Friday, November 30, 2012

Project Runway All Stars Season Two, Episode Five: What a drag!

On this very special episode of All Stars, the designers will be making an androgynous Thanksgiving dinner for their mothers, who are visiting from out of state.

Carolyn: "The hottest taste for moms this Thanksgiving is androgyny! So you'll be making unisex food for your moms!"

Oh, OK. So the designers get started on dinner and then Georgina comes in:

Georgina: "Wait, there's a twist! Your dads are also here!"

NO! The designers' moms and dads haven't spoken since the divorce! They can't be in the same room together!

Georgina: "Oops. The dads weren't supposed to show up until next week. I wonder how this happened."

You did it on purpose! You're trying to get their moms and dads back together!

Georgina: "Why would we do that? We don't want a bunch of unnecessary drama on this show. No, it's just a scheduling mistake. Well, I guess we'll have to make the best of it."

You are pure evil.

Joanna: "Yeah, she's like a crow on a carcass, that one. OK, designers, here's how it's going to work: you will make coordinating androgynous garments for your parents. If you do it right, we won't be able to tell which one is your mom and which one is your dad. This should confuse them so much they forget why they hate each other and they will fall in love again. If your parents get remarried you will win the challenge. If your parents still hate each other but have mad, passionate sex in the sewing room anyway, you will be safe this week. If you fail so miserably that your parents actually kill each other you will be out. Good luck!"

Well, this usually works exactly as planned in sitcoms. Anyway, I don't blame the designers for the disasters they created this week. As usual, the producers took what could have been a good challenge and explained it so poorly the designers didn't know what to do. Why did the looks have to be androgynous AND avant garde? Were they supposed to be making two versions of the same look? Do the designers know the difference between androgyny and drag? These and many other questions will not be answered on this episode of All Stars.

I thought most of the looks were too costumey. And Kayne just put women's clothes on a man. Ivy finally fulfilled her lifelong dream of making a pair of grandpa panties.

There were some good ones, though. Uli did well. But Anthony Ryan's looks were the best. He made a dress for a man, but it didn't look like drag -- it didn't look like a man in a woman's dress -- it looked like a dress that was made for a man. His looks were coordinated without looking like two versions of the same look and they were interesting without looking like costumes. He should have won the challenge.

Instead, Emilio won. Don't get me wrong; I thought Emilio's looks were really dramatic and cool. I just didn't think they were as successful as Anthony Ryan's. My problem with Emilio's was that instead of being coordinated looks they were really just two versions of the same look. And they looked like costumes for a Broadway musical, which would make sense coming from Emilio, but didn't really work for me in this challenge. His parents loved their looks, though, and that was the real test:

Emilio's mom and dad (turning so Carolyn can get a better view)
Emilio's Dad: "Damn, we look good together! I can hardly tell where I stop and you begin."

Emilio's Mom: "Yeah, I can't even remember what we were fighting about."

Carolyn: "He is super hot!"

Emilio's Mom: "You stay away from my man, bitch!"

The bad looks were pretty bad. Casanova created gold leather costumes for backup dancers. Not a success. Laura Kathleen was the worst and should have been out. But somehow she was saved. Maybe it had something to do with Kayne's quips:

Kayne: "Jean-Luc Picard called. He wants his lightsaber back."

Yes, Kayne is sent home for his egregious confusion of cultural references.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Project Runway All Stars Season Two, Episode Four: Project Powww!

Last week someone won and Pleather was sent home for being too creative (that'll teach him). This week we are promised the very first "interactive" challenge! Exciting! I'm assuming it will be similar to the very first interactive televised video game from the early 1980s:

This is how it will work. The fans will call in to the show and scream "Pow!" over and over while the designers shoot flying saucers out of the sky.

Joanna: "What does that have to do with fashion?"

Well, when you put it that way I can see that it doesn't make much sense. OK, why don't you explain the challenge?

Joanna: "This interactive challenge is sponsored by USA Today, the newspaper for people who don't read so good. I'd like to introduce you to USA Today's Senior VP of Marketing, Sandra Micek. Sandra, tell us about the USA Today philosophy."

Sandra Micek: "Pictures good. Words bad."

Joanna: "Could you elaborate on that, please?"

Sandra Micek: "Some newspapers provide information, but we were like, This is hard. So we invented infographics, which are similar to information, but prettier."

Joanna: "They sure are! I think what Sandra is trying to say is that every picture tells a story. So you are going to be skyping with fans who will tell you their stories and you have to turn their stories into headlines. Also, we have a saying in the publishing industry: Every pair of granny panties is worth a thousand words."

Great. So the designers start interacting with the fans:

Julie from Peoria: "Hi, Laura Kathleen, I'm a farmer and I need a new gown that is fashion forward."

Laura Kathleen: "I'm sorry, Julie, but if you expect me to talk to you like we have the same background, that's just not going to happen."

Julie from Peoria: "Why do we have to have the same background in order to talk to each other."

Laura Kathleen: "I'm tired of being judged by people like you, Julie!"

OK, so that's not going well. Let's check in with the other designers:

Cassanova: "Look! My fan looks just like Emilio! Because he's wearing a hat!"

Anthony Ryan: "My fan is Diane, from New York, which immediately reminded me of surviving cancer."

Emilio: "My fan is an adorable little girl named Sophie Schindler, from Seattle. She loves writing things down and keeping everything organized."

Joanna: "Oh, she's so cute! What's your headline, Emilio?"

Emilio: "Schindler's List."

uh . . . OK, so what happened to Andrae? Well, he finally crashed and burned, unfortunately:

Andrae: "So tell me, Debra from Alabama, why do you look so sad? Are you a tortured soul just trying to get your art out there in the world?"

Debra from Alabama: "No, I'm just bummed that I won't be able to buy Twinkies anymore."

Andrae: "I completely understand where you're coming from. Would a zippered knit top with interchangeable panels help at all?"

Debra from Alabama: "Not really."

Andrae: "Oh, dear. I'm just hoping one of these days I'm going to get through to you, Debra from Alabama."

On to the runway, with guest judge super cool fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson, who is young enough to be my slightly younger sister. She is a dropped-crotch apologist and I love her all the more for it.

Not a good night on the runway, folks. The designers either made the same garment they make every week -- Uli, Laura Kathleen, Ivy, Anthony Ryan -- or they were inspired by a garment to make a similar garment -- Cassanova, Emilio.

Kayne was one of the few exceptions. He made a red dress that was so boring it was almost intriguing. It made me wonder if it would be possible to create a dress that is more boring than the one he made. I don't think it could be done. That's something of an accomplishment. He was inspired by a picture of costume jewelry:

Kayne: "I was drawn to this image because the subject matter is presented in a classical pyramid arrangement reminiscent of Gericault. The colors are very well balanced and pleasing and the emotions are honest. Also, it was shiny."

Uli made another beige cloud dress.

Laura Kathleen created her usual silhouette but her hand-dyed fabric was pretty.

Ivy made an outfit inspired by a butterfly. I kind of liked it, though I'm getting tired of her granny panties.

Cassanova made an ivory suit inspired by an ivory suit.

Althea made what could have been a nice suit, but the color was dull and the crotch was just unflattering.

Joshua's look was fairly horrifying. The top and skirt looked really bad together, but, as Tavi pointed out, they would also not look good with anything else.

Emilio made an almost interesting dress that was an exaggerated version of the dress worn by his fan. I wasn't completely convinced by this dress, but it still probably should have won:

Carolyn Murphy: "I would look like a Chinese lantern in that dress."

Says the woman actually wearing a Chinese lantern.

The winner was Anthony Ryan, with his typical little tight dress, known as "bodycon" dresses to cool fashion bloggers like Tavi and me. He wins an infographic in USA Today.

And our dear sweet Andrae is out. I actually thought Joshua's look was worse, but I understand that the judges were tired of Andrae.

Before we go, Isaac needs to pay the bills:

Isaac: "I don't design MRI machines but I know great design when I see it, and when I was introduced to the all new re-designed 2012 MRI machine from Siemens, everything about it said purposeful design -- sophisticated styling, refined interior, sleek lines -- it's smart in so many ways. And for me when design makes someone's day simpler and easier, it just leads to a more beautiful life."

Friday, November 09, 2012

Project Runway All Stars Season Two, Episode Three: Up your chlorofluorocarbons!

Julie Chen: "Welcome to Project Runway All Stars. I'm Julie Chen and I'm a serious journalist. This week Kayne won the coveted Head of Household position and he is trying to form an important alliance with Ivy so he can convince her to vote Laura Kathleen off the show. Or maybe he's trying to form an alliance with Laura Kathleen so he can convince her to vote Ivy off the show. I really can't tell."

Kayne invites Ivy into his private Head of Household bedroom:

Kayne: "Hey, Ivy, why don't you come into my private Head of Household bedroom so we can gossip. So, can you believe what a bitch that Laura Kathleen is? Everyone hates her."

Ivy: "I don't have a problem with her."

Kayne: "Don't worry, I'll fix that."

And he does! That was some clever strategery, Kayne! They hate each other now! Mission accomplished!

OK, so that's it for the Big Brother theme, I'm afraid. I've never seen more than a few blissfully brief moments of the show, so I really don't know anything about it.

I do, however, know a lot about aerosol art. I don't want to brag, but I went to the "Art in the Streets" exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art last year. So I'm an expert.

Unfortunately, I didn't love that exhibition. But that's probably because I went on the wrong day. I went on a day when the museum was free to the general public, so it was completely filled with all these regular people. Obviously, I'm only accustomed to being in the company of other members of the liberal media elite, so this was a new experience for me. I was standing in that gallery for over an hour and not once was I offered a glass of champagne. Is that what life is like for most people?

Laura Kathleen: "I know, right?"

Anyway, as everyone knows, graffiti art was invented by the Romans in 126 B.C. but then Rudy Giuliani cleaned all that up and put in a Toys R Us so we didn't see it again until the 1970s. Now there is a building in New York dedicated to it and it's completely legal to paint that building and if it's legal it isn't graffiti and that's why they had to come up with a new name for it and that's why they call it aerosol art. True story. Well, it could be true. I bet it's close.

So the designers use spray paint on fabric and then create "wearable art." I'm just going to say it: I did not hate everything. Can you believe it? Mr. Grumpy Pants actually didn't hate everything.

The bottom three were Laura Kathleen (spoiler alert: she's safe), Kayne (the judges can't decide whether everything he makes is major tacky or Four Star General Tacky), and Pleather, who made yet another craft project. And the never ending question of What happened to Andrae? I actually liked his dress. I think. Anyway, he's safe.

The top three, and I agree with the judges on this, were Ivy, Anthony Ryan, and Emilio. Anthony Ryan's dress was very cute, but the print actually reminded me more of Jasper Johns than graffiti art:

not really graffiti art

Ivy was inspired by comic book art (by way of pop art) and her look was at least a bit edgy. Emilio, on the other hand, really nailed it. His look really gave you the feel of graffiti art, without looking too obvious. And considering how bad his last self-designed fabric was, I was very impressed.

Our guest judge this week is People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive 2013, Nate Silver:

Oh, yes, crunch those numbers the way I like it!
Nate Silver: "Conventional wisdom has Ivy winning this thing. And she made a late play for Isaac's vote. But is that confidence or desperation? It appears she has momentum coming out of the previous challenges, but if we dig a bit deeper the data is telling another story. There seems to be a disconnect between the comments from the judging panel as a whole and the tastes of the individual judges, with internal polling suggesting that Emilio is actually in the lead. We've projected that Georgina will be the tipping point judge, bringing him past the number of votes he needs. Now, it's always possible that there is a bias in the polling. But it would have to be a consistent bias in one direction, and if you look at the previous seasons of the show, while individual polls might have a margin of error, the aggregate of the polls is remarkably accurate. So Ivy really is going to have a hard time pulling this off. We currently have the odds of Emilio winning at 137%."

Some Old Guy: "That's ridiculous! Anyone who says he is that sure about the outcome of this challenge shouldn't be allowed near a typewriter!"

A typewriter?

Some Old Guy: "Have I mentioned I'm old?"

Right. So Emilio wins the challenge. Congratulations, Emilio! And it turned out he didn't even need Carolyn's vote, which is a good thing, because she's still trying to add up her scores. She could be at it for weeks, with recounts and court challenges. Pleather is out. I'm sure he will be missed, but not by me.

Carolyn: "I just have to say that I think internal polling sounds really painful!"

Friday, November 02, 2012

Project Runway All Stars Season Two Episode Two: BOGO!

For this challenge the designers need to create nightlife looks inspired by the new Seventies collection by Christian Siriano for Payless Shoes:

Buy One Get One half off!
Ah, yes, the 1870s, I remember them well. The war was over, spirits were high, and women everywhere were ready to do a line of blow and get out on the dance floor:

This woman is ready to party like it's 1899
Before we get to the clothes, I should mention the two moments of "fun" in this episode. First, the designers get a letter from Carolyn Murphy informing them that she has been hanging out with Karl Lagerfeld and he taped a message for them:

Karl Lagerfeld: "Hello, Project Runway designers. My very dear friend - what does this say? - Oh, right - Caroline Murphries, has asked me to give you some advice. To be a great designer you need to follow your heart and also pay someone to do push-ups for you every day. It's how I stay so young. Good luck."

This inspiring message had all the designers in tears. The other bit of "fun" we had this week involved Kayne taking responsibility for designer entertainment this season, forcing everyone to form a conga line and play shuffleboard:

Kayne Gillaspie, your cruise director: "Did someone mention a line of blow?"
On to the challenge. So, I was totally wrong about Anthony Ryan not winning anything last week. His huge prize is that he gets to pick the first shoe. Of course, he picks the ugliest shoe. Whatever.

Joanna makes her rounds:

Joanna: "As the only one here who actually remembers the 1870s, let me just say that you all suck."

Well, that's not very helpful. Here's the thing: I think designers should have an understanding of fashion history, but when you are trying to draw inspiration from a specific period you need more to go on than just a shoe. They needed some pictures to help them out. Otherwise you end up with what we ended up with: ugly clothes that had nothing to do with the seventies.

Joanna: "Kayne, those stripes look terrible. Uli, you must have been asleep during the seventies. Joshua, there's a difference between 'show-stopper' and 'total-shit.' Laura Kathleen, your blazer is making my lady parts dry up. Ivy, you're crazy. Andrae, nobody wants a stupid organza coat. Althea, you make me sick. Wendy, it's too Halloweeny. Emilio, I think of the seventies as the decade when fashion died, and your dress fits that perfectly. Anthony Ryan, you're making my eyes bleed. Casanova, your dress is perfect. And Pleather, that's putting me in the mind of a white man's overbite, if you know what I'm saying."

Pleather: "I do not."

Joanna: "It's a British saying that basically means bite me."

Wow, Joanna is in a bad mood this week. And I don't blame her. These garments are unusually hideous. Half of them have nothing to do with the seventies and the other half have nothing to do with nightlife.

Laura Kathleen's was, once again, pretty good. It was attractive and looked inspired by the seventies (like all her clothes), but it wasn't much of a nightlife look.

Casanova, shockingly, made something tasteful and pretty. It was sexy without being trashy and it was retro without looking like a costume. I agree with Georgina that it was a dress we've seen before, but that's kind of a dumb complaint when they are supposed to be inspired by another decade. He should have won. No one is more shocked than I am that I actually liked something he made:

Casanova: "When we were told we were supposed to make super slutty dresses this week I was so happy!"

Well, that isn't at all what you were told to do, but if that's what it takes for you to make tasteful clothes, then go for it.

The top two were Uli and Ivy. The more I look at Ivy's the more I like it. She made a green romper with a weird organza skirt. The proportions were off, but I think if the skirt had been a different length it could have been nice. It had a seventies vibe and it was sort of appropriate for a club. But Uli won with her little white sequined dress. It was a cute dress, but it was maybe more sixties than seventies. But, of course, the sixties didn't get to Eastern Europe until 2003, when Paul McCartney finally made it to Moscow. Anyway, congratulations, Uli!

Some of the worst looks - Joshua's, Althea's, and Pleather's - got a free pass this week. Althea says she knows the seventies, but I just talked to the seventies and they deny any relationship with her. 

Kayne, Wendy, and Andrae are the bottom three. Kayne's giant pants look seventies, but nobody would wear them to a club. He's safe.

Apparently the question every week is going to be What happened to Andrae? Seriously, I wonder how many weeks this can go on. I really hope he gets his act together. Anyway, he's safe again.

Wendy originally had a giant button on her garment that Joanna hated:

Joanna: "You know when you are cooking and you are stirring the food? You are stirring it with a spoon, possibly a wooden spoon, though it doesn't have to be wooden? Actually, yes it does have to be wooden. What else would it be made out of? Metal? Plastic? Yuck. Anyway, you know when you are stirring the food in the pot - maybe you're making soup or sauce or something else that you would be cooking in a pot - and you need to take the spoon out of the pot for some reason? I don't know why. Maybe you want to put the lid on the pot. It doesn't really matter. The point is you want to take the spoon out of the pot and you need to set the spoon down somewhere. And you don't want to put the spoon right on the countertop because it's covered in sauce, assuming you are making sauce, though you might be making something else. And obviously I mean the spoon is covered in sauce, and not the countertop. If your countertop is already covered in sauce then you don't really need to worry about setting down a sauce-covered spoon. But let's say your countertop is clean and you need someplace to set down your spoon. They have these things that you can buy at a store and I'm assuming you can get them online - I'm not sure because I inherited the one I have from my mother - and you can put them next to your stove and they are the perfect size and shape to set down your spoon. Do you know what I'm talking about?"

Wendy: "You mean a spoon rest?"

Joanna: "I don't know. I'm not a cooking expert. I don't know all the fancy terminology. The point is I hate that button and you have to get rid of it."

Wendy's outfit was pretty tacky. Look, I was never a Wendy hater. We understand how reality competition shows work now, but when she was on the first season of Project Runway her only frame of reference was Survivor and Big Brother, so I don't blame her for thinking the show was all about strategy and alliances and psyching out your competition. I always liked Wendy. However, I never liked her designs. So, while it was exciting to have her back on the show, she was going to need to make decent garments to stay on. Wendy is out this week

Carolyn Murphy: "Wendy, you are such an inspiration. I remember watching you on television when I was a little girl."

Wendy: "bitch."

Before I go, I'll give a shout out to an actual pair of Christian Siriano for Payless shoes:

we think these shoes are hot

These shoes are $39.95 and, according to a Payless customer, the reason they are so expensive is that they are designer. So it's totally worth spending twice as much as you usually spend on shoes, you cheapskate!