Friday, January 29, 2010

Ping Dynasty: The Project Runway recap

How I wish that Project Runway could have a designated contestant each season who they keep around purely for our amusement. You know, one who wouldn’t necessarily know a sewing needle from a hypodermic needle, but who consistently brings the funny.

Because what will Season 7 of Project Runway be without the glory of Ping?

Amusing as Anthony is (and he actually made me laugh this episode, with his “even the VP of McDonald’s needs a dress”), his is a contrived kind of entertainment. He’s trying to be funny. Ping, however, is the genuine article. A Grade-A, they-broke-the-mold-when-they-made-her, honest to goodness weirdo.

Hey, at least she went out with a Ping-centric episode.

As the show starts, we see Anthony brushing his teeth while wrapped in a curtain (is that a Southern thing?) and Ping leaving the house . . .without her shoes.

“Oh, shoes!” she says, as though she forgot to turn out the light in the hallway. (I haven’t left my house without shoes since I was 2, so this is a truly awesome oversight on her part.)

Throughout the course of the show, Ping loses many things. They include:
The aforementioned shoes.
Her notebook.
Her envelope containing $500. (!)
Her sense of time and space.
Project Runway. (Oh snap.)

The only thing she doesn’t manage lose is the clothing on her back—which kind of sheds some light on why she designs the way she does.

Anyway, the designers are taken to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where they are brought to the couture exhibit. Everyone, including Tim, is kvelling over the gorgeous works by Yves St. Laurent, Balenciaga, and Madame Gres.

Their task? Make a signature couture outfit inspired by the greatness before you.
Their budget? $500 smackeroos.
Their hurdle? Two words: Team challenge.

So they get paired up and everyone is thinking the exact same thing:
“NotPingNotPingNotPingNotPingNotPing. . .”

And Jesse gets paired with Ping and immediately puts on his BitchFace.

(This makes me wonder: If I were Jesse, and paired with Ping, would I immediately become hostile and defensive? Or would I try to grin and make it work? I thought Jesse kind of came across as an ass this challenge, but on the other hand. . .there’s no compromise on Planet Ping. You either speak the language or you don’t.)

Ping and Jesse aren’t the only ones having problems. Mila has decided that Jonathan is her sewing bitch and, while she ponders the larger cultural and sociological implications of her couture coat, Jonathan slaves away over a sewing machine doing the actual, you know, work.

Meanwhile, Jay has immunity and he. . .acts like he has immunity. At one point, he just kind of wanders around the studio munching on an apple as his partner, Maya, works on their dress.

And just when tensions are beginning to boil over. . .

“Gather round!” says Mr. Gunn. (The most dreaded words in the Project Runway lexicon, next to, of course: “You are partnered with Ping.”)

Yup, a new wrinkle: The designers now have to create a “look for less” inspired by one of the other teams’ designs, with a budget of $50.

Back to Mood they go (that’s two trips to Mood in one show. . .are they trying to make up for our previous Mood withdrawal?) where Ping manages to find the cheapest-looking fabric in the store.
She, of course, thinks it’s the fabric of the gods.

Jesse questions her choice.
“I’m not used to doubting my idea,” Ping says, screwing up her little Ping face in confusion. Ping is more of an act-now, doubt-never kinda gal.
“I’m not doubting your idea,” he says snippily. “I’m just trying to make sure you have one.”
(Oh Jesse, Jesse, Jesse. . . Why even bother?)

Runway day. Everyone is putting the finishing touches on their two looks, realizing it’s a race against time. The runway show is fast approaching.

“Okay, everyone. We’re leaving,” says Tim. 
Ping looks up, mystified. 
“Leaving where?” she says. (You just can’t make this stuff up.)
“Down to the runway show,” says Jesse wearily. At this point, he is a beaten man.

The looks come down the runway. I have to say, after last week’s brilliance, I’m a little underwhelmed. I often find that when the designers are given free reign, they tend to falter.

I liked Amy’s dress, as well as Emilio’s and Maya’s, but nothing made me gasp with wonder. Looks-for-less-wise, I was pretty impressed with Jesus’s look (which, based on his track record, I can only guess was actually designed by his partner Amy). And yes, I think slacker Jay did a pretty good job of improving on Janeane’s $500 get-up with his $50 one.

Small voice: I actually didn’t mind Anthony’s dress, which Michael Kors called the “cotillion party from hell.” (I don’t think of mustard and black as cotillion colors, do you? ) I’ve seen a lot worse Scarlett O’Hara wannabes on this show. (Kayne, I’m talkin’ to you.)

And Mila’s winning coat? No thanks. It screamed “patron of the arts” to me, the kind of coat that a middle-aged Lincoln Center benefactor might wear to the annual gala.

So the Bottom 4 are Anthony and Seth Aaron and, of course, Ping and Jesse. 
Does Jesse throw Ping under the bus? 
Does Karl Rove shit in the woods?
“I had to teach her sewing lessons,” he says, predictably.

What I didn’t predict was that the model would ALSO throw Ping under the bus. 
“She never fit me in this,” says Meghan, who, it should be noted, is Jesse’s model, not Ping’s.
Yikes! When models attack!

Ping looks understandably dejected. (But very fetching in her stylish metal glasses, heather gray turtle neck and orange pants.) (Note to Ping: Why can’t you design like that?)

Seth Aaron is safe. Jesse is safe.

Heidi makes a gaudy display of the fact that two contestants might be going home. And Anthony is. . .safe.

And with that, Ping gone. Don’t worry, Ping. All your pals on the mothership will welcome you back with open arms.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tim Punn: The Project Runway recap

Two shows and still no Mood. What gives? Were they shut down by the Department of Health for having an infestation of fabulousness?

Whatever the case, the designers are taken to a farm—because nothing says, “Welcome to Manhattan!” like cow piles and hay—where Tim Gunn looks like he’s auditioning for some hillbilly remake of “Addicted to Love.” He is nattily attired. The models, however, are wearing potato sacks.

So the challenge is, yes, to make a hot party outfit out of a potato sack. In a twist that would’ve been a whole lot juicier later in the season, the models are the clients and they get to pick their designer. (By the way, a note to Lifetime network executives: We notice that you are giving the models a higher profile on the show. And we also know why—rhymes with Nodels of the Funway.)

Most stick with the designer who brung them, but Alexis, who probably can’t remember if her designer was Mila or Maya, avoids the issue altogether and takes Anthony. This causes Mila (her actual designer) to pretty much freak out. I mean, she won’t stop talking about it.

Back at the studio, Mila comforts herself by saying, “Her loss.” Except the thing is, she says it out loud. Within Anthony’s ear range. And he takes understandable umbrage. It also gives him a chance to spout some of his oh so hi-larious Southern-fried wisdom: “She can kiss my ass and my entire family’s asses.” Can someone already get this guy a giant name tag that reads “Flo”?

The funny thing is, Mila and her new model are getting along famously, while Alexis is the client from hell. She wants her potato sack to be flowy, hippy, sexy, beady, and fringey. Make it work, Flo.

Tim is all in his glory when he comes by to give critiques. First, he objects to the amount of work Jay has before him. “I’m flabbergasted!” he says. Here’s what was so great about that.
a. He used the word flabbergasted. This is a seriously under-used word.
b. He didn’t just SAY flabbergasted. He kind of acted it out. This involved reeling backward, as though overtaken by a strong gust of wind, with his lips spasmodically quivering. It was marvelous.

Then Tim wandered over to our little twink Jesus and noticed the fact that Jesus was covering up his entire burlap sack with ribbon.
“I think you’re skirting the issue, no pun intended,” Tim said.
And oh how Jesus laughed and laughed at the ingenuity of Tim’s pun. “Good one, my good man,” he said. “A real corker.”
(No, he didn't actually say that. Keep in mind folks, this was a guy who couldn’t evoke the name of the Empire State Building last week.)

So it’s runway day and Ping’s dress still has no ass. This concerns sweet little Jonathan until he notices that Ping is laughing. “Maybe it’s supposed to be an ass flap,” he posits.

The special guest judge is “American icon, model, actress, and adventurer” Tila Tequila. No, wait, it’s Lauren Hutton.
(Remember how last season Michael Kors and Nina Garcia were occasional special guest judges? I still wake up in a cold sweat over that sometimes.)

So how much did that runway show kick ass?
Seriously, I was putting asterisks next to all the looks I liked until I ran out of ink in my asterisk machine.
But my favorites were definitely Mila’s and Amy’s (pictured).

One of the dresses I wasn’t wild about? Eventual winner Jay. We get it. You made burlap look like feathers. Hooray for you. Now can we discuss the fact that your dress looked like a burlap and feather tutu?

The bottom 3 were Ping, Pamela, and Jesus.

Ping was declared safe because yes, the judges decided they do want to see more of her special brand of wackadoo this season. (Me three!)

So it came down to 47-year-old Pamela and 23-year-old hottie Jesus.
Huh. . .I wonder which way this is going to go?

Farewell, Pamela. You seemed nice. Also, Jessica Simpson called. She totally wants to buy that dress.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hanging By a Thread: The Project Runway 7 recap

Whoah, guys, I had the WORST dream last night. There was this whole bizarro season of Project Runway. It took place in L.A., all the contestants were dull as dishwater, Nina Garcia and Michael Kors were relegated to “special guest star” status, and Tim Gunn wore—shudder—flip-flops. It was a total nightmare!

Anyway, new season, new lab rats to dissect. I reserve the right to change my mind on all of the designers, but here are a few preliminary thoughts. . .

Not really loving Seth Aaron, a.k.a., the contestant most likely to be lead singer in a Roxy Music tribute band. I actually thought his little 80s throw-back dress was going to be in the bottom 3, especially with those saggy suspenders (leaves room for breast enhancement surgery!).
But hey, at least the guy’s got a point of view.

Speaking of point of view . . . Ping! Love that her model seemed to come traipsing down the runway essentially carrying all the fabric Ping had chosen in Central Park. It was like Ping said, “Here, hold this. And. . .go!”

Also, Ping’s special practice of wearing the garments she is designing brought out Tim’s best one liner of the night: “Tell me why this is on you.” I’m going to start using that for all the fashion violations in my office.

But I’m so glad that Ping didn’t get eliminated because her aesthetic, let’s call it shmata chic, is one we haven’t seen much on Project Runway. Michael and Nina do love their tailored looks, don’t they?

This whole Mila/Maya thing has to end. We simply can’t have two women with black bangs and four-letter names starting with the letter M. If Tyra Banks were in charge of this show, she’d randomly assign a new name to one of them. “From now on, you will be Zanzibar!” And that would be that.

From the eye candy department we have little Latino twink Jesus, such a budding mensa he couldn’t come up with the name of the Empire State Building. (I thought he was a goner there for a second with his Armadillo dress. . . my ovaries would’ve been so sad). Then there’s Jesse “I’m the most famous pirate in the world!” (good Lord these kids are young). I’m pretty sure Jesse was the one who kept insisting that he takes it from “gritty to pretty”. Yes, Jesse, that fey little mustache of yours is so street.

Also, Ben looks like Todd Oldham. And cute little bespectacled Jonathan looks exactly like that pudgy personal trainer (I know, delightfully oxymoronic but true) from the old Bravo show Work Out.

Obviously, Anthony is the uproarious one this season and doesn’t he know it. I didn’t laugh at a single one of his cracks, especially his brilliant “Ping. . .Pong” (that’s not a pun, it’s just word association) but he seems harmless enough.

Janeane is our resident crier. Sample quote (said while crying): “The thought of it makes me want to cry.” For some reason, it’s always more fun when the crier is a dude.

My favorite two dresses were Emilio’s (the guy who won) and Amy’s (she had that little harlequin mini dress). And I thought Janeane came up with a nice save, considering that her first dress was a complete bust.

Also, let the record show, I love Nicole Richie. I think she has amazing personal style. So I was happy to see her as a guest judge.

So far, off to a promising start. Is it too soon to say that our short national nightmare is over?

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