Friday, October 31, 2014

Project Runway All Stars S4 E1: "Made in Manhattan"

"This competition is the Hunger Games of fashion." - Alexandria, Season 12

I'm going to stop right there, because I just want to say how this statement is completely true. Well, minus the popularity. Though, I'm sure if the producers had their way, they would be forcing us to watch Project Runway all year long.

While watching the reunion special, I couldn't help but flash back to the shallowness of the post-Games interview with Caesar Fleckman, and the year-long humiliation/victory tour of the winners that also functions as both self-promotion and suppression. Which brings us to the end of The Hunger Games part 1.

As we all know, the beginning of The Hunger Games is all about training the youth using winners of the past. See also Project Runway: Threads, where Christian Siriano is judging/"training" the future youth in order to have a pool to cull from in Season 22. With Project Runway All Stars, we get Chasing Fire, with the special 75th anniversary games that that trots out all of these previous winners (and other competitors) as fodder for the games.

The Hunger Games is ultimately not about what it is. Much like The Hunger Games is more about suppression than actually feeding the poor, Project Runway is really about numbing the audience rather than about fashion. Evidence for this: the regression of the accessory wall all the way back to QVC, and sponsors to Red Robin and Samsung.

With the most insanely accurate opening statement, so begins Project Runway All Stars Season 4! Actually, this year's All Stars aren't terrible, and their characters were entertainingly quirky.

  • Alexandria von Bromsson - Season 12, 2nd Place - Timid respite from the rageholic season
  • Justin LeBlanc - Season 12, 3rd Place - Sweet deaf guy who was first runner-up in my eyes. Though, he better not use the "I'm deaf" ploy this time around...
  • Helen Castillo - Season 12, E13 - Drama Who?
  • Kate Pankoke - Season 11, E7 and Season 12, E11 - Bubbly Dark Princess. Again. 
  • Michelle Lesniak - Season 11, Winner - Portland. *glower*
  • Samantha Black - Season 11, E9 - Who? What is it about Samanthas and being forgettable?
  • Benjamin Mach - Season 11, E6 - This was the guy who made a loom one episode, and made a great outfit with it. He also had severely bad taste otherwise.
  • Patricia Michaels - Season 11, 2nd place - CRAZY EYES!!!
  • Dmitry Sholokhov - Season 10, Winner - Meh
  • Fabio Costa - Season 10, 2nd Place - FREEGAN! He also had that fabulous apartment in New York, but nobody knew how or why...and we didn't want to ask.
  • Gunnar Deatherage - Season 10, E9 - Remember when his Neck Beard was totally macking on Christopher?
  • Sonja Williams - Season 10, E12 - This girl could design, she stumbled hardest when everybody in her season stumbled
  • Jay Sario - Season 7, E13 - I don't even remember this guy...he was competing with Anthony, Emilio, Mila, and Seth Aaron for screen time, so don't judge me.
  • Chris March - Season 4, ROBBED, and All Stars Original episode - OMG, I've been waiting for him to come back! Wasn't he the first to get kicked off in the episode before Fashion Week? He had made a kick ass collection but was ejected because the judges got squicked out by the human hair.
And, that's our roster. A pleasant mix of talent and personalities. Sure, Alexandria and Helen could have not come back, and I could use a year off from Kate (SERIOUSLY?!  THREE YEARS IN A ROW?? Are you an elementary school teacher trying to fill in your summer?!). But, this already seems more fun than the whole of the regular season we just finished. Especially with Chris Fucking Marsh, who helped design one of the series' most memorable looks with Siriano (judge of Threads).

"One Day...One...Day" - Chris March
The challenge is to design an outfit that is either uptown or downtown (depending on your "team") in a day. With one sentence, Chris March reminds us that one day challenges are recockulous and were not always the normal. They used to let the designers breathe. But, you have to pay the crew and the hotel, and the rental fees. Red Robin doesn't pay that much I guess.

The Hunger Games theme continues with the class warfare that also begins moving the goalposts of what rich and poor actually is. The girls get the uptown, and describe their girl as "Class, Rich, Sophisticated." and "champagne drinking" "New York socialite" "party girl" who "doesn't work." The downtown gets marked as the post-college working party girl. 

Benjamin doesn't want to design for the downtown girl, but his description is all about gentrification and/or slumming. His girl is "the uptown girl who has moved downtown." Which means that the rent is being driving up, and that she wants to be seen as edgy and frugal, though she has the money to sustain elsewhere.

What's amazing about PRAS is that, although it is 60 minutes, the editors get both design and drama. After visiting Mood, Freegan discovers that the fabric he bought is not around. He has to redesign around other people's looks. Freegan wants to make a jump suit, and ultimately shares fabrics with Benjamin, making their looks feel cohesive. 


  • Portland - She makes a Portland dress that I don't understand. She uses a perforated suede that seems like it would be used for trade show walls and that our pregnant hostess calls Car Seat Fabric. Her outfit is edgy, but then it has a keyhole above the belly but below the breasts, making the skirt seem super high waisted? Then the back is a weird three tone open back with white, green and brown. It's a mess. But, it's a mess that almost works.
  • Crazy Eyes - She made a Rosemary's Baby pregnancy dress. It almost looks Audrey Hepburn in its sleek sophistication, but the breasts are crumpled and weird. Plus, she ran out of time with her textile, so it's just a plain white dress with weird boobs. She loses, justifiably. 
  • Sonjia - I was really loving it until the back. The cut open back with no shirt underneath reminded me of a cadaver, where they cut open the clothes to put the body in, and sew it up at the neck. Plus, the double slit with the skirt is weird. The pointiness of the back slits really contrast with the boxy modest front next line and exposed midriff. I'm confused. And it does nothing flattering for the boobs.
  • Samantha - WHAT!? This is a joke, right? It's like a running outfit with a green leather breast plate on one boob and a knot that totally is a third misshapen chest area. Plus the giant running stripe?! 
  • Alexandria - Bohemian girl with a slutty top.
  • Drama Who? - I love this look. It's the first look I unabashedly love. It's kind of a rip-off of the style that started with Mondo's show stopper finale look with the elastic-ish front panel defined by the curves, but that look still works for a reason. This is the off-the-somewhat-expensive-rack version of that boutique look.
  • Princess - Oh god. Isn't that bonkers? Crazy Eyes went with a 1960s A-Line that is cut all wrong. Kate, here, does a weird take on a Bond girl with sea shell breasts (the first to accentuate the boobage, mind you). And, it's totally retro...but it's not sophisticated.
  • Chris March - He saw a crazy guy on the street with a trash kilt, and came up with the idea of doing an outfit like a flannel shirt that was wrapped around the waist. This was also the winning look of Episode 5 of Under the Gunn, when Asha designed for Zandaya. 90s are back baby!
  • Alexander - Um...what? Those shorts (or skirt) are hoochie, that top is insane. What the hell is this? I don't even know where to begin. Too many ideas, not enough execution.
  • Jay - Tank Girl. Very 90s. 
  • Neck Beard - I like this. It's simply, rack ready clothing that's rather stylish. I like that the strip down the center was transposed, and the width is quite nice. 
  • Benjamin - Gentrification in a dress. It's an uptown look that decided to go downtown. I really love it, but I find myself wanting to hate it. It feels like a great outfit for slumming.
  • Freegan - It's a nice pantsuit, but it continues his flowing ethereal nature, which he started in his last runway show. I kind of really like it. It's easy and yet it isn't. It is so Freegan.
  • Dmitry - It's a Eurotrashy suit. The plunging neck line would be best seen in a Joe Eszterhas fim, and that accessory...oy vey.
The judging, with hostess Alyssa Milano, Isaac Mizrahi, Georgina Chapman, and special guest Ivanka Trump, is actually sane. Even though they disagree, the judges actually make arguments that feel like they're looking at the outfits and taking their job seriously. Unlike the early episodes of regular flavor Project Runway, the judging doesn't seem like it has been maximized for most social media internet outrage.

When they pick apart the outfits, they have good arguments, but I do wonder why Portland was there, but Samantha wasn't. But, then, Egg is the one we all forget about. 

The winning design will be given to Ivanka Trump to wear, and Fabio wins. So, Ivanka Trump, a princess from Uptown, has elected to wear a look designed for Downtown by a dumpster-diving hippy Freegan. The economic story of the Hunger Games writes itself. Fabio won't win any money. He just gets his outfit to be worn for free by the 1%. Thus, the story of Hunger Games is complete.

The loser is Crazy Eyes, which makes me sad. She was eliminated on an outfit that totally wasn't her at all. I wanted to see some of her intricate and incomplete work, but she wasn't given the chance to fully display it. I consider her the Michael Winterbottom of Project Runway in that she used to create compelling work even if it wasn't fully satisfying. 

Stray Observations
  • Alyssa Milano is very pregnant, and I can't help but ponder her past comments about hoods in the bedroom.
  • The cry that Patricia gives out after losing is magnificent. No shade. I love this woman.
  • I'm really happy they're keeping Alyssa. She's fallen into her role wonderfully. Remember when she was stilted? I'm glad she lost that tension.
  • Zanna Roberts Rossi is fabulous as always, but she had no room this week. I promise to have more Zanna since there is less origin story next week.
  • Swatch snoozes

Project Runway S13 E15: "Reunion"

Can I just give it up for Adrian? He totally went through the season with grace, and didn't devolve into the bitchiness I would have. He did a great job.

Because, this was the most boring useless season of Project Runway we've seen. Tom and Lorenzo have sworn off Project Runway now that they have a modicum of fame (as if people go to their site for anything else). When two of your most famous recappers spend a whole recap giving almost all of your designers the one-word review, "Basic," something's wrong.

We all know what it is. Time. The challenges have shortened to one-day challenges so that we can knock off a season in just over a month, because we have another season to film in the same workroom before the summer is over. Project Runway has too many designers, and thus too many episodes, causing the quality of the show to falter. Reducing the number of designers and episodes would increase the time for the challenges, and quality of the clothes.

Because, for fucks sake, we're getting sponsored by Red Robin and Aldo. It's one thing for All Stars to get short shrifted by sponsors, but last year's All Stars looked like a class act next to Fade wowing over a fucking refrigerator and then being knocked out in the half-assed Samsung challenge ("try to be inspired by a curved TV that nobody really wants").

Nevertheless, there were the occasional wow moments, and the half-assed Samsung challenge was one of those because it was also the rainway and avant-garde challenge. This was the best avant-garde challenge in ages. Which contrasts with one of the most snooze-worthy finale episodes we've ever had. Yes, the best collection won (Sean), but if the finale collections weren't dull (Sean, Amanda), they were a freaking mess (Char, Kini). 

In the wake of the dullest season, we have to go through an hour of trying to rekindle the drama just so you remember the designers (in case they come back). In light of that, let's return to my original list of designers. Because, I know that some of you were like me with "Who the fuck was Jefferson?"

In reverse order of elimination:
  • Sean Kelly: New Zealander who designs androgynously, and New Order Replacement Star
        Reality Show Personality: The Brit
  • Amanda Valentine: Originally from Season 11, Sister of Maroon 5.
        Reality Show Personality: The Elder Statesman
  • Char Glover: Single Black Woman from Detroit
        Reality Show Personality: Sassy Black Woman
  • Kini Zamora: Hawaiian who designs in denim
        Reality Show Personality: Hawaiian (yes, it is a personality type unto itself)
  • Emily Payne: San Francisco punk mom with a kids line
        Reality Show Personality: The Mom
  • Korina Emmerich: White-looking American Indian from Eugene, OR who designs for NYC woman.
        Reality Show Personality: Wannabe Villain
  • Alexander Knox: The Tall Gay Guy with Hidden Style
        Reality Show Personality: The Affable One
  • Sandhya Garg: The Subversive Indian
        Reality Show Personality: The Oppressed One
  • Fade Zu Grau: The elder German who has a moment with Heidi
        Reality Show Personality: Dieter, Gay Edition
  • Samantha Plasencia: Texas Hipster not from Austin
        Reality Show Personality: The Hipster
  • Kristine Guico: Grey Haired woman?
        Reality Show Personality: The Soon-To-Be-Cut Quiet Type
  • Mitchell Perry: South Florida guy with bad clothes; Zac Posen might want to sleep with him
        Reality Show Personality: The Obnoxious Bitch Who Throws Shade Because He's Untalented
  • Hernan Lander: Spanish Guy who has previously shown at Fashion Week
        Reality Show Personality: The Hispanic
  • Angela Sum: Asian immigrant, Computer Engineer
        Reality Show Personality: The Quiet Nervous Talented One
  • Carrie Sleutskaya: Babygoth who can design
        Reality Show Personality: The Youngster
  • Jefferson Musanda: Black Male, Hip Hop Dancer.
        Reality Show Personality: The Eager Beaver
OMG, remember Carrie? I thought she had such promise, and was going to be in Emily's shadow for a while. And, Hernan, the Spanish guy with no taste? Or, Mitchell, the low rent Miami version of Big Gay Josh from Season 9. 

The funniest thing about this episode was that Egg Samantha, the designer that nobody could remember having ever existed, was not even at the Reunion (due to a mystery surgery). Did you know she was in six episodes? I mean, forgetting about Jefferson or Carrie is understandable because they were cut quickly, but Egg hung around for ages.

I totally called it with Korina. She was a wannabe villain who was really just a shade-throwing bitch. Sorry, but all she did was insult everybody, then throw a fit at her best friend because she lost. Even though a lot of people correctly observed that her elimination was in no small part due to producer manipulation, the fact that she aimed a lot of her wrath at Char was unseemly.

Sandhya never emerged from her The Oppressed One archetype, and continued with it in this episode's second most hilarious moment. "I feel ganged up on." "WE'RE NOT GANGING UP ON YOU! WE LIKE YOU!" And, also, Korina saying "had you asked me to me face, I would have told you I liked you" was the most hilarious of backstabbing bullshittery I have witnessed.

The only person who was really developed into a semi-multidimensional human being was Char. I think that was, in large part, due to the Tim Gunn Save. Since she really is a young designer in her mind (she hasn't been designing for long), her style wasn't aligned with fashion. She may be better in future All Stars where she'll either be fan favorite or a controversial WTH designer.

The big drama was from the obvious Producer manipulations. Korina being pissed off that she had to run off with Char. Based on her final dress, though, she deserved to be out (and I hated her ski chalet outfit that caused her to have to do the dramatic run off). They milked that for a good segment+. 

Overall, the drama for this season was almost as dull as the fashion. They had to fight to find moments to comment on. The reunion special didn't dwell on the positive. They didn't find the time to comment on Fade's awesome repertoire with Heidi, and throwing shade in a foreign language. 

That they went out to talk to people on the streets of New York in order to create filler for the reunion should tell you everything you need to know about the season. Ah well, it's on to On Stars!

Stray Observations
- Tim Gunn: "Tell me more." Translation: "Please, talk more about how good Project Runway is."
- Yes, bitch can be a Term of Endearment. Yes, bitch can be an insult. Hernan did not use it as a term of endearment. No sale.
- Did Mitchell really get any time this week? It seems like the characters got a backseat to the drama. Even the memorable craziness of Angela (in 2 episodes!) was given short shrift so we could ruminate for AGES on Sandhya's oppression and Korina's bitchiness.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Project Runway Threads S1E1: "Red Carpet"

Previously on Project Runway Behind the Scenes

Int. Lifetime Networks

Lifetime: What the hell is going on, Weinstein?

Weinstein: What do you mean? We won an Emmy!

Lifetime: You gave us Under the Gunn. That show was a bomb.

Weinstein: We admit, the ratings were a bit lackluster.

Lifetime: A BIT?! The finale had fewer viewers than reruns of Full House on Nickelodeon!

Weinstein: Well, that does have Dave Coulier, and those twins...

Lifetime: FULL HOUSE RERUNS. Fucking Pawn Stars was getting double our audience in the same damned time slot.

Weinstein: Thursdays are competitive.

Lifetime: We want something new, and we want it now.

Weinstein: Our flagship is...

Lifetime: Will we be getting more than one season this year?

Weinstein: Well...unfortunately, the Teutonic Goddess is still tied to Germany's Next Top Model...

Lifetime: When we originally signed up for this, we had agreed to year-round programming.

Weinstein: And you still have to obey our contracts.

Lifetime: *sigh* What do you have for us.

Weinstein: The cornerstone of Lifetime's reality programming is kids. Kids are HUGE in the reality programming market right now. From Dance Moms to Honey Boo Boo (*ed's note: cancelled this week*), America loves watching egotistical asshole kids butt heads with their parents.

Lifetime: Go on. I like what I'm hearing.

Weinstein: And, it's been fairly established that the best part of Project Runway is the drama...

Lifetime: And...

Weinstein: What if we knocked off Project Runway for kids! And, gave the kids assistants in the form of a parent!

Lifetime: Can kids really create fashion?

Weinstein: Please, Project Runway hasn't been about real fashion for years. Anybody who still watches this dreck watches for the drama. If we tell them something's fashion, it's fashion.

Lifetime: But, what about working laws?

Weinstein: We have to make the prize worth it, and we'll rotate out the kids so the labor laws won't get too sticky!

Lifetime: And the drama?

Weinstein: What could be jucier than watching hormonal teenagers try to work with the people they're rebelling against?

Lifetime: Brilliant! Genius!!


This week introduced us to the latest cash grab spin-off from the Project Runway empire, Project Runway: Threads. A short season of 8 episodes which combines the hormonal qualities of the various Dance Moms shows and the format of Project Runway. Each week, we're introduced to three new teenagers who are forced to compete for a weekly prize package they value at $25k for tax purposes.

The format of the first week has an introductory challenge (a la Top Chef) where the kids have to bring in an outfit from home. The winner gets an advantage, here it's the ability to steal an assistant from one of the other kids for 30 minutes. They then receive the challenge, which is, essentially, a 1-day challenge (unless they're working 15 hour days as well). There will be a twist in the middle of the episode. And, then a runway show in front of Christian Siriano, some YouTuber, host Vanessa Simmons, and a random guest judge.

Don't know who Vanessa Simmons is? Don't worry, neither did I. She's primarily known as the daughter of Rev Run from Run DMC, and was introduced to the world through Run's House. She also has a shoe line with her sister.

So, that's where we're at...hormonal tweenagers teamed with their parents, a reality show host, and a YouTuber judge. And Christian Siriano. No season-long contestants. No eliminations. Just here's the winner, here's the door. Goodbye!

The success of this show will rely on your ability to be amused by tweenagers (11-14) getting to boss their parents around, parents ranging from doting to not, and producer manipulation just to get more dwama out of the kids. Because, this isn't about fashion. As we've seen, adults can't design a great outfit in a day, nevertheless teenagers. Nevertheless two outfits in a one-day challenge. At best, this is about the process of creating, as there was a significant increase in the show's focus on the design process.

This week, we get a southern gay boy (talk about born this way) and his petulant stressed out mother who can't sew. We get a rich girl and her doting mother. And, we get a girl/father team where Dad is more just encouraging. The kids have to design a red carpet look, and then are surprised by having to design a street look.

The best part and the worst part is that the enjoyment comes from teenagers and parents. Mocking the teenager for breaking down in frustration when the producers surprise them with a twist is not nearly as fun as mocking an adult woman for hypocritically running to Tim when she feels a bit of adversity. On the other hand, the cattiness between Bradford and his mom is priceless. "I told you, I'm not a seamstress. I don't have time for that." "You don't have to be a seamstress. You just have to sew." I'd be lying if I said I couldn't relate more than a little to their back and forth.

That being said, I don't feel comfortable in critiquing the looks of teenagers who have gone on TV. Because, all of the looks have ideas that are lacking in execution, as to be expected from teenagers who are doing ONE DAY TWO-DRESS CHALLENGES!! And, apparently, the judges also don't like critiquing the designs in front of the designers, saving all their bitchiness for when the kids and their parents are safely in a green room. Not that the kids are too young to be critiqued, but because everything about this is cheap, knock-off and unfair.

I dunno, this isn't like laughing with the campy Lohanthony shaking his leg on Youtube calling "All You Basic Bitches." Or, mocking the self-made Lucas Cruikshank. Both of them were doing things their way, unlike this show where the kids are being manipulated by multi-millionaire producers for somebody else's gain. Threads feels more than a little sleazy compared to most kids game shows. But, maybe that's just me.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Project Runway: S13 E14: "Finale Part 2"

What's the ultimate "point" of Project Runway? I think this is an interesting question that PR can be asked that other reality competition shows don't have to. The "point" of Survivor is mostly entertainment these days since the more social experiment element of the show passed within the first few seasons. How people survive and interact within the confines of that game is a subject that's been exhausted. We really haven't seen a new way to play the game in a long time no matter how many new wrinkles the producers toss in to the rules. But Project Runway exists in a different kind of space. The winners have the ability to really effect the future of fashion in a manner that the winners of other shows simply don't. Can you name the title of a single album from an American Idol winner since Clarkson? Have you seen any of the dancers from So You Think You Can Dance anywhere? Chances are unless you're deeply into those worlds, you probably haven't, but one only need be aware on a basic level of the world around them to have seen something from Mondo or Christian Siriano around somewhere. So in that sense, PR is uniquely placed to seriously effect the general outcome or trajectory of the fashion industry as a whole. As such, do we watch PR thinking primarily that we need drastic amounts of entertainment, and the rest can be damned? Is it the show's job to find the next great fashion talent and reward them? Or maybe it's just the show's job to shine a light on aspects of the design process within the fashion industry? I'm not sure the answer is any one of these things. It's more likely that the show should be striving to hit each at some point in time, but I also think that this fact makes PR into something of a mixed bag from season to season. Specifically, since this show has the ability to do all of these things, it sometimes has identity issues because we can't be sure which of these aims we're watching at any given moment.

Along those lines, let me introduce this final competition episode of the 13th season. The first portion of this episode seems mostly dedicated to providing both drama (read entertainment) and something of an insight into the design process. Kini is still reeling from his horrible critique, and trying to figure out how to remake his entire collection in two days. Tim comes in to offer his notes on what just happened. He tells everyone what they should do, and his points to Kini are mostly about just mixing and matching pieces from the collection instead of redoing everything. I don't think Kini really was listening though. This sit down wraps up with another trip to Mood for anyone who wants to go and get fabric for another look.

Amanda stays and chooses to just edit her looks. Sean goes to buy some great orange fabric in order to get in one non-fringe based look. Kini and Char buy a lot of fabric in order to make a lot of looks, and the divide between the remaining designers is established. The amount of work that needs to be done on Char and Kini's collection seems to ensure that they won't be in the running. Or at least that Kini will rush through and pull a collection together in two days and achieve this Rocky style come back in the 11th hour that will make this the single most dramatic PR finale ever. Which is clearly what the judges and producers are hoping for. We'll see how well it plays out.

Everyone gets to work and Tim comes in to consult once more. When he's meeting with Kini, he says to him, “That’s already looking youthful.” And Kini responds with “And that’s what they want to see.”This brings up another possibility for what the show could (but certainly shouldn't) be, which is just a vehicle for the judges to get what they want to see and wear placed into collections and onto the runway at NYFW. The judges' comments to Kini weren't about trying to get him to create the best looks he was capable of within the scope of his own personal vision; they were about shifting his collection to fit a set of circumstances that they themselves would prefer. Or at least I think that that's true. The result is a collection that I don't feel as though he fully believes in. It's cute and sexy but some of the looks don't scream Kini to me. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Tim tells Char everything she does should be done in an hour. It reminds me of the one hour run off she had against Korina and I said much the same thing after that moment; she’s better off working in one hour than she is over the course of an entire challenge.And it's an accurate point as I think the two brand new looks are the best in the collection. They still seem to butt heads over some of the earlier looks that Tim thinks should be scraped all together and she ends up using one of them anyway because if she didn't, she wouldn't have a full collection. Not surprising since she doesn't really deserve to be here at this point, but hey. That ship is sailed, I guess. 

Another moment in trying to bring the best NYFW runway that they can is found in Kini and Char having to have new consultations with hair and makeup. Don't get me wrong, I think this would have been an element either way, but when Tim tells the group that they're doing so, he specifies that Char and Kini will need this because of how unhappy the judges were with their styling. So it left me wondering if this is more about PR trying to protect its brand than it is about getting these designers' visions out there in a pure form. If that was really what the show wanted to be about, they'd allow the first time the judges see any of the clothes to be during the NYFW runway. So you get to the point where you see that after 13 seasons, PR is used to putting on good shows at fashion week and they aren't going to risk that streak by putting down a collection they haven't vetted first. I'm not a fan of this. 

So onto Fashion Week where the point of the show tends to be about the chaos of putting on a show like this. It's about shining a light on the dark aspects of the fashion industry and the kinds of drama that happen in the background. We've seen it all at this point, so the major drama of one of Amanda's models having changed shoes on her own rings a bit light. No one spills anything on a dress, no article of clothing is lost, the best they could come up with is a model wearing different shoes. It turns out the shoes Amanda gave her to wear were too small and she just went with her own. After a quick swap with a pair that fits, the crisis is averted and we're back to being a bit bored. In a lot of ways, this is the perfect microcosm of the season as a whole: when there's nothing there from the designers to give us drama, we'll make something small and basic into something huge and melodramatic. So good job on that one guys. 

New York Fashion Week:

Amanda's Collection: I will say that the only look where I think the jewelry is front and center and really noticeable is the last one. But that doesn’t take anything away from the rest of the collection. Perfectly cohesive, the use of color is jaw dropping, the cut outs and the amount of skin is always tasteful and sexy and worth it, and the pattern looks are all great as well. It feels original and beautiful. The looks I don’t care for are the shorts looks. Although I recognize that it’s good to mix things up and not have dresses or skirts on everything, the shorts just didn’t work for me much. Everything else is just great. 

Char’s Collection: Her third look is great. I like the forth look too. Both of these are the looks she threw together last minute. The last look is something I think rides the line. It’s almost tasteless, but it’s also almost elegant. I want to like it, but I don't. Overall I think we can see the cohesion better in the full collection than we could in the mini collection she sent down last time, but it’s still not very good. And the look that she calls the most “Char” is really simple and right-off-the-rack-boring. She shouldn’t be here, but what more can we say that hasn’t been said thus far? Also each look with that expensive Rome fabric was horrible. 

Kini’s Collection: I want to like the second look so much, but I hate it. The open back details are nice and the cut of them is unique. The shoulder pads look is way way better in this version than it was with the coat. But overall, I do not like this collection. And he used the umbrella cut of his rainway skirt a lot more often here to mixed results. The one look that had it on the top was really just…no I hated it. I’m not a fan of this.

Sean’s Collection: I don’t know what to say about this. To start off with that stark white look which is so crisp and clean and just wonderful, the transitions are just perfect, the dart of fringe on the back of that white look that I didn’t like in the mini collection out of context works so much better here as you see it transition into the the full orange look. I still don’t care for the first fringed black pants look, but there’s a much better version of that dress later on in the collection that has fringe all around instead of just on the front. The full orange look that he created after going to Mood is just sheer perfection; it perfectly matches the wonderfully draped white look from earlier. And the final look is breathtaking and perfect. It is still a lot of fringe, but I’m not going to fault him for that. Sean’s my clear winner after these collections. 

 Emily Rossum is my all time favorite guest judge on this show, and she actually has the remark that gets at the heart of what I think the show should be about. She says, in talking about why she thinks Sean should win, that for her this show is about finding the next great voice in fashion. So you should be looking for someone innovative and unique. The judges comments make it pretty clear that this is between Amanda and Sean. The judges compliment him on his fun and unique vision, and they compliment her for her brand ambitions. To those ends, I do think Amanda is great for that. If we've ever seen anyone with an aesthetic that could be brand marketing ready, it's Amanda.

The judges have polite things to say about Char's use of color and how fun her own personal style is, and by extension how fun her clothes can be when she brings that personal style into her designs. They praise the hoodie and black and white looks as the two best in the collection, reaffirming the way she seems to thrive under the pressure of time constraints, but that's about it. 

As for Kini, they are at least happy with how much sexier the collection is, and everyone's impressed with how quickly he pulled these looks together, but they're still split on a lot of the looks. They seem to think he's not editorial enough and allows his designs to get away from him. Emily at least likes the coffee filter top look, but no matter how much she compliments it, I hate it. The key comments that I responded to here were about how much he needs an editing eye. I think if they had said that during the mini collection more than "It isn't sexy enough" I would have been on their side a little bit more. 

So the debate after the designers leave the runway is about does the Brand Ready designer get the win, or does the designer with the most refreshing and interesting voice get the win? And the fun part about it to me was that there wasn't really a wrong answer. If you're judging based on these collections, Sean and Amanda both equally deserve to win. If we judge by the competition as a whole, then I think it's more between Sean and Kini, but that's neither here nor there. In the end, Sean is crowned the champ of PR season 13, and I'm happy with it. Granted I'm happy because I think he's cute and I'm far more interested in jumping his bones after he wins than after he comes in second place, I mean who wants to sleep with a loser, amirite? But this was one season where I honestly think PR did well to leave themselves in a position where either outcome could have been celebrated. This won't go down as the best season in Runway history. There was a serious lack of talent that we talked about often enough in these threads. But I do think that the three most talented people from the season found themselves in the finale, and I think the winner was chosen with an emphasis on effecting the future of fashion and the design world, and that's certainly something I think we can all be proud of. 

Final Thoughts:

--In case anyone was wondering, I won't be watching the reunion episode. i never do and have no interest in starting now with these boring people. If anyone else wants to do so and wants to writeup a review of it, I'd say let Julius know and that could be worked out? 

--Speaking of things that won't be watched, we had a discussion about PR Threads last week, where did everyone fall on that? Will you watch it, won't you? If you do watch it, is it something we should should be reviewed on here? I haven't fully decided yet, but I'm thinking I might at least check out the first episode. Maybe we can write it up and see what kind of response it gets to determine if we keep going?

--The Mood cashier asks Sean, “No fringe today, huh?” He really has become Fringe Man hasn’t he? In my Mood based fanfiction, there's a constant office pool going on each day about how much fringe Sean is going to but during his next visit. 

--Within the episode there were a lot of contestant retrospectives as they looked back over their time on the show. It all felt like a cheap way to fill out the time. 

--The overall theme from Heidi's responses to everyone was "I liked some things, but didn't like some others." I was like, yeah, no shit, it's a 10 piece collection. When was the expectation that every single piece would be loved start, because I don't recall that ever really happening.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Project Runway: S13 E13: "Finale Part 1"

Ok here we are at the first part of the Finale, AKA the most boring episode in the show's run. Don't get me wrong, meeting family and loved ones can be fun, and the early looks at collections are always nice, but no one goes home, no one wins, nothing really happens in this episode. I don't think I want them to scrap it because its a PR staple, but I wouldn't mind them making it a bit more interesting if possible.

Along those lines, the designers are sent to Rome for three days for inspiration. Needing to be inspired by The Eternal City is an expectation for the collection, but it doesn't feel like a real parameter for a challenge. In the case of Amanda and Sean, I think the inspiration is palpable. Kini and Char's collections feel like something they would have done even without the trip overseas. And no one is ever criticized for not being Rome enough, so there's that. This season lacks the element of needing an unconventional materials look that we saw last season, and I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing. I guess it just kind of "is" at the end of the day.

The trip to Rome is rather uneventful, but it fills the time better than the meetings with families does. The designers get the equivalent of a high school book report on the city and the sites therein from Tim. It was cute, but I was left thinking "Yes, Tim, we know. We took social studies in high school too!" There are a couple of touching moments as Tim sits with each of them and asks them about what's coming up next. Sean's need for a design space before he even gets into thinking about what to design is compelling, but not overly dramatic. I think we all knew he'd have a space in enough time to have looks put out before Tim comes a callin'. During lunch, Tim looks at Char and asks what it's like to be the only designer left who has never won. It felt a lot like "Hey Char, how does it feel to be a loser?"

Other than that, nothing much happens. The group goes to the single most expensive fabric store on the face of the earth, but no one is required to buy fabric there. Tim convinces Char to spend a bunch of money on some of the ugliest fabric you'll ever see, but whatever I guess. Not that I'm suggesting he's trying to punish her for forcing him to explain why he used his save on her or anything. Because I don't think Tim would do such a thing. But you guys can make up your own minds about that.

The big shock from the home visit is that Kini doesn't actually have an entire collection or two created already. He says he hit a wall when he first got back and has been slowly working past it and doing what he does best: well constructed denim. The few pieces he does have are great, so I don't think he has anything to worry about. Kini's family is adorable. And Tim Gunn does a hip roll. I can now die happy, Runaways. Honestly, I don't know that I didn't die and this is just my ghost writing the review.

Char and Amanda's visits are kind of similar in how simple and boring they are. Tim points out moments in both collections where things bump up against being a bit too much or a bit too costume and tell the girls to scale it back where needed. Amanda's designed and had someone create a lot of really nice jewelry that accents her pieces exceptionally well. But she's looking like she's bit off a little more than she can chew. Char's looks don't appear to have much direction or anything to say, but that's to be expected.

Sean's visit starts with a clean shaven Sean having a skype date with his parents, then cuts to a grizzled looking Sean in a confessional and then waiting for Tim. The cutting of these two scenes is really weird and seeing these two versions of his face in scenes that are supposed to take place in the same day (he tells his parents that he's got a meeting with Tim that day) is very jarring. Also, Sean shouldn't try to grow a beard. Let it go buddy. He tells Tim his Rome inspiration is about the betrayal Caesar, and so his collection will progress from light to dark to murder. It's a great concept and a very unique thing to be inspired by, but I don't know about the execution at this stage. The first looks are boring. He keeps using the word "Bright" but the colors are just white and grey, so how is that "bright?" The transitional look and the looks of the murder are nice, but Tim points out that they don't seem to go together. Sean says he might have to scrap it all and start over, but I thought it was just an element of needing to pull aspects of the later designs into the earlier looks. Hopefully the elements he pulls through won't be fringe, but no promises.

Everyone gets back to New York and unpacks their collections and compliments and complains about each other as expected. There's hair and makeup stuff, and then the "surprise" that the judges want to see the looks before hand. Char says "In my mind, I’ve been thinking I’ll see the judges at fashion week" and again I wonder have you not watched the show before? Of course you're going to show a mini collection here, it's how the justify making this its own episode. 

The Runway:


Look 1: The pop of the blue back literally made me OMG out loud. I love this. I love it because it doesn’t scream Amanda to me, which is a back handed compliment, I know, but still. The cut of the top isn’t my favorite, I feel as though it’s open in a way that feels messy or lazy instead of conceptual, but I also wonder how I’d feel about it on a less busty model.

Look 2: This one lives or dies by the print. I don’t see anything interesting in the design of the dress, but the print pops in a cute way. I can’t tell if I like it better from close up or from far away though.

Look 3: This one is probably my favorite because I like the color, I think the jewelry works well, and I really like the cut of the dress. Down towards the bottom it almost looks like they could be pants instead of a dress. I like the cohesion of the collection as far as these three pieces go. I also feel like it just doesn’t scream Amanda, which I like. Or at least it doesn’t give in to Amanda’s baser tendencies.


Look 1: hm…. I like how clean and simple it looks. I love the draping. I love it a lot when paired with the Caesar inspiration—it has a kind of toga feel that I appreciate. But I think that’s all the good things I can say about it. The orange fringe piece on the back looks very out of place without any context attached to it.

Look 2: I’d love this look 100x more without the fringe. I think the cut and tailoring on those pants and that top are to die for. The way the neckline plunges and then honestly plunges some more if you look closely at it is just brilliant. But I think the fringe is distracting and makes it feel like the look exists in a no man’s land between dress and pants that I don’t find flattering.

Look 3: This is fringe done right. Granted it’s fringe done the same was a he did Heidi’s red carpet look, but still. It’s the best use of it out of the three we’ve seen. The top I like from the front but don’t like from the back. I don’t know what that is called, but I hate it when tops are cut that way in the back, it looks horribly unpractical. But there’s a nice symmetry in those last two looks where the neck line plunges on the first but then the slit comes up from the bottom on the second. I like that. I’m not in love with these three looks, however. I think he could have done better.


Look 1:  No. I hate it!

Look 2: This I like a lot. The shear fabric is perfect. I love the length of the dress for some reason, I don’t know why but that really stood out to me, and I think the two pieces (is it two pieces or just one?) really went well together. I also even like the bow on the shoulder, which I didn’t expect.

Look 3: Is the hemline elastic? It looks like it is a bit, or it’s just puckered in an odd fashion? Either way, I like this look except for the hemline. I’m going to question the cohesion of Char’s collection based on these three looks. I think the last two go together well, but the first one comes out of left field. I can’t bring myself to believe that the same girl is wearing all three of these.


Look 1: My breath is gone. I have no breath. The top is the best portion of this for me. It’s just so well constructed and everywhere I look I see something new and pleasing. The skirt is cute too though I don’t know how I feel about the one band that just going around the middle of it.

Look 2: Another out loud OMG moment here. I don’t even know where to start with this. I have never worn a dress in my entire life, but I want this for myself. Oh My God! It’s just perfect!

Look 3: Ok here’s the thing, I think this look is exactly what it should be. It’s bold, it says something, and it’s so Kini, but I hate shoulder pads. It’s a personal nitpicky thing, I know, but I hate them. So the boxiness of the top throws me a bit, but I don’t think that has to detract from the look overall. As for what these three looks say about the collection as a whole: they say that Kini will win this season. There’s no other option here. 

 So the judges are just here to offer a little feedback, no strings attached. They like Sean’s looks a little bit more than I do. Nina’s point about him being brilliant but not needing to narrow in on the Fringe is really accurate. I want to see more and everything from him too, and I know he can do it so it’s disappointing to see him narrowing his view. 

Heidi points out the lack of cohesion in Char's collection, and no one really has anything overtly positive to say about her looks in general. Nina hates the look that I actually like the most. But nothing here is surprising. They all tell her that the looks need a little more of her own personal style brought into them so we'll see how that works. 

I like Nina’s point about the jewelry on Amanda’s looks making the dresses look more expensive. And they want her to get rid of the second look which I find interesting. Or maybe at least shorten it? After I just complimented the length. Yikes. 

And then there's Kini... Every so often, I watch this show and I write these reviews and I admit to you guys that I know nothing about fashion. And this might be one of those moments, because in spite of all my glowing praise for Kini's looks (which I totally stand behind, mind you), the judges hate them. They make points about the styling, which I agree needs work, and they point out that he could do without the coat, which I have to agree with since it's my least favorite piece, but the rest of it? I felt like they didn't actually engage with the clothes themselves so much as talk about overall elements of the show and the outfits. So when they say the clothes aren't sexy enough...well what does that mean for the outfits themselves? I don't disagree with the point, I didn't look at any of the clothes he sent down and think to myself "WOW she looks sexy as hell!" but if his collection isn't meant to be sexy, is that a bad thing? Doesn't he have that right? The fact is the clothes are impeccable, the looks are gorgeous, and a lot of them are also really wearable. So why is he thrown under the bus so much for not fitting his looks into some kind of nebulous poorly defined idea of sexy? The only reason I can think of is that they all really like Kini and want to offer him responses that will push him to be even better. Also I'm betting the show wants to add more drama to the finale. So when Kini pushes through his stress and changes one or two looks and then gets the win, it'll be this great heroic kind of a thing. Either way, I find this highly problematic. His looks didn't deserve that kind of a reaction, and I for one feel like it might cheapen instead of enhance his eventual win because of just how staged it all feels. But that's just me.

The Eternal Thoughts:

--Sean in that sleeveless shirt in Rome did very funny things to me. Yummy!

--Amanda's boyfriend sitting on the porch swing waiting for Tim is the most staged thing on the face of the earth. 

--I was planning on pointing out the hypocrisy of complaining about Sean's fringe (which has clearly become his thing) but not complaining about Kini's use of denim, but since the judges didn't praise Kini's denim, or his anything for that manner, I guess it's moot. But honestly, do you guys think that's fair? Because even I have a problem with the abundance of fringe and the one way monkey (hahaha) aspect of it. But I also think that if that's going to be his signature, then there's no reason for him not to use it. Just like I think of Kini's denim.

--I felt like Amanda's looks don't feel like her, but I will say that the color blocking aspect of them did. And that's a good thing because I think that that's something she does well and that I don't mind seeing from her. 

--In the "previously on" segment, they show Korina's bitch fest again. They've done that for the last couple of episodes, and it's left me wondering if they aren't doing so in an attempt to poison the well for her amongst potential clients? It no longer has any bearing on the action going forward, so I'm left wondering why they feel the need to bring it up again and again.