Saturday, November 22, 2014

Project Runway All-Stars S4 E4: Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve

This important scene is missing from the episode.
I've been praising the first three episodes for feeling like classic Project Runway. The judges have been on point, Alyssa Milano has been warm and witty, Zanna Roberts Rassi has been intelligent and quick. The episode before a break is usually some sort of amazing episode that expands the universe or is somehow enough to power the audience over the week.

Project Runway All-Stars believes this too. This is the final episode for a week, because next week is Thanksgiving. As a result, the producers decide to pull out all the stops. The designers are taken to the Hearst building to meet up with Nina Garcia (classic!). They are shown a bunch of jewelry from a famous nationwide jewel manufacturer (pretty!). They are given a challenge that involves their personal life (drama!). There is a guest judge from last season's winner (history!). Yet, all this obvious manipulation adds up to the worst episode of the season. 

Right out of the gate, something is off. The opening scenes pull a Project Runway and combine way too many elements at once. We're in the Hearst building to meet Nina Garcia. OK, so it's the Nina challenge. But, she's standing next to a bunch of jewelry. So, it's also the Jewelry challenge? No, the jewelry man is there just to show off the jewelry and announce that they are giving a decent amount of money to the winner ($10k). 

But, this is neither the typical Nina challenge nor the jewelry challenge. Instead, it is the personal challenge. In a naked bid to get the designers to do something other than be pleasant to each other, this week's challenge is to make an outfit based on the designers' past, present, and future romantic relationships. Thus, everybody is sent into a whirlwind of emotion. High, if you're engaged. Low if you're married recently single. 

On top of that, it's also a mandated party dress challenge, which apparently is code for no all black or all white dresses. Obviously they were eyeing the already eliminated Alexandria, and Kate "bridal dress" Pankoke when they made this limitation. Ultimately, though, its just yet another twist in an episode fraught with twists.

The requirement of basing the design on your romantic life was engineered for maximum emotions. You can practically hear the producers off screen saying, "No, tell us your whole story, and this time with feeling. They may or may not be holding a gun to the designers' heads. If they do, that threat is only slightly off screen.

In fact, when Zanna comes around, she, not so nakedly, implores the designers to pour their hearts out on screen. With Helen, she starts out, "Someone's in love." "Well...was." "TELL ME." By the time she gets to Portland, all politeness is done. "TELL ME YOUR STORY," she commands. And, when we get to Fabio, we have discussions on open relationships, whose details she announces to all the nobody that is listening to her.

The best part of this episode was the Kubrickian/military camerawork that happens when she gives her final speech. As she finishes up her speech, she is standing in the center of the screen between two tables. Deathrage is to her right (our left), and to the right of the screen is a shoe and a bunch of fabric. Red is in the foreground, and blue is in the background, with the carpet and walls, starting immediately behind her. This creates both a Workers vs Leader story, and a Passion vs Judge story. Simultaneously, the iconography of the framing is stolen from so many motivational speeches in films, especially sports and military ones. 

When the camera finally flips, the camera is behind Zanna's head, where there was no camera before. 9 of the 11 remaining designers - not shown: Jay and Sonjia - are all carefully placed, so none of their faces are hidden from view. Deathrage has been repositioned farther right, so that the mannequin is on display, while Fabio is now moved to create a straight line with Dimitry and Benjamin. They're posing, and almost everybody is looking at Zanna...except Justin and Portland who are blankly looking off screen. Even without their participation, this is a really solid example of Triumph of the Will cinematography that places Zanna as the central power focus.

The final sequence is a bunch of closeups of the designers facing forward, mostly staring at Zanna, and nodding silently. If this isn't inspired by Triumph of the Will, I don't know what is. This is one of my favorite all time sequences in Project Runway's history, and should be hailed as a masterpiece of editing and filmmaking. However, it also noted the artifice of the sequence, and one wonders how long the designers had to participate in this bullshit. This sequence was only 22 seconds long, but in those 22 seconds, it brought down the final wall of Project Runway and announced it as a constructed game show instead of a reality show.

Anyways, only one interesting thing happens between Zanna and the runway, and that's Sonjia somehow magically finding a cobalt blue fabric. Now, I say magically, but Sonjia said "Yesterday, I saw this beautiful cobalt blue fabric..." This blue fabric almost comes out of nowhere, or may have been gifted by a designer that didn't use it. The fabric pops up periodically throughout the episode. The first time is at Mood, where it is crumpled on the cut table. Somebody chose it, and I suspect that Egg was the one who saw it. Later, the fabric is seen on Egg's work table. It's in their row along the windows, and on a table with black shoes on it. Later, during her Zanna critique, the blue fabric is at the bottom of the screen on the table while they're fawning over her ugly green dress. It shares a space with some Orange fabric and more green fabric. As the models leave, the big ball of blue fabric is still in front of Egg in the background. 

But, in the next cut, Sonjia is already cutting the cobalt blue fabric, and the cobalt blue fabric is no longer in Egg's pile.  This is most noticeable in the "next day" workroom pan, where the fabric is no longer on Egg's table, either having been covered up, or having been given to Sonjia. 

In a season where everybody is so focused on helping each other, this is not surprising, nor even offensive. Except, Sonjia made that statement "Yesterday I saw this fabric." Why they didn't spend time on the negotiation, or how Sonjia got her hands on it is beyond me. But, the way they tell the story, the blue fabric came magically out of her ass. But, it's there.

So, I spent wayyyyyy too much time poring over this element, and it's time for runway (in which we'll get into the relationships).


Georgina Chapman is still absent, this time being replaced by her prime counterpart, Nina Garcia. We're also treated to a guest judge from Project Runway All Stars, Seth-Aaron Henderson. And, some fashion blogger.
  • Dimitry - So, I had a coworker who was obsessed with Italian style fashion. He was heterosexual, but he loved Ferraris, and eurotrash aesthetics. He also loved techno music. He would have loved this dress,w which is a great raver dress. But, it says nothing to me. It's very editorial, and thus very Nina. But, both the shape and the skirt are off-the-rack dullsville. Plus, the stiff bounce at the bottom looks cheap. Dimitry is single, not looking for love, not in love, nor wants to be. And, this dress shows it. It has no emotion in it, just cold hard flash.
  • Sonjia - This dress is so Sonjia. She took this gorgeous cutout lace fabric and crafted it into a one-piece hanging shirt. But, she cuts it very raw and jagged to match the overwrought, almost Gothic, patterning. Then she puts the afore-mentioned cobalt blue underneath it in a tight two piece which clashes so beautifully with the shirt that the shirt's shapelessness is ths given shape. It looks so easy and comfortable and free, yet it tells a story of intricacy and complication, and the layering of the blue gives a strong present to the intricate past. It's a gorgeous piece.
  • Benjamin - This dress is so fucking boring. It's a pretty dress in an ugly color with a crappy Handkerchief hemline...but a gorgeous back. What is with the season and having beautiful backs but ugly fronts? Anyways, Benjamin is single, and his breakup was bad, but that's all in the past now. Though, he hasn't put much interest into the present or future of his love life. Similarly, the shape and the front of the dress are boring, but the back is very precious and beautiful. 
  • Jay - I don't know if I love or hate this dress. Or, both. Jay uses a raspberry striped pattern to create chevrons and stripes in every imaginable angle, including horizontal and vertical. He outlines his pieces with a pink frosting ribbon. Nothing is symmetrical or centered. The outlines are also in such a way that the breast panel looks like it is popping out. Yet, it's really gorgeous and strange. It's complicated and chaotic, like his love life.
  • Fabio - He's in an open relationship. He sees life and love with a techno tribal fantasia. And, he found a fabric to make an OK dress out of it. But, then he layers it with light pink fabric vest panels that shouldn't go together, yet it does. And, in the back the panels are part of the dress. From the front it's two disparate pieces, but the back shows them all coming together as one. 
  • Kate - Married to her first love. Ready to settle down. So, she creates a Golden Girls outfit for Blanche. My grandmother would have loved this outfit, because she loved bing. But, the color is so old-fashioned and the slicked back blond hair and over done makeup makes the woman look like Jamie Lee Curtis from True Lies raided her grandma's closet. The slouchy back makes it look like it was made for a woman who was heftier than the model, and I don't even know what was going on with the single piece of fabric that was dangling. No.
  • Justin - He found the love of his life who learned ASL for him. So, he made a dress inspired by Alyssa's ladybug maternity dress from the beginning of the episode. It feels like a younger counterpart. He paints I Love You in sign forms, but he's safe so he doesn't get to explain that. Because, otherwise, it is just a very pretty party dress.
  • Portland - It's a very strange dress. She was married while on the show previously. Has gotten divorced. And is engaged now. Meanwhile, this dress is a raspberry lace in a usual silhouette. But, then she adds on poofs at the wrists and extra long sleeves, as well as copper strapping around the waist. Oh, right, she's a Steampunk girl. This is a steampunk inspired modern take on the old west. It's Portland.
  • Deathrage - He was just in a trainwreck breakup. And, his dress is a trainwreck. I could spend pages ripping it apart How nothing looks intentional, how the aymmetry does nothing for the silhouette or the body, how the slit up the dress is awful, how the weird way he did the waist is also asymmetrical and is counter to the bodice's asymmetry. But, knowing that he was in a trainwreck of a breakup and wanted to get that in dress form, then this dress is fucking perfect. It's an awful look, but it's solid for its intention.
  • Egg - It's a dress from the 1960s. 
  • Helen - She was put in the backburner. And, so, she made a dress that looks like it put the model in a bondage. The bust turned into a frown, and the arms looked strapped in at the side. It was emotionally sad and distraught. It was overworked.
The judging is so strange, but not incorrect. The judges go after Deathrage's chaos, but Deathrage doesn't sell his devastating relationship story to go with the dress. They correctly criticize everything, but the dress has an emotional story about a great relationship gone wrong. Nina criticizes Kate's dress comparing it to Dimitry's ultra-modern dress. Nina was so done with Kate. And, Kate's design really was boring.

The main story, however, is Nina gets her way no matter what. Much like we've been suspecting on the main Project Runway, Queen Nina is so forceful that her way is the primary way. Helen's tragic dress, which was a tragic masterpiece, was seconded to Sonjia's modern Gothic edginess. Which is sad, because Sonjia's was clearly the most innovative and the most radical.

In a season of Bravo-level Project Runway, the invasion of Lifetime Project Runway feels tragic. Suddenly, we have way too many elements, not enough time, producer manipulation, Queen Nina craziness, and terrible judging. Not to mention it had confusing product placement, and a weird story line that didn't make sense. Lame

Random Observations
  • Nina has the best sour but stern poker face. And, her flip of the hair is perfect.
  • Scott Davies, the jewelry dude, is amazingly stiff. Remember the gun being held off screen? I think this was also aimed at Mr. Davies. I expect these flat deliveries from the designers, but from the SVP of Marketing? Gorgeous.
  • Swatch is always sleeping. We need more active Swatch.
  • Interestingly, nobody gets free marketing at Project Runway. When Sonjia is joshing Kate about being married, she's drinking a Red Bull, whose logo has been covered by a post-it note.
  • Did I just compare Project Runway to a Nazi propagandist documentary? Yes, I did.
  • I know we haven't spent much time on sartorial choices, but what is with Deathrage's neckbeard? It's getting distracting again.
  • Alyssa looks like a disco ball in her runway outfit.
  • When Justin's model turns, you can see panties...
  • If you watched Project Runway: Threads, the winning kid also created the same neckline that Helen was so celebrated for.
  • "Whatever those relationship experiences were, at least you got a good dress out of it."

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Project Runway All-Stars S4 E3: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Stage show challenges are a favorite of Project Runway. It is understandable, considering the show is filmed in NYC in close proximity to Broadway. We've seen tie ins ranging from figure skating to the Rockettes to The Thunder Down Under. In fact, the Godspell challenge had a costume designed for the stage worn in the show. It is in this vei...

Wait...what? It seems that outside producers have figured out that one-day challenges suck. And, they don't want to commit to having to put a shitty outfit on stage sight unseen. They have good cause too, considering some of the lackluster designs that have come out. As a result, Project Runway All-Stars combined the stage show challenge with the avant-garde challenge, with the promise that the outfit would be in a window somewhere in the lobby.

The inspiration for this week is Wicked, the still-running musical about the Wicked Witch of the West. Wicked has been running for 11 years now, and is a Broadway juggernaut. I imagine that the ticket sales might be waning by now (especially with 2 different US tours also going around). There is no stopping Wicked, much like there's no stopping Project Runway.

The challenge this week pairs up the designers and pits them against each other. One side designs for Good, and the other designs for Wicked. The challenge runs two days, during which the All Stars must design a couture avant garde gown. The odd-on favorite of this is Chris March, who had designed one of Project Runway's all-time show stoppers with Christian Siriano (aka judge of Project Runway Threads). 

Obviously, the intent of this is to create drama and in-group animosity. Friends will become enemies, designers will fight with each other, ideas will be stolen, stress will be created. But, because Project Runway All Stars is running like the classic Project Runway, everybody is mainly bitter at having to compete one-on-one instead of at each other. The designers, and the editors, seem to be pointed against the producers for trying to generate drama instead of actually making good television.

On the other hand, we're actually getting a 2-day challenge for once. I imagine this is in no small part due to the late start they're probably getting. Unless Alyssa Milano woke up at like 3 am to get her makeup and hair done, fitted for her dress, and then harnessed on top of a moon, I imagine day one was a late start as day one was finished before the first commercial break. Which seems insane.

The two days allows for some of the most interesting failures. Helen, for instance, creates a big gorgeous ruffle fabric, which is immediately reminiscent of the afore-mentioned March and Siriano success. But, she doesn't know what to do with it, and just attaches it like a giant carpet or something. She had a great seedling of an idea, and was able to execute it...but didn't know what to do with that seedling. 

Fabio doesn't DO gowns, so elects to deconstruct the gown. Well, not so much as deconstruct, but construct the idea of a gown. Well, not so much as the idea of a gown, but a half-assed apron. He actually does two outfits, and puts the one that most people were criticizing, in a group think, on the runway. I'm not talking about confessional criticizing, but openly telling Fabio he's making a mistake. Still, he doesn't listen.

On the other hand, there are some interesting work arounds. Both Egg and Sonjia find fabrics where half of the work has already been done for them. Sonjia found a gorgeous edgy lace which doesn't look like the usual lace. It's a gorgeously constructed fabric with an intricate and unusual pattern cut into it. Egg finds a rhinestone fabric which glitters like the best of Broadway. It's a gorgeous fabric where you just have to put it into an interesting shape to make it look good.

Zanna comes around really early in the episode this week. In reality, she makes her appearance at 1:15pm on Day 2, which means that everybody has about half of a day to figure out how to make things better. This week, she's amazing. She has some great critiques. "Shower loofah." "Avoid every bone in your body." "Dullsville." "Get rid of anything that resembles crafty." Some people listen, and they're in the top. 

The best comment of the episode goes to Dimitry, who criticizes the afore-mentioned Fabio group think. According to Dimitry, the gang spends 30 minutes hemming and hawwing over Fabio's gown, and Dimitry is like "how the hell do you have the time for this?" Which, really? Although, Chris March, one of the guys in the group think, once took a nap in his original season.

The only detriment to these early episodes is that, in 60 minutes, the editors don't have any time to craft stories. Egg got some time this episode. Helen, so far, hasn't started any drama. The closest to a villain is Dimitry being periodically bitchy and self-absorbed. But, you know what? I'm not rooting against anybody this season. I'm rooting for Chris, because I absolutely loved his final collection and am still bitter I didn't get to see that in motion on tv. I really love Fabio's design. Justin is still a really sympathetic character who has great ideas that don't seem to get fully drawn out. Jay and Sonjia are edgy and fantastic. I mean, some people have tastes I don't like (*ahem* Portland *ahem*), but I'm not rooting against anybody this year. That's actually refreshing.

This week, Georgina Chapman has been replaced by Betsey Johnson (can we keep her?). And, the main guest is Ariel Winters, from Modern Family.
  • Helen - So, remember when I said that she had a great idea and didn't know what to do with it. Remember when Zanna warned her that her giant ruffle thing could look like a shower loofah? Well, Helen decided to use the ruffles as a side attachment. It looks like a bath mat got stuck to the dress. Which matches the great sofa upholstry fabric she uses for the rest of the dress. Betsey later says it looks like a place to rest your drinks. It's really ridiculous and does seem like it should be for hiding something. Like, if you put a shelf into the dress you could have a bar at an awards ceremony ("would you like an old fashioned? Here, let me just get the mixers..."). The rest of the dress is an easy dress with black thingies sticking out of her shoulder for...some reason. Epic. Fail.
  • Benjamin - Helen's counterpart. He makes an outfit that could be worn in an 80s sex comedy where somebody makes a deal with the devil in order to become a lothario. Especially if it were in red. It's also remarkably undetailed, with his fabric doing all the work for him. I can't find any way it's couture or avant-garde. He better thank his lucky stars that Helen pushed the envelope and failed.
  • Deathrage - Here's one of those interesting failures. The fabric at the top is this white sik with a dark overlay that has been hand molded to create visual lines of dark and light. It looks like a purchased zebra fabric, but it isn't. It's gorgeous, but it doesn't do much for the dress itself. The feathers (what is with all the feathers this episode?!) are just attached at the top, and the bottom is dullsville. 
  • Dmitry - Gorgeous. It looks like it could be high fashion or a Broadway costume. What looked crafty at the time of Zanna's meeding has been beaded and feathered over to give the cutouts added texture. The back is amazingly constructed. It looks like a haunted, wicked, look, and the handwork is immediately obvious.
  • Sonjia - Here's a dress that I really don't get. The top is amazing. Sonjia lets the elaborate lace do a lot of the heavy lifting, and her Roman feather shoulders make for a great finish at the shoulders and even at the bottom of the skirt. But, then there's the dress, which looks like she took her boyfriend's trench coat and tied it around her waist for some reason. I don't see it as interesting, but just a dress. It looks cheap, and it ruins the bottom half for me.
  • Kate - Overworked. It looks like a Hot Topic Halloween costume. The fabric choice is terrible, the skirt overlay is too much, the shoulders are awful, and the whole thing just feels tortured.
  • Portland - It's a basic dress with a hidden vulva on her back. I feel like this is from Invasion of the Body Snatchers or something in order to show that you don't have an alien on your back. And, the vagina shape, complete with shin flaps, is just out O'Keefing Georgia. She got the avant-garde portion down, because...this is avant-garde to the max. But, the dress is boring and ill-constructed from the front and hilarious from the back.
  • Chris - This feels like he went more for the Broadway side of things. This dress is a total Monet. From afar, it has a stagey presence that would play to the backseats. The styling cements it as an 80s goth band dancer. But, up close, the dress looks cheap and store bought. I love the effect he created, but the finishing was awful. Except for the petticoat, which is fabulous.
  • Fabio - It's a sci-fi futuristic apron on a fabulous pair of pants. It doesn't create the idea of a gown. It is avant-garde, but I also don't see couture in it. It just is kind of out there and risky. Which, I can kind of get a way. Just not for this challenge.
  • Justin - Neither avant garde nor couture. It's a boring but pretty dress with some sparkles on it.
  • Jay - What? The reason I love this dress is because it made me go what? I hate this dress otherwise. His model is styled to look like a guy. The dress looks like it could be in the video for Army of Lovers' Crucified, and the's risky. Which is good. But, it's terrible. Much like Helen's dress.
  • Egg - The fabric does so much of the work for her. It's a pretty dress with sparkly fabric. The shape is kind of interesting in the jacket, but it looks like it's just meh.
The great dresses were generally up against really good dresses, and the bad dresses were up against other bad dresses. When Alyssa named the first three - Portland, Justin, Egg - I genuinely thought we were getting the losers of the group. Justin's is boring. Egg's is boring. Portland's is boring. But, then Sonjia was called, and I was like, "Wait, they thought Sonjia's was terrible? Maybe they didn't like the skirt too." Then, Benjamin and Dmitry. With Dmitry's being the only genuinely perfect outfit in the winners. Sonjia, Egg, and Dmitry are in the top. Chris, Fabio, and Helen are in the bottom. 

Chris designed right into Betsey Johnson's wheelhouse, but she seems excited by how awful it is. In fact, she seems to be having fun with all of the designers. She calls Chris' "Wonderfully wickedly wrong." She tells Helen that she liked the dress because she thought it was a place to rest your drink, or your arm, and laughs. She also tells Egg that her outfit is boring, which it is. 

That being said, the big toss up is between Helen and Chris. Helen's is a trainwreck from conception, but shows a lot of work. Chris is far more simplistic, and should have been able to at least shape the fishbone to the curves of a body. Chris went home because this was the second week in a row where his outfit was lazy and awful. While, Helen stays in.

Sonjia wins, but I still really don't get the dress wrap around.

Random Observations
  • What is with Benjamin being fascinated by the smoke machines??\
  • I miss the extended Handlebar Moustache Guy sequences.
  • Why don't the designers do any of the hair like in the International Conference video? This is the avant-garde challenge. Go Loud and Proud!
  • Apparently somebody just strapped a bolt of fabric to Alyssa Milano and called it good...
  • Betsey Johnson has the best giant lipstick. She doesn't give a fuck.
  • Why is Helen wearing a nurse's outfit on the stage?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Project Runway All Stars S4 E2: "The Art of Construction"

By the end of this episode, we will see some of the lowest moments of Project Runway. Lower than fawning over a Samsung refrigerator. This is right up there with Red Robin's remake an ugly suit challenge where we didn't even get to watch the designers run over and strip the models. And, yet, this season of All Stars is running almost like Bravo-era Project Runway.

This week is the much vaunted and feared Unconventional Challenge. We know its both vaunted and feared because Alyssa Milano tells us so, continuing Project Runway's running theme of celebrating themselves to the audience already watchingRO 2. Alyssa then runs through a bunch of previous unconventional challenges this year's All Stars had done, just in case you cared or forgot.

Construction is this week's theme, introduced by some B-roll of NYC construction workersRO 3. The construction site the designers are visiting is a warehouse stage used in Fashion week, with a bunch of construction site things sitting around, including a No Cell Phone sign and a couple of lumbersexual models wearing helmets and vests. Alyssa tells the designers they can strip the models, but then corrects herself that the can take the protective gear. So, no real taking of clothing. Dammit, Lifetime.

Today's goal is to make the "masculine" materials into the most "feminine" outfit possible. Thus bringing into question the gender construct reinforcement of Project Runway. Society has deemed that construction work is not feminine and that sexy, curve fitting, clothing is feminine. By reappropriating construction materials for a feminine outfit, one could easily argue that Lifetime and Project Runway are making a political statement about women just playing dressup in order to participate in masculine behaviors such as construction. Or, that women shouldn't play with boys things because femininity. Either way, we're getting the social binaries completely reinforced with this episode, and we didn't even see any naked mens.

The usual rush for materials that comes with the unconventional challenge comes with an opportunity for the producers to try to create drama, but what it really does is mark Alexandria as either winner or loser. Alexandria goes all aggressive, has her back story (Camp Couture) reaffirmed, and she says she's still bitter about her previous loss. Be wary of her bitterness and aggression going into her dress.

The actual drama comes from Chris March and Dimitry. Chris starts on making a rope halter top, when Dimitry works on a rope dress. Chris's halter is unflattering and unimaginative in its construction from the start, while Dimitry is creating swirls, cups, and accentuating the female form with his. Chris gets bitter and starts bitching about how Dimitry steals his look, but doesn't actually do anything about it.

As per the rules of the unconventional materials challenge, there is a fair amount of struggle in figuring out how to make the materials into fabric. There is a fair amount of trying to manipulate tarp as if they're using cotton (Jay, Alexandria), and also the usual hot gluing materials onto muslin. The most successful of the designers use the material to create an illusion of fabric, while the least successful are the ones who can't think outside of the fabric box.

Last week, I didn't get to note how much I love Zanna Roberts Rassi. Much like I think All Stars' judging is more honest and compelling than Original Flavor, but I am getting to love Rassi even more than Tim Gunn (though I still think that Joanna Coles, the Ice Princess, was a great mentor). Zanna comes in and rips apart outfits with single words. She tells Portland, "Doesn't that feel a bit...sporty?" By which she means, "off the rack." But, Portland hears "sporty" as "sporty" and ignores her. She also constantly drills the idea of "feminine" into the designers. Rassi hits a lot of the correct criticisms, but people don't listen. The big problem is that she doesn't finish her mentoring until 7:30 (see the clock over her shoulder), and they only work until 10. How can you change your direction if you don't get a second eye until most of the way into the day? I thought I remembered Coles being done with her mentoring by like 5:30, giving them half the day.

Soon enough it's runway. Here is the main problem with modern day Project Runway. The main guest judges are fucking Snooki and J-Woww, aka Jersey Shore. Their 15 minutes should have been up years ago, and their ratings are down, but Lifetime insists on foisting them upon us. In the meantime, the other guest judge (yes, there were three guest judges this week) was the always insightful Elie Tahari. Elie Tahari is given the back seat for the Jersey Shore judges. If this doesn't encapsulate the problems with Project Runway, I don't know what does.


  • Jay - Here is an example of tarp being used as fabric. The silhouette is great, and what he did with the fraying is fantastic. But, it looks like tarp and nails. It feels like a costume more than fashion. The other bad thing is that Jay's styling is awful. The models hair and makeup don't scream strong warrior. And, the shoes don't really go well. For such a look, Jay needs to step up his styling.
  • Fabio - GORGEOUS. I mean, sure this is made from twine, but he quilted his own fabric. Like Jay, however, his styling is awful. This is practically a raver outfit, and the model looks like she stepped out for a quick run to the grocery store. The outfit is so strong it just needs finishing touches. But, it is totally Fabio, and it looks like it would belong in his Final collection.
  • Kate - She uses her materials to create the illusion of fabric. She uses pieces of plastic to create the illusion of having a white fluffy dress and netting to create the illusion of lace. The challenge is all about illusion and Kate nails it. 
  • Alexandria - Tarp used as fabric. It looks like tarp. The fencing looks like fencing. The trash bag underneath the fence looks like a trash bag. Plus, it's practically a high class hooker outfit, especially with the over the top jewels. The hair didn't help reduce the 80s vibe.
  • Portland - I would love this if it weren't so ugly. It's a sporty off the rack dress that has hideous colors. I love the graphic element, but think the color choices are atrocious.
  • Helen - It's hot glued, but it looks like fabric. It doesn't look like the material, but it doesn't stop me from thinking that it's just hot glued pieces onto fabric. It does look like its from a 90s video game though.
  • Benjamin - Drop Cloth used to create the illusion of fabric. It's kind of elegant and classy. I'm not sure about the party fringe on top, which was the unusual material (because a drop cloth dress would be against the spirit of the challenge). 
  • Deathrage - Tarp used as fabric. Here it works, for some reason. I actually loved this look, but it feels like the wrong challenge. They wanted something feminine and fashonable, and he gave them something that would be for the pop diva challenge. When he says he could see Beyonce in it, he means on stage not on the runway or red carpet.
  • Egg - I love the top. It feels like the ridiculous runway fashions that get put out year after year. But, the skirt is a snoozefest. Construction vest used as fabric? Zzzzzzzzz.
  • Dmitry - This walks the line between high fashion and eurotrash. The top is kind of fashionable, but the number of ropes (or lack there of) makes it fall straight into the eurotrash. And, the slicked back hair with the red lips doesn't help it at all. Plus, the back is a total trainwreck.
  • Chris - But, Chris' is just lazy. Other than removing the zip ties, I don't think he did anything more with the top since he started bitching about Dmitry's design. And, the bottom is just lazy. This is a pure amateur hour shitshow. And, as much as I love Chris, he should have gone home for this shit.
  • Sonjia - A woman was attacked by tape. 
  • Justin - This is a total Monet. From afar it is glittery and pretty. Up close, it's kind of dull and ugly. I don't respond to it like everybody else, I think because the cameras are too close to it. It looks like a bunch of zip ties that doesn't fall into an illusion for me. I'm not sure I get it.
The judging here isn't as trainwrecky as one would expect with the judges, but the fact that Elie gets a backseat in the editing really frustrates me. He generally has some great advice, but is edited down to primarily trying to say good things about the lowest rated designers. In the end, Alexandria goes home, in no small part due to her lack of creativity (using tarp as fabric and creating a boring dress with it...yawn. 

In the end, Alexandria goes home, and Justin wins (for the first time!).

Random Observations
  • Egg Samantha gets to speak at the beginning of the episode, and has a featured past outfit! She is barely heard from again.
  • What is the point of Project Runway celebrating themselves so damned much? I think we've noticed it, but it has never been a point of discussion. Neither Rupaul's Drag Race, nor The Amazing Race engage in such blatant acts of self-fellation. It's a very uncool thing to do. If you're the best, act like it. Don't go around vaunting your accolades to the audience who is already watching, go out and advertise yourself. Do you hear the cool kids saying, "I'm cool" or "I'm tough" or whatever? No. They just are. Stop it, Project Runway. You should be better than this.
  • With all the talk about street harassment, I had to wonder if Project Runway bothered getting the workers to sign releases for this, or if they stole the imagery for the show, filming in creepy cam.
  • Jay is really pushing for being a Reality Show Personality. I didn't remember him from his season, but he is shouting WOO and squealing with the same pitch as the air horn siren. 
  • Isaac: "I'm not one to kind of like something very sharp around someone's neck. I guess there's something dangerous, I guess that's why you like it, Alyssa. She likes dangerous clothes, right?"
    Alyssa: "Like my men."