Monday, September 29, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Maxie Say Relax: The Project Runway recap

Maxie is confused. Maxie realizes that she didn’t really know Suede at all because Suede plays cello and Maxie plays cello, and that makes Suede and Maxie sort of kindred spirits and Maxie admits that she prejudged Suede because of his random tuft of blue hair and idiotic need to refer to himself in the third person (Maxie doesn’t know how Suede does it; Maxie is exhausted doing it for one paragraph) and now Maxie feels bad and Maxie would actually enjoy playing a Vivaldi suite with Suede one day, because as they say in the symphony world: “Cellos before hos!” (See note.)

Speaking of the hos—er, the lovely ladies on the show—I do feel that I was wrong about both Leanne and Kenley.

I thought Leanne was a mousy little design nerd, a wallflower, a bit of a doormat. In truth, she’s a cold-blooded killer. Seriously, did you see the way she snagged Suede’s model right out from under him? And not only that, left her own model a quivering mass of insecurity right there on the runway? And she did it with a smile on her face. (It’s always the quiet ones. . .)

Onto Kenley: I’ve expressed my ambivalence toward her in the past. I’ve always seen her as the Veruca Salt of Project Runway—a talented but spoiled little daddy's girl. Still, there was something appealing about her cheerfulness and outsized confidence. But lately, I’ve decided she is more creepy than appealing, what with the hyena laugh and the constant whining and the complete inability to accept anything even remotely resembling criticism. Bottom line: NOBODY is mean to my Tim Gunn. Nobody! Maxie no likey. (Yikes, that’s hard to stop. . .)

As for Korto, I’m so relieved that Jerrel mentioned her junk in the trunk. It really was turning into the 100-pound badunkadunk in the corner. I’m just glad that her ass is out of the closet so we can all go back to our lives.

Have the models become increasingly irrelevent on this show, or what? After the predicted model bloodbath, we find out that once again, the models are dismissed. Instead, the designers would be designing for each other; with each designer assigned a musical genre to channel. (Quick aside: Weren’t the designers who had to design for Jerrel and Suede at a marked disadvantage? I mean, how many times have we been told that designing for men is a lot harder? Who can forget the tragedy of Carmen’s swatch shirt from last season?).

Here’s how it broke down:
Korto was country (before country was cool) and designed by Leanne.
Leanne was hiphop and designed by Kenley.
Jerrel was rock and designed by Suede.
Suede was punk and designed by Korto.
Kenley was pop and designed by Jerrel.

Korto and Jerrel pretty much rocked it. And mad credit to Kenley for parading around in that pop onesy—not many women of her size would have the guts to do that and she looked pretty darn good.

But Kenley clearly has no idea what a hiphop outfit looks like. No, it’s not oversized—nice try, Tim—but it is fabulous. Think fur, and bling, and divalicious attitude. It didn’t help that Leanne gave the most diffident hip hop walk in the history of runways. (LL Cool J was appalled.) And, in Kenley’s defense, someone from De la Soul probably would’ve rocked her cropped leather jacket, floral shirt, and high-waisted jean ensemble—in 1991.

I actively despised Leanne’s country outfit because, well, it was ugly. Everyone liked her “palette” but on what planet does violet, doody brown, and gold go together? Planet Color Blind? I did love, though, how Korto turned into a living Nancy Sinatra song when she popped on those boots. Get down with the ho-down, girl!

Hooray, for Korto. Not only did she win—she did it designing menswear. And bravo to Suede for channeling his inner Johnny Rotten on the runway—even if he did look more like the forgotten designer from Heatherette.

Suede’s outfit really wasn’t so bad—and Jerrel looked Lenny Kravitz-licious in it. I truly think this was a case where Suede lost more for his body of work than for this particular outfit. In my opinion, both Leanne and Kenley failed far more epically than he did.

So there’s poor Suede, standing there like some horrible late 70s flashback, having to suffer the indignity of not just losing, but losing while sporting that hair.
Oh well, as Suede so eloquently said it himself: “Guys, you will see Suede rock it. Suede’s leaving.”

Next week: Everybody cries!

*Actually, celli is the plural of cello. But it didn’t rhyme with ho.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Reality Bites: My Thoughts on the Emmys

The opening monologue of last night’s Emmys was so painfully bad, I actually suspect sabotage.
Think about it: The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences must hate reality TV. I mean, they must despise it, right?
After all, it takes away jobs from writers and actors—and makeup artists and costume designers and stunt men and special effects coordinators and actor’s assistants . . . well, you get the idea.
They’ve been patiently waiting for the reality TV phenomenon to die a natural death—but it’s not going away!!!! (If anything, it seems to be multiplying—we are now stealing crappy shows from Japan.)
So this is what the Emmy masterminds decided to do: They decided to send those reality TV hosts out there without a life boat (i.e., no teleprompter)—just to show American how incompetent they really are.
“Just get on stage and, you know, riff for five minutes,” the producers told the gang, as Jeff Probst ran off to find a dictionary and look up the word “riff.”
“If things get really bad, you can always discuss the Bush doctrine,” they added helpfully.
But here’s where their nefarious plan backfired: Yes, it was as bad as you would expect it to be. Long awkward pauses. Howie Mandell “prattling” obnoxiously. Jeff Probst thinking dimples are a substitute for personality. Ryan Seacrest and Tom Bergeron looking vaguely pissed. Heidi Klum looking like a giraffe trapped in the headlights. But it went to some place beyond schaudenfraude— it was the kind of bad where you actually felt sorry for people you normally hate.
But wait! The Emmy producers had a backup plan: They decided to have Tom Bergeron finish the job, by killing Heidi Klum!
Seriously—was there any version of that drama/comedy bit that didn’t leave everyone’s favorite German übermodel black and blue? If you drop a statuesque German, does she not bleed?
Achtung, indeed!
Okay, so maybe Emmy wasn’t trying to kill the reality TV stars. But they clearly don’t “get” reality TV. How do I know this . . . ?

1. They didn’t nominate Kat Deeley from So You Think You Can Dance. I happen to be a bit of a reality TV “expert” around these parts. And I can tell you, she is the best host in the biz. She’s a gorgeous goofball who seems to really love her dancing charges. She once got on the floor—all 7-feet-in-heels of her—to fix a contestant’s broken shoe. Better still, she once popped a contestant’s tin foil grill in her mouth (“spit and all” she said gayly), just to make us laugh. And laugh we did.
2. That Howie Mandell guy does not host a reality TV show. He hosts a game show. Big difference. And while I have some vague recollection of him being funny back in the 80s, now he is just flat-out creepy. Make him go away.
3. They keep giving the damn award to The Amazing Race. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 7 times, shame on me. As Tim Gunn is my witness, every year I think Emmy is going to finally come to its senses and give the award to Project Runway. And every year, it’s the goddamned Amazing Race death march to the podium. Okay, I admit it—I don’t watch The Amazing Race. Friends tell me it’s a good show. But I’m sorry, The Amazing Race is not water cooler fodder. The Amazing Race is not of the zeitgeist. The Amazing Race is not nit-pickingly obsessed over by the New York literati. It’s about as hip as your average episode of Boston Legal. (Come to think of it, another Emmy fave.)
4. Jeff Probst. Really, Emmy? Probst? I was sure this thing was going to go to Seacrest. The guy hosts a live three-ring circus that happens to be the most popular show on TV. And he deals with the unholy trinity of snotty Simon, loopy Paula and useless Randy. For that alone, the man needs an Emmy (and perhaps a Nobel Peace Prize). What does Probst do? He wears puca shells and cargo shorts and repeats “The tribe has spoken, the tribe has spoken.” Seacrest, check your Slomin's Shield, 'cause you wuz robbed!

Oh well, we’ll always have Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bring Your Daughter to Work Day: The Project Runway recap

Brace yourself: It’s going to be a model blood bath next week.

Not only did we lose two designers last week, but we didn’t use the real models this week at all. That means three—count em—three models are going home next week. Devastating! (Ha, who am I trying to kid? Nobody cares!)

Nope, instead of the regular models, onto the runway marched a bunch of middle-aged women. Or, as Leanne described them, “old ladies.”

Jerell, never one to ignore the obvious, immediately deduced that these couldn’t have been the mothers of the designers because, well, none of them were black. (Hey, I give the boy mad credit. Designers of past seasons wouldn’t have been so swift.)

Because while yes, indeed, these women were moms, they were not the designers’ moms. Instead, they were the mothers of just out of college young ladies looking to update and professionalize their look. So—whew!—the daughters were the clients. No mom jeans and Sarah Palin activewear in anyone’s future.

It was Joe who assessed the challenge most succinctly: “The problem with mothers and daughters is that whatever the daughter likes, the mother hates and whatever the mother likes, the daughter hates.” True enough. However, in classic Joe fashion, he had to repeat has little kernel of wisdom twice, just in case the cameras weren’t rolling the first time he said it.

Of course, I was immediately fascinated by Kenley’s mother-daughter duo, not just because the husky-voiced mother would have fit right in during the transvestite challenge (oh, c’mon. . .you know you were thinking the same thing) but because the daughter—a dead ringer for TV’s Blossom, Mayim Bialik—was also a bit of a Kenley clone, at least style-wise. Kenley totally lucked out.

Jerell lucked out, too, with an adorably androgynous mother-daughter duo, who seemed totally laid back and up for any of his flights of fancy. I think they were both high.

At Mood, Suede emitted the single gayest line ever uttered on Project Runway (and that’s saying a lot): “Ohmygod, Suede found a Pucciesque fabric in purple!” Hooray!

But back in the studio, Suede and Joe were totally laying eggs. Suede’s client was a photographer who favored pants (reasonably), but “Suede doesn’t do pants.” So Suede went with his Pucciesque purple dress and some sort of God awful Sergeant Pepper jacket. Good call.

Joe had a hip looking graphic designer, and decided to turn her into some sort of ’80s cliché in a power suit.

The girls all had makeovers and, when I say they were slightly better than those doled out on last night’s America’s Next Top Model, trust me, that is damning with faint praise.

By far, the best makeover went to Jerell’s client, Caitlin. They gave her a dark, edgy, Sally Hershberger style cut that totally worked.

As for Jerell’s hat—a sort of shower cap for the Black Lagoon—it had no alibi. (Exclusive tip from Tim Gunn’s blog: Caitlin was supposed to wear that monstrosity. Thank God, Jerell self-edited. Nothing moves the needle from “you’re hired!” to “you’re fired!” faster than grossly alienating head gear.)

Cynthia Rowley was today’s guest judge. I’m sure the dialog bubble over her head read: “My eyes! My eyes!” Because I’m not going to lie: There was a whole lot of epic failure on that runway.

Korto needs to step away from burlap. Her jacket looked itchy.

Leanne regressed to old, frumpy self with her bulky cropped jacket.

Kenley was positively gloating when the judges praised her retro dress with the fitted belt and vest. It was quite hilarious, though, to see her face fall when they began praising Jerell’s brown top, pencil skirt, and over-sized cardigan.

Also hilarious? When Kenley’s Mini-Me pulled a Kenley and began laughing in Joe’s face when Michael Kors was making fun of his outfit. (Note to Big Sisters of America: If Kenley calls, pretend she got the wrong number.)

So Jerell wins again! Kenley fumes, but is safe, as are Leanne and Korto.

Inevitably, it comes down to Joe and Suede. It was hard for me to muster up much concern for either guy. They’ve both over-stayed their talent.

So Joe is . . . out. Wait, let me repeat that in case the cameras weren’t rolling: Joe’s garment sucked, so he is out.

Next week: Kenley and Tim THROW DOWN!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What's Your Sign? The Project Runway recap

You never realize how much you miss someone until they’re gone.

Unfortunately for us, we never got a chance to miss Stella, because she was back, along with the rest of the auf’d designers, for this avant garde, astrologically-inspired challenge.

Did this lead to a gratuitous shot of Wesley without his shirt? It’s Bravo, people, do you really need to ask? (These are the kind of things that keep me awake at night when I think about the switch to Lifetime. Will the breeders who run Lifetime appreciate the value of a gratuitous Wesley topless scene? I think not.)

Anyway, Heidi made it clear up front that the ousted designers weren’t in the running to actually win anything. They were just there to make life miserable for—I mean, uh, inspire—the final 8 contestants.

What Heidi didn’t explain, much to my annoyance, was why two designers were being booted tonite. Obviously, it has something to do with arcane Bravo scheduling conflicts (maybe James Lipton is to blame?)—but still. . . random.

I learned something new about Suede this episode. He’s the most insecure man in the history of the world to chronically refer to himself in the third person. I mean, why on earth would he lean on Jerry for his astrological inspiration? Jerry, who was the first designer given the boot. Jerry, who created a creepy lab costume that he thought was couture. For the love of Suede, ignore him, Suede! But no, Suede and Jerry were a happy little duo, as, remarkably, were Blayne and Stella.

I don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I realized that little Hoodie Spice (a.k.a. Blayne) has actually endeared himself to me. With his skater hoods, his emo-bangs, his perma-tan, and his automatically generated sound bites, he’s like the cutest little design avatar ever created. (Adorable moment of the show: Tim comes up and tells Blayne that his garment looks like “old women’s underwear.”
“Grannie panties?” Blayne responds cheerfully. Even in a crisis, the man has a catch phrase at the ready.)

Of course, Terri and Keith got reunited. I don’t know what kind of holding chamber the designers go to after they’ve been eliminated, but whereever it is, I can imagine that Keith has been sitting in a corner, repeatedly banging his head against a wall and moaning, “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!” That is one self-flagellating Mormon.
“I’m fragile,” he told Terri. Lamb, meet slaughter.

Kenley brought her dominatrix side to her partnership with Wesley. “He takes direction well,” she reported, and I could swear I saw a knowing glance exchanged between Wesley and Daniel, but maybe I was just imagining it.

Meanwhile, the mousiest clique of Mean Girls of all time—Leanne and Emily (they’re like Mean Girls who will totally ban you from their table in the library if you’re not careful!)—were hating on Kenley. It’s true Kenley is kind of loud and boastful and irritating, but that was a little harsh. I truly can’t decide if I love Kenley or hate her.

Once the astrological monstrosities—um, dresses—were created, the designers had to parade their models to the New York Planetarium where they were met—quelle surprise—by the ghosts of Project Runway past, who would be doing a preliminary judging.
(Hi Jay! Still love you, even if Christian has supplanted you as Most Fabulous Project Runway Contestant Ever.)

Cut to every gay male designer sidling up to Daniel Vosovic. Hey, who can blame them?

Terri wisely took Christian’s advice to lose her Leo fur collar—“it was looking a little The Wiz,” she admitted—but would it be enough?

Next onto the runway, where my ambivilance toward Kenley’s garment mirrored my ambivalence toward Kenley herself. However, was Michael Kors on crack when he suggested that her poofy sleeved costume wasn’t avant garde enough? Really, Michael Kors? Last I checked, we weren’t wearing a John Galliano meets the Queen of Hearts creation at the local Piggly Wiggly. (Okay, so I’ve never been to a Piggly Wiggly in my life. . .but you take my point.)

So Jerrell wins, which is nice for him. His garmet was slightly above meh. I was pretty certain Leanne was going to win again. I’m sorry, her creation (pictured in place of the actual winner, because I’m the boss of this blog!) was all kinds of fabulous. But maybe they didn’t want to get too predictable.

Anyway, the bottom four were Kenley, Blayne, Suede, and Terri.
Kenley is safe.

Figures, just when I was starting to like the little whipper snapper, his garment pooped fabric and Blayne is OUT.

Now, it’s down to Suede and Terri. It’s true, Suede’s garment wasn’t avant garde (and was poorly made, if you ask me) but Terri’s garment looked cheap. Also, Terri is a stone cold bitch.

So Terri is . . . OUT.

I liked her designs but if she can’t play well with others, she’s not going to go far in this business.

Now can we start missing Stella? . . . Pretty please?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Leather or Not: The Project Runway recap

It occurred to me, as Stella was handed her fate, and stood there, scowling at Heidi Klum, clearly about to say something defiant, that nobody has ever had a truly memorable send off on Project Runway.

No one has ever screamed, “Go back to the autobahn, frau-wench!” to Heidi or “get a real skin color!” to Michael Kors or “nice bitchface” to Nina Garcia.

Instead, they have dutifully submitted to their European double kiss, waved goodbye, thanked the judges for their inspiration, and skulked back stage.

Was Stella going to change all that?

Well, not quite.

“I had too big an ego for this, anyway,” she said, perhaps not the most gracious way to depart, but hardly fighting words.

But it got me thinking: Does Stella have a big ego?

In truth, I always thought of her as a lovable loser, an insecure street rat with stringy hair, an adenoidal defect, and a self-defeating attitude.

But when you think about it, she never once deviated from her master plan to conquer the world, one animal hide at a time. I kind of assumed it was because she couldn’t do anything else. But maybe she was just supremely confident. As she said in the end, “If you like my stuff, great. If not, screw you.” (Or something to that effect.)

Dag. It was all so maverick and independent, I’m surprised John McCain didn’t recruit Stella to be his vice president.

But I digress. . .

The show starts with Stella, puzzled and helpless as ever (this is what it said in my notes; of course, only later would I discover that she was confidently puzzled and gloriously helpless) as she contemplated the “cawfee” machine. “One tablespoon or two?” she said, holding up a scooper that was clearly 5 tablespoon’s worth. (Cut to Korto gagging down a sip of the coffee and remarking that it packs a punch.)

Next, the oh-so-predictable model kiss-off. Keith’s model is out and Leanne’s model stays in. (Oh, how I miss the days of the mother-effing walk-off).

And then a big surprise from behind the curtain. .. Tim Gunn!

“It’s just me,” he says sweetly. (Oh, Tim.)

He takes them to the meat packing district to meet a fashion legend, who Blayne hopes is Mary Kate Olsen. (He’s joking, right? I choose to believe that he’s joking.)

But no, it’s real live fashion legend Diane von Furstenberg, who turns the designers, Blayne notwithstanding, into a bunch of slobbering groupies, particularly Kenley, who really needs to get a grip.

Their task is to develop an outfit inspired by Diane’s fall collection, as well as Marlene Dietrich and the Berlin-to-Shanghai movie A Foreign Affair. (“She’s from Paris, right?” later asks Stella of Dietrich, doing an incredible impression of a stupid person and not the boldly confident leather ambassador that she actually is. )

Despite the clear reverence they all have for Madame von F, the designers ransack her fabric studio like it’s Filene’s Basement on a clearance sale.

Back to Parsons they go. Most are opting for a layered look, in keeping with DVF’s fall collection. But Kenley decides to do a perfect, Shanghai inspired dress, which I think is pretty smart. I’m sorry, when you think of DVF, you think bold prints and, yes, dresses. If you really want to do an homage to the doyenne herself, that’s the way to go. (Not to mention the fact that doing one dress is a helluva lot less work than doing a vest, a pair of pants, and a magician’s cape.)

Somehow in the midst of all this, a Disney Channel special, featuring Leanne as a pint-sized spy, breaks out. It’s almost cute to watch Leanne play out her dorky spy game fantasies. Almost.

The usual paroxysms of cattiness take place in the studio, with Joe making gag gestures behind Kenley’s dress and everyone talking about Terri being a one-trick pony and no one quite certain what is happening with the back of Joe’s dress.

Best moment of cattiness? Stella calling out last week’s judge Rachel Zoe on her “oversized belt and mumu.” I can’t even make fun of that for it is awesome.

Some pretty fabulous stuff struts down the runway. One thing I really love about this season? There’s no clear front runner. On any given day, Terri, Korto, Leanne, or Kenley can totally work it out. (Sorry Blayne, Suede, Jerrel, and Joe, I’m not being sexist, I just don’t see you as frontrunners.)

I knew Leanne was going to win, because her violet dress and heather grey jacket were gorgeous (but she was totally saved by Tim Gunn telling her to crop that jacket, although maybe she would’ve figured it out on her own?).

But I admit that I kinda wanted Kenley to win, if only because she wanted it so bad. DVF did love her dress, and they had a little moment, which was nice. (And Kenley? I’m no Emily Post, but I suspect that interrupting Heidi four times in one sentence is probably not the best way to endear yourself to the host, mkay?)

As for Stella, she’d been bringing up the rear for weeks (I mean, uh, triumphantly thumbing her nose at the man!). But it was nice that she washed her hair (for the first time all season?) for the final challenge.

Don’t leatha door hit you on the way out.