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.