It's Always the Quiet One

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

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Decked Out in Denim

In this week’s episode: New York City is attacked by a giant monster with no style whatsoever, and who also hates the Statue of Liberty (too much draping)! As it wreaks havoc on Manhattan, Tim Gunn and his band of intrepid fashion designers (followed by a brave Bravo film crew) sew for their lives! They create a giant walking Statue of Liberty out of Levi’s 501 jeans. In the end, they finally defeat the monster by spraying it with a mixture of hot glue, Michael Kors’ self-tanner and Ricky’s tears while blasting Jackie Wilson songs.

Well, it was ALMOST that dramatic.

Now that I’ve stolen the plots to two entirely different movies, let’s see what really happened. After a disturbing clip where Victorya continually refers to Sweet P as Kit, which I think she’s doing on purpose, we move back to Parson’s for model selection.

In a surprising twist, Heidi (who is wearing obscenely tight jeans and a t-shirt with giant nostrils on it, which makes the designers giggle) only brings out the winning and losing designer’s models (Marie and Lisa). Christian gets to pick – will he stick with Fabulous Lisa, or request a walkoff? He should pick Marie, but stays with Lisa. (Marie should consider herself lucky. She is way cute, and Christian tends to style his models in a way that ages them 25 years.)

Heidi sends them off to Tim, who is going to be taking them somewhere. Again.

Hey! How did Yoko Ono get in here? Security! Oh, wait, that’s just Victorya.

Tim gets everyone into the van and away they go! They end up at a Port Authority warehouse on the docks where the dads of the prom dress girls are waiting for them with big sticks.

No, no, it’s a lady from Levi’s, who has a pink bird on her head. The warehouse door opens dramatically and we see: lines of laundry. At least it looks like laundry -it’s hard to tell because it’s about a half-mile inside the warehouse. It turns out to be jeans and jackets from Levi’s, and a bunch of white cotton. The challenge is to take the clothes and make whatever they want to make, but the garment must be “iconic” and “capture the spirit of originality and creativity that has lived in the heart of the Levi’s brand.” Yes, she really said that. I wonder how many takes it took her to get that right.

The designers all run in to get their jeans. (Come on. Did they really HAVE to set it up like that? More running? They should have just put all the jeans out on tables over at Parsons and saved the gas.) This warehouse is dirty too – there’s a good half-inch of dirt on the floor. The dirt is puffing up around them as they run, like Pigpen. Ick.

Back at Parsons, they get to work. Levi’s has sent over a bunch of rivets and buttons and labels and stuff for them to use, which is nice, but I hope they sent a rivet machine too, because you can’t sew those puppies on. Ricky espouses the joys of denim (sometimes he makes his hats out of it! That explains a lot) and brags that nobody can fit denim like he can. Nobody? Oookay…

Rami talks about growing up in Jerusalem, and we get to see that he started out as a super-cute blonde kid with a 70's bowl haircut (I had one too! Didn't all 70's kids?) and ended up looking like one of the guys that sang “I’m Too Sexy”. Then he tells us that basically, American designers are crap. After that, Chris and Christian get in a stupid time-filler argument about how to clean the dirt off denim. This leads to the revelation that the other designers think Christian’s a whiny baby and talks like a twelve-year-old girl. Rami sums it up best: “Christian is like a cartoon character.” (He really is, actually - go look here and here.)

Jillian gets pissed because Victorya’s making a coat, and SHE’S making a coat, and that’s totally copying (even though most of the other designers are making dresses and they’re not bitching about copying). I’m actually surprised that Jillian didn’t decide to make overalls. Christian decides to make a “biker” outfit with puffy sleeves and ruffles all over it. Sure, that makes sense – if the biker is eight years old. And it’s not any crazier than Sweet P, who is making a denim wedding dress.

We see Ricky come into the workroom, and hear a voiceover by Christian saying, “His work has been the same boring thing since Day One.” Hmm, is he talking about Ricky, or himself (see aforementioned jacket with puffy sleeves and ruffles)? I’m not sure.

Everybody’s busy in the sewing room but Chris, who is in the workroom happily chatting to his garment, and Christian makes fun of him for it. That actually gives me one more reason to love Chris, because I do the same thing! I’ll talk to the laundry or the dishes or my computer sometimes when I’m working. Everybody does it (ok... usually only in your head but you’re still talking to yourself). It doesn’t mean he’s crazy; he’s problem-solving, so shut up, Christian! (Besides, who’s sitting at the sewing machine saying stuff like “Oh, I’m gonna die from barfness” to nobody?)

It’s time for a visit from Tim! He thinks Ricky’s dress is “stunning” and I’m wondering what he was drinking before he came in. It’s okay, but I don’t think I’d say stunning. (Turns out they edited his comment – go read Tim’s Take for the whole story.) Next up is Chris, and Tim isn’t liking some of his details, but Chris chooses to ignore him. Bad! Tim’s not too keen on Jillian’s coat, either. He is, however, impressed with Rami’s use of zippers as trim (which Jeffrey did last year, as lots of people have pointed out, but it’s still an interesting idea). Next, we get a look at Victorya’s – hey, she just used a pre-made jacket! Is that allowed? Hmm… And her skirt is sewn on inside-out. (There’s a reason the back of the denim is on the inside of the pants – it’s UGLY!) Last is SweetP and her wedding dress, which Tim proclaims “hippy-dippy.” Another bad! Will she listen to him, or continue on? Yay! She does. One of the Project Runway commandments is: thou shalt always listen to Tim. She whacks the bottom off of it.

The day is rapidly coming to a close, and everybody’s bitching at each other in the sewing room. Lots of running, lots of sewing, lots of… blood? Yes, somehow Jillian keeps cutting her fingers on the sewing machine. She whines and flops like she’s sustained a major injury and I’m sure it hurts, but I’m expecting to see blood spurting all over the place like in a Monty Python skit. But... nothing.

Next morning - What is Rami doing? And why is Christian dressed like a hobbit? And why does the fabric of Jillian’s skirt looks like it’s moving? No time for questions! Get back to work! It’s runway day!

Ricky loves his dress and knows the judges will hate it. SweetP loves her dress and knows she’ll be safe. Christian loves his… um, outfit, and thinks it should win, as always. But it doesn’t matter what they think – what did the judges say?

  • Chris – He was trying to reinvent the ‘little black dress.” I hate to say it, but this is kind of plain. I want more ‘wow’. And I don’t get the thing down the side – it throws the dress off-balance. And please try leaving Marcia’s hair down sometimes! Sorry, Chris, it’s not my fave this week. Nor the judges' – they say he’s got the right idea but he didn’t take it far enough.
  • Ricky – The styling is great – awesome boots, nice hair (and I got more of a Brigitte Bardot vibe than Amy Winehouse, personally) and Amanda really did a great job on the runway. The dress itself? Cute, nice seaming details on the front, and the buttons down the front of the bodice are eyecatching. The Levi’s lady pronounces it “cool!” The rest of them like it too, and compliment Ricky so much that he cries tears of joy on the runway. (Heidi is vaguely amused.) During their chat she comments that it’s “finally the Ricky we’ve all been waiting for.”
  • Sweet P – If you didn’t know this was made out of jeans, you wouldn’t know it until you got up close. I like the colors she used, and I am so glad she took Tim’s advice and shortened it. I’m not sure if the dark parts were supposed to match up and didn’t, or if that was the design, but I kinda like them not matching. And I love the necklace she picked out. The judges love her dress. They think it makes her model look skinny, and MK says he would wear it if he had the right shoe. (Was that supposed to be a compliment?) The Levi’s lady didn’t feel it looked “Levi” enough, but she did like it. I think it should have won.

  • Victorya – Blech! A walking pile of boredom. I’m not knocking the fact that she used one color for the entire thing – it’s that she chose to use the jeans with the grayish-dirt tint that makes them look like they’ve been buried for a couple of years (I hate that color). Heidi and MK call her out on the fact that she didn’t really do very much but tack a skirt onto a jean jacket – which is exactly what she did, and yet she was struggling to finish on time. What gives?
  • Christian – Okay, so I wouldn’t let my eight-year old wear this to ride her bike. But it’s still too weird for a ‘biker’ outfit. Would those pants be comfortable to wear while riding on a Harley (or even a dirt bike) for hours? I don’t think so. And the little bit of white peeping out emphasizes the fact that the super-tight jean gives her a muffin top – which is quite an achievement on a model with 0% body fat. The judges like the tailoring and the fact that he made jeans out of other jeans.
  • Rami – Now this is how you use all one color successfully. This is a really nice garment. It’s actually two pieces but they go together so well that you can’t tell. And each piece is nice enough that you could put them with different tops and bottoms and they’d still look classy. Nina’s ecstatic that he didn’t drape anything! For this challenge, “sophistication” was a good word, as opposed to the prom dress challenge.
  • Jillian – Not the most exciting thing out there, but it’s passable. I wish she’d done something other than a coat. It’s almost as if she’s hoping the judges’ enthusiasm over her last coat will carry over to today. But it doesn’t, and they basically think she tried too hard to do too many things and didn’t do any of them particularly well. And the coat makes her model look fat, like a big denim marshmallow.

The verdict: Ricky wins! And Levi’s will sell a limited number of his design on their website! He is absolutely floored. But he doesn’t cry! And who’s out? It’s between Victorya and Jillian – who were both in the top last week with a coat, and went straight to the bottom this week with… coats. Victorya’s was by far the worst, so she is out. And rightfully so. That coat was fugly. (But it turns out she’s having the last laugh, as she is showing at Fashion Week anyway.)

Next episode (but not next week! What’s up with that??): The subject(s) of the challenge is moaning and shrieking and grunting behind a big white door. Sweet P and Christian arm-wrestle. And there’s a lot of weird shiny fabric in the workroom.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Floats in a Parade

Apparently every episode of Project Runway must contain a “bare chest moment” – this week it’s Ricky, and it makes my eyes hurt. Christian in his cowhide-patterned boots don’t make it much better. Let’s get out of the apartments, quick, and get the show started already!

This week, Heidi is wearing a white version of her Star Trek dress from a couple of weeks ago, only this one is sleeveless. She brings out the models and everyone starts laughing, because they all have bed-head.

Hmm, is it time to get a new hair-care sponsor? No, it’s the challenge: create an avant-garde piece inspired by the model’s kooky hairstyle. Right away I know that poor Katie the gawky walker is going to be out, because it really doesn’t look like they did anything to her hair but slick it back at the temples, and that’s really not very inspiring. Her only chance is if Sweet P sticks with her out of model loyalty.

Of course she doesn’t. She knows that hairstyle is bad news, so she steals Lea from Christian instead. Everybody else stays with their same models, so Christian ends up with his original model Fabulous Lisa. (I warned you about karma, Christian!) Ricky is last button out of the bag again, which means he ends up having to choose between three models. He bites his lip to keep from crying and decides that he wants “to play with Amanda.” (Seriously, that’s what he said, I went back and listened to it twice to make sure. She better be scared.) So Katie and the model who got the unfortunate dreadlocks hairdo are out.
In the workroom, Tim tells the designers that a look like this that doesn’t even have to be wearable (meaning the model doesn’t have to be able to get into a taxi wearing it), so it can pretty much be anything. But he has The Velvet Bag™ (which means another damned team challenge) and randomly picks teams: Kit/Ricky (um, ok), Sweet P/Rami (they hug, aww!), Chris/Christian (the very definition of fierce) and Jillian/Victorya (I smell passive-aggressive catfight!). Each team has to choose one model to work with. Tim then tells them, almost apologetically, that each team HAS to pick a leader.

Okay, I have an issue with that “has to” crap. Why does there need to be a leader? I would think that seeing how the designers collaborate is enough – the judges ALWAYS ask “what parts did each of you do?” even when there is a leader. If you’re going to have a leader, and the leader almost always gets kicked off, then that leader should be completely responsible for the end product and it shouldn’t matter who did what. If the individual contributions of each team member are going to be considered in the judging, then there doesn’t need to be a leader. My opinion. Off soapbox now.

The teams get down to business. Chris suggests that Christian should be the leader because he’s worked with Alexander McQueen, so this is avant-garde stuff should be right up his alley. Christian is understandably scared to be the leader, but agrees. They choose Chris’s model Marcia as their inspiration. She is wearing a ten-pound hairstyle made of thick, rough braids – if you unwound them, it would probably stretch for a quarter of a mile- and it looks like a bee’s behind. Christian has the idea to make a dress out of billions of circles out of organza. Good thing they have $300!

Kit’s model, Marie, has a lot of extensions that remind Kit of a bird’s nest, so their theme is “garden and aprons and hoopskirts and a bunch of layers of stuff that looks like a birthday cake.” Rami, of course, knew immediately that he was going to be the leader. You can see it here in this screenshot, taken right after Tim announced they had to pick one:

(Be afraid, Sweet P. Be very afraid.) He decides on “hard and soft” for his theme and sketches – SURPRISE! – a draped flowy gown. Only he hardens it up by putting pants under it. Ooooo. Over at Victorya’s table, neither one of them wants to be… the follower. They end up having to flip for it. Jillian loses. She’s pissed, too. (I think they should have had to wrestle for it.) They eventually come up with a futuristic punk trench coat and pants or something. Victorya looks very smug.

It’s off to Mood! Chris and Christian clear out Mood’s entire supply of cream-colored organza. Sweet P runs through the store yelling “Mommy!” Ricky has confused Mood with the laundromat and brought along his dirty clothes.

After returning to Parson’s, Chris starts building a replica of Sputnik on a mannequin. Christian flounces around announcing that from here on out, he is to be called “Ferosh” because if he was a diva that is what he would be called. (Sorry, Christian, if you type your name into this diva name generator that is NOT what comes out.) Victorya and Jillian, who both have time management issues when making one garment, decide to make three different garments. Makes perfect sense.

Rami is being very condescending to Sweet P and I want to smack him. He has taken on the flowy corseted gown part of the design because it’s “very intricate and detailed” and he is the only one with the finesse, sophistication, and sewing skills to do that, apparently. He agrees to let Sweet P help but only if she makes the pants. (She is not allowed to touch, breathe on, think about, or be within ten feet of the dress part.) After a while, he regrets even letting her do that much, and gets very nit-picky with her. Maybe he’s just tired and things will be better tomorrow.

It’s not! Tim comes in with a “special” announcement. That never, never, never means anything good, like “we’re all going out for ice cream!” or “we’re going to the beach!” It’s always bad. (I bet for the rest of their lives, whenever someone says “special,” the designers will all cringe.) The announcement is that in addition to their avant-garde creation, they have to make a ready-to-wear garment to go along with it. Everybody's really excited!! See?

That popping sound you hear? Veins exploding in several people's heads.

After the shock wears off a bit, Tim sends in the avant-garde models for a fitting. Victorya has only finished the pair of pants, and Jillian, who is worried because her partner has immunity, is getting really snippy with Sweet P back in the sewing room. Chris’s Sputnik has turned into an enormous wing of ruffles! Rami’s ragging on Sweet P again – every other sentence that comes out of his mouth starts with “I need”. What he needs is to get the stick out of his butt, and let the woman work. Sweet P’s feelings are understandably hurt, and her model Lea comforts her.

Tim arrives with a “special” guest (a serial killer maybe?). It turns out to be the Nathanial TreSemme guy to talk about – wait for it - hair. (I have a grudge against him, because I never agree with his “Hairstyle of the Week” on the Fantasy Runway game.) He does mention that the winning team will get both of their looks in a TreSemme ad in Elle, so that’s at least a real “surprise.” So they all go off and talk to him and it’s kinda boring. They could have skipped that whole segment and put in more of Christian's runway walking lesson from earlier in the evening. ("You gotta bring it back, girls, from the side and... turn! Ungh!")

Later, Tim returns to have a look at the garments. He first checks on “Team Fierce” and loves their huge, ruffled avant-garde piece. Their ready-to-wear, not so much. He proclaims Kit’s dress “costume.” Rami’s dress does not impress him either, because it's too much like everything else he’s done so far. “But Tim,” Rami protests, “this one has a corset and draping! That’s completely different!”

Tim loves Jillian's trench coat. But they haven’t even started the other outfit they’re supposed to be making! And they have maybe four hours left! Tim goes off to get his cattle prod for these two. Get moving, ladies! Meanwhile, Sweet P and Rami are no longer speaking to each other, which is probably making Sweet P very happy. She knows they’re going to be in the bottom tomorrow so she works on perfecting her ready-to-wear dress while Rami sticks more crap on his beloved corset. 1am finally rolls around and the zombie-like designers leave the workroom to make the long walk back to Gotham and bed.

The next morning everyone gets ready. Christian obviously put a lot of thought into his outfit.

Look! It's Han Solo's kid brother! He is on the imperial side, of course (“Han, you can go off and join the rebellion and look like a scruffy nerf herder if you want. But the Empire is FIERCE!) and his Sith Lord name is "Darth Ferosh."

When they arrive at Parson's before the runway show, Jillian knows she has to make the entire second dress in a few hours, and promises to move at the speed of light (which means she might actually make it all the way into the workroom sometime today).

After getting their hair twisted and ratted and twirled and teased and sprayed, the models come back to get dressed. Poor Marcia went from a bee to being a caterpillar coming out of its cocoon. Jillian managed to eke out the RTW dress, but it looks really plain and cheap next to the other stuff they made. Kit and Ricky’s second dress is the same way. Sweet P’s, however, is cute. (So there, Rami!) Tim herds everyone out the door and up to the runway.

This week’s guest judge is Alberta Ferrari – no, wait, that’s a car – Ferretti. She’s an Italian designer who, judging by this slideshow, likes to design blousy things. On Wikipedia it says “Ferretti is known for her designs featuring twisting, tucking, and draping techniques” which means she’s going to wet her pants over Rami. Let’s take a look at what each team came up with, shall we? Team "I Need" – Can you tell which one was the avant-garde look? Neither could anybody else. Blah. Blah colors, blah shape, and it looks like she forgot to take her yoga pants off when she got dressed to go out. And what the heck is going on with those pants? MK comments that “her ass is in her front” - guess Sweet P should stick to dresses. That RTW dress is completely cute and looks much better than Rami’s. The judges agree with me on that. Nina calls him out on his one-note-ness – can he do anything other than draping? Sweet P mentions that she had suggested adding more to it and the judges concur. (You should have listened to her, Rami, and put a big bustle on the back to give it some drama!) Alberta is not impressed at all. The judges criticize their lack of teamwork, also. Is the Golden Boy going down this week??
Team Fierce – I am stunned. I cannot believe they did this in two days. That big shoulder piece is AMAZING. Kudos to Chris for pulling that off. I looked up Alexander McQueen and found this garment (not for a second implying that anybody copied anything, seriously, I was just struck by the little similarities) but honestly, I like Christian and Chris’s much better. It’s edgy, totally in-your-face and completely memorable. Nina almost smiled at it, so you know it’s good. The shirt on the RTW look goes with the other one, but they phoned in the skirt. And they know it. But do they care? Nope. The judges fall over themselves with love for Christian and Chris’s avant-garde look. (I like how it could double as an umbrella for someone walking next to it. That’s fashion AND function!)
Team Little House on the Prairie – Kit and Ricky tumble over the edge of avant-garde into the chasm of costume. If Strawberry Shortcake was getting married, she would choose this as her wedding dress. (They even styled their model with doll makeup.) It’s a giant, wearable Baked Alaska. I do like the colors, though. Their RTW dress reminds me of one I sewed for my Barbie doll when I was nine, using one of my grandma’s old handkerchiefs. The judges say that the pieces look cheap, and the avant-garde piece reminds Alberta of Carol Burnett’s version of Scarlett O’Hara’s drapery dress. Kit has to help Ricky off the runway because he can’t walk and cry at the same time.
Team Smug ‘n Sluggish – Can we say “The Matrix”? It’s avant-garde, yes, but very close to following Kit and Ricky into the costume chasm. The two pieces under the trench coat are forgettable. And yes, the model’s hair looks like a horse tail, but they didn’t need to make her a riding habit. Don’t get so literal. The ruffles on the side of the RTW dress are dragging the other side of it down, and it looks poorly sewn. The judges like everything, but not as much as they liked Team Fierce.

Not surprisingly, Christian and the fabulous mounds of ruffles are named the winner (although I wish Chris could have taken it for that construction, really!), while Kit and her melting ice cream cake are out. (While I would have liked to have seen Ricky go first, I have to admit that Kit was the right choice for the auf because she made all the wrong choices for this challenge.)

Next week: a “surprising” field trip to a Port Authority warehouse, Victorya can’t be bothered to learn her new roommates’ names, and Jillian has a meltdown.

**By the way, Christian's diva name? Her Royal Highness Bullshitting Hurricane Hottie. Or Princess Smiling Lightnin' Bug. They both kind of fit, don't you think?

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Prom Queen’s Got a Glue Gun

Let me start off by saying I’m quite concerned about the air quality in New York. Every single episode contains street shots and the air is so yellow! I’m surprised New Yorkers don’t walk around with gas masks, because the only think I know of that makes yellow clouds like that is sulfur, and that smells like rotting eggs. Eww!

It’s a poisonous morning in New York, and the designers are getting ready for a new day of design torture. Christian is blow-drying his hair, and it looks all soft and fluffy, like a baby sandhill crane. Of course then he will put a bunch of gunk in it and he’ll end up looking more like a lopsided porcupine, but we can revel in the cuteness of the soft hair for a fleeting moment. And I’d really like to buy Chris a new robe, or pajamas, or sleeping bag, or whatever that blue plaid thing is that he’s always wearing. (Sorry, Chris, I’m sure it’s comfy. But I don’t like it.) Victorya wistfully comments that she actually misses Elisa. Of course she does, because they moved her into the other girls’ apartment and she went from sharing a bathroom with one person, to sharing with three people.

It’s time to get the new challenge. Heidi, looking like she’s just gotten out of a catfight where the other gal ripped the shoulder out of her dress, tells the designers they are going to be designing an outfit for “one of the most important days in a woman’s life.” Of course the first thing that comes to my mind is wedding. But that can’t be it, because they did a wedding dress challenge in the first season. (My next idea is childbirth - wouldn’t that be funny to see them design hospital gowns with no backs??)

Heidi brings out the models. A shadow appears on the scrim as usual, and Kevin says he’s thinking midgets or oompa-loompas.

(Um, Kevin? That shadow is nowhere NEAR as short as an oompa-loompa. Even the freakishly tall oompa-loompas from Willy Wonka were nowhere near that tall.)

Instead of tiny orange men in matching outfits, we get teenaged schoolgirls in matching outfits. This weeks challenge: make prom dresses for them. This sends the designers into fits of giggles. Except Christian, who thinks proms are horrible and tacky and anti-fierce. In a surprising twist, the girls get to pick which designer they want to work with, based on the designers’ portfolios. (I really wanna see which girl picked Chris!)

So everybody gets paired with a designer, and they all meet Tim in the workroom. They will have $250 and two days, which should be enough to make some tasteful, elegant dresses that make the girls swoon with happiness for the couple of hours they actually get to wear them before they’re auctioned off. (The dresses, not the girls.)

Several of the designers share their prom experiences during this episode. In our first trip down memory lane, Jersey boy Kevin shows us that in the past he was just as orange as Michael Kors, and at his prom he looked like a tuxedoed cabin boy on leave from his pirate ship.

Christian’s high-schooler turns out to be a ‘fashion student’ who grabs the pencil from him and starts messing up his fierce sketches. He’s more than a bit put off by this, and after she leaves he ends up in the fetal position on the floor, sucking his thumb and crying “Mommy!”

It’s off to Mood! Chris has some lovely pear-colored satin with a big glob of red material sitting on it, and I hope to God he’s kidding when he tells Tim he’s making a poinsettia. Christian informs us that he was voted best-dressed at his prom, which I’m surprised he even went to, considering that earlier in the show he proclaims proms “tacky and gross”. He and his cousin Larry look like they’re having a great time, don’t they?

Back at Parsons, Jillian (in one of the few times we actually see her all episode) is quite worried about her design because the candy keeps falling off. Oh, no, that was last week. This week she is worried about her frizzy poofy hair, which looks the same as it always does. Then we get to see her fabric, which is a range of nice aqua tones, and not a bit of red in sight. (Jillian likes red. So do I. Just not on every piece of clothing she makes.)

Next we get to see Kit’s prom picture. It’s straight out of a Seventeen magazine pictorial shoot. She proclaims it “very Orange County” and shows off her fabric, which is the same color as Cookie Monster. Or Grover. One of those muppets.

Ricky gets all melodramatic on us (quell surprise!) and calls his mom. They chat in Spanish for a while. And he cries. He then states that winning Project Runway opens a lot of doors for a person, which can be true, but if by some miracle he does win, he’ll be hydroplaning through the door on his tears.

Christian is very frustrated by the brown poofy mess of a prom dress he’s making, calling it “tickety-tack.” Everyone’s looking really tired. The stress of constant sewing is getting to them, and they’re all rubbing their eyes. Aww, how cute! It’s time for bed.

The next morning, Sweet P channels Debbie Reynolds in “Singing in the Rain.” Christian got a little sleep and decides that he’s not gonna let some high school chick tell him what to do, so he’s gonna completely change up the design... by putting black lace cutouts and beads all over it. (Take THAT, girl!) Now instead of looking like an overly-roasted marshmallow, she'll look like an overly-roasted marshmallow with burnt parts on it.

Tim brings the girls back in, but this time they have their moms with them. Awkward! Kevin’s client’s mom thinks the dress makes her daughter look pregnant. Chris decides to ask his client’s mom what she thought of his portfolio, and she says they were nice costumes, and is shocked to find out that most of the pictures are of Chris himself. (I had to go look at them again myself, and darned if it isn’t!)

Of course, Christian’s client has all sorts of opinions on her dress - too much junk in the trunk, too short, too brown, too shiny, too lacy, too one-strapped - and it makes her look like a giant Hershey kiss. (Too bad he didn’t make this dress last week!) Sweet P tries to talk him up to the client’s mom but is Christian grateful? No. (Little snot.)

After the girls and their moms leave, Tim comes back in to see how things are progressing. He’s worried about the fact that Kevin is not planning to hem his dress (and also that there are chocolate fingerprints all over it because Kevin’s munching on Milk Duds from the Hershey store while he’s sewing). Kevin brushes him off with a “pshaw, they won’t even notice” and Tim is all, “Oh, yes they will, Nina has unfinished-edge radar!” Tim then moves on to Rami, who apparently couldn’t decide which of his two designs he liked best, so he made one half of each design into one dress. Victorya has a bunch of plastic craft gems and is planning to glue them onto the yoke of her redesigned dress. (Hey, my kids have some of those in their craft supplies box! They look great on a popsicle-stick picture frame, but on a prom dress? I hope she got some pom-poms too. That'd be perfect!)

Tim goes over to Christian, who is moping. He knows he’s making a piece of crap and that his time on PR is just about over. But Tim isn’t going to take that from him, oh no. He gives him a stirring speech to boost his confidence. “Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! And it ain't over now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough... the tough get goin'!” (Oh, wait. That was the wrong speech - that’s from Animal House. Well, you get the idea.)

After some witty banter in the sewing room (YES! Thank you producers) the second day is finally over. The next morning it’s the usual frantic runaround of finishing and fitting and hair and makeup. Ricky informs us that he once had a girlfriend and he made her prom dress. (I want to see a picture!!) We do get to see Sweet P’s prom picture. She looks real cute with her date, Gregg Allman. Poor Chris didn’t go to his prom, opting to stay home watching black and white movies and crying into his box of wine.

They manage to get their gaggle of teenagers up to the runway. This week’s guest judge is Gilles Mendel, who is the lead designer for J. Mendel. I don’t know how he is qualified to judge prom dresses. I really think they should have gotten Nick, who recently put out a prom dress line, or Kayne. (Or maybe “Jessica McClintock for Gunne Sax,” who was all over my Seventeen magazine prom issues when I was in high school. I still have a couple of those, and for laughs I dug them out. 80’s prom dresses were hilarious! She’s still designing, though – she would have been good to have judge, too.)

The girls, in general, did a good job on the runway, a couple of clompers in the bunch, and some wacky hand signals, but not much different from the professional models they usually use, just shorter apparently.

Let’s get these designers up on the runway (why are they all wearing black and beige?) and see who gets elected Prom Queen, and who runs off to the bathroom crying.

The ‘safe’ designers:
  • Chris – AGAIN! Why can this man not win a challenge? This dress was great (and not a bit of red in sight, thank goodness!) Very flattering, pretty color, nice peek-a-boo slit in the front, interesting ring details on the back train.
  • Jillian – The color is gorgeous, but those eyes on the bodice! They follow me everywhere I go! It’s freaky. I do like the way this dress flows, and the length would be just right for dancing – not too short that you have to worry about flashing people, but not so long that you’re stepping on it all night. The only thing I don't like about it is the fact that the thin straps trail down the back of the dress like reins. People will be grabbing them all night.
  • Kit - I think she got her inspiration from the Fisher Price xylophone. It's different, I'll grant her that... but guess what the guys will be staring at? Uh huh.

And who’s left on the runway?

  • Sweet P – I love the color of this, and the way it moves – it’s very liquid. The accessories she chose are also very good. I think she could win it with this dress! The judges agree with me on color, but Nina thinks it’s too sophisticated. (She throws this word around during the episode the way the Democratic presidential hopefuls throw around the word “change”. Very annoying.) This is one of only two dresses the judges like.
  • Victorya – This is the other one. What? I like the blue color but the jewels on the yoke are cheap-looking. If she’d gone for some more realistic looking jewels or some rhinestones even, it might have been okay… but these are made of plastic and it looks like a jeweled toy baby bib. And it’s a bubble skirt. She also needs to take a styling class or two, because that hairstyle makes the girl look like Jan Brady. (Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!!) Of course the judges think it’s chic and hip and “appropriate” (yeah, for a kindergartener).
  • Kevin – The color is nice. But Kevin, for a straight guy who probably has a healthy appreciation for female anatomy, you put ‘the girls’ too low. (Don’t make her saggy before her time!) And it’s a wee bit too short. I think if you’d put a bit of length on, it would have been better. The judges think it looks cheap and of course Nina jumps all over the hem. I don’t see anything wrong with it, from here, but I guess from a couple of feet away it looked bad. She also doesn't like the red (even though she's wearing the exact same color).
  • Christian – I think he is subconsciously crying for help with an apparent constipation issue, because his last two dresses have looked remarkably like, well, you know. (And brown? To a prom? Really? How depressing.) He did have a difficult client, yes, but the judges (especially Nina) do not like that he complains about her. They also don’t like the amount of whickety-whack on the dress.
  • Ricky – He also made a bubble-skirt dress. It’s the same color as his model’s skin, too. If it wasn’t for the belt/sash thingy, she’d look like she was naked. MK tells him he needs to turn the volume up.
  • Rami – This dress is from the lost M*A*S*H episode where the 4077th has a big party to celebrate the end of the war, and the only material the nurses have to make their dresses are leftover tents. Rami also had an issue with placement of ‘the girls’ – in fact, he flattens one out completely and just denies the existance of the other one by covering it with a big swag of fabric. She looks really lopsided.

I really, really thought Sweet P was going to pull this one out, but the judges decide that Victorya’s Bedazzled romper was better. They also chose to eliminate Kevin, who has been in the top of most of the challenges, over “non-event” Ricky. Both of those decisions totally sucked.

I also have an issue with the fact that they brought the girls out on the runway for the discussions. What girl wants to stand there and listen to her dress being chewed up like that? Or that she looks like a forty-year old? That’ll do wonders for the self-esteem. I also didn’t like the “sophisticated” card Nina kept playing. It’s PROM, Nina. Of COURSE girls want to look sophisticated. What Nina wanted to see, apparently, was something like this (which, of course, is me in, um, an earlier year than the current one.) If the designers can drag out their prom pictures for the whole world to see, I guess I can too. I was happy to be going, but my friend used a lot of hairspray to make my stick-straight hair do that, and I think my face was stuck. (The prom ended up being really boring because my date wouldn't dance. Most definately NOT what I would consider one of the most important days of my life.)

But I hope these girls have fun at their prom, in completely different dresses. Maybe a nice Nick Verreos one.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Chocolate Overload

Since last week's Project Runway was all about Hershey's, I've been thinking a lot about chocolate lately. So I thought I would post some random chocolate-related things.

Tootsie Roll shot
This tastes exactly like a tootsie roll. And it's super-easy: one part Kahlua to one part OJ.

My sister's Cheese-Swirl Chocolate Cake.
This is extremely yummy. She's only made it for us once, probably about eight years ago, but it was so good that I still remember it.

Kahlua Vodka cake
(also called a Black Russian). There's tons of different recipes on Google. This is also very good; if you bake one, make lots of glaze. (But you might not want to take it to a work or church potluck if you do.)

Chocolate clothes!
Next month on Food Network they are airing a challenge where the contestants have to make actual wearable dresses out of chocolate that must survive a runway show.

Chocolate Cheese Fudge
That evil Paula Dean! Now look what she made. My sister (an excellent baker) told me about this, and when we were at her house over Christmas we made some. It was weird. But surprisingly good.

Chocolate Frogs
From Harry Potter.

Animal names
Chocolate-banded snail, chocolate labrador, chocolate-colored cat breeds (including the chocolate-point siamese, York chocolate, and chocolate persian)

Other things people made out of chocolate
Shoes, a house, a cuckoo clock, a billboard.

Chocolate music
Well, bands named after chocolate. Hot Chocolate (best known for the disco hit "You Sexy Thing"), Chocolate (from Colombia), The White Chocolate Band (rocking the southeast US), and The Chocolate Watchband (from Scandanavia somewhere).

Chocolate-covered bugs

And for those candy emergencies, don't forget the chocolate band-aids.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Fashion Is Like a Box of Chocolates…

or... Dance of the Sugar-Peplum Fairies

Finally! After a stupid two-week break, Project Runway is back. This week’s episode opens with poor Kevin, all alone in his big apartment. One by one, his roommates have fallen victim to the Curse of the Straight-Guy Designer. The other guys better hope he gets auffed before one of them does. If not, the producers will move him into the second apartment to save money on rent, and Kevin will laugh maniacally as he strokes his weird facial hair because the rest of them will be doomed!

Over at Parsons, Heidi comes out on the runway in a simple black dress, which makes her look just like the other models when they line up on the runway. How rude. “I am wearing what you are wearing, because we are sisters in modeling, but I look ever so much hotter than any of you will.”

Before she can tell the designers about their next challenge, the tedious model-picking must be done. We haven’t seen them since the “fashion-don’t” challenge. Everyone pretty much always sticks with the same models, so I’m tempted to fast-forward past this part. Good thing I don’t because Christian starts it off with a bang, dumping his “fabulous Lisa” and daring karma to pick him off by snatching up this season’s It-Model, Lea, from whoever it was that stole her last time. Rami also dumps his regular blonde model in favor of Steven’s redhead, Sam. Sweet P is shocked that she is not picked last again. Ricky, however, is last and has to choose which two models go home. He decides to keep Fabulous Lisa.

Heidi shirks her hostess job yet again and leaves it to Tim to tell the designers about the next challenge. (I hope they pay him extra when she does that.) Although it’s only 10:00 in the morning (we just watched them all wake up, didn’t we?) Heidi makes them all go back to New Gotham and go to bed, because tomorrow they are going on an early field trip, and they will need 18 hours of sleep to get through it.

Next morning is everyone’s worst nightmare – being woken up by Tim Gunn and having him see you in a bra-less, toothbrushing, bedheaded, half-asleep stupor. So the designers rush to get dressed – Christian’s wearing a jacket that must be his own design because it looks just like several of the things he’s sent down the runway. Jillian’s outfit reveals her secret: she is the long-lost daughter of Mork and Mindy. (See how proud they are?) Kevin grabs his completely straight-guy Mood tote bag and off they go!

Tim walks them down to Times Square and reveals their destination: Toys R Us! (Oh, wait, wrong season.) No, it’s the fabulous, jam-packed, put-you-into-a-sugar-coma-just-by-looking-at-it Hershey store! Elisa is ecstatic that she can imbue her creations with Hershey Magic! And sour-puss Christian is upset that they’re gonna have to “make shit out of candy.” (I think when he was a kid his parents only let him keep the toothbrushes out of his trick-or-treat bags.)

For this challenge, the designers get unlimited cash and five minutes to stuff as much Hershey’s merchandise as they can into their mouths – um, I mean, into their shopping bags. But they only have the rest of the day to work on the garments. I think the Hershey’s people grossly underestimated the amount of material the designers are going to need, because they’ve got a few dinky little shopping bags laid out for each of them. That might do for your ordinary chocolate shopper, but this ain’t no ordinary shopping trip. Tim lets them go, and the designers recreate the scene from Willy Wonka where the kids run wild in the Chocolate Room. Christian attacks the peanut butter cups and threatens to brain anyone who takes even one bag of them, because that’s all he is going to use for his outfit. Jillian is drawn to the Twizzlers because they remind her of her hair. Chris, however, stays away from the edible materials and grabs pillows instead. “Don’t make stuff out of food!” he warns. And he should know. He’s made many a food-themed costume, most recently making dresses out of lettuce for Wishbone. (By the way, have you SEEN his website?? If not, go right now. I’ll wait. I love his stuff. It’s amazing. And check out the pic on his bio page - he looks a lot like the improv comedian Brad Sherwood, whom I also love. But, I digress.)

After the five minutes, the Hershey store is in shambles, and the designers are so laden down with stuff that they can barely get through the doors (good thing Jillian wore those suspenders – she uses them to hold a pillow, making it look like she’s pregnant with a baby Twizzler). But back to Parson’s they go, like candy-laden Pied Pipers, probably being followed by an increasingly large crowd of tourist children picking up the odd Rolo or piece of Bubble Yum that falls out of someone's bags.

I should mention here that I loooooove chocolate. And I really wish the TV had Smell-O-Vision because I bet that workroom smells AMAZING. Candy is flying everywhere. There are giant Hershey bars the size of sidewalk slabs. I didn't realize Hershey made so many brands of candy. I think I’m getting hyperglycemic just watching it.

I’m scratching my head over Sweet P, who is disemboweling stuffed bears and skinning them, then moves on to smashing crockery. I don’t have any idea where she is going with this. Neither do any of the other designers, who keep giving her funny looks.

But what happens next is so sad, I can barely watch. Christian sits at his table unwrapping thousands of peanut butter cups and THROWING AWAY THE CUP PART! Oh, the humanity!! That’s so wrong!! He’s not even keeping the foil, just the brown inside wrapper. That’s what he’s using for his dress? I thought he was kidding.

Because the producers think too much fun and gaiety is bad, they immediately bring the mood down by having Elisa recount her horrible car accident several years ago where she got smashed by a Porsche while walking in London, which left her briefly dead, as well as broken and comatose. But she puts a positive spin on her tragedy and is making the most of her second chance. Good for you, Elisa!!

Christian… is done!?! Completely. Because all he did was sew a basic high-necked sack dress and glued waxed paper circles all over it. (Heck, my daughter’s Brownie troop could do that.) He thinks it’s the shit, and I agree. It does looks like poop from a distance. (Gee, when he said earlier that he was going to have to make shit out of candy, I didn't think he was being literal.) Couldn't he have used the gold foil wrappers to make a belt, or something, to break up the expanse of brown? So since he’s done, he hippity-hops around, pretending to be Tim, giving his unsolicited opinion on everyone else’s garments. Kevin is so glad he’s got Tony Soprano on speed-dial because Christian’s gonna need to be whacked pretty soon.

The real Tim comes in to see how it’s going. He goes over to Victorya and starts talking with her. She comments that she liked her dress until she started putting the ruffles on it. (Then why put them on if you don’t like them??) Tim expresses some logical concerns (as in, "why did you sew your silver material on upside down because it looks awful") and she says “Really?” or “You think?” after everything Tim says. What she’s really passive-aggressively saying is “Oh, Tim, you’re full of crap and my dress is perfect so I’m going to patronize you so you’ll go away.” Tim also talks with Jillian, who is sculpting a bullet-proof vest out of Twizzlers, and Sweet P, who has scrapped her teddy-bear pelt skirt and is making a giant maxi-pad skirt instead.

The next morning Christian just farts around again since he’s “done” and refers to the workroom as a “tranny mess.” I am not sure how he got that from a room full of candy wrappers. Maybe transvestites like to eat loads of Kit Kat bars and throw the wrappers on the floor? I don’t know.

Jillian is still having issues with her Twizzlers. But it’s time to fit the models. Luckily, and much to Jillian’s surprise, her model knows how to sew! (Fashion designers are not the only ones who get to learn that skill.) She offers to help attach the candy so it doesn’t start dropping off the dress as she walks down the runway, because that would make both of them look bad. (I'd also like to say that the model looks great in her glasses. I wish I looked that good when I wear mine!)

Christian tries to get his new model to join him in badmouthing everyone else, saying stuff like “there’s so much ugly in this room” while completely ignoring the fact that his dress looks like it’s covered with miniature chocolate cowpies. But she doesn’t seem to like to trash talk as much as his last model did. (Good for her!)

The models traipse off to hair and makeup and I get my first good look at Ricky’s dress. My initial impression is that it looks like a giant (full) Hershey diaper. But at least it’s kind of interesting, as opposed to Victorya’s, which is just white and ruffly and looks like a giant pile of meringue.

Out on the runway, Heidi shows up in her second nice dress of the episode, which I think might be a record for this season (and back into last season). She lets the designers know that all of their garments are going to be auctioned off to benefit a breast cancer charity so she hopes they’re good enough to fetch some big bucks. She then introduces guest judge Zac Posen, and off they go!

The 'safe' designers:

  • Ricky - It’s a bubble skirt, but at least it’s a well-made bubble skirt with a point of view. And I’m quite proud of Ricky for making it through this episode without shedding a tear. He also managed to style Christian's ex-model correctly and not make her look like a forty-year old spinster. Love the hair, the neck bow is a nice touch, and the bows on the back of the shoes are super-cute.
  • Kevin - Very classy, with not a hint of logo anywhere, except for the clutch, which is cute. You could actually wear this out somewhere and nobody would know it was made from giant stuffed Kisses and cheap velvet Hershey Bar pillows.

  • Christian: - What? They let this through? Oh, it’s because he had immunity from winning last week. Too bad, I would have loved to hear MK and Nina rip into it. He is clearly shocked that he did not win. And wow, did he manage to make the "It" model look horrible. That hair is too severe. And what's with the chocolate pancake on her head? The more I look at this outfit, the more I hate it. In this photo it looks like it's made of Bigfoot fur.
  • Kit - I don’t like this particularly. I think there are too many words on it, it looks chunky and the boots do not help that. Plus she had the hairstylist make her model look like a Kewpie doll.
And who’s left on the runway?

  • Chris - This is a great garment. He could have easily gone over the top with this, as MK notes, but he wisely kept far, far away from costume. I like the way he cut the words in half and sewed them together vertically, so that they became more of a pattern instead of letters. He mentions Andy Warhol and Stephen Sprouse as his influences here (I had to look that guy up, and after seeing his work I can completely see where Chris was coming from). The judges love it. Nina even says it could be part of an Elle spread. (Of course it won’t be, but wasn’t that nice of her to say!)
  • Elisa - Oh dear. She keeps saying she was going for a “macabre Gretel” but her definition of macabre must be a lot different from everyone else’s. The judges use words like “sad” and “flea market.” There is no joy on Elisa’s planet with this design. Those odd foil balls on the elbows really do nothing for the overall outfit.

  • Sweet P - Uh oh, she gets the "boring" card of the night. This design fits right into Sweet P’s aesthetic but it’s too simple for this challenge, considering all the stuff she had to work with. (She should have gone with her original skirt, at least.) The skirt makes me think of the little paper bib they put around your neck at the dentist’s office, and that is about as far from candy as you can get. Also, it's a little short. But I love the earrings she picked to go with this.
  • Rami - I wasn’t too fond of this because the top and the skirt look like they were pulled from two different outfits. But it’s got a lot of nice details, the construction is great, and it fits the model perfectly. She looks like something out of the Jetsons, but he did say he was going for a futuristic look and I think he nailed it.

  • Jillian - All the Twizzlers stayed put! Hooray! The judges were impressed that she used so many edible materials. I didn’t like the way she had the two bodice pieces separated by the clear plastic. I think it would have looked better if the two pieces had been right next to one another. And the stiffness of the candy made the top immobile, which was probably pretty uncomfortable for the model and her chest area.
  • Victorya - I don’t know where this woman’s brain went during this challenge. The bodice on the dress is all lopsided. The judges think she ducked out to go to Dairy Queen and that’s where the inspiration for the dress came from. For the runway show she told her model to walk with her arms rigid on both sides, like she was a giant walking doll with no elbow joints. It was kind of scary looking!

This judging was a bit different than the others. They’ll usually have one they love, one they hate, and the rest fairly evenly spaced on the scale in between. This time, they seem to really love the top three and really hate the bottom three. When the dust settles, Rami is declared the winner, getting immunity for the next challenge.

Elisa, sadly but predicatably, is out. (This episode contains, quite frankly, the worst case of Loser’s Edit they’ve ever done on PR. They’re not even trying to hide it now.) She is very gracious throughout and retires from Project Runway with her dignity intact, having spread her magical presents across our planet and leaving a wake of happiness and sound effects (SWISH! FWAH!) behind her.

I have to applaud the production company for this challenge - it was fun! Do more fun stuff. Or at least show us the fun stuff they're doing in the workroom because we know that it's going on and you're just not sharing. And kudos for putting the episodes on the Bravo website. Now please fix the website because it doesn't work half the time. Thank you. (And I am angry with you for making this show about chocolate because I seriously must have gained 5 pounds while watching it. I was so hungry!! Every commercial break I was up looking for stuff to munch on. BAD!!!)

Next episode: The designers take up scrapbooking, apparently. Ricky cries. Again. And Christian argues with the judges. Again.