Friday, October 19, 2012

Coming to America: The Project Runway recap

Did I win?
Not gonna lie. I never saw that coming.
I had seen Christopher as a frontrunner the whole time (he, modestly enough, had also seen himself as the frontrunner the whole time). But in the end, his collection did disappoint.
Making pretty garments is one thing. And Christopher’s got that down cold. But assembling a strong collection, with a clear point of view that announces to the world who you are as a designer? That’s a whole other can of notions. Melissa, Fabio, and Dmitry all did that a lot better.
But Christopher wins cutest hair and most adorable pout, so there's that.

But Dmitry? Certainly he had been coming on strong in the final weeks: But did he ever actually win a challenge? (Okay, guess he won the print challenge with that clever peek-a-boo print.) But for most of the show he was the bridesmaid, the wingman, the Garfunkel. I always saw him being the “guy who made really impeccable clothing that—shhhh—nobody actually loved.” Boy did I get that wrong. 

The other big surprise of the show? I’ll say it: Fabio’s collection. Talk about going from Drabio to Fabio. He really pumped up the luxe, as Nina and co. told him to do. And suddenly his collection, which had previously seemed like the costumes for a production of Jesus Christ Superstar on Mars! suddenly seemed sort of fresh and innovative and chic. (Still not saying  I’d wear it. But at least I get it.)
(But I was chatting with my friend R2 about this: Why oh why do the judges keep insisting that Fabio is, himself, a good dresser? He looks like the only hipster in the shtetl, a Hari Krishna gone clubbing, an Amish art student during Rumpspringa. NOT a great dresser. And the mystery of the beard still torments me: Who’s got their money on weak chin?)

Would you let this man dress you?

Melissa’s collection was fabulous and very her (that one straightjacket dress with the binded shoes notwithstanding). I would definitely wear every single one of her pieces, except for this, cause really, who the hell could pull this off?

Besides this model, that is

(Also probably wouldn’t wear the leather bathing suit either. In public at least. )

But back to Dmitry’s collection. I’m sorry I’d never wear it. I feel like those garments would be sold in a boutique with Russian house music on the speakers and salespeople who smell like bad cologne. (I did sort of like that one dress with the geometrical pattern and the frills, tho. Not gonna hate.)

Frills gone right

Frills gone wrong

 (Where did Michael Kors get the idea that ALL women want this jacket? Not this gal.)

Anyhoo, let’s look back the show, which was, let’s face it All Filler, Not Much Killer.

It starts out with all the designers being, quite literally, haunted by the voices of Nina, Heidi, and MK—sort of the way Dorothy was haunted by the Wicked Witch.
“More expensive looking!” the voices tell Fabio.
“Younger!” the voices tell Dmitry.
“Turn up the volume!” the voices tell Christopher.
“Use color!” the voices tell Melissa.

More luxe!!!!

This is driving them all a little batty, particularly Christopher, who has bags under his eyes and is borderline delirious.

There is so much nervous energy in the room that they woke up Earl, the lone Lifetime FX guy, to illustrate it.
“My nerves are traveling through the screen right now,” Fabio says. And damned if they don’t do some sort of undulating wave effect on my TV screen. Mind. Blown. (Now Earl can go back to his cave).

The producers must’ve promised L’Oreal extra screen time in the finale—as if the whole season hasn’t been one big fat infomercial already—so we have to watch all the designers get extended consultations in hair and makeup.

Lots of product name dropping like, “Oooh, Coral Seduction!” and “I’m just going to go in the Everystyle Curl Mousse.” Etc. Etc.


And because of Christopher’s nervous breakdown, he can’t figure out what to do with his models’ hair.
He takes one poor girl from Bride of Frankenstein to Janelle Monae to Marge Simpson and back again.
Not good.

It’s always cute to see how awed and humbled and nervous the designers are when they get to fashion week. It really is a big deal—and this was a particularly nice, non-catty group of designers. (But note to Christopher: Blood orange really is a thing. And it’s not the same thing as red.)

Actually nervous, even though it looks like they're faking it

They pan the audience as the show is about to begin.
Mondo seems to have taken the Internet’s fake mustache meme to a literal degree and is sporting one that looks exactly like THIS.

Harvey Weinstein is also in the house, which means the winner will not just take home the Project Runway trophy, he will be guaranteed the Best Picture Oscar next year. (My film critic friends are ROFL right now. Trust me.)

Dmitry is talking about his journey to Project Runway: “I left my home when I was 18 with one backpack, a coupla hundred bucks and a huge dream,” he says. The man is good at self-mythologizing. (Later he actually says, unironically, “Winning Project Runway will give me the wings to fly.”)

Fabio is also talking about his emotions. “My whole body is vibrating with positivity right now,” he says.
(Earl looks up for a second, considers it, then goes back to sleep.)

And the show begins. JHud is the guest judge. I agree with the judges. Everyone really did great. And it’s cute to see all their families and loved ones kvelling in the audience.

Afterwards, design insiders pick their favorites. We’ve got fashion editors, the buyer from Lord & Taylor, Joanna Coles, and . . .*record scratching sound*. . .Stephanie Meyers, author of Twilight??? Seriously, the most random people show up at these things.
She’s on Team Dmitry, BTW. (Team Edward is PISSED.)

So Christopher is the first to be eliminated. He’s great, but just not ready.
Then Melissa. Her collection, while young, funky and fresh, was too predictable.
So it comes down to Fabio and Dmitry.

There’s some brief talk of who needs the win more—they all agree that it’s Fabio, whose aesthetic is much more offbeat. That’s a pretty bullshit reason to make someone the winner. (Just sayin’).
So even though Christopher  “demands a recount” (heh) I’m glad Dmitry won over Fabio. I never even expected Fabio to make the finale, to be honest. He definitely exceeded my expectations (and his own: He thought he was going to be the first to be eliminated.) In the end, say what you will about Dmitry, he was much more consistent all season long.

Heidi will now take him back to the dungeon where she keeps all the past winners

Once Dmitry won, I kept waiting for the big reveal where his family from the Motherland was flown in to see him. (Get the feeling that Mama and Papa Sholokhov are none too thrilled that young Dmitry didn’t join the family distillery?) (I made that up. I have no idea what Dmitry’s family does.)
Instead, he has three bleached blonde besties (all future employees in his boutique, no doubt) and then “someone else who’s very excited to see you.” 
Have Mama and Papa Sholokhov forgiven him?
Is it Elena, finally willing to admit her true feelings for him?
Nope. It’s Tim Gunn!
And damned if Tim isn’t all choked up.
“I’m losing it,” he says. Oh, Tim.

So congrats Dmitry: You came to this country with a backpack (unofficial contents of said backpack: tap shoes, a bottle of Drakkar Noir, a pair of leather skinny pants, and a thimble), a charmingly monotone voice, and a dream that you made come true.

I bet you’re feelin’ a whole lot like THIS guy right now.

p.s. Reading my Nashville recaps on Vulture yet? What are you waiting for?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Put a Tibia On It! My Project Runway recap

Here's to good frenemies

Let’s start with my continued frustration over the Fan Favorite Vote.
Look, I don’t mean to get all grassy knolly about Elena being in the lead, but she’s not just winning at this point, she’s running away with the damn thing! (She has 42 percent of the vote; the next closest, Melissa, has 19).

Suck it, haters!

Has anyone gone all CSI on this shit? Has the State Department been notified? Cause this is as shady as a voter ID law in Pennsylvania.

But I digress:
It’s Win a Dream Date With Tim Gunn week, a.k.a. hometown visits. And while I admit nothing will ever top eventual winner Leanne doing a veritable rom-com montage with Mr. Tim on a bicycle built for two, this is still a pretty weak showing.

We start out at the home of Christopher in Massapequa, Long Island. (As an Oceanside girl myself, all I can say is: What up, Lawng Island? How yew doin’?)
I always thought that Christopher had a slightly yiddishkeit intonation to his one-liners and now I know why: In Massapequa the Jews and Italians live and work as one.


So Christopher’s print is inspired by his mother’s bunion surgery or somethin, which is as weird and gross as it sounds.
I like the bony print in abstract, but when he just plants a skeleton of a foot on a skirt, I’m not so sure. (Is Put a Tibia On It the new Put a Bird On It? Discuss among yourselves.)

But he does have a stunning gown, a cool color palette, and this one sort of impeccable coat dress thing.

Tim is fingering a leather mini skirt on his rack. (Heh heh. I said "fingering.")

“Oh, I destroyed that,” Christopher sighs. He thinks his attempt to bleach the leather was a bust, but Tim says it adds an edgy element of surprise. In fact, Tim thinks Christopher should treat all his leather that way.
As always, Tim’s advice is spot-on.

“You should feel great about where you are,” Tim says. “You now have me extremely excited.”

Elena approves!

Then, everyone—including Christopher’s mom and dad, his two sisters and his boyfriend—convenes on the couch for a chat and it reminds me so much of the hometown visits on The Bachelor that I half expect Christopher’s dad to take Tim in the other room and ask him what his intentions are toward his son.
Also, did Christopher’s boyfriend get the short end of the stick or what? He barely had a speaking part—blink and you missed the poor shlub.

Next up, Fabio in NYC.

So Tim has a mixed reaction to Fabio’s collection.
He likes the pastel tones (that makes one of us!) but is baffled by a pair of pants that looks like long johns and Fabios’s clunky platform boots.
“I’m baffled and confused,” Tim says. “It’s malarkey!” he adds. (Or maybe that was Joe Biden; I was flipping back and forth to the debate.)

Then everyone, including Fabio’s Brazilian mother and his boyfriend (who gets a lot more face time), sits on the couch and eats lunch. (If I had Tim Gunn over to my apartment and he was forced to eat lunch while balancing a paper plate on his lap I would just die.)

Elena finds this "gauche"

Next up: Jersey City for Dmitry.
I could cry for poor Dmitry, who has no family, no girlfriend, just an (admittedly sweet) friend’s apartment that he’s staying in.
This ends up with a poignant final scene on the balcony with Tim and Dmitry eating cookies out of a box and drinking tea. I swear, it’s like a scene from some depressing Russian art film.
Anyway,  Dmitry’s collection is all angles and cut-outs and very Power Bitch and, well, Dmitry. I really can’t stand his clothing, but I understand that what he does he does extremely well.

Finally, Melissa in San Francisco.

“It’s a reward in itself just to have Tim Gunn come to your house,” Melissa says. Word.

Tim likes her collection, which is very her—in other words, mostly black and white, with tall collars.

If you ever have a chin zit, Melissa's collars have got you covered

“You have an aura about you that says, I know what I’m doing and I stand behind this,” Tim says. Huh. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Then, because this hometown visit thing has basically been like a series of really bad home movies, the Project Runway producers attempt to “jazz things up” by having Melissa’s family take Tim on a boat.
This probably seemed like a good idea at the time, except everyone’s hair is getting whipped around and you can barely hear the voices over the wind. (This doesn’t apply to Tim, needless to say. His nattiness is impervious to the elements.)

Elena would've worn a hat!

Anyway, everyone is back in New York now, at the studio.
As always, they will show a mini collection to the judges to determine who will be moving on to Mercedes Fashion Week.

I love how they all assess each other’s collections, pretending to be curious/supportive, but secretly just hoping that their collection is better.
Melissa has her 85th crisis of conscience (5 more and she gets a free lunch!), when she decides that her collection is not as ambitious as the guys’.

Christopher is freaking out because he can’t figure out which 3 pieces to show the judges. (Spoiler alert: He makes the wrong choices.)
Fabio has stuck to his guns on the clunky boots. In fact,  he’s doubled down, adding brightly colored laces.
He decides to call the boots “Bean” (debate confusion again?)

Always good to keep a spare "design hat" on the table

Runway time.
The biggest WTF for me was Christopher’s collection.
Why, oh why, did he not pull out his show-stopping gown? This is not a time to lay-up, hold your cards close to your vest.
As Michael Kors said, “Today is the day, kids!”

Good call not to include this, Christopher

Instead, Christopher gave us leather hotpants and very basic, if cute, sportswear.

Look at your life, look at your choices

Dmitry’s collection was made of fug, but very Dmitry.

The only thing uglier than Dmitry's designs is Dmitry's shirt

Fabio’s collection looked like some weird cross between South Beach and the planet Xardar.

"Take me clubbing with your leader"

Melissa’s collection was cool, in that I’d wear it, but boring in that I’d seen it before. And Nina was right. Cut those sleeves girl. (But LOVED the crinkly leather clutches. NEED ONE NAO.)

Which one of these is not like the others? Trick question: They're all the same!

The assessment from the judges:
Fabio’s collection was cool, but needed to look more luxe.
Melissa’s collection needed a wow moment.
Dmitry’s styling needs a complete makeover.
Christopher forgot that this was a "design" competition.

Basically, nobody was great. And so, by each underperforming, they ALL get to advance to Fashion Week.
The most American ending of Project Runway EVER.

Two final, selfish thoughts:
Check out my new gig recapping Nashville over at Vulture, the coolest website on the planet.

If you can find it in your heart to send out a few positive vibes toward my beloved Os tonight, I’d be much obliged. We need all the mojo we can get.

Go Os!!!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Is That Avant-Garde or Is That a Mistake? The Project Runway recap

She should avoid Mitt Romney, just to be on the safe side

Can we all just acknowledge a dirty little secret about Project Runway?
Neither the designers nor the viewers (not this viewer at least) are completely clear on what an avant-garde design is supposed to be.
It’s supposed to be wearable, but not too wearable.
Dramatic, but not costumey.
Bold, but not bizarre.
Cinematic, but not Tim Burton film cinematic.
Basically, avant-garde has to sit in this very narrow pocket, where one step in the wrong direction you didn’t push the envelope enough and another tiny step, you’re some sort of envelope-pushing freak.

Also, what could possibly be more avant-garde than L’Oreal makeup products? (Avon perhaps?)
But yes, this is the Insert Sponsor Awkwardly Into the Challenge challenge, as the designers must create their avant-garde looks to correspond with L’Oreal’s new “Leading Lady” makeup.

Fabio is given the Enchanted Queen

Sonjia is given the Seductive Temptress

Dmitry is given the Wise Mystic (perfect, because Dmitry himself looks like a wise mystic)

Mystical waterfall behind him

Melissa is given the Artsy Muse (perfect, because Melissa herself…well, you get the idea)

File footage of Melissa's recent trip to Boca?

And Christopher is given his choice of “Leading Ladies.” He picks Enchanted Queen. Fabio side-eyes him. It is ON, people.

They have $400 (a small fortune in the Project Runway universe) and 2 days (a lifetime in the Project Runway universe) to work with.

When they get back to Parsons, Sonjia discovers that she left her gold lamé fabric at Mood.
(This totes reminds me of the time I got home from the Giant and realized I’d left my bag with the Pepperidge Farm Geneva cookies back at the store. I will forever refer to that day as Black Tuesday.)

As Sonjia is having this gold lamé crisis, the camera pans ominously over these artsy black and white photos of past castmembers and Tim Gunn, all posing pensively, their hands on their chins. (Or did I just hallucinate that?)

Anyway, Tim Gunn comes to check on their handiwork.
Turns out, Fabio has made a less than thrilling jacket.
Tim Gunn looks at him silently.

Then Fabio (brilliantly) describes the 3 phases of Tim Gunn silence:

1. Hand on face (as recently documented in those dramatic black and white photos)
2. Crossed arms
3. Squint with the tilt

“If you get all of those, nothing good is going to come out of his mouth,” Fabio says.

Indeed, “the coat is looking borderline costume,” Tim finally says. “It makes me sad. It looks down. It looks dreary.”

Alert, alert: Your design has made Tim Gunn sad!!

Not to fear, later Fabio will turn that coat upside down, taking it from Drabio to Fabio.

Tim also thinks Dmitry’s outfit, while beautiful, isn’t quite avant-garde enough.
“But I’ve never done anything like this,” Dmitry protests.
“That doesn’t make it avant-garde,” Tim says.
Then he explains in concise, clear language exactly what makes a garment avant-garde but that part sadly got left on the cutting room floor.

(Off topic: Why is Dmitry wearing such distractingly bright colors this episode? Usually he can be counted on to wear gray or black. Today he’s tasting the rainbow and I don’t think I like it.)

Tim is now questioning whether or not Christopher’s dress is avant-garde enough. (See? No one has any clue!!)

"What makes it avant-garde?" Tim asks.
Christopher tentatively claims the exaggerated hips make it avant garde.
“Is that avant-garde or is that a mistake?” Tim asks.

So everyone’s all nostalgic and shit because this is their last day at the Atlas Apartments before the Fashion Week break.
“Goodbye Atlas Apartment!” they all trill as they leave for the runway show.
Apparently, Tim’s habit of politely saying goodbye to buildings is rubbing off on them.

Zoe Saldana is the guest judge and she’ll probably just sit there looking beautiful and saying nice things about everyone— record scratching sound. . .holy shit. Most opinionated guest judge EVER.

Never saw that coming.

Heidi gives us the dreaded one OR MORE of you will be out. Which makes no sense at all because everyone pretty much rocks the runway.

Yup, turns out everyone’s avant-garde look is avant-great. (Trust me, no one could judge me more for writing that sentence than me.)

Heidi, however, isn’t quite on the same page with the rest of the judges.

Looking deceptively "on the same page"

Most of them, for example, are meh on Sonjia’s emerald green dress.
“It looks like a napkin fell on her,” Zoe Saldana says. (The role of Michael Kors will today be played by Zoe Saldana.)

“It looks like an old lady’s answer to a bare-backed dress,” Michael Kors says. (The horror!)

Heidi, however, loves the color, loves the dress, and would totally wear it.

Likewise, with Fabio.
While most of the judges loves his upside down jacket and like his dress, Heidi says she’s “didn’t respond to this look at all.”
“I don’t see beauty,” she says. “I see sadness.”
Now Fabio’s outfit has made both Tim AND Heidi sad.

Ditto on Melissa.
Zoe loves the vest.
MK praises her work with leather.
And Heidi says, “I don’t know which is uglier, yours or Fabio’s.”

“Not on the same page” is actually an understatement. Heidi’s reading a whole different book.

(My thoughts on Melissa’s outfits? Her structural collars are the new Ven Flower. Enough already, we get it.)
They are all able to agree on both Christopher and Dmitry.

Christopher’s dress is deemed overly ambitious and only a partial success.
“The feathers are cuckoo,” Michael Kors says. “It looks like she has hairy arms.”

Zoe Saldana gives Christopher grief for not filling out the boobs, “the second place” a person looks when they look at a woman. (No comment.)

They love Dmitry’s suit.
“You are a brilliant tailor,” Michael Kors says.
The shoulders are a tad “costumey,” though and the “neck’s a little Vampira,” says Kors.
But impeccable work, nonetheless.

Next, the little song and dance where everyone has to explain why they deserve to go to fashion week the mostest and pick two designers to come with them.
Nothing controversial happens here, so I’ll just move right along.

“We disagree with what the designers did today so we have to look at their past,” says Heidi. (And when she says, “we” she means “I”).

After some deliberation—is Dmitry too much of a one-trick pony? has Fabio designed anything memorable? does Sonjia have a story to tell?—they reach their decision.

Christopher is . . .SAFE!
Dmitry is . .. THE WINNER! (Coming on strong like bull, is our little Russian dancer.)
Melissa is. . . SAFE!

So it’s down to Fabio vs. Sonjia.

Needless to say, I would’ve picked Sonjia.
But, alas, Fabio is in.

There’s an awkward moment backstage where Christopher thinks Sonjia is also IN and just doing a little fakeout. But no, she and her Carmen Miranda head scarves are hitting the road.

I think I'll miss this scarf  most of all

I do have one happy thought, however: Maybe Fabio will shave for Fashion Week and we can see the true gorgeousness that I’m convinced lurks beneath that beard.

That happy thought last all of 3 minutes, until we see the sneak preview of next week’s show and Fabio is shaggy as ever.

Now Fabio has made Tim, Heidi, and me sad.