Friday, January 24, 2014

Under The Gunn S1 E2: "The Mentor Face Off"

Welcome back to Project Runway's The Voice-inspired spinoff, Under The Gunn. Today, we bring you Part 2 of the 2-part season premiere, with each episode lasting 90 minutes each.

In case you missed the set up for the premiere, here's the set-up for the 2 premiere episodes:
  • Under the Gunn is set in LA
  • The producers brought together a pool of 15 designers to compete in the premiere episode
  • The producers also brought in 3 previous Project Runway stars: Anya, Mondo and Nick Verreos to choose teams of 4 from the 15 designers to mentor over the course of the season
  • The 15 designers are divided into 2 groups, of 8 and 7, to create an outfit in 6 hours
  • The mentors have to look at the portfolios of the designers to figure out who they like
  • The mentors also get to watch the designers work under pressure, and figure out who they click with.
  • The mentors also a brief consulting period to interact with the designers
  • The designers have a runway show
  • The mentors then get to woo the good designers to their team
Which is a lot to pack in in 90 minutes. Add in that we have to do this twice in two weeks, and *whew*. Under the Gunn editors, my hat is totally off to you for these two episodes. The episodes were as close to coherent and interesting as that huge event listing could lead you to. Faithful readers, according to my DVR, we return to 60 minute episodes next week, so I'm not sure what the new format will look like on a day to day schedule.

Where we left off last week, 1 of the 15 designers has gone home, 2 of the remaining 7 have to go home this week. Anya has 3 of her four slots filled, while Nick and Mondo each only have 2.

The design challenge this week: there are big barrels which have bolts of fabric hanging around in the background. The designers have 30 seconds to grab as much fabric as they can and figure out what outfit they are going to make in the 6 hours.  Which is different than last week's everybody gets a bag of the same shitty 4 fabrics.

The designers this week:

  • Isabelle Donola, 33, Rio De Janeiro and New York - Ex-professional skateboarder! Crazy, hyperactive, and maybe a bit sloppy
  • Asha Daniels, 25, Cincinnati - Younger designer who primarily designed for family members, including prom dresses and big events. She designs for women who kick ass. And, she does things that are future-tech but also artistic.
  • Sam Donovan (aka Bitch, Sassy Sustainable Sam, or SSS, or Triple S), 23, Boston - Really young typically catty gay who focuses on sustainable clothing...but might be more intelligent than Sustainidiot
  • Rey Ortiz, 32, Fort Worth and Puerto Rico - HOT Puerto Rican turned American who designs for "women who aren't afraid of pants" and "career-oriented sluts" (his words). An overdesigner in his aesthetic.
  • Stephanie Ohnmach, 37, Denver - An ex-farm girl who started making clothes as a child to fit in with everybody else. Quiet designer.
  • Amy Sim, 53, Portland - Married with cute adult children. Recently graduated from design school after sending her kids to college. Her aesthetic is constantly safe and what rich ladies think people want to wear. They're high end, bubbly, modern and kind of timeless but always safe and ready to wear.
  • Nicholas Komor, 26, Atlanta - Cute cubby guy who focuses on over-intellectualized menswear, with a really hot model friend
As I mentioned earlier, this week has a completely different feel than last week. Last week, all designers had 4 really ugly fabrics, including a polka dot and a gold lame. But, this week, all of the designers have a completely different set of fabrics, which they chose on the fly in 30 seconds. So, while they don't have the 30 minutes that we're used to at Mood, at least these fabrics have a semblance of taste and generally kind of fit with what the designers are comfortable with.

While the designers are designing, they are also setting up their archetypes, which I had started to hint at in the examinations of the contestants. Amy is the bubbly elder woman. Rey is flat and mildly negative, with a kind of intensity that almost borders on hot scary, and also has a lack of filter in his word selection. Stephanie is the pixie arty designer. Sam is a bitchy baby gay. Nicholas is a quiet hard worker who may come out of his geeky shell, and may have an emotional arc. Isabelle is the hyperactive time-mismanager. Asha hasn't had much time to shine yet.

All of the above came out in the first 26 minutes of the show. Which, if you've not been watching, gives you an idea of just how hyperactive and overpacked these first two episodes of Under The Gunn actually are. The mentors have already had their consultation as well.

Tim consults the mentors to see how the choices are going. Anya continues her observations, saying "their looks are more varied; pushing the boundaries more." And, really, that's what happens when you give them better fabrics, and different fabrics from each other. The fabrics talk to you and say what they kind of want to be, and so the looks are going to push the boundaries when somebody is going with a flimsy see-through pattern, while another is using a heavy pleather or vinyl.

The difference between these two challenges makes for an interesting philosophy, if you'll indulge me while the designers have their freakout as they're finishing and setting up their characters. The first challenge sets up the designers against each other with the same fabrics. The looks speak to who the designer is, and pits the designers against each other with the same base foundation. But, today's challenge is much more free. It reveals more of what the designer's voice is by the fabrics they chose and how they chose to assemble them, but says less about who they are with regards to the other designers.

The first challenge focuses on ingenuity, while the second focuses on style. The first places everybody with respect to each other, while the second places everybody on their own. And, therein lies the problem I have with the differences between these two episodes. Since, ostensibly, the mentors are making choices based on the same criteria in both episodes. I prefer the second episode, since the first episode has traditionally been a "speak with your voice" episode, and the second is much more of than than the first. What are your guys' takes on this? I think that this discrepency actually has a lot of meat, but I could be stretching.

Anyways, soon enough, it is time for the models to come in, get dressed and made up. And, HOLY HELL, Rey is only wearing a pair of boxer briefs? Well, that's about all there is to his pants on Day 2. Jeez. He's a career-oriented slut.  I like him. And, this is when we have Isabelle getting cut off from her work, since she was sewing past the last minute.

  • Stephanie - A medium cute indie hipster dress that has lovely little keyhole slits totally look like a homemade pie crust. The silhouette is perfectly acceptable for indie girls, and it has adorable pleats.
  • Amy - A cute young summer dress with a great top and a bunch of panels to make up the skirt. It's plainly adorable. It would be a great dress that wouldn't be out of place in the background of a summer party in a movie about the tennis set.
  • Triple S - This is a perfect movie costume for a girl who was trying to make a statement about how lazy she looks. There was a quote from something that went "People don't realize how long it takes to look like you don't care how you look." That's this outfit. Its stylishly lumpy and misshapen, and great for fall.
  • Isabelle - Space age shiny material, and looks like it could be an outfit from The Next Generation. I'm not wowed by it.
  • Rey - Leopard esque leggings, with a boxy, oversized teal double breasted blazer and no shirt, with a chunky gold chain, Jackie O glasses, dual black gauntlets with a silver something or other, and slicked back hair. It's a lot of look. A LOT of look, especially for America. Designers steeped in latin culture love added everything on top of everything. Oscar did it last week in his head-to-toe gold look, and Rey did it this week in this...whatever it is.
  • Asha - A weird vinyl art mess. I dunno. I didn't get it. It's really tight in the back, and the front if coming up. I really don't get it. It would be great in a music video.
  • Nicholas - A tunic that is just a touch too short. There's nothing more to say about it.
In the end, we have our three teams:

Anya: Shan, Blake, Brady, and Nicholas
Mondo: Michelle, Camila, Triple S, and Asha 
Nick: Oscar, Natalia, Isabelle, and Stephanie

Rey and Amy go home. Which, sad. But, Rey was over designed to the point of wut?, and Amy has a shining future designing for the expensive boutique-going crowd. She just has to open a store, and get to it.

And, this concludes the 2-part, 3-hour total, premiere episode of Under the Gunn. How are you guys doing?

Random Observations:
  • Apologies for the overuse of bullet points. It helped me keep this episode straight, as it was really packed.
  • "You are...beautiful" = "A lot older than the rest of us"
  • "If you send her down assless, you're going straight home." 
  • "I want to kill myself. Ah...I would never do that, but I want to kill myself."
  • I love the helper who has to physically intervene between Isabelle and her model.

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