Sunday, February 9, 2014

Under the Gunn S1 E4: "Unconventional Vampire"

This is a show that is as much about perfecting mentoring as it is about perfecting design skills. Last week, we watched as both Mondo and Anya set their egos and personality aside in order to help their designers realize their vision. We also watched as Nick. V. reallytookover other...people's...deSIGN, and hisss designers failed. This is not a trap that Tim Gunn ever fell into.

This week...Well, you'll see.

This week's product placement is a movie that nobody bothered to see this weekend, Vampire Academy. In no small part because it went up against The Lego Movie. To set up the atmosphere, the producers make the designers stand outside, at night, with an overpumped fog machine, front lit by blue highlights and shadowy red low-lights and with a bright white backlight. It sounds a lot like a club scene from an early 2000s movie (American Psycho, Vanilla Sky, etc). 

The designers are forced to watch the trailer for the movie they're never going to see before they get 10 minutes to go through "Vampire Land" where they can pull up to FIVE FUCKING BOLTS OF FABRIC and any and as many unconventional materials they find. So, this isn't really an unconventional challenge. This is a half-assed unconventional challenge, for a reportedly half-assed movie (that wasn't screened for critics). 

The problem with a half-assed unconventional challenge is that it throws everybody for a loop. The designers, the mentors, and even, as we'll see, the judges. The designers start out with a mix of ability to deal with unconventional materials, but find their directions.

But, before we even get there, Tim Gunn sets the theme for the day. He chops off Nick V's ego by telling him to back off. He boosts Anya's ego by telling her to stay the course. And, he undercuts Mondo's strength by telling him that he needs to be more critical than emotionally supportive.

In the first round of critiques, when faced with strong designers, Mondo actually becomes timid and isn't able to balance his need to please Tim with his desire to support the designers and an ability to provide a critical eye. This week, all of his designers have strong viewpoints. Michelle has a great design place to start. Asha will always have a forceful point of view (even if it sometimes needs taste issues). And, Sam is one of the stronger designers.

Anya, on the other hand, now has a huge fucking ego. Sometimes she says something smart, but most of the time it is also so self-unaware. She tells Brady, whose taste is a young punk aesthetic that, like Mondo, pushes Junior, that he needs to stop pushing Junior. Which sends Brady into a tailspin that has him designing for an old person. Then she supports Nicholas who is creating a weird chainy taupey boring thing. 

Nick V, released from being a hands-on mother hen, now becomes a critical queen who demands everything to fit his aesthetic. When it comes to Oscar, its OK, because Nick knows Oscar needs editing. But, then Nick fights tooth and nail with Isabelle. He starts changing her design at every stage. Later, he says "You can do whatever you want to do. I'm just here to suggest...I love your point of view, I just want this ... I don't want you to lose you." Jesus, he is the Queen of Mixed Messages. Do this. No, do what you want to do, but do this anyways. Dating him seems like it would be impossibibble. Can you imagine?  This is coming from somebody who really liked Nick when he would make his appearances as a judge or a talking head. 

Isabelle, also, isn't a great communicator. Partially because English isn't her first language, I imagine. She always seems to be searching for words. And, with Nick's weird speech patterns, I'm sure it throws her for loops. So, she gets lost in the whirlwind of Nick, who seems to have been edited to be focusing strongly on Isabelle. Especially since Nick's other designers are completely ignored for the majority of the episode. Who were they again? 

In the end, for the most part it is a conventional challenge. Lacey-like fabric gets used as lacey-like fabric. Teeth are sewn to lapels. Chains are covered in fabric to hide their unconventionality. Necklaces are torn apart so that beats can be glued onto dresses of traditional fabric. It's not really all that hybrid. And, nobody really calls anybody out for that. Not Tim Gunn, not the mentors, and barely the judges. 

So, runway time. Apparently Jen Rade, Zanna Roberts Rossi, and Rachel Ray are supposed to be the permanent judges. But, Rachel Ray is out today, giving us Trina Turk. And, we also get Zoey Deutch, a 19-year-old actress who has been in the business for almost 4 years, starting on Disney, where I'm sure she had stylists helping her out.

Team Nick
  • Natalia - A red take on the Morticia Adams dress, only with too much fabric on top. With a bunch of netting thrown on at the waist in a sad attempt at an unconventional corset.
  • Stephanie - A white power suit dress with some beads glues on and some black netting sloppily thrown on as a collar.
  • Isabelle - A sloppy navy blue dress that looks interesting with a whirlwind of red netting weaved around her. It's at least unconventional.
  • Oscar - This is the first outfit that embraces the challenge. It's a slick, creepy, dress that weaves fabric with the red netting in a seamless fashion. It's slick, and only actual parts of the dress look gratuitous instead of whole materials themselves. Namely, the shoulder pads, which...what? It would have been perfect without those. They give off costume. 
Team Anya
  • Brady - Totally lost his way when Anya told him to not go so junior. So, he created a junior shift dress from a conventional fabric. And, threw an ill-fitting blue blazer on top of it. With his only unconventional material being the tiny little vampire teeth he sewn onto his lapels. So boring. 
  • Shan - Made a chic Racer Badass outfit using unconventional materials as accents. But, at least it looks OK. 
  • Nicholas - A sloppy brown dress with sad brown hoses attached to it. It's sort of like a female version of Jacob Marley fell into the mud.
  • Blake - A little black dress with black netting sloppily thrown onto it at the waist.
Team Mondo
  • Sam - Here's something new. An unconventional top of black netting over white fabric that looks like cheap black cut outs, but with a conventional bottom, and a belt made out of plastic Halloween decoration fence posts. The unconventional/conventional challenge is hard hammered together for a hard/soft, but the top is still hideous.
  • Michelle - A stunning snakey dress, with a dramatic wood nymph collar. While its almost getting into Stephanie territory, especially with sloppiness, it at least seems like she thought about the transition of the bust with the collar so it doesn't seem as jarring. Especially since the collar netting comes down to form the whole back of Michelle's dress, which is slick and hot.
  • Asha - Power Voodoo Priestess. The unconventional material is used as the skirt. Which adds an edge and also looks very witchy.
Since Oscar was actively helping other designers (namely Nicholas) with their designs, the makeup people awarded Oscar with a free $1k. Sometimes it pays to be a good guy. I like that. Yay Under the Gunn!!

Oscar, Michelle and Asha are in the top for obvious reasons. Brady, Isabelle, and Nicholas are in the bottom...again for obvious reasons. Brady and Isabelle suffered at the hands of their egotistical designers. Nicholas suffered from not enough attention. In the end, Anya has to make the final elimination decision between Brady the Junior Designer, or Nicholas the Menswear Designer. Somehow, she chooses to eliminate Brady, who should be here because he knows women. Nicholas, though, has less of a clue on how to design for women. His inexperience shows. Also, Michelle wins.

Random Observations
  • Sorry about the delay. I caught a good fever starting on Wednesday that wasn't even close to being done with me until yesterday, and I still felt like shit yesterday. Apologies
  • Zoey is so cute when she is disappointed. Nooo! Considering actresses can play high school into their mid-20s she potentially has a career for awhile. 
  • Why Anya, WHY?!?

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