Saturday, October 3, 2015

Project Runway: S14 E9 "Make it Sell"

And then there were six. They were the right six at least, though I still miss my ginger teddy bear from the first episode. But given what we've seen in these last few weeks since most of the dead weight has been cut from the show, can anyone truly deny that these are the best six contestants this season has to offer? I don't think you can, but I also think that that says more about the talent level of this season than it does about the contestants as a whole. Because after this episode, I'm also left wondering if we've ever seen such a lackluster challenge to determine the top six. And that statement is as much an indictment of what came down the runway as it is of the challenge itself.

Everything opens up on something about school and learning and a classroom setup. The challenge is to create a look that's inspired by one of the "personas" of a Just Fab shopper. Now I'll be the first to admit I've never been on the Just Fab site, but are we really supposed to believe that all those feminine stereotypes shops there. I say stereotypes, but I think I should also point out that I've never heard of "Femme Nouveau" before and think they made that up. But my main question about this segment of the episode is Why? Why the classroom setup? Why the blackboard? Why the stupid hints about classroom stuff and all the confessionals about how much the designers hate school? What did any of this have to do with the actual challenge? If the designers had been contracted to design a new school uniform for some stupid New York prep school, that'd be fine. But otherwise it's stupid and pointless and took me out of that portion of the episode.

Moving on. Candice won last week and has immunity and gets to pick which stereotype she wants to design for. Kelly talks about how much she wants Trendy, then Candice picks Trendy off the bat, and Kelly's world ends. Candice, as last weeks winner, also gets to pick stereotypes for all the other designers. This happened last season too with Sandy picking everyone's fabrics in the "A Suitable Twist" episode. You can check back and see that I bemoaned the decision as being unfair to the other designers and offering Sandy a ridiculous advantage. That was my first thought when I heard them doing it again here, but I relented a bit for a couple reasons. First, I think there's a huge difference between choosing a vague stereotype to design for and choosing specific fabric to design with. Second, at the top seven, everyone left should be able to design something nice for each of those stereotypes; it's not the same as doing this for 13 contestants as they did last year. Not to mention at 13, the designers still don't know each other well enough to know who'd do well with what fabric whereas at seven Candice is better able to choose something based on who she knows her fellow designers to be. And that's just what she does. There's no shady attempt to sabotage anyone, she legitimately picks things she thinks her competitors can do well and would maybe even pick for themselves.

Kelly get's Trendy like she wants, so there's a crisis averted. Swapnil and Edmond get Bombshell. Ashley gets Girl Next Door, Laurie gets Modern Classic, and Merline gets the made up Femme Nouveau. Everyone except Merline and Edmond seem to be pretty happy with their assignments, and I think that's a testament to Candice's good job at picking for them. So no complaints there.

The looks are to be produced and sold on Just Fab, so they have to be inexpensive, and thusly everyone has $100 to spend at Mood. It's the third (or fourth?) trip to Mood this season, and we don't even get to see Swatch, so I don't feel the need to comment on it really except to say that Ashley buys some of the ugliest fabric on this side of creation. She doesn't even seem all the jazzed about it in the first place but somehow resigned to using it. There's still time, she can keep shopping and find something else that works, but instead she settles. I felt like there was a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy at work here whereby she'd pick a fabric that she didn't like and that way she could justify being in the bottom by blaming the fabric, and then she could sure up her continued feelings of worthlessness and not deserving to be here. Which, by the time you've made it all the way to the top seven, should really not be an issue anymore. I know it's easier said than done to just develop a sense of worth over a couple weeks, but still. At the very least, pick a fabric you like and if you go home on something you believe in, all the better.

But I digress. Back to the workroom where people work and get some things done before Tim comes in. Edmond's chosen a fabric that he loves, and that I love too I might add, but he can't figure out what to do with it and hot to get it to bunch and drape the way he wants. Tim let's him have it for not encompassing his stereotype more. Swapnil already has his dress done by the time Tim comes in, and it's about as Bombshell as it can be. Leopard print, tight and short with an open back, and available in just about every store with a Hooker-Chic section that has ever existed. Tim calls him out for not producing something unique and then chides him when Swapnil says he gave 200% last challenge and was only safe. Tim seems to think that Swapnil didn't give that much effort and stands to give more. Which...I don't know. On the one hand, sure; it's a mentor's job to push you and to see more in you than you maybe see in yourself. On the other hand, who are you to tell someone else that they didn't give the effort they think they did? Is this based on something Tim saw that we didn't see, or is it only based on the final product that Swapnil sent down the runway last week? A final product that was, I think, better than the judges seemed to think it was. Either way, questions about Swapnil's effort level continue into this week, and it's a storyline I think we're all tired of.

Tim doesn't really like much of anything he sees except for Kelly's look which is my least favorite at this point, but I think there's an interesting dichotomy setup here that I'd like to talk about, and it's between Edmond and Laurie. Laurie has an idea at the start of everything and she buys fabric to support that idea. Tim doesn't really like where she's going, but she tends to stick to her guns a bit. We've seen this from her before, and some of the other designers have talked about how she doesn't take critique all that well. Similarly, Edmond has an idea, and sets out to achieve it, but is criticized by Tim as well. They both move forward a bit only to find their looks truly crashing around the time the models come in for their fitting. Edmond still can't get his dress to do what he wants it to, and Laurie can't get the fabric to fit right on her top. This is where the two of them diverge. Edmond has a small amount of a second fabric and he decides to scrap his first idea and just go with making a little red dress. Meanwhile, Laurie flaps in the breeze unsure about what to do next. She ends up borrowing some organza from Candice and throwing a new top together slapdash. They're two totally different designers: Edmond has an idea, it doesn't work, and he scraps it for something else, something better, and creates a new look in hours. Laurie has an idea and holds on to it for dear life and when it fails, she's stuck and lost without being able to come up with something new. Neither approach should work; how many times have we seen designers in the past scrap a look after Tim's visit only to go home for the quickly slapped together outfit they sent down the runway? But that's not the case here, and hasn't been the case for Edmond all season, but for more on that let's head to the runway.

The Runway:

Swapnil: A few weeks ago when I was clamoring for Swapnil to get his first win, I never thought I’d be saying this, but I’m ready for him to go home. This half assing it each week thing simply isn’t going to cut it. I find this look boring. The shawl, which EVERYONE told him to ditch, keeps it from being “Bombshell” to me. The gold butt tassel thing is weird. I don’t like the odd bunched up fit around the neck. I don’t hate the back, but I don’t like it either.

Kelly: No one in their right mind would be caught dead in that vest. I hate it. Other than that, the rest of the look is OK. It certainly screams her, so there’s that. The problem with the pants is I keep thinking about the pants Edmond made last challenge and how perfect they were in every way, and these don’t measure up to those, so it’s a distraction. I also don’t like the print, but I do understand that there are people who would, so that’s just subjective. I don’t think the whole look is horrible, but it’s also not my favorite. 

Merline: Oh dear God. The fit of the top is horrible. The back of the top is all loose and poorly fitted and an eyesore. And whatever she had in mind for the skirt was a total failure. Bad bad bad.

Candice: I hate the the second layer to the skirt. I hate the way it looks tacked on at the last minute. She had a vision and I respect that, but the skirt doesn’t work for me. The good things about this look are that 1) I can at least see how this could all be something people would be interested in, so it embodies Trendsetter more than Kelly’s does. 2) I really like the rest of the outfit. I think the top is really adorable.

Ashley: I’ll admit I’ve never been on Just Fab’s website, so I don’t know anything about their particular aesthetic, but something about this outfit does seem like what I would expect to find on there at least. I still hate the fabric for the two pieces under the jacket, but I do like those two pieces, and I do like all three of the pieces together. 

Laurie: She lost the bra and just left her model’s tits all out again. It’s not a horrible look except that two challenges in a row she’s sent an exposed model down the runway, and it's boring. I like the fabric on the skirt, and I wish she could have made it work on the top too, or at least bought a supplemental fabric to use. The neckline is the worst part about it to me. 

Edmond: YES YES YES YES YES!!!! The lacing detail is perfect. I can’t tell on the runway itself, but he did that on the back too right? If so then the biggest problem with this look is that he didn’t style his model in a way that would have shown that off, and he should have because it really makes the dress for me. But to know that he pulled this off in the amount of time he did, and it actually screams bombshell, really sells me on this look. Easily my favorite of the night. 

So given their two approaches, Edmond succeeds in creating something great, and Laurie fails, as mirrored in the two of them winning and losing the challenge respectively. The judges aren't unanimously in love or hate with any of the looks, and I think some part of that has to do with Ciara (who honestly isn't relevant anymore, is she?) being there and offering her pointless and lukewarm responses to everyone, but her tastes also seem to align more with Heidi's, which I'm sure throws everything off a bit. Without Heidi being outvoted by cooler heads like Nina and Zac, things can get out of hand.

Zac makes the same point about Candice's skirt that I made saying it's just poorly placed, which made me think maybe if it had been moved up a couple inches, I'd have liked it more. Nina doesn't like the over sized lapels, but I think they're a nice touch. Either way they're split. They don't like the fabric Ashley chose for her top and skirt, but they do love the jacket, they hate the vest Kelly made, but like the rest of it mostly, they think Swapnil did too much and they hate the shawl, and they love Edmond's look except for Zac who thinks it's not innovative enough. So many mixed reviews and most of them negative. Though the biggest complaint for everyone is that their looks aren't actually producible or sellable for Just Fab. The only things that could be put on the site and sold right now are Edmond's and Ashley's outfits. So on top of no one producing anything that's all that great, they also didn't follow the confines of the challenge. 

Again I'm left to ask what's up with the casting this season? Is this the worst and most scattered top seven we've ever seen? And are they also the least talented? It sucks to think so, but this entire thing was a bit of a cluster fuck of an episode. I never really thought that this show required big personalities to shine, but now I'm starting to think differently. In the mad dash to the finish, I find myself no longer really in love with anyone left. 

Loose Thread:

--There's a twist to this challenge that the designers have to create a label for themselves and print it out on a shirt to wear and explain on the runway. It has NOTHING at all to do with the looks they're creating for their models. It doesn't have to go with or compliment those looks in anyway, it doesn't have to even take all that much time to create and the printer does all the hard work. In other words it serves no point or purpose of any kind beyond being a plug for the printer itself. It's also probably important for the looks that do get put up on the web somehow, but it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of the episode. Project Runway isn't even trying anymore, and it's sad. 

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