Saturday, February 20, 2010

By popular demand

Me in the fashion show. I was not wearing a dress, as advertised, but a splendiferous purple pantsuit. Also, I was 5 here, not 7. Note the stunned old lady.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Rugrats of the Runway: The Project Runway recap

Children! Puppies! Clown pants! Welcome to what is quite possibly the cutest episode of Project Runway ever.

As the show starts, the designers are informed that they will be working with new models this week: Yes, little girls. Some with curls. All seriously adorable.

One by one, the children tentatively step forward and state their name, their age, and their appointed designer. Watching at home, I felt like an anxious mama at the school production of "A Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving."

"Ben! Ben!" I whispered out loud, when one little kumquat struggled for her designer's name.

Upon seeing these irresistible moppets, Jesse's first response was: "Oh crap! This is going to be a nightmare." Mr. Warmth, that guy.

Indeed, most of the designers seem put off by their pint-sized charges: "I'm scared of children," says Jonathan.

"Honey, these little girls ain't got no booties and no breasts," complains Ant. . .oh, do I really need to bother telling you who said that?

Only Amy has an appropriate reaction to her new mini-muse: "I'm ecstatic." (Let's check in with Amy later and see if she stays ecstatic, shall we?)

Also, biographical background alert! Both Seth Aaron and Emilio have daughters. And apparently Seth Aaron's 11-year-old girl is some sort of budding Imelda Marcos of the purse world.

"Little girls love purses," he explains. "My daughter has 200."
(And you keep telling yourself that's normal, Seth Aaron.)

Most insane child-related comment of the day? From Jay: "Children nowadays are very fashion forward. Especially when they're 8." (Yes, Jay, 8-year-olds are always talking about Hannah Montana, fairies, and the minimalist urban aesthetic of Alexander Wang.)

On to Mood, where the rarely seen jaunty little black-and-white Mood dog makes an appearance. I don't know his name, but I imagine it's Aloysius or Reginald or some such thing. As the camera pans past them, Tim Gunn and Aloysius are contemplating each other, clearly bonding over their mutual distaste for all things garish and unkempt.

Back at the studio, there is a Project Runway first: Jonathan does a spot-on Michael Kors impression.
After all these seasons, and all these Santino wannabes doing their lame Tim Gunns (nobody will ever do it better than Santino, not even Tim Gunn himself), Jonathan made Michael Kors his own.

"It's as if Memoirs of a Geisha met Barney," he imitated, of the ill-advised kimono sleeved romper he was designing. Not only did he get the adenoidal vocal inflections down perfectly, but that is totally something Kors would say.

Another first? Maya attempts to bond with her fellow contestants by mocking her own affinity for color blocking. It's actually kind of sweet, in a "Mom tries to be down" way, when she says: "Add some color blocks to your life!" Points for effort.

It's Maya, I think, who also notices that Tim Gunn has been quiet—too quiet. Indeed, he is back with a new wrinkle to the challenge: The designers have to make a complementary outfit for their adult model to accompany the child down the runway.

Most of the designers are pretty stoked about this new challenge, except for Emilio, who had gone with a little girl's fantasy dress of frothy pink frills. (Which, by the way, looked like a pink tent on the runway, but I digress.)
"How do you make a pink cupcake for a 6 foot Amazon?" he sighed.

Tim Gunn comes through and checks on their work, liking everyone's designs, but a little concerned for Amy. It's clear she is making clown pants. Whether they will be laughing clowns or crying clowns, only time will tell.

On the runway, the little dumplings couldn't be fiercer. I think I actually spotted one doing the patented Tyra back arch.

(This all made me flashback to a favorite picture of me from when I was kid: I must've been about 7. Somehow, against all logic and reason, my mother had signed me up to participate in a local fashion show. Let me tell you, I was an awkward little kid, not exactly what you would call a gazelle. So there I am, kind of galumphing my way down the runway, my arms dangling by my sides in a somewhat ape-like fashion, wearing some god-awful dress, and there's a proper looking woman in the crowd, with her dainty hand held up to her mouth, giving a look that could best be described as: "Oh good heavens." I love that photo.)

For the most part, I was unimpressed with the designs. I seriously hated Jesse's asymmetrical dress set which mysteriously landed him in the Top 3.

Jay's sophisticated and chic plum outfit was just fine, but hardly captured the spirit of the competition.

Ultimately, I did like the winning outfits by Seth Aaron best. I thought the adult jacket was pretty damn fierce and the child look was appropriate and adorable.

The Bottom 3 were Amy (so the clown cried), Jonathan ("tornado of toilet paper"), and Janeane ("a cheap mall outfit.")

And turns out the pint-sized models are exactly like their adult counterparts, with Janeane's little dewdrop totally throwing her under the bus: "The dress pushed into my skin!" she said, wrinkling her tiny little evil nose.

Amy's girl, however, stood by her designer, despite being clad in a shredded orange and blue milkshake: "I would trust her fashion sense," she said, trustingly. (Alert! Alert! This is a child who should immediately be given the "don't follow the strange man with the candy into the van" lecture—the sooner the better.)

Ultimately, it it was Janeane's time to go.

Goodbye little Janeane. You are pretty and your husband seemed nice over the phone and you give good reaction shots, and nobody can take that away from you. However, this design thing? Maybe not so much.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Klum and Doom: The Project Runway recap

I finally figured out why they keep Janeane around, despite a lack of this thing I like to call “design talent.”

She gives great reaction shots.

For example, when Heidi told Amy that she had immunity for the next challenge—not exactly a stunning revelation considering that Amy had won the previous challenge—Janeane looked so shocked, it was as though Heidi had just revealed that she was actually a man.

Later, when Tim Gunn broke out the hyperbole machine: “Biggest challenge in the history of Project Runway!” “Cover of Marie Claire!!” “Your cover model is none other than. . .Heidi Klum!!!”—Janeane matched him word for word with escalating expressions of delight, surprise, and glee.

If she was auditioning for the part of “happy excited girl,” she definitely would not have been cast, due to ridiculous over-acting.

I actually find it kind of endearing.

Not endearing? Mila, apparently. Because every reality show—and every social circle for that matter—needs a villain (where’s Meana Irina when you need her?), Mila has been designated this season’s resident bitch.

Indeed, when they did a flashback to last week, when Mila bounded backstage to triumphantly tell her fellow contestants that she was “Top 2,” they stared at her with what can only be described as “sheep-like indifference.” (Even Janeane remained unmoved, which is saying a lot.)

“Maybe it’s about jealousy,” speculated Mila.
(Or maybe it’s because you put air quotes around the words “Top 2”).

Anyway, so yes. . .the cover of Marie Claire magazine is a pretty big deal.
Also a big deal? Me finally learning that it really is pronounced “Mary” —as in “she who cavorts with a little lamb” and not “Marie”—as in “she who cavorts with her Mormon brother.” Live and learn.

Off to Mood they go, where Mila is so excited to be designing for Heidi Klum she actually wipes out on the floor.
Designer down! Designer down!

(I’m actually surprised this doesn’t happen more often, what with the yards of fabric and all the running and those pesky buckets of water Tim Gunn has been known to plant for his amusement.)

The work room is funereally quiet. It’s actually quite possibly the dullest minute of Project Runway ever—just people working diligently in silence—until Seth Aaron decides to break out the crazy by singing random non-sequitors:
“I like 80s pop rock!”
“I shake a helluva martini.”
I was half-expecting a “Seth Aaron says relax”—but, alas, it never came.

So Tim Gunn stops by the studio and mentions, again, that this is the “Biggest Challenge in Project Runway history” (unspoken, but implied: “Well, at least since Nina Garcia was fired from Elle and Marie Claire became the new sponsor of the show.”)

Mostly, he thinks everyone is putting a little too much wickety wack on their garments.
“Use an editing eye” he tells both Anna and Anthony.
“Make sure you’re not making clown clothes” he tells Janeane. (Ironic, since she’s practically a mime.)
“Don’t make it into a joke,” he tells Ben of his hilarious metallic belt.

What he should’ve said—and maybe it’s just me—is: Why is everyone designing in taupe? What part of “needs to pop on the newsstands” and “Heidi Klum is a pale white woman with blonde hair” are you not understanding?
Really, it was like a Beige Convention in there.

On the runway: Anthony really did use his editing eye, plus a lovely shade of turquoise blue and made a dress that was textural and flattering and beautiful. I didn’t know he had it in him.

Amy, my horse in this race, must’ve been spacing out or texting or making spitballs when Marie Claire editor Joanna Coles said not to use a busy pattern, because not only did she use an extremely busy pattern, she wondered why others hadn’t followed suit.

Ben’s dress was actually quite cool, in a futuristic way, but the best part was the back, which wouldn’t work well on a magazine cover, unless Heidi was doing some sort of coy, over the shoulder look.

In an unprecedented move for Project Runway, the judges asked Emilio to cut the straps off his red dress—and he did it.
The judges commended him for his willingness to deface his own design, but I thought it was a bush league move.
Would they ask Da Vinci to paint a mustache on the Mona Lisa? And more importantly, would Da Vinci oblige?
(Also, the dress looked better WITH the straps. Just sayin'.)

Bottom two were definitely Anna, whose blah little vest, shirt and shorts number were described by Joanna Coles as “three dishes that when eaten together that make you nauseous” and Janeane, whose beach-inspired dress was described as “a polluted sea with plastic bottles.”

(Michael Kors: Surrender now. You brought an American education to a metaphor fight with a Brit. You never had a chance.)

So Anthony wins, deservedly.
And it comes down to besties Anna and Janeane. If Anna had worked on her reaction shots, maybe pulled out an “eat me!” when Coles called her dress nauseating, or screamed “Yes!” with a double fist-pump when Tim said they’d be designing for Heidi, maybe she’d be the one sticking around.

Instead, we have Janeane and her boundless enthusiasm to push around for another week.

Friday, February 5, 2010

What would Jesus Design?: The Project Runway recap

Oh God. I hate Very Special Episodes of Project Runway. How am I supposed to snark on women who have survived heart ailments? Not cool, Lifetime. Not cool.

So the show starts with Mila sitting next to herself at the vanity mirror. Oh wait, that's Maya. Seriously, one of these broads has got to go.

Tim tells the contestants about the Campbell Soup heart challenge: They have to design a red evening gown for women personally affected by heart disease. The gown also has to incorporate the Campbell Soup branding. (It would be super awesome if the gown had to incorporate some actual Campbell's soup, but, alas, it was not meant to be. . .)

So let's just get this out of the way upfront: Everyone is amazing and everyone is inspiring and everybody cries. . . (Sorry. I don't do sentimentality well.)

But while being amazed and inspired and brought to tears by their clients,  the designers are also freaked out because they are working with the dreaded "Real Women." Oh fashion industry, you are so silly!

Also, both Seth Aaron and Anthony think that their regular models are size 4 to 6. Seriously, they both said that. (If Seth Aaron and Anthony are designing the model body as a Size 6, then I would wear size "Beached Whale" in their clothing.)

And because everyone loves a good sight gag, Tim Gunn apparently left a bucket of water in the studio for Janeane to accidentally dunk her dress into.

"This would happen to me," she says, which would be very low on the list of things I'd say after dunking my dress in a bucket of water after: "Why the hell  is there a bucket of water in the studio?" and "Who the hell put a bucket of water in the studio?" But maybe I'm just more naturally curious than she is.

At one point, cute little Jonathan looks disparagingly at his garment and says (and I quote): "This is more cooter than couture." Uh, Lifetime censor department? You've got some splainin' to do.
(Next week, Seth Aaron will remark that his gown looks like "deez nuts.")

The designers finish their looks and off to the runway they go.

Ben is dressed like a Chippendale dancer and Seth Aaron is dressed like Pee Wee Herman. Oh, dress up time! Fun! Too bad no one else got the memo.

The dresses come down the runway.

Again, a whole lot of meh this week.

Of the top 3:
Didn't love Mila's star dress. She loves a bold graphic, doesn't she?
Thought Maya's little Campbell Soup purse was cute (albeit the kind of thing you can buy in the gift shop after the Warhol exhibit.) But her gown confused me.
Kinda liked Amy's winning dress. And she's my favorite designer, so I was happy to see her win.

The Bottom 3 were Jesse, Anna, and Jesus.
But there was little suspense because Michael Kors said that Jesus's dress was "a check list of everything tacky at once." I'm pretty sure that means he didn't like it.

So Jesus is gone. He, for one, was shocked. And I mean that literally. He was the only person who was shocked. But he took it like a man. (Well, a twee little man-boy, if you prefer.) And you'll all be relieved to know that Jesus never wept.

Perfection takes time...

And on an unrelated note, my Project Runway recap is running late today. Should have it up before dinner. ...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kell on Earth: I'm just not that into it

Last night, I watched Kell on Earth, the new Bravo series about Kelly Cutrone, who owns the fashion publicity and branding firm People's Revolution. I had seen Kelly before, on the MTV series The City, and I found her to be a much-needed dose of caustic truth serum in a world of fake ingenues with their fake jobs in some made-for-TV version of the fashion industry.

There is nothing glamorous or fake about what Kelly does. In fact, her life seems completely devoid of glamour. She seems to exist in permanent crisis mode. Her staff is cowed by her, one girl teetering on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Everyone is encouraged to Be Like Kerry, which means yell a lot, demand things, and belittle, berate, and humilate your underlings whenever possible.

Kelly proudly refers to herself as a bitch, but her team also insists she has a maternal side. (Stockholm syndrome?). She manifests this "maternal side" by inappropriately inserting herself in their private lives. She clearly does this for her own sport and amusement, so it's hard to see this tendency as particularly nurturing. (Most of her staff are pretty blondes who probably learned everything they know about fashion by watching The Hills and slightly older brunette Kelly clones, but there are two gay men. One is your standard-issue overly tanned pretty boy; the other has a goth/punk thing, long stringy hair, and a hang-dog look and nasal voice reminiscent of Project Runway's Santino. He seems less interested in fashion and more interested in cruising cute gay models at Fashion Week.)

On top of being a self-styled bitch, Kelly also sees herself as a whore. In one of the show's most curious details, she is friends with Ashley Dupre—yes that Ashley Dupre, the high-priced call girl who led to Elliot Spitzer's downfall. Last year, Kelly got a lot of bad publicity for letting Dupre sit in the front row of a fashion show. Kelly saw the outrage as the height of hypocrisy. "We're all whores. I just service my clients in a different way." Uh, okay. . .

What's clearing missing from this wholesome tableaux? A 7-year-old girl, of course! Yes, Kelly has a daughter that she keeps stashed away in the apartment over the office where they leave (the father is out of the picture). Kelly thinks that living in the same building where she works is the height of ingenuity. She can pop in to read her little dumpling a story or throw her playfully on the bed, without missing any serious face time at the office. Clearly, she has no issues with work/life boundaries. (For her part, the 7-year-old is upset when mommy doesn't put her front and center at a Chado Ralph Rucci fashion show. I weep for her future.)

Besides being a truly bad pun, the title Kell on Earth pretty much says it all. Kelly's life does seem pretty hellish. Joyless, too. She's miserable. Her staff is miserable. Her clients are entitled jerks. Wow, what's not to like?

On a broader scale, what is with Americans and their fascination with bosses from hell?  On Bravo alone, we have The Millionaire Matchmaker, Tabitha's Salon Takeover, Flipping Out, The Rachel Zoe Project—all shows featuring uber-demanding bosses who never hesitate to crush an employee. There's the curiously long run of Donald Trump's The Apprentice. Plus, that Gordon Ramsey bloke. And the mother of all castrating bosses, Simon Cowell. (Is it a coincidence that many of these scolding superiors are British? Do Americans still have some sort of infantilized need to be told what to do by disapproving Brits? But I digress. . .)

At least Simon and a few of the others are charming. Kelly is sweaty, stressed out, exasperated, and exhausted. That's entertainment? If Bravo says so. . .