Jan 26, 2008

Project Snoozefest

Ah, denim, the all American cloth. Denim jeans were first invented in 1853 by Leo Strauss for gold miners who needed sturdy clothing as they grubbed for gold. Denim is now one of the favored cloths of gold diggers who troll for rich veins in less confined spaces.

Let’s face it, denim is available everywhere, in every corner of this world, in upscale boutiques in Paris or tucked away on a dusty shelf in some general store in a tiny town in Vermont. When I heard this week’s PR assignment – to create an iconic denim look that captures the spirit of 501 legacy - I knew I would have trouble staying awake. As far as I’m concerned, denim has been done to death, and there’s not much one can do with it that surprises me any more.

This week the Project Runway designers brought out my fears in full force with their tepid creations.

First, let’s just dismiss these two coats right away. Jillian and Victorya were coasting on their previous success. I could just read their thought processes: 'Mmmm, a coat nearly won us the competition last time; let’s try it again!'

Here’s where denim’s stiff unforgiving and unyielding nature came to the fore – those coats were bulky and awkward. They made the models look short and dumpy, and that’s quite a feat. But because Jillian actually attempted to construct a garment from scratch, she was saved from being Heide-whacked. My thoughts about Victorya sit on a previous post.

Then there are these problematic denim tube cocktail dresses to consider: Where on earth would you wear them except to a party, play, or restaurant? And having worn these novelty dresses once, would you wear them again? To my way of thinking, an iconic denim outfit should be worn in many different settings and become dramatically changed with accessories. These three dresses are so limited to where they could be worn, or how they can be changed, or by the type of figure that could wear them, that most women would be wasting their money purchasing one.

And how is Ricky’s dress better than Rami’s? Both are chuck full of interesting detail. Please don’t tell me that Ricky won because he’s never won before and because his model resembled Amy Winehouse. Please don’t. And how many women would really wear a pleated ruffle so high above their knees? Count how many times you've seen such a ruffle on little girls clothing, and tell me you would seriously wear such a design. (Ooops, enough people apparently, for the darned dress based on Ricky's design sold out in a New York minute.)

Chris’s outdated and unflattering dress isn’t worth much of a look. Been there, done that. When I saw the design in progress, I began to get worried, thinking, ‘Uh, oh, he’s gonna get Heidi-whacked for sure.’

As an aside, has anyone notice how fit Chris is getting? Compared to his first run for the fabric in Epi One, he was almost able to keep up with the group. You go, Chris! One of these days you’ll beat them to the punch!
Which brings me to Kit! - My Name is Sweet P. Will surprises never cease? I think her design won Nina and Heidi over, but it didn't wow Ms. 501. This dress is wearable and can be worn in a variety of settings, depending on the accessories. Yeah, it can be a cocktail dress, but add a casual jacket, and you could easily wear this to the office, since the skirt is modest in length. Our office water cooler crew noticed the defects in construction, especially where the seams met at the waist, but we quibble. Compared to Ricky’s too youthful winning design, this one attracted the notice of almost every woman at the office, regardless of age. Food for thought.

Kit! - My Name is Sweet P has come a long, long way since Epi One, and I am beginning to think she just may last longer than some people suspect.

And now we come to my vote for the winning look in my book – Christian’s. He took an old tired look and brought it forward. One of the younger snarkers at the office remarked, “But you’re too old for that look, Ms. Place. You couldn't possibly wear it.” After I decked her and bloodied her nose, I observed that I could take that look and modify it and make it my own. I love how this outfit reflects Christian’s design point of view and how it stands out from the others. He ‘invented’ something new, adding jacket sleeves to the pants legs, extending them and creating spats with the cuffs. Yeah, that stiff fabric was unwieldy, but this look could be recreated with stretch denim. Even my stumpy legs would look long in those fabulous pants. And this look is flexible. It is equally suitable for a walk in the city, to an art gallery opening, at a restaurant, in a grocery store, to a rock concert, to class, to the museum, hanging around with friends, a trip to Europe, or casual Fridays. Need I say more? Well done, Christian, you should have won.

Now we come to the reason for my title for this post. I snoozed through the runway show. I kid you not. I’d already made up my mind about the winning design before the models strutted in front of the judges, and nothing anybody said made me sit up and take notice, so I took a nap. I woke up just in time to throw my shoe at my TV set when Ricky won. Wrong decision, judges. Ricky’s design was not a fashion forward iconic look.

By the way, WTF were the designers wearing? Would you folks, meeting these folks on the street, ever mistake them for clothing designers?

Jan 25, 2008

Project Runway Rant


J.Z., a friend, recently sent this email about last week's PR episode. Her pithy comments about Project Runway 4 are well worth reading for the chuckles . Ms. Place might be a wee bit snarky, but she comes by this trait honestly. As you can see, her friends in Richmond are of equal mind and bent.

I have a few more rants that I need to say to someone who understands. You are the ONLY person I know who is watching Project Runway with the same enthusiasm as I.

If they don't replace that ratty looking bag the names are drawn out of... One of the challenges should be to create a container that's runway worthy and goes with Heidi's couture outfits. As it is, she looks like she's dragging around a bedraggled velvet teddy bear.
(Hey, J.Z., what if she carried THIS bag?)

What about that avant garde challenge? Where do we draw the line between cutting edge and costume-y? The winning outfit (Chris and Christian's) was nothing anybody would ever wear to any place but a costume party. The model was obviously having trouble carrying around that Frankenstein hump coming out of the back of the collar.

Jillian and Victoria's 3-piece outfit, Matrix Redux, was so immaculately tailored and high fashion -- AND they did construct three intricate pieces. They should have won IMO.

How is it that Sweet Pea is all covered in tattoos and piercings, and still she looks like a dumpy house frau? How does she do that? I know you think Christian is hateful, but I love everything about him. I swoon when he prances and shows the models how to move. He's the doppelganger of my niece A--.

Jan 24, 2008

Project Runway 4: Victorya's Auf

This past week I've wondered if I've been too rough in my assessment of Victorya, calling her one of the judges' pets. I haven't been a fan of her designs, and have sometimes wondered how she was able to coast through. She also seemed somewhat too self-assured for the designs she was sending down the runway. And she couldn't work collaboratively to save her life. But then Bravo's editors slipped up, and they included a few scenes in which Victorya said downright sweet and lovely things about the departed designers. We got a glimpse of Victorya, the compassionate woman.

I can't blame Victorya for looking so listless throughout this episode. I had trouble staying awake myself, and nodded off a couple of times as the designs came down the the runway. Last week I said I would have been just as pleased if Victorya's and Gillian's coat had won. This week, it was a toss up as to whose coat was worse. Gillian squeaked ahead, I suspect, because she actually created a garment. Victorya simply made a few alterations. For her lack of imagination she was aufed.

Good luck in your future endeavors, Victorya. I hope this exposure on Bravo gives your career a hefty boost.

Jan 18, 2008

Project Runway: Over the Big Top

We always knew he had it in him, didn't we dahlings? From the first time we saw that fabulous purple and green gown in Episode One, we knew our big huggy fashion bear would go far. How do you say Talented with a capital T? How do spell mouthwatering fashion? C-H-R-I-S.

Ok, so Christian had some input, as my friend Branch Water pointed out. Those ruffles were his idea and those tucks didn't come out of nowhere. But the sheer scope and size and outrageousness of the IDEA came from Chris. As sure as the air is polluted in Shanghai that ruffled halo and its execution came from the mind that incorporated pretzels into a bra.

This lush and luscious over the top treatment reminded me of the yummy costumes Cecil Beaton created for Audrey Hepburn to wear in My Fair Lady.

How can you not adore all this drama? This is what fashion is all about. This scrumptious creation screams LOOK AT ME, just as Cecil's hat did for Audrey. The trick is that neither designer overpowered their wearer. Well, in Chris's case perhaps slightly. But our man had only one and a half days to complete his masterpiece. Cecil had all the time in the world.

Contrast the over the top outfit with Christian's read-to-wear, where we go from Audrey Hepburn to...

... dowdy librarians wearing high-necked tops. C'mon Christian, stop hiding the female body. Stop being afraid of it. We won't bite you, promise.

Need anyone say more about the inequity of the partner system in Project Runway? Just because Christian was team leader doesn't mean he should have won. Yes, he and Chris worked well together. But, sheez, Nina and Michael. Even you two must have realized that Chris was the genius who drove this winning engine.

Victorya and Jillian whined and whinnied louder than the horses that inspired this great hairdo. I wouldn't be surprised to see variations of it sprouting up in Richmond soon.

Despite the designers' incessant nattering, the moment I saw their equestrian creation I was immediately transported to a time of elegance, dandies, and a certain attitude of je ne sais quoi.

Underneath that fabulously dramatic coat, were a shirt and riding breeches that reminded me of Jessica Biehl in The Illusionist. Women look HOT in these outfits, which make their tushies shine.

In fact, Victorya's and Jillian's outfit looks fiercer and edgier than any equestrian clothing I've seen in real life. The coat is to die for and the choice of the plaid lining and ruffles was sheer genius. Well done, team. I would not have been overly upset had you won.

Which brings us to Rami, whose personal performance disappointed me as much as his professional judgment. This gown was his idea from conception to completion.

And all he wound up making was lingerie.

The look was far from over the top ... so far from it that he nearly put the judges to sleep and was rightly one of the bottom two designers.

Not that this outfit represents fashion, per se, but Rami was totally flummoxed by his model's angelic hairdo. It would have served him better if he'd gone against it ... and created something totally outrageous and off the wall like this little Las Vegas inspired number.

And now we come to Kit, our edgy designer. WTF happened?

How do you say Hollie Hobbie morphed into a bedspread with a satin ruffle?

"Well, I don't care what you silly people think. I like it. I really, really like it. Miss Mellie would've worn the gown to the Glorious Sons of the Confederacy Ball."

How do you say aufwiedersehen, Kit? Not that Ricky's K-Mart and Wal*Mart inspired design was all that much better, but Kit had chosen that awful fabric and it was all that Ricky had to work with. Still, HTF is he still hanging around?There's nothing inspiring about this dress, which is about as good as anything Ricky has been able to come up with. As we've all noted with Christian, the leader takes the glory, but like Kit the leader also takes the fall for the team. This is one reason why Bravo should reconsider assigning so many team projects in one season. Not only are three more than enough, we viewers are really more interested in the designs of the individual designers. These contestants have had to compromise their vision three times. Enough is enough!!

Still, my overall assessment of this PR season has risen . We've had three excellent episodes in a row without interruption. How do you say Brava Bravo? Thanks for getting the show back on track.

Jan 17, 2008

KIT Aufed From Project Runway? Noooooooo!

Yeah, her dress was awful, but this episode points out more than any other that if the team loses, the leader's head is on the chopping block.

Ricky should have been booted off a long time ago. And why he was allowed to stay after designing this Wal*Mart knockoff is beyond me. What the hell were the judges thinking?

Isn't this the third team challenge for this season? I'm sick of it already.

Jan 13, 2008

Assessing the Runway

Guest Judge Gilles Mendel’s Prom Dress Advice: (2-minute video conversation condensed) “You know it has to be very sophisticated and young and you know, full of color. And fun. You know, like sophisticated but young. And colorful. Like young and fun, but at the same time sophisticated. And with color. She has to be a young woman, like, you know, who dresses young and has fun.”

What do you get when you combine the tacky winning judge's pet dress with the loser’s?

A Blue FLYYYYY Special! I kid you not. Notice the hem, ahem.

Jillian: How do you spell Bridesmaid Dress? Actually, this is one of those looks that would pass muster for a father/daughter Purity Ball, you know, where the daughter makes one of those Virginity Pledges, thereby identifying herself as a Monica Lewinski practician.

In fact, with that outdated hair and old-fashioned color this contemporary miss could play John Boy's sister, Erin.

Rami: How do you pronounce Mother of the Bride Dress? Speaking of mothers, mine chose appliances of the same color for her kitchen in 1973!

Kit: Yeah, cute dress. HATE the bland hair. HATE the ordinary shoes. In fact, she looks like a matador’s momma wearing a young, flirty dress.

Ricky: Shoulda Been Aufed Dress #1: Client: “Please design a dress that will add ten pounds on my voluptuous figure, so I can resemble a meringue puff.” Ricky (dabbing at his eyes with a handkerchief) "I'll try my best."

Chris: I Wuz Robbed Dress #1: How do you say, Adorable, Young, Colorful? How do you say, Makes the Client Happy? How did the judges not see "Winner" when they saw this darling dress float down the runway? Adore the dress 100%. The styling? Meh.

Sweet P: I Wuz Robbed Dress #2: I would have been happy if Sweet P's dress had also won.

Christian: Shoulda Been Aufed Dress #2: 'Perhaps this mess I’m wearing will look more presentable if I give you a different pose.'


Jan 10, 2008

Project Runway Four: Christian Meets the Rock of Gilbraltar ....

... in the form of Maddie, a sweet, innocent Catholic School Girl, whose experience of the world at a private school run by the brides of Christ is limited and whose potential is still being developed. Upon seeing what Christian had in mind for her, this darling, shy, retiring and delicate young blossom, poised on the threshold of womanhood, squeezed Christian by the balls and ground him and his goofball prom dress ideas into a thousand emasculated pieces under her school uniform shoes. She then took out her trusty .5 mm Pentel Sharp mechanical pencil (a product placement opportunity Bravo missed) and made hash work of Christian's mess, adding her own subtle touches.

Miss Thing, upset that her genius was being challenged by a mere child, began to bray like a donkey. Tim Gunn described the exchange between Maddie and Christian in more gentlemanlike terms, "Some may say that his client, Maddie, was difficult. I prefer to say that she was just being an opinionated client. But it was a battle of the wills, and Maddie dared to throw hubris in the face of an angry god."

Hah! I say that when Maddie saw that Christian was gonna make her look like Sissy Spacek in "Carrie" after pig blood was poured over her, she decided to take matters into her own opinionated hands. Our Catholic girlfriend knows what she wants and she thought she knew how to get it. Problem is, she hasn't taken a class in College Physics yet. When an immovable object meets an immovable object, all you get is .... KABOOM!

"Yo, bro, if you think I'm wearing this shapeless brown turd to my prom, you've got another think coming."

Yoohoo! Bravo producers! I changed my mind. Can I choose this gorgeous specimen of manhood instead? Please, please, please!

I suppose Christian got his revenge: Poor Maddie looks like a chocolate truffle. Her face is gorgeous and she has a sexy figure. WTF was Christian thinking? Ah, well. Smile, girlfriend. It's not like the whole world watches Bravo. Only a couple of million of us.

Up next:

Ricky receives eye surgery, in which his tear ducts are permanently sealed with Elmer's glue, Bravo's next sponsor.

Victorya continues her Teacher's Pet lessons in order to keep her in the competition with her mind numbingly similar and shapeless sad sack dresses.

Chris is contacted by Laz Luhrmann to star in his next movie about circuses AND to design and wear all the costumes.

Rami drapes all the presidential contenders in red, white, and blue.

Kit's hunky prom date contacts her and they "relive" that last glorious evening they spent together.

Sweet P seeks out Dr. Phil in between his ambulance chasing sessions with Britney, hoping to gain insight as to why her vastly superior dress did not win this week's competition.

Jillian practices five different facial expressions in front of a mirror hoping she'll get one right.

Inspired by all those Catholic school girls, Christian goes on retreat in a monastery to acquire humility and meet some hunky men.

Upon learning that Kevin was aufed, Ms. Place finds solace in all the gin joints in Richmond, searching for a reason to keep watching this uneven season now that one of her favorite designers has been ignominiously and unfairly booted. In her humble opinion, Ricky's bland design was far, far worse.