Thursday, October 10, 2013

Project Runway S12 E13: "Finale Part 1"

One of the biggest issues with what Project Runway did last week was that it eliminated all of the stakes from the proceedings. If no one goes home, then what's the point of the competition? One way that competition reality shows have learned to up the stakes again when they avoid sending someone home one week is to send two people home the next week. This is a tried and true reality TV method, and one that we enter into the traditional pre-fashion-week-home-visit episode expecting. So after the three designers on the bubble show their mini collections on the runway, two of them will be eliminated and we'll be back to a solid top three for fashion week.

Now that we've got that totally accurate prediction out of the way, on with the show. There's been an added element to the final challenges: one of the looks has to be an unconventional materials look. That makes this the third (maybe fourth?) unconventional materials challenge this season. I don't know if I want to make fun of that fact as the unconventional materials challenges tend to be some of my favs, but that does seem to be a bit much.

This year, the home visits are split up between the two contestants with promised spots at fashion week and then the three losers who have to grovel to the judges for a spot. This brings us to Dom's home in Philadelphia where Tim arrives, uninvited, to a private lunch she's having with her mother, brother, and their waiter? Oh no wait, that cute chubby white guy is actually Dom's boyfriend. So that nubian goddess is dating the Pillsbury doughboy? Moving on: Her loved ones all express the typical platitudes of how proud they are for her, except her boyfriend who doesn't say too much at all; I'm guessing he's more the fat strong silent type. Tim and Dom leave to go check out her collection and we're introduced to the first of what will be a recurring theme this finale: designers creating their own textile. I guess all the HP talk from this year really did pay off. (Haha I can't believe I got that entire sentence out without laughing) Her collection is called (or inspired by) Retro Futureism which I'm pretty sure is an oxymoron. Her unconventional material is door jamb repair pieces which look pretty cool. Her designs look great, her textiles look beautiful, and she's using color; she should be in great shape.

Off to LA to see Bradon and his very tall (and hot) boyfriend Josh and their cute doggy, Eddie. Bradon's collection is inspired by spring in New York and the first flowers breaking through the snow and his unconventional material is clothing line. It's a mix of floral prints and sold metallic fabric. And I would like to see it on the models before I pass judgement because right now it looks like he went with some of Jeremy's worst old woman tendencies. Afterwards, Bradon and Josh take Tim to their very favorite place which happens to be a secluded spot on the beach. This leaves us all (and by all I mean me) wondering what the two of them like to do on this secluded and private stretch of night....when they're all alone... Where was I? Oh right, Tim Gunn at the beach wearing a suit jacket and pants because he's Tim Fucking Gunn. And to be honest, would we have it any other way?

Since we're already in California, Tim heads over to San Mateo, which I'm pretty sure is a made up place, to see Alexandria. Her collection is called Neo Nomadic Punk which I actually like in spite of myself. While the name is cool, the look is exactly what everyone would have expected it to be. She's sticking with white, black, grey, and tope, so no color on this one, and her unconventional material is the phone book woven into a nap. Oh wait, sorry, I meant to say that I took a nap during her segment; the phone book is being woven into a dress or something. Moving on: further confirming the idea that no one on earth likes Alexandria, we don't get to meet any friends or family. I'm guessing that she doesn't have any. Instead, we're taken to the sweat shop where she's chained up a few inner city kids to do all of her sewing for her. It certainly explains how she's already got 30 looks created and ready to go in 4 weeks time. The kids are cute, and precocious, and as Tim is leaving and hugging them all good bye, I think one of them slips a plea for help into his pocket.

 Union City New Jersey. I'd tell you who lives there, but I'm sure as soon as I said Jersey you guessed. Helen is another of the designers to create her own textile and it goes well with her inspiration of “Clairvoyance” because it's a print of her boyfriend's eye. Ok that was a lie, I have no idea how Clairvoyance and her boyfriend's eye go together, but then again I don't know how that can be an inspiration at all, so let's just go with it I guess. She's using color, she wants her capes to be a focal point of the collection, she's using bath mats as her unconventional, and I'm so horribly unimpressed that I got up and went to the bathroom in the middle of her and Tim's conversation. Good times were had by all. Back with the family, we meet yet another really tall boyfriend, this one with seemingly model good looks (by which I mean he looks like he could be a model which might be good for some people but totally didn't do it for me); he and Helen look odd together and he doesn't say much. Tim asks her family about Helen's tendencies towards great self confidence followed by crippling self doubt. Translation: Why does this bitch cry so much? They're all used to it, and Helen breaks out with the grand confidence that not only will she make it to showing at fashion week, she'll win the whole thing. I'll just leave that comment there and move forward.

Justin lives in Raleigh North Carolina where Tim crashes a nice family dinner with mom, dad, and sister. We learn that Justin's sister won't let him design dresses for her. I guess she's not into the whole foamy vag thing, weirdo. And also that Justin was once an architect. Did we know that already? It's amazing either way and I am more impressed with him than I ever was before. His collection is inspired by his own journey from being totally deaf to getting his Cochlear Implant and finally being able to hear. Also, I swear I'm not crying, I just snorted a lot of pepper because that's a thing I do. He's using 3D printing to create some of his accessories, he's also created his own textile for a look or two, and his unconventional material is test tubes which he seems to be just gluing all over a dress. Again, I'll reserve judgement.

It's back to New York where Bradon and Dom hug when they see each other, then Helen arrives and they all hug tightly, and then Alexandria arrives....then Justin arrives and he, Dom, and Helen all hug. Not that that means anything, right? We head to the new work room where Tim introduces us to someone whose name I didn't even get because she's a rep from Tide to tell them that everyone who makes it through to Fashion Week will have to make a new look for Tide that can be machine washable. So for those of you who were complaining that there wasn't enough product placement this season, here we go for one last shameless plug.

But before we get there, we've got one more challenge to get through. Tim comes back for a meeting with the three competing designers and he looks a little different than he did the day before. Is it a haircut? No not the hair. Maybe the outfit? No certainly not that. Oh I know, it's the cuts and bruises and busted lip that he got from “falling down some subway stairs.” I've watched a lot of TV and lived a lot of life, and I think I know what “fell down the stairs” is code for. As such, I'm gasing up my car to drive up to New York right now and kick someone's ass!

In his bruised and battered state, Tim rips Justin and Helen new ones for sloppy construction issues, but leaves each of them with a lot of positive feed back and he even gets choked up as he's leaving. Justin also gets choked up and says something about them all feeling like family, and I'm not sure if it's all generally sweet or if it's just sweet because it's coming from Project Runway's Sweetheart. And so starts the last minute scramble to get things ready for the runway. Helen decides to sew in a liner to one of her capes, and seeing how much work must be done, Dom jumps in to help her. Justin rushes to get his models into their outfits, and understanding how much work it is and how important it is, Bradon jumps up to help him out. Do I even need to say it? Ok, I'll say it: No one helps Alexandria.

At the Runway, Heidi is very careful not to say that 3 people will be showing at Fashion Week. Instead she say things like “After today, we'll see.” But we've already established that two people are going home so that's not setting off any red flags or anything.



Look 1: I wish someone had a line of coke for me to do so I could wake up enough to give a shit about this outfit. All in black, the vest is boring, the pants do have the cool pocket thing going for them, but that's really the only good thing I can say about it.

Look 2: The grey top and the stark white pants look good together as color combinations go, but that's about it. There's something about the cut outs on the shoulder and the tie in the back of the jacket that just look off to me. And the pants are just another pair of oddly baggy pants from Alexandria. They aren't drop crotch, luckily, but they aren't very interesting either.

Look 3: Didn't this bitch say something about Punk in her description? Did the meaning of the word Punk change without telling me? Of her three looks, I will say that this is the closest I came to really enjoying, but that's only because I think the asymmetrical cut of the pants is kind of cool. It's also the closest thing to Punk in her collection, but that's only because the cut is a bit modern and edgy. The look is still in tope and I just don't think that tope can ever be the first thing to come to mind when someone says Punk. The top is OK. And I want someone to burn that fucking hat.


Look 1: Little black dress which is actually blue. The construction is nice, but it's still just a little black blue dress.

Look 2: Baggy red dress with a cool acrylic belt. I could say that the construction is nice but the look itself is simple, or I could just say see above, so I think I'll just say see above... oh wait... damnit!

Look 3: Um.... wow. So this is the boyfriend's eye print, and there's a cape, and all I can think about is how screwed her model is if someone were to push her in a body of water since she can't move her fucking arms. What the hell, Helen? No, just no!


Look 1: I think the cut and fit issues that Tim pointed out in the work room are evident here. The outfit swallows the model whole and does very unflattering things to her shape. But I can't say that I don't like the look itself. There's something simple and toned down about it that I respond to positively. Plus I'm a total sucker for an open back and the cut out window in the back is rather stunning and elegant.

Look 2: I can't explain enough how much I love love love this look. I said last week that I was worried that given too much time, Justin would have way too many elements in his outfits. Initially, I thought that this would be the dress to prove that. Between the 3D printed belt, the designed textile, and the spray painted skirt it all should have been too much. But seeing it on the runway, my God does it work!

Look 3: At first it's hard to get over the loud noise the dress makes while walking, but when you just look at it, it's beautiful. It moves amazingly, I love the 3D printed collar, and it's glamorous and elegant in a way that test tubes shouldn't be glamorous and elegant. This look is a show stopper to be sure.

The judges talk to Justin first and have nothing but positive things to say about his looks. And when you hear him explain how the first look is parsed down to represent his life as a deaf child, the second look is all about the chaos of finally having the volume turned on and it driving him a bit crazy, and the third look is all about coming to peace and learning to live in the world now, your jaw can't help but drop to the floor. Honestly, I gained a whole new respect for the first look after his explanation, and I've always believed that that's what an outfit's story should do: take a good look and make it great. He's obviously going right on to Fashion Week, so the show is over and Helen and Alexandria can go on home, right?

Heidi and Zac have mostly positive things to say to Alexandria until Nina acts as the voice of reason and points out how boring the collection is and how pathetic it is that she didn't use any color. At this point, Zac promptly snaps out of whatever day dream he was in and joins Nina in bashing the collection. Heidi holds fast to her (vastly insightful) position of liking the little pocket thing. Nothing good comes from the judges talking to Helen.

So the writing is on the wall. Justin is the only person with truly positive reviews so he's going forward and the other two are going home, and we can go to bed. Heidi compliments Justin, tells him he's going to Fashion Week, and sends him off the stage leaving Helen and Alexandria behind. She then explains that she liked Alexandria's looks, but no one else did, and after the longest pause ever tells her that she's showing at Fashion Week too... And I'm speechless. Helen goes home, Bradon, Dom, Alexandria, and Justin will be showing, and Project Runway can go fuck itself. Great job keeping the stakes up, you guys. See you all next week for the finale!

Stray Observations:

--In all honestly, my roommate (who isn't a PR fan btw) was watching with me and she said “Oh he's totally going forward.” when she saw the mini collections. At this point in time I said, “He's going, but someone is going with him. Heidi is being way too vague about the final number of people showing, which means they've already decided to have 4 finalist.” She then said, “Wow, so this show is that predictable?” I could only laugh.

--I know I made a lot of fun about Dom's boyfriend, but I really didn't mean any of it at all. I just thought it sounded good in the review. The truth is I think love can be found in any number of places, and also I thought he was totally fucking adorable. So please don't hate me; I sometimes sacrifice my true beliefs for the sake of trying to make people laugh, or just writing something that sounds pretty good.

--With that being said, I kind of think this is the best batch of boyfriends we've gotten from the show in awhile. I was either personally attracted to, or at least fully understood how someone could be attracted to each of them.

--I'm still not fully sure how I feel about Justin seeming to ride his disability for all it's worth. I don't know why, but it feels like this kind of extreme focus on it came out of nowhere.

--Tim Gunn: “Eddie's trying to dig to China. Eddie, once you get there, you'll want to come right back.”

--Alexandria: “I'm in.”
Dom: “Noooooo. I mean congratulations.”
Yes, Dom, and so say we all.

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