Friday, September 23, 2016

Project Runway: S15 E2 "Just Fabulous!"

The early passages of Project Runway are often a mixed bag. For that matter, the same can be said for most reality TV series. At least when it comes to things like American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance, you've got an auditions phase during which you can get to know some of the contestants and pick early favorites. With PR, it all kind of just starts. You don't know who any of the contestants are, and they don't really know each other yet. And there are way too many of them to begin with. With too many contestants and not enough time to get all of their personalities on screen so you can make a judgement, you're usually left judging them based solely on their work. Which is just horrible for a Fashion show, I know.

And then an episode like "Just Fabulous!" comes along and the producers and editors try to sway you in one way or another. It's either a success or a failure, and which category it falls in often has to do with execution. "Just Fabulous!" introduces a villain and the notion of a rivalry in the workroom, but I'm not sure I think it does so well.

The episode starts with the news that Cornelius (young black guy with hipster glasses) was insulting Dexter's (other black guy with stupid haircut) look from the last episode. Rightfully so since it was hideous, but Dexter took offense. It's worth noting that all of this sniping took place off camera. Presumably, Cornelius had all these negative comments during the greenroom segment of last episode, and yet no one seemed to think it was important to capture this moment for posterity.

Either way, this news makes it back to Dexter, presumably through someone telling him what happened (again, Dexter finding out what was said behind his back isn't caught on camera), and he decides that he hates Cornelius who never has anything nice or positive to say about anyone. I'm not willing to claim that this isn't true. The moments we spend with Cornelius aren't exceptionally pleasant. But what he says mostly amounts to a young person holding himself to a higher standard because he came on this show to win. I'd say that I feel like we've seen meaner mean girls than this on the show before.

But on the other hand, perhaps what he's been saying off camera really has been so heinous and beyond the pale that he's really just the worst. The problem with that, as I'm sure you've already spotted, is that he's saying them off camera. So in the meantime, we're all just left with having to take everyone else's word for it that he's the monster they're making him out to be. Either way, this isn't really good storytelling.

The Challenge

This week is the Just Fab challenge which is...I'm honestly not too sure. The designers go out to a pier where they end up being confronted by a group of 100 "everyday women." These women are not their clients or the models, but they're certainly there. I guess to remind the designers what real women look like in case they've forgotten over the course of the one challenge where they designed something for a model. 

In actuality, their challenge is to design something for the Just Fab woman. Who is every woman, of every size, shape, and color. So they're final look has to fit their model, but also has to look as though it would be flattering on a non-model. It's versatile ready-to-wear which still has to be fashionable. And the winning look will be produced and sold on Just Fab. How hard can it be?

Oddly enough, not very hard at all based on Tim's visit. He has very little to say to any one contestant. Laurence has a lot of work to do to make her look into something that would be suitable for other body-types, but there's little doubt that she'll be able to pull it off. Kimber hasn't started sewing at all yet, but she assures Tim that the sewing will be the fastest part of all this. Tim tells Brik that he's trying to do too much and to scale his look down a bit, and he takes his advice. All in all, it's another ho-hum day in PR land. 

The Runway

 Laurence: A jumpsuit is never going to be my favorite, but I certainly see how they tend to blur the line between fashion and ready to wear. This look suits the challenge surely, and I think the pop of orange in the back makes it special, but I'm not in love with it.

Rik: I don't hate this, but I do think the pattern mixing gives me a bit of a headache. It's cute and chic, and I can't think of a moment were I've ever seen an outfit that looks like separates but is connected in the back. So that's special.

Alex: I hate the big bow on the front, but I love everything else. This woman looks smart and professional and well put together. She purple fabric seen through the sheer top is really eye-catching. And I love how he paired it with that bag. I wish the front were different, but I do love this look.

Jenni: Much like a jumpsuit, I'm not a huge fan of the drop crotch either. But there's something special and evocative about this. I think the bigger weakness of the outfit is the top and that bathroom rug treatment around the shoulders. It doesn't strike me that a bigger person could wear this, not at least without looking silly, but it's not a bad outfit.

Kimber: This outfit is cute, and I love the peak at the lining in the pockets, but this certainly could not be worn by a plus-sized woman. Or it could be, but I don't know many women of size who would want to wear it. The lack of sleeves and the key hole cut out in the back seem like automatic no's for most normal sized women. But maybe I'm wrong, or at least maybe it's cute enough to overcome those issues.

Linda: No!

Nathalia: I think I'm in love. I don't know that I think this is easily reproducible, but that's just a guess based on very little knowledge of clothes manufacturing. But it's still stunning. That jacket is out of this world. I like that she calls in androgynous because I think that's true and it's main selling feature. I'd like to see it with the jacket all the way off, but even with just the peak at the blue straps in the back, it's stunning. I love this.

Sarah: Cute, but boring.

Mah-Jing: I like this, but I think it's sold a little bit more off of the accessories than the dress itself. It's nice, but I didn't really have very strong emotions towards it until I saw how the clutch and shoes accented the orange stitching. The cut of the dress is nice, and everything about it is good, but the accessories are the only thing that made it really memorable.

Cornelius: I think this would be better with a different textile. The pattern on the top and the skirt don't really clash, but they also don't compliment each other in any way. The most interesting part of the outfit is that it's a hoodie, but you really couldn't know that until she turned around, and by then I was already against the look.

Tasha: I'm trying to decide if I love this or if I just love Tasha. This is another look that I don't think would sell well to a bigger woman because of the midriff exposure, and the sheer fabric that hangs down gives her the odd look of someone with a pouch or something. Honestly, I initially thought she was wearing a fanny pack or something. But even with that being said, I find this unique and charming and I like it.

Brik: While I certainly find this bland, I don't hate it. Also I think there's a problem on the butt with the pattern not matching up, right? Either way, Tim said to pair down the original concept and he did and ended up with this. Maybe he paired it down too much? I don't know. It's not great, but it's not ugly either. I agree with him that women would want to wear it, but when they did, I feel like they'd just blend into the background too much.

Dexter: Here's what I'll say about this, in the wake of last week, I'm happy to see that Dexter can do something simple and not too flashy or out there. But I can't really see someone as wanted to wear this. It's not the most unflattering thing ever, but it's just kind of there. It doesn't stand out and isn't as cute as the other jumpsuit we had on the runway tonight.

Roberi: Ok I guess. I like the jacket, but I can't say that I see much cohesion between the three pieces.

Erin: I can't tell if I love this but want to hate it or if I hate it and want to love it. I think I want something happening in the front to break up all that white, but at the same time, I get it. I do love the fabric though and I really want to touch this dress.


Before we get there, this week sees the greenroom moment from Cornelius that I guess we needed last week, but again I say, did he say anything that was just horrible? He compliments Brik as a designer and a person, but rightfully points out that his pants are ill-made and unflattering. Is that so wrong?

Erin, Laurence, and Alex are in the top. Kimber, Brik, and Linda are in the bottom. It seems like the writing's on the wall that Brik after two challenges in the bottom is going home. Zac couldn't even muster a response to what he saw. Nina finds there to be too little personality in the whole thing. Guest judge Dobrev thinks it's business on top and couch party on the bottom, and that makes sense. This woman doesn't know who she is or what she wants, or at least Brik doesn't know who she is or what she wants. 

Linda is also slammed for her use of knit in the dress and the sheer sloppiness of the kimono styled jacket. I'm interested in the judge's point that this should have been her challenge, but I don't see why. Aside from the fact that she's an older, everyday woman. But that doesn't mean much. 

They do love Alex, Laurence, and Erin's looks though. Heidi points out that after two challenges, she feels like she knows who Erin is as a designer, and I can't help but to agree. The selling point on Erin's dress is the moment she belts it at the waist. I wish the model had done that on the runway (and during the closer look, Heidi says the same. Erin really thought about this challenge, and I'm impressed. 

Alex's point about making the top sheer so that his woman can add any color she wants under it was very smart. Heidi points out that not every woman can pull off that crop top look, and that's fair, but it's still stunning. The most telling comment might be Zac's when he points out that the bow on the blouse is something that's unoriginal, but it works so it's understandable to keep it. 

Apparently, the messy shredding nature of Linda's jacket is purposeful? I can't believe that. It's horrible. Heidi hates her look more than Brik's. I don't think Nina agrees. She hate's Brik, but thinks his is equally bad as Linda's. Heidi thinks that at least Brik's two pieces look well made, which is more than we can say for Linda. It's interesting to me the way Heidi's going to bat for Brik. Two weeks in the bottom two seems like a good enough reason to go home. 

In the end, Laurence gets the win over Erin which is interesting to me. I wonder if the ease of reproduction of Laurence's look puts her over the top because I do think Erin's look was better. Or maybe they didn't want to give her two wins in a row? Either way, that's the outcome. Laurance's nonchalance over winning is funny though. 

Linda actually does go home instead of Brik. This has got to do with Heidi's championing for him because I can't see much of a reason to keep him around. Linda stumbled this go around, and it's not that her look last week was very good either, but still. Brik needs a total rethink on what he's doing if he has any hope of sticking around much longer. 

Loose Threads

--Earlier in the episode Linda gets a little spotlight talking about her past and her kids. She says she wants to win this for her daughters. I guess her son can go get fucked. 

--The more effective spotlight was placed on Laurence talking about how her father abandoned her when she got pregnant as a teenager. It was very emotional, evocative, and told us a lot about her that felt unique. We get a lot of "I love my kids" stuff on PR, but nothing this personal and real life. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Project Runway: S15 E1 "An Unconventional Launch Party"

And so here we are again, another year, another season of Project Runway. At this point, if someone asked you what it is that you expect from a new season of Project Runway, what would you say? Some fashion, weird challenges, a little drama, Tim and Heidi being, if not themselves, then certainly the personas they've crafted for themselves over the last 15 seasons. Perhaps that's why we keep coming back: Project Runway is not the kind of show to ever really change.

And that fact is no different here. We start off with 16 designers, and by the end of the first challenge there will be 15. Everyone arrives to a nice swanky welcome party. It's all decked out because, as Tim and Heidi inform them when they finally join, the decorations for the party are to be their materials for the challenge. First challenge for the season is also the first unconventional materials challenge. We've done this before (I'd swear) but it seemed fresh and unexpected. What wasn't unexpected were the number of people swearing they'd never worked with an unconventional material before and had no idea how they would blah blah blah.

You signed up for Project Runway, surely you know by now that this is a natural part of the show's DNA. I'm not saying that in your spare time you have to teach yourself to make fashion out of anything, but don't act so surprised when you get on the show and they tell you to make fashion out of anything.

Anyway, there's a mad dash to grab the most striking elements of the room and the most fabric-based materials. There's a rather serious scuffle between two contestants (Cornelius and Mah-Jing I believe but to be honest I  won't start remembering names for a few weeks), but it's not a huge deal. It might be one if it comes up again, but for now I don't care.

In the workroom, everyone pretty much gets along fine since no one knows each other well enough to love or hate anyone else just yet. There are those two people who went to school together and have a little history, but it didn't seem to be the juicy kind of history no matter what the producers wanted us to think, so we'll gloss over that as well.

There are three main takeaways from Tim's visit:

  1. He likes Brik's look. Or maybe the bigger deal is that there's someone on the show named Brik. Or even bigger, there's someone on the show named Brik, but he's from the South, looks Norwegian, and has the affectation of a Cali Surfer Dude. So Norwegian Surfer Dude (NSD) is in the process of throwing glitter all over a pair of pants. It's somewhere between fashion and a grade school art project. But Tim likes it. He has a few pointers for him, but it basically boils down to keep it up, kid. 
  2. Tim does not like what the little gay with the ginger beard is doing. As I'm sure you guys could have guessed, as soon as Ian stepped on the scene with his little gay voice and his ginger beard, I was pretty smitten. But when he started working on his look, I fell out of love quick. It's too simple, too boring, not innovative, and completely at odds with the challenge. Tim tells him as much, and he doubles down. He's not going to listen to Tim Gunn because he really loves his look and it speaks to who he is as a designer. We all know how this story ends 99.9% of the time, so the writing's on the wall here. 
  3. Tim also doesn't like Tasha's look, but unlike the gay ginger beard, she's changing it up. Starting from scratch actually and making everything over from the ground up. I don't mind telling you that Tasha's my early favorite. She's got this laid back vibe that clearly masks a lot of insecurities about her talent level. She's a plus sized woman who designs read-to-wear for normal women, and on some level she's still surprised that she was chosen for the show to begin with. In other words, she's kind of my kryptonite. So she takes Tim's advice, and I sit on pins and needles hoping it works out for her in the long run. 

The Runway:

Mah-Jing Wong: More yes than no, but only slightly. She looks like someone balled up a lot of paper and threw it at her. It’s thought out instead of haphazard, which I appreciate, but it’s not very special. 

Jenni: I’ll give her credit for the hand painting and the creation of separates, but the feather boa wings made me think of Big Bird, so no. 

Sarah: I like that I don’t know what the material is, but the top does look a bit like cut up muslin to me. Or, more specifically, cut up plain fabric. Which is bad, but not horrible. I’ve seen worse. 

Nathalia: More feathery arms, but I mostly like it. I don’t know if it says lux so much as (improbably) expensive hooker, but hey. You know, like a hooker who would call herself a call girl but you’d look at her and say, No you’re just a hooker. Like that. 

Dexter: No!

Rik: Boring and safe but not bad.

Ian: Ok, I’ve been doing this long enough that you guys know how partial I am to the cute gay ginger. Which is my way of saying I want to like Ian so bad, but this dress is fucking hideous. Give me a break, it’s like he didn’t even try. Bullshit cut up photos stuck to a muslin dress? Get the fuck out of here. 

Tasha: Stop! Hamma Time! So here’s the thing, Tasha made her model look wider in the hips than is usually acceptable on this show, but I must say, I actually like this look. It’s cute and quirky, and somehow ends up being unique. I don’t think it’s a top look, but I’m certainly impressed enough to want to see more from her. 

Erin: I’m mixed about this. It turns the corner and I immediately say NO, but then I watch it more, and I guess it grows on me a bit. The feathery motif of the night isn’t doing anyone any favors, but there’s something about this outfit that I can’t bring myself to fully hate. 

Linda: Linda’s look is nice. I think it’s classy and unobtrusive. It’s classic without being too simple. It’s paired down but still holds onto some element of the unconventional materials. However, it also looks like a woman her age made it. So while I like this look, nothing about it is surprising or makes me feel like I want more. 

Kimber: I hate the back, but the rest is ok.

Laurence: There’s a cut and a shape to this that I certainly like. But it doesn’t look like she pushed herself at all to use the materials. She’s got the ability to be a stand out designer, but this doesn’t feel like it’s within the parameters of the challenge. 

Brik: I want to hate it, but I can’t. It’s just flashy, crazy, and unique enough to make me smile. The back, the corset top, the shoulders, I love all of it. And he fully committed himself to that crazy glitter, so I’m happy for him. 

Cornelius: I love it. The color, the placement of the plates and the flowers, just all of it. This is a yes for me. I’m less sure about the back and the trail of flowers down it, but hey. 

Roberi: This made me smile. I love it in spite of how short it is. It doesn’t look like any of her is peaking out of it, so that’s good, but maybe like an extra 1/4 of an inch would be nice. But still, it’s well thought out and well executed, so I like it. 

Alex: I like this, but some part of me thinks there’s one color too many somewhere in there. Towards the midsection, I feel like something could have been paired down a bit, but it’s also cool as is. 


Tasha, Erin, and Dexter (really?) are in the top. Brik and Ian are in the bottom. Roberi is in the bottom, but given they're comments, he's actually more in the middle, so whatever. 

So Tasha takes Tim's advice and ends up in the top three. Ian ignores it and ends up in the bottom. Show of hands of people who are surprised by this outcome. 

The actual surprise, for me at least, is that they really liked Dexter's look. I've gotta tell you, Runaways, I watched this thing walk the catwalk, I listened to the comments, I looked at it during the closeup inspection, and I simply don't get it. Heidi and Nina both seem to think it's fit for a real runway right now. This might be true, but I've never been a fan of that kind of fashion personally. They all seem to like the volume and the tribal feel of it. Zac calls it an Eskimo poodle, but he means it affectionately and not like the rebuke I think it should have been. Every year the judges make a call or two that I simply don't understand and this is one of them. 

As I listened to them talking about Roberi's look, I was less surprised than I expected to be when I found out he was in the bottom. They're pretty much split down the middle on this one. Nina feels like she's seen this look on PR multiple times before and she's bored with it. The guest judge thinks it's too short. But Heidi loves it and has no problem with the length (no surprise there), and Zac feels like we've seen it before but never quite like this, so it's a good a thing. I'm left thinking he could have been safe and they could have talked to someone else instead, but whatever. 

In the end, Erin wins with what Zac referred to as his favorite look of many seasons. That's much higher praise than I'd give it, but I'm happier with her win than I would have been with Dexter's. Tasha's look doesn't stand up to the closer inspection, which is too bad. But she got enough of her personality in it to make them appreciative. 

The obvious choice for loser is between Brik and Ian. As we've seen at this stage 100 times before, it's a choice between Brik's poor taste level and Ian's sheer lack of creativity. One of these days I (or someone who actually cares more than I'm pretending to at the moment) will have to look back over all of the seasons of this show and calculate how many times this has been the dilemma and just what the percentage is for choosing poor taste over lack of creativity. My guess is that poor taste will get a pass over creativity way more often than not, but I could be wrong. I wasn't wrong here, and Ian is rightfully sent on his cute little way. 

To his credit, he's not upset about it. I mean he sheds a few tears, so maybe he is upset but he's sticking with the stiff upper lip reaction. But he certainly stands behind his design. He loves the dress he created and sent down the runway. To do something else would have been to lose himself in someone else's vision and he's not ok with that. So I tip my hat to him for standing true, but I also know that he had to go home. Because if this is the caliber of what we can expect from you all season long, then you have no place here. 

And so ends another by the books first episode of Project Runway. I want to complain about that. I want to hold my viewership and this show to a higher standard and demand something more. But the practical side of me says no. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If there's one thing we know about PR it's that change is very rarely for the better. The show has gotten back into some of its more positive ways as of late, so I'd hate to see them lose momentum now. It's shaping up to be a rather typical season for the show, and that oddly means I'm excited to keep watching. 

Loose Threads:

  • One possible explanation for why I'm so happy PR isn't rocking the boat with a major change this season is because So You Think You Can Dance, my other summer staple, did make a big change this season. It worked out for the better, but SYTYCD is a show that's clearly grasping at straws in a bid to stay on TV and it feels sad to me. It wasn't broke no matter what the viewership numbers may have indicated to the contrary, and I wish they hadn't tried to fix it. 
  • Is it just me or are there more black people on the show this year? Kudos to PR if that is the case. 
  • Speaking of the increase in POC, should we even mention the fact that there's a black contestant named Mah-Jing Wong, or do we just let that go?
  • What, if anything, are thinking for nicknames this season? I'm probably sticking with NSD for Brik, and I was thinking of going with Mamma Bear for Tasha because she gives me a mamma vibe, but that's all I got really. Here for suggestions. 
  • Generally each season there's a contestant that I develop a bit of a crush on. In the best years, that person is also really talented and my love of them is enhanced by my love of their clothes, or vice versa. But now with Ian gone, that doesn't seem to be on the plate this season. Brik is kind of attractive, but there's something about him that I simply can't get past. So he's not my fav. His Southern charm is nice though. But I think this year I'm heaping all my love on Mamma Bear and all my lust on Zac. Though I've also kind of cooled on him lately too...