Saturday, October 26, 2013

Project Runway All-Stars S3 E1: "You Got Punked!"

OK gang, here we are in Season 3 of the Project Runway spin-off All-Stars.  And, this season we have a motley crew of former contestants, some of whom I barely even remembered.  But, since I still have the copy of the coffee table book from the library, and All-Stars only had 60 minutes this episode (more on that later), let's go through the cast.  Feel free to skip down to my "..." as this is just a huge gigantic info dump.

Season 3
Mychael Knight, Finalist, 2 series wins
Jeffrey Sebelia, Winner, 2 series wins 
Upon doing a little bit of research, season 3 wasn't even covered by AV Club. This is the before time. Jeffrey Sebelia, season 3's winner, was a relatively new father back then, and he was also a rocker with a huge prominent neck tat.  His final was really slick and cool when it wasn't inspired by a picnic blanket. For the most part it was easy, stylish, and half of it still looks timeless.  Mychael Knight was the fan favorite of season 3, and his final collection was the right around the time of the urban blaxploitation 70s revival. 

- Also from Season 2: Laura Bennett and Uli Herzner
- Season 3 had the first everyday woman challenge (though Season 2 had the designers design for each other).  As such, the women were the designers' family.  Yes, Jeffrey was the one who made another designers' mom cry. 
- Laura and Mychael both accused Jeffrey of getting help with the construction of his final collection. The producers deemed this to be unfounded

Season 5
Korto Momolu, Finalist, 2 series wins
Korto Momolu's designs had been very tribal and inspired by Africa.  Her whole collection reflected by her African and urban tastes rendered in a high end, almost beachy, style. But, Leanne won with her one-note-ish collection of petals.  Korto was fan favorite though.

- Also from Season 5: Leanne Marshall, Kenley Collins, and Suede
- Drag Queens on the runway! (Man, I really REALLY miss the drag queen challenge)
- Korto designing a "hip hop" look for Leanne, and having LL Cool J shut that design down

Season 6
Irina Shavayeva, Winner, 3 series wins
Does anybody even remember this season with any fondness? Irina was like what Alexandria of Season 12 wanted to be.  Her collection was dark, punky and gothy while still being rather high fashion and never boring.  It was cold and icy in all the best ways.  That said, not many people liked it.

- Also on Season 6: Althea Harper and Gordana Gehlhausen
- First and ONLY season to be filmed in Los Angeles
- First season on Lifetime, and first season under Bunim-Murray
- Bob Mackie outfit!
- This was the season of the redone wedding dress.

Season 7
Seth Aaron Henderson, Winner, 2 series wins
Amelie Gilette dubbed Seth Aaron as Ed Grimley in the finale. Seth Aaron had had a Hot Topic aesthetic for much of the season, and pulled out a Dita Von Teese runway full of edgy leather and gothic touches while still remaining stylish.

- Also on Season 7: Emilio Sosa Mila Hermanovski (color blocking!) and Anthony Williams
- Little kid and mom challenge?

Season 8
Ari South (formerly Andy South), Finalist, 1 series win
Andy South was an urban, edgy, designer. His final collection was space age urban that was kind of monochromatic but still felt like it would have been great for a 1960s Italian Space Opera a la Barbarella. And, really, they were railroading Gretchen from day one, with Nina finally getting her way to everybody's dismay.

- Also on Season 8: Gretchen, Mondo, Michael Costello (yeah, it was THAT season)
- 90 Minutes format
- Hats, hats hats
- John Teti's first review season on AV Club

Season 9
Viktor Luna, Finalist, 1 series win
Viktor was the consummate seamstress.  Really, everything he made was impeccable, if a little boring. But, his final collection was borderline edgy, but so meticulous that it bordered boring.  I liked it more than most of the other commentors on AV, but what are you gonna do? Anya was railroaded for the win this season.

- OWL!!!
- Also on: Anya, Bert, Josh M (aka Big Gay Josh), Olivier
- Olivier asking Tim what Double D's were
- Big bear rock band standing around in their underwear

Season 10
Elena Slivnyak, Eliminated in Episode 11, 0 wins
Melissa Fleis, Finalist, 1 series win
Christopher Palu, Finalist, 4 series wins
Elena came in on a wave of androgynous eastern-block punk/goth overly butch designs, and failed to impress anybody. At all.  Christopher Palu was the sweetest most squeezably adorable gay dude on the series.  And, his designs for the final collection were totally average ready-to-wear. And, Melissa was even more boring San Francisco ready to wear.  They were both snoozefests in their final.

- Also on: Dimitry (winner?!), Origami Rose and Fabio (gypped!!!)
- Fundraising
- Candy!
- Rockettes

Season 11
Daniel Esquivel, 13th episode elimination, 2 series wins
Dali Moustache from Austin was weird and we all thought he had good taste in the beginning, but then he fumbled.  And, as he fumbled, it was totally represented by his hair.  The lower he got, the worse his hair got, until his elimination in Finale, Part 1, where his crazy hair was craziest. And, his mini collection was old lady jackets.

- Also on: Portland, Kate, and Tu
- Team based season


Project Runway All-Stars has a cold open tonight, introducing us to 11 different designers and the new host in 5 minutes.  Remember how in the last episode of Season 12 of Project Runway, which aired IMMEDIATELY BEFORE this episode, the designers complained that they were cast to fit into characters?  Tim Gunn denied this.  Well, all of these designers are pretty much introduced by their characters.

Elena: Megabitch.
Palu: "I'm here to sew stitches and cut bitches."
Ari: Transexual (RISKY!).
Mychael Knight: Chip-on-shoulder.
Viktor Luna: Reality Show Talking Head.
Daniel Esquivel: Austin Moustache.
Jeffrey Sebalia: Rocker turned hipster
Irena: Megabitch #2
Seth Aaron: EGO!
Korto: Fan Favorite Revenge Story
Melissa: Apologetic

Really, dear readers, this is how Project Runway re-introduces us to the All Star designers. Not by their fashion.  Barely by their position. But, by their personalities.  No, its never about their personalities, right?  Ugh.  So so ugh.  But, this is a 60 minute episode, and this all happens in 5 minutes.


And, so begins our journey into season 3 of Project Runway All-Stars, aka The Quest For More Money.  Since this series was actually The Quest To Give Mondo The Win, it's never taken as seriously as Project Runway prime.

This season, we get two changes.  The first is the host. Gone is everybody's least favorite Angela Lindvall, who had all the personality of a bowl of oatmeal.  Our new host?, Alyssa Milano. She has more personality than Miss Oatmeal, but what I can't get over is her accent.  Ah well, it is so much better than what we had, so I can't really complain.  The second change comes later.

Tonight's product placement? Debbie Harry and Blondie.  She's introduced as the queen of punk, or some rot.  But, really, if you've ever listened to people in the scene back then they all knew she was going to sell out for success first. And, while she makes good pop rock music, by the time she was successful she was so far from punk it wasn't even funny.  And, listen to the clip.  It's so generic adult electro, I'm bored by it.  Snooooooze.  And, punk should never be boring.  *seeeeeethe*


The challenge is to design a punk rock look, and they have to design at Mood.  I wonder if this is because of the delay in season 12's final episode, where they suddenly got a extra day in the last non-finale episode.  It seems like it would be rough for Mood, as they have to close the basement for a whole day, but maybe nobody uses the basement?  We see fabrics and shit all around them.  And, supposedly this is to make everything feel more DIY and punk.

If I had my way, they'd send the designers to a consignment shop, like Value Village, first to buy some fashion and then have it be a transformative punk challenge.  Because, really, that's what punk is about.  It's about the re-appropriation of elements and using them in ways that they should never look in a down and dirty way to say fuck you to the establishment. It's down and dirty.

But, the designers have to create a design from scratch.  What's impressive is that, in this 60 minute episode we get a lot of design compared to drama, but we're also down to 60 minutes and have 11 designers, so we get flashes.  Viktor has a promising look of chaotic grommets. There are jackets.

Now we get the second change for this season.  Our favorite ice queen mentor Joanna Coles has been replaced by Zanna Roberts Rossi.  Zanna is nicer and sweeter, but she seems really soft for being a mentor.  What makes Tim Gunn work is that he's completely direct.  He has a warm personality, but he takes no shit and rarely minces words.  Zanna seems like she's not direct, and is trying to nudge the designers from their terrible intentions instead of showing them the way.  Joanna Coles would just be like No.

Throughout the episode, we get a wide range of what some people think punk might be.  Elena likes the new wave/no wave era of punk when it was the origins of all things 80s.  Seth Aaron thinks Korto's look is bad because it doesn't have anything hard, and thus isn't punk at all.  Some say its DIY. Some say its thrown together. Ari thinks it is street.  This episode seems to be trying to turn punk into a buzzword instead of a series of movements that started in the working classes of the 1970s. Or, it is displaying the brutality of this episode as it is all about appropriating a rebellious movement against the system and making it into high end fashion.  I don't mean to get preachy you guys, but punk was always against this type of thing.

The final prize:
- Custom capsule collection on QVC
- A fashion spread in Marie Claire and a year as contributing editor
- A computer
- A year's supply of spring water,
- Trip for two to Southeast Asia (what?  Is this The Price is Right?!)
- Free hair styling and photography for a year
- Makeup
- A couple sewing machines
- $150,000

No comment.


Necktat: Its a deconstructed dress and a leather jacket. The bottom is straight out of Fight Club with the wedding dress Marla Singer wears. The top is 1980s punk, and too finished to be punk.  And, I'm bored.

Palu: Color blocking.  It is really polished and trying to give it a harder look.  He struggled with his best instincts, and it came out looking OK.  Not punk, but not finished either.

Irena: This is 80s hair metal bordering punk.  To me, this was the most badass dress on the runway.  It was hard, and hard and hard.  I loved this look, but it says metal a little more than punk.

Viktor: Punk goes high end. The challenge was to marry punk to a high end fashion look.  Where Necktat made a look that was really punk, but not so much high end, Viktor makes a look that was like the punk is going to work at a fashion magazine.

Korto: Struggled.  It's a big meh for me.

Dali Moustache: This made me laugh.  He literally took high end fashion and strapped something punk to it.  It's hilarious.  It mocks the judges, and the demands.  And, for that reason, its really fuck you punk.  I love the shit out of it.

Elena: Sloppy neon straight jacket worn backwards.  The jacket is witty, but it feels too 80s costume to me.  It's like New Wave (which Blondie was a part of) without going modern. But, this is exactly what we were expecting out of Elena in her original season.  It's masculine clothing on a female thatmakes it ripe for genderfuckery.  I like the jacket.

Ari: It's high end, modern (almost pomo), with great design and a polished look.  It has punk around the edges (like the sleeves and shorts).

Mychael: High end fashion made for an urban woman.  He has an eye that is so far from punk.  But, it looks good.

Melissa: Change the hair, and its kind of meh.  The back is amazing and off.  The front is so boring though.

Seth Aaron: Designed for Nicki Minaj. This is pure awesome rap.  This is not punk to me.  "I'm a badass, but I have money and I'm growing up."  - THAT'S NOT PUNK! That's empire.

In the end, everybody tells what they think punk is.  From street to leather jackets, to bondage to not caring to anarchy.  Debbie Harry sounds a bit drunk or on luudes, and monotously says "this isn't punk" or "I kind of love it."  It's sort of royal queen of sellout. Now, I may be coming down hard on Debbie Harry, which is only mildly unfair because I like her music.  But, I've always taken a bit of ick to her being associated with punk so hard.

Anyways, Elena wins this one.  And, Ari goes home.  Goodbye transexual designer. You made an amazing, but non punk outfit.  I had a bit of thought that you would not be long for this season because transsexual is edgy, but I didn't think you'd be out first, and not on an outfit as impeccable as that.

It's going to be a rough season, you guys.

Stray Observations:
- Necktat on QVC: "That's sort of the dream of every designer. If you can reach the demographic that QVC're set."

- Viktor wore wings on his jacket

- Coming up: The SIMPSONS?!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bonus Post: Marco Marco's Runway Show

At the risk of going all TLo on you readers, I just wanted to show this total WTF show coming out of LA's Fashion week.

If you don't know who Marco Marco is, he's a fashion designer who normally designs for pop culture icons (think Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry).  Apparently he will be coming out with a line of men's underwear (borderline NSFW), and had a show in LA's fashion week to introduce that, as well as his line of women's clothes.

The result is batshit crazy.  I'm not joking at all.  Drag queens (largely from RuPaul's Drag Race) and male models in high heels.  It's  It's the modern equivalent of the 80s, and we'll all be laughing in 10 years.  I mean, that's the LA scene, right?  But, for now, I highly recommend searing your eyeballs on this (probably NSFW) wonder show of wow.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Project Runway S12 E15: "Reunion"

Dear readers, I'm sorry.  I didn't realize there would be a reunion special.  It is really trying to recap a recap.  I mean, the majority of the episode was

Tim Gunn: Why were you all such bitches?
[clip showing designers being assholes]
Designers: Who me?
Tim Gunn: Yeah, you. Are you that dense?!

Of all of the Project Runway reunions I have watched, this is one of the most "picking open the wounds" episodes I have seen.

However, there was a really good moment having to do with calling out the producers of the show for the editing, casting and selection.  Unfortunately, Tim Gunn is the host of this episode, and also an executive producer, and also has to come to the defense of the show.  But, I just want to call attention to the segment because it really is showing the lengths that Project Runway is going to try to knock down the criticisms of the viewers.

For seasons, the reviewers have always said that the judges have their favorites and preferred aesthetics. Justin was Tim Gunn's favorite. Alexandria was Heidi Klum's favorite. Helen was Nina Garcia's favorite. This was obvious.  We all know this. 

Tim shows his hand a bit, though. "And, if this show were rigged, Mondo Guerra would have won Season 8."  No. I'm sorry Tim, but that's never EVER been the accusation. The accusation has always been: "If the show was NOT rigged, Mondo Guerra would have won season 8. BECAUSE this show was rigged, Anya Gretchen (thanks Citric for correction) won Season 8, and Mondo Guerra was given a whole new spin off series to win: All Stars."  

Really, any reality show viewer worth their salt recognizes that personalities are put on show in no small part because of their personalities. Within a few episodes we are pretty sure who the last 6 are going to be.  And, the order before that is part due to personalities.

Stray Observations:
- Captain Sassypants' explanation of his anger issues: "I express myself differently."

- Cryface: "I just want to be taken seriously in the industry. And, wait, really?  Oh wait. We can't hire here. She's a drama queen. She breaks down all the time." 

- Drag Eyebrows: "I come from an industry where you get 300-400 hours for a garment and make it to last."

- Captain Sassypants (on regrets): "I would have come into this season with a professional mindset."


Ed's Note:
Project Runway All Stars is moving to Friday evening reviews.  When Season 13 of Project Runway comes back, we'll be back to Thursdays.  If you prefer it to be written up on Thursdays, please leave me a note in the comments.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Project Runway S12 E14: "Finale Part 2"

Fashion, deconstructed
Hey guys!  WE MADE IT.  This is Project Runaway's first finale!  YAYAYAY! And, really, we wouldn't have done it without you. Thanks to you commenters, we saw insights that we've tried to incorporate into the reviews, and we like communicating with you.  Hopefully you enjoy us too. Thank you for reading!

Adrian had the brilliant idea to tag team the finale, and I thought it was a great idea. Unfortunately, we're on different coasts, and that three hour difference made it a challenge that we will probably work on.  And, unfortunately, I got a little verbose *blush*  Sorry Adrian, if I dominated the intro.  I couldn't figure out a good way to transition from finishing up the episode to going back through the series.  I'm sorry.  *meep*  Anyways, enough with the disclaimers...on with the show!

I discovered Project Runway has an official coffee table book.  I didn't know this, and don't remember it being advertised all that much when it came out a couple years ago.  I learned a bit about why the new seasons feel so rushed compared to seasons of old.  Project Runway is filmed only in the summer after Parsons finally gets out of school.  Given that they now do 3 seasons a year, they have to film all three seasons over summer. They basically do have 3 weeks to film the whole series. The perception that the designers are basically being worked at a breakneck pace compared to the pace of yesteryear is actually accurate.

Looking back, we see a lot of talent in the old seasons, but there's something interesting about Project Runway.  According to Desiree Gruber, originally it was conceived as having seamstresses with the designers.  But, the seamstresses would have cost $30,000 per seamstress, totally $360,000.  Given that this was one of the first talent-based reality shows, they didn't have the budget for that.  And, since it started like that, it probably would have been a cheat if the later seasons had recieved a seamstress when PR finally got those big bucks rolling in (especially if they were spending money wrecking apartments in the first episode!).

In light of that, this is part Project Seamstress, and I think that has hindered their selection a bit. I'm also reading the bio of trash filmmaker Andy Milligan, who started his career as a dress maker in New York in 1960.  Even Andy had a stitch bitch as part of his crew, and he only owned a single dress shop. Now, there are a lot of designers who actually are the whole package. But, designers frequently get a stitch bitch fairly quickly if they're designing out of the gate.

In the past, we've had designers of varying talent where designers had strong points of view and they all felt like they would be great winners.  And, there were some seriously bitter loses in those days.  The loss I'm still bitter over is Chris March's amazing modern goth collection didn't get shown on television.  That was all the way back on Season 4.  And, he lost to Rami and Christian.  It's hard to get bitter over that.

This season has been made up of a wide variety of talent, you guys,  For the first time, there were two losses that felt sincerely bitter.  The two losses that I thought were rather extreme were Jeremy (aka London), and Kate (who was a 2nd chancer).  Jeremy, especially, started out oh so London chic then slowly devolved into this matronly style that seemed like he was designing for a soccer mom.  Kate was at the top of her game all season until, somehow, she made an outfit the producers drug her drink that week?  What the flying fuck was that?

But, if I'm going to be honest with you dear readers, what made this season totally compelling wasn't just that we had actual designers this year, but we also had some serious mental problems on screen this season.  There is an interview with a Project Runway producer over at AV Club which brings up Sandro as if he's the craziest one this season.  Somehow, in a 2 page interview, there is absolutely no mention of Captain Sassypants, nor his complete lack of a decoy collection.  And, yet, you see Sandro in the audience along with Male Portlandia.  It's like he just disappeared from existence with the hit of the iron.  Maybe the owl took him away. While I'm being totally honest in that the serious mental problems did kind of make the season compelling, I do think we need to tone down the rage.  We need more enironmental crazy people like our crazy unicorn Sustainidiot, and fewer rageaholics like Angry Warrior Freddy Merkovitch and Captain Sassypants.

Project Runway, this year, has also shown some more of the process of sewing.  In flashes, at least.  I have tried to take the time out to call out these flashes because, as a designer I want to see more of these low-drama moments that actually have more of the designers working out their problems without crying *ahem*Helen*ahem* or throwing fits.

I hate to say it, you guys, but Project Runway has a problem. While it tends to do beginnings fairly well, I don't think it's really learned to knock the endings out of the park. The last couple episodes tend to be slow and unexciting. The visits home never really provide any drama and they tend to offer up very little reason to watch at all. The finales, which should be every show's crowning jewel, are often either predictable or just boring.

In an attempt to remedy this, the producers decided to throw a last minute challenge at the designers. I can't stress enough how much I think this was a horrible idea. We get a moodless trip to Mood, pointless scrambling to come up with a new look to replace one of the old looks, and final pieces that are nice but add nothing to anyone's overall collection. I liked the decision to give the designers one more unconventional materials challenge to end off the year (even if it was a bit extreme to have so many of those types of challenges this season), but that only worked because the designers had the entire time dedicated to their collections to come up with a material and a look for it. Bringing them back and asking for another look that simply has to be washable is lazy on the show's part, and very unfair to the competitors. I've watched just about every season of this show; as such I've said these words before and I'm sure I'll say them again before I give up on the show for good, but I'm very disappointed in this development, PR.

In all fairness, to Project Runway, the one last dress challenge has been ritual.  What I truly miss from Project Runway's first season or two, was more of a focus on the whole process of putting on a runway show.  In the first season, the designers had to hold auditions with models, and select which models would go with which dress.  It made for a completely compelling look into design and styling. Frequently, you hear about designers saying their models are their muse (especially that one season where the designers had the option to steal other designers' models), and you realize that, not only do the designers have to design for themselves, but they have to figure out what will look good on their model in terms of color, fit, proportions, and styling.  Overall, it would make a far more compelling look into the world of runway design than having the one last elimination challenge that, I believe, started with Chris March's bitter elimination.  *GRRRRRRRRRR*

What I'm not disappointed in, however, are the collections we're graced with. Well most of them at least. I'll leave talking about individual looks to Julius, in favor of just touching on each collection itself.

(Adrian): I can't help it, I loved it. I mentioned it last week, and I wasn't alone, but I'm really happy that Tim saved him when this is the outcome. When I think that we could have been robbed of the experience of seeing this collection, I can't help but be happy that he's still here. The opening looks were elegant in their simplicity and never crossed into boring for me. The middle section is easily my favorite. The print works amazingly, the cuts of the dresses are all sleek and interesting, and it perfectly conveys the chaos experience he intended. If I have one complaint about the collection it's that I'm not sure I saw a real transition into the third phase of the story. I think the unconventional materials look does a great job of melding the first two phases of the story into one look that conveys grace and acceptance pretty well, but I think there could have been another look or two to do the same. Either way, he's got my second place collection hands down.

(Julius): I liked this collection.  It was clean, quiet, reserved and sophisticated. As an overall effect, he had a great story that was told through the gradual fade from white to grey with full color, then back to white with the integration of an ethereal layer of sound.  Then Justin hammers it all home with the unconventional dress that managed to be elegant, metaphorical, and literal all at once.  And, the final dress really tied the whole collection together.  It was actually a moving collection, that had a story to tell.  I had one look I had a problem with.  The outfit is the transitional between the first two phases.  It was a great transition, but it had some serious issues with that neckline.  The rest of the collection was sublime in its simplicity, even if he is consistently terrible with his designs in the bust.  The dress everybody, including me, loved with the sound waves down the front had some serious issues with that.  Going into all forty looks would be a bit harsh on everybody.

(Adrian): There's no way in hell that Dom doesn't win this thing. Her collection starts with a bang and it never slows down from there. I will say I wasn't in love with the weird shower curtain jacket from the early look, but she used the effect once again later in a simpler wrap and I loved it.  Even the more muted looks speak volumes, and this has a lot to do with her use of prints and color. I know we've been saying this about her all competition long, but it works. It's her signature, and what a fucking signature to have. I even liked the swimsuit; though I did think she could have done without the bag to go with it. And her unconventional materials look was oddly integrated into the collection as a whole. Amid all that color and print, you'd think a dress of solid silver door hinge repair pieces would be out of place, but it wasn't. I can't say enough good things about this collection.

(Julius): When this collections was on, it was sublime.  When it was off, it was way off for me.  I hated hated HATED the sheer material shower curtain plastic looks that the judges seemed to fall in love with. I can't say enough about how that took me out of the collection. On the other hand, Dom is like the cross between Mondo and Anya that uses bold prints in an energetic and vibrant way that really makes me happy that she is in the world.  Outside of those plastic looks, all of her outfits were just these vibrant pieces of energetic happiness that made me smile. My favorite look was the washable look which felt like it was the adult mature stylish distillation of all this soul and happiness that Dom possesses.  Zac Posen said the most insightful thing, "She's really a sophisticated lady. I just don't think she knows that yet."  This feels like the exploding birth of an artistic soul who will be pushing out all of these looks that will be so instinctively energetic and wild, and in the next few years she'll probably reign it all in to a more mature but happy brand.  I can't wait to see what's next for her.

(Adrian): Maybe I'm biased but I simply don't get it. It's remarkable to me that Justin also has a mostly black and white collection and yet his looks are never boring. I can't say the same thing about Alexandria's, and I honestly spent the entire show wondering why she was even there. Her collection added nothing to the mix of these other designers, and nothing about it suggested it deserved to be at Fashion Week.

(Julius): Ugh. The bases for Alexandria's collection is Pris from Blade Runner.  Only, then she got rich and became a boring tennis mom. Alexandira's secondsixth, and eighth looks really inform the shiny cyberpunky grungy roots of the collection.  But, then she blends them in with these looks of rich white people attempting to appropriate hip hop culture in the most fucking boring way ever. And, then there is the fifth look which is like a coffee shop trust fund poet wannabe. Really, her whole show pissed me off it reeked so much of money and privilege.  And, don't even get me started on the shitty message of the phone books.

(Adrian): Oh my sweet and simple Dance Beard, how I have long loved you and how far you hath fallen. This just didn't work from the start in a lot of ways. I understood what he was going for, but I don't think he accomplished it with clothes that were appealing. And the floral print he chose didn't do him any favors either. I will say that I honestly loved the last three looks of his collection, but the rest is just a no.

(Julius): Uh...wut?  Srsly...wut?  Bradon, you opened the show with a dress that looks like an upside down beer in a pint glass.  And, it was really all down hill from there.  You followed up the pint glass with its basket weave coaster.  Your fourth look had a pair of shorts where it looks like a bunch of flowers pointing to a FUCKING CAMEL TOE!!  Most of your looks suffered from either Gold Lame, or a crappy use of a psychadelic pseudo-Asian print charmuse that could be spring, but would totally look great on an geisha girl.  And, then you realized it and, as your made the 9th look the Asian inspired look the fabric wanted to be, and put it on an Asian girl.  It seemed right at home, finally.  But, then you finished up the show with a look that was like a beachy Anya dress made with a print inspired by the cover of The Downward Spiral and was attacked by a golden caterpillar.  If only this dress was the one with spilled coffee, nobody would have noticed, or they would have thought it was intentional.  In short, you failed.  Unlike Adrian, I didn't even see what you were going for.  I saw the flower coming up from the snow, kind of...but it was ultimately a failure.  Which makes me really sad because, unlike Alexandria, I loved your style throughout the show.  It's not even that you got bit by London's old lady bug.  You just went...wut?  No.

So Dom wins and it's really the only choice the judges could have made that would make sense. The finale never really has anything going for it beyond the Fashion Week show, and I'm starting to wonder if Project Runway shouldn't just run with that fact. Condense the last episode to an hour and spend all of that time at Fashion Week and on the judging runway itself. Watching the designers work on another (pointless) look while also having to go through model fittings, hair and makeup consultations, and the heightened emotions of even showing at Fashion Week is simply too much. Or is it just me? What did you think of the final episode as a whole, Julius? Were you fooled by the final moments of built in tension as the judges had to make the oh so difficult decision between Dom and Alexandria?

I could have gone for Justin or Dom, really.  Though, I lost hella respect for Justin when he went for the I'm deaf ploy on stage.  Ugh.  No, you shouldn't win because you're deaf.  You should win because you can design when you're not under pressure.  And, you can.  I loved your collection, and I would have been happy with you winning as well (especially if you continued making 3D printed space age jewelry).  Ultimately, I think if they got rid of the One Last Elimination in Finale Part 1 that has become a tradition, and kept in the one last design challenge.  Then, re-added in the whole process from choosing the models and pairing the dressed all the way through design, I think the finale would be a stronger more cohesive two parter.  The one last design challenge frequently inspires a look that actually pulls the whole collection together, as it did in Dom's collection.

Again, thank you readers!  We'll see you again at least for the All-Stars opener, if not the whole season.  More decisions on that to come.  Thanks!

Stray Observations:

--Dom is worried about what to put her muse model in; I guess she knows the judges don't look at anything other than the last look. (AA)

- Justin is so sweet wanting to make his washable look reversible.  That doesn't matter if you don't show off the reversibility, Justin.  And, you shouldn't. (JK)

--One of Justin's models broke her ankle right before the final runway show. Was I the only person who thought maybe the model was making a last minute bid for freedom and the producers went all Kathy Bates from Misery on her?

--In keeping with Justin's model struggles, he's stressed because his size 0 model is replaced by a size -2 alternate, and the dress just doesn't fit anymore. How hard life is. (AA)

--I have never seen a better “Cut-a-bitch” moment then when the model spilled coffee on Bradon's dress. He's a much better person than I am because I would have killed her and dragged her dead body down the runway. (AA)

- Really, who gives models coffee?  Shouldn't they be giving them like powdered speed?  Just kidding. Kind of.  But, coffee and food stains.  That should not be allowed back stage. At all. (JK)

- Did anybody notice the awesome fashion art queen that was seated behind Justin's parents?  I will associate his parents with the floral print nature of their home and how conservative and sweet they are. That memory clashed so hard with the queen behind them, it made me laugh so so hard. (JK)

- Justin's parents were so right when comforting Justin.  "You finished with integrity and America fell in love with you."  It's so true.  Justin, Dom and Bradon all finished with integrity and without irritating the viewers.  I honestly can't think of what Alexandria ever did to raise the ire of everybody, but that's just me.  (JK)

- Best line of the episode: Dom: "I'm poor.  I'm working two jobs, people." (JK)

- Also, since Adrian is probably too humble to mention it, take a look at his blog, A Storyteller's Guide To Story Telling, listed on the right.  He's just starting it, and I enjoy his writing immensely.  (JK)

- And, I'm not humble, so if you like semi-off-the-beaten-path movies, check out my blog, The Other Films.  We're currently in October's horror dedication month. (JK)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Project Runway S12 E13: "Finale Part 1"

One of the biggest issues with what Project Runway did last week was that it eliminated all of the stakes from the proceedings. If no one goes home, then what's the point of the competition? One way that competition reality shows have learned to up the stakes again when they avoid sending someone home one week is to send two people home the next week. This is a tried and true reality TV method, and one that we enter into the traditional pre-fashion-week-home-visit episode expecting. So after the three designers on the bubble show their mini collections on the runway, two of them will be eliminated and we'll be back to a solid top three for fashion week.

Now that we've got that totally accurate prediction out of the way, on with the show. There's been an added element to the final challenges: one of the looks has to be an unconventional materials look. That makes this the third (maybe fourth?) unconventional materials challenge this season. I don't know if I want to make fun of that fact as the unconventional materials challenges tend to be some of my favs, but that does seem to be a bit much.

This year, the home visits are split up between the two contestants with promised spots at fashion week and then the three losers who have to grovel to the judges for a spot. This brings us to Dom's home in Philadelphia where Tim arrives, uninvited, to a private lunch she's having with her mother, brother, and their waiter? Oh no wait, that cute chubby white guy is actually Dom's boyfriend. So that nubian goddess is dating the Pillsbury doughboy? Moving on: Her loved ones all express the typical platitudes of how proud they are for her, except her boyfriend who doesn't say too much at all; I'm guessing he's more the fat strong silent type. Tim and Dom leave to go check out her collection and we're introduced to the first of what will be a recurring theme this finale: designers creating their own textile. I guess all the HP talk from this year really did pay off. (Haha I can't believe I got that entire sentence out without laughing) Her collection is called (or inspired by) Retro Futureism which I'm pretty sure is an oxymoron. Her unconventional material is door jamb repair pieces which look pretty cool. Her designs look great, her textiles look beautiful, and she's using color; she should be in great shape.

Off to LA to see Bradon and his very tall (and hot) boyfriend Josh and their cute doggy, Eddie. Bradon's collection is inspired by spring in New York and the first flowers breaking through the snow and his unconventional material is clothing line. It's a mix of floral prints and sold metallic fabric. And I would like to see it on the models before I pass judgement because right now it looks like he went with some of Jeremy's worst old woman tendencies. Afterwards, Bradon and Josh take Tim to their very favorite place which happens to be a secluded spot on the beach. This leaves us all (and by all I mean me) wondering what the two of them like to do on this secluded and private stretch of night....when they're all alone... Where was I? Oh right, Tim Gunn at the beach wearing a suit jacket and pants because he's Tim Fucking Gunn. And to be honest, would we have it any other way?

Since we're already in California, Tim heads over to San Mateo, which I'm pretty sure is a made up place, to see Alexandria. Her collection is called Neo Nomadic Punk which I actually like in spite of myself. While the name is cool, the look is exactly what everyone would have expected it to be. She's sticking with white, black, grey, and tope, so no color on this one, and her unconventional material is the phone book woven into a nap. Oh wait, sorry, I meant to say that I took a nap during her segment; the phone book is being woven into a dress or something. Moving on: further confirming the idea that no one on earth likes Alexandria, we don't get to meet any friends or family. I'm guessing that she doesn't have any. Instead, we're taken to the sweat shop where she's chained up a few inner city kids to do all of her sewing for her. It certainly explains how she's already got 30 looks created and ready to go in 4 weeks time. The kids are cute, and precocious, and as Tim is leaving and hugging them all good bye, I think one of them slips a plea for help into his pocket.

 Union City New Jersey. I'd tell you who lives there, but I'm sure as soon as I said Jersey you guessed. Helen is another of the designers to create her own textile and it goes well with her inspiration of “Clairvoyance” because it's a print of her boyfriend's eye. Ok that was a lie, I have no idea how Clairvoyance and her boyfriend's eye go together, but then again I don't know how that can be an inspiration at all, so let's just go with it I guess. She's using color, she wants her capes to be a focal point of the collection, she's using bath mats as her unconventional, and I'm so horribly unimpressed that I got up and went to the bathroom in the middle of her and Tim's conversation. Good times were had by all. Back with the family, we meet yet another really tall boyfriend, this one with seemingly model good looks (by which I mean he looks like he could be a model which might be good for some people but totally didn't do it for me); he and Helen look odd together and he doesn't say much. Tim asks her family about Helen's tendencies towards great self confidence followed by crippling self doubt. Translation: Why does this bitch cry so much? They're all used to it, and Helen breaks out with the grand confidence that not only will she make it to showing at fashion week, she'll win the whole thing. I'll just leave that comment there and move forward.

Justin lives in Raleigh North Carolina where Tim crashes a nice family dinner with mom, dad, and sister. We learn that Justin's sister won't let him design dresses for her. I guess she's not into the whole foamy vag thing, weirdo. And also that Justin was once an architect. Did we know that already? It's amazing either way and I am more impressed with him than I ever was before. His collection is inspired by his own journey from being totally deaf to getting his Cochlear Implant and finally being able to hear. Also, I swear I'm not crying, I just snorted a lot of pepper because that's a thing I do. He's using 3D printing to create some of his accessories, he's also created his own textile for a look or two, and his unconventional material is test tubes which he seems to be just gluing all over a dress. Again, I'll reserve judgement.

It's back to New York where Bradon and Dom hug when they see each other, then Helen arrives and they all hug tightly, and then Alexandria arrives....then Justin arrives and he, Dom, and Helen all hug. Not that that means anything, right? We head to the new work room where Tim introduces us to someone whose name I didn't even get because she's a rep from Tide to tell them that everyone who makes it through to Fashion Week will have to make a new look for Tide that can be machine washable. So for those of you who were complaining that there wasn't enough product placement this season, here we go for one last shameless plug.

But before we get there, we've got one more challenge to get through. Tim comes back for a meeting with the three competing designers and he looks a little different than he did the day before. Is it a haircut? No not the hair. Maybe the outfit? No certainly not that. Oh I know, it's the cuts and bruises and busted lip that he got from “falling down some subway stairs.” I've watched a lot of TV and lived a lot of life, and I think I know what “fell down the stairs” is code for. As such, I'm gasing up my car to drive up to New York right now and kick someone's ass!

In his bruised and battered state, Tim rips Justin and Helen new ones for sloppy construction issues, but leaves each of them with a lot of positive feed back and he even gets choked up as he's leaving. Justin also gets choked up and says something about them all feeling like family, and I'm not sure if it's all generally sweet or if it's just sweet because it's coming from Project Runway's Sweetheart. And so starts the last minute scramble to get things ready for the runway. Helen decides to sew in a liner to one of her capes, and seeing how much work must be done, Dom jumps in to help her. Justin rushes to get his models into their outfits, and understanding how much work it is and how important it is, Bradon jumps up to help him out. Do I even need to say it? Ok, I'll say it: No one helps Alexandria.

At the Runway, Heidi is very careful not to say that 3 people will be showing at Fashion Week. Instead she say things like “After today, we'll see.” But we've already established that two people are going home so that's not setting off any red flags or anything.



Look 1: I wish someone had a line of coke for me to do so I could wake up enough to give a shit about this outfit. All in black, the vest is boring, the pants do have the cool pocket thing going for them, but that's really the only good thing I can say about it.

Look 2: The grey top and the stark white pants look good together as color combinations go, but that's about it. There's something about the cut outs on the shoulder and the tie in the back of the jacket that just look off to me. And the pants are just another pair of oddly baggy pants from Alexandria. They aren't drop crotch, luckily, but they aren't very interesting either.

Look 3: Didn't this bitch say something about Punk in her description? Did the meaning of the word Punk change without telling me? Of her three looks, I will say that this is the closest I came to really enjoying, but that's only because I think the asymmetrical cut of the pants is kind of cool. It's also the closest thing to Punk in her collection, but that's only because the cut is a bit modern and edgy. The look is still in tope and I just don't think that tope can ever be the first thing to come to mind when someone says Punk. The top is OK. And I want someone to burn that fucking hat.


Look 1: Little black dress which is actually blue. The construction is nice, but it's still just a little black blue dress.

Look 2: Baggy red dress with a cool acrylic belt. I could say that the construction is nice but the look itself is simple, or I could just say see above, so I think I'll just say see above... oh wait... damnit!

Look 3: Um.... wow. So this is the boyfriend's eye print, and there's a cape, and all I can think about is how screwed her model is if someone were to push her in a body of water since she can't move her fucking arms. What the hell, Helen? No, just no!


Look 1: I think the cut and fit issues that Tim pointed out in the work room are evident here. The outfit swallows the model whole and does very unflattering things to her shape. But I can't say that I don't like the look itself. There's something simple and toned down about it that I respond to positively. Plus I'm a total sucker for an open back and the cut out window in the back is rather stunning and elegant.

Look 2: I can't explain enough how much I love love love this look. I said last week that I was worried that given too much time, Justin would have way too many elements in his outfits. Initially, I thought that this would be the dress to prove that. Between the 3D printed belt, the designed textile, and the spray painted skirt it all should have been too much. But seeing it on the runway, my God does it work!

Look 3: At first it's hard to get over the loud noise the dress makes while walking, but when you just look at it, it's beautiful. It moves amazingly, I love the 3D printed collar, and it's glamorous and elegant in a way that test tubes shouldn't be glamorous and elegant. This look is a show stopper to be sure.

The judges talk to Justin first and have nothing but positive things to say about his looks. And when you hear him explain how the first look is parsed down to represent his life as a deaf child, the second look is all about the chaos of finally having the volume turned on and it driving him a bit crazy, and the third look is all about coming to peace and learning to live in the world now, your jaw can't help but drop to the floor. Honestly, I gained a whole new respect for the first look after his explanation, and I've always believed that that's what an outfit's story should do: take a good look and make it great. He's obviously going right on to Fashion Week, so the show is over and Helen and Alexandria can go on home, right?

Heidi and Zac have mostly positive things to say to Alexandria until Nina acts as the voice of reason and points out how boring the collection is and how pathetic it is that she didn't use any color. At this point, Zac promptly snaps out of whatever day dream he was in and joins Nina in bashing the collection. Heidi holds fast to her (vastly insightful) position of liking the little pocket thing. Nothing good comes from the judges talking to Helen.

So the writing is on the wall. Justin is the only person with truly positive reviews so he's going forward and the other two are going home, and we can go to bed. Heidi compliments Justin, tells him he's going to Fashion Week, and sends him off the stage leaving Helen and Alexandria behind. She then explains that she liked Alexandria's looks, but no one else did, and after the longest pause ever tells her that she's showing at Fashion Week too... And I'm speechless. Helen goes home, Bradon, Dom, Alexandria, and Justin will be showing, and Project Runway can go fuck itself. Great job keeping the stakes up, you guys. See you all next week for the finale!

Stray Observations:

--In all honestly, my roommate (who isn't a PR fan btw) was watching with me and she said “Oh he's totally going forward.” when she saw the mini collections. At this point in time I said, “He's going, but someone is going with him. Heidi is being way too vague about the final number of people showing, which means they've already decided to have 4 finalist.” She then said, “Wow, so this show is that predictable?” I could only laugh.

--I know I made a lot of fun about Dom's boyfriend, but I really didn't mean any of it at all. I just thought it sounded good in the review. The truth is I think love can be found in any number of places, and also I thought he was totally fucking adorable. So please don't hate me; I sometimes sacrifice my true beliefs for the sake of trying to make people laugh, or just writing something that sounds pretty good.

--With that being said, I kind of think this is the best batch of boyfriends we've gotten from the show in awhile. I was either personally attracted to, or at least fully understood how someone could be attracted to each of them.

--I'm still not fully sure how I feel about Justin seeming to ride his disability for all it's worth. I don't know why, but it feels like this kind of extreme focus on it came out of nowhere.

--Tim Gunn: “Eddie's trying to dig to China. Eddie, once you get there, you'll want to come right back.”

--Alexandria: “I'm in.”
Dom: “Noooooo. I mean congratulations.”
Yes, Dom, and so say we all.

Search Keywords: Sep 9 - Oct 6

Guys, I just wanted to share this bit of amusement with you.

I was looking at the stats on this blog (because I was curious about the stats due to something else entirely), and here are the top 5 search keywords for this site [well, only one hit per phrase, but still]:

1. hate alexandria hate stupid bitch no...  (really)
2. modeling scams project runway (I'm curious about this one)
3. project runaways (yay!)
4. project runway justin shouldn't have... (heh)
5. what is the new hp computer used for... (it's for pooping, silly)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Project Runway S12 E 12: "Butterfly Effect"

Just shut up and do your damn work!


*huh* Wuh. Wut.

Oh yeah, Project Runway.

You guys, this is was the most unnecessary episode of Project Runway I think we've experienced.  It's the final episode before we send people home to design for Fashion Week.  We still have five designers, but anybody who has watched Project Runway for any length of time knows that we have to pretend like there is something of suspense in this episode.  Like the stakes are really high, when the overall stakes of the next two episodes are "Whose outfits will we get to see on TV?"

To Project Runway's credit, they played down that tension.  They know that we know that everybody at this point goes to Fashion Week.  It worked like the first two seasons, but when one of the biggest fan sites has pictures of everybody's runway already up for a month, then you might as well give up the fakery.

So, what are the producers to do?  Well, they saved the avant garde episode for last.  Normally, the avant garde episode isn't the FINAL episode since many of the best avant garde challenges have been from team challenges (still fondly remembering Chris March and Christian Siriano's Season 3 look), but its a 2-day challenge this year, so yay for that.

We haven't had the L'oreal makeup challenge yet.  So, that gets tossed into the mix.

And, the last bit of challenge (at this point) is that they're inspired by...butterflies.  I guess this is because of some sort of butterfly mascara.  Billy B is L'oreal's rep.  His words of wisdom?  "Be inspired."  Thanks, Billy.  Alexandria is attracted to a dark butterfly.  Justin is attracted to an "outsider" butterfly that kind of looks like a moth.  Dom expresses enthusiasm for being able to go wild with color and inspiration.  Helen is going to be "Lux as Hell."

Once we get out of Mood, however, we get the best 5 minutes that I think Project Runway has ever had.  Now that's we're down to 5 designers, we get to spend time with the designers learning their process.  Justin goes into detail on his piping and sewing to make this incredibly intricate look of ropes. He explains how he has to make each and every pipe and sew it into a pattern.  And, then Bradon, who spent his time watching butterflies, is inspired to make noodles, but he doesn't know why.  He's being driven by divinity.

L'oreal comes in and does makeup consulting with Billy B.  I miss Handlebar Moustache Guy in this sequence.  HMG, you're amazing.  There is also a special focus on nails.  No, Nomi Malone, not your murder nails.  No, Nomi...that's a bad Nomi!!! Shouldn't you be on Dancing with the Stars?  Maybe you can do mine sometime?   /sorry

Tim comes in and does his critiques.  This episode really shows Tim's strength as a consultant.  I really couldn't see much of the final dresses in any of the forms at this point.  The only thing that I could see was that Cryface is making a cheap Halloween costume, and Tim calls her out for it.  Cryface breaks down again.  Bradon echoes the audience, "drama drama drama."  Tim is like, "stop crying every episode."  Dom is like "stop crying!!!"  Cryface's model is like "stop fucking crying, or I'm not getting my goddamn spread!!"  Oh, and Alexandria's look is another dark goth cyberpunk deconstructed dress.  Zzzzzz.


Oh, wait...there's another challenge?  What?  Producers, were you bored?  Did you actually have scheduling conflicts with the judges?  Regardless of the reasons, we get a day 3, and a second challenge. Anyways...Because butterflies are transformative, then the designers have to transform their ex-fellow designers' losing looks into a new look.  You know, its not bad enough for the losers to have lost...they have to see what other designers will do with their losing look.  Now, turn the knife to the right.

Justin chooses his own dress.  I have to wonder if Justin was told to choose his look.  Sort of like, "dude.  You've not impressed us since your save.  How about impressing us by revamping your losing look?"  Nothing else of note was chosen.

At some point, mid-afternoon, Alexandria calls home to some camp.  You can tell it's mid-afternoon by how bright the window is.  But, the storyline chooses to push this to end of the night when Alexandria is having a breakdown.  zzzzzzzzzz.

Makeup, nails and hair time.  Random dreams about fashion week blahblahblah...and then its runway show!  Guest judge is Emmy Rossum.


Avant Garde
Dom: It's like the Paris version of "I threw a jacket over my PJs." I really love the jacket, and it feels very edgy and sweet.  The sweatpants jumpsuit look...its OK.  It's better on its own.  But, the jacket is to die for.

Alexandria: Goth, deconstructed cyberpunk complete with silver hair on a black woman.  Jesus. It's like Halle Berry from Swordfish stole out of Catwoman's closet to go to a blood rave in Blade.

Cryface: OK, I know that Tim Gunn said he liked carrots at the beginning of the episode, but you didn't need to make a carrot.  OK, that was a bit of a potshot.  The dress is like a fall fashion look.  I think it was unfair for the judges to compain about the orange, because I quite like the orange and think it went well on the model.  It was a nice dress, but I dunno if it was avant garde.

Justin: A total Monet. The rope effect is nice from far away, but up close it's a big ole mess.  From afar it has great lines. From up close, its like a mop.  And the jacket was good, but over that dress it made the model look pregnant.

Braden: Stellar.  As soon as I saw what he did, I thought it looked amazing. Like Zac, I've never seen anything like it. It's brave, bold, experimental, and not ugly.  It's not costume, but it toes the line between costume and art.

Dom: Transforming London's look which was based on him dressing Peach Carr (it seemed), from some sort of mom real estate agent into a youthful modern wintery look.  I kind of love.

Alexandria: Transforming Portlandia's losing look based on her dressing some form of lame Amy Winehouse, Alexandira tok it, and deconstructed it a little bit, make it a bit more pomo richy punk.  You guys, she just really hammered home my judgement of lame cyberpunk.  With a shitty fake mohawk and pigtails.

Cryface: Transforming Kate's What-the-hell-I-don't-even look, she made it look like a chic secretary. Meh.  It's a damn sight better, but its still meh.

Justin: Transforming his own foamy vagina look, he made a perfectly acceptable blak dress with a little touch of fabric.  I'm nonplussed as its a totally different dress with a helluva lot of new material.

Bradon: Transforming Sue's look of junky placemats, he makes a fetishistic rubber maid outfit?  I dunno.  The judges loved it, but I kept wanting to heat up the rubber to make it mold to the skin.  And the half panel of placemat in the front.  Not a fan.

Anyways, the judges are indecisive.  They know they want Bradon and Dom in the competition (as all of us do by this point), and can't decide who is worse between Alexandria, Cryface and Justin.  Our commenters also feel this pain.  So, nobody goes home, but because we have to have a competition in Episode 13, Alexandria, Cryface and Justin are all on the chopping block.  So, no real winner. No real loser. The show goes on.



Stray observations:

- Heidi really likes sausages

- Heidi also sees the stupid cyberpunk aesthetic in Alexandria, and may be the only reason she didn't go home.

- I used to love Doggy Chow.