Thursday, February 28, 2008
You’ve Been Living in a Monkey House: The Project Runway recap
Don’t ya just want to see Tim’s house one day? To see hazy pictures of 10-year-old Tim in short pants with a “Tim” tee-shirt on? To find out surprising facts about Tim’s parents, his circle of friends, his taste in furniture?
But of course, we never will. That, I suppose, is part of the mystique of Tim Gunn. Each year, the designers express a kind of child-like surprise that Tim actually exists outside the studio (“it was so surreal seeing Tim Gunn at my house!”), so perfectly adapted to the Parson’s landscape is he. There’s a vague sense that Tim curls up at night on the Bluefly accessory wall, and awakens, fully pressed and pin-striped, ready to dispense tasteful advice.
Nonetheless, I do always love this archeological “See the Designers in Their Natural Habitat” episode, even if this year was a bit of a let down, what with everyone being from Manhattan or L.A. Ho hum. Are we never again going to see White Trashtastic family barbecues in Pennsylvania, with Tim sitting cross-legged on a picnic blanket eating coleslaw with a plastic fork, as some toddler in dirty diapers crawls across his lap? Sigh. Everyone is so damn sophisticated this season (although Jillian’s dad was sporting a surprising, non-ironic trucker hat).
We start with Christian—a pocket-sized man, living, appropriately enough, in a pocket-sized apartment. How he managed to design that whole collection in that tiny studio apartment is beyond me. Also beyond me? The collection itself. I’m sorry Christian, I love ya, mean it—I think you’re insanely talented. But that collection eluded me. A gorgeous fitted jacket with a “neck piece” that goes up to the nostrils? (Isn’t that technically a “nose piece”?) A pair of feather pants that appears not so much to have been sewn but poached? And what’s up with all the black? “It’s a lot of look,” Tim summed up in his inimitable way. Look, who am I to second guess the Amadeus of Fashion (is Rami his Salieri? I haven’t quite figured that one out yet.) But Christian’s collection is over my head.
Next, onto the very creepy and bizarre world of Jillian.
“I always knew one of my children was special!” her mother proclaimed, as the other sisters looked on glumly, content to merely bask in Jillian’s celestial glow (ever mindful that it was nearly time for them to sweep the chimney and press Jillian’s gown for the ball).
Cut to a beautiful portrait of young Jillian—looking every inch the future Ralph Lauren staffer— posing with the family Golden Retriever (although it’s entirely possible they merely rented the dog for the photo shoot.)
Something tells me that the other sisters worked as gaffers and best grips on the photo shoot.
“I know that everyone thinks they’ll be the next big thing,” Jillian announced. “But I’ll have it no other way!”
She followed that by saying: “I am big. It’s the fashion world that has gotten small!” (Okay, she didn’t. But she could have.)
You never really know someone until you see them at home, huh?
As for Jillian’s 15th-Century-inspired collection? I saw some gorgeous stuff in there—and some not-so-gorgeous stuff, too (I’m not sure I was feeling that gold-plated armor dress). Notably, Tim seemed to have very little negative feedback for our future Queen Diva Chosen One of the Universe. A clue?
Onto Rami, who of course, has his own professional studio in L.A. (while poor Christian toils in a chamber closet.)
We hear a brief anecdote that confirms—shockingly!— that parents in Jordan are also momentarily concerned when they find out that their son is a fashion designer, but then come around when they see that he is talented and it makes him happy. We are the world, indeed.
We also see a picture of young Rami with flippy boy band hair. It’s really hard to take Rami seriously when he has hair.
I liked what I saw of Rami’s collection, although I agree that the jackets looked overly-fussed-over. Still, the mere fact that he broke away from his all-draping-all-the-time mantra was a major achievement for our boy. It probably took hypnosis and strong meds, but hey, whatever gets the job done.
Ah, last but not least Chris, bless his heart. I love the fact that he wanted to be over the top, but not too over the top, so he came up with that perfect middle ground: human hair! Yes, Chris, nothing says “I’m ready to the leave the world of camp for the world of haute couture” quite like sewing Cher’s hair into your clothing. As for Tim? Suffice it to say, Chris’s collection wasn’t his bag. “My gag reflex is kicking in.” he said (and this was one of the nicer things he said about Chris’s collection.) Then, he proceeded to equate Chris’s collection to getting used to the stink in the monkey house. Now, I’m no fashion expert, but something tells me that when your mentor compares your collection to MONKEY SHIT, that’s a bad thing. But maybe that’s just me.
Onto meeting Chris’s friend, who lives in the most insane (literally) apartment you’ve ever seen. It’s as though all the Baroque and Renaissance collections of the world’s museums just kind of threw up inside this man’s flat. “It’s staggering!” Tim Gunn said, an excellent word, when you not sure if you are impressed or alarmed, or both.
Now we’re back at Parsons and—once I’ve recovered from Jillian’s distracting super-sized Minnie Mouse hat—it’s time for the Rami/Chris showdown. As both men sent their collections down the runway, I had this overwhelming urge for it to be a tie. Yes, I know that I’ve complained about the judges wimping out in the past—but both men put their heart and soul into their collections. When it comes to Chris—yes, it was costumey, yes that one dress did resemble a “velvet condom,” and yes he used some “surprising” materials—but that was a labor of love.
Indeed, when Heidi said that Rami was “IN,” I kept waiting for her to say, “Chris. You are also IN, as well.”
But no. It wasn’t meant to be. Chris, you came far. You were cut, you were brought back. You made it the final week—almost. You buried your head in Rami’s chest in despair (well played, my friend). And you felt all the love in the universe come back to you.
Now I have three words for you: Locks of Love.