It's Always the Quiet One

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

Friday, August 08, 2008

Going for the Gold Lamé

With the reproachful eyes of Mary-Kate Olson staring down at them from an Elle cover at a newsstand, the designers get themselves over to Parsons to find out what exciting challenge awaits them today. Heidi, wearing a very sheer gray puffy shirt, greets them and they go through the model routine. Kenley keeps her model, Shannone (which is good because she’s fabulous and if Kenley ever gets auffed someone would be insane not to snap her up). Then Heidi sends them to Tim for another little field trip.

Tim and the designers pile into waiting vans and head off. During the van ride, Tim and Blayne have a discussion about Blayne’s tanning habits, and you can just see that Tim wants to yell “Didn’t your parents ever warn you about skin cancer?!” and Blayne is silently hoping the next challenge has something to do with tanning.

They end up at The Armory, a “ginormous” indoor track-and-field arena. Someone is zipping around the track on roller blades… a male someone with longish black hair and a little soul patch… could it be? Oh YES! It’s Apolo Anton Ohno! The Dancing With The Stars season 4 champion! I LOVE him! (Oh, and I guess he won some gold medals in speed skating.) He zips up to Tim and the gang, where he explains this week’s challenge: design an outfit for female US athletes to wear at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

In the past, designers of the outfits the Olympians wear in the Parade of Nations tend towards using traditional costumes, which is educational, or making them look like real estate agents, desk clerks on Fantasy Island, overgrown school children, Target employees,, little old ladies on the run from gardening jail during rainy season. (WTF??) The US is getting away from that this year, opting instead to go with designer Ralph Lauren and perpetuate the stereotype that Americans are rich and spoiled by making them dress like they’re off for a weekend in The Hamptons. So I’m sure whatever the designers come up with HAS to be an improvement… doesn’t it? It can’t be any worse than what the Canadians have to wear this year. I hope.

Anyway, this is quite the timely challenge – what a coincidence that they’re doing this episode the exact same week that the Beijing Olympics is starting? Things like that just don’t happen. Amazing. To give them a little history, inspiration, and to give them the chance to overcome history and design something non-embarassing, Apolo (hotness!) sends them over to the Track and Field museum (not to be confused with The Field Museum). There the designers find all sorts of black-and-white photos and old track suits behind plexiglass.
You can already tell who’s excited by this challenge, and who’s kinda confused but applauding politely anyway. After their half hour of sketching, the designers are whisked away to MOOD, where there are some scary-looking fabrics being purchased (and not just by Stella, who buys something black because she just can’t help herself). Terri gets all “oh no he didn’t!” when Keith gets some yardage of a fabric she’d set back for herself. (I’d say, let him have it, because from here it looks pink and there's no pink on the flag of the good ol' U S of A.)
Once back at Parsons, there’s sewing sewing sewing, draping draping draping. Stella reminds us that these outfits are “how America will be portrayed to the world”. Hate to break it to you, Stella, but people around the world watch PR and this: is also how America is portrayed to the world. I’m just saying.

The designers share which sports they were involved in during school. Stella was a modern dancer. Leanne was a cheerleader (but ONLY because she was a gymnast and a dancer and everyone knows that if you are both of those things, you are required by law to either be a cheerleader or on the pep rally dance squad). Joe played football his freshman year, until he quit growing and the larger guys started using him for a ball, which prompted him to hide indoors and take up sewing instead. Daniel played Putt-Putt. Blayne proclaims himself "an Olympian in tanning", and quips that his event only goes up to bronze medal. (Ha! Ha! He finally says something genuinely funny!) The lack of tanning is really getting to him. By the end of the season he’ll be so pale that he’ll be invisible (which is not really a bad thing, overall).

Jennifer tells us she’s amazed at the speed with which Terri is cranking out her garment. Or rather, garments, as she’s planning to do a jacket, a shirt, pants, and a vest. If she has time she might cobble a pair of shoes to go along with it and cast some jewelry. Jennifer suspects that Terri has smuggled a sweatshop of tiny elves under her sewing machine.
Stella’s outfit is mostly black, very space-age and modern, with red, silver and blue leather-ish trims. Why not, she asks. After all, lots of bikers watch the Olympics! Someday, Harley riding may be IN the Olympics! And they will need outfits! (Right, and someday Stella will sew a dress using chiffon.) Leanne thinks Stella’s garment looks like it belongs in a Goth nightclub. Now I ask you, does Leanne LOOK like the type of girl who frequents Goth nightclubs and would know that?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the workroom, Daniel is using Kenley as a dress form instead of the perfectly inanimate one he’s been given. He and Kenley are having a grand old time horsing around and laughing, much to the annoyance of most everyone else. Apparently Kenley laughs too loud, and sounds like a strange jungle bird or a dolphin, depending on who’s doing the imitation.

Korto has decided to use mostly white in her outfit, because she thought the white outfit would really stand out in the opening ceremony. She then tells us the story of her family’s flight from Liberia during their civil war. It is really touching and you can tell she’s really genuinely appreciative of the opportunities she’s had here in the US, and she really wants to do a good job on this challenge.

It’s time for Tim to make his rounds. He starts with Joe and responds really well to the design, which includes a skort and a bi-colored zipper made from two solid-colored zippers. He then moves on to Blayne, who appears to be making a drum majorette’s jacket. Tim comments that “it’s looking a little Sgt. Pepper” to which Blayne replies, “I don’t know what that is”. (Tim and I both give exasperated sighs. How can you NOT know Sgt. Pepper?? What kind of people were this kid’s parents? I mean, both of my kids know what Sgt. Pepper is!) Tim has to explain to Blayne that it’s the Beatles. Blayne grabs that and runs with it, saying that he’s drawing from that era, with cardigans and stuff. I groan at the TV. The Beatles may have worn matching outfits but I don’t think they ever wore sweaters. The Lettermen or Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers in the 50’s yes. But not the Beatles. Tim gives up and moves on to Daniel. He’s got a skirt mostly finished, but no bodice, and he’s using that really iffy blue that almost looks purple. (I had a dress in college that was the same color, and I got really tired of having to defend it. I have a feeling Daniel will be having that same problem.) Tim warns Daniel against unraveling emotionally as the night goes on, as Daniel has done every challenge so far.

Before he leaves for the evening, Tim visits with Jerell, who is committing the sin of making a horizontally-striped pencil skirt that will look horrible on muscular women; and Jennifer, who is making a dress that would look great on a 1940’s school teacher.

Joe and Daniel have a little run-in over a sewing machine they both want to use. Come on, guys. There are 10 empty machines! And what happened to the little namecards people put on the machines in past seasons to show who was using what? Joe blames the drama on the fact that there are “too many queens” and Korto feels like she’s back in high school. I’d say, more like preschool.

The next day, we get a LOT of shots of half-naked men. Jerell lotions up his legs and gets dressed and - What the hell is he wearing????????? Is he: a) Peter Pan; b) one of Robin Hood’s “merry” men; c) showing off his redesign of the Boy Scout uniform; or d) the lost Andrews Sister?

It’s time to get those models squished (literally, in some cases – I’m looking at you, Terri!!) into those garments and go, go, GO, people! Tim Gunn and Runway wait for no model! Heidi re-introduces the stylish (and cute) gold medalist Apolo Anton Ohno. To quote Joe from earlier in the show, “Let the fashion games begin!”

The safe designers Suede – He used tulle again. Just because the judges responded well to it once, does not mean that they want to see it in every garment you make.
Kelli – This model would be right at home serving you drinks and a bag of peanuts on a Pan Am flight, circa 1948.
Leanne – I actually kind of like this. It’s definitely modern, it’s got simple clean lines, and it would stand out from the sea of bankers from Australia in the Parade of Nations. (And yes, that's really the Australian team's outfits for this year.)
Stella – I don’t mind the length of the pants – the Canadian team wore a similar length a couple of Olympics ago – or the black, or even the stripy epaulets. This would not actually be too bad…if it weren’t for that obscene bellybutton cutout! Just that one thing sent this over the edge for me.

Keith – A view of his sketch earlier in the episode showed shorts. When did he make the decision to move from shorts, which would have been cute, to a micro-mini bubble skirt? I think pants might have worked even better than shorts, because the scarf is so long.

Blayne – This looks like something Buck Rogers’ girlfriend might have worn in space. Also, one-sleeved shirts might not look right on, say, a gymnast, who has really pumped-up torso and arms. And just because pink has red in it, and aqua has blue in it, does not mean you can substitute those colors for red and blue when making a patriotic statement. (Blayne: Please pick a different pair of shoes next time, you've used those twice now, and they're not particularly attractive.)
Kenley – Perfect for an afternoon of tea and crumpets with the Boston elite, but not for the US Olympic team. And where is the red? I also have an issue with the back of the skirt, because her plaids did not match up at all. Not even close. I hope she did it on purpose, although I don’t know why she would. (You know which country would be perfect for this outfit? Greece.)

Who’s left on the runway?

Korto – This is very basic and very modern. It implies sportiness instead of hitting you over the head with it. I wish she had used a different shade of blue, because on the runway it looks black. The judges like it, saying it looks really comfortable and chic.
Joe – His skort design is definitely athletic, but the shorts are too short, and it ends up looking like she’s wearing an apron. I’m not a fan of the USA down the side, which makes me think of a child’s model rocket. Heidi is impressed with his two-toned zipper. The judges also say it would show off an athlete's physique very well.
Daniel – Oh, Daniel. When you put blue with red it’s going to go purple! I hope the judges packed their 3-D glasses, because this dress gives new meaning to the phrase “it pops”. Heidi keep saying it’s purple and you can just see that Daniel wants to say, “It’s blue, bitch!” His model looks nervous, and with just cause. The judges see absolutely no Olympic connection, unless it’s a design for the team from the Republic of Cocktail Land. During their sewing time, Daniel let Kenley talk him out of making a red bolero jacket for the dress, which I think was a mistake. It needs something – maybe a little red or white capelet.
Jerell – This is five different decades in one outfit – Victorian shirtwaist, big hat from the 30’s, limp neck bow from the 80’s, pencil skirt from the 50’s, and leggings from the 60’s. Apolo says it’s definitely unique, which Jerell correctly identifies as the only compliment he’s going to get. It’s not athletic at all, and that big hat would drive photographers crazy. Michael Kors cracks up during the entire conversation, which is never good. I also question Jerell’s taste in makeup – did he tell them to apply it with an icing spatula?
Terri – It’s nice, but wow, that tube top is too tight!! She’s got a muffin top on her chest! Good thing she used that big blousy scarf to cover it up. But other than that, the judges say it looks really American, with a 70’s vibe. They also like the versatility of the separate pieces, and say it looks smart and sharp.
Jennifer – She was insipired by a 1920’s track suit (for the stripes on the skirt), but was not able to make this look modern at all. In fact, this would look great on an American Girl doll. Apolo says this doesn’t look like an outfit that a confident female athlete would wear. Nina hits the nail on the head when she comments that Jennifer can’t separate challenges from her personal taste, and that it actually just looks silly.

Now that the grilling is over, it’s time to determine a winner. In my opinion, it’s between Joe and Korto, with Korto slightly ahead. If Joe hadn’t put that big USA on there I probably would have liked his best because it looks sportier. The judges go with Korto for the win.

The bottom two are Daniel and Jennifer. While Daniel may have missed the mark completely, at least it could be mistaken for modern, where Jennifer’s can’t - so she’s out. In her little exit sequence she mentions her surrealism design aesthetic again, but I’m left wondering, where was it? I really don’t think she knows what surrealism means. I really didn’t think her outfits were bad, they were actually kind of cute for doll clothes. Maybe she should go into that.

Next week: Well, Bravo goes ahead and shows the guest judge for next week at the end of this show but I won’t say who it is; somebody designs something “slutty slutty slutty”; and Kenley has a giggle fit on the runway that pisses Daniel off for some reason.


Blogger shirlsd said...

glad bpr had a link to your blog. love you episode 4 recap! (i am going to share with others and drop by every once in a while!) have a good weekend!

10:01 AM  
Blogger mellonhead said...

Fantastic recap with great links to past and present absurd Olympic opening ceremony styles. These made some of the designs not so strange after all! I can't believe Australian athletes will be dressing in drab grey suits! Crazy. Your analysis was dead-on. Thanks.

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing recap! Don't be such a stranger!

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Andre B said...

Excellent recap. Thanks, especially, for the links to actual Olympic wear. Not much fashion going on, is there? Anyway, I have to say that although many of the outfits seemed ridiculously inappropriate, I thought the runway show was LOL fun. Easily the most entertaining one of the season. (You can take that as a compliment, or not.) If Daniel and Jennifer deserved their bottom placement it was because their outfits had no playfulness, no wit, to them. Daniel, an early favorite of mine, has turned into a first-class bore. (I mean it's okay with me that Daniel isn't into sports, and that he regularly skips the opening night ceremonies of the Olympics - guess what I WON"T be doing tonight! His outfit though was a total bore.)

4:34 PM  
Anonymous gimli417 said...

For once, I like the winning outfit! Most of them turned out pretty on-target, but what's with the cocktail dresses for an Olympic athlete? Do these people even listen to their challenges, or just do whatever the heck they want?
Great clicky extras, too!

12:28 PM  

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