Friday, October 18, 2013

Project Runway S12 E14: "Finale Part 2"

Fashion, deconstructed
Hey guys!  WE MADE IT.  This is Project Runaway's first finale!  YAYAYAY! And, really, we wouldn't have done it without you. Thanks to you commenters, we saw insights that we've tried to incorporate into the reviews, and we like communicating with you.  Hopefully you enjoy us too. Thank you for reading!

Adrian had the brilliant idea to tag team the finale, and I thought it was a great idea. Unfortunately, we're on different coasts, and that three hour difference made it a challenge that we will probably work on.  And, unfortunately, I got a little verbose *blush*  Sorry Adrian, if I dominated the intro.  I couldn't figure out a good way to transition from finishing up the episode to going back through the series.  I'm sorry.  *meep*  Anyways, enough with the disclaimers...on with the show!

I discovered Project Runway has an official coffee table book.  I didn't know this, and don't remember it being advertised all that much when it came out a couple years ago.  I learned a bit about why the new seasons feel so rushed compared to seasons of old.  Project Runway is filmed only in the summer after Parsons finally gets out of school.  Given that they now do 3 seasons a year, they have to film all three seasons over summer. They basically do have 3 weeks to film the whole series. The perception that the designers are basically being worked at a breakneck pace compared to the pace of yesteryear is actually accurate.

Looking back, we see a lot of talent in the old seasons, but there's something interesting about Project Runway.  According to Desiree Gruber, originally it was conceived as having seamstresses with the designers.  But, the seamstresses would have cost $30,000 per seamstress, totally $360,000.  Given that this was one of the first talent-based reality shows, they didn't have the budget for that.  And, since it started like that, it probably would have been a cheat if the later seasons had recieved a seamstress when PR finally got those big bucks rolling in (especially if they were spending money wrecking apartments in the first episode!).

In light of that, this is part Project Seamstress, and I think that has hindered their selection a bit. I'm also reading the bio of trash filmmaker Andy Milligan, who started his career as a dress maker in New York in 1960.  Even Andy had a stitch bitch as part of his crew, and he only owned a single dress shop. Now, there are a lot of designers who actually are the whole package. But, designers frequently get a stitch bitch fairly quickly if they're designing out of the gate.

In the past, we've had designers of varying talent where designers had strong points of view and they all felt like they would be great winners.  And, there were some seriously bitter loses in those days.  The loss I'm still bitter over is Chris March's amazing modern goth collection didn't get shown on television.  That was all the way back on Season 4.  And, he lost to Rami and Christian.  It's hard to get bitter over that.

This season has been made up of a wide variety of talent, you guys,  For the first time, there were two losses that felt sincerely bitter.  The two losses that I thought were rather extreme were Jeremy (aka London), and Kate (who was a 2nd chancer).  Jeremy, especially, started out oh so London chic then slowly devolved into this matronly style that seemed like he was designing for a soccer mom.  Kate was at the top of her game all season until, somehow, she made an outfit the producers drug her drink that week?  What the flying fuck was that?

But, if I'm going to be honest with you dear readers, what made this season totally compelling wasn't just that we had actual designers this year, but we also had some serious mental problems on screen this season.  There is an interview with a Project Runway producer over at AV Club which brings up Sandro as if he's the craziest one this season.  Somehow, in a 2 page interview, there is absolutely no mention of Captain Sassypants, nor his complete lack of a decoy collection.  And, yet, you see Sandro in the audience along with Male Portlandia.  It's like he just disappeared from existence with the hit of the iron.  Maybe the owl took him away. While I'm being totally honest in that the serious mental problems did kind of make the season compelling, I do think we need to tone down the rage.  We need more enironmental crazy people like our crazy unicorn Sustainidiot, and fewer rageaholics like Angry Warrior Freddy Merkovitch and Captain Sassypants.

Project Runway, this year, has also shown some more of the process of sewing.  In flashes, at least.  I have tried to take the time out to call out these flashes because, as a designer I want to see more of these low-drama moments that actually have more of the designers working out their problems without crying *ahem*Helen*ahem* or throwing fits.

I hate to say it, you guys, but Project Runway has a problem. While it tends to do beginnings fairly well, I don't think it's really learned to knock the endings out of the park. The last couple episodes tend to be slow and unexciting. The visits home never really provide any drama and they tend to offer up very little reason to watch at all. The finales, which should be every show's crowning jewel, are often either predictable or just boring.

In an attempt to remedy this, the producers decided to throw a last minute challenge at the designers. I can't stress enough how much I think this was a horrible idea. We get a moodless trip to Mood, pointless scrambling to come up with a new look to replace one of the old looks, and final pieces that are nice but add nothing to anyone's overall collection. I liked the decision to give the designers one more unconventional materials challenge to end off the year (even if it was a bit extreme to have so many of those types of challenges this season), but that only worked because the designers had the entire time dedicated to their collections to come up with a material and a look for it. Bringing them back and asking for another look that simply has to be washable is lazy on the show's part, and very unfair to the competitors. I've watched just about every season of this show; as such I've said these words before and I'm sure I'll say them again before I give up on the show for good, but I'm very disappointed in this development, PR.

In all fairness, to Project Runway, the one last dress challenge has been ritual.  What I truly miss from Project Runway's first season or two, was more of a focus on the whole process of putting on a runway show.  In the first season, the designers had to hold auditions with models, and select which models would go with which dress.  It made for a completely compelling look into design and styling. Frequently, you hear about designers saying their models are their muse (especially that one season where the designers had the option to steal other designers' models), and you realize that, not only do the designers have to design for themselves, but they have to figure out what will look good on their model in terms of color, fit, proportions, and styling.  Overall, it would make a far more compelling look into the world of runway design than having the one last elimination challenge that, I believe, started with Chris March's bitter elimination.  *GRRRRRRRRRR*

What I'm not disappointed in, however, are the collections we're graced with. Well most of them at least. I'll leave talking about individual looks to Julius, in favor of just touching on each collection itself.

(Adrian): I can't help it, I loved it. I mentioned it last week, and I wasn't alone, but I'm really happy that Tim saved him when this is the outcome. When I think that we could have been robbed of the experience of seeing this collection, I can't help but be happy that he's still here. The opening looks were elegant in their simplicity and never crossed into boring for me. The middle section is easily my favorite. The print works amazingly, the cuts of the dresses are all sleek and interesting, and it perfectly conveys the chaos experience he intended. If I have one complaint about the collection it's that I'm not sure I saw a real transition into the third phase of the story. I think the unconventional materials look does a great job of melding the first two phases of the story into one look that conveys grace and acceptance pretty well, but I think there could have been another look or two to do the same. Either way, he's got my second place collection hands down.

(Julius): I liked this collection.  It was clean, quiet, reserved and sophisticated. As an overall effect, he had a great story that was told through the gradual fade from white to grey with full color, then back to white with the integration of an ethereal layer of sound.  Then Justin hammers it all home with the unconventional dress that managed to be elegant, metaphorical, and literal all at once.  And, the final dress really tied the whole collection together.  It was actually a moving collection, that had a story to tell.  I had one look I had a problem with.  The outfit is the transitional between the first two phases.  It was a great transition, but it had some serious issues with that neckline.  The rest of the collection was sublime in its simplicity, even if he is consistently terrible with his designs in the bust.  The dress everybody, including me, loved with the sound waves down the front had some serious issues with that.  Going into all forty looks would be a bit harsh on everybody.

(Adrian): There's no way in hell that Dom doesn't win this thing. Her collection starts with a bang and it never slows down from there. I will say I wasn't in love with the weird shower curtain jacket from the early look, but she used the effect once again later in a simpler wrap and I loved it.  Even the more muted looks speak volumes, and this has a lot to do with her use of prints and color. I know we've been saying this about her all competition long, but it works. It's her signature, and what a fucking signature to have. I even liked the swimsuit; though I did think she could have done without the bag to go with it. And her unconventional materials look was oddly integrated into the collection as a whole. Amid all that color and print, you'd think a dress of solid silver door hinge repair pieces would be out of place, but it wasn't. I can't say enough good things about this collection.

(Julius): When this collections was on, it was sublime.  When it was off, it was way off for me.  I hated hated HATED the sheer material shower curtain plastic looks that the judges seemed to fall in love with. I can't say enough about how that took me out of the collection. On the other hand, Dom is like the cross between Mondo and Anya that uses bold prints in an energetic and vibrant way that really makes me happy that she is in the world.  Outside of those plastic looks, all of her outfits were just these vibrant pieces of energetic happiness that made me smile. My favorite look was the washable look which felt like it was the adult mature stylish distillation of all this soul and happiness that Dom possesses.  Zac Posen said the most insightful thing, "She's really a sophisticated lady. I just don't think she knows that yet."  This feels like the exploding birth of an artistic soul who will be pushing out all of these looks that will be so instinctively energetic and wild, and in the next few years she'll probably reign it all in to a more mature but happy brand.  I can't wait to see what's next for her.

(Adrian): Maybe I'm biased but I simply don't get it. It's remarkable to me that Justin also has a mostly black and white collection and yet his looks are never boring. I can't say the same thing about Alexandria's, and I honestly spent the entire show wondering why she was even there. Her collection added nothing to the mix of these other designers, and nothing about it suggested it deserved to be at Fashion Week.

(Julius): Ugh. The bases for Alexandria's collection is Pris from Blade Runner.  Only, then she got rich and became a boring tennis mom. Alexandira's secondsixth, and eighth looks really inform the shiny cyberpunky grungy roots of the collection.  But, then she blends them in with these looks of rich white people attempting to appropriate hip hop culture in the most fucking boring way ever. And, then there is the fifth look which is like a coffee shop trust fund poet wannabe. Really, her whole show pissed me off it reeked so much of money and privilege.  And, don't even get me started on the shitty message of the phone books.

(Adrian): Oh my sweet and simple Dance Beard, how I have long loved you and how far you hath fallen. This just didn't work from the start in a lot of ways. I understood what he was going for, but I don't think he accomplished it with clothes that were appealing. And the floral print he chose didn't do him any favors either. I will say that I honestly loved the last three looks of his collection, but the rest is just a no.

(Julius): Uh...wut?  Srsly...wut?  Bradon, you opened the show with a dress that looks like an upside down beer in a pint glass.  And, it was really all down hill from there.  You followed up the pint glass with its basket weave coaster.  Your fourth look had a pair of shorts where it looks like a bunch of flowers pointing to a FUCKING CAMEL TOE!!  Most of your looks suffered from either Gold Lame, or a crappy use of a psychadelic pseudo-Asian print charmuse that could be spring, but would totally look great on an geisha girl.  And, then you realized it and, as your made the 9th look the Asian inspired look the fabric wanted to be, and put it on an Asian girl.  It seemed right at home, finally.  But, then you finished up the show with a look that was like a beachy Anya dress made with a print inspired by the cover of The Downward Spiral and was attacked by a golden caterpillar.  If only this dress was the one with spilled coffee, nobody would have noticed, or they would have thought it was intentional.  In short, you failed.  Unlike Adrian, I didn't even see what you were going for.  I saw the flower coming up from the snow, kind of...but it was ultimately a failure.  Which makes me really sad because, unlike Alexandria, I loved your style throughout the show.  It's not even that you got bit by London's old lady bug.  You just went...wut?  No.

So Dom wins and it's really the only choice the judges could have made that would make sense. The finale never really has anything going for it beyond the Fashion Week show, and I'm starting to wonder if Project Runway shouldn't just run with that fact. Condense the last episode to an hour and spend all of that time at Fashion Week and on the judging runway itself. Watching the designers work on another (pointless) look while also having to go through model fittings, hair and makeup consultations, and the heightened emotions of even showing at Fashion Week is simply too much. Or is it just me? What did you think of the final episode as a whole, Julius? Were you fooled by the final moments of built in tension as the judges had to make the oh so difficult decision between Dom and Alexandria?

I could have gone for Justin or Dom, really.  Though, I lost hella respect for Justin when he went for the I'm deaf ploy on stage.  Ugh.  No, you shouldn't win because you're deaf.  You should win because you can design when you're not under pressure.  And, you can.  I loved your collection, and I would have been happy with you winning as well (especially if you continued making 3D printed space age jewelry).  Ultimately, I think if they got rid of the One Last Elimination in Finale Part 1 that has become a tradition, and kept in the one last design challenge.  Then, re-added in the whole process from choosing the models and pairing the dressed all the way through design, I think the finale would be a stronger more cohesive two parter.  The one last design challenge frequently inspires a look that actually pulls the whole collection together, as it did in Dom's collection.

Again, thank you readers!  We'll see you again at least for the All-Stars opener, if not the whole season.  More decisions on that to come.  Thanks!

Stray Observations:

--Dom is worried about what to put her muse model in; I guess she knows the judges don't look at anything other than the last look. (AA)

- Justin is so sweet wanting to make his washable look reversible.  That doesn't matter if you don't show off the reversibility, Justin.  And, you shouldn't. (JK)

--One of Justin's models broke her ankle right before the final runway show. Was I the only person who thought maybe the model was making a last minute bid for freedom and the producers went all Kathy Bates from Misery on her?

--In keeping with Justin's model struggles, he's stressed because his size 0 model is replaced by a size -2 alternate, and the dress just doesn't fit anymore. How hard life is. (AA)

--I have never seen a better “Cut-a-bitch” moment then when the model spilled coffee on Bradon's dress. He's a much better person than I am because I would have killed her and dragged her dead body down the runway. (AA)

- Really, who gives models coffee?  Shouldn't they be giving them like powdered speed?  Just kidding. Kind of.  But, coffee and food stains.  That should not be allowed back stage. At all. (JK)

- Did anybody notice the awesome fashion art queen that was seated behind Justin's parents?  I will associate his parents with the floral print nature of their home and how conservative and sweet they are. That memory clashed so hard with the queen behind them, it made me laugh so so hard. (JK)

- Justin's parents were so right when comforting Justin.  "You finished with integrity and America fell in love with you."  It's so true.  Justin, Dom and Bradon all finished with integrity and without irritating the viewers.  I honestly can't think of what Alexandria ever did to raise the ire of everybody, but that's just me.  (JK)

- Best line of the episode: Dom: "I'm poor.  I'm working two jobs, people." (JK)

- Also, since Adrian is probably too humble to mention it, take a look at his blog, A Storyteller's Guide To Story Telling, listed on the right.  He's just starting it, and I enjoy his writing immensely.  (JK)

- And, I'm not humble, so if you like semi-off-the-beaten-path movies, check out my blog, The Other Films.  We're currently in October's horror dedication month. (JK)

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