Thursday, August 29, 2013

Project Runway: S12 E07: “Shoes First!”

Every season that I've watched of Project Runway features an episode that reminds me that I know nothing about fashion. Or at the very least the episode makes me question what I may or may not know about fashion and makes me wonder if it's me or if it's just that the judges have gone insane. This week saw that episode for me. Almost everything the judges said about almost every look they placed in the top or bottom left me scratching my head in confusion. But I believe when trying to make sense of something seemingly nonsensical one should start at the beginning, so here we go.

After a few moments for the designers to rejoice over Justin's save last week, and for Heidi to offer her begrudging “welcome back you total waste of space who should be well out of my sight by now!” sentiments, the contestants move forward with the challenge. They take a trip to the Marie Clare Fashion Closet, which I thought was an opportunity for most of the designers to exclaim that they wouldn't go back in the closet for anyone but no one did, alas another missed opportunity. While back in the closet, the designers are told by this week's shameless product placement guru Anne Fulenwider (Editor-In-Chief of Marie Claire magazine and old friend of Heidi from the Mother Land) that they will be asked to chose a pair of shoes and design a look around those shoes with the model then wearing those shoes on the runway. Shoes. Basically the challenge boils down to one simple philosophy which might be the only thing Project Runway and Lifetime (television for women) has learned about ladies in all these years: “Give them bitches shoes; bitches love shoes.”

Moving on. Remember last week when I said that the show had revolutionized it's 90 minute run time by giving the contestants far more interesting things to do on their challenges? Well this week each contestant is given a buzzer and asked questions about fashion history; the first contestant to answer the question correctly gets their pick at the great Wall-O-Shoes until there is only one contestant left to wallow in the shame of their despicable ignorance. So, in short, Project Runway went out of its way to make me look like a total idiot for praising them last week by coming back and showing just how capable they are at wasting time. Thanks a lot you douche bags. Shoes!

So the contestants answer questions like “Which design school did Marc Jacobs attend?” which is just the single easiest question on earth..... I'm sure it'll come to me... Tip of my tongue really... We'll circle back around to this later. And the designer left without knowing any of the answers at all is Miranda! The producers and the other designers make it seem like her extreme lack of knowledge should suggest that she shouldn't even be on the show. Not that she's going to cease to be on the show anytime soon or anything....We'll circle back around to that later too I guess.

With shoes in tow, it's off to mood where the designers are given a suggested budget of $250 and let lose to buy fabric. There are walls and walls of fabric in Mood, there are more walls and walls of fabric in Mood than there were walls of shoes in Marie Clare's closet, and yet somehow Miranda and Red Eyebrows manage to pick the exact same hideous plaid to make their pants. I was going to try to make a joke about that fact, but I'm simply too confounded to make it any funnier than it already is. Meanwhile, ToKen takes his time to ask one of the helpful assistants “Where are the shoulder pads?” If I hated ToKen before (and believe me when I say I totally did), the fact that he actually went onto national television and proclaimed that he intended to put shoulder pads on his dress for a competition makes me think he should be relegated to the worst possible hell imaginable. You know, the place reserved for child molesters and people who talk at the theater! (Also, if you understand that reference, we should be best friends)

Tim's visit to the work room starts with Alexandria who chose a very interesting pair of “gladiator boots” which actually have knee pads built in. My initial thought when I saw them was of all the nights I totally could have used a pair of boots with knee pads built in, but now I'm realizing that that might be over sharing and I should get back to the business at hand, forget I said I anything. She's designing a very soft look to go with these boots instead of going the full S&M route which could either be genius or a missed opportunity, only time will tell. Miranda goes about designing a look strikingly similar to one she got reamed for in the past, and she makes it a point to say that she's not going to listen to Tim and she's going to follow her gut. This is by no means meant to be seen as a kiss of death for Miranda no matter how much we all know that contests who don't listen to Tim are almost always sent home. She'll be fine. Token's look is criticized by Tim for being too old and matronly, which couldn't possibly have anything to do with his plan to use shoulder pads could it? As a result, he actually astounds me and drops the shoulder pads. Maybe he's not a totally lost cause after all? In the end Tim's time in the work room actually gives us a look at each of the designers. This is one of the developments that I honestly don't have an opinion on. Some people are changing their entire look, some are sticking with their gut, some are only making minor changes and nothing new is learned. I yawn, and I move on.

Dance Beard is one of the contestants who needs to remake a good 50% of his look. As a result of that and the encroaching deadline, he makes the great decision to call his partner ,and cry, and ask about their dog, and cry, and generally feel all of the pressure of the competition, and cry. Generally I hate seeing people cry on reality TV shows. It tends to seem like crass manipulation of the fans or other contestants most times, and who cries in public? You cry in your bedroom over a gallon of ice cream or in the bathroom with the shower running like a normal person! But I like Dance Beard, so I'm a bit more sympathetic than usual. Also, shoes!

The Runway: this week gives us two guest judges, Kaley Cuoco from The Big Bang Theory and the product placement chick from earlier in the episode because, again, bitches love shoes.

ToKen: Surprise, surprise, he decided not to go with the shoulder pads and the look is all the better for it. In all honesty, I think this is the first dress he's made that I honestly liked. The textile has a great reptilian feel to it that goes a long way towards distracting you from the fact that it's just a simple black dress, the fit is great in the top, and the skirt is cute. I do wish it had been maybe an inch or so longer, but ultimately I really like it.

Red Eyebrows: I like the look in spite of myself. I like the way the pairing of the simple cream top (which I found to be well constructed) with the crazy plaid pants. The outfit went together well and went well with the shoes too.

Miranda: She uses the exact same fabric as Red Eyebrows, the two of them are shown back to back on the runway (which we all know was a total coincidence, right?) and yet the two looks could not have been more dissimilar to me. Where I thought Eyebrows did a great job of matching his plaid pant with his top, Miranda's top is both washed out and too busy. The red in the pants matched with the red in the shoes is just atrocious, and for some reason she thought it was a good idea to put her model in a white leather jacket. In fact, I probably could have just said white leather jacket and left you knowing everything you needed to know about the outfit.

Dom: Last week I criticized Dom's dress for being too similar to her look from the Bow Tie challenge. This week I have to say that I was reminded of her carnival look from episode 3. I know that the basic construction and even a lot of the color pallet is different, but every time I looked at the dress I couldn't help but have her previous outfit floating through my mind. I think her dress this week is really young, and this is starting to be the main aspect of her aesthetic, and I do like it, but I can't say that the worries I've started to feel about her have been assuaged.

Justin: Faced with the need to justify Tim saving him last time, Justin created an outfit that was neither stunning nor horrible. I like the harness element of the top, but I think the bust line looks a bit weird, and the bunching of the pants was a bit off putting. I like the pairing of the simple black outfit with those wild and colorful shoes, but I wasn't wowed by his design. He's safe, and I can't claim that that's the wrong choice, but I also can't say that I think the episode was enhanced by him being kept around from last week.

Alexandria: I honestly don't know what to say about this. Personally, I find the look itself to be boring. I like the lace elements, and I like how soft it is, but I'm still left thinking “You had boots with knee pads attached to them, you could have done anything!” And even that I'm not sure about because I do like the pairing of hard and soft that the look provides. I think that Alexandria does a good job of interpreting the challenge, but in the end I'm left with the opinion that the woman who would buy and wear those boots wouldn't also wear that dress.

RHDB: Yawn! And the top of the dress is nothing more than a recreation of the shoe itself.

Dance Beard: Oh you poor guy. This was just a bad move on his part. As much as I respect the amount of work that went into the top, the look is old and dated, the skirt looks cheap, and none of it enhances the shoes. It's another failure from one of my favorites.

Kate: I LOVE THIS! Once again Kate shows why she's such a frontrunner for me. The only bad things I can say about this are that I hate the model's glasses, and I do think that the shoes are kind of swallowed by how overly designed the outfit is, but other than that I love everything about it. I can understand that she might not have embodied the challenge as well as some of the other designers, but this is my favorite look on the runway and I fully expected her to be in the top 3.

Jeremy: Oh you sexy man, you. Jeremy chose the wrong time to go back into old woman mode. This fact is compounded by his choosing a very young and fun shoe for his inspiration. The combination makes for an odd story about a grandmother experiencing a post-mid-life crisis. Failure from another of my favorites....this isn't looking good.

Helen: This, along with Kate's look, is one of the reasons I'm left questioning if I'm totally crazy or if the judges are. Allow me to first say that I generally hate capes. I find them to be one of those odd Fashiony things that have no real practical appeal, exist no where but on the runway, and almost always make a dress look much older than intended. As such, I was not impressed at all by Helen's look. I found it old, and boring, but exceptionally well made. If she set out to prove that she could create something that was well tailored, then I think she succeeded, but by no means did I think this was a top 3 dress.

So Helen, ToKen, and Alexandria are in the top, Jeremy, Dance Beard, and Miranda are in the bottom. Three (fairly boring in my opinion) little black dresses find themselves being spotlit by the judges, while three honest failures are rightfully in the bottom. But I still don't get it. Almost everyone says they wish the had Helen's look to wear, Zac tells Jeremy that he's not sure he knows anything about who Jeremy is as a designer or what his particular skills are, and everyone's way too excited for ToKen's use of the term “man-eater.” I just don't get a lot of the judging.

Helen wins, Miranda goes home and I'm left thinking that this is a very boring and rote episode of Project Runway. There was nothing surprising about it, and nothing to be outraged over. When you see Miranda in the bottom alongside two generally strong contenders like Jeremy and Dance Beard, you know who's going home. Who the winner will be might be a bit more shaded in mystery, but that's only because none of the top looks really stand out as obvious winners. I guess there's nothing really to take away from the episode as a whole other than the question of how will Jeremy and Dance Beard bounce back from this rare but monumental disaster on their parts and still make it to the end of the competition? Or will they find themselves going home well before I ever thought possible?

Stray Observations:

--Did anyone else notice how disgusted Anne looked with every single dress that walked down the runway? She basically hated everything and thought it should die.

--Jeremy seems to have gotten a bit of a big head after his recent successes. Maybe this week will do a good job of bringing him back to earth so he can create more beautiful things in the future. If he gets into a rhythm of being in the bottom and then bouncing back for two weeks in the top before falling again... I honestly didn't have a second part for that statement but it felt like it should be an if/then kind of thing.

--Dom: Wait who's top and who's bottom? (The number of time's I've asked that very question.)

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