Project Runway: Fashion Headliners

Last week’s episode, “What a Woman Wants,” proves someone most of us already know: Models, especially those getting their start in the industry, should not be creating their own dresses. While they often make good walking clothes hangers, most of them don’t have a sense of style. Then, the Heidi’s and Tyra’s of the world keep telling them that it’s necessary for them to have a smart, unique way of presenting themselves. Then, models should have some kind of sartorial mentorship. Heaven forbid these models then become candidates for What Not to Wear. That would earn a special kind of chastisement from Clinton and Stacy.

This week, the designers got to make paper dresses. While it’s not the first time  for this type of challenge (the recycled plastic and paper challenge, the Hershey’s dresses), it is the first one solely devoted to paper and a shameless plug for the LA Times. Even with them, the NY Times, BBC News, and every small newspaper outlet going online, the LA Times seems hell bent on preserving their paper edition. This, of course, means ink-smudgey fingers while going through the Style guide. Oh, let’s not forget that the designers must also have inky hands by the end of this challenge.

Shirin, who’s normally one of the more innovative designers, came up with a style of skirt we saw on the 5th season of Project Runway and the more recent PR knockoff The Fashion Show. Still, it’s Bjork-worthy along with the time consuming “feather” skirt made by Christopher.

With this season, there now seems to be a thread of lameness with some losing designers. First, Mitchell goes home for doing nothing while his partner does all the work and wins. This week, Johnny comes up with the lousiest excuse ever for having to make another dress when the first one wasn’t working. It was DAMAGED by the STEAM and WATER sputtering from the IRON? He wasn’t willing to own up to the fact that he panicked after Tim Gunn tore apart his origami motif dress. Living up to an addict stereotype, he came up with an alibi which only made him look worse in front of the teammate and the judges. His model became his enabler as she bought the story and then backed him up in front of the judges. She gets points for being loyal, but she should have seen through that. Nicholas, who had punk rock fail when it came to vision, called him out in front of the judges.

Althea, Ra’mon, and Gordana definitely made dresses that didn’t look like newspapers at all, though Althea had the more striking design. Either one should have won instead of Irina. Irinia did some arresting work with the faux-faux fur touch on the trenchcoat and it was 1950’s couture lovely. I didn’t care for the seam that was drawn on the back vent with a pen. It won because the Desperate Housewife wants to wear it.

Speaking of which, is it just me or is there an actress featured as a guest judge for the episiodes. There’s also more industry people showing up as guest judges as well, but can’t PR go actress-lite? Perhaps these women are essentially audience surrogates – their opinions and point of views may be closer to the Lifetime viewer than those of Tim Gunn and the regular judges. This Project Runway definitely feels different than it’s Bravo incarnaton.

Project Runway: We Expect Fashion

This is definitelty a Lifetime type of episode as the designers are faced with creating a beautiful, fashion-forward maternity dress. This time, there are some guest industry types involved: Rebecca Romijn (model, actress, now mother-to-be) and notable FIDM alumna Monique Lhullier, best known for her wedding gowns, who fills in for catty orange designer Michael Kors. Another made for Lifetime motif is that the panel this week is all female and they’ve all been pregnant, absolutely qualified to comment.

Big bummer this week – gender-fuck designer Malvin loses out with a risky design. Of course, the mother hen motif explained doesn’t go over well with the panel. Unfortunately, hack designer/love child of Perez Hilton and John Mayer, AKA Mitchell stays, even though his outfit execution is atrocious.

WTF – Ra’mon looks to his bowling bag for inspiration. That and the stripey dresses the Supremes would wear, with disastrous results. Also, he has boob issues.

Althea definitely has boob issues with her dress, though her dress is more flattering than Ra’mon’s.

Shirin definitely creates a lovely dress which all of the judges want to wear (thus wins), though Louise definitely has a better design instinct, as she anticipates the various stages of pregnancy.

Next week, Project Runway goes where no episode has gone before – the beach, which promises some hot mess drama.

Catch up with the second Project Runway episode “We Want Fashion.”

Project Runway: Bright Lights, Big City

Project Runway has officially been around long enough for it to have generated some clichés. The one that gets used since Season 2 is the show loans contestants digital cameras and they are set loose in Manhattan to take pictures. From simply roaming around in broad daylight to perusing the Met, the idea is that inspiration can come anywhere at anytime. It seems that the producers and writers need a professional equivalent of this exercize.

Of course, the shutterbug clichés meets another one: bait and switch. Whenever Heidi Klum greets the designers with that clipped but chirpy hello, we know something is up. So do the designers, and the silence really is golden (pardon the cliché).

This week’s bait and switch – a night out on the town turns out to be too literal. No going out, no needed stress relief by dancing one’s ass off; just roaming around four key points in New York City taking pictures of the lights. They all seem to take it very well in their ponchos and rainboots. Perhaps they were compensated with a bottomless supply of cocktails after they returned to their suites.

Blayne, AKA Tweaker Beck, takes a beautiful picture of the light, but his dress becomes a walking Gay Pride flag on his model.

For some odd reason, Leanne reminds me of Cassandra, long haired girl who wore sundresses and Doc Martens, on Beavis and Butthead. Her slow, thoughtful way of speaking and even her odd inflection were a little too dead on. Unfortunately, I remember that more than her dress. Not good.

While I don’t care about Keith being ultra pushy during the snap shoot, I thought his dress was conceptually brilliant. It looked great on TV, but it must have sloppy close up. Or, Nina was reaching for a comment.

Emily of the Sarah and Tegan haircut goes. The ruffle is just wrong and now that’s a cliché.

This is where some will ask me to turn in my gay card: Sandra Bernhard as guest judge? Seriously?

Ugh, this season seems like it’s going to be full of celebrities trying to establish their fashionista cred. The only one who really has it so far is Natalie Portman.

Project Runway, Season 5: Episode 1

Last season’s PR brought odd personalities such as the Björk Lady and Harry Potter, the talented winner. This season doesn’t seem to short of personalities. I can’t remember anyone’s names right now, but I’ll call one guy Tweaker Beck and another Rufus Wainright. Blue mohawk guy: Vivian or one his roommates from the Young Ones.

I’m not sure if this is going full circle to Season 1’s first challenge or if PR is on its last legs and grasping for straws, but the challenge is to go the grocery store and scoop up whatever materials they can. Austin Scarlet, winner of the Season 1 challenge with his corn husk dress, is back to judge the challenge.

Not surprisingly, a lot them grab table cloths and Tim Gunn bitches them out for it. The aging biker chick goes for the punk rock cliché of the garbage bag and tries to break it, only to fall flat like an inner tube with a hole in it. That would have been a great material for a dress. Rufus Wainright, on the other hand, is more innovative with a dress made of blue plastic cups.

Jennifer, one of the few names I’ve caught, uses material I would love to use: paper towels. It brings back memories of the tissue paper couture I did as a kid.

Tweaker Beck, well, makes a very tweaked out outfit. Michael Kors says it looks like a handiwipe gone wrong. As for Jerry the Asian guy, his outfit looked too nursey or as Kors said, just left the hospital. Needless to say, Jerry leaves the runway.

Korto is the only one who uses to produce to accessorize a tablecloth dress. Kelli, who looks a bit like Reese Witherspoon, wins by burning and staining her materials, creating a not-so-pretty but interesting effect.

Perhaps this season will be an interesting one, but it’s too early to tell. I wonder how much we’ll get to see Tim Gunn losing that cool, “Make It Work” demeanor. Even though that would overshadow Heidi and the designers, it would be checking out.

My one real gripe about watching PR – seeing all those commericals for “Date M Ex.” Jo and Slade, please go away. I guess Bravo/NBC takes care of their own when their music careers fail to take off.

Oh, there’s another gripe: PR’s Bravo website is badly organized. This must be one of Bravo/NBC’s retaliations for the show’s migration to Lifetime (a financially motivated move on Weinstein’s part).

Project Runway: Season 4 Finale Part 2

Here, you can see the designers go through casting drama.
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Needless to say, Christian worked his Harry Potter magic, created some “fierce” ruffles, and had a winning collection. When Tim Gunn checked in on him a month before, he had some feathered leggings. For good or bad, he ditched the Big Bird pants, but he had some amazing garments that incorporated feathers on the runway. The hat on the first look and the feathers on the final gown added to the fantasy, couture aspect of his collection. Christian also retained the giant collar Tim Gunn had some concerns about. He had some bitchy model drama before the show (one complained about the shoes). Somehow, flats wouldn’t look right in the Spanish Renaissance inspired look.

Jillian had so many shapes and so much variety in her collection. On a creative level, this is great. She can conceive and execute many different looks. The one thing that was missing was cohesiveness, or what they like to call a “point of view.” Great work, though. I don’t doubt her phone will be ringing for days from potential clients.

While she wasn’t hemming things at the last minute (an 11th hour garment challenge would have killed her), Jillian tried to recast the models at the last minute as she didn’t pay attention to their heights. A short model in a long dress can be a nightmare.

Rami retained his signature of draping; however, he branched out with some very eclectic results. Some of his dresses were reminiscent of Chloe Dao‘s, including some extremely bold color choices (blue-green, magenta, blood red). He used draping techniques in newer ways, as to create blouses and dresses that didn’t look like they were made for Greek goddesses. The gold gown looked like it could be fantasy Grecian, but it also was reminiscent of a something a 1930’s starlet would wear. Weaving the fabric was an interesting touch, especially in the bodice of one gown. He was holding back in the walk-off between him and Chris March, as some of what he presented on Fashion Week was much more interesting.

The judge’s roller coaster of praise and criticism is a fun feature of this finale. This time, at least they’re not accusing someone of having the boobs in the wrong place. Victoria Beckham, the guest judge is wowed by Christian’s collection. Will we see her in one his creations in the future?

See the final collections.
Christian speaks!

Project Runway: Reunion Episode

This is probably one of the most civilized reunion episodes on Project Runway. No bitchfights and no super incoherent rants to answer fan questions. The producers must have kept the contestants away from the alcohol.

There is, however, some never seen before footage. Heidi Klum questions if Kevin is gay and pulls out some of his odd gay humor moments. Ricky has some incredibly emotional out takes, and Heidi Klum also says some of the darndest things that doesn’t make it to the final cut of any episode.

Poor Victorya – she gets tagged as uptight by Heidi and Tim. However, she manages to have a Fashion Week show independent of Project Runway.

As for Sweet P, it’s nice that she’s getting some celebrity recognition.

Christian, the most likely winner in the Fashion Week Challenge, gets the viewer’s choice pick. Hopefully, he’ll put that $10G to good use.

The reunion went through some interesting questions, but no major spoilers for next week. We know for sure that Jillian‘s in, but whether Rami or Chris is to be in Fashion week is still to be decided. Tune in next week as Tim visits them and looks at their collection.

Project Runway: The Art Of The Show

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Getting inspiration for art from art. This is not as pretentious as it might sound. Fashion students really do study art history in school and also clothing of the past, and this episode certainly brought me back to classes I took a lifetime ago.

For this challenge, the five hopefuls for fashion week go to the Met to get ideas for creations to propel them into fashion week. As Tim Gunn points out, there were thousands of artifacts in this museum, so the field trip was only limited to three galleries: Greek and Roman, European art, and the Temple of Dendur.

We all know that Rami is the queen of the drapes. In all fairness, a lot of his style has yielded some successful results. However, it has gotten to the point where we all (not just Chris March and the judges) can predict he’ll look to the Grecian statues for inspiration. He creates a lovely, wearable dress, but it’s no match for what Christian, Jillian, and Chris March create.

Speaking of Chris March, I like that he guffawed in the Temple of Dendor. Everyone was so quiet and proper in the museum, and it was nice to see someone break that up. He goes for the 18th century, a drag queeny era if there ever was one. Big dresses, big hair, and lots of make-up – definitely his speed. While he repeats the gigantic shoulder in this one, it’s not the same. The other one looks like a gigantic Mickey Mouse ear, while this one had a very strange elegance as it was crumpled around the model’s shoulder. However, Nina Garcia and Michael Kors have to jump on it after Roberto Cavalli expresses how much he likes the dress.

While Jillian has made bad time management her signature, she makes an elegant and understated black coat hiding a splashy gold dress. She looks to a Renaissance painting depicting Jason and the Argonauts, but hers looks very modern.

Christian goes for ruffles and tons of them in his Spanish Renaissance inspired ensemble. While it’s also easy to point out this feature of his is predictable, he often creates some very complex items. Well, having the lightening bolt on his head doesn’t hurt.* I have to admit that I find his statement about the play on masculine and feminine very intriguing.

Sweet P creates a chemise that takes the colors of a peacock painting. It’s very mod and Twiggy. Too bad it doesn’t do much for the judges. I like her and her outfit, so I’m really sad to see her not go on to Fashion Week.

The final “in” is a total mindfuck. After selecting Christian as the winner and Jillian as in, the judges can’t bring themselves to send Chris March or Rami home. However, there isn’t a definite in as they put Chris March and Rami in a competition. Both will have to make collections for Fashion Week, and from there the judges will decide if one of them will get to have their showing in Bryant Park.

Next week, we’ll see them all in the same room again. Hopefully, the producers have thought about their alcohol policy and limiting how many martinis the former contestants are allowed to drink. I just can’t get out of my head one Season 2 contestant’s incoherent response to a viewer letter. It was some comic relief for sure. Stay tuned.

*I’ve referred to Christian as Harry Potter in earlier posts.

Project Runway: Raw Talent

Here is this week’s episode, scientifically reduced to pill form.
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This episode is indeed where no designer has gone before.

Has Project Runway ever gone camp, high or low? The personalities of some designers, past and present, have been campy, but Chris March is definitely an industrial strength dose. We all know about his drag queen portfolio and his penchant for outrageous, costumey things. He also, in a sweet way, has complimented the Bjork Lady in her oddness until her unfortunate, Hershey paved departure. We get a low dose of low camp with “the divas of the WWE,” and the guest appearance of Heatherette is the frighteningly kitschy fashion camp element in the judging.

Needless to say, Chris March embraces the challenge and wins. He discovers he and his model have a mutual love of leopard print and he creates a costume reminiscent of one worn by Shania Twain seven or so years ago in one her music videos.

Harry Potter
, the runner up, obviously expected to win this week’s challenge. He makes a concerted effort to hide his disappointment to no avail.

There is a weird Tao of Steve in this episode, as some designers don’t embrace the challenge. Sweet P, who has managed to make some fabulous dresses in the past few episodes, tanks with her wrestling diva, whose thing is to wear a dress or coat that covers her body and she opens it to do “the reveal.” Sweet P picks a white iridescent fabric that could be easily in a Star Trek: TNG sickbay. The outer garment doesn’t effectively conceal the sexpot body, which makes it fall flat. If only Sweet P had access to the wedding dress Steven barely used for that fatal challenge, she probably wouldn’t have been on the chopping block this week.

Color choice is alway a tricky thing. Jillian creates something wrestling ring appropriate and sporty with blue, while Rami picks a bright bubblegum pink and Ricky goes for a bright orange. Richie Rich of Heatherette makes the comment that Rami’s outfit comes across as Paris Hilton wannabe was interesting, as everyone’s favorite heiress is one of their famous clients. While I’d love to take exception with Nina Garcia‘s aversion to orange, I have to agree with her. It’s a color I hate as well (I don’t own a single orange garment).

Every once in a while, the judges love to hone in on Rami and how he’s so un-American. Jee-zus, is that really a bad thing?

Some of the exit interviews, especially in the past few seasons, feel like they’re from the end of Waiting For Guffman or Best in Show. Victorya‘s declaration of having a long career in fashion and Ricky’s beaten down statement of uncertainty definitely strike me that way. Am I the only person having this reaction?

Now it’s down to five, which means the final fashion week episode isn’t too far away.