Friday, October 24, 2014

Project Runway: S13 E14: "Finale Part 2"

What's the ultimate "point" of Project Runway? I think this is an interesting question that PR can be asked that other reality competition shows don't have to. The "point" of Survivor is mostly entertainment these days since the more social experiment element of the show passed within the first few seasons. How people survive and interact within the confines of that game is a subject that's been exhausted. We really haven't seen a new way to play the game in a long time no matter how many new wrinkles the producers toss in to the rules. But Project Runway exists in a different kind of space. The winners have the ability to really effect the future of fashion in a manner that the winners of other shows simply don't. Can you name the title of a single album from an American Idol winner since Clarkson? Have you seen any of the dancers from So You Think You Can Dance anywhere? Chances are unless you're deeply into those worlds, you probably haven't, but one only need be aware on a basic level of the world around them to have seen something from Mondo or Christian Siriano around somewhere. So in that sense, PR is uniquely placed to seriously effect the general outcome or trajectory of the fashion industry as a whole. As such, do we watch PR thinking primarily that we need drastic amounts of entertainment, and the rest can be damned? Is it the show's job to find the next great fashion talent and reward them? Or maybe it's just the show's job to shine a light on aspects of the design process within the fashion industry? I'm not sure the answer is any one of these things. It's more likely that the show should be striving to hit each at some point in time, but I also think that this fact makes PR into something of a mixed bag from season to season. Specifically, since this show has the ability to do all of these things, it sometimes has identity issues because we can't be sure which of these aims we're watching at any given moment.

Along those lines, let me introduce this final competition episode of the 13th season. The first portion of this episode seems mostly dedicated to providing both drama (read entertainment) and something of an insight into the design process. Kini is still reeling from his horrible critique, and trying to figure out how to remake his entire collection in two days. Tim comes in to offer his notes on what just happened. He tells everyone what they should do, and his points to Kini are mostly about just mixing and matching pieces from the collection instead of redoing everything. I don't think Kini really was listening though. This sit down wraps up with another trip to Mood for anyone who wants to go and get fabric for another look.

Amanda stays and chooses to just edit her looks. Sean goes to buy some great orange fabric in order to get in one non-fringe based look. Kini and Char buy a lot of fabric in order to make a lot of looks, and the divide between the remaining designers is established. The amount of work that needs to be done on Char and Kini's collection seems to ensure that they won't be in the running. Or at least that Kini will rush through and pull a collection together in two days and achieve this Rocky style come back in the 11th hour that will make this the single most dramatic PR finale ever. Which is clearly what the judges and producers are hoping for. We'll see how well it plays out.

Everyone gets to work and Tim comes in to consult once more. When he's meeting with Kini, he says to him, “That’s already looking youthful.” And Kini responds with “And that’s what they want to see.”This brings up another possibility for what the show could (but certainly shouldn't) be, which is just a vehicle for the judges to get what they want to see and wear placed into collections and onto the runway at NYFW. The judges' comments to Kini weren't about trying to get him to create the best looks he was capable of within the scope of his own personal vision; they were about shifting his collection to fit a set of circumstances that they themselves would prefer. Or at least I think that that's true. The result is a collection that I don't feel as though he fully believes in. It's cute and sexy but some of the looks don't scream Kini to me. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Tim tells Char everything she does should be done in an hour. It reminds me of the one hour run off she had against Korina and I said much the same thing after that moment; she’s better off working in one hour than she is over the course of an entire challenge.And it's an accurate point as I think the two brand new looks are the best in the collection. They still seem to butt heads over some of the earlier looks that Tim thinks should be scraped all together and she ends up using one of them anyway because if she didn't, she wouldn't have a full collection. Not surprising since she doesn't really deserve to be here at this point, but hey. That ship is sailed, I guess. 

Another moment in trying to bring the best NYFW runway that they can is found in Kini and Char having to have new consultations with hair and makeup. Don't get me wrong, I think this would have been an element either way, but when Tim tells the group that they're doing so, he specifies that Char and Kini will need this because of how unhappy the judges were with their styling. So it left me wondering if this is more about PR trying to protect its brand than it is about getting these designers' visions out there in a pure form. If that was really what the show wanted to be about, they'd allow the first time the judges see any of the clothes to be during the NYFW runway. So you get to the point where you see that after 13 seasons, PR is used to putting on good shows at fashion week and they aren't going to risk that streak by putting down a collection they haven't vetted first. I'm not a fan of this. 

So onto Fashion Week where the point of the show tends to be about the chaos of putting on a show like this. It's about shining a light on the dark aspects of the fashion industry and the kinds of drama that happen in the background. We've seen it all at this point, so the major drama of one of Amanda's models having changed shoes on her own rings a bit light. No one spills anything on a dress, no article of clothing is lost, the best they could come up with is a model wearing different shoes. It turns out the shoes Amanda gave her to wear were too small and she just went with her own. After a quick swap with a pair that fits, the crisis is averted and we're back to being a bit bored. In a lot of ways, this is the perfect microcosm of the season as a whole: when there's nothing there from the designers to give us drama, we'll make something small and basic into something huge and melodramatic. So good job on that one guys. 

New York Fashion Week:

Amanda's Collection: I will say that the only look where I think the jewelry is front and center and really noticeable is the last one. But that doesn’t take anything away from the rest of the collection. Perfectly cohesive, the use of color is jaw dropping, the cut outs and the amount of skin is always tasteful and sexy and worth it, and the pattern looks are all great as well. It feels original and beautiful. The looks I don’t care for are the shorts looks. Although I recognize that it’s good to mix things up and not have dresses or skirts on everything, the shorts just didn’t work for me much. Everything else is just great. 

Char’s Collection: Her third look is great. I like the forth look too. Both of these are the looks she threw together last minute. The last look is something I think rides the line. It’s almost tasteless, but it’s also almost elegant. I want to like it, but I don't. Overall I think we can see the cohesion better in the full collection than we could in the mini collection she sent down last time, but it’s still not very good. And the look that she calls the most “Char” is really simple and right-off-the-rack-boring. She shouldn’t be here, but what more can we say that hasn’t been said thus far? Also each look with that expensive Rome fabric was horrible. 

Kini’s Collection: I want to like the second look so much, but I hate it. The open back details are nice and the cut of them is unique. The shoulder pads look is way way better in this version than it was with the coat. But overall, I do not like this collection. And he used the umbrella cut of his rainway skirt a lot more often here to mixed results. The one look that had it on the top was really just…no I hated it. I’m not a fan of this.

Sean’s Collection: I don’t know what to say about this. To start off with that stark white look which is so crisp and clean and just wonderful, the transitions are just perfect, the dart of fringe on the back of that white look that I didn’t like in the mini collection out of context works so much better here as you see it transition into the the full orange look. I still don’t care for the first fringed black pants look, but there’s a much better version of that dress later on in the collection that has fringe all around instead of just on the front. The full orange look that he created after going to Mood is just sheer perfection; it perfectly matches the wonderfully draped white look from earlier. And the final look is breathtaking and perfect. It is still a lot of fringe, but I’m not going to fault him for that. Sean’s my clear winner after these collections. 

 Emily Rossum is my all time favorite guest judge on this show, and she actually has the remark that gets at the heart of what I think the show should be about. She says, in talking about why she thinks Sean should win, that for her this show is about finding the next great voice in fashion. So you should be looking for someone innovative and unique. The judges comments make it pretty clear that this is between Amanda and Sean. The judges compliment him on his fun and unique vision, and they compliment her for her brand ambitions. To those ends, I do think Amanda is great for that. If we've ever seen anyone with an aesthetic that could be brand marketing ready, it's Amanda.

The judges have polite things to say about Char's use of color and how fun her own personal style is, and by extension how fun her clothes can be when she brings that personal style into her designs. They praise the hoodie and black and white looks as the two best in the collection, reaffirming the way she seems to thrive under the pressure of time constraints, but that's about it. 

As for Kini, they are at least happy with how much sexier the collection is, and everyone's impressed with how quickly he pulled these looks together, but they're still split on a lot of the looks. They seem to think he's not editorial enough and allows his designs to get away from him. Emily at least likes the coffee filter top look, but no matter how much she compliments it, I hate it. The key comments that I responded to here were about how much he needs an editing eye. I think if they had said that during the mini collection more than "It isn't sexy enough" I would have been on their side a little bit more. 

So the debate after the designers leave the runway is about does the Brand Ready designer get the win, or does the designer with the most refreshing and interesting voice get the win? And the fun part about it to me was that there wasn't really a wrong answer. If you're judging based on these collections, Sean and Amanda both equally deserve to win. If we judge by the competition as a whole, then I think it's more between Sean and Kini, but that's neither here nor there. In the end, Sean is crowned the champ of PR season 13, and I'm happy with it. Granted I'm happy because I think he's cute and I'm far more interested in jumping his bones after he wins than after he comes in second place, I mean who wants to sleep with a loser, amirite? But this was one season where I honestly think PR did well to leave themselves in a position where either outcome could have been celebrated. This won't go down as the best season in Runway history. There was a serious lack of talent that we talked about often enough in these threads. But I do think that the three most talented people from the season found themselves in the finale, and I think the winner was chosen with an emphasis on effecting the future of fashion and the design world, and that's certainly something I think we can all be proud of. 

Final Thoughts:

--In case anyone was wondering, I won't be watching the reunion episode. i never do and have no interest in starting now with these boring people. If anyone else wants to do so and wants to writeup a review of it, I'd say let Julius know and that could be worked out? 

--Speaking of things that won't be watched, we had a discussion about PR Threads last week, where did everyone fall on that? Will you watch it, won't you? If you do watch it, is it something we should should be reviewed on here? I haven't fully decided yet, but I'm thinking I might at least check out the first episode. Maybe we can write it up and see what kind of response it gets to determine if we keep going?

--The Mood cashier asks Sean, “No fringe today, huh?” He really has become Fringe Man hasn’t he? In my Mood based fanfiction, there's a constant office pool going on each day about how much fringe Sean is going to but during his next visit. 

--Within the episode there were a lot of contestant retrospectives as they looked back over their time on the show. It all felt like a cheap way to fill out the time. 

--The overall theme from Heidi's responses to everyone was "I liked some things, but didn't like some others." I was like, yeah, no shit, it's a 10 piece collection. When was the expectation that every single piece would be loved start, because I don't recall that ever really happening.

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