Saturday, January 16, 2016

Project Runway Junior: S1 E7 "#OOTD"

I complained last week that PR JR chose the wrong episode to air after a hiatus. I stand by that observation more than ever after this week's episode. Because this week epitomizes what I think is brilliant about this show while also serving to raise the stakes even higher. It's those stakes, honestly high already, that have been the main selling point for PR JR thus far. I've mentioned multiple times before that the biggest difference between this show and it's adult predecessor is the manner in which everything feels heightened. We can feel more astutely for these kids than we tend to for the more jaded and cynical adults on the other show. Someone goes home here each week, and each week there are tears both by the person going home and by those they're leaving behind. This is because this competition just seems to matter more and to carry so much more weight than the other one.

This week, the kids meet Tim and Aya at Mood to get ready for the Seventeen Magazine challenge. They're tasked with going out into the streets of New York and talk to people whose outfit inspires them to create their own editorial look fit for a spread in Seventeen Magazine. Obviously, the winning look will be featured in the magazine at some point. The hard part, of course, is getting jaded New Yorkers to talk to you. There was something fun about seeing the kids run around the streets trying, failing, and succeeding at talking to people. It was also a lot of fun to listen to their line of questioning to people they talked to. Finding out what factors were considered in the making of the decision on what to wear, and drawing inspiration from that was really fun to watch.

Samantha and Maya show themselves as best prepared to handle that aspect of the challenge. The edit shows each of them finding someone who's look inspires them and who is willing to talk to them almost right off. For Samantha, it's this manual laborer who's wearing stained and well worn cargo pants. The pants are clearly utilitarian in nature with pockets all over them, but Samantha sees beauty in them, and I can't blame her. Maya talks to a couple women in multi-layered looks, each of whom is heading to work. She quickly decides on a kind of new style look dedicated to someone who works in a non-traditional kind of office.

Jaxson, with his adorable nerdish outlook and mannerisms, doesn't fare too well. He finds women with styles he's interested in, but the edit focuses on how many people ignore him and walk right by before he finally finds someone who will agree to stop and hear him out. When he does finally find someone, he's impressed by the sleeves of her jacket, but he doesn't seem to have the same kind of fire and passion as the others do.

Back at Mood, Jaxson picks a faux fur and a loud yellow neoprene fabric. When Tim sees the two of them together, he urges Jaxson to get a supplemental plain white fabric just to be on the safe side. Meanwhile, Zachary has this idea to use necktie fabric to make his top, and it's something that sounds bold and interesting.

The workroom goes about as you'd expect. Some of them know what they're doing and get right to work, a few people scratch looks and start all over. Jaxson sees that his fur simply doesn't want to cooperate with his ideas and is thanking the gods that Tim convinced him to get the other fabric.

Tim comes in and is concerned for Jaxson's ideas, Peytie's pants, Zach's entire look, and how mature Zachary's look is for what is meant to be the Seventeen Magazine challenge. He's not wrong about that, but that's also too bad because I thought Zachary's look on the dressform was truly breathtaking. After seeing just how much Peytie and Jaxson are struggling with their fabric selection, Tim decides to open up Mini Mood for 15 minutes for anyone who wants it. They're the only two that do, but it's still a great decision that's made in the interest of ensuring these kids get to find their best selves in all of this instead of simply focusing on the competition of it all. PR JR is about so much more than the competition.

Peytie grabs everything she can get her hands on in an effort to find something better for her pants, while Jaxson looks specifically for something that will go well with his yellow fabric. They both leave Mini Mood feeling confident in their selections.

The Runway:

Maya: Love love love this! It moves, it’s classy, but also urban and unconventional. I think it captured exactly what she was going for, and I find it wonderfully editorial. I haven’t looked at a Seventeen magazine in…oh….ever. But my gut says this is more Marie Claire than Seventeen. I’m willing to be wrong though, because I love it.

Zachary: I think he figured this out wonderfully well. The openness of the top and the peak at the sport’s bra underneath is youthful and sexy to me, but still sophisticated. And I find the skirt to be intelligent and innovative in a way that I come to expect from him. His first look was great, but it wasn’t young enough, and somehow he figured out how to lose the aged elements of it without losing himself. I love it. 

Jaxson: I do not dislike this. I would say, like we said about Maya’s look last week, that it’s fine. I find it simple and a bit easy, though I do see a bit of innovation in the shape and construction of the jacket. I want to see the dress without the jacket on. And I think that the colors aren’t a match made in heaven, but I do think they go together better than Jaxson feels as though they do. At least I don’t think they clash. But yeah, I think it’s a little too simple and muted for this stage of the competition. 

Peytie: I didn’t hate the pants until the model turned around and I saw how wrinkled and bunched up they were. Yikes. It is totally just a fabric fail on these because the cut and design of them really is nice. It’s a better look with a better fabric choice for the pants. I like the top. 

Zach: I don’t care for this and I’m not 100% sure why. The colors work, the outfit is simple enough, but there’s something about it that I just don’t care for. Something about the cut of it says Sailor Costume to me, and I’m not sure what. Either way, not my fav. 

Samantha: OK this is the first look from Samantha in a long time that I’ve been head over heels for. She had a plan and she executed it perfectly. It’s smart and edgy, and it’s totally her without having to create yet another oversized coat. I can see her inspiration, but she wasn’t trapped or too beholden to that inspiration, so she still created something all her own. I respect this a lot.

Maya and Samantha are in the top while Jaxson and Zach are in the bottom. The judges are pretty split on both Peytie and Zachary, making the two of them safe in my mind. Aya points out that Jaxson tends to have a lot of ideas, but rarely does he execute them well. His dress is plain, and no one really seems to think it goes well with his dress. Hannah goes so far as to say that he appears to have dressed two different girls, and Christian says his girl looks like she might have gotten dressed in the dark. 

With Zach, they simply don't seem to think he maximized his potential with this challenge. They can't seem to place who his girl is or where she's going. And when Christian questions whether or not he thinks this is his best work, Zach seems to crumple and admits that it's not and apologizes for it. It's a moment made all the more touching when you remember that he's the guy who was dancing with his model on the runway in just the last challenge. Zach admits that he thought too much about trying to make the look young and lost himself in the process. Aya points out that his looks already have a youthfulness to them and all he needed to do was put his best self forward in the looks. 

On the other side of things,  both Maya and Samantha are praised for how well thought out their looks are. Maya's story about women going to work resonates with the judges a lot, while Samantha's ability to feminize cargo shorts is universally appreciated. Christian does, however, echo my sentiments towards Samantha when he says that he wants to see something like a dress from her so as to know that she can do more as well. At least she didn't do another oversized-coat this time around, but he still wants to know that she can do more too. 

It's the result that makes this episode such a standout moment in the season. The judges' closer looks and deliberation makes it clear that the winner is between Samantha and Maya and the choice of who's going home is between Jaxson and Zach. So when it's announced that both Maya and Samantha are getting the win, I think it should have been obvious that both Jaxson and Zach were going home. And yet somehow, I was still surprised by it. It's not the way these things ever really tend to happen. And given how hard it is each time they have to say good bye to someone, you never expect them to compound the issue by sending two people home when they don't have to. 

I thought at first that it might be a ploy to get Tim to save one of them, but then I thought about how horribly awkward it might be for Tim to go into the greenroom and tell one of these two that he was using his save on him while the other went home. And if there's one thing PR JR has excelled at, it's not putting these kids in horribly awkward situations. So indeed both Jaxson and Zach go home. And it's a strange choice when you think about it. Maya and Samantha both winning makes sense, they both deserved it. But Zach won the previous challenge while Zach saw his second consecutive challenge in the bottom. But on the other hand, in the face of Samantha, Maya and Zachary, do I think Zach had what it takes to win it all? Of course not. So in that sense, how upset can I be that Zach got sent home maybe one week earlier than he otherwise might have? The results of this episode are shocking, but I don't know that I disagree with them. There's a kind of cruel efficiency here, but one thing is for sure, the emotions of the good byes were well earned and strongly felt all around. And then there were four. 

Loose Threads:

--Hannah mentions in this episode that they'd two challenges away from choosing who will be in the finale. I think, if my math is right, that that should have meant they were planning on having 4 people show at NYFW. But I'm wondering if this seemingly unplanned double elimination means they'll just have three kids in the finale? Though that also could have been the plan all along, so who knows. 

--I like Peytie, and I especially enjoyed her critique this episode when the judges acknowledged that her aesthetic seems to have matured over the course of the competition. But with the consistent strength of Zachary and Maya, and Samantha's recent resurgence, it's hard for me to imagine she'll make it past this up coming week. 

--I've got to say, I'm very curious to see what the finale on this show looks like. I can't imagine they're going to send these kids home to make collections. But I wouldn't be surprised if they stuck around and maybe gave them a few days to make a collection. I'm guessing not a full ten looks, but who knows. 

--Kelly about Zachary's look: “You looked at the modern day business man and turned that into a chic beautiful woman.” I'm surprised the judges still didn't think this look was young enough. I guess some part of that is that they didn't see the first look he'd created; because with that in mind, I can't see how anyone would think this look was too old. 

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