Friday, September 25, 2015

Project Runway: S14 E8 "Broadway or Bust"

K.I.S.S. Keep it Simple, Stupid! This is my current advice for Project Runway's 14th season. I'm realizing more and more as these episodes go on and pass us by that the best have also been the simplest. There's nothing special or remarkable about this episode, there's no great twist, no heart stopping drama, no forced conflict or moment of catharsis, it's not even the best challenge idea ever, but it feels like one of the better episodes we've had in awhile. Looking back at some of the better episodes this season, I think I've mentioned more often than not that the episodes themselves were simple. So clearly that's the key to PR's success.

This week everyone wakes up, Lindsey is sad about being in the bottom so much (great sign for her), and Swapnil, after some deep contemplation on the smoking habit none of us even knew he had, has decided to do more working than smoking going forward. And if you guessed that that would be the end of that particular storyline, you were right. We get one more mention of the fact that he hasn't taken a single smoke break while everyone's working and no more is said on the subject. I want to chastise the editors on this, but the truth is I'm too tired to care anymore. Run with whatever pointless story you want on a week to week basis, it doesn't matter.

Afterward, the group is treated to a free showing of Finding Neverland on Broadway. This is one of those things that PR does from time to time to make me horribly jealous that I'm not in New York. Seeing the curtain come up on Melanie (who was a winner of So You Think You Can Dance a couple years back and whom I love oh so much!) made me wish I could be there watching that show. The contestants enjoy it, some of them cry for various reasons, and everyone seems to walk away with some sort of inspiration for the challenge to come.

It's off to Mood the next morning where everyone has a budget of $250. Let that sink in for a bit. After avoiding Mood on EVERY challenge thus far except one, they head to the store with only eight contestants left and give everyone $250. If you aren't with me in assuming that they've been being thrifty all season just to make sure that a few people were granted these huge sums of money for their shopping trips, then I have to imagine we're watching different shows.

The fun part about the Mood trip is that it gives us the chance to hear what most of the designers have taken from the play as their inspiration. While I neither love nor hate the "Do anything you want" aspect of this challenge, watching creative people be inspired by things and then explain the source of that inspiration is something I enjoy very much. Whether it's Edmond's "Dreams" inspiration, Laurie talking about childhood, or Candice's amazing story about her drug addict parents and finding the darkness within one's self and coming to terms with it, I think it's all fascinating. And as I listened to everyone talking about what they were inspired by, I couldn't wait to see the looks they'd create based on that inspiration.

Back in the workroom, everyone's jazzed up from the musical and singing and having a good time until Tim, playing the part of Nurse Ratchet apparently, comes in to remind them that we're down to the top eight and one of them is about to be sent packing and there's no time for laughter and fun and merriment around these parts. I've made no attempts to hide how weird I find Tim this season and this is another moment that strikes a discordant note for me. On the one hand, sure, this is a competition and we've pretty much done about all the chaff from the wheat separating that we can and it's time for the cream of the crop to start being culled too. (How many metaphors did I cram into that sentence? I lost count) But on the other hand, isn't there something to be said for the idea behind "Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow you might die?"

Everyone's mollified by his pronouncements and gets right to work. By the time Tim comes back for his real visit, a lot of work seems to have transpired. He's more helpful than not, which is always a pleasant surprise this year, and at least let's Swapnil have it for not giving 100% thus far and being in the top but not winning yet. It needed to be said and frankly I'm surprised it took him this long to say it. To his credit, Swapnil hears him and seems to take it all in stride. Laurie on the other hand seems to hear Tim's critique and decide to double down as if she knows best and her look will all come together in the end. We'll see how that works out. He gives a few words of encouragement to Merline and some very sound advice about her hemline to Ashley and he's off.

And that's really about it for this section of the episode. There's nothing new, important, or special that happens that needs to be talked about at all. It's all so simple and straight forward that there's really nothing to latch onto, and as I said before, that's honestly a good thing. One point I would like to make is just how done most everyone seems to be by the end of the day. Even by the next morning when Tim comes it with his usual "day of" statements, he remarks that no one's really frantically trying to finish anything. Lindsey and Ashley seem to be the only people left behind, but both of them challenged themselves with difficult and heretofore unattempted design elements to their looks. It's fun seeing how the last few people who are left have adapted the best to the limited time constraints.

The Runway:

Swapnil: This is beautiful, but if no one mentions that the two puckers of fabric on the top look like vaginas, it’ll be a seriously missed opportunity. The movement of the skirt is nice, and the play on hard and soft works here. I like it. 

Ashley: Let’s ignore the hemline shall we? The rest is nice but not at all great. The fit of the top is odd, but I can’t help but to wonder if that wasn’t purposeful? Or maybe it’s just the fabric she’s working with. I know she mentioned having fit problems during the first model fitting, but presumably she fixed that? Instead it looks stiff and kind of like a plate of armor with no real breast support to it. The color is great and I love the fabric she chose, but I think she bit off a little more than she could chew. 

Candice: OK I guess. The corset lace in the back is great! What I don’t like about it is it looks like it would be hard to wear. The off the shoulder aspect of it looks weird, plus the oversized aspect of it all makes it look heavy and like it’s going to fall down at any moment. I like it, I like it a lot really, but I can’t bring myself to love it. 

Kelly: I love it! Kelly is certainly starting to come up from behind a lot more than I expected. While I understand why she made the skirt short underneath, I will say that I’d like it more if it were a little bit longer. Honestly, I’d like it a lot more if it were a full dress, but excepting that, maybe one more inch would make me happier, but that’s just a personal thing. I don’t think it detracts from the overall look in the end. 

Laurie: Dear God no!

Merline: Why does the bust line look weird? It’s an odd shape and feels like it comes up too high, maybe? I don’t know, but that looks weird to me. The rest of the look I like a lot. I think the structured elements of the shoulders are great, and there’s something wonderful about the sleeves. It’s like she got the effect of gloves without having to create gloves and I love it. 

Lindsey: The bib nature of the top is seriously the worst thing I’ve ever seen. How could she mess up the top so much? I don’t understand. The rest of the dress is nice, and she could have made just a basic kind of top that showed off her model’s body more and been safe if not in the top, but then she did that? What the hell? Or maybe the rest of the dress is worst than I’m giving it credit for being because I can’t get over how horrible the top is. Yikes!

Edmond: It’s way better with the cloud vest still on. I think the two pieces underneath it leave a little something to be desired. I think it’s sexy and nice, but it doesn’t live up to the great promise of the vest. The pants are great and well made though.

It's Edmond, Candice, and Kelly on top and Ashley, Lindsey, and Laurie on bottom. Even though Heidi compliments everyone on the runway talking about how much she enjoyed this runway show, the judges don't have a lot of overwhelmingly positive things to say to anyone. They like but don't love Kelly's look. Heidi points out that it looks a bit like a negligee and that's exactly what I meant when I said the dress should be longer. A little more length would, I think, have eliminated that aspect of it all, but what do I know? They love Edmond's outfit but hate the purple vest. Or at least everyone hates it except Nina who doesn't seem to care one way or the other. I agree with Coco that the different pieces tell a different story and therefore don't quite go together, but my issue is that I much prefer the story of the vest to the story of the outfit underneath. The only person with a universally positive critique is Candice, so it's pretty obvious she'll get the win. 

They trash Ashley's poor construction while at least praising the idea behind it. They say Lindsey's look is all just a bit too much and needed either the wacky top or the wonky bottom but certainly not both. And Laurie they just throw under the bus completely. Heidi at least tries to stick up for some of the design ideas to Laurie's look, but that goes away as soon as she sees it up close and realizes that her model is pretty much naked. It's a serious screw up on Laurie's part on everything from the design to the construction to the fabric choice. It's not her best day, but there wasn't really any doubt that Lindsey would be going home before her. She's failed too many times not to be sent off here. 

It's almost sad that the ability to write such a simple and straight forward recap of such a simple and straight forward episode gives me as much pleasure as it does, but there you have it. This is what I'd like to see more of from this point until we reach the last two episodes; no muss, no fuss, just straight forward Project Runway. It's highly possible that we won't remember much about this season in the years to come. Without a big personality like we've seen in past seasons, there's very little to stick to your bones about this show. But they've cast a lot of simple and quiet contestants this season, and they've got to figure out a way to work with what they've got. In my opinion, this is it: when you've got a lot of simple and quiet contestants, put them in simple and quiet episodes, and let the work speak for itself. 

Loose Threads:

--So much talk about "Good designers are about to start going home now!" It made me think that everyone before now was just shit. Which they kind of were, but you don't have to say it so often. 

--We're down to the top seven after this week and still no Tim Gunn save. I thought the judges might send home Laurie in an attempt to force him to use it, but they made the right decision yet again. 

--How sexy did Zac look in that purple suit?

--How many seasons has it been since we've seen a men's wear challenge, and why are they so infrequent?

--I didn't get to see the preview for the next episode so this could be next week for all I know, but when do we think they'll do the Avant Garde Couture challenge, if at all? After seeing what Swapnil and Edmond are capable of, and knowing Candice's aesthetic and seeing how Kelly's coming up from behind, I think it would be a waste not to do it with these contestants that are left. 

--Poor Swapnil finally tried and didn't make it into the top for a change. I understand how it's discouraging, but still. After the reaming he got last time he should be happy to just be safe. 

--I only mentioned it quickly, but wow Kelly really is starting to make herself known out there. And now that Candice has her second win, I'm starting to think these two will be around longer than I originally gave them credit for. 

--Considering who all is left, honestly, I don't know what to expect. If I remember correctly, Laurie and Swapnil are the only two designers left without a win thus far, so they better pick it up if they hope to last much longer. But with this group being all that's left, and with the clear acknowledgement that at least three of them have to go before the finale, I can't imagine who Tim will use his save on. 

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