Friday, December 16, 2016

Project Runway: S15 E13 "Finale Part 1"

Project Runway is good. It isn't great. It's not the kind of show that you feel the need to tell all of your friends to watch. No one who isn't watching it or who maybe gave up on it years back is missing anything, but it's still a good show. I have to assume you all agree with that or else you wouldn't still be watching, and certainly wouldn't be reading out reviews. And it doesn't seem like any of our Runaways are hate watching the show, so I feel confident in saying that it's good. But here's the thing: it could be better. Or at least I watch episodes like this one and I can't help but to think that it could be. I'm not certain what it needs to kick it all up a notch, but I suspect that it starts with casting and ends with production.

The Meetings

Everyone knows what this week brings us. It's the first part of the finale, so it's all about Tim meeting family members and loved ones and checking in with the designers towards the end of their six week time period to make a ten look collection. Barring last minute twists and challenges, week one of the finale is a pretty simple affair. And then Tim stops off at Laurence's house first, and everything I thought I knew about this episode flew out the window. 

I've complained about PR's long form storytelling before, but this is a bit of a triumph. We've heard bits and pieces of Laurence's story prior to now. The news that she never spoke to her father again after getting pregnant at 16 isn't news to anyone who's been watching. But the way she tells the story here, leaving no stone unturned, delving deeper into emotion than we've ever seen her, and wearing so much heart break that she can hardly seem to look Tim in the eye while she tells it is amazing. Something about it feels like the crowning moment of Laurence's time on the show, and she certainly won the episode for me. 

The problem with it is that while the groundwork was laid for this moment, it didn't feel like this moment is something the show has been heading towards all season long. This is the problem I continue to have with PR: this moment falls into their laps and they just count their lucky stars and run with it. To their credit, I don't think they do anything to over sell the moment. It isn't, I don't think, cut with sad music, and there aren't any overt editing tricks to make it a bigger deal than it is. Laurence has confessional scenes where she cries a bit more freely than she does with Tim in the workspace, but that's really it. And that's because they can't and shouldn't make this scene into a bigger deal than it is; it's a really big freaking deal without the tricks. As astounding as the moment is, the feeling it left me with in hindsight was one where I was a little disappointed in the show for not going harder on a Laurence narrative from the beginning. 

But Project Runway is first and foremost about the clothes. After her emotional story, Tim can't find anything to complain about in Laurence's collection. He's more impressed at this stage than I am. I'd commend her lack of black in the collection, but I'd also complain that it doesn't feel like her. Doing nothing but black leather coats would have been a mistake, but I equally think not having a single one is a mistake. I also don't love the color palette she's chosen. There are deep reds and blue on the rack behind her, but those apparently are for something else. She's dealing purely in olive greens and whites. I trust it to all come together, but in this early moments, I'm unimpressed. 

No one else's family visit stands out in anyway. Tim goes bowling with Rik and his family and it's as adorable as you'd expect. Tim's also either really good at bowling or the subject of a great edit. Rik's collection lacks cohesion from the jump. The interesting thing about this is that Rik brings that issue up first. Meaning he's thought about it, noticed the lack of cohesion, and excused it away. This is one of those moments where the number of looks he's completed works against him. If he had fewer looks, he could turn his focus over to making the new outfits into transitional pieces between the different segments of his show. But being nearly done means he's going to have to try and mix and match pieces to get the desired effect. 

Tim arrives to see Erin and finds that she doesn't have a single look completed. Her procrastination might be cute or endearing to some, but I'm a million percent over it. At a certain point in time it just feels like she's not taking this serious enough. Granted, I totally called it, but I at least expected she'd have two or three looks completed with a lot more work to go. With nothing but ideas and sketches to show Tim and 10 days to complete 10 looks, I'm honestly not interested in giving her the time of day. 

Roberi gets the harshest critique, but there's interesting about Roberi. This entire season he's been the guy who gets negative comments from Tim and just sticks with doing what he wants anyway. It's worked out for him thus far, obviously since he's made it to NYFW, but it's an odd tactic. As a general rule, I agree with Tim. Roberi's dresses are simple and the silhouette isn't unique enough to be a strong uniting factor. Tim harshly calls him a dressmaker instead of a designer, but it's not an unfair criticism. Roberi's individuality has gotten him this far, so I wouldn't want him to leave it all behind, but I certainly think it looks like his collection needs more of something. 

The Runway

Roberi Look 1: Yeah ok.

Look 2: This I like more. Mostly I think because I like the color of the skirt more. There's a cohesion between the first two, but I'd be lying if I said I thought they were high concept pieces.

Look 3: The waist of the pants and the waist of the previous skirt are the same, so more cohesion there. This is boring though. And sloppy. It's purposefully sloppy as if its meant to have the jumped out of bed and threw something on effect, but it doesn't work. I'm not a fan of this collection.

Erin Look 1: I hate this. It's certainly her, so I'll give her that much, but I hate it. I'll also compliment her on trying to do something with the sleeves, but I hate them. I hate what she did with the sleeves, I hate that the dress just looks like a sheet with a bunch of shit glued onto it, and I hate how immature and unsophistocated it all looks. There's a concept here, but it still feels like a look she threw together in a day on a PR challenge, because that's what it is. That's not what NYFW is meant to be.

Look 2: It's an alright sun dress. I hate the clutch.

Look 3: I was ready to hate that top when I saw it on the hanger, but seeing it on the model, I love it. It's hands down the best thing in her collection so far. And a lot of that is honestly because it pairs so well with that skirt which I think it stunning. This outfit stands out so much more than the two that came before, but there's still an aspect to it that makes me say it came from the same collection. But still, she only really scored on 1/3 looks in my opinion.

Laurence Look 1: This is simple, but also interesting. The small things she did with this look are impressive. The single stud on the leather strap in the front paired with the three studs on the back draws your eye. The way the straps extend down past the studs and out from the look feels new, and the length of the shorts is oddly sexy. I was just going to put this down as being boring and simple, but the more I look at it the more I like it.

Look 2: The pants are tight she says, and I can see it when the model turns around, but fuck me if they aren't impeccably made. I love them, and maybe she can put them on a smaller model to negate the tightness if that's a problem, but I hope not because I'm in love. I thought I hated the print of that jacket on the hanger, but on the model and paired with those pants, I love it. And the lack of a shirt underneath makes it crazy sexy.

Look 3: I screamed when this look turned around. It was indecent of me, and I regret nothing. I somehow forgot that the back was open like that. I love this top so much. I don't know if I love the cut off pants as much, or maybe I don't love them paired with the top. They feel too utilitarian, as if they're only there because the model needed pants, but the real star was always meant to the shirt. So they're an after thought, but the shirt is such a great first thought that I almost don't mind. This is the only collection I'd want to see more from thus far.

Rik Look 1: He's right that if he ditched the leggings the look would be sexier, but there's something wonderfully modern about the outfit as is. I think I'd rather him just keep it together. But I would like him to lose the glasses which I think are a stupid distraction.

Look 2: This is something I liked more on the hanger than I do on the model. On the model, it looks like an odd costume to me. I think it's cute, and I think it's well made, but something about it just feels childish.

Look 3: If you asked me if I thought the same girl is wearing all three of Rik's looks, I'd honestly have to say no. Or at least probably not. I might believe that all three girls know each other and travel in the same circles, but I don't think they're the same person. As far as this look goes...I just don't like it. I tried to stare it down until I started liking it, but it just didn't happen.


Given her televised introduction on the runway, Heidi is obviously away and has called in Michael Kors to be her stand in on the judging. Except she hasn't. Actually Michael is just there as a guest judge, so why he gets so much fanfare for being a guest judge is beyond me. One thing I do know for sure is that Michael has not been missed on this show. Not by me, and from the looks of it not by Nina or Zac either. But onto the judgement.

The word of the night is cohesion because, according the judges, no one has any. Having seen more of each collection than they have, I think it's more likely that the designers didn't choose three pieces that'd show off the cohesion of their collections, but that's a problem too. Rik is the biggest offender in this area, but as the judges complained about Laurence's collection I started questioning whether or not I saw cohesion in the line before now. Everything is so well made from her that it's hard to remember to look for cohesiveness.

No one comes out of the runway smelling like roses. But that tends to be the way these episodes go. The break the designers down to make up some manufactured drama going into the finale and then next week they'll be all compliments. Laurence's first look doesn't go with the other two, and no one but Heidi is all that impressed with it. Zac kind of likes it but mostly wants her to remember she's putting on a show and that piece might be too understated to be impressive.

None of them like Erin's sundress, and Michael points out how much he hates the clutch. Zac doesn't like the knit top, which kind of surprises me. It's the most showy-y piece she has, but as the camera zooms in over it, you can see the construction issues he's mentioning. It might look nice, but NYFW is not the place for poorly constructed clothes. Heidi doesn't like the proportions on the skirt for that outfit, but I think she's crazy.

They can't seem to come to agreement on what it is that Roberi's collection needs. Heidi predictably thinks it's sex appeal. Nina and Zac are quick to point out that it's not that since that's not him, but it does need something. Nina says more lux and polish, and better styling for the girls. His collection is all over the place and has too many messages and it just doesn't work.

So we leave the first part of the finale about where we always do: everyone has a lot of work to do and only two days in which to do. It's a PR staple and by now I think we all know it has no real bearing on what we'll see next week.

Loose Threads

--For starters a little programming note: obviously we all know the holidays are quickly approaching. Kudos to PR for not taking the Thursday before Christmas off, but I'm not sure I can say the same. As of now, my plan is to drive up to Atlanta to spend Christmas weekend with my mom. So I strongly doubt that I'll be home to watch PR until at least Monday. I'll get the final review up then if you guys don't mind waiting. Complicating matters a little is the fact that PR JR is also airing it's first episode right after the finale. I doubt I'll have the energy to write up both shows on Monday, so maybe I'll hold off on reviewing PR JR until it's second episode airs and I can just combine the two into one mega review. If anyone has any better ideas, I'm willing to listen. 

--A surprising lack of boyfriends on this episode. Roberi seems to be the only contestant who has one, and he's in Venezuela. 

--On the other hand, Rik not having a boyfriend means I've got a shot! 

--I felt like the episode was trying it's best to recapture some of the emotion of Laurence's story when they had Roberi talking about living in Venezuela, but it just didn't land. 

--Not to beat on a dead horse, but speaking of Laurence's story, I think one thing about it that I found impressive is that you might be used to, or come to expect, sad stories on PR to mostly be about young gay men being bullied and even kicked out of their homes and finding the strength to go on through fashion. But Laurence's story felt very much like something we haven't seen or heard on this show before and that was special. 

--Tim tip toeing down the lane is the single cutest thing I've ever seen. 

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