Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Come As You Are" - Project Runway Recap

Friends, TV nerds, reality show junkies... I decided to start blogging along with some lighter fare, just to mix it up here chez bloggo.  (You can tell I'm still classy though, because I just used French.  Fear not!)  And what better fare than Season 9 of Project Runway?

I admit it: I love a good reality show.  But really, my jam tends to be of the variety where contestants have to use their skills to create a product every week - so I'm a big sucker for Project Runway (and not so much interested in The Bachelor).  Sure, I know next to nothing about fashion (or sewing, let's be honest) but to me it's always fascinating to see the creative process at work, and the fact that I couldn't thread a needle to save my life (I have bad eyesight, okay!) means that I'm all the more in awe at what these contestants can bang out in 24 hours.

Season 9 of Project Runway kicked off with a twist: 20 designers were brought to New York City, invited to show pieces of their work to the panel of judges, and immediately narrowed down to 16 before the competition really began.  I actually rather enjoyed this conceit, if only because it gave me a chance to familiarize myself with the designers - their work, their faces, their names - in a real-life introduction, instead of just a talking head.

Not only that, but we got to see the most glorious panel give feedback: Tim Gunn, Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, and Frau Klum herself!  I won't lie; I would pay good money to witness this foursome in almost any situation.  Maybe a road trip reality show?  Tim would drive, Heidi could ride shotgun and navigate, and Michael and Nina sit in the back, alternating between boredom and colorful commentary - just like teenagers!  I'd totally watch it.  (Shame Saturn went out of business; they could've provided the car.)

But even just perched at a table, the Klum-Kors-Gunn-Garcia quadforce was plenty entertaining for me - mainly Heidi Klum.  I'm pretty sure Heidi Klum could charm me into a pit of alligators and I wouldn't notice until one of my limbs mysteriously went missing.  And I guess Nina Garcia could charm Rafael into a similar situation, given his claim that she was "talking sex" with him, using only her eyes.  (Okay, Rafael.  If you say so.)

Anyways, I liked as well that the designers had to really present themselves in an audition-type format, with an opportunity to interact with the judges outside the runway setting.  The most interesting interaction, to me, was one of the early standouts of this season: Anya, who only taught herself how to sew a mere four months previous.  Well, that's a Project Runway first, isn't it?

Heidi fought hard for Anya to have a chance, and I think it was a wise decision, in terms of quality TV.  We now have an underdog to root for (alongside Bert - more on him later) so every success and every failure is magnified in emotional response.  And I do genuinely think she belongs in the competition - it's not a lack of style that could impede her.  Look at what she sleeps in!  Look at her hairstyle!  Look at her ability to make pants using only common sense!  Anya's kind of a badass!  So yes, I'm definitely interested in seeing her rise to the occasion - and hopefully, she'll deliver. 

Speaking of underdogs, how about ol' Bert?  Or should I say Old Bert?  He's 102!  Not gonna lie; Bert won me over too.  Joking about his age?  Responding to Heidi's praise with a simple danke schoen?  I like this guy, and I liked his design tonight, too.  He listened to the judges, and tried to break out of his box!  That's commendable on this show - too often designers get stuck in a cycle of the same techniques because it's their "thing."  (See: Rami and draping, Season 4; Uli and flowing print dresses, Season 3; or Irina and the color black, Season 6.)  But Bert, as well as Anya, fought hard to prove themselves against the judge's original doubts, and I can't knock that approach at all.

Let's talk challenge, shall we?  The designers' first task was typical design-debut fare, in that it was a simple challenge with rigid rules - that required creativity!  Yes, these guys had to assemble a look using only their own pajamas and one bedsheet as materials.  I don't know about you guys, but my pajamas do not lend themselves to being fashion forward.  And really, whose do?  So that was the true difficulty of this challenge: taking something that is completely utilitarian and mundane in its sartorial existence, and transform it into something sophisticated.  In other words: those runway pieces better not look like jammies.

And for the most part, they didn't.  Although a lot of those looks seemed 70s-inspired.  Are the 70s back or something?  Or is this what happens when people have to make pants out of bedsheets?  I don't know.  Regardless, the majority of the designs were good enough to skate through to next week (although apparently that wasn't enough for Danielle, whose proclamation of "that's not good enough!" is a big indication she'll probably have a meltdown sometime later this season).

Anya was praised for her excellently constructed pants, although I thought for sure Michael Kors would say something about the crotch, as he is wont to do.  But he didn't!  And how many times this season do you think we'll hear Anya use some variation of the phrase "That was my first time making _________!" in her cute little accent?  I'm guessing a lot.  But she's a damn good first-timer, and I have to hand it to her for not letting the competition psych her out.

Bert's design and Anthony Ryan's design also got the thumbs-up.  I quite liked both, but I think overall I preferred Bert's.  The cute little pattern on the boxer shorts!  The two-toned gray fabrics!  The little bow!  It was a charming mix of whimsical and dour, and it's always lovely to see an idea like that behind a design - not just a manifestation of cute or pretty or oh, I'd wear that, but oh, that's smart. 

Anthony Ryan seemed to understand more than most that the best approach to this challenge was to make the pajamas completely unrecognizable, and despite his fears that his model's ass cheeks would make their runway debut, the look went over well.  And hey, according to Michael Kors, this is a man who "actually understands the business of getting women dressed," which I don't think quite sounds exactly how he meant it. 

As for the bottom three... well, honestly, I think the judges' dislike for Josh's outfit was a little overexaggerated.  It's not that it was horribly constructed, or terribly ugly, it just... still looked kind of like pajamas.  Downfall, your table's ready!  And unfortunately, Josh was not prepared for the awful feeling of the judges staring into your soul and seeing every shortcoming, and the poor guy damn near unraveled.  I felt bad for him; I really don't think his design was as bad as Rafael's.  Rafael's was terrible!  "Flintstone disco pouch" really was the only way to describe what was hanging around his model's neck, and yet again Michael Kors reminds us why he earns every penny he makes for his commentary.  And bless Christina Ricci; I love when the guest judges come on and don't want to be too insulting to these contestants - and Christina Ricci was definitely one of these kind souls.  To her, Rafael's pants were merely "off-putting," and she went out of her way to compliment him on the craftsmanship of the shirt.  

And, as for Julie... well, at least she knew her design was bad - although I can't figure out why you wouldn't try and do something to masquerade that god-awful pink pajama pant she wore.  How do you make kitschy PJs fashion-forward?  (And for the record, I don't think it worked for Fallene either - I liked her overall design, but that rainbow-puking clown did nothing for me.)

But at the end of the day, Rafael was the one to get the boot - which is a shame, not only because he seemed like a congenial guy, but also because I was looking forward to him trying to talk sex with Nina Garcia's eyes again.  Alas, it wasn't meant to be.

So!  As of right now, I am a fan of this episode's top three - Anya, Bert, and Anthony Ryan - as well as Joshua M. (not to be confused with Joshua C., with his barely-transformed PJ look) and Danielle.  Oh, and I want Kimberly to stick around simply for the laugh factor - apparently she's the one in the workroom mostly likely to drop the phrase "nut juice," and also most likely to want a cheddar biscuit from Red Lobster at 6 in the morning. 

Alright, gang.  Until next week!  Hopefully I'll get better at recapping - but I'm excited about taking a season-long journey with you guys.  Oh, and it feels very weird to plug this, but the Project Runway website is actually rather tricked out with multi-angle views of all the designs - and fan favorite voting going on all season long!  So check it out if you are so inclined.

1 comment:

  1. Even bed sheet materials can be used for other design uses. Some materials are versatile for different purposes.


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