A confession: my dear, dear, darling Paul of the House of Gallofornia tried out for this season, and a slightly crabby Tim Gunn told him to tighten the portfolio and try again next season. My immediate reaction was a knee-jerk fuck you that caused me to throw my martini glass across the room and declare that I would never watch PR again. Paul told me to get a grip, and make another shaker of drinks, so it’s back to the couch for another season of our favorite show.
Annnnnd, open on the Atlas, as our newest crop of designers arrive. The first is Jerell, a former model. I think I recognize his pictures. Former models don’t usually do well on this show, but we’ll see how it goes. Blayne is a barrista from Portland or Seattle or somewhere in the PNW, with a tanning addiction and a stupid knit hat and I hate him already. This is not to be confused with the stupid twee hats of last year’s cry-baby, whatsisname. Joe from Detroit is our token straight guy who is going to talk about his daughters right up until he gets auffed.
In the girls’ corner, the first to arrive is Stella, who is too old to dye her hair that black, and who looks like a first runner up at a Halloween Patty Smith look alike contest, circa 1978. Is it too soon to say that the stringy punk with black polish and tattooed eyelashes look is over? If those aren’t tattooed eyelashes, then Twiggy wants her 1966 make-up back. And she has a bad Jersey/Brooklyn accent. I hate her already.
Jennifer says that her style is Holly Golightly meets Salvador Dali. Kelli claims to be the love child of Vivienne Westwood and Betsey Johnson. She does seem to like loud colors and plaid. And she has a great arm piece tattoo involving a tape measure. Terri is wearing a black cat suit, and looking pretty road worn for under 40.
Back in the boys’ pad, Jerry Tam announces that he is on the verge of being the next big thing. Christian used that line last year. Jerry has a faux-hawk. Suede has a real Mohawk, with bleached blond sides and a blue plume. Suede says that he’s been making millions for other people and now he’s gonna make money for Suede. Suede talks about himself in the third person, and I’m all ready sick of him, too, and want to toss him out the window. Also? That beadazzled jacket with his name on the back ain’t gonna make money for nobody, no how. Keith goes by so fast I have no notes for him.
Rounding out the girls we have Korto, who is from Liberia by way of Little Rock, Arkansas, Leanne from Portland who wants to be the silent but deadly designer assassin, whatever that means, and Kenley who says something about smoke and mirrors and does the Bettie Page retro glam thing.
Finally, the men close the loop with Daniel and Wesley. Daniel is sort of a Daniel Franco Lite and Wesley is another one who impressed me so little that I have no notes.
UP ON THE ROOF
The designers get to drink the usual champagne and size each other up. Heidi looks pretty. Tim Gunn looks like he has roseacea. Tim manages to pop a champagne cork right off the roof. He tells the designers that they are the most diverse group ever to be on the show. I think that they all look like they have the same sort of urban/punk/deconstructed gestalt. But I’m not Tim Gunn. And I would have put Paul on the show. (I know, get over it)
Keith (at least I think it was Keith) tells Heidi that the question he asks himself with every design is “would Heidi wear this?” The RLA, the two surrogate daughters and I all gag in unison. There is then some footage of him allowing as how he has a gift that other designers would kill for, and he? he was just born with it. And no small amount of ego, either.
Daniel claims that if he weren’t a fabulous designer, he would have been a fabulous zoologist, and that nature is his muse. Nature and show stopping glamour. Because those are two things that naturally go together like milk and Oreos.
And so to bed, and just as quickly, back up when Tim rings the doorbells at 4 A.M. At that hour, even he isn’t looking quite dapper, but he is nowhere near as ragged out as our designers. The sun is up as we make it to our destination: Gristede’s. Yes! A do-over of the infamous grocery challenge, and who better to judge than Season 1’s Austin Scarlett, who won that challenge with an ephemeral corn husk concoction. At the sight of Miss Scarlett, Daniel lets out a little gasp of “Glamour” and allows as how she was his favorite contestant ever. The designers are given $75 and half an hour to ransack Gristede’s and until midnight in the Parsons’ workroom to make the magic happen.
Jerry walks in and has a vision of “April Showers Bring May Flowers” and knows that he’s going to do something with a shower curtain. Terri grabs a million string mop heads. Stella thinks that black garbage bags will translate to black pleather and she plans on a vest and jeans, her stock in trade (and her entire wardrobe, apparently).
Suede declares the challenge “whackadoodle.” Meh. It’s no wickety wack, but it’ll do for a night. The designers get back to the workroom, where they find the measurements of their models and are told that the winner of the challenge will get immunity for the following week. That’s always a motivator.
CUTS LIKE A KNIFE
In the workroom, we get the first sweep of the designs and ideas. Joe is working with dry pasta and oven mitts to create an Italian antipasta dress. Kelli is using bleach and dye to transform vacuum cleaner bags into green and brown batik, in preparation for producing a garden party dress. DanielLite is making a cocktail dress with a sweetheart neckline entirely out of plastic cups. He’s ironing the plastic to make it malleable, and to melt elements into one another. It’s a pretty impressive undertaking, and he’s working on it like a terrier, not letting go of his vision for a minute.
Blayne, in a desperate attempt to be noticed, is squealing that his design is “Girlicious”, ignoring completely that it’s a word the Pussycat Dolls have pretty much invented, patented and registered as a trademark. He’s also ignoring the fact that the word means nothing, and that his idea for a garment stinks like rotten eggs. He’s using jump rope, place mats and what appears to be Depends to make what could only be described as a monstrosity of a unitard? Bathing suit? Onsie? Blayne confesses that in an attempt to be different, he may be different and obnoxious.
Leanne is upset that so many people (other than her) are using tablecloths as the basis of their garment. Well, a tablecloth is sort of a gimme. This is a challenge to think outside of the box, people. Where are the non-fiber materials? Other than the ziti, I mean.
Stella unfolds her garbage bags and is shocked to discover that they don’t look like patent leather, but like cheap, thin garbage bags. Well, honey, here’s a clue: don’t buy generic. Look at the millage on the side of the box. If you want a thick black plastic, buy a freaking Hefty bag. This discovery so unsettles her that she spends the rest of the evening until the midnight deadline whining and pissing and moaning and complaining about the unfairness of the challenge, of the quality of her choices and of life, the universe and everything. Have I mentioned that she has a monotone on top of having that awful Nu Yawk accent?
Jerell proves he can mimic Tim Gunn. But who will play Andre to his Santino? And can he be Santino without the stupid hat/do rag combo and mean-spiritedness? That could be fun. And he’s prettier than Santino, but then, my dog’s ass is prettier than Santino. Hell, Santino’s ass was probably prettier than Santino.
Kenley is working with a dodge ball. We don’t see much more than her materials, though. Suede is using a tablecloth accented with bright blue plastic doggie poop bags. Yeah. It’s as pretty as it sounds, and in his attempts to make it flashier, he keeps making it uglier. Korto is using a yellow tablecloth, and lots of it, to make a sort of dashiki/kimono shape. It’s actually interesting and she has a platter of kale, yellow bell peppers and cherry tomatoes waiting to be used as decoration.
Jerry’s shower curtain is lacking a wow factor, and Tim sends him back to work. Keith is using yet another tablecloth and Tim gets pissy. There are entirely too many tablecloths. The judges are going to see this and think you all are a bunch of slackers! INNOVATE!
Jerry can’t even contemplate going home in the first round, and redoubles his efforts to create fabulosity. Stella says that if she is the first designer eliminated, that will make her the biggest jackass in America. I say she’s already working the odds on that distinction, but that Blayne is going to give her some stiff competition, jackass-wise. He has the tanning addiction, he has the stupid knit hat with flair (aka buttons) and he is possessed of great heaps of the stupid, but Stella has the monotone from hell and the overworked, over-age punk aspect nailed.
MORNING HAS BROKEN
And we see, in the cold light of dawn, that Jerry has accessorized his white lab coat/raincoat with bright yellow rubber gloves. Someone points out that this gives the ensemble a whole “American Psycho” vibe. Blayne has to sew his model into the romper, and tries not to pierce her ladybits with the needle as he does so.
Off to the runway, where Heidi is wearing a silvery grey brocade dress that is basically vulva-length and a pair of totally killer spike heels. She looks great.
Kenley sends out something with balloons as fringe and baubles and a face-eating ruffle. Terell has used lawn chair webbing and trimmed the neckline of his dress with fleurchons of paper drink umbrella tops. The one sleeve is made of squishy spike balls. It’s colorful and cute. Korto’s kimono with the spectacular crudité neckline actually works. She’s used a cross section of yellow bell pepper as a belt buckle, even.
Jennifer has made a cocktail dress out of paper towels, creating a pattern of lipstick prints. It’s pretty ho-hum. Daniel’s cobalt blue cocktail dress made entirely out of plastic cups is a tour de force of workmanship, and his model, who seems slightly at risk of leaving the bodice behind every time she moves, works the hell out of it on the runway.
Terri claims to have crocheted her mop tops into a bodice, but it looks more like macramé or simple braiding to me. It is interesting, whichever process she used to create it. Suede’s boring picnic cloth dress is still ugly and boring, but now with more blue spots. Stella’s black plastic bags have been sewn together with giant Frankenstein stitches and has side boob exposure. It is Santino without the whimsy and the wickety wack.
Wesley’s miniskirt is made from a yellow tablecloth, accessorized with cut down yellow rubber gloves and looks like a trim Big Bird. Kelli’s mini is amazing, and the midriff is studded with push-pins, and the whole thing finishes with an awful top made of scorched coffee filters. Keith has added netting to his tablecloth.
COMING TO THE END OF THE LINE
The designers are sorted into safe, and fabulous or doomed. The best and worst are: Daniel, Jerry, Korto, Stella, Kelli and Blayne. I think we all know which is which.
DanielLite is lauded for working with bravado and confidence, using something as stiff and unintuitive as plastic cups and making them into a cute, well tailored cocktail dresss. Austin says that he stood out for not using the easy fabric substitutes.
Jerry’s piece is described as a bridal nurse by Michael Kors, who also says it looks like Handi-wipes gone wrong or something you’d wear in a slasher movie to kill someone.
Korto is praised for her use of fresh vegetables, her chic sense of style and her workmanship. It is impeccably made, says NinaGarcia. The judges agree that it is the right girl in the right dress with the right look.
Stella is clocked for throwing any old piece of shit together just to have something on the runway. You took the easy way out and still failed, says Heidi. Butt ugly, agrees Michael Kors.
Kelli points out that the hook and eye fastener on the back of her dress was made from the spiral binding out of a notebook. MK is impressed by how far she could push the envelope.
Blayne says he didn’t want to bore the judges. NinaGarcia and MK almost jump out of their chairs in unison, both wagging their fingers at him as they say “Oh, you most certainly didn’t bore us.” MK says, was it provocative? Yes. Pretty? No. Austin Scarlett says that he wrote one word on his notes as Blayne’s girl walked out: HIDEOUS. Yep, I’d say that was the one word to use.
So. Karto, in. DanielLite, in. Blayne, his tan and his stupid knit hat, in (why?). Stella, in (why?). Jerry, out. No need to ask why. If Michael Kors says you’ve designed something to wear while killing someone in a slasher movie? Probably not a good look. That leaves Kelli our winner. I think her work on the skirt was masterful, but I really like Jerrell’s funky, colorful dress a lot more.
But that’s OK, because we still have the rest of the season to cut, sew and blog. Until next week, keep the scissors sharp.