Thursday, September 14, 2006

Project Runway--The Black and White Episode

Well, last week's preview certainly sent PR aficionados barking up the wrong tree. No Olsen twins, here, mon. I salute your misdirection, PR producers. This week's challenge was key for all the designers because it would decide the final four. All the final four designers will get runway shows in Bryant Park during Olympus Fashion Week. ( Tomorrow, woohoo!) As Kara Janx last season's number four placer has shown, not officially being in the final doesn't mean that you can't benefit from the exposure of showing a collection during fashion week. If memory serves, Kara Janx got some of the best reviews of all the designers from Project Runway last spring. So given all that, you'd think the designers would go all out, right? And yet--I don't think some people gave it 100%. In fact. some people who used to be my favorite let the "team" down with a poor effort and a stoopid mistake. But all will be revealed as the recap proceeds.

As our show opens, Heidi gets the designers revved up for a challenge and then refuses to share the details. Big let down for our nervous contestants. They are living on their last nerve after all. The deets will be shared that evening at a party hosted by L'Oreal Paris. The party is at some swank club called The Pink Elephant. I have never heard of it which reveals the depth of my uncoolness. You know, in case there was any doubt.

At the club, the designers are drinking champagne (Laura too--which seriously bothered me since I have worked with kids with fetal alcohol syndrome--not to be a downer or anything.) and they are set for a little fun while they tensely wait for the challenge to be explained. Then the sky falls and Vincent and Angela stroll in--returned to the competition as a reward for winning a challenge. I note, of the remaining designers, everyone would have been returned to the game as a benefit of winning a challenge except, Laura. To elaborate on the conditions of this miraculous return--Angela and Vincent are being given the opportunity to compete in this one challenge. If one of them wins--they will continue in the final four. If they do not win--it's Goodbye Norma Jean again. Thus, THREE designers will be eliminated after this challenge. One of them will definitely be Angela or Vincent, because of course, both of them can't win. But potentially, two of the favorites could go. Not surprisely, the other designers are feeling pretty crummy about this possibility, soaked as they are in their own sense of superiority.

The challenge is finally delineated. They must create a cocktail outfit using black AND white fabric. Later, Tim also adds more details; such as, the designers must use every scrap of fabric they buy in their outfit. Anything bigger than a postcard must be utilized. Angela (one senses she must have been on of those eager children in school--the kind with their hand in the air constantly) asks Tim if they can elect to use either black OR white fabric and he clearly tells her NO. It must be both black and white fabric. (Get it. Black AND White. This is not rocket science.) Tim also tells them that they will be judged particularly on their design silhouette and the make up and styling of their models.

Now for the angst portion of the show. No one is happy about the auffed who have returned. Jeffrey is, of course, venomous about Angela's return. His only healthy statement about this particular kink is, "Whatever. I don't have to like it. The good news is..." He was unable to finish that comment which was amusing. Apparently there was no good news. His constant monologue of negative comments in the workroom must be very annoying to the other designers. Vincent does indirectly call him on his poor character. No fight ensues, though, darn it. Jeffrey is creating some kind of mini skirted peasant outfit which he intends to pair with shiny black leggings which mimic thigh high boots. If you are imagining designer hooker then you are a genius because that's exactly what we got.

Meanwhile Laura is having a meltdown of epic proportions. She took the judges criticisms about her last dress very badly. She is doubting her self. She is afloat in pregnancy hormones and cries a lot. She is also rather nasty to Angela when she very bluntly points out to her that Angela's win was a TEAM win so that really--Angela didn't deserve to get to come back into the competition. Yeow. Meow. Angela seems so innocent and naive when attacked. I would probably have gotten snotty, she merely asserted that she won for her design not for the garment's construction. (This comeback handily ignored the fact that Laura and Michael's contributed to Angela's design by restraining her and refining the look. Fleurchons as buttons was Laura's idea, after all.) I ponder that Laura made the comment, not just out of snippiness that Vincent and Angela had been brought back into the competition, but out of strategy. What better way to undermine Angela's confidence than to let her know she didn't deserve to come back. The only weak point in that idea is that it is difficult to believe that Laura is threated by wacky Angela. Laura is at a low ebb, but still...wacky Angela? Do we seriously believe she could win this challenge? Hmm.

The designers offer the camera various takes on their vision for the cocktail dress. Are you surprised that Uli is thinking about a "hippy beach party outfit...something that you could wear in Miami and St. Tropez". No--really--how original. As Gomer Pyle would say, "SURPRISE SURPRISE SURPRISE!" Uli chose a print...and hey...a I didn't see THAT coming.

Kayne, meanwhile, what can I say. He didn't LISTEN. Ring Ring! The clue phone is ringing but Kayne isn't answering and his machine is broken so we can't even leave a message. Kayne buys black fabric. Just black fabric. Hmm...what's missing. How 'bout some WHITE! I am still mad at him. He was always a long shot for the final four because the judges clearly have had a bent against him given all their snarking about his "taste" level. With his wrong-headed purchase of all but one of the two REQUIRED fabrics, he is doomed. The worst of it is--he was actually smart enough to seek out Michael's opinion about his dress. When Michael told him it looked like something a hoooker would wear, Kayne modified the dress. Whoa. That's a major improvement for Kayne. He listened and he fixed it. Unfortunately, there was still the problem of no white fabric. Kayne's final comment before runway was that he was, "banking on Jesus." Don't be blaming the Savior of the world for this deal, Kayne. You were a big disappointing dumbo and I am mad at you for letting Jeffrey get through to the final four. Did I just give away that Kane was aufed? Oh well, you had to know that was coming, right?

The main strategy for dealing with the requirement that all extra fabric had to be incorporated into the outfit was to make a purse and then to stuff the purse with the extra fabric. Vincent made a shawl with his remnants. He claimed the clerk at Mood gave him more fabric than he ordered--way to take responsiblity Vincent. Clerks selling expensive designer fabrics in New York City probably throw in an extra half a yard free for the heck of it all the time, don't you figure?. Uli made a necklace of fabric balls. Laura, impressively, made her all her leftover fabric into a cute clutch purse. That's impressive mathematical skills, ordering your fabric lengths so closely to what you actually use. Must be that architecture degree.

Vincent put together a white bodice and black mini skirt. Both fabrics are horizontally pleated. It's not offensively bad which makes a nice change. He runs into issues with too much fabric and of course, he makes his ambiguous statement in the workroom about how the longer the competition has lasted the more the true (read:bad) character of designers (read: Jeffrey) has been revealed.On the day of the runway show Vincent finds out that his model Jia has been in an accident. His new model is bigger--which seems hard to believe because she can't be more than a size 1.5. Nevertheless the dress is so closely fitted that his new model pops the zipper out. Wow. I'm big ole girl and I've never popped a zipper. Something is seriously wrong in the fashion industry with regard to fit. Vincent, sewed his model into her dress. Unfortunately, he has ignored proportion and the judges find his dress to be way too short. He used his extra fabric to create a shawl and the judges experimented with adding the fabric of the shawl to the skirt of the dress to create a longer dress. Voila! The dress is as improved as Michael's couture gown was with the tucking of the bunny ears. The judges know fashion. Since Vincent didn't win the challenge--he is auffed again.

I haven't really mentioned Angela too much so far. Very little camera time is spent on Angela. She envisions her outfit with a leather shrug. She thinks it'll be hip and modern. That was about the last we saw of her. In the judging, Angela's hip, modern yet Edwardian style shrug with its stand up collar and wierd pleating is a huge mess. It has a whole Vampire feel to it. The judges can find nothing good to say and I am disappointed that Angela's attempt to go all out is such a disaster. She seemed to have potential in the beginning. She, too, is auffed.

Michael puts out the only white dress on the runway. He presented a sleek, modern grown up dress. It was not a mini skirt, thank goodness. He accented the sheath dress with an assymetrical neckline and a cumberbund like belt. The belt was decorated with cut outs of flowers and I think there were some shiny things on it also for a bit of sparkle. Great dress. The judges had nothing but positives to say about it, including that fact that Michael always styles his models so well. You'll notice, also, in my reporting of the angst that Michael got no coverage. That's because he's apparently a really nice guy and I can't remember him saying anything nasty on camera. I hope Michael wins this whole she-bang.

Kayne's black dress, with what looks like a spider web on the back doesn't get excoriated or anything. But the judges pick up on the fact that the dress is only black with just a white ribbon. You can't put anything over on these judges. They appreciate that this dress is much more restrained than Kayne's previous work. I, of course, love his previous work for the most part and don't think he has a taste problem--too much. Heck, I'm biased. I admit it. I like Kayne. He's funny and cute. Anyway, I really believe that Jeffrey's outfit was so bad that if Kayne has just followed the guidelines and presented a dress of this standard with both black and white fabric that he would have survived to final four. Hey, hindsight is always 20-20.

Jeffrey's hooker outfit almost leaves the judges speechless, but not quite. I believe the key descriptor used was "cheap". Yep. That's a good one to use. The judges also commented on the fact that while Jeffrey does urban/rock/goth pretty well, he doesn't seem able to move out of that box. He has never shown them elegance. (I wonder if he will create an elegant collection in response to that criticism? I'm betting no, because I don't think he's creatively capable of seeing outside the tattoo, if you get my drift.)

Uli's Miami/St. Tropez inspired black and white dress is not popular. The judges hate the sleeves which are off the shoulder but as long as the whole dress. They find the fabric necklace distracting. Maybe Uli was trying to distract the judges from the fact that the squared bodice of the dress was identical to the one on the couture dress that she has just /'made. The judges comment again on the fact that Uli is creating variations of the same dress each challenge. Hmm. This is not a good sign for Uli. Will she make the final three?

Finally, Laura's dress came down the runway. Okay--I don't think she was actually last down the runway--I can't remember, but she's last in my recap. She had chosen blacklace over white. Her model "helpfully" gave her advice on making it more youthful. Laura did not find this advice helpful but she appreciated that her model wanted her to win. She created a mini dress with a baby doll feel. Not the kind of baby doll with an empire waist and loose skirt, but more body conscious like a sheath. The dress had cute cap-like sleeves and a square neckline. The best part of the dress was the boa feathers and sequins and beading that Laura meticulously sewed/glued by hand to the bottom of the dress. Not too much, just enough to add sparkle and life. The dress that Laura's tears watered ends up being her best dress ever and she wins the challenge. Yea, Laura. Way to come back.

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