every woman can pull off that crop top look, and that's fair, but it's still stunning. The most telling comment might be Zac's when he points out that the bow on the blouse is something that's unoriginal, but it works so it's understandable to keep it. 

Apparently, the messy shredding nature of Linda's jacket is purposeful? I can't believe that. It's horrible. Heidi hates her look more than Brik's. I don't think Nina agrees. She hate's Brik, but thinks his is equally bad as Linda's. Heidi thinks that at least Brik's two pieces look well made, which is more than we can say for Linda. It's interesting to me the way Heidi's going to bat for Brik. Two weeks in the bottom two seems like a good enough reason to go home. 

In the end, Laurence gets the win over Erin which is interesting to me. I wonder if the ease of reproduction of Laurence's look puts her over the top because I do think Erin's look was better. Or maybe they didn't want to give her two wins in a row? Either way, that's the outcome. Laurance's nonchalance over winning is funny though. 

Linda actually does go home instead of Brik. This has got to do with Heidi's championing for him because I can't see much of a reason to keep him around. Linda stumbled this go around, and it's not that her look last week was very good either, but still. Brik needs a total rethink on what he's doing if he has any hope of sticking around much longer. 

Loose Threads

--Earlier in the episode Linda gets a little spotlight talking about her past and her kids. She says she wants to win this for her daughters. I guess her son can go get fucked. 

--The more effective spotlight was placed on Laurence talking about how her father abandoned her when she got pregnant as a teenager. It was very emotional, evocative, and told us a lot about her that felt unique. We get a lot of "I love my kids" stuff on PR, but nothing this personal and real life. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Project Runway: S15 E1 "An Unconventional Launch Party"

And so here we are again, another year, another season of Project Runway. At this point, if someone asked you what it is that you expect from a new season of Project Runway, what would you say? Some fashion, weird challenges, a little drama, Tim and Heidi being, if not themselves, then certainly the personas they've crafted for themselves over the last 15 seasons. Perhaps that's why we keep coming back: Project Runway is not the kind of show to ever really change.

And that fact is no different here. We start off with 16 designers, and by the end of the first challenge there will be 15. Everyone arrives to a nice swanky welcome party. It's all decked out because, as Tim and Heidi inform them when they finally join, the decorations for the party are to be their materials for the challenge. First challenge for the season is also the first unconventional materials challenge. We've done this before (I'd swear) but it seemed fresh and unexpected. What wasn't unexpected were the number of people swearing they'd never worked with an unconventional material before and had no idea how they would blah blah blah.

You signed up for Project Runway, surely you know by now that this is a natural part of the show's DNA. I'm not saying that in your spare time you have to teach yourself to make fashion out of anything, but don't act so surprised when you get on the show and they tell you to make fashion out of anything.

Anyway, there's a mad dash to grab the most striking elements of the room and the most fabric-based materials. There's a rather serious scuffle between two contestants (Cornelius and Mah-Jing I believe but to be honest I  won't start remembering names for a few weeks), but it's not a huge deal. It might be one if it comes up again, but for now I don't care.

In the workroom, everyone pretty much gets along fine since no one knows each other well enough to love or hate anyone else just yet. There are those two people who went to school together and have a little history, but it didn't seem to be the juicy kind of history no matter what the producers wanted us to think, so we'll gloss over that as well.

There are three main takeaways from Tim's visit:

  1. He likes Brik's look. Or maybe the bigger deal is that there's someone on the show named Brik. Or even bigger, there's someone on the show named Brik, but he's from the South, looks Norwegian, and has the affectation of a Cali Surfer Dude. So Norwegian Surfer Dude (NSD) is in the process of throwing glitter all over a pair of pants. It's somewhere between fashion and a grade school art project. But Tim likes it. He has a few pointers for him, but it basically boils down to keep it up, kid. 
  2. Tim does not like what the little gay with the ginger beard is doing. As I'm sure you guys could have guessed, as soon as Ian stepped on the scene with his little gay voice and his ginger beard, I was pretty smitten. But when he started working on his look, I fell out of love quick. It's too simple, too boring, not innovative, and completely at odds with the challenge. Tim tells him as much, and he doubles down. He's not going to listen to Tim Gunn because he really loves his look and it speaks to who he is as a designer. We all know how this story ends 99.9% of the time, so the writing's on the wall here. 
  3. Tim also doesn't like Tasha's look, but unlike the gay ginger beard, she's changing it up. Starting from scratch actually and making everything over from the ground up. I don't mind telling you that Tasha's my early favorite. She's got this laid back vibe that clearly masks a lot of insecurities about her talent level. She's a plus sized woman who designs read-to-wear for normal women, and on some level she's still surprised that she was chosen for the show to begin with. In other words, she's kind of my kryptonite. So she takes Tim's advice, and I sit on pins and needles hoping it works out for her in the long run. 

The Runway:

Mah-Jing Wong: More yes than no, but only slightly. She looks like someone balled up a lot of paper and threw it at her. It’s thought out instead of haphazard, which I appreciate, but it’s not very special. 

Jenni: I’ll give her credit for the hand painting and the creation of separates, but the feather boa wings made me think of Big Bird, so no. 

Sarah: I like that I don’t know what the material is, but the top does look a bit like cut up muslin to me. Or, more specifically, cut up plain fabric. Which is bad, but not horrible. I’ve seen worse. 

Nathalia: More feathery arms, but I mostly like it. I don’t know if it says lux so much as (improbably) expensive hooker, but hey. You know, like a hooker who would call herself a call girl but you’d look at her and say, No you’re just a hooker. Like that. 

Dexter: No!

Rik: Boring and safe but not bad.

Ian: Ok, I’ve been doing this long enough that you guys know how partial I am to the cute gay ginger. Which is my way of saying I want to like Ian so bad, but this dress is fucking hideous. Give me a break, it’s like he didn’t even try. Bullshit cut up photos stuck to a muslin dress? Get the fuck out of here. 

Tasha: Stop! Hamma Time! So here’s the thing, Tasha made her model look wider in the hips than is usually acceptable on this show, but I must say, I actually like this look. It’s cute and quirky, and somehow ends up being unique. I don’t think it’s a top look, but I’m certainly impressed enough to want to see more from her. 

Erin: I’m mixed about this. It turns the corner and I immediately say NO, but then I watch it more, and I guess it grows on me a bit. The feathery motif of the night isn’t doing anyone any favors, but there’s something about this outfit that I can’t bring myself to fully hate. 

Linda: Linda’s look is nice. I think it’s classy and unobtrusive. It’s classic without being too simple. It’s paired down but still holds onto some element of the unconventional materials. However, it also looks like a woman her age made it. So while I like this look, nothing about it is surprising or makes me feel like I want more. 

Kimber: I hate the back, but the rest is ok.

Laurence: There’s a cut and a shape to this that I certainly like. But it doesn’t look like she pushed herself at all to use the materials. She’s got the ability to be a stand out designer, but this doesn’t feel like it’s within the parameters of the challenge. 

Brik: I want to hate it, but I can’t. It’s just flashy, crazy, and unique enough to make me smile. The back, the corset top, the shoulders, I love all of it. And he fully committed himself to that crazy glitter, so I’m happy for him. 

Cornelius: I love it. The color, the placement of the plates and the flowers, just all of it. This is a yes for me. I’m less sure about the back and the trail of flowers down it, but hey. 

Roberi: This made me smile. I love it in spite of how short it is. It doesn’t look like any of her is peaking out of it, so that’s good, but maybe like an extra 1/4 of an inch would be nice. But still, it’s well thought out and well executed, so I like it. 

Alex: I like this, but some part of me thinks there’s one color too many somewhere in there. Towards the midsection, I feel like something could have been paired down a bit, but it’s also cool as is. 


Tasha, Erin, and Dexter (really?) are in the top. Brik and Ian are in the bottom. Roberi is in the bottom, but given they're comments, he's actually more in the middle, so whatever. 

So Tasha takes Tim's advice and ends up in the top three. Ian ignores it and ends up in the bottom. Show of hands of people who are surprised by this outcome. 

The actual surprise, for me at least, is that they really liked Dexter's look. I've gotta tell you, Runaways, I watched this thing walk the catwalk, I listened to the comments, I looked at it during the closeup inspection, and I simply don't get it. Heidi and Nina both seem to think it's fit for a real runway right now. This might be true, but I've never been a fan of that kind of fashion personally. They all seem to like the volume and the tribal feel of it. Zac calls it an Eskimo poodle, but he means it affectionately and not like the rebuke I think it should have been. Every year the judges make a call or two that I simply don't understand and this is one of them. 

As I listened to them talking about Roberi's look, I was less surprised than I expected to be when I found out he was in the bottom. They're pretty much split down the middle on this one. Nina feels like she's seen this look on PR multiple times before and she's bored with it. The guest judge thinks it's too short. But Heidi loves it and has no problem with the length (no surprise there), and Zac feels like we've seen it before but never quite like this, so it's a good a thing. I'm left thinking he could have been safe and they could have talked to someone else instead, but whatever. 

In the end, Erin wins with what Zac referred to as his favorite look of many seasons. That's much higher praise than I'd give it, but I'm happier with her win than I would have been with Dexter's. Tasha's look doesn't stand up to the closer inspection, which is too bad. But she got enough of her personality in it to make them appreciative. 

The obvious choice for loser is between Brik and Ian. As we've seen at this stage 100 times before, it's a choice between Brik's poor taste level and Ian's sheer lack of creativity. One of these days I (or someone who actually cares more than I'm pretending to at the moment) will have to look back over all of the seasons of this show and calculate how many times this has been the dilemma and just what the percentage is for choosing poor taste over lack of creativity. My guess is that poor taste will get a pass over creativity way more often than not, but I could be wrong. I wasn't wrong here, and Ian is rightfully sent on his cute little way. 

To his credit, he's not upset about it. I mean he sheds a few tears, so maybe he is upset but he's sticking with the stiff upper lip reaction. But he certainly stands behind his design. He loves the dress he created and sent down the runway. To do something else would have been to lose himself in someone else's vision and he's not ok with that. So I tip my hat to him for standing true, but I also know that he had to go home. Because if this is the caliber of what we can expect from you all season long, then you have no place here. 

And so ends another by the books first episode of Project Runway. I want to complain about that. I want to hold my viewership and this show to a higher standard and demand something more. But the practical side of me says no. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If there's one thing we know about PR it's that change is very rarely for the better. The show has gotten back into some of its more positive ways as of late, so I'd hate to see them lose momentum now. It's shaping up to be a rather typical season for the show, and that oddly means I'm excited to keep watching. 

Loose Threads:

  • One possible explanation for why I'm so happy PR isn't rocking the boat with a major change this season is because So You Think You Can Dance, my other summer staple, did make a big change this season. It worked out for the better, but SYTYCD is a show that's clearly grasping at straws in a bid to stay on TV and it feels sad to me. It wasn't broke no matter what the viewership numbers may have indicated to the contrary, and I wish they hadn't tried to fix it. 
  • Is it just me or are there more black people on the show this year? Kudos to PR if that is the case. 
  • Speaking of the increase in POC, should we even mention the fact that there's a black contestant named Mah-Jing Wong, or do we just let that go?
  • What, if anything, are thinking for nicknames this season? I'm probably sticking with NSD for Brik, and I was thinking of going with Mamma Bear for Tasha because she gives me a mamma vibe, but that's all I got really. Here for suggestions. 
  • Generally each season there's a contestant that I develop a bit of a crush on. In the best years, that person is also really talented and my love of them is enhanced by my love of their clothes, or vice versa. But now with Ian gone, that doesn't seem to be on the plate this season. Brik is kind of attractive, but there's something about him that I simply can't get past. So he's not my fav. His Southern charm is nice though. But I think this year I'm heaping all my love on Mamma Bear and all my lust on Zac. Though I've also kind of cooled on him lately too...

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Project Runway All Stars SE5 E09: "A Touch of Style"

Project Runway All Stars recap

Many things to discuss.

One thing this season seems to be doing very well is highlighting New York City. I've seen all of the previous incarnations of PR, and remember more than I'd like to admit. Where my high school French is hiding in my brain, no idea, but say "Viktor", or "the challenge with the stilts", or bring up the time the designers were sent to the worst fake restaurant and then ripped the furnishings apart for the unconventional challenge, I can call up these images. I think my nephew has green eyes, but that, I need to check. Sometimes NYC has played a significant role in an episode, sometimes it was shoehorned in, and one time the misguided location change to Los Angeles happened. Why did that seem, so off putting, aside from the reduced presence of Nina and Michael? Just did. But lesson learned, they moved back home and all was forgiven.

This season just seems to be hitting some lovely New York notes, like visiting the Alvin Ailey studios and today, going to Coney Island. I think we went there before, also for an unconventional, but this time they visit the ballpark home of the Brooklyn Cyclones. Nothing more charming than minor league baseball, and a lovely location, good spirits and a tie in with Alyssa's very well known line of "athleisure wear" make it a nice start.


Athleisure wear, the new business casual. Is this a thing? Not only a thing, we will be told later by Zanna Rossi Roberts, but one of the biggest trends at the moment. Oh now I feel stupid. In fact, I might even be participating in this trend as I type this, without knowing that for once, I am fashion forward. Let me check...  nope Couch Casual seems to be my style tonight. But it's the NEXT big thing and you heard it here first. I am the Olivia Pope of wine drinking ensembles.

So the remaining seven put away their meager hopes of this being a day for fun and rides and go into the green and sunny field where they meet not only Alyssa, but their models.

A note on that before I forget - notice the models have switched up almost if not every week? I haven't been paying close attention to many but the odd-looking in real life blonde African American girl (my apologies if that is not her background) and the impossibly willowy dark skinned goddess with the beauty mark on her upper lip stand out. I recall she was Kini's "Alice Through the Looking Glass", and that girl can WALK. Alexander was sent home last week for his Cinderella, but his model stood out with her cute short hair and flawless - as flawless as a sent home look can be - styling by HBM and the hair guy. Tonight, she'll walk for Sam, so she didn't get cut. Surely having constant models for each designer is a nice way to make it easier, a streamlining concession for time? I shall go back and see who has been switched up, but I'm sure Odd Blonde has walked for a few of the gang.

Touch this

Alyssa has a fashion line - who knew?  - called Touch, and a quick search shows she also has the domain Well played, Milano. She tells the designers that she came upon this idea when she went to the merch store at a game and could find nothing feminine (used to be so true, thank you for the girl cut tees, manufacturers) or fashion forward (err, not the point of a Red Sox jersey, Alyssa). So she got to work designing and now she shows off the models wearing... basic cotton blend looking tees and casual pants. Really, it looked like Lands End on a good day. So without confessing that her line needs help, Alyssa tells them to got into the athleisure trend and the winning design will feature in her line.

Later on the runway she will clarify, the winning design will be MODIFIED and mass produced for sale on her site and wherever else her stuff is hawked. Now I'm not in the US, so maybe it is omnipresnt at boutiques or Nordstrom's or, err, Kohl's? You tell me. But she could use some pizazz if this what she has to show.

Get sketching.

Asha has the clever idea to making a skirt that looks like a baseball jersey wrapped around the waist, and a top playing on a sports bra;  Ken is going hoodie with red and black piping – it’s someone’s team colors, he muses - Layana is up for this and goes big with multiple-pieced textured leggings as the main attraction; Emily is doing cool urban white; Dom is doing a Jil Sander ish dress (okay, hmmm, a dress) with a detachable skirt that goes from maxi to knee length, and Kini is doing a cool swing coat over jeans, the coat color-blocked with white mesh, and speaking of mesh, Sam is going to do a cheerleader-style skirt that his sketch shows is not cheerleader at all, and it’s a dress, and he’s using the same mermaid in a net fabric that he used last week and Kini is using this week. Kini who may or may not have thought of that before he chose his textiles, confesses, maybe I’ll show him how it’s done.

The Producers salivate in the background.


Zanna visits - will she be impressed

ermmm... not really? 

Zanna’s critiques, on the other hand, do cause some panic. After announcing that this a trendy trend, she has to, bless her, sort of finetune it for the seven, pointing out that athleisure should go from casual rah rah go team to out for the evening. In this case, it must be runway ready. She doesn't like Emily's cowl neckline, ok, I get that. She loves Dom's futuristic looking man dress, not sure I get that (for this challenge), she spins Sam's dress form to show a flirty dress that is mesh over... something (Neoprene?) in the front and almost all black lace in the back. Two different outfits, she says. Does she add, and neither of them would be ATH or Leisure? FFS, lace? Sam, btw, is the cast's and his own fave for this challenge. This is his dojo and he is throwing stars.

We shall see.

Zanna's worried that both Kini and Layana are leaning too “sporty” and less athleisure, a hard to evaluate distinction til she mentions, this shouldn't go to the gym. That does seem to clear it up, the ATH in athleisure isn't the wearer, this girl is watching not participating. Okay, useful advice. Layana's legging are not a concern for her, or her admiring codesigners, they would never go to Zumba. Ken has little to show ZRR, so she prods him to work hard, and off she goes.

Look who's back

As the night goes on, Formerly Angry Ken, as I was prepared to rename him, skips back into his old ways. Kind of. Ken has his idea in place, but not the constructed piece, so he can't fit his model. He seems a bit tense for a while but it builds up and then takes an incorrectly sewn shoulder seam, a silly but harmless mistake if you have a lot of time, to set him off.

A recurring theme in these recaps has been, will, and if so when, will we see the old Ken. Now, I don't mind a bit of snarkiness, and Ken has been involved in the Kini/Sam drama as mostly an observer, but Ken's rage on his original season was scary. As in, I felt equally scared for him as well as the people he was engaging with. What was going on beneath the tuxedo tattoo? His triggers were hard to predict and he seethed with hate and anger that could not be good for him. So back to this week and here it comes as Ken tosses his hoodie to the table and says he has had it. He storms out.

Except, he doesn't really lose it. Lose it in a fed up, tired tired tired, can't do this any more, freak out way. Yes. He walks out, past startled floor runners in the hallway, and, followed by cameras, out to the street, where he hails a cab wearing sunglasses at night. So he can, so he can, watch the pressure cooking in the rear view mirror and get away from all of this nonsense.

But let's talk about what he didn't do. He didn't yell, he didn't blame anyone or pick a fight, he didn't give nasty parting words, he just said, I'm done, and left.

End of. And considering his past responses to pressure, this was controlled and within the parameters of what we might do. Sometimes I wonder why more of the various cast members don't, with the lack of sleep, etc. For this guy, I suspect he has gotten some help with his issues, and surely Lifetime wouldn't have him back if he hadn't. So good for Ken. Not good that he left, but the way he handled it.

Project Runway All Stars recap
Ken is ferrrrustated, and gets the hell out.

But is he gone for good?

The designers are stunned, but, hey work to be done so on they go, Layana sewing endless bright blue pieces together for her possibly kick ass leggings and Sam revising his not-for-this-challenge look into something better but also not right.

The next morning, no Ken. In All Stars we don't get to see much if any hotel time, so what was said? Does he room with Sam and Kini? Did he go elsewhere to sleep?

Ken then reappears, a new man. New ish. He brushes away the concerns he receives in a friendly way and goes back to his look. Fast. He does note that the others were about to pick over his remaining fabrics, and I think gives Layana some leather he isn't using. Who (aside from Stella) would have time to sew leather at this point? He's good with his look, does a last-minute addition of black pockets, and seems at peace. Not Dalai Lama peace, but for Ken, content.

Sam has finished his changes and Layana, finally done with the leggings, changes up her top into something fancier. A plain white shirt won't do.

Runway Time

Guest judge this week is Kristin Cavallari, who designs something or other as it seems everyone from a successful docu-soap does, and who spends a lot of time at games as she is married to Bears QB Jay Cutler. She seems nice and young-matronly. Isaac is dressed in his knitting circle casual to suit the theme and does a sheepish "go team" to the group. Not the "hello fairies" from last week but cute.

Safe: Emily. Remember, she has won one, but she always seems safe, although her designs are anything but.

Project Runway All Stars recap
Swingy and smart from the back, too

Tops: Kini, Dom and Sam? Asha?
Bottoms: Layana, Ken and Sam? Asha? Bit of a split on those two. Asha's too literal and Georgina doesn't like the buttons down the front of the skirt, but it is pointed out to her that baseball jerseys do have those visible buttons. It does look sloppy though.

Sam gets undeserved praise for putting a girl in a lacy dress. Someone did point out that Sam will likely suck up to Isaac by using flats. Well, it worked. I think I'd like this dress if the challenge was sightseeing in Paris, maybe? But this is too dressy, too cutesy, too much

Winner, Kini for his awesome coat. The judges even liked the length of his basic jeans.

Two good things that didn't go together.
Loser: Layana. The cool last minute top she made did not go with her leggings, style or color-wise, so taste issues and being on the bottom forever caught up with the sweet Brazilian.