Friday, March 23, 2012

Project Runway All Stars Finale: The look of love!
Before we start the finale, we have a question from a viewer. Stephanie from Delaware wants to know Isaac’s number one piece of fashion advice:
Isaac: “Spend all your money on your hair. I mean it. Every damn penny. Clean out your retirement account, sell your house, pawn your jewelry, and spend all of it on your hair. You will not regret it.”
Stephanie from Delaware: “Uh, okay, but what about the rest of my outfit?”
Isaac: “Just get your clothes at Target. Trust me, Stephanie, nobody cares what you’re wearing.”
Sensible advice. Now let’s get back to the finale. We pick up the story with the three finalists, Austin, Mondo, and Michael, heading to the runway venue, the beautiful New York Hall, in downtown Gotham City.
The designers make their final adjustments. Michael’s models are causing him serious problems; one of them lost ten pounds in her right arm and gained ten pounds in her left arm. Another one of his models lost six inches from her waist. That’s just inconsiderate.
Joanna Coles very sweetly decides she needs to use a lint roller on Mondo, who, obviously, complains about it:
Mondo: “It’s just like having your aunt use a lint roller on you.”
So, what you’re saying is if I get my aunt to use a lint roller on me, I will know what it feels like to have Joanna Coles de-lint me? I think I speak for everyone when I say, I would like to give that a try. 
Time for the runway, with Angela, Georgina, Isaac, and guest judges Tommy Hilfiger and Martin Fry, lead singer of the 80s pop group ABC. Oh, my god, we love Martin Fry!

Austin comes out on stage to promote the new “Dark Shadows” movie:
Austin: “So this vampire from the 19th century, played by Johnny Depp, is suddenly transported to present day Williamsburg, where he gets his hair styled by his Hasidic dandy friends, and Helena Bonham Carter is probably in it but I’m not sure. Thank you.”
OK, I did not have high hopes for this collection. But he opened with a great look: crazy flared pink shorts. From the silhouette to the styling, I loved everything about it. It’s the most interesting thing Austin has ever made; the Erics are unanimous in that. His second look is an adorable little lace dress. It’s perfect. So far, I’m impressed. Is it possible he made a great collection? 
Well, no. The collection went downhill fast after the second look. The third look was boring and the red carpet gown was ridiculous. The black vinyl jumpsuit was fine, but the wedding dress was aggressively mediocre and had nothing to do with the rest of the collection. I just don't know who his customer is; a young, modern woman or an elderly drag queen? His collection was schizophrenic. I think it needs therapy.

And speaking of needing therapy:
Mondo: “After this season of Project Runway All Stars, I need therapy. No, I'm being serious. Why are you all laughing? This is a cry for help!”
I don't have much to say about Mondo’s collection. It was excellent. It was as fresh and fun as his previous collection, but possibly more sophisticated. As I noted in my previous post, the ink blot design is so last year, but he did it so well I don’t care. The weakest piece was his final dress; the fabric was cool but the design was a little blah. 

And speaking of a little blah:
Michael: “Hi, everybody. I didn’t realize I was supposed to prepare a speech. I would like to take you on a trip to see the Yeti, the mythical big foot creature of the North. Enjoy.”
Michael: “Did I say the Yeti? I meant the Serengeti. Sorry, I’m really nervous. I just want this so bad.”
Michael made a beautiful, solid collection, but because it all blurred together for me, I’m just going to let Joanna do her play by play:
Joanna: “Look one -- very luxurious and comfortable. Look two -- those layering pieces are a designer’s bread and butter. Look three -- love those prints. Look four -- love the flats with that. Look five -- no comment. Look six -- this is the moment when they will know it’s you; this is the signature Michael dress. Michael, you rock. You’re the best. Everyone loves you. You can do anything you set your mind to. You can fly higher than an eagle. You are the wind beneath my wings.”
Oh, Joanna, you are so wonderful and supportive and full of crap. I love you!
Angela: “The winning designer will get the use of a studio for a year, a guest editor position at Marie Claire, a boutique at Neiman Marcus, and one hundred thousand dollars. That’s quite a package, Isaac!”
Isaac: “Thank you, Angela!”
Mondo wins. Big surprise. Congratulations, Mondo! As annoying as he’s been this season, I think he deserves it. Martin Fry is excited to have Mondo open his boutiques in Neiman Marcus. I can’t wait to see them; I think he’s the best choice for that prize. He will also probably make a good guest editor, if he takes a little Prozac.
Well, that’s the season. Thanks for reading! I’m looking forward to a little blogging vacation, but I’ll be back this summer for the next season of Project Runway No Stars!
But before we go, the multi-talented Michael Costello would like to do an impression of Dave from “Happy Endings”:
Michael: “I’m Dave.”

Friday, March 16, 2012

Project Runway All Stars Season Finale, Part One: The Hunger Games!

Mondo: “I am so done eating. Over it.”

Austin: “But we haven’t even had dessert. I’m so hungry!”

Michael: “I want this so bad I can taste it. Are you gonna finish that?”

I’m assuming The Hunger Games is a reality show about being really hungry, right? So, we start our tale in the mythical city of New York, in a not-so-distant future where the Real Housewives franchise has merged with The Amazing Race. For the new hybrid show, fashion designers are sent as tribute from the different boroughs of the city to create mini-collections of five looks in four days for $3,000 and then fight to the death.

From the borough of Clinicaldepressionville we have Mondo and Mila, creating a collection based on therapy. They are using Rorschach ink blots, which would be a cool idea if we hadn’t just seen it on the last season of Project Runway.

From the borough of Kosher-Fragonardistan we have Austin and Anthony. They are creating a collection based on Marie Antoinette, punk rock, and Hasidic Jews. Which sounds totally awesome. Unfortunately, none of those references will be detectable in the collection.

And finally, from the borough of Why-Dear-God-Why? we have Michael and April, creating a resort collection based on an African safari.

Joanna: “I’ll tell you why. One third of all clothing sold globally is purchased by women who need long, flowing gowns to wear on safari.”

I find that hard to believe.

Joanna: “It says so in the most recent issue of Marie Claire, so it must be true.”

Oh, right, so speaking of that, the designers get to visit Joanna at her office:

Joanna: “Let me tell you about my typical work day. I get dressed in the most fabulous clothes and then I stand around in a glass case pointing at things and looking super important and hot as hell. I make people walk by and stare at me and then I see how long I can make them wait before they jump out a window. I love my job.”

Yeah, no kidding. So the designers get advice about creating a collection from Joanna, Angela, Georgina, and Isaac:

Joanna: “Theatricality in a collection is not mandatory.”

Angela: “Hi, guys!”

Georgina: “It’s perfectly normal to be suicidal all the time.”

Isaac: “I have one word for you: schadenfreude. Remember that.”

The designers process the information:

Michael: “I’m just going to sit back and soak this in.”

Mondo: “I’m just going to sit back and do nothing for the rest of the day.”

Austin: “I’m going to make a wedding dress!”

In the design room, Mondo is being a real pill:

Mondo: “I am in a foul mood.”

And he’s usually such a ray of sunshine. Well, it’s time for model selection. That should be fun. We’re ready for you, ladies.

Austin: “I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t call us ladies. Even though I’m in full makeup and wearing a blouse, I would still prefer to be referred to as a gentleman.”

I was talking to the models.

Austin: “oh.”

Mondo and Austin fight over the models. It’s a fight to the death. Austin takes out a glove (you know he always has gloves with him at all times) and challenges Mondo to a duel. Michael is the second. They take ten paces, turn, raise their pistols, and …

Michael: “Hey, I have an idea! Why don’t we flip a coin, instead!”

Oh, come on! We only watch this show for the violence! And the full frontal nudity! Oh, well.

The All Stars twist, otherwise known as a regular old twist, is that they have to make an extra look from the scraps from previous challenges this season. That’s a pretty fun challenge, though it obviously works better for some designers than for others. Mondo often mixes fabrics, so this should be easy for him. Michael, on the other hand, usually needs a lot of yardage of the same fabric, so he could have a hard time. However, this might be the kick in the pants Michael needs; it might force him to create something other than the same boring dress he makes for every challenge. I can hope, anyway.

Other than the designers trying to one-up each other about who had the worst childhood and who is going through the greatest personal challenges at the moment, not much happened this week. There was no runway and there were no home visits. Also, my laptop, which I previously reported as dying, completely died this week and I’m writing this at work, during my lunch break. So I have to go now. I’m glad we are almost done with the season.

Tune in next week when Mondo is declared the winner. Oops, did I just give that away?

Friday, March 09, 2012

Project Runway All Stars, episode ten: Cost me, baby, one more time!

This week Mondo goes through all the stages of grief: Fear, Denial, Bargaining, Wishy-Washyness, Anger, Obliviousness, Shock, Pissyness, Hoarding, Joy, and, finally, Acceptance.

Mondo: "I am emotionally drained."

I'm also starting to find Mondo a little exhausting. And there were way too many fights in this episode. About nothing:

Micheal: "Hey, Kenley, look at my sketch."

Kenley: "Wow, that is a beautiful sketch, Michael. You should teach Mondo how to sketch like that."

Mondo: "I heard that and it really hurt my feelings."

Kenley: "You can't hear me because you are standing all the way over there."

Mondo: "No, I can hear you."

Kenley: "That's impossible. You are too far away to hear me."

Mondo: "Trust me. I can hear you."

Kenley: "I don't know why you keep saying that. You obviously can't hear me. You are standing on the other side of the room."

Mondo: "What the hell is wrong with you? I'm telling you I can hear you."

Kenley: "Fine! You can hear me! What were we arguing about?"

Mondo: "I don't remember."

The challenge this week was fascinating. It was the first challenge this season that actually made sense. The designers had to make a garment that could be produced at a specific price point. And they worked with an actual coster, who determined exactly how much their design would cost to make and how much it would sell for. There have been challenges is the past in which the designers had to keep budget in mind, but I don't think they have ever gone into this much detail. I was a little surprised that they were going for a $300 to $500 price point, which seems like a lot, especially when you are creating garments you could get at H&M for about $19.95. I'm kidding, of course. They would cost $29.95.

So Kenley had a real advantage in this challenge, because she has done this type of costing before. She knew exactly what her garment would sell for, she knew exactly what the production costs would be, and she knew exactly what the fabrication would cost. So Kenley was sent home.

Sorry, Kenley! That dress was boring, but I'm sorry to see you go.

Austin and Michael were the middle two this week. Austin made a decent fuchsia swing coat and Michael made another pretty but boring dress that consists of two pieces of fabric stuck together in a way that prevents you from being able to wear a bra. Joanna is pulling her hair out. Michael promises he will get his point of view across. Which is great because more of Michael's point of view is exactly what nobody has been asking for.

The big deal this week is that Mondo can't sketch. He had no way to express his concept to the coster, which was a really important part of the challenge. Obviously, he won. So let's look at the sketch Mondo made this week:

Mondo: "See, it's a guy shooting another guy, who is saying, 'Ow' because it hurts."

Look, don't get me wrong, it's a great sketch. I think it's a powerful image that comments on the prevalence of gun violence in modern society. I'm just not sure it's an effective way to explain your idea for a dress. But what do I know? His dress was super-cute, by the way. Congratulations, Mondo!*

Just for fun, I am actually going to mention the purported host of the show, Angela. I have avoided her all season, so I think it's time to give her a say:

Angela: "I loved the color and I loved the shape. See, it says right here in my notes that I loved the color and I loved the shape. So it must be true."


That's it. Tune in next week for the finale.

[The sketch was actually made by our friend's six-year-old while we were eating yogurt recently.]

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Project Runway All Stars, episode nine: You light up my life. Sort of.

Let's get right to the challenge. Isaac comes out on stage wearing kind of an ugly skirt, but then he snaps his fingers and the studio goes dark and suddenly he lights up like Times Square on an acid trip:

Isaac: "Oh, my god! I'm gorgeous!"

Yes. The challenge this week is to make an avant garde look that lights up and/or glows in the dark:

Joanna: "But, tell us, Isaac, what does avant garde mean?"

Isaac: "I'm glad you asked. It means something new."

Joanna: "It doesn't mean shocking?"

Isaac: "Nope. Just new."

Joanna: "Does it have to look like something that would be worn in outer space?"

Isaac: "No. It just has to be new."

Joanna: "But surely it has to be costumey and completely unwearable, right?"

Isaac: "Are you trying to drive me crazy, Joanna? It just has to be something we haven't seen before. It has to be new. That's it. End of story. DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE WORDS THAT ARE COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH?"

Joanna: "Alright. No need to get upset. I was just asking."

Can we get to the challenge?

Isaac: "First, I have to tell you who the guest judge is. Normally, we would tell you when the judging starts, but this guest judge is so talented it can't wait."

He has had all his skin replaced with the finest Corinthian leather.
He once had a wardrobe malfunction and people were outraged because they missed it.
Downton Abbey was based on his life.
He IS the most interesting man in the world.

Wow, that is pretty impressive, but...

Wrestling alligators doesn't excite him. He only does it to give the alligators some exercise.
When his momma sits around the house, she uses a comfortable chair.
Siri asks him for directions.
He IS the most interesting man in the world.

Oh, I didn't realize there was more of...

He has won seven Academy Awards, despite the fact that he has never been nominated.
His tears taste like Mountain Dew and contain even more caffeine.
The price of gold is tied to his body mass index.
He IS the most interesting man in the world.

Are we done now?

Isaac: "Yes, that's right! The guest judge this week is Pharrell Williams and the winner of the challenge will have his (or, less likely, her) design worn by one of Pharrell's artists. Apparently he owns some artists."

Supercool. OK, so the designers go to some weird lighting store and Austin asks the question on everyone's mind:

Austin: "Where do you keep your blue barrettes?"

Well, let's see ... have you tried looking in the barrette aisle?

Same old, same old in the design room this week. Mondo complains about Austin being high maintenance, while working on a Tron Teletubby costume. Michael makes several outfits and then picks the worst one. Jerell finds increasingly hilarious ways to tell us how amazing he is. And Kenley laughs through the pain, while everyone is being a total bitch to her.

Let's get to the runway, with guest judge Pharrell Williams:

Isaac: "He was named Best Dressed Man in the world."

Will you please stop?

Isaac: "No, that one is true. Also, whenever he is asked how many blonds it takes to screw in a light bulb, he always says, 'One,' because he only has the highest respect for women."

Oh, for crying out loud.

Anyway, There is one amazing look on the runway this week, a couple of OK looks, and a couple of duds.

Kenley knocked it out of the park this week. I loved the glowing jacket you could see through to the plaid dress underneath; the styling worked; she made her usual dress, but turned it into a completely different look with the jacket; she managed to add volume on the top and bottom and still have it work; it was almost -- dare I say it? -- avant garde.

Austin's look was very pretty. I really liked it. It was dramatic and made good use of the lights. But it was not even remotely avant garde. Austin won. Very annoying.

Isaac: "Tell me about it. I thought Kenley should have won, too. Unfortunately, I work with a bunch of morons."

Yeah, I guess I should be used to it. So, Mondo is in the middle. His look was fine. Jerell and Michael created looks that were almost good, but they managed to mess them up.

Michael made a ninja outfit and then just wrapped it in glow tape. At first it was striking, and then you realized how badly made it was. And it seemed like the glow tape was an afterthought that had nothing to do with the design. The blinking lights were terrible. I would have sent him home for this.

But I can't blame the judges for sending home Jerell. His look was also bad. But if he hadn't added that awful black maxi-skirt, I think I would have really liked it. The pannier skirt was pretty. But, as usual, everything about the styling was horrid. Jerell is out. Sorry Jerell.