Friday, March 7, 2014

Under the Gunn S1 E8: "It's an Unconventional Beach Party!"

Today's episode opens with everybody lamenting the loss of Nicholas, and Anya's undermining of Nicholas' confidence. You know, without acknowledging that Nicholas was an accomplished menswear designer, but an amateur (at best) woman's designer. It's all really unfair to Nicholas, especially when Anya is all "I spent 15 hours sitting next to him" without adding "crossing my arms, breathing through my nose, and ordering him around through clenched teeth."

For the previous 4 episodes, the editors of Under the Gunn have been choosing to focus on either Anya or Nick as the subjects of the episodes. Mainly because the winners and losers have come from either camp, especially in the past couple weeks. Unfortunately, that means that we've also been getting a dearth of Mondo.

Luckily, today's episode fixes that, and also shows why we've been having a dearth of Mondo. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. First, we have to figure out what this week's challenge is. It's the full-on unconventional challenge, using beach detritus. It's all things like beach balls, chairs, umbrellas, leis, fans, etc. For an unconventional materials challenge, there are a lot of conventional materials. 

During the design process, everybody starts out on wildly different techniques. Natalia starts knitting. Sam is using a bamboo mat to make a jacket. Michelle is using rubber material from beach balls. Stephanie is using flower leis but hasn't figure out what to do with them. There is a wildly different array of techniques, which is a surprising variety even compared to previous unconventional material challenges.

This week, as mentioned earlier, focuses on Mondo and how he leads and encourages, but also critiques. His general attitude is to point out flaws in approaches, but also to push for better choices and to support his designers in their abilities. But, like all of the other mentors, he also focuses on those who need his help most. Later in the episode, Michelle laments that Mondo isn't paying as much attention to her as he is to the other designers, and doesn't know if that's because he trusts her or if he doesn't believe in her. To the viewer, she's also one of the designers who has mildly regressed throughout the season.

In part, as the story goes, Mondo sees potential in both Asha and Sam that was unfulfilled in their portfolios, and so dedicates more time to them to develop their eye. Michelle, on the other hand, had a developed eye in the first place, and so he mainly just bops around because she might not need as much help.

Contrast Mondo to Nick, who was at first completely hands on, and is now trying the Mondo technique of editing where needed (Oscar) but being otherwise encouraging and trusting of his designers (Stephanie). Oscar basically needs to be edited, because, as mentioned in the premiere, he suffers from the Spanish cliche of over-the-top throw-in-everything-and-the-kitchen-sink type of design. Oscar's first two designs totally filled that role until Nick came around and told him to change his direction.

The editors of Under the Gunn are also doing a great job by setting up parallels between Mondo's team and Nick's team. Sam and Oscar both have to make U-turns to great effect. Sam and Stephanie are both suffering from confidence issues. Asha and Natalia are both using unusual techniques with layers and woven type materials to create looks. Stephanie and Michelle are both using rubber materials, and also both getting the least amount of help from their mentors. 

Meanwhile, Anya is widely ignored...because she's terrible. They keep giving her asides, and way more lines than they seemed to give Mondo in the previous episodes. I don't really know why. It's not like she's all that insightful. Maybe it's because she's photogenic?

Anyways, we eventually stumble our way to the runway. Georgina Chapman is back. 

Team Nick:
  • Natalia: Maybe I'm not as critical, but I kind of loved this piece. I liked how it wasn't quite finished and the patterns she made with the knitting, especially up the sides. The back needed a little bit of work. But, what frustrates me is that the dress underneath was made from a beach umbrella, which wasn't that unconventional. 
  • Oscar: Beach mats become a scalloped dress. It's totally super modern and chic. It isn't California beach culture, being more based in the south of France or Italy, but it is fresh. 
  • Stephanie: Ugh. Sad. This is arts and crafts, with her melting plastic flowers to create a kind of young and junior outfit. But, it isn't finished, you can see the white material she used as a base, and it looks almost a bit cheap. Still, I can't deny that it would be an awesome thing for a stage show.
Team Anya
  • Shen: He used a beach umbrella and an inflatable raft. The materials he chose were rather conventional, and the look he ended up with was boringly conventional as well. But, the back rope work is beautiful. That's about all I have to say about that.
  • Blake: It's a vest which looks like it belongs in a minorly stylish version of Swiss Family Robinson, and a skirt that belongs on a not stylish version of Swiss Family Robinson. Snoooooooze.
Team Mondo
  • Sam: He made a skirt from a bamboo beach mat and a bikini top from a beach chair. It's really fresh, alive, and totally California Beach Culture. That being said, the top should get points deducted for being an actual material. Though those points get put back on for the model-suggested pineapple purse.
  • Asha: This feels the modern fresh version of Blake's outfit. It has clean modern lines, a fresh textile stile, and the skirt bounces and is alive. They have the same types of direction, but Asha's just feels alive compared to Blake's dead costumes.
  • Michelle: Futuristic rubber robot hooker. It's the colder, trampier, and more costumey version of Stephanie's outfit. If she had cut off the side wings from the skirt, it would be a clean design and it is finished.
The judges this week can't decide on who wins, but their top 2 are both in Mondo's camp. Mondo has to decide between Sam and Asha, and picks Sam as the winner as a bit of a pick-me-up. I preferred Asha's look myself due to it being more innovative, but I can see Sam as well. And, because the look was unfinished and ugly, Stephanie goes home.

I kind of liked that the judges left the hard decisions up to the mentor if the mentor had to decide, kind of like a team captain. But, making the mentor choose the winner is more like choosing favorites, which is like of lame. The judges needs to make a decision sometimes!!!

Random Observations:

- Yes, Blake, we know you're pale. Say it with me...Sunlight.

- Oscar likes showing off his ripped pants...while he's wearing them. HAH!

- Anya, your critiquing designers that aren't under your mentorship shows just how terrible a mentor you are.

- Blake winning a bonus prize for incorporating a design detail suggested by his model is kind of cool. I hope that he shares part of that prize money with her.

- Can we talk about the non-runway fashion choices? Sam in a long-sleeve shirt with a giant sad hound dog printed on his chest. Oscar is in a rejected outfit from a Sylvester Stallone version of Scarface that makes me shout "It's Lacroix, darling". Mondo in a suit made of a cloudy blue sky. Mondo's confessional shirt that looks like he got a haircut while wearing it. There was a lot of ugly not on the runway today.

- Ugh to the title this week, Can you get any longer and more unwieldy?

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