Friday, April 23, 2010

Senior Center: The Project Runway recap

Hey, it’s Project Runway: The Golden Years. Okay, not quite. But you must admit, our final three is a pretty geriatric bunch. They’re the three oldest contestants—all on the wrong side of 38.

Still, it was kind of sweet when they all held hands as they negotiated the snowy streets of New York. After all, they wouldn’t want to break a hip.

Tim came to the studio to assess their progress. Seth Aaron, as per usual, had designed 451 new looks since we last saw him.

Mila was doing her goth geometry major thing.

Tim wasn’t sure about Emilio’s work. “Haven’t we seen this before?” he asked, adding quickly (too quickly): “I’m not saying this in a barbed, hostile way.” (The funny thing about Tim’s disclaimor was that it was completely unwarranted: There was nothing barbed or hostile about his comment. That is, until he pointed out how NOT barbed and hostile it was.)

Next, an incredibly lengthy commercial for L’Oréal and Garnier broke out. Oh wait, that’s the show. Look, all viewers of Project Runway are somewhat inured to the show’s excessive product placement. Kind of comes with the territory. But this was really beyond the pale. It’s our final episode of the season and we’re spending 10 minutes learning about lash-thickening mascara and stay rite hair control?!? This makes me want to actually throw away the L’Oréal and Garnier products that I currently own.

Bryant Park day and Seth Aaron has decided to do something fancy with his hair.
Not quite sure what to call his ‘do that defied gravity and came to a fierce point at the top: The dark pyramid? The black peacock? The hipster isosceles triangle?

Once they arrived at Bryant Park, Seth Aaron felt compelled to make snow angels on the stage. If I had a dime for every time a designer did that. . .well, I’d have a dime.

Just for the record, Emilio had no time for Seth Aaron’s tomfoolery.

Then something VERY DRAMATIC happened and 4 of the models (3 of Mila’s; 1 that was Emilio’s) were stuck in the snow and couldn’t make it. Mila was panicking. Emilio was bossing people around. It was all so tension-filled and climactic that they had to cut to a commercial! What would Mila and Emilio do?!?

Upon return, it was decided that they would use the backups. So that happened.

Seth Aaron’s collection came first. He was inspired by the Third Reich. Well, not exactly, but, as he put it: “1940s German Russian military”—a.k.a. Nazis. Just sayin’…

They panned to his family in the audience and I was struck by how clean cut his son and daughter were. They must be such a disappointment to him.

I must say, Seth Aaron’s collection was pretty slick. He took Tim’s advice to a tee: It was Seth Aaron, but more glamorous, more sophisticated, more polished. And yes, very dramatic.

Next Mila, who was inspired by the famed comic character The Shadow. “Who knows what darkness lurks in the hearts of man? Mila knows!”
Oh. . .wait. Apparently, she was inspired by actual shadows. . . Nevermind.

I loved most of Mila’s collection, especially the grey dress worn by the little Asian punk pixie and the shredded purple sweater over the striped tee and leather leggings number. Mila’s leggings are tight—both in the literal and slang sense of the word.

Finally, we had Emilio’s collection, which was inspired by his mom and her sisters in Harlem. Oh, who are we trying to kid? Emilio’s collection was inspired by his most favorite muse in the whole wide world: Emilio Sosa.
E Sosa 4 Life, bitches!

I could sort of see that Emilio’s collection was impeccable, but I wasn’t wowed by it. Maybe at this point, to paraphrase Jay: “I don’t like his designs because I don’t like him as a person.” But save for his show-stopping finale dress, I actually liked Emilio’s in-season stuff better than his tasteful but dull collection.

Judgment time!

The judges, including special guest star Faith Hill, were pretty much blown away by all three collections. Kudos to all.

They started with Seth Aaron.
Heidi had to admit that she “weally, weally liked it.”
And the judges agreed that his collection was bold and exciting.
As usual, Seth Aaron was guilty of over-working some pieces, but Nina found the whole thing “very editorial.” Score.

Next Emilio.
Faith Hill floved his coats.
All felt that his collection was very commercial. But they feared perhaps he had dialed it down a little too much.
“I wonder if you made a line, not a collection,” said Michael Kors.

Finally, Mila. The judges spent a lot of time patting themselves on the back for suggesting that she edge out her models.
“It made a really big difference,” they all agreed, practically high fiving eachother.
They also liked Mila’s use of texture.
“Whenever you played with shine, it really turned me on,” said Michael Kors. Creepy!

The 3 designers were sent backstage so the judges could deliberate. I have to say, it was truly suspenseful. I had no idea who was going to win.

Back on stage they come . . .
Mila is sent packing first. (Sad face.)

Then it comes down to Seth Aaron vs. Emilio.

“Seth Aaron. . . congratulations!” announces Heidi.

And with that, Emilio’s schlumpy, defeated posture got even schlumpier and more defeated than usual.

He kind of oozed off the stage in defeat.

Then he quoted Anthony: “The King does not always wear the crown.” (Somehow, this was more charming when Anthony said it.)

Anyway, squee! Seth Aaron won! Never been the biggest fan of his work, but he did put on a helluva show. And he seemed like such a sweetheart. (I’m just going to conveniently choose to forget that he was inspired by the Third Reich.) And the best part? In the time it took you to read this blog, Seth Aaron has actually designed 6 new coats!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Not so Fast! The Project Runway recap

My dad used to tell me a joke about an army commander who didn’t know how to break the news that one of his soldier’s mother had died. So he lined up the squad and said, “Everyone with a mother step forward. Not so fast, Jones.”

I mention this because that’s sort of how it was for Mila and Jay, right?

“Congratulations,” said Heidi. “You’ve made it to Bryant Park!” (Not so fast, Mila and Jay.)

“Let’s toast to. . . Bryant Park!” said Tim. (Not so fast, Mila and Jay.)

And here’s your huge personal work station! (Not so fast, Mila and Jay.)

Made for some awkward moments.

Anyway, it was “Tim out of water” week—always a treat. Seasons past, we’ve seen Tim on the beach, on the back of a bicycle built for two, on a blanket at a backyard BBQ as grimy children climbed all over him. What could be next for our dapper hero?

First stop, Vancouver, WA to meet up with Seth Aaron and his cute family.

Do you ever have one of those nightmares where you’ve just about finished the thesis or the big project and you find out that you did everything wrong? Maybe you read the wrong book or you accidentally wrote the whole thing in invisible ink or you lost all your notes?

Well, Seth Aaron lived that nightmare. The man had a studio filled with clothing—he had obviously been mainlining Red Bull for weeks—and Tim said something to the effect of: “This is all very lovely. Now start again.”

You could see for a second that Seth Aaron was thinking, “Dude, you’re messing with me.”

But Tim Gunn is no dude. And he does not mess.

Tim’s reasoning was this: What Seth Aaron had was a room filled with Seth Aaron clothing (Sgt. Pepper jackets for all). Which is fine and lovely, but isn’t going to win Project Runway.

“I only challenge you because I know you can do this,” said Tim, kindly, as Seth Aaron attempted to pick his jaw up from the floor.

Seth Aaron managed to recover enough to take Tim back to the house and show off his family and share a hilarious slide show of his unfortunate hair choices through the years.

And. . .trampoline! Yup, Seth Aaron can now proudly say that he has contributed to the great tradition of Tim's "Where's Gunn?" moments, as he arranged for Tim—suit legs rolled up, shoes off—to hop up and down on a backyard trampoline. Of course, Tim fell over.

Next stop, Emilio in New York City, where we meet Emilio’s two big brothers, who have been given explicit instructions (by Emilio) to talk about how awesome their kid brother is.

Emilio takes Tim back to his studio to see his progress and— how did I not pick up on this before?—it finally occurs to me that Tim absolutely hates Emilio.

I mean, it was there the whole time, plain as the zippers on Seth Aaron’s soon-to-be-incinerated jackets.

Tim never has a kind word to say about Emilio’s clothing, never seems enthused when Emilio wins. Can barely make eye contact with the guy.

Emilio started by confidently showing off his collection and, I must say, it was brutal.
“This is my new color obsession,” said Emilio, holding up several garments in a truly offensive shade. “What would you call it?”
I dunno. . .
Pea soup that’s been sitting in the sun too long?

“There’s a lack of sophistication here,” said Tim, unkindly. “And it looks kind of. . old.”

So Emilio got defensive and Tim kept trying to explain and Emilio kept cutting him off and it was. . .well, tense.

Next, Tim is off to L.A. to meet Mila, where she predictably lives in an impeccable world of black-and-white and color blocking and gentility.
Yes, she has a (damn cute) Dalmatian named Ziggy and her parents are lovely and her boyfriend is just kind of there, allowing Mila to be the sun and stars in her own perfectly ordered universe.

Tim mostly dug her collection but was worried that some of her pieces seemed a bit matronly.
This concerned Mila, because she mostly just wants to beat Jay.
“I don’t want to lose that that little . . .”—and here Lifetime cut off the word, but we can only assume she said “pygmy.”

Finally to San Francisco to meet Jay and his lookalike mom. (Slap a faux-hawk and a cheekily low-cut tee on that woman and she could BE Jay.)

Again, Tim liked some of what he saw, but felt that Jay overworked his collection. In particular, he held up this bizarre, shredded sleeve concept that Jay was working on and said: “Qu'est que ce?”

“Don’t worry Tim,” said Jay. “I have the ball. . .on my side.”
(Luckily, Jay won’t be displaying a collection of popular idioms at Bryant Park. )

Back in New York, Mila and Jay are the first to arrive at the suite. Of course.
They are forced to have a conversation with each other, which Jay finds intense.
“I’m really not such a bad guy,” says Mila.
Okay, it’s not exactly warm and fuzzy, but it’s kind of a détente and Mila even says that she found it cathartic.

Emilio and Seth Aaron come in and then Tim Gunn shows up and hug everyone heartily, except for Emilio (it was there the whole time, people! the whole time!), to whom he gives a wan hand squeeze.

To the studio they go, where Jay and Mila must suffer the indignity of sharing the aforementioned workspace and Tim breaks the news that they’ll have a mere 3 hours to show off their 3 best looks.

Brandise, Mila’s model, arrives with a new severe bob and her transformation is complete. She now looks more like Mila and Maya than Mila and Maya do.

So the 6 looks go down the runway and both have done well, sticking to their normal styles but turning up the volume.
The judges are impressed.

“So who should go to Bryant Park?” asks Heidi.
“Jay,” says Michael Kors, definitively.
“Mila,” says Heidi, definitively.
It’s time for Nina to break the tie.
“I don’t know!” says Nina, twirling her hair coquettishly. “It’s just so hard.” This is a side of Nina we’ve never seen before. I don’t think I like it.
So Nina’s clearly going to be of no use whatsoever and, as they went to the commercial, I thought: We’re about to find out who wields more power on this show: Heidi or Michael.

I was praying for Heidi.

“Mila. . .congratulations, you’re going to Bryant Park.” (For reals, this time.)
Yay! Heidi is all-powerful!
Mila gets to go. She gets to drink the whole glass of champagne and use the entire work station! And Jay is still proud and still thinks he has the ball on his side!

I must say, I’m very excited for next week because, with the exception of what we’ve seen from Mila, we have no idea what’s coming down that runway. Seth Aaron was pretty much forced to start anew, and Emilio admitted that his collection had changed radically since he was featuring the color so ugly it had no name.

It’s anyone’s game, people! Can’t wait!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Step Right In It! The Project Runway recap

Something truly terrifying came down the runway last night, something so disturbing, so horrifying, so unprecedented in its sheer awfulness, that both Michael Kors and Heidi Klum had to leap from their seats and touch it just to make sure that it was real.

I am referring, of course, to polyester. And since it was Anthony who used the dreaded fabric, it wasn’t looking good for him.

And to think, the show started off on such a high note—with a trip to the circus!

Yes, Ringling Bros. did a special performance just for the contestants. If you ask me, it’s always uncomfortable when there are more people on stage than there are in the audience—you have to make a big show of applauding and laughing and no one knows where to look (except, of course, for Jay, who focused on the hot, shirtless men). (A side note: Were there always hot shirtless men in the circus? When did this start and why didn’t I get the memo?)

The challenge: Design a look inspired by the circus without making it too costumey. (And let me just say this now: On the “don’t make it too costumey” front, the designers didn’t exactly excel.)

Off to Mood, where Swatch, the Mood dog, wondered why all these polka dots and stripes were whizzing by.
“Taste level, people!” he barked.

Back at the studio, Emilio is having a running commentary on his own awesomeness. Which, I assume is just him saying out loud what he is always thinking inside.

Tim came in to check on everyone’s work.
“How is everyone?” he asked.
And for the second time this season, the designers gave no response.
Staggered by this rudeness, Tim regroups and tries to help everyone save face: “Well, I’m just going to walk around and talk to you individually” he says, always one to smooth over an awkward social situation.

In what would later lead to one of the cutest moments of the season, Tim told Anthony to trust his own “viscera” and not foray into “contrivances.”
“I thought I needed a pattern book, but what I needed was a dictionary!” quipped Anthony. (FYI: That was not the cute moment I was referring to.)

Tim felt Emilio’s dress needed color. AwesomeEmilio disagreed.
“I got this, Tim,” said AwesomeEmilio. (Later, he would add more color to the dress.)

So turns out, Mila and Jay really do hate each other, even though it’s hard to imagine Jay mustering up the energy to dislike someone, let alone hate them. 

Mila goes on about how Jay doesn’t have the textile knowledge to show at Bryant Park and Jay says that he thinks Mila is incapable of putting on a dramatic show.

“I only say this because I dislike her as a person,” he says, as if this somehow justifies everything.

On the runway, Michael Kors is more obsessed with penises than usual.
“It looks like a big blue condom,” he says of Anthony’s polyester mistake.
“A gentleman might fill out that crotch,” he says of Seth Aaron’s crazy crotch pants.

The looks are, well, costumey.
Seth Aaron and Mila did sort of dueling tranny referee outfits, with black and white stripes and shocks of color.
Jay did Sergeant Pepper on the top, office happy hour on the bottom.
I have no idea what circus Anthony went to, as his dress looked like the polyester version of everything else he makes.
And Emilio, well, he did it again. Emilio is quite possibly having the single best run of any contestant in the history of Project Runway. I mean, has anybody ever won 4 in a row before? I just wish I could warm up to the guy a little more.

Then what is always my favorite part: The contestants have to say why they belong in the competition and pick who they think should join them in Bryant Park.

Seth says something about his vision and expert tailoring and picks Emilio and Jay.

Jay says something along the lines of, “I deserve to go to Bryant Park because I got this far,” which is dumb, as they all have gotten this far. He picks Seth Aaron and Anthony. (Also, by not picking Emilio, he has lost all credibility.)

Mila tells the judges she thinks it is her time and she picks Emilio and Seth Aaron.

AwesomeEmilio gives a from-the-heart soliloquy on how awesome he is and picks Seth Aaron and Mila.

And here’s where Anthony does the cutest thing. He says that he just “needs to get to my space and trust my own viscera.”
You see what he did there? He used Tim Gunn’s vocabulary word. I laughed out loud at that. Indeed, it was the first time I had ever LOL’d over something Anthony said. Shortly thereafter, he was eliminated. (Oh, for the record, he picked Emilio and Jay.)

So Emilio is going to Bryant Park. Duh.
Seth Aaron is going to Bryant Park. I can hardly wait to see his Babes in Toyland meets Forever 21 collection.
Anthony, as mentioned, is out.

So it comes down to Mila and Jay.
I cheered when Mila is “in.”
But I booed when Jay is also “in.”
Sorry, but I really don’t think the guy deserved it. His designs are so half-hearted, so “meh.”
So anyway, the two of them are going to do a mother effin design-off, a la Rami and Chris, with only one collection showing at Bryant Park.

Here’s my conspiracy theory on why Jay is also in: For those of you who watch Models of the Runway, also seen on these fine Lifetime networks, there’s a little competition raging between Mila’s model (Brandise) and Jay’s model (Brittany). I swear that they kept both Jay and Mila to keep that little drama going. Because it turns out a show about a bunch of models is totally boring without Miss Jay and Tyra.

Next week, we meet the people who hang out with Mila, Jay, Seth Aaron, and Emilio—by choice!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Premature Evacuation: The Project Runway recap

I’m trying to figure out the exact moment that Maya knew she was going to leave the show.

Was it back in the girl’s dorm, when she and Mila began their morning ritual of subconsciously mirroring each other’s behavior?

Was it when she got the assignment to design (yet another) gown for Heidi?

Or was it a spontaneous decision? Did she just walk away from her little work station—it was totally abandoned, you guys!—and calmly tell Tim the news?

The reason I ask is this: She didn’t seem rattled or flustered or even slightly unsure of her decision. She told the group she was leaving with the same equanimity one might say, “I think I’ll have the omelet this morning.” Or “I’ve decided to take up jogging.”

Her calmness aside, the questions still remain: Did she do the right thing? And did anyone see this coming? (Yes, say the people who saw the spoiler-iffic promos during the week. Thanks, Lifetime.)

Never once did Maya complain about feeling overwhelmed or unprepared. It was more like, “Why the hell aren’t I winning?” There was nothing about her work, her attitude, her performance that said: I’m in over my head.

And yet.

Hopefully, we’ll see Maya again at the “Watch What Happens” wrap-up show. But I suspect we’ll never know the real reason for her departure. I’m just not buying this, “My vision wasn’t ready yet” line. Girl came out of the womb ready for Bryant Park.

Anyway, the designers all seemed genuinely shocked and sad over her departure. And I particularly felt bad for Mila, who will no doubt miss her little Mini Me most of all. She should take comfort in the fact that model Brandise could play the body double for either lead character in Sewn Asunder: The Mila and Maya Story.

So, with Maya gone, that leaves a slot open for the return of one auf’d designer.
(I love how in the Lifetime promo they showed Anthony, Jesse, and. . .Ping as the 3 possible returnees. Oh, Ping. I wish. So hard.)

Yup, Anthony was back—all sunny and “thank bejesus” and “kiss my grits” as  usual.

I would’ve preferred the return of a female contestant. . . but then again. . . . oh, it’s just too easy.

So back to the challenge. Design a red carpet dress for the key grip of Project Runway. I mean, uh, very, very, very famous celebrity Heidi Klum.

Everyone starts doing their thing:

Jay makes his homage to Sir Mix A Lot.
Seth Aaron does his Elvira: Queen of the Night getup.
Mila does some sort of nice cocktail dress for a Sunday pool party in Boca.
Jonathan starts breaking out all his mad designin’ skillz.
Anthony does a gown to be featured in his Pepe le Pew collection.
And Emilio, well, just stand back and let the man work.

Heidi comes in and rains on almost everyone’s parade. She tells Jonathan she likes everything about his dress—except for the dress part. She tells Jay that she doesn’t want any junk in the trunk, so he needs to start backing that dumptruck up. (She also allows him to cop a glimpse at her boobies, thus creating the single most wasted supermodel booby glimpse in the history of television.) She tells Mila that everyone else’s dress is better than hers. (Ouch.)

Jonathan is most flummoxed by Heidi’s appearance, so he starts his dress all over again. And then his second dress sucks perhaps harder than the first. So he starts again. Is the third time the charm?

Runway day. And Heidi makes a little jokey-poo : “In fashion, one day you’re in and the next day you’re out. And, then”—looking at Anthony— “maybe the next day you’re in again.” Har.

An actual B-list celebrity, Jessica Alba, is the fourth judge. Why didn’t they trot her out earlier in the show? It would’ve saved Heidi the awkward experience of disappointing a million Project Runway fans when she was the “big celebrity” who walked into the room.

I wasn’t totally feeling the love for Anthony’s black and white gown, were you? I sort of felt like it’s what I might’ve designed my first day at dressmaking school. But Jessica Alba lurrrrved it, so what do I know?

As for Emilio. What can I say? I thought his gown was perfection.

So. . .both Anthony and Emilio win! (Heidi is going to wear Emilio’s dress and Jessica Alba will wear Anthony’s.)

Emilio is en fuego, people! That’s 3 wins in a row, for those in a Project Runway fantasy league.

The bottom two are Mila and Jonathan. And Jonathan is . . .out.

He’s totally gracious about it and doesn’t say, “It totally sucks that Anthony gets to come back and win and I’m out on my patootie. Where’s my second chance? Huh? Huh?”

Luckily, he has a date tomorrow with Amy for brunch, mani-pedis, and a “Real Housewives” marathon. That always lifts a guy’s spirits.