On Top Chef the word is “palate.”
And on Project Runway it’s “taste.”
It’s the thing that separates the amateurs from the pros, the wannabes from the winners. But in both cases, it’s an elusive, and apparently intrinsic quality.
The way Nina Garcia questions a designers’ taste level, with a sneer on her face, it’s like she’s challenging their very reason for existing. She clearly sees good taste as an indication of superior breeding, perhaps even superior moral fiber. (In the halls of Marie Claire magazine, “Your mama has a questionable taste level” is the ultimate put down.)
And I’ll never forget the way Ilan sniffed imperiously to Marcel on Top Chef: “Check your palate.”
Okay, so maybe a palate is an objective thing—I guess there are certain ways to quantify one’s sensitivity to flavors.
But isn’t taste kinda, you know, personal? And, at the risk of being controversial, isn’t “good taste” a bit of a cliché?
Classic, simple, clean lines, blah, blah, blah. The judges’ obsession with good taste may very well be the reason Gretchen beat Mondo, still the bone-headiest decision in the history of Project Runway.
(Also, if Nina and Michael Kors have such damned good taste, why do they always love the tacky crap that Bert farts out? But I digress.)
All this taste stuff particularly pertains to Laura this week.
Laura, with all her Upper East Side certainty, is absolutely convinced that she has good taste.
When she hears that Nina Garcia has—gasp!—questioned her taste level, she shrugs: “I think my style is TOO refined.”
Normally, I’d agree. But, um, what was she thinking this week? Seriously. Her chevron-striped top with clashing maxi-skirt made me not just question her taste level, but her sanity. Get a psychiatrist on the set! Stet!
The thing that was doubly weird about this was, Laura didn’t even seem to know that it was a controversial pairing of fabrics. If she had said, “I know. I’m taking a risk. I’m channeling my inner Mondo”—I would’ve understood. But she was all like, “Really? You think these fabrics clash? I don’t see it.” Girl, check yourself, before you wreck yourself.
Anyway, who wants to hear my theory about why they did two 70s-themed shows in a row?
None of you? Tough noogies, it’s my blog.
Obviously, they plan the shows well in advance—you don’t just get a star as big as “socialite” Olivia Palermo at the last second, people!—but I suspect the plan looked a bit like this:
Episode 9: Contestants design for TBD band.
Episode 10: 70s theme.
Then they found out that the band was a bunch of smelly, dashiki lovin’ hippies and they were saddled with two 70s shows in row.
Luckily, the designers tanked in such epic fashion last week, this show was hastily dubbed as a chance for redemption, the great 70s do-over.
And while we’re on the subject of the 70s, you know what really gets my goat? When people claim to have no knowledge of things that happened before they were born. Yeah, I’m talkin to you, Josh.
All his “waaa, waaa, I can’t design for the 70s because I was born in the 80s” shit was workin’ my last nerve. (And I’m glad Viktor called him out on it.)
Yeah, Josh, if only there had been some books or movies that took place in the 70s! And if only there was this miraculous glowing box that contained an ocean of pictures and video and information you could access!
Dude, I wasn’t alive during the French Revolution, but I still know who frickin’ Napoleon is.
(Ah, I feel better now.)
So the other big dramah of this episode was Anya losing her money. She had her $100 envelope stuffed into her halter top, the way my grandma used to have a Kleenex stuffed up her sleeve.
Probably a bad idea.
And when she lost the money at Mood—more face time for random, do-gooder Mood employees! and Swatch mysteriously nowhere to be found!—you had the sense that she figured Tim was going to let her buy the fabric anyway. Because when you’re Anya, and you’re gorgeous, and effortlessly stylish and actually sort of loveable, people must do shit for you, like, all the time.
But Tim was dispensing the tough love today: Anya could borrow money from her peers—if they had any to spare (unlikely, in light of the skimpy $100 budget). And she could use muslin back at the studio.
Laura generously gave her 9 cents and Anthony Ryan gave her 11 bucks.
$11.09 to make an outfit. Bad times.
(But ain’t that the way it always goes on Project Runway? The person saddled with the biggest handicap always seems to excel, don’t they? That whole “necessity is the mother of invention” thing is a thing)
I suppose I should mention that Tim drops by later and tells everyone they have to create a second, one-piece look for $50, for those who are actually turning to today’s recap for “recapping purposes.” (What’s up with that?)
A few other thoughts before we head to the runway:
•Of course, Viktor wore a little custom-made safari outfit as a child. If his mother hadn’t arranged for round-the-clock Mossad bodyguards, I bet he would’ve gotten beaten up a lot.
•Along those lines, Viktor is wearing his “I’m the frontrunner” and “I’m super competitive” badge rather proudly these days, isn’t he?
•I love that Kimberly’s mother was a “secretary” in the 70s. And that she wore snazzy, secretary pantsuits.
•Can we put a moratorium on Bert making dirty jokes in the studio? Okaythanksbye.
Runway time! As mentioned earlier, today’s very special guest judge is “socialite Olivia Palermo” who is now some sort of Piperlime guest editor. (Please.)
You know how when you were a kid and you made a funny face and your mom told you that if you didn’t watch out it was going to stick that way?
My theory is that, at the age of 3, Olivia Palermo smelled something nasty—spoiled milk, or perhaps she walked past the Yankee Candle store at the mall—and the face just stuck.
This is who she reminds me of:
She’s a delight, I tell you. A pure delight!
So okay. . .here’s how it all went down.
The top 3 were: Anya, Viktor, and, uh, Bert.
The bottom 3 were: Joshua, Laura, and Anthony.
Joshua got the best (and by “best,” I mean “worst”) critique.
Michael Kors said that his plaid pants “violated every fashion law of nature.”
Then his work was accused of being more 1870s than 1970s.
(“They didn’t specify,” Josh quipped, much to his credit.)
Then “guest editor” Olivia Palermo said that a chiffon tie might’ve “enrichened” his second look. (Oh editor, edit thyself. )
Nina flat-out called his look tragic.
But they were hard on Anthony Ryan, too. I loved when Heidi called Anthony Ryan’s looks “two boring girls in schmatas.” It’s always a happy day when Yiddish and German overlap and Heidi sounds like my Great Aunt Ethel.
And Michael Kors called them “hippie sister wives.” Lolz.
And yes, they brandished the dread “t”-word when discussing Laura’s bizarre misstep. But she was safe.
On the pro side, Bert named every middling 70s actress he could think of, just to show off to Josh.
“I call my look Shelly Hack meets Ali McGraw meets the chick who played Gabe Kotter’s wife on Welcome Back Kotter” he said.
For some reason, the judges were mesmerized.
They also liked Viktor. . .as did I. But I gotta say, Viktor is becoming a little excellent in a boring way to me lately. Maybe it’s because I’m just not that fond of him personally. But everything he does is impeccable, perfectly tailored, and a tad. . .dull. (But oh, that taste level!)
And Anya, well, she wins! Yay! Her outfit felt spirited, and like a vacation, say the judges. It’s so nice, for a change, when good things happen to gorgeous, talented, charmed-in-life people. (Okay, not really hatin’. I’m girl-crushing on Anya as much as the next recapper.)
Bonus prize! Bert’s simple dress—not the Shelly Hack disco motion sickness one—is also going to be sold on Piperlime. So good for gramps.
It comes down to Joshua vs. Anthony Ryan and Anthony is . . .out!
He’d been fading in recent weeks, I must say. And much as I liked him I wasn’t too upset to see him go.
I can’t say the same for Heidi, who practically cried, and Tim Gunn, who openly wept.
Geez, people, get a hold of yourselves!
He’ll be just fine. He may not have won Project Runway, but at least he still has both of his balls! (Still too soon?)