It's Always the Quiet One

Rambling about life, culture, Project Runway, and the occasional fruity drink.

Friday, November 30, 2007

To Boldly Go...

Fashion: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Runway. Its season four mission: to explore strange new looks; to seek out new talent and new silhouettes; to boldly go where no designer has gone before!
Captain Klum: Designers, you have a difficult mission ahead. Perhaps the most dangerous and difficult mission ever. But of course I will not tell you about it now; I prefer to let you stew in worry and speculation. First Officer Gunn will meet you on the surface of planet Rockefeller 10 to fill you in on the details. In the end, one of you will be victorious, and one of you will be the expendable anonymous crewmember that is sacrificed in every episode. Now all of you get to the transporter room! GO! RUN!

In last week’s episode, we had the ‘best judge ever’. This week, we have the challenge they’ve “been waiting a long time to do.” Let’s see… they’ve already done plants, trash, beauty pageants, postal workers, wedding gowns, dolls, and dogs. What else is left? The designers head over to Rockefeller Plaza to find out.

But oh, there is something left. For this challenge, everyone is going to have to do (cue ominous music) MENSWEAR. Tim introduces Tiki Barber, who used to play football but now does commentary for The Today Show. Kevin, reminding us once again how straight he is, launches into a detailed description of Tiki’s entire football career, while most of the rest of the male designers are like, “Who? What’s football? Oh, that game where they run around wearing spandex pants? LOVE it.” The winning design will be worn by Tiki on The Today Show.

He explains to the designers that he has a really hard time finding clothes that fit him due to the fact that he has a huge neck and a fair amount of booty, and that he’ll pretty much wear anything on camera as long as it’s just like what he’s wearing now, because his wife picked it out. He’s not afraid of color, or pattern, or texture, as long as it looks just like what he’s got on. I’m wondering where they’re going to get the models for this. If the outfit has to be for him to wear on the air, they’re going to need dress forms and models that are built like football players. And let’s face it, the typical model is not built like that. And the majority of the designers typically do womens’ wear. This should be interesting.

After their usual sketching time, during which most of the designers sit there staring at blank sketchbooks, they head off to Mood. They get a more reasonable budget and more time for this challenge. This is good, considering that menswear requires more tailoring, details and pieces per outfit. The few designers that actually have a clue what they’re going to make have really ambitious designs: suits mostly. Did they not learn from Michael Kors in season 2 where he said “mens’ suits are the hardest things to make and sew”? (Um, how else would you make a mens’ suit without sewing it?) There’s a lot of frantic running at Mood, and a lot of dark colors being purchased.

They return to Parsons. Christian plays Chihuahua to Jack’s Paris Hilton and lets himself be carried into the workroom in a tote bag. Everyone gets to work, but it doesn’t take long for most of the designers to find their way into the dreaded 'fear box.’ Jack, however, get the bright idea to take apart his own shorts to use as a pattern. (And since he can’t run around the workroom in his underwear, he also fashions himself a nice kilt out of muslin.) A lot of the women are asking Jack for advice, even though he admits that he’s never actually made menswear.

Being a giving kind of guy, Jack shares his deconstructed shorts with Carmen and Victorya so they can make patterns too. (I don’t know how much good that will do them – Jack is muscular but he’s no Tiki.) This irritates the heck out of Rami, who whines that it’s not fair, but really is just steamed he didn’t think of it first.

The next morning, Kit sets the tone for the day by commenting, “OK, get ready, this is the last time we’re gonna have fun today,” as they run out the door to Parsons again. Is she ever right! These people have a LOT of work to do. Some are sewing actual garments, while others are still working on their muslin mock-ups. Pants are strewn everywhere! Chris’s description of what they are – “... just two big sleeves sewn together” – is surprisingly true. I never thought of it that way, but yeah, they kinda are. Over in the sewing room, Christian appears to be sewing his entire garment on the serger. Is that normal? Won't the seams be all bumpy?

Rami is quite proud of his draped pants (as opposed to others’ dirty rotten cheating traced-shorts pants). I'm starting to think he doesn't know how to make patterns at all. But he doesn’t have much more time to bitch because Tim is sending in the models!

Swoon! The first set of professional male models on Project Runway! (And wow, some of these guys look familiar - but that is a topic for another post.) There are many good-looking guys here, and pretty much everyone in the room (except Elisa, who can’t bear to watch her model change) is admiring the view. There are a lot of gratuitous butt and ab shots. Kevin, again, chooses to inform us how straight he is. Ricky is so stressed out that he can’t even chat with his model. Several people have to start from scratch after attempting to fit garments and failing miserably, which adds to the stress level tenfold.

Tim comes in to interrupt them yet again. For some reason, the producers decided to bring Tiki’s wife in to look at what everyone is doing. She likes some things, and shoots down others. Especially Carmen’s jacket, which causes Tiki’s wife to invoke the cursed name of Member’s Only. Tim even advises her to reconsider what she’s doing, but darn! She didn’t buy enough fabric to do something different. (I've seen them use this edit before. She’s either going to be out, or she’s going to rally and win the whole thing.) It also looks like Ricky has gotten a little ambitious with his design and doesn’t have a lot done. So the two of them release some frustration by composing an insult-laden opera in the sewing room.

The next morning, they return to the workroom to finish up as much as they can. Christian appears to have forgotten how to walk because Jack is carrying him AGAIN. (What does he weigh, like 75 pounds? Maybe it was windy and Jack was afraid he was going to blow away.) They have three and a half hours left, and Carmen has no shirt. Why was she making a jacket when she had no shirt?? Is she seriously going to send her model down the runway in a pants, jacket, and bare chest? That will go over well on The Today Show.

The models return to get their final fittings. Ricky immediately puts his to work sewing buttons so he can work on his jacket. He doesn’t finish and ends up answering the question I posed earlier about suit construction – you use safety-pins! Doesn’t that boy have any glue? The judges are going to see those pins in a second. Sweet P’s shirt looks, basically, like an eight-year-old sewed it. The neck is huge and crooked, the sleeves are too short, and the model’s biceps will rip the sleeves off entirely if he flexes them even a tiny bit. Carmen desperately makes a shirt substitute out of a big piece of fabric, but it ends up looking like she’s wrapped Linus’s blanket around the model's neck and tucked it in to the his pants. (I'm thinkin' there's your bottom three right there, for certain.)

Captain Klum: Welcome back, away team. Remember, one of you will be getting a commendation from Star Fleet, and one of you will have an unfortunate transporter accident. Before we see the strange alien life forms you brought back from your expedition to Rockefeller 10, let me introduce you to the judges:
Dr. McKors, Yeoman Garcia, and Klingon warrior Tiki Barber. Let’s start the show!

The safe designers:

  • Christian – What is up with that collar? It looks like he’s got the shirt on sideways. Did the model put his arm in the neckhole and his head through the sleeve? And the little weird rectangle appliqués on the jacket pockets are at the same level as the waistband. They need to be either higher or lower. It visually cuts him in half.
  • Jillian – She made four pieces. FOUR. Amazing. Doesn’t look half bad either. Imagine how much better it would have been had she concentrated on just making three. Maybe she would have won.

  • Rami – He has made his hot model look like a nerd. All he needs is a pair of taped-up glasses.
  • Steven – I can just hear his model saying “Come, Miffy, let’s take a cruise on Daddy’s new yacht” as he straightens his ascot.

  • Victorya – I don’t think that white jacket will work on television. But for everyday wear this is cute.

  • Chris – It’s so dark that I can’t see many of the details. A little color would have been nice. Put this on Tiki and he will practically disappear.

  • Elisa – A bit too casual I think. It would be perfect if Tiki does a story on camping, or a historical retrospective of Woodstock.

Who’s left on the runway?

  • Kevin – This was my pick to win. The color he chose would look good on Tiki, and the pattern on the tie is subtle but interesting. Heidi’s not fond of it at all – she says he made it for David Beckham (and it would look good on him, yes). Apparently Heidi’s not fond of Mr. Beckham either, as she says his name in the same tone of voice as one would say ‘baby vomit.’
  • Kit - The blue fleece jacket makes me think of Mr. Rogers and his cardigans, but in a good way. Tiki likes it. The other judges like that she used the unusual fabric for the jacket.
  • Jack – Stripes everywhere. Maybe it’s stylish, but I just don’t like stripes with other different stripes. Or the way he set them on an angle for the pocket. The model looks like a piece of Fruit Stripe gum. Nina doesn’t like that he only made two pieces.

  • Carmen – Oh, this is more horrible that I imagined it would be. The golf cap – what on earth made her decide to put that cap with this outfit? The color blue she was going to use for her shirt doesn’t go with anything else she made, the jacket is way too short.

  • Sweet P – It’s a mess. Everyone agrees. Her model looks like he had a rough time at the office Christmas party. All he needs is a little lipstick on the collar. (But they like the tie, at least!)

  • Ricky – Yawn. You can buy this at the Men’s Wearhouse. Without the pins. And the judges drag out the ‘boring’ card again. How many more of those can he survive? At least his model looks happy.

After the Q&A period is over, they announce who’s in and out. Jack wins, and in his joy makes devil horns and drops an F-bomb on the runway. Carmen is out – no surprise. I would have auffed her for that weird topknot alone.

Next week: a team challenge causes bitchiness. What else is new? And I hope that I can get a download of the episode somewhere before I write my recap, so I can quit torturing everyone with my photo-editing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What to get for the person who has everything?

Have a difficult relative on your holiday gift list this year? Well, look no further. Dave Barry has come to the rescue, as he does every year, with his Holiday Gift Guide. Every year I say, "I can't believe these are real things you can buy!" but they are. I'm sad, though, that there is nothing toilet-related in this year's list. I guess they've finally done everything that can be done with toilets.

This year I think I'm partial to the Tattoo Sleeves. Since I am not the least bit interested in being stabbed repeatedly with a needle, and yet feel a bit left out when my friends are showing people their tattoos, I think this would be a nice (removable) alternative.

The one that really kind of scares me is the 10 Plagues Bowling Pin Set. Are they serious? Is this something people are actually buying? And I had to go look up what the ten plagues were, because I could only think of frogs and locusts. I can just imagine some parent playing this with their preschooler. "Oh, honey, that's great, you got a split! If you hit 'locust' just right he'll fly over and take out 'the dead firstborn'!" Whoa.

The first thing I thought when I saw the Freud-head lollipops was "Oh, it looks like Tim Gunn! Only with a beard!" Wouldn't that be FABULOUS? There's the Tim Gunn bobblehead - can Tim Gunn lollipops be far behind?

Anyway, I hope you all get a good giggle from that. Thanks to my sister for bringing it to my attention. (What size arms do you have, sis? We could get matching tats for Christmas and give Mom a heart attack. On second thought, she'd probably want some too. Wanna go halvsies?)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Best Judge Ever?

Before I start with this week’s recap, I have to comment on the show opening. They’re cheesy every year but I think this one wins the prize for cheesiest. I mean, what is up with Jillian’s goofy ballerina-princess pose? And the ghost model kissing Marion looks like it belongs on Ghost Hunters, not Project Runway.

After all the hype last week about this week's judge, I was thinking they might skip the whole first part of the show and jump straight to that part. But they don't. It’s the day after the runway show, and some of the guys are talking about what happened. Simone, who was out, seems to be held in much higher regard than Elisa is. Elisa could care less, and hums "I'm organic, essence-imbued rubber and you are synthetic glue and whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you."

This week, everyone gets a chance to pick new models. Heidi has her Magic Velvet Bag (tm), and calls the models out on the runway. Wait a second. This is supposed to be the day AFTER the runway show, yes? Then why are all the models sporting the exact same hairdos and makeup as the day before? Did they SLEEP in that? (I’ve noticed that the editing on this show is really bad. For example, Tim will come in to look and a dress will be almost finished, but in the next shot it will be in pieces on the dress form. I hate that!)

For the most part, the designers stick with the models they were given. Until we get to Ricky, who decides to switch and picks the model Elisa had last challenge. In the first speech he’s made so far without crying, he tells us that he doesn’t care if everyone thinks he’s "the bitch that stole Elisa’s model." But nobody’s thinking that, because we don’t know any of these people well enough to have an emotional investment in anybody’s model. So Ricky just ends up looking like "the bitch that’s trying (and failing) to be Zulema." But kudos to him for not crying. It won’t last.

After that, pretty much everyone switches models. At the end we are left with Kevin’s previous model (the brunette that has a very pretty face but is really gangly, like a baby giraffe) and Ricky’s (the blonde that looks like Nicollette Sheridan). Sweet P will have to make the difficult choice between the two. Well, I don’t think it’s that difficult – I figure she will definitely go for the blonde. But she doesn’t! She picks the brunette.

Heidi quickly moves on to the challenge because Ricky’s starting to get teary-eyed again. This week they will be designing for a "pop culture and fashion icon." Speculation in the workroom runs the gamut from Madonna to Snow White. Luckily Tim comes in to let them off the hook and introduces… (drum roll)… Sarah Jessica Parker! The actress who, back in the eighties, made giant bug glasses all the rage. I used to watch her on Square Pegs! (Oh, and I guess she was later in some TV show about fashion and sex. I don’t have HBO. *shrug*)

The designers start freaking out to varying degrees. Christian takes the name of the Lord in vain about forty times, and Chris just flat out bawls his head off. Most of the designers look like this: Sarah Jessica tells them the details of their challenge – design a two-piece look that will fit into her new line, Bitten - which is the reason she finally agreed to come on PR, so she can plug it repeatedly. The line is supposedly affordable high-end sportswear (you go look at it and tell me what you think). The outfit they create can only cost a buyer $40 – which means that they have to make it for a lot less. They get a whopping $15 (which at Mood will maybe buy you a couple of buttons - I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of tootie showing on the runway). Chris feels he will get more garment for his money if he buys his supplies at Staples. This also turns out to be a dreaded team challenge, because SJ will only pick seven designs.

Everybody begins sketching, except Ricky, who starts doing this again.
And if this whole fashion designer thing doesn’t work out, I think Ricky could have a good career as the Train Engineer in a Village People tribute act. He’s already got a mesh engineer’s cap.

Now it’s time to pitch to Mrs. Broderick. I am impressed with some of the designers' sketching skills – notably Jack’s, Christian’s and Kit’s. Chris is so nervous he can’t even explain what he’s drawn. Elisa has drawn a Boobah (which explains a lot, actually). Christian gets all fanboi on SJ and hugs her. Rami has designed an outfit inspired by Transformers (“a woman can buy this, then get married and get pregnant, take off the belt and still wear it, and it also turns into a baby carrier and a high chair and a car seat”). Carmen takes the opportunity to unashamedly network like nobody’s business.

The pitching is over, and it’s now time to find out who SJ picked as team leaders. Her fashion credibility goes flying out the window when her first choice is Elisa. Everyone is stunned. (Come on! She drew a balloon with a head!) The other leaders are Kit, Victorya, Marion, Ricky, Christian (like he needed an ego boost), and Rami. Carmen and Chris are devastated. SJ also comments that the winning design MAY be sold with her fall line if it doesn’t suck too badly.

After SJ leaves it’s time to pick teams. This is how they ended up: Marion/Steve, Ricky/Jack, Victorya/Kevin, Kit/Chris, Rami/Jillian, Christian/Carmen, and Elisa is left with Sweet P, who gets very very scared. Then Tim gives them their $15 and herds them off to Mood to pick stray threads off the floor, which is all they can afford. Marion nicks a blanket that an employee brought from home, and Elisa picks the same exact material she bought last time.

Back in the workroom, everyone gets down to business. Since Elisa doesn’t believe in tape measures, she holds the fabric up to Sweet P to measure it. Then, to Sweet P’s horror, we find out that she also doesn’t believe in writing utensils – she uses spit to mark the fabric! (I guess it’s better than some of the other things she could have used.)

After they’ve been working a while, Tim comes in to see how things are progressing. His first stop is Marion and Steve. Their blanket-shirt is almost done, but their skirt is laying in pieces on the table. The design of light and dark heather grays in stripes is really interesting – I’m curious to see how it looks when it’s all put together. (Looks hellish to sew, though.) On to Christian, who of course thinks his outfit is perfect no matter how much Tim tries to tell him that it’s not. Victorya has designed a dress made out of an extra-large garbage bag and a little boy’s suit vest. When Tim comes to Elisa, he is flabbergasted that she is hand-sewing all the edges, and actually uses the word “cuckoo”. Elisa smiles serenely as her animal friends cavort about the workroom.

The next day, the designers have a little bit of time to work on the finishing of their garments. Ricky’s dress, while pretty, is not technically a two-piece outfit, even though he made a belt for it. I just really don’t think a belt counts as a second piece. A belt is an accessory. I hope he gets blasted for it on the runway. Rami’s Transformers shirt looks like a paint smock from a preschool classroom. Marion and Steven are worried about their skirt – apparently Marion doesn’t know how to measure and made it way too big. But it’s okay, because you can’t see the skirt anyway - the blanket covers the whole thing up! Victorya’s got some kind of giant Goth Christmas bow around the neck of her model.

In the hair and makeup room, there is a LOT of teasing going on. (I think the phrase is “hair teased up to Jesus!”) And I really think Christian must have skipped the classes on model styling because his looks are just really awful. Again, he has aged his model about twenty years and given her a very severe hairstyle. Out on the runway, Heidi is wearing a top that looks like a very different type of runway. Maybe it is a landing strip for Elisa’s alien friends.

The ‘safe’ designers:

  • Kit and Chris - This one should have been a contender for the win. It’s simple, but it would fit in with the other pieces in the Bitten collection very well. (You can't tell in the picture but the leggings are a deep maroon color.) Their model is really pretty. I love the kicky beret, too.
  • Rami and Jillian - Big hair, very black, eh. I’m glad they used the cute model though.
  • Ricky and Jack – More giant hair! The color is pretty, the design is nice, but I hate the belt.

Who’s left on the runway?

  • Elisa and Sweet P – This actually turned out way better than I expected. The shapes of both pieces are really nice. Elisa makes the mistake of telling the judges that she spit on the dress, causing Heidi to blurt out “What planet are you FROM?” Elisa replies that she’s come from her happy planet bearing gifts. Whatever that means.
  • Marion and Steven – This looks very ‘1960’s hippie commune’ to me. The colors are depressing, the top is way too long, and you can’t even see the skirt that Steven spent so much time on. The top is actually getting longer as the model stands on the runway. (I predict that it will be a floor-length dress by the time the season is over.) Michael Kors comments that a short woman would look like Cousin Itt if she wore this outfit.

  • Victorya and Kevin – The judges gush over this, calling it ‘interesting’ repeatedly. Maybe it looked better in person but like I said before, it looks like a garbage sack to me. And I can’t tell if the bow is part of the dress, or just some extra fabric that they hemmed and tied around the model’s neck.
  • Christian and Carmen – The first thing that popped into my head when this came down the runway was “flight attendant”. Yes, the jacket has some intricate pleating that looks like it took a long time. I’m not going to deny that Christian appears to have some excellent sewing skills. But I agree with Michael Kors in his assessment that the model looks like she just stepped out of a Robert Palmer video. I’m not sure Christian actually heard that comment because he was too busy cutting him off – he only wanted to hear what SJ had to say, because he was SURE she was going to say it was fierce. She didn’t.

So it was between Elisa and Victorya for the win, and of course SJ picked the garbage bag over the spittle-encrusted alien dress. Poor Marion was out, because his design made the judges sad. I think if his top had been different, the outfit would have worked, because what I can see of the skirt is very impressive. And as far as Sarah Jessica Parker being the best judge ever, I'm not sure I'd agree with that, even though she seems to know what she's talking about.

Next week: Heidi continues the space theme and dresses up like Lt. Uhuru from Star Trek. The challenge is described as “something we’ve always wanted to do,” and the designers appear to be ripping clothing. (So THAT’S what happens to the throwaway clothes on Tim Gunn’s other show!)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Something that REALLY matters

It’s Thanksgiving in the United States, a day when we take a moment and remember all the things we are grateful for in our lives. Hopefully we also give a thought to those in our country and other parts of the world who don’t have it as good as we do, and how we might help. We all know that there are a lot of things in the world that need fixing. It seems like every day some celebrity is throwing a party to benefit this, or a golf tournament to benefit some other thing. Perhaps they donate a personal effect or something they created to an auction to benefit charity. (I looked up celebrity charity work on Google and found a ton of things like that – CD’s, t-shirts, lunchboxes....) Or maybe they just show up at a premiere or awards show wearing a ribbon to show support for a cause. That’s all good. I definitely applaud those who use their celebrity to spotlight issues (and not those who use the issue to get the spotlight on themselves).

Here’s one I read about recently that impressed me a lot, but you might not have heard about. TOMS Shoes, created by entrepreneur and Amazing Race contestant Blake Mykoskie, donates a pair of shoes to a child in an impoverished country for each pair purchased through their website or in the few stores that carry them. The company has already done one ‘shoe drop’ in Argentina, the country that inspired Mykoskie to create the design for TOMS slip-on shoes.

This fall TOMS partnered with indie band Hanson to sell shoes at each of the shows on Hanson’s fall tour. In addition to providing shoes for fans to purchase, the Hanson guys did a one-mile walk with fans prior to each show to raise awareness for the TOMS mission. Hanson usually walked barefoot, and encouraged other walkers to do the same. Sure, a mile on dirty American city streets is nothing compared to a child who has to walk around all day every day with bare feet, but it gave the walkers an idea of what it would be like. Hanson might not be as much in the public eye as they were when they were younger, but they are very passionate about this cause, and have a large and loyal fanbase that they were able to inspire to action, which helped TOMS meet its goal of 50,000 pairs of shoes.

This past week, the TOMS staff and Hanson have been in South Africa to personally fit children with the shoes. One of the photographers traveling with them has posted video and photos on his blog here. You can also see some videos that explain how Hanson got involved with the project here. Having been a teacher for many years and having a soft spot in my heart for children, it was very touching to me to see these photos and videos. Each individual that bought a pair or two of shoes may have done a small thing, but add up all the small things and you get something huge that is benefiting so many children.

Learning about this amazing effort made me ask myself, "What have I done today?" So I decided to do a small thing and write about it, to bring more people’s attention to the good work that these people are doing. After all, it’s not the size of the step you take, it’s the fact that you take it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Return to the Runway

Hooray! Project Runway has returned! Will this year's group of aspiring designers have the talent, the drive, the snarkiness of past seasons? Let's find out.

Of course the first order of business is to get the designers all moved in to their new digs, the Gotham (something or other not important). Hmm…the new apartments look just like the old Atlas ones, right down to the number plates on the doors. Did they rename the Atlas? Are we sure they even moved? Or is it a red herring, because the producers did not want people stalking the designers during filming?

Wherever they are, during move-in time, the designers need to make good first impressions on not only their fellow designers, but on the viewers. What have we got here? First the men. I have absolutely no opinion, good or bad, about Rami at this point. He’s just…there. Chris, I love already. He seems like such a genuine person and I just want to hug him. However, the same cannot be said for Christian, whom I already want to smack into next week the next time he uses the words “like, kinda…” Plus, even more annoying is the fact that he is an ‘uptalker’. Ricky rounds out that set of roommates. In the next apartment we meet Kevin and Jack, who are very rugged in two completely different ways. Steven arrives and I think, "When did Tommy Smothers take up fashion designing?" Then Marion sneaks in, looking like a Victorian street waif, so I hope they have the kitchen stocked with some nice thin gruel for him.

On to the women. For someone who is a former model and should know better, Carmen is wearing a god-awful T-shirt that is slashed across the chest. What horrible thing did her breasts do to warrant being strapped up like that? Curly-haired Jillian informs us that she is not going home, ever - so I guess after the show wraps she’s just going to be a squatter in the apartment. The two of them gleefully try and get their toiletries into the tiny bathroom before anyone else arrives. I guess Kit (very blonde) and Sweet P (very tattooed) will have to find somewhere else to keep their toothpaste. The second female apartment contains Victorya, Elisa (who labels herself an ‘accidental designer’ and that scares me a lot), and Simone. It’s good there’s only three of them in there because Elisa needs room to do her yoga.

During this first act we can clearly see the Project Runway notecards sitting on the counters, and everyone making a point to not notice them until instructed to, and then they act all surprised to see them. Of course, it is Heidi’s summons, and the designers are instructed to head over to Bryant Park to meet Mrs. Seal and Mr. Gunn.

Once they get there, the champagne starts flowing, because God forbid they start designing anything without being tipsy, and everyone mingles with varying degrees of success. We find out more about Jack, Victorya, Kit, Marion and Ricky (who is already going for the Andrae Gonzalo Project Runway Scholarship by crying, and we’re less than ten minutes into the show.)
But all too soon, Heidi and Tim show up to spoil the party. Heidi gives the designers a stern mommy look, tells them “the party is over”, and that it’s time for the first challenge. They will be making clothing out of the tents set up on the far side of the park. Christian haughtily sniffs that the tents look like they’re made out of cheap crappy plastic, but it actually turns out to be expensive fabric from Mood. Oodles of dollars’ worth. (Shows what he knows – shouldn’t someone who’s a “kind of a big deal” designer be able to tell the difference between fabric and plastic, even at a distance?) Anyway, Tim explains that in other seasons the designers had to use crap to make fabulous expensive looking things. This time they get to use expensive fabric to make what could very likely be crap!

So it’s ready, set, go! The designers sprint across the lawn (except for Chris, who gets a rude edit while running slower than the others, but I prefer to think that he knows he can knock out something fabulous with whatever is left, so why hurry). Elisa shoves a sunflower at Heidi as she runs by. (Apparently it was Heidi’s birthday, and what else to get for the woman who has everything? A cheap silk flower, of course.) Christian runs the entire way with one hand on his hip, which looks really prissy but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt – maybe his battery pack was falling off.

The designers start grabbing for fabric like they’re little old ladies at a K-Mart blue light special on knee-high hosiery. Elisa puzzles everyone when she starts rubbing expensive silk in the grass, for “natural” color, and you just know everyone is thinking “what a nutjob!” When the dust clears, the only thing left on the tent frame is some fake fur. (Later in the show it shows up as a couch cover. Watch for it!)

They have thirteen hours to whip up their designs. I’m wondering what is going to happen to all that fabric – there’s no way any of them are going to use the obscene amounts they shoved into their bags. I hope Mood has a discount remnant section. (I doubt they’ll take back any of Elisa’s silk though.)

Everyone sorts out their fabric and gets started. Rami has his entire dress draped in less than five minutes. But what the hell is Elisa doing? She’s shredding her fabric – apparently continuing her grass theme by making it look as though she ran over the material with a lawn mower. Then she gets up on the table and starts using herself as a dress form. It looks like she’s sewing herself into a shroud! Could that be a bit of foreshadowing? (At this point, Christian makes a comment about her strangeness, but, um, Christian? When you are sitting there with that haircut you have NO room to call anyone’s anything strange.) And Jillian cannot seriously be putting a red-orange skirt onto a hot pink bodice. Can she? Please don’t.

Tim comes in to see how things are going. His first stop is Rami, and he proclaims the dress ‘stunning’. Yes, it looks nice, but why did he have to pick that cement color? Does that color look good on anyone? Tim goes to visit Christian next. Christian has made a puffy-sleeved brown plaid top that was really fashionable in the nineties… the 1890’s. Simone’s dress is kind of bleh. It’s very pale with a yellow stripe around the middle, and a little shruggy jacket thing. And with only four hours left, she still has a lot of work to do. Not good.

And now we come back to Elisa. (If she sticks around past this episode I can foresee lots of time spent with Elisa in the future.) I was actually kind of surprised at what she’d made, at first, because it was a really nice form-fitting teal tube dress with an interesting collar. That was before she turned it around, and we see that she’s done a Santino - tacking a lot of shredded crap onto the back of it. After Tim frowns over it, she decides she’s finished and trots off to the lounge to sleep for 2 hours.

Everyone else scrambles. Sweet P voices a concern that her dress keeps shrinking – uh oh! Are we in for more sabotage conspiracy theories like last season? Is someone resizing her dress form every time she leaves the room? Hmm…

Chris looks at his watch, shrugs, and says, “Huh. Ten minutes.” From out of nowhere we hear Christian’s frantic voice: “Don’t go into the fear box, people!” I don’t know where the fear box IS, but it sounds like Christian’s already there. And with that, the night is over, and everyone trudges back to their apartments (well, except Elisa, who’s pretty bouncy after her nap).

Next morning – HELLO Jack’s underwear! Oh… my. And the guys from Chris’s apartment have apparently given themselves a name: Team Star! How cute and cheerleader-ish. But now it’s time to head back to Parson’s for final alterations and to meet the models. Chris completely lucked out with his model – not only is she gorgeous but the colors in his outfit looked amazing on her. And someone needs to give Carmen some static cling spray, because there are fabric scraps are stuck to the back of her jacket. Elisa weirds her model out by “hand measuring” her. (She’s not a horse, Elisa! What else are you going to do, look at her teeth?)

The models are fitted and hairstyled and makeup-ed, and it’s off to walk the plank! Oh wait, I mean the runway. After last season's, um, questionable styling choices, I'm half-dreading what Heidi's going to be wearing. She comes on wearing a heavy-looking gold dress that looks like it came straight out of Chloe’s final collection from season 2. She introduces the judges. Michael Kors is looking much less orange than in past seasons. Nina actually smiles. The guest judge for this week is designer Monique Lhuillier.

So let’s take a look at each piece and what the judges had to say. Since this is the first episode, a lot of people are sent off the runway early and we don’t get to hear any comments from the judges.

The ‘safe’ designers:
  • Chris – Gorgeous! Love the rich colors he used. But he wrongly is not selected as one of the three top designs. Boo!
  • Kevin – Cute little dress in red, silver, and black. Might not have been the best outfit for his model, though, as she has very long legs and very long arms.
  • Sweet P – She’s made a nice gold potato chip bag. She has a very beautiful model, though.

  • Jillian – It’s a bubble skirt! Ack. At least she changed the bodice color to match the bottom better.
  • Jack – Very classic, and it reminds me a bit of Robert’s first dress last season. It’s kind of off-the-rack looking but I’d wear it.
  • Marion – Eek! He’s paired a flimsy lace top with a skirt made out of fabric that’s way too heavy and clunky – it looks like army tent canvas. You can almost hear it clunking as the model walks down the runway.

  • Steven – A very nice black business suit with red accents.
  • Carmen – Another eek! Put this genie outfit back in the bottle from whence it came, please. (And oh, you were looking for that donut you put down in the hair salon earlier? It’s stuck to the side of your model’s head.)
  • Kit – This looks nice coming down the runway from the side, but when we get a front view it appears that she’s forgotten to sew on the other half of her jacket!

And who’s left on the runway?

  • Rami – Yes, his dress is pretty, but ew, that color. And the model’s hair REALLY needs to be down. That bun is too severe with this dress. The judges coo all over him though, and the words “sophisticated” and “chic” are used. We know where this is going…
  • Christian – This outfit, and the styling he chose, made his model look like she was in her forties. And did no one think to tell the poor girl that one side of the skirt was tucked up into her panty hose? Of course the judges ate this one up, because it was “quirky”. I will admit that it was well-constructed, just ugly.
  • Victorya – She made a basic black dress with weird sleeves that looked like the model’s bra straps were falling down. Then to dress it up, she adds an ugly flower made of what appears to be foil from the baked potato she had at dinner. Of course the judges love it, because they were all hungry. (Her model also resembles a vampire with all that heavy black eye makeup.)

  • Ricky – His black and silver striped babydoll dress is sweet but boring and safe. And we all know that neither of those is a good word on this show. The judges did admit that it was very well sewn, so that saves him.
  • Elisa – Train wreck! Her model stumbles and trips all the way down the runway, and is wearing really ugly boots. While describing her design to the judges, Elisa uses a lot of sound effects. Michael likes the basic dress but not all the junk in the trunk, which Heidi so elegantly describes as ‘the dress looks like it’s pooing fabric.’ (Cut scene to Elisa in the waiting room, ripping the train off the dress.)
  • Simone – From far away this doesn’t look bad… but it doesn’t look particularly good either. And what is up with her model’s hair? It’s rolled very strangely. She ends up getting criticized for poor construction and the fact that her jacket material is too random (Michael calls it “dressed in the dark”). Her model looks very worried.

In the end, Rami is the winner (Chris was robbed, I tell you!) and gets immunity for the next challenge. Simone is out. Poor construction will lose over freakish and safe any day. (I hope someone picks her model next week because she is cute.)

Next week promises to be Big! Huge!! With the surprise guest judge to end all surprise guest judges! (Oh, I hope it’s Kayne. That would be awesome.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

PR4 Fashion Show, continued.

Before I finish up my commentary on the PR4 fashion show, I have to make a couple of observations. Firstly, what is up with some of these models? I know I would walk like that in heels that high, but models are supposed to be able to walk in anything. And the worst ones have an arm-swinging issue – stiff as a board! I hope they are not models on this season's show because I would really hate to be their designer. Secondly, I am sure that all of the models had their hair pulled back so severely so as not to distract the viewer from the clothing. But ooo!! I hate that schoolmarm thing, and it was very distracting to me at times. Some women just need to have their hair styled to cover their ears.

Okay enough of that. On with the rest of the show!

Ricky: He chose to show lingere, which was kind of nice in the middle of all the ‘heavy’ clothing. His pieces were nice – a black floral robe with pink undergarments; a little pinstriped babydoll teddy; and a black lace robe with a Peter Pan collar and a grayish nightgown underneath (maybe geared a little towards the older lingere-wearing woman).

Chris: He brought a simple black halter dress with little detailing (that I could see in the picture anyway) save a Greek trim design around the neck that plunged into a deep V at the back, a silver sleeveless mini with chains at the neck and around back, and a floor-length dress made from an interesting M.C. Escher-esque print. His three dresses were nothing earth-shattering but nothing insane, and overall were very pleasant on the eyes.

Jack: His pieces were a black dress with a patterned cape (it looked good from the front but as soon as the model turned around she looked like the back of a wing chair), a geometric black/white print dress, and a pink and cranberry floor-length dress with a large floral pattern and a plunging V-neck that strongly reminded me of Uli’s stuff from last season. (And how is it that he scored three of the best models from S3??)

Steven: I really liked his first look – it had gray, black and white vertical striping that made the model’s waist look thinner. And she was wearing flats, which was refreshing in a sea of stilettos and teetering. And here comes the clompy walker again, wearing a black mid-calf dress with a fluffy tulle overlay. Lastly is Javi in a giant chocolate-brown dress that reminded me of Susan Sarandon’s Oscar dress from several years ago. Now, Javi is a muscular gal (which is good, don’t get me wrong, I hate twiggy models that look like they’re starving) but she doesn’t have much of a waist – this dress gave the illusion that she had a TINY waist. Perhaps he bakes on the side and got his inspiration from this.

Kit: Her first piece was a black knee-length coat dress with sleeves that were poofy to the elbow and had a weird pink scrunchy detail across the back. Next came a teeny sleeveless mini-dress with a black bow at the neck and a wide belt. Her last look was mind-boggling – a black bathing suit with a jeweled bodice, tasseled leg warmers, and striped pink tights. I was also quite amused by Heidi’s look of polite interest during this part.

Christian: He started off with a black riding habit paired with patterened panty hose. (Try saying that last part three times fast!) It was very chunky and made the model look that way too. And her shoes had collars, or something. Next came a black miniskirt and patterned shirt with lots of ruching and curved black panels on each side, which made a nice waist shape. His last look was a “what the…?” – a light brown pinstripe suit that would have been quite nice actually, had it not been for the hat made out of a grocery sack, a giant beige scarf that used to be old sweaters, and strange detailing on the pant cuffs.

Sweet P: Waists? Who needs ‘em? She sent out a gold sack dress with a knitted scarf and –gasp- ankle socks with heels. Next came a coral sack dress with wide sleeves and bright orange pantyhose. Her last offering was a long pink tunic with a black ribbon and some nice smocking around the middle. Underneath was a black skirt that you could see through the pink, and black hose. Too light on top, too dark on the bottom, it just seemed unbalanced to me.

Carmen: This lady scared me. The first outfit was orange and brown striped shorts, a maroon jacket/shirt thing, way too many chains, and an orange 1920’s style hat last seen on the cast of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” The second outfit was truly horrifying – a velour jogging suit the color of spinach baby food with maroon accents, and it had puffy knickers cuffed below the knee. When the model turned around there was a weird shiny pattern on the back of jacket that might have been a skull. I was surprised at the last outfit because it was so… normal. It was a quite nice aqua plaid coat with a hood. I kept waiting for her to take it off or open it to show the dress, and then I realized it WAS the dress, not a coat. At least I think that’s right. I’d wear it as a coat.

Overall I’d say it was an interesting show. Some outfits were nice, some were red-carpet worthy, and some would make me laugh 'til I hyperventilated if I saw them walking down the street. I don’t know how much time the designers had to make these pieces (maybe they were the ones they brought to the audtions) but I can’t wait to see what they do in the time-crunch of challenges. I think I’ll end by showing my three personal favorite pieces, from Steven, Kevin, and Chris.

The fun starts tonight! With Tim Gunn proclaiming these designers "the strongest group EVER", I'm sure this season's gonna be a doozy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Project Runway S4 - It’s Sew Time…

…to stop with the puns in taglines for every single series, Bravo. I’m sew serious. Stop.

To usher in this season, Bravo decided to put on a little fashion show at Lincoln Center and show off the new designers. I think this was an excellent idea. Now, instead of forming my opinions based on headshots alone (I’m still sorry, Kayne, loveyameanit!), I got to actually see some clothing.

The show started with Daniel Vosovic’s mom doing the welcomes. (Okay, it’s NOT his mom, but Bravo prez Lauren Zalaznick looks enough like Daniel that she could be his mom.) Then Heidi came up in a blue dress that... how do I describe this? Remember the original “Parent Trap” movie where one of the twins cuts the back out of the other twin’s party dress while she was leaning up against a deck rail at the dance? Someone did this to Heidi’s dress, but in the front. I don’t know how she managed to not notice. Anyway, she did a lot of thank you’s and welcomes, then went into the sponsor list. Apparently the Macy’s collaboration from last year didn’t work out so well, so this year is sponsored by about eight hundred different companies, all of which will have blatenly obvious product placement throughout the season.

Let’s start the show! (Clicking on the designer’s name will take you to Daniel Vosovic’s blog, where you can see pictures of their three outfits, along with Daniel’s much wittier comments. I’ll do half of the designers today and the rest tomorrow.)

Kevin: I thought the first dress was best of his three - a nice little cream-colored piece with a bustier top and black trim. The other two looks were classic pieces in reds and blacks. I do have to say that I am not a fan of shorts as pieces in fashion shows, and definately not in hip-and-thigh-widening plaids. (He scored a S3 model whose name I can never remember, but she had to put up with Angela a lot.)

Victorya: All of her dresses seemed to be the same basic style in different colored fabric – a navy, a pink, and a red. One had a trench coat (did she make that? It was nice). Her big plus was having Camilla from S3 as a model.

Elisa: Beige EVERYWHERE - a surreal hooded jogging outfit with a cut-up-to-the-unmentionables skirt instead of sweatpants, a dress with weird straps and a corset-styled back, and a longish nightgown. Nice to see model Javi from S3 (love the haircut). Oh, and Elisa's models were wearing NO SHOES, which made her stuff look even more like pajamas.

Rami: He showed a cute little silver mini with interesting pleating, and a black sleeveless Morticia Addams dress (hey, there’s Amanda from S3). First thing I thought when I saw the black number was “This is the dress Malan wanted to make for Miss USA last year”. Rami's last piece was a dusty coral-hued dress with blousey draping and a wide waistline with some detailing that reminded me of the stays of a corset (modeled by the lovely Marilinda from S3).

Simone: Pink! Green! My eyes!! This seriously reminded me of some of the mix-and-match outfits my daughter puts on her Barbie dolls. (And this is a girl who will wear orange flowered capri pants with an electric purple polka-dot shirt.) The first two looks were miniskirt variations (Pink! Green! Shiny!). Her last one was black shorts and a creamy white jacket with a pink halter top underneath. It looked nothing like other ones. Plus, someone cut the wrist parts off all her gloves. (And at least one of her hems had strings hanging off of it.)

Marion: His first look – a nondescript skirt-over-pants and jacket in black and white - came down the runway on an extremely clumpy model. (I’ve seen baby elephants who could walk the runway better than that! I hope she's not one of this season's models.) His other two looks were a silvery-black dress with some odd cutouts at the top and a feather pillow exploding out of the bottom, and an Eighties-inspired one-shoulder poof dress with a thin skirt.

Jillian: Her first model teetered down the runway in too-tall boots. The outfit was a wheaty-gray military-styled peplum jacket with fur-rimmed hood, paired with olive pants. The second was a silver mini-dress with lace overlay and the garters showing. (Oh! I remembered the model's name. Clarissa. And she looks like she's been crying, or perhaps is merely suffering from allergies.) Last was an outfit that looked like it belonged in a sci-fi series about stylish military vampires – a high-necked silver coat and mullet dress (you know, long in back - short in front) that was accessorized by tights made of discarded Mylar balloons.

To be continued… in the meantime, catch a video of the show here.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Cyber-Adventures of Indy and Han

(or... Why I Never Posted My Recaps)

When I first got the idea to send Indiana Jones to look for my missing Top Design recaps, and suggested he take Han Solo along, I thought it would be a piece of cake for them to find my drafts out there in the cable-HD-satellite-internet-TV universe and speed back with them. Wow, was I wrong. "Never send two fictional men to do anything" is my new motto. After a month of waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more, I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to go find them, too. I should have known better - they're two good-looking, macho male characters, and cyberspace is full of female characters and cool gadgets, so it was inevitable that they get distracted from their mission.

I finally tracked them down on the Enterprise D in Star Trek, of all places. Indy was off playing 1940's private eye with Jean-Luc Picard on the Holodeck, and Han was - where else?- down in Engineering tinkering with stuff. With great difficulty I managed to remind them of the task at hand and get them back on track.

We spent most of the summer criss-crossing the worlds of fiction and entertainment, following up on leads but finding nothing. We also spent a large amount of time arguing over my clothing. I tried to convince Han that slave-girl outfits, while helpful when trying to get information out of people, were not practical for everyday wear, and to convince Indy that there had to be a middle ground between the Bette Grable pin-up bathing suits he wanted me to wear, and the Donna Reed spinster clothing from It's A Wonderful Life that most 1930's women seemed to favor.

About the end of September it finally hit me - why were we wasting all this time traipsing from genre to genre when we could just use Google? After all, you can find anything on Google. Big mistake. The first thing those men did was Google themselves, and then I lost them. Han discovered Star Wars: Galaxies online role playing game and found that there, he was stuck in a cantina full of Twi'lek dancing girls on a remote smuggler's outpost planet, and that Princess Leia was stuck on a completely different planet, and never left it. So naturally he decided to stay. And Indy discovered that he had a long-lost son (who looks remarkably like Shia LeBouf), immediately started calling him "Junior" (take that, Sean Connery!), and they ran off to do some father-son bonding over movie-making with Steven Spielberg.

Now all I'm left with is a bizzare story, and no recaps. So if you are the person who was waiting all summer to find out who won Top Design*, you can just go ahead and Google it, because that is just really pathetic.

But take heart! Project Runway 4 starts in ONE WEEK! Bravo has bios and previews posted! They've also done a fashion show featuring the new designers, which I'm planning to write about next. And of course I will be recapping each episode again. But... this time I'm not taking any chances. I've hired Harrison Ford as ex-CIA agent Jack Ryan to guard my recaps. We'll see how that goes.

*Ok... it was Matt.