Monday, March 28, 2016

Project Runway All Stars S5 E07: "Bait and Switch"

Project Runway All Stars SE5 E07 recap

If you go back to the recap of the introductory episode of this season, you'll see that when doing the roll call of our designer buddies, I cheekily referred to Ken as Angry Ken. I could have go with Bowtie Chest Tat, or Mountie Hat Ken, but if you saw his original adventures on PR, you'll agree, Ken be pissed.

But so far this year, he has been ....dare I say pleasant, even when joining in the bitchery about Sam (I know that sounds contradictory but designers bitching and sniping is de rigueur; Ken's previous borderline violence was not). He and his former squabble partner Alexander seem to be getting along, and Ken is coming off a win for last week's gorgeous, regal, Bob Mackie-esque "baroque" gown.

This week, initially, the theme is possibly more clear to us at home on the couch (who am I kidding, for us sneaking a download at work) than the contestants. They are on their way to Mood before they know of the challenge, and are striding through Manhattan wondering what is up the sleeves of that crafty Production team.

Chez Swatch

But upon arriving, they are not pawned off on some underpaid PA, no, it is Alyssa Milano who is waiting for them, cheerfully marvelling at her surroundings. Seems Alyssa's never been to Mood. She enlists Ken to hand out envelopes to the gang, but there is no gamesmanship as the envelopes are unmarked. She then announces the theme is evening resort wear, and since fabric choice is so important, let's see how everyone does when that choice is taken away. Gentlemen, start your engines open your envelopes.

The group reactions range from a happy Ken who gets silk charmeuse, a happy Asha, who pulls Neoprene (that is a good thing?), a happy Layana who's given lightweight cotton (as opposed to heavy tarp cotton) and even a happy - hard to tell - Emily who will be working with denim. 

Alex was initially feeling screwed as he got upholstery fabric (everyone groaned when he pulled that out of the envelope) but during the shop finds a sheer weird netting fabric with red, white and black heavy circles on it. Hard to describe, since I know you're thinking of a couch, but you'll get a visual below. The other dud is Kini, with brocade. An evening at the tiki bar in Barbados does not suggest brocade, darlings. Kini manages to find a selection of pale and somewhat thin fabrics, but does not feel hopeful. Everyone else seems to be relatively happy. Even Ken.


We viewers might have known the title of this episode was "Bait and Switch", and since there is not a fish to be seen, the accent's on the switch. Back in the workroom, beating the designers through traffic, is Ms. Milano. Guess what, she's never been there, either. Though she's happy to be where the magic happens, her presence causes more groans - this ain't good. She tells them since they "baited their hooks for fabric" - ouch - they will now all have to "switch". A Yankee Swap ensues.

First, Ken laughs, smiles, and takes Asha's Neoprene.

Just kidding - Ken is not amused. In a confessional that of course would have been filmed later, when he is more tired or the shit has sunken in, Ken tells us his pissed, and his eyes show it. It's very intense. He also complains about Asha's fabric not being flowy. Our sympathy slips away as we remember he could have chosen ANYTHING.

Back to the switcheroo.

Asha steals Dom’s jersey knit.
Dom steals Valerie’s linen.
Valerie steals Layana’s lightweight cotton.
Layana takes Ken’s silk charmeuse.
Emily takes Alexander’s upholstery.
Alexander takes Emily’s denim.
That leaves rivals Sam and Kini to swap.
Sam gets brocade
Kini gets lace.

Sam says “it’s like getting coal under your Christmas tree,” and he has placed under Kini's tree the brightest most horrible blue lace I've seen outside of a comedy quincenera. Kini openly questions Sam's designer cred.

There was another questionable choice during the swap - why did Emily go for the upholstery fabric? Maybe because Alexander seemed at peace with his concept/lot in life - and I would love to have know what he was going to do with what he bought. We will never know, but we learn it involved only one yard of the solid red fabric that perhaps Alexander meant to go under the netting dotty stuff?
Project Runway All Stars SE5 E07 recap
Resort, but for clowns

Emily fusses, frets, ditches the dots, tries to make the red cover a human body, somehow, and gets support from a lot of people, including Sam. But by critique time she is in tears. Quiet, cool, Emily tears.

Zanna is not impressed with what she sees from the gang, much like she hasn't been this entire season. This is ALL STARS, Zanna. Be impressed. You've gotten to see the likes of Daniel Franco working, so show some resp­ect. But ZRR says she sees too many samey jumpsuits and as she leaves says things are too middle of the road.

After model fittings, Sam begins struggling with his jumpsuit - yes, there are a lot of
Project Runway All Stars SE5 E07 recap
Take that, Kini
jumpsuits today - look and actively hates every bit of brocade Kini bought. Kini, dealing with toilet bowl blue lace that looks scratchy as hell, tells him to do something else. Sam stares at his fabric for a long time, a light goes on, and he decides to stop making brocade try to bend into a slim one piecer, and make a gown.

The Runway

Guest judge is smiley Broadway star Megan Hilty.  She's lovely, but with her opinions added in, we get one of the most confusing judging sessions of the year.

Safe: Kini, who worked a litle magic with what he was given, Alexander, who made a lovely loose halter-necked gown out of the denim, and Asha, who should have been up top for her gorgeous almost Art Deco trimmed cotton jumpsuit, are all in the middle.

Top:  Ken who has chilled out a bit and stands by his mermaid, poufy bright orange Neoprene gown that to me says ESPYs. He confesses he didn't know WHAT to do with it at first (again, he had first choice) but he loves it. So does Isaac. Georgina feels the drape-on top is too heavy, Megan would “die to wear it.”

Project Runway All Stars SE5 E07 recap
somehow this works
Dom's look is so striking. She took Valerie's brightly colored linen,made her own striped textile, and paired it with white. They mostly love it, though Alyssa thinks "beach umbrella".
The judges are split, it seems on everything else. Oh, but she wins, Dom does, and Megan Hilty will wear it, without dying, at a Broadway event.

Hard to say bottoms this week, as Alyssa and the others at the same time love Sam's gown, but find it, in the words of the late lamented Michael Kors, "Becky Home-Eccy". 

They have a million problems with Emily's weird combo that doesn't seem resort unless your holiday takes place in the Ukraine. 

Valerie's orange jumpsuit is superlowcut, fits well, and is styled with a turban
Project Runway All Stars SE5 E07 recap
Add caption
no one seems to mind. They all kind of like it and say it is very Valerie, and she has been in the top all season, so that must be good.

Layana's Ken's color choice is gorgeous but can run "old", the fearsome foursome say, but she manages to make it youthful, the charmeuse moves well, and they love the sexy back. Isaac and Megan do bring up a bias cutting issue near the boobs. Alyssa chimes in that one must be flatchested to wear that, and notes that she is not. No kidding, her rack is impressive this week.

So after back and forth and odd debates: Valerie is out.

I haven't been this surprised with a PR result in ages. I thought Valerie was a strong contender.

Project Runway All Stars SE5 E06: "Going For Baroque"

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Project Runway All Stars S5 E04: "Fashion 911"

Oooh, we are going to get to design for hot firemen this week!

(Sad trombone) Much to the disappointment of all of us, especially Ken, This week's episode teases us by leading the designers to a firehouse, but a gorgeous old decommissioned firehouse, now owned by Downtown Community Television Center a free art training school for New York City's at-risk youth. 

Alvin Ailey Dance Company two weeks ago and now DCTV? Either this group of Producers are really feeling the love for New York City, or they had to make quite a promotional deal with the Office of Tourism to get their filming permits for the season. Either way, always up for fun Alyssa uses this opportunity to rock up in an ambulance, with three grim/terrified/exhausted, ok, let's say shy, first responders. So they are the clients?

Nope, this is the much beloved...

Unconventional Challenge

The remaining 11 have five minutes to run inside and scramble for fire, emergency and medical supplies. No handcuffs that I saw, just lots of hoses, gauze, breathing tubes, and gowns. There was a lot to choose from, but five minutes to think ahead? Who will be the shining star of maybe the most popular challenge of the year? As Least Popular on the Playground Sam will tell us again and again here, "Stubborn people do not do well in unconventional challenges."  Who will crash and burn? Still-furious Kini? Quietly avantgarde Emily? Buster Bluth-alike Mitchell? Adorable Dom? Sam himself?

Stubborn Stella

First sign of trouble - no leather. Second seign, Stella only grabs one ingredient to her unconventional supper: blue plastic tubing. She's imagining a Judy Jetson-style coat, or somethin'. I'll let her sketch clear it up for you: 
ahh, I see it now. It's a coat.

and when Zanna comes in for mentoring, Stella, who does not tolerate fools lightly, is not prepared for Zanna's complete bewilderment. She consults with Emily and after some thought and griping, throws together a second look, from borrowed materials.

Dom sets herself a huge task to slice up xrays and make them into an unrecognizable zebra pattern. Not sure about her red gauze and gown coat over it, but her look is solid.

Angry Ken, who has not been so angry this year, yay, has lots of hose that he didn't get to use on the hunky firecrew, so he plays with it (I'll stop now) and discover the inside is coated in a rubbery black something, that resembles leather. He goes to town making a fullskirted halter dress in stitched together 3 inch black on black stripes. It's gorgeous.

Valerie's, with a swab peplum

Project Runway All-Stars Recap Asha
Asha's PeptoBismol, with added pills
Asha is having some problems. She is using pink gauze, but not as well as Layana. 
Plus her colors and style are the same as Valerie's. She makes some last minute changes, glues on some pills, a bit of shredded X-ray and ends up making a borderline hideous dress that pales in comparison to Val's very Valerie outfit.

skirt or shorts, either way, leggy
Layana is advised by Ms Marie Claire to avoid Smurfiness with her bright blue romper (?) made of textured bandages that Layana is hoping will resemble suede. the nde gauzy middle cutouts don't look as good in real life, but this looked really comfortable on the runway; the bandages had a lot of give.

Zanna advises Kini to pull it back from costume town. He is doing a flemenco skirted gown with tiers of "ruffles" made from various colored rubber gloves. Layana thinks it looks like a pinata, and she has a point, but damn, it's creative.

There is a lot of unconventional snarkiness going on as well. Okay, conventional for this show. Yes, as noted above, the designers had the option of grabbing pills from the firehouse, and too bad some of them weren't chill pills because Kini is still annoyed with Sam for not acknowledging his help last week, and Alexander is firmly team Kini. Mitchell is still feuding with him as well, so while Sam glides about, happy as a clam, the other boys turn their noses up at him and his firehose straitjacket.

Runway Time

Our guest judge is Johnny Wujek, celebrity stylist best known for making Katy Perry look like she lives in Willie Wonka's factory, and, we must remember, survivor of America's Next Top Model. He is thrilled to be there, and boy is Sam thrilled to see Johnny. Hes' drooling.

Kini, Dom, Emily, Layana, and Mitchell are safe. Mitchell should not be - he made a raggedy-ass flapper dress with sheriff's badges pinned on it willy nilly. Valerie, Ken and Sam are up top, Stella, Alexander and Asha are on the bottom.

Sam, in a tight showdown with Ken. His almost avant-garde hose coat was a love it or hate it piece, and the judges all loved it. At the last minute Sam knocked up a nude turtlenecked tube dress to go under it, and that might have been the clincher for Isaac. Johnny Wujeck loved it as well, and Sam tossed him some charm, leading the rest of the judges to shout, "get a room, you two!" It was a bit sweet but a bit disgusting. I just don't know if I like Sam. He makes some good points, makes some good clothes, but, ultimately a spoiled pretty boy, right?

Stella. Awww.
This is very un-her, but I could see a girl in the 80s, when Stella was 21, probably, wearing this. She used Dom's leftover Xrays to made a NYC skyline, which was cool, but the entire look  screamed "last minute" and was given the stink of "that's so Forever 21" by the judges. So goodbye grumpy Stella, back to your boyfriend Ratt (if my memory serves, that is her biker boyfriend's name). 

Biggest surprise of this entertaining episode? The huge group hug that encircled our Rock Chick as she made her way out of the show.

Lou Reed is now playing in my head...

Project Runway All Stars S5 E03 "A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock 'N Roll"

Excellent guest judges and fashion lab rats Karen and Kimberly from Little Big Town
Oh what a big week for building drama.

When immunity is not an option, the Producers like to give a little perk to the previous week's winner, and this time it was Sam who gained a big advantage.

In this third week of Project Runway All Stars, Season 5, Alyssa introduced the designers to her "friends", country band Little Big Town. Bullshit I'm sure, but Alyssa is so lovely that, well, maybe they are really buds...? Each of the band's four members appeared on the runway to promote their latest record explain their style, but it is the two female members of the group, Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman, that will be dressed this week, for, wanna hear what we're playing for, Survivors? a future appearance at the CMAs.

The designers were paired up to create red-carpet looks incorporating the idea that "opposites attract." No button bag needed to make the twosomes - Sam's perk was to select the duos. 

The Little Machiavelli

It is always interesting, when these people have to choose, do they go with personality-matches, or design compatibility, or talent?

Sam quickly chose to work with Kini, who seems nice, is talented and can sew, sew, sew. Asha and Alexander were put together, Layana and Emily and Dom and Ken were pleased to go sit next to each other as well. Sam then looked around, reveling in his power, and paired Valerie and Stella. Not so happy, those two. Last, Daniel and Sam's enemy Mitchell were paired. Daniel described it as "the worst pairing [he] could have possibly imagined." Sure, Daniel, I'm sure Mitchell is thrilled as well. Sam seemed to be setting up Mitchell to fail, but couldn't even fall on the excuse of "I was told the theme was opposites attract". Daniel and Mitchell have put such unfinished dreck down the runway, it would be hard to claim they weren't two peas in a frayed, tacky pod.

In the workroom, storms were a'brewin' opposites were not attracting. Daniel and Mitchell were squabbling over control: Daniel was too in charge as far as Mitchell was concerned. Daniel has time management issues, and should never be in control of anything. Mitchell needed take a “15-minute breather,” to get away from the posturing Daniel, so he goes to get a pep talk from his buddy, Stella. Stella? She tells him to just ignore Daniel, which is what she would like to do - in fact, is doing, with her own collaborator, Valerie.

In fact, Valerie and Stella were unable to fit their models without fighting, Valerie is trying to keep Stella on schedule, offers to make a belt for her and for her troubles gets snapped at and called annoying.

If You Have a Second...?

Boston vs the Beach is what Kini and Sam are creating. Bostonian Sam is getting along well with his self-chosen partner, so much so that he starts leaning on Hawaiian Kini, who has raced through his own flowy gown, for a lot of advice, then tweaks, and then actual construction help for his trousers. Kini not happy.

The Runway

Karen and Kimberly are the guest judges, of course. They like Valerie's white jumpsuit but think it's not flashy enough, and like Stella's strapless corseted dress with an asymmetrical knee-length skirt, but hate that she used - let's all say it together: PLEATHER. What? Not leathuh, leather? Yes, for real, Stella used a man-made one-sided shite that looks like vinyl. Its only chance of looking good on the exposed part of the bi-level skirt was to have been lined. It's a weird mistake.

Layana and Emily, Dom and Ken, all safe.

Kini and Sam get high marks. Kini's bright blue quasi-cape over fitted gown walks beautifully - like the last challenge, this flutters and drapes as the model walks. However, when she stands still, the outer layer hangs and obscures her figure. Alyssa loves Sam's sleeveless exaggerated pussybow blouse with plaid trousers and calls them some of the best she's seen on the runway. Sam giggles and thanks her while Kini stews next to him. He exchanges a look with Alexander, who is also out there because...

yes, Alexander and Asha. Both light/dark and long/short, this is a nice combo. Alexander loved this challenge and created a glam long tulle over silk look. Asha's went with short white lace that she said had an unlying layer of sequins - hard to tell on tv, but apparently there was an appropriate bit of sparkle peeking though on the runway. Karen and Kimberly loved them both, but as the models were styled to look like the ladies, a little, it's easy to see curlytopped Kimberly in the white, and dark dramatic Karen in the longer gown.

.. and they looked worse on tv

Bottom:  Daniel's and Mitchell's concept was "pleasure and pain" but looked more like Craft Store and Fishing Net. Neither were meant for the red carpet, tough Mitchell's came closer, maybe? Neither looked like an adult had made it, at least an adult with opposing thumbs. One of the judges said they actually liked the feathers on the bodice of Mitchell's drapes gone wrong look, but actually it looked like an accident in a chicken coop. Since they had been saved together, week one, I'd have dropped them both in the grease this week, but it is Daniel who is shocked, real or fake, he is visibly surprised, and sent home.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Project Runway All Stars S5 E02: "Let It Flow"

There is a big difference in a garment when it is moving on the body of the wearer, and when it is static on a dress form or in a photo. We've seen flowy pieces from the likes of Uli Herzner (in Season Three, especially) and the recent PR Juniors finalist Maya (last name not given on Lifetime's website, way to protect the kid's privacy!). Another everyday example of this is the trickery involved in almost every photo you see in catalogs. Wow, those shorts look flattering, the 36-year-old size 10 you thinks flipping through H&M's website while snacking on SunChips on your lunch break. No - the back of the actual model is most likely covered in alligator clips and temporary gathers, as the stylist tries to tailor an untailored outfit to the bony proportions of a 17 year old.

Those linen suits in which the friendly looking ladies frolic? Scratchy, uncomfortable to move in and if you don't see deep wrinkles near the hips and bust, the photos have been 'Shopped.

Fashion can lie. GASP!

We will see the difference in a garment that walks, and looks breathtaking, and a dress that sags into potato shape, in an upcoming episode, but for now, everyone is going to channel their inner Margot Fonteyn and embrace movement, flow, scarves and capes, all assisted by a runway wind machine. It is a three-dimensional PR first, and an innovative idea. So who will screw this up?

To illustrate the concept, the designers are taken to the legendary Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, when they get an eyeful of gorgeous dancers lifting, swaying and swirling. Then they get to sit on the no-doubt chalky floor to sketch, before a trip to Mood and a visit to aisles some, like heavy fabric-loving Emily and leather-afficionado Stella have clearly never visited before.

The concept across the workroom is very similar - make a somewhat standard dress, but add billowing sleeves, skirts, or neckpieces or modified capes. In doubt about billowability? There is an industrial fan to play with, in the lunch area, and possibly one in the makeup room, too-

Alexander doubles down on the cape idea and creates a virtual parachute, attached to a slinky/slutty lacy long dress. Sam is thinking of Marlene Dietrich driving away in a convertible, scarf blowing in the wind.  I kept thinking of Jayne Mansfield. Emily lets her printed purple chiffon dictate her design, making a simple muu-muu, but creating a braided rope of out of extra pieces to mimic the rope in the print. What goes under the sheer look? She'll figure that out later.

The wind machine kicks up
Fade's look.
Fade makes a coppery sheath dress that doesn't look too great on its own, and then makes a... covering? semi-covering? Chiffon bibbed backpack? out of a contrasting zebra-looking fabric. Kini chooses the brightest yellow in the world and takes a big chance by dip-dying it into an yellow-orange-red ombre. As he notes in a confessional, one splash of dye onto the pristine yellow parts of his already-constructed gown, and he's screwed. Or pinning a cover up brooch onto an awkward place.
Stella goes Game of Thones

Zanna's critique of Stella's fringed faux cape as "not elegant" is met with the most beautiful response. Stella pauses, bites her tongue, and just snarls, "it's elegant, Zanna."

Guest Judge: a pre-Grease Live! Vanessa Hudgens, at least it's not mentioned in her intro, looking like she is pushing 40 and described as "sweet" by top-knotted and micro-shorted Alyssa Milano.

Top Three:

Kini's bright and moving "birds of paradise" gown, but the judges aren't too thrilled about its pale yellow lace top.

Valerie's not nice but moveable-without-the wind, swirly skirted long red gown, that features a nude mesh illusion neckline
Busy, but elegant.
that looks like a skater costume.

and the winner: Sam. It looked great moving, and if you can handle the optical lines, just as great as the model stood still. Very Great Gatsby.

Bottom Three:

Fade's mis-matched copper tight/loose black and white not indulging in the concept dress.

Alexander's 20 foot parachute train. that part they love, the Real Housewives tight see through cocktail dress underneath gets the head shake.

Emily, who created ugly see through shorts to go under her caftan, and has her model in a beige strapless bra that is clearly visible.

Fade goes home. Nein! There were worse.

There will be more fashion opinion as we catch up, Runaways. Leave your thoughts below.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Project Runway All Stars S5 E01: "What Makes an All Star?"

If a designer shows fall (collection) in the forest and no one is there to see it, does it make a sound? and is that sound the grumblings of Isaac Mizrahi?

Project Runway and their dubiously designated AllStars is back and we simply can't let them go about their tv designing business uncritiqued! Adrian and Julius are very, very busy at the mo,  so I, MediaGrrl Martina, shall try to jump in and get us all up to date. Thing is, I'm in the UK, so sometimes have a delay in accessing the (I assure you) extremely legal feeds from Lifetime's pink turreted Manhattan headquarters. Also I'm working over at , writing about film, music and tv, so, the day job calls. Please do check it out.

So a quick splash into the fashion pond. Returning players are:

Season 13 designers, KINI (same happy face), EMILY (new scary hairstyle), FADE (still working the East German thing), and MITCHELL (can't say I remember much about him).

Sam, in one of Gretchen's jumpsuits

Representing the short-lived "Under the Gunn" - how much Nick Verreos were we expected to endure, people? - are SAM (baby-faced, ironic sweaters) and ASHA  (Michelle Obama's curvy cousin. Also, BFFs with Sam? His words, not mine.)

Back to the Main Tent Acts. 

Season 12's DOM (wait - she was that year's winner. What is she doing slumming it here, where did her hot hundred Gs go, and how adorable is she still?) joins not winners ALEXANDER (theatre guy, used to be ginger, now blonde, but still with the abbreviated eyebrows), and
Intense, or pissed off? You decide.
ANGRY KEN (he and Alexander almost came to blows in the Ironing Board Incident - hmmm, this could be interesting).

LAYANA (Bland Brazilian beauty, Season 11) is also back for more, as is VALERIE from Season 8 (her Mary Tyler Moore/Rachel Dratch combo now punked up with an ill-advised nose ring), and Season 5 rocker STELLA (say it with me - I do LEATHUH).

But completing the troupe, in sepia tones from way way back, we have DANIEL FRANCO, who's claim to fame is being kicked off of both Seasons 1 and 2, the only real double contestant in history, not matter how hard Amanda and Kate try to hang onto onscreen life at Parsons.

And that completes this Season's line up. Oh, except later in the show we get a glimpse of the real fan favorites:  SWATCH (hang in there little guy!) and HANDLEBAR MOUSTACHE GUY (a bit of candy for the boys). Both looking good.

Not much happens in the episode. The challenge is to represent the moment you knew you wanted to be a designer, a cool idea. Most of the looks are solid.  People-wise, Sam and Mitchell confess to hating each other (via an off-show, online snark fight), Daniel plays drama for the camera after he slices his finger, Fade talks about freedom, and
Val is a "fabric magician" according to the judges.
e not only has metal all over her face and ears, she has "bubble guts" (nerves?), but gets the win.

A double elimination should have been in order as Daniel fails at tailoring (that's his thing, he tells us) and can't even manage sleeves on his coat dress, and Mitchell barfs up a tulle monstrosity meant to show us his bad childhood.  However, a lovely, cheerful and well-padded Alyssa Milano, aided by Georgina, Isaac and guest judge Dmitry Sholkhov, give them both a second chance.

Boo! In a perfect word, and of course by that I mean in the Trump Regime, they would have been ejected, for creepiness alone, especially camera hog Daniel. Tailor, my ass.

On to next week we go...