Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Project Runway-On Thin Ice

The key phrase heard in this episode uttered by the redoubtable Michael Kors: "What's worse, not going far enough or going too far?" That tells you everything you need to know about the outcome and the rationale for this episode of the show. It also covers nicely the reality show imperative of good tv with dramatic participants. But really, I'm skipping to the end when the journey was so delicious. I wasn't intending to post about PR before the episode had barely finished airing. I have work in the morning after all. (Oh yeah, I'm an insomniac so I wouldn't be able to sleep anyway.) I also wasn't intending to make notes about the episode as it proceeded either. My absent intentions don't seem to matter however. Here is some background, and events or quotes that struck me as interesting throughout the episode.

As we expected our task was to design a figure skating dress for Sasha Cohen. Designers had 30 minutes to sketch, $150 dollars to spend and two days and a little more before the runway. While shopping the designers were expected to wear ice skating outfits. Emmett, in particular, looked hysterically funny as he added his little trademark hat. Santino's fur Cossack-style hat gave his outfit added flair. He was the luckiest of the men because his shirt was white while Andrae, Nick, Emmett and Daniel V. were arrayed in not flattering rainbow shades. Of the ladies, Zulema looked best in her skating dress but the gold eye shadow was reminiscent of Mimi on the Drew Carey show. Chloe, cute as she is, was not flattered by the outfit she was given, as it made her look stocky. We visit our usual fabic store and also get to visit ? (didn't catch the name) to purchase trims, sequins, feathers, and beads for the costume. Daniel V. notes he spend 2/3 of his budget on trim.

As the show progresses, I note Daniel V. makes a couple of negative comments about people. I don't have any specific recollection of him saying anything remotely mean before. Is the pressure building or are people just getting more on his nerves as time goes by? Of Kara, he remarks that her dress looked basic and not in a Calvin Klein kind of way but a JC Penney basic kind of way. I think we can safely assume Daniel V. will not be getting a job designing for Penneys in the future. He also said something negative about Emmett, along the lines of; Emmett doesn't have the skills needed at this point in the competition but I didn't write down exactly what.

Andrae was a hoot with his over-dramatic, fake English accent. He wastes valuable time fixing overlock machines for people who are his competitors and who won't thank him for it. His "inordinately dreadful" comment about the overlock machines breaking down was a gaffaw-inducer at my house. His self-critique that his dress is "bad valley of the dolls" also sparks amusement and agreement. A boa? A boa? I can't quite get my head around that.

Nick's starting to think about the win--"I'm not teaching today." He responds to Kara when she solicits his help. Good for you, I think. Then moments later we see him critiquing and helping Kara. No, no, Nick, don't help others. This is a competition!

Santino states the obvious when he explains that his design philosphy is "to make the biggest statement I can". Duh.

Now for the runway--

Nick -Beige/white with an assymetrical bodice. It's pretty although one of the cups of the bodice looks skimpy to me.

Andrae- much better than the views in progress suggested. He limited the use of the boa to one shoulder. It is dark, maybe black.

Kara- black with a fringe skirt which I liked.

Chloe- very different from all the others. Tiers or ruffles of turquoise (Chloe blue?) with a halter top. The dress is shaped like an inverted V. This could win because it's original and pretty.

Daniel V. -burgundy, modern design, unusual skirt with triangle shaped panels--very dark, looks sort of like lingerie and too old for Sasha.

Zulema- ivory with a lacy pattern created by the sequins. The bodice is awfully low. I'm worried if Sasha raises her arms her nipples will be exposed. The pleated skirt is nice. No rear exposed in this dress.

Emmett- a navy spangled dress with a web-like design of sequins in the neckline and back. A simple ruffle skirt. The skirt appears to be straight although I thought he was going to make it asymetrical. Maybe Chloe and Kara talked him out of that, they didn't seem to like the look when he asked their opinion.

Santino- what can one say. It's an odd cross between a turkey and varigated red rags that someone threw up onto a dress. It's so ugly words almost fail me. I'm not sure he could have added another detail to the dress with the ruching and the crap hanging off of the front and back. Sacha would be overwhelmed by this dress. I'm not sure she could walk in it as it must also be heavy with 50 pounds of junk hanging on the rear end. Kinda hard to land a triple jump in this.

Nick, Daniel V. Andrae, are allowed to leave immediately. The discussion on the runway commences.

Kara says she was inspired by the 1920's and All that Jazz. Our panel of critics think the dress screams Vegas, and the fringe is unflattering to the thighs of a figure skater (which do tend to be bulky) and the dress would have no flow or shape on the ice.

Chloe gets compliments for her unusual color and style. Sasha is concerned the shape is not right for her figure and Chloe says that she did consider that and modified something about the ruffles to account for that. The panel think Chloe's designs are modern and woman-friendly. She is a contender for winning the challenge.

Zulema gets many compliments as well. Nobody seems concerned that the front is skimpy so maybe I'm worrying about nipple exposure for nothing. Sasha likes the color and the pattern of the sequins that almost looks like lace. It's sexy without being vulgar. Chic and elegant are also descriptors. Zulema goes on to win, thus fulfilling all our expectations because of the model walk-off comment. Winning today fits in with my view of the exit order of the remaining designers mentioned here.

Emmett gets no credit for this outfit. The skirt is too short, it's "old lady ice skater'. The panel feels he showed no imagination and it's dowdy and vulgar at the same time which is a trick to accomplish.

Santino gets the worst of the comments. Sasha is hard-pressed to say anything nice. She likes the ruching on the stomach but thinks there is "lots going on" a masterful understatement. Carmen Miranda on acid, something you'd see in a Thanksgiving pageant--worn by the turkey with pilgrims in pursuit, not flattering. Heidi is quite annoyed that Santino willfully ignores the client's wishes. Santino's hauls out his tired excuse that he was "taking a risk". They discuss whether or not Santino will ever be able to rein it in. Heidi would like to say good bye to Santino today. Well she said she wanted to say 'auf weidersen' but I knew I couldn't spell that properly so I was trying to avoid using it. Presumably fans of the show will know her catch-phrase despite my pathetic spelling attempt.

Once I heard Heidi say she wanted to send Santino home, I was pretty sure he wouldn't go. Which takes us back to the start of our post. As Michael Kors said, "What's worse, not going far enough or going too far?" Emmett was unimaginative but he did provide the client with a dress she could actually ice skate in. It wasn't spectacular but she wouldn't have been laughed off the ice either. Santino provide a dress that looked like someone vomited ruffles and feathers, it also couldn't be skated in and would have been laughed at if actually worn. Other considerations: Emmett is too low key and dignified to warrant much air time relative to volatile Santino. Santino has had some spectacular highs and lows while Emmett has stuck to the middle of the pack. This was Emmett's first appearance in the defend your design portion of the show, I believe. All that considered, I don't mind that Emmett went home but I don't want to see Santino end up in the final with such an uneven body of work behind him and after his repeated disregard for the clients wishes. I'm still having nightmares about the lingerie challenge frankly. PR does have to balance good reality show television with good design. Now my thoughts turn to who will go next.

Update: I've added links to the actual outfits on the PR website. It's amazing how differently the dresses look than I remember from viewing the episode in realtime. I need to pause and study the outfits more before I blog. I noticed in the blogging that so far, Daniel V. and Emmett have the number 1 & 2 spots in voting. Interesting but it's still early in the process. I'll have to check in after some time has passed to see if the publics opinion is holding steady.

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