No PR This Week

Project Runway takes a break this week. Next week, they will go where no designer has gone before. At least the promos make it out to be making clothes for professional wrestlers.

While everyone’s favorite fashionista program is grasping at straws these days, another one seems to be growing on people, including yours truly. The best way I can describe “Make Me A Supermodel” is that it’s like America’s Next Top Model, but more equal opportunity. While Tyra and company will point to that they audition people of all colors, the only people they offer the opportunity are women. Tyson Beckford and company, however, level the playing field and give men the chance to compete along side the female contestants.

Tyson, a supermodel in his own right, doesn’t have Tyra’s campy charisma. Sometimes, he’s downright intimidating, especially during panel. He has a deep voice with the hint of a growl, so when he tells the models they’re in or if they’re up to the public’s vote, he comes across as the voice of God.

While Project Runway only offers glimpses of male flesh, there’s no shortage of it on “Make Me A Supermodel.” For the straight viewers, there’s also women in various stages of undress. In this week’s episode, the models take it off at Parson’s and later at a performance art piece.

Which model do I like the most? Ronnie – he’s adorable!

Every episode, the public gets to vote on which of the bottom three gets to stay. This feature of the show is very time sensitive and it’s amazing that they put the show together so quickly. I voted for Casey – he has that Joe Dallesandro vibe.

Project Runway: En Garde!

Here is a recap of the episode, scientifically reduced to pill form:

This has now become Project Burnout. As each new challenge is revealed and as Tim Gunn reveals more details and even more last minute details, no one is excited. In fact, some are pissed. I can’t quite blame them after being sleep deprived, facing break-neck studio schedules, and constant verbal abuse from the judges. Episode 8‘s challenge met with much enthusiasm? Create an avant-garde dress based on a model’s hairstyle.

Given that, all seems to be going well when they start working on their dresses. Chris March and Harry Potter team up to create a layered, ruffled dress with a Mickey Mouse ear on top of one shoulder, while Kit Pistol and Ricky seem to thrive on creative energy from the collaboration (“the girl in me and the bitch in you” in Ricky’s words). Victorya and Jillian both are initially uneasy about assuming team leadership, but the role ultimately goes to Jillian. Unlike Victorya’s previous team (with Ricky), this one is more productive with them creating a fabulous trench coat (while falling desperately behind on other pieces). While Rami and Sweet P are initially happy to be working together, this doesn’t last too long as Rami’s not willing to listen Sweet P’s ideas.

In the midst of working on this couture-like assignment, the designers receive a visit from Tim Gunn, who surprisingly drops a bomb: they must create a second dress, a ready to wear version of the first. And it must be done the next day. None of them are happy, especially Harry Potter, whose “How dare you” expression clearly replaces his usual affected indifference. However, no one bitches for too long, as they have deadlines to meet. However, Jillian has a brief meltdown at the sewing machine.

With Bjork Lady gone, Chris is now the official resident eccentric. When he builds the epaulet for the dress, he jokes about it being a cell phone tower. He also says he has instructions from Elisa. Next week’s trailer hints that he has more silliness for us.

Rami fills a shirt quite nicely, and we’ve seen in a past episode that he unfills it just as well.

Jillian is able to pull it together and barely stitch things up in time.

Despite Harry Potter’s initial reaction to the second challenge, he creates a definitely wearable version of the big, poofy dress. His counting on Chris March to help him create simply utterly wacky pays off, as Michael Kors and Nina Garcia love it. The guys also win the challenge, though Michael Kors can’t resist pointing out that the pencil skirt on the ready to wear outfit is throwaway. However, that the blouse can be worn with anything, including the run of the mill skirt, shows that it is succeeding.

Jillian and Victorya’s punk rock/equestrian look is the best one. The ready to wear version doesn’t have as much hanger appeal, but it would still spark conversations at a cocktail party.

Kit Pistol and Ricky had a great hairstyle to work with, the model with the birdnesty hair. They could have created something more sensuous than a hoop dress (which was too quilty, and not in an interesting Jay way). The ready to wear version is an undersized baby doll/chemise hybrid that looks like it could be picked up in some very cheap store in LA’s Garment District. Alas, punk rock girl Kit goes home, while Ricky is guaranteed to eventually break out singing Celine Dion’s “My Heart Goes On…” and beating his chest at the same time. Well, he is good to go on having another teary moment in the work room or the runway.

Rami’s drapey number was, well, interesting. He creates a corset (an unusual move) framed by flowing fabric. Sweet P created the pants underneath and she also created the ready to wear version, which has incredible hanger appeal and any woman would want to wear it. Rami’s avant-garde version is very reminiscent of Jean-Paul Gaultier, as it looks like it wouldn’t be out of place on Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour or The Fifth Element. Perhaps the derivative nature is more the reason why Rami’s dress doesn’t succeed instead of the judges trying to say he’s a one note with the draping. Thankfully, he and Sweet P are still in the running (I didn’t want to see either of them go).

Sorry for the late post, but I hope this whets your appetite for tomorrow’s episode, where Chris March is confirmed to carry the torch of Bjork Lady’s silliness. Also, check out Episode 8’s runway and rate the outfits.

Project Runway: What A Girl Wants

Here’s a scientifically reduced version of last night’s episode, in palatable pill form.
Okay, I got a little happy with the video widgets. Bravo‘s made them available this season, though it would have been nicer to have it earlier this year. Here, in the recap video, we get treated to Rami in a towel.

Last week, the designers had a chance to create Pop Art couture, or at least stuff delicious enough to eat. Here, they have the challenge of creating prom dresses for 21st century girls.

Some embrace the challenge, while others have a hard time. They should have watched Pretty In Pink for some inspiration. On some level, that hits home for Ricky, as he made his high school girlfriend’s prom dress (which should have been a clue). This time around, he makes a beige pillow for someone else’s girlfriend, and Michael Kors shoots it down for being too bland. He, however, creates the dress she wants. More importantly, it’s what the girl inside him wants.

The lightening bolt on Harry Potter‘s head must have provided him with some protection, as he gets a difficult client (under different circumstances, they’d be good friends). She has her own ideas about the dress and even draws them on his paper. Then, there’s the issue of him not embracing the challenge, despite his claim of being the best dressed at his prom. Even the defeatist attitude he displays after having the fashion designer’s equivalent of writer’s block isn’t enough to doom him.

The big surprise is that Kevin gets eliminated. He’s done some good work and his sewing has been impeccable, but he loses on the count of a seam. He goes for red, which is a very obvious color for a girl with olive skin. Then, his dress is a hybrid of what Marilyn Monroe and Imelda Marcos would have worn (and not in the best way). His main downfall is that he doesn’t hem the skirt, but only does a stitch to keep it from fraying. The poor guy also gets shot down by Heidi as she remarks the dress looks cheap.

Victorya wins the challenge with her sparkling, neo-Byzantine number. All the fake gems are what makes it look like something Justinian and Theodora would favor, but it looks like a cross between a baby doll dress and Andie’s dress in Pretty in Pink.

My vote would have been for Sweet P’s dress. Her dress looked like something a starlet from the 1930’s, 1960’s, or even in this decade would wear on the red carpet. Definitely Marilyn Monroe in the best way.

Rami and Chris March go for a pretty in chartreuse effect. I trust you know what color that is, but if you don’t, it’s not pink. The frenchiness of the word has often led the uninformed to to think that, but is a green named for a liqueur. Rami does one of his draping numbers that has tremendous hanger appeal, but isn’t too well received by Michael Kors or Nina Garcia, who proclaims it’s too sophisticated for a young woman. He politely stood up for himself and succinctly said that he makes sophisticated clothing. Does a woman need to be a candidate for botox before she can be sophisticated? They obviously don’t give teenagers enough credit. Chris March creates a simple, elegant gown that runs counter to his drag queen portfolio. One of the more lightly amusing moments on the show is when he reveals to his client and her mother that the model in his portfolio is him.

The two more forgettable ones are the creations of punk rock Orange County prom princess Kat and the quiet Jillian. Jillian’s dress is quite competent, but she’s only a blip on the runway. Kat’s rainbow bodice is the one remarkable feature on an otherwise OK dress.

Rami makes the interesting comment that Heidi should make prom dress and they can see what she comes up with. He makes a very good point about there isn’t a prom where he comes from. Kevin’s remark about providing a chastity belt with the dress sounds a bit too fatherly – only someone with a daughter would think about that. Then again, he remembers what his prom was like.

Sometimes I can’t quite tell why some guest judges are on the panel. Some make perfect sense, while others aren’t so germane. This is the case with Gilles Mendel, the furrier and fashion designer of J. Mendel, who is brought on to judge prom dresses.

My dream guest judge, if Heidi and company are listening, is Alek Wek. Does anyone else have a fashion icon they’d like to see on Project Runway?

Exit interview with Kevin:

Project Runway: Eye Candy

Clothing delicious enough to eat is the challenge of this week’s Project Runway episode. The designers plunder the Hershey’s shop on Times Square for their raw materials: candy and the wrappers, dolls, pillows, plastic, and ceramics. There are some bright, attention catching outfits, and some very boring ones (which one would think would be impossible with the materials given).

The morning after they pick their models, Tim Gunn wakes them up super-early and some of them are traumatized by the fact that he saw them in their PJ’s. Somehow, Christian/Harry Potter finds time to iron his hair into that cannon ball blast effect before Tim Gunn rounds them all up at the hotel’s entrance to take them on their field trip.

Once they arrive at their destination and gather their materials, everyone gets wrapped up (no pun intended) with unwapping candy, destroying pillows, and trying to drape the wrappers into dresses. Chris March wisely keeps away from anything edible, but creates a Hershey pop art statement (without it looking drag queeny), while Jillian takes the risk of making a Twizzler bustier and skirt fringes. She almost doesn’t make it.

Harry Potter makes a predictable Christian dress. It’s not bad, but it’s not great. Not surprisingly, he talks shit about everyone else. Kevin, who has nothing to fear from him, announces he’ll probably say in every other interview that he wants to clock him. Perhaps he can do something about Harry Potter’s hair while he’s at it.

Rami gives Jillian’s edible bodice ripper in the making a run for its money and wins. His red Twizzler plastic top and candy wrapper skirt is the best constructed outfit, and it’s wearable.

Victorya creates one of the most elaborate aprons in the 21st century. The only thing she does different is to give it a back and present it as a dress. It was very lacking in candy appeal.

Kevin’s also lacked candy appeal, though the brown of the Hershey pillows provides a nice chocolate tone for for an elegantly done skirt and jacket combo.

Bjork Lady runs contrary to expectations and her Gretel inspired outfit is lacking in candy appeal. Alas, she departs and I’m not violently happy to see her go. I loved watching her weirdness and whacked out couture (some of which I like a lot). It takes courage to enjoy her outfits, but we won’t see her make it to fashion week.

This week’s guest judge is Zach Posen, who’s introduced as a critically acclaimed designer. Compared to some of the iconic figures this season, such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Donna Karan, he’s one of the fashion world’s young stars burning very bright. Regular judge Nina Garcia is icier than usual, while Michael Kors is a little more subdued in the bitchiness.

Waiting for the new Project Runway episode

There’s no new Project Runway this week, but here’s my ramblings on the season so far.

Steven would have been a candidate for the gift of duct tape if he wasn’t auf’d last week. His attempts to reprise Santino’s Tim Gunn impersonation antics were just lame. Though I initially felt sorry for him, his constant bemoanings about the wedding dress and his lack of professionalism towards his client are definite turnoffs.

Kevin – thank God the resident straight guy’s shut up about his earlier announcements of his straightness. I hope this annoying habit doesn’t get resurrected as he will be a candidate for the gift of duct tape. He has talent and skill, so he might stick around for fashion week.

Bjork Lady – it definitely takes courage to wear some of her outfits, especially her polymorphously perverse dress after she reveals she spit on it. It’s great that she can stitch in time (though she should have taken time to learn how to use a sewing machine like she did with doing yoga in a small space). Thankfully, she has the decency to not call her garments couture, unlike some minor league American designers who abuse the word.

Chris March will most likely stick around for a few episodes to provide a Ricky Gervais-like energy to the show. He should go over the top and produce something very drag queeny. Then, bitchy reference queen Michael Kors and ice queen Nina Garcia will blast him for doing something within his forte.

Ricky, Ricky, Ricky. Feel the crease and make sure you avoid future collaborations with Victorya.

One person I’d love to see on an episode of Project Runway: Alek Wek. Have the designers make a handbag for her collection, a dress to go with one of her bags, or a dress for her to wear are some challenges I could think of.

An ideal guest judge would be Anna Wintour, but I can only imagine what a nightmare that would be. THE editor of Vogue and Nina Garcia in the same room? It sounds like a recipe for disaster, as Wintour would certainly be a bigger fish in Garcia’s small pond.

I miss the Tim Gunn podcasts that would come the day after the episode. One of those post-viewing pleasures was to listen to Gunn dish the dirt on the contestants in his articulate and urbane tone. There’s none for season 4, but you can still catch the ones for Seasons 2 and three. A consolation prize that Bravo offers a is “blog” with Tim Gunn’s commentary, especially on the last episode.

Some Random Things

After being so bah humbug in my last post, how do I follow that level of Yule time cynicism? It’s hard, but I’ll manage.

Last week, I got some postcards from the Post Due Collective exchange. They are absolutely fabulous. I haven’t posted them yet, but they’ll be up soon.

This has got to be one of the wettest winters we’ve had in a while. Every other weekend, there has been a lot of rain. Very rarely, like tonight, has it rained in the middle of the week. God knows we need the rain, especially after those fires.

I had the last two classes of the semester today. For the critical thinking class, I had an informal wrap where it was an informal gathering, I bought some beverages, chips, and dips from Trader Joe’s. One of my students brought pizza. Other contributions included a chocolate bundt cake and cupckakes. It was definitely a nice closure to a class that greatly improved after the departure of Felicia. Unfortunately, my English Skills class did not end on a festive note. I did have a final prepared for them, which most of them seemed to understand. Only one student seemed to think the essay exam was open topic, though she quickly adapted after I made the issue clear.

I went to Costco after giving finals at the urban college. I don’t really know why I stopped by there as I left empty handed, but they didn’t seem to be crowded with late night shoppers. I missed out on getting Babylon 5 season sets for $15 each when they had them. Even though I’ve always liked the show, I’m more of a Star Trek guy. If I saw Star Trek sets for that cheap, I would have grabbed them all.

Every once in a while, I’ll catch an episode of Real Housewives of Orange County, which is about the reality of a few people – affluent, nouveau riche types. The trailer for this week’s episode makes it out that Vicki has it out for one of her friends, going into an out of control “fuck you!” and shaking her middle finger session while they’re riding in the back of a limo. 15 minutes into the show, it turns out that they are having a minor disagreement about the gay decorator who’s living in Vicki’s house during a flip and the rent he’s expected to pay. After that scene passed, I quickly last interest and I changed the channel. It’s usually the same thing over and over – middle aged adults with tons of disposable income going into second adolescence while their children are entering adulthood.

Chris the Ricky Gervais clone has some competition life in an episode or two of Project Runway after being brought back, but we’ll see. I missed doing Friday’s recap, but maybe I’ll do one tomorrow to get back into the swing of things. I always love seeing what the Bjork Lady comes up with – will it take courage to wear it?

That’s it for tonight. I’m turning in soon, got some grading tomorrow. I’ll also figure out who are some good candidates for the gift of duct tape with the stipulation that they put it over their mouths as their Christmas gift to me. I think we all know some deserving people.

Project Runway: Trendsetter

Tough question of the week: would you rather create a dress that was badly made or horribly out of date?

I would go with out of date because I can always play the retro card. Of course, retro is what the Project Runway constants get in this challenge, and they get the worst of the 1980’s trends (with a little bit of the 1970’s for good measure). If the recent return of tunics, leggings, and skinny jeans wasn’t enough, the designers are faced with updating hideous ideas such as neon, underwear as outerwear, dancewear, baggy sweaters (essentially a take on the tunic), and shoulder pads. Making these trends look fresh, not merely retro, is their challenge.

Pick the leader was definitely the game played by several teams. They all know from episodes past that the leader faces the chopping block if they fail, so no one is quick to take the lead. Victorya very much wants to take the lead; however, she doesn’t want the responsiblity. This becomes a major source of problems later, as Ricky takes on the role of team leader. With Bjork Lady, he’s very successful in communicating with her using language like sculpt the fabric. Victorya, however, turns out to be the passive-aggressive dragon lady (I’m Asian, I can say that). With Chris‘s team, Sweet P and Steven also seem nervous with the prospect of elimination and thrust leadership upon the big fat gay guy.

Jillian, who has the panache to pick the out trend of overalls while wearing overalls, finally gets some screentime. In the past three episodes, she’s been in the background, competent enough to be in. This time, we get to see her as she interacts with Rami and Kevin in planning, designing, and execution of the garments. Kevin is a source of drama as his shorts aren’t perfect on the fitting of the model. Jillian’s worried, though Kevin manages to make good on the the design flaws in the end. Thankfully, he doesn’t issue another proclamation that he’s straight. He’s far too busy for that. In the end, Jillian shines as she and her team win the challenge. The elements of the poodle skirt, overalls, and short skirt comes together well.

Gotta love how Harry Potter makes observations. He knows that Celine Dion and the the guy from Beetlejuice is in trouble and he says, without hesitation, that their works are bad. As usual, he’s in his own little universe regarding his own work, but his team’s collection was very good.

Chris and his team revisit shoulder pads. Perhaps Steven or Sweet P should have forcibly swapped trends with him early on because Joan Crawford was on his mind. His cropped jacket with the shoulder pads doesn’t look bad at all. However, it looks a little too authentically 1980’s. There isn’t much cohesion (beyond the color scheme) and it is hard to see the outfits as part of a complete collection. It probably doesn’t help matters that he’s wearing a horrible shirt in the presence of Donna Karan (this week’s guest judge) and the usual fashion luminary judges. A definite fashion don’t: Tommy Bahama* or anything resembling it. Poor guy winds up going home, though his dress was the better made between him and Ricky.

Alas, poor Ricky. At least he doesn’t have a meltdown when faced with elimination. Unfortunately, no delightful bitchfights this time (Carmen’s gone), but he has to deal with the contentious Victoria, who simultaneously wants to take credit and avoid responsibility when facing the judges. Ricky saves her dress from booby squash and gets her to work a better fit, but he can’t seem to save his own creation. His dress looks like it was pulled out of the hamper. A few minutes on the ironing board or with a steamer could have helped. I gotta hand it to Bjork Lady. She stands by Ricky as a team mate. She may be weird and on her own world, but it’s not Planet Bitch.

Perhaps Ricky will emerge as the next Santino. His construction was often criticized (culminating in the shoddy construction of Kara’s jumpsuit), but he definitely got it together for Fashion Week. Steve, however, is jockeying for to be Santino as he’s also weird in some dark way. He repeats Santino’s antics of impersonating Tim Gunn. Santino’s version was much funnier. He created the story of Tim and Andrae (Andrae… Andrae…), and his voice was much more dead on. It was hilarious. Steve’s act just falls flat.

*I’m referring to those awful camp shirts. Tommy Bahama in general is Dadwear.