Last night, after watching an exhausting hour of the
Bianca Bitches and Hos (aka America’s Next Top Model), I settled deep into the couch cushions, opened up the laptop and participated in a live blog party with the most rabid (and I say that in the nicest possible way) of the Project Runway fans over at Blogging Project Runway. Thanks for letting me in, and I’ll certainly do it again, even though it made taking any coherent sort of notes impossible.
And. We are off and running, and damn Heidi Klum for being spot on when she said this is the best season yet. We didn’t waste any time with the audition tapes or the freak show of folks who didn’t get in. There was no pre-challenge challenge to narrow the field. There were just new apartments, which, I’m sorry, look exactly like the old apartments. Gotham. Atlas. Cube Farm. What ever. The fourteen move in and the camera does not linger over any of them, but I wonder at the introduction between Jack and Kevin (who would like everyone to know that he is straight before we go any further). Kevin says hi and Jack says hi and they shake hands and seem to hit it off and then Jack charmingly allows as how the two of them will most likely loathe each other before the end of the season. And then he smiles and laughs, charmingly. Or sinisterly. Only time will tell.
In the women’s apartments the two earlies gloat over having squatter’s rights to the closet space and bed choices. It turns out that this is Jillian (in Betty Page mini-culottes) and Carmen (I used to be a model and if you were never a model, you don’t know shit about clothes.) They are joined by a heavily tattooed Sweet P (who used to be a biker chick and also has Evil P tattooed on her other forearm, and who warns us that you never want to meet Evil P. I’ll lay you odds right now that we meet her in all her Shetangi-like glory before the end of episode 3). There is the requisite whack job who comes in and claims a spot for her Sun Salutations. This is Elvira, uh, Elisa, who makes 30-foot tall marionettes which somehow accidentally translated into fashion. Whoo-boy. Is she Angela? Is she Lupe? Is she Vincent?
In the men’s apartment, we have the arrival of a flamboyant little boy with wicked manners and the worst emo haircut in history. It is Christian, and he has worked for Vivienne Westwood and gone to school in London, and is a perfect prat. He is also, he says with a stupid valley girl uptilt at the end of the sentence “Really kinda Fierce?” Hmmph. We’ll just see about that. He says he is thrilled to be sleeping in a bed because he sleeps on the floor at home. Why spend money on furniture when you can spend it on? What did he say? Fabric? OK. I’ll give him that. But if you have a big enough stash, then you can sleep quite comfortably on that. Not that I would know, by any means. I’m just guessing.
There is a handsome fellow named Rami from Israel, and a Jay McCarroll light clone, who, as it turns out, made the salad dress that Erin featured on Dress a Day. Look, I loved it then, and I love it now, and despite the unfortunate resemblance to Jay, I’m loving Chris March. There’s some guy who looks like a watered-down, much shorter Emmett. A stupid hat guy. Several stupid hat guys. Lots and lots of tattoos. None can hold a candle to the Neck of Darkness that was Jeffrey-the-Pinheaded-Shmoo, and for that, too, I am grateful.
Back in the women’s dorm, there are more tattoos and more women. Simone Le Fang. Kit, whose work just floored me. I love her stuff. And I know the perfect place to get the hats to wear with them. If I don’t own that candy pink Marie Antoinette Pirate Tricorne with the fishnet drape by next Halloween, my name ain’t Miz Shoes. Of course, I’ll need the candy pink, be-ribboned and be-shelled corset, too. But maybe Kit works in pink… Rounding out both genders we have a florist who makes clothes and a lingerie designer who wants to do outerwear, and Victorya, who seems to design a lot of stuff that looks alike.
Tyra Heidi Mail! Meet us in Bryant Park. And now you know where that forced song lyric in the title came from. Hey, you want better? You think of better. Champagne, and nibbly things and small talk and Tim and Heidi. Heidi asks the designers if they are enjoying the champagne and they all say yes, and she says good, because the party is over. Tim reminds everyone how in previous seasons, the first challenge has been to make a dress out of junk like groceries or their apartment furnishings, but this year, no. He points across the park to three shabby art festival tents and tells the designers that the tents have what they will work from. Only—FAKE OUT!—it isn’t the tents, it’s what is inside the tents. $50,000 worth of fabrics from Mood. Heels come off, elbows come out and they stampede across the lawn to claim their yardage. Except for Chris, who is a leetle too portly to run. Kevin beats out Kit for the silk plaid. Elisa grabs some silk chiffon. Others are grabbing just anything. By the time Chris makes it to the tents, there is nothing left but (insert evil chuckle) exactly what he wanted. Good, because that was a shitty thing to do, reality show or not. Hah! and Snap! Their ultimate assignment: to make a garment that shows who they are as designers. State your point of view now, or for ever hold your peace.
Back they all schlep to Parsons, but not before Elisa takes her silk chiffon and starts scrubbing it in the grass, rubbing grass stains into the gorgeous fabric. She is wearing Bermuda shorts and high cowboy boots. She claims to be imbuing the fabric with the soul of the grass. Oh. Really. Well. That will either be fabulous or a fabulous atrocity. Score one for the Vincent style of loony. Or would that be Bradley? As they leave, Tim turns and looks at the skeletons of the tents. All that is left is a faux fur pelt, sadly alone. Poignant. And also nasty, which is why it was rightfully left behind to become a nest for rats, or some homeless guy when even the rats don’t want it. They arrive at the workroom. (Oh, workroom, how I’ve missed you and the mannequins. And the industrial machines and cutting tables of correct height and steamers and irons and the BlueFly wall of accessories, which last year was the Macy’s wall of accessories. It looks like a big step up in style this year.)
And now all the crazy comes out. Christian is showing off what he learned in Vivienne Westwood’s attellier, but without the attention to little details like matching the plaid, which he defends as a point of view when Tim questions the wisdom of matching the back seam, but not the sleeves. Christian is putting on the wicketywhack. Elisa is communing with the voices in her head to determine which one has the best ideas for the dress. Christian calls her strange. Miz Shoes calls Christian Mr. Pot, and points out that as such he has very little room to criticize Mrs. Kettle over there, who, having destroyed that yummy silk chiffon is now doing bad things to a bolt of peacock blue…jersey? In a moment of lunacy that makes Vincent, Lupe, Bradley and Angela all look like pillars of sobriety and sanity, Elisa is sitting on the sewing table, legs stuck straight out, and is somehow sewing the dress on herself, rather than on a dress form. What ever. I’m sorry, there Mr. Pot, you may, in fact, have a point. And then, while everyone else is working like made, she announces that she has finished and goes off to take a nap.
Rami is draping. Rami has biceps. No. Really. Rami is built like a brick house and as long as he wears tank tops, the man can do no wrong in my book. I think Tim Gunn may feel the same way, because he says things about Rami’s draping but he’s eyeing Rami’s biceps. And who can blame him? Rami is doing things with a steel grey silk georgette that makes me want to weep. Did I mention that he has really great arms? He does. And Marion and Ricky have stupid hats. I’m thinking that the rule this year is stupid hats, stupid tats and/or stupid hair. Carmen has the same asymmetrical emo cut that Christian does. I miss Laura all of a sudden. Finally it’s time to go home, and many of the designers have much left to do, like put in zippers, or sew up seams, or in the case of Elisa, make a dress that doesn’t suck.
It is morning in the apartment, and we are gifted with the sight of Jack in nothing but his briefs. Miz Shoes has a moment on the couch. Miz Shoes thinks that if Jack will continue to wander around in towels and briefs, Miz Shoes will be very happy. This is infinitely better than Santino in a towel. At Parsons the designers meet their models, send them off for hair and makeup and prep for the runway. There are some big girls this season, by which I mean that they may have eaten more than wheat juice and hot lemon water in the past year. Some of them actually look like solid food has passed their lips and they LIKED it. Elisa “hand measures” her model, by which I mean she estimates the girl’s height and width by hand spans. A hand is the standard by which horses are measured. A hand is four inches. In case you ever need to figure out someone’s height in hands. I am so amazed by this action of Elisa’s that I almost miss her (Elisa) thinking that maybe a column of peacock blue jersey with a tail of shredded, wadded up crap that will unfold and explode down the runway could be a bad idea because maybe the girl won’t be able to walk in it. Tim asks her if she’s sure about this concept and she says that the other times she tried it, it almost worked. Unfortunately, she doesn’t listen to the voice that’s telling her to make it work, she’s listening to the one that is telling her this: Bai Ling wants you to design for personality number 43.
Heidi comes out in a gold mini dress with her golden locks and her legs up to there and looks amazing. Today’s guest judge is Monique Lhuillier. No idea. Had to look her up. And the runway commences. Eliza’s model comes out (wearing a particularly clashing aqua slouch boot…Angela crazy moment) and promptly gets ensnarled in her gown and can barely make it to the end of the catwalk and back without tripping. Chris, who we saw nothing of in the workroom, has made a beautiful, elegant olive green and eggplant gown in something shiny and drapey. Charmeuse? Kevin, who wants you to know, before we go any further, that he is straight, has made a sort of Playboy Bunny/waitress mini-dress out of what looks like a black pinstripe menswear suiting, but with the added kickiness of a metallic ren-fest wench bustier. Meh. Sweet P has the first baby doll dress of the night, in an ivory oversize eyelet lace with burgundy at the neck and hem. Simone has a monochromatic hot mess with an even worse brocade mini shrug. Jillian has made a vibrantly red (perhaps a red sheer over a magenta stretch underlining) party dress with a bubble miniskirt. Christian hauls out his beige, black, white VW ensemble complete with bustle on the skirt. But markedly well-made, I have to say. Victorya sends down a black mini-baby doll with bondage straps across the upper arms that makes me think of something Heidi wore last year. Rami’s steel grey dress is a knockout, and I’d wear it if I could get it. Ricky the lingerie designer also sends down a black baby doll minidress. Ho-freaking-hum with the baby dolls already. Jack sent down a dress that could have walked in anyone’s cruise wear collection, and it is accessorized flawlessly. He used a black and white fabric, cutting it so that the print was an integral point of interest in the design. Oh, there’s a term for that, but it escapes me. He used a clear turquoise either as an edge treatment or as a lining that showed along the seams, I couldn’t tell about the construction, but it was another dress that would sell out if it were put into ready to wear. Marion did some Santino light thing all flowy and drapey and with raggedy swatches of denim. Steven (and who is he again?) did a wonderful, retro new-look sort of pencil skirt and dramatic jacket suit. Black with red accent. For all the color that I saw in the Bryant Park tents, and all the color popping out of their bags of swag, this is a black and red runway show. Carmen made something with genie pants and an Elizabethan vest. I didn’t want nightmares, so I didn’t look too closely. Kit sends out an asymmetrical black and red (plaid?) hottness. And then, there is judging.
Chris, Kevin, Sweet P, Jillian, Jack, Marion, Steve, Carmen and Kit are all safe. Rami, Simone, Ricky, Victorya, Elisa and Christian are the top and bottom three. Simone Le Fang says that she wanted to make a moderne romantic, but Michael says it looked like her model dressed in the dark. And you can’t sew, either. Rami’s silk georgette was called sophisticated and chic. MK pointed out that there was a mother-of-the-bride fleurchon up there on the shoulder, kind of spoiling everything. Ricky, as a designer of lingerie, was called out for doing a stupid baby doll when he could have done something constructed to within an inch of its life. A pageant dress? Oh, Kayne, where are you now? Victorya’s baby doll was also dissed, but Michael admired her use of the arm bindings, and laughed an evil laugh as he allowed as how he knew women who would bleed for fashion, much less not be able to hail a cab.
And then we had Elisa, who explained her point of view thusly: “a sylphlike haiku of a cut like SLLLLLLUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRRPPP and a tail that goes FFWWWWWAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH”. Imagine the appropriate hand gestures, too, please. To which Michael says, “you had me at hello. Color: pretty. Sleeve: pretty. But where to stop? It’s a train wreck.” Dammit, Michael, low puns are MY purview. Christian’s work was found to be innovative (you say innovative, I say derivative. Tomayto. Tomahto.) Rami’s ability to drape with those amazing arms was duly noted as was the fact that he knows his craft.
As the judges discussed the bottom three, Heidi said that Elisa’s dress made her model look like she was (and again I quote, because there is nothing I can add) “pooing fabric”. And finally, Rami wins and Simone is out. Next week looks like a team challenge. And having watched this and ANTM in the same night, I am left to ponder the differences between shit and shinola.