Friday, October 7, 2016

Project Runway: S15 E4 "Sink or Swim"

I hope no one minds if I start with the most important aspect of this week's episode first. I know I should build up to this, but I've never been one for burying the lead: HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWATCH!!!!! Everyone's favorite fabric store pup turned another year older during the filming of this episode. And I think I speak for everyone when I say that if there's any great takeaway from this season of PR, it's that that sweet little fella is still with us. Many happy returns, Swatch!

Now that that's out of the way, I guess we can get back to the more mundane subject of just what PR is doing this season. I've been asking that since the beginning, and I think I'm ready to stop asking. Not because I don't think it's still an appropriate question, though I am wondering if I'm not just overthinking it all a bit, but simply because I don't think there's an answer.

When I was in my first collegiate-level Creative Writing class, my professor told us about a theory about the Grotesque. As she put it, Zombies are scarier than Aliens because zombies are still too close to human for comfort. Aliens and monsters tend to look, act, and think nothing at all like us, so there's a slight level of safety with them. But zombies tend to be just off from center in a way that we find highly disturbing. Anyone of us could become a zombie at anytime, and that hits us where we live. That's what grotesque ultimately means: almost normal, but not quite, and therefore frightening.

That's what I feel about this season of Project Runway. If there were massive changes being made to the format of the show, we could point to them and draw up a reason for their existence. But instead, all the requisite parts of a PR season are still there, they just feel slightly off. Like starting with an unconventional materials challenge, or going four episodes without a team challenge, or bringing in "real women" in the second week only to not use them at all, or having a Heidi as client challenge in the fourth episode, or all of the fashion spread and put into production rewards that have already been doled out. All of these things are typical to a season of Project Runway, but they don't usually all happen in the first four episodes, right? Or am I just misremembering things again?

But the point is, I don't think there's a reason behind any of it. So at this point, I'm giving up on asking. From now on, I guess I'll just talk about the episodes on face value and try to determine if they're good or bad episodes of this show we've all been watching for so many years.

The Challenge

This week, the contestants are charged with getting inspired by some of Heidi's line of swimwear to create a swimsuit and coverup that would fit in with her collection. The winning look, of course, will be produced on Heidi's line. On top of that, they're also designing the textile to use for their garment. So we've got a challenge that combines swimwear with Heidi as the client and create your own textile. Should be a hoot and half. 

One of the more interesting aspects of the textile design section of the episode is just how little product placement there was. They seem to be using advanced tech to do the drawing, but there wasn't the typical waxing poetic about the HP whatever the hell. 

Per usual, some of the designs are good and highly personal, others seem a bit more basic. Sarah's girl laying down on a beach blanket is a bad idea from the start, but she seems so excited. Alex's using the design of his tattoo is really personal and unique. It's almost got the same feeling as Mondo's poz sign dress from the same kind of challenge. 

Heidi's visit is as colorful as always. As is typical of a Heidi as client workroom visit, she does most of the talking while Tim just kind of lets her. The main takeaways are how shocked I am that Cornelius seemed to be planning on leaving his bottoms as high waisted as they are on the model form. I mean come on, anyone can see that that's a bad plan. Also, Heidi hates everything about Jenni's entire look. She goes so far as to try on the bathing suit bottoms and walk around with a look of serious disappointment. Jenni's big idea for this? Keep everything the same! Always a brilliant course of action. 

Allow me to say that I love these challenges. Much like menswear, asking the designers to create swimwear or even lingerie showcases just how difficult that sort of thing is. There's so little fabric, outwardly it seems like there's so little actual design to the whole thing, and yet they give the contestants so much trouble. Cornelius and Tasha in particular are struggling with the entire concept behind designing and creating swimwear. My continued crush on Tasha means I'm more than a little worried for her in this one. 

The Runway

Rik: Yes to this! One piece!!!!! This would fly off the rack like it’s no one’s business. I don’t feel any kind of way about the coverup, but I will say that I like how quickly and easily it comes off. And the back! This is super sexy, and the textile is great. This works!

Erin: Her coverup doesn’t come off? Is that good or bad? The front of that top is very very open. Which also I can’t tell if it’s good or bad. At least it looks purposeful and not like poor fit issues. All in all, I guess it’s ok. But I question how well it suits the challenge.

Cornelius: This is hideous. I don’t think his print is as much of a problem as it could be, but the high waist on those bottoms isn’t being hidden enough by that coverup to get away with. The coverup itself is basic and simple. And the straps on that top are glaring and out of place. 

Nathalia: Getting rid of the framing around the print was the right way to go. This looks a lot more mature and sophisticated. I think the textile is too busy and it hurts my head a bit. It feels like a magic eye, and that’s a bit much, but she’s not wrong about how it blends from far off, so there’s that. 

Brik: Ok, I’m going to try and not let my general hatred of him get in the way of this reaction. I think there’s some odd bunching fit issues with the bottoms in the front. It’s the opposite of camel toe, take that how you will. Other than that, I actually do like the bathing suit. I don’t love the cut of the top, but it’s not horrible either. And the textile works because of its simplicity. The coverup is fucking horrible though. We’ve seen a lot of pattern mixing on this show over the years, and when it works it’s great, but when it’s horrible, like here, then you kind of want to kill the whole thing with fire. I like this more than I have anything else he’s done thus far, but it’s still just a step or two in the wrong direction. 

Jenni: The edit to the bottoms makes this work a lot more than it did in the workroom. The strings on the sides call to the cut of the top, and there’s something smart about that. I don’t love the coverup. It’s original, which I want to give her credit for, but there’s something about it that just feels off. And the unclasping of it to just reveal her vag is…odd I think.

Laurence: I like the cut of the back. It adds a bit of sexiness to a look that’s everything but sexy. The textile is boring, sadly, and the suit is ultimately unflattering. I wish we could have seen her take the coverup off, because I’m curious about how that happened. 

Alex: I would have loved to see the back without the coverup. I like this a lot. I certainly think getting rid of the big blue blocks on the side was the way to go. I’m curious to hear what others think of the coverup. I can see how it could read as matronly, but I actually really like it, and it’s certainly nowhere near as old as Sarah was making it sound. 

Tasha: Well, no wardrobe malfunction, so that’s good. I think there’s something very easily commercial about this. It’s simple and ill-fitting on her model, but I could easily see someone wearing it. But I also don’t buy women’s bikinis, so maybe I’m insane? The coverup, sadly, is too simple and under-designed. For someone who’s never made a bikini before, I’m more impressed than I expected to be, but I do love her so take all this with a grain of salt.

Mah-Jing: The coverup isn’t denim, right? It looks too light and flowy for it to be. I like this more than I expected. I do not like the cut of the bottoms. Something about them look matronly to me. But the top is sexy, and it all works together. Nice rebound from the last challenge. 

Dexter: Dexter’s problem in the workroom was how dedicated to that snake eye he was. The success here is that he ditched it and went with a more basic snakeskin inspired print. So this came together nicely. Everything except that weird black bar across the bottoms. What the fuck is that?

Sarah: That textile is hideous and should be burned. And that coverup is easily the worse so far. With that being said, I do like the cut of the top. That little cut out right at the cleavage is smart and sexy. 

Roberi: Does she have camel toe issues? There’s something worrisome about that part of the garment. But everything else I really love. It’s vibrant and colorful, the coverup works well with the rest of it, and the cut of that swimsuit feels fresh and new in so many ways. I like it a lot. 


First off, who the hell is Lucky Blue Smith, why have I never heard of him before, and who do I talk to about getting him in my bed? Don't get me wrong, he's way prettier than I tend to like my men, but there's certainly something about him all the same. Those eyes, those lips, that soft spoken come hither voice, that man was doing it for me in this episode!

In any event, Rik, Roberi, and Alex are in the top, and Sarah, Tasha, and Jenni are in the bottom. 

The striking cut of Roberi's swimsuit and the way the coverup goes so well with it are the selling points here. Lucky likes the coverup more than he does the swim suit, and he's just so smart and classy and handsome that you can't help but to agree with him, right? No but really, I love the coverup, but it's really the cut of the swimsuit that I found the most striking. Nina points out later that the feathers would actually look just as good on a white fabric as they do on the black, and I think she's spot on. 

Alex's look seems to be Nina's favorite as she says she'd buy the whole thing and wear the coverup everywhere she could. No one says it's matronly, but I find myself wondering if Nina wanting to wear your outfit is a good thing or not. 

Rik is the real success story here. Going from the bottom in the last challenge all the way to the top here is really impressive. And everything on his look just works. From the pattern to the cut of it, to the genius and simple coverup. Lucky points out that it can be worn on the beach and then into a shop next to the beach without someone feeling like they're just wearing a bathing suit, and I think he's spot on about that. It's great work all around. 

As for the ladies, Jenni starts out by saying that she knows how Heidi feels about her look, and Heidi says she wants to hear what everyone else thinks. Turns out they all agree with Heidi. Which again leaves us wondering why she didn't change the damn thing. Admittedly, I thought the changes to the bikini bottoms were an improvement, but apparently I'm alone in that assessment. Zac has the most hatred for the look calling it granny stripper and sporty on top, slutty on bottom among other things. 

They point out how under-designed Tasha's look is and how much the coverup detracts from the two-piece and the textile itself. But that's not to say that they liked the textile to begin with, Heidi just thinks she should have fully committed to it and went all out. Which I can't disagree with. 

But from the start, it seems clear that Sarah is the weakest link here. This won't come as a surprise to some of our commenters who have been pointing out Sarah's shortcomings all season so far. And the most apt term for her looks thus far this season has been boring, but here she produces something that's downright ugly. Zac says the bottoms look like a boy's underwear, and Heidi is the only person to rightfully slam that horrible coverup. She started off the episode talking about how she didn't want to be safe anymore; I guess the point here is be careful what you wish for. 

Rik wins, Sarah goes home, and I don't think there's really any complaint to be had over this. Next week is the first group challenge of the year. I'm curious to see what this brings. 

Loose Threads

--Brik is still with us. At least this week he didn't actually have the ugliest thing on the runway so there's that. He did, however, like Sarah's look, which I think tells us everything we already knew about his judgement and taste level. He also had that "My name's Brik. I like Bricks" moment which I wish I could unhear. Something about it came off as very "I'm Groot" to me. 

--Anyone else noticing, and equally sick of, Mah-Jing's "I'm so straight. Look at how straight I am. Oh lady's bodies!!!!" routine?

--Tim in shorts....I got nothing. 

--Along with the continual conversation about Jenni's laugh, I think we should start talking about Alex's speech patterns. He's a sweet guy, and I like him, but he's only 30, and yet he talks and looks like he's much much older. When he speaks, I nearly fall asleep.

--Anyone have any thoughts about the fact that the three top looks were from men while the three bottom looks were from women? It's probably a little sexist to think so, but wouldn't you assume the ladies would have been better suited to making flattering swimwear for a woman's body than the collection of gay men on the show? 

--After some quick googling, I find out that Lucky Blue Smith is a model. He was scouted as young as 10 and was modeling by the time he was 12. Currently, he's 18 which makes me feel all kinds of creepy and cradle-robby, but only slightly so since he's still legal. Either way, he was easy on the eyes, but I also found him honest in his critiques. He may not have been the most insightful, but he also didn't play with kid's gloves which I always appreciate in a guest judge. I've talked about him too much haven't I? It's a bit creepy isn't it? I'll stop. 

--I do want to point out one more thing before I go, I'm very happy with the abundance of one-pieces on the runway. The one-piece is making a massive comeback lately, and seeing it on PR with the acknowledgment that it can be elegant and sexy was a great touch. Sorry, but I live in Florida and am at the beach or the pool every weekend, and I've been seeing one-pieces everywhere, so if it had been nothing but bikinis, I would have been pissed. 

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