Friday, January 25, 2013

Project Runway Season Eleven, Premiere: Let's Tank this Mother!

OK, so that wasn't so bad. Why the hell did Lifetime try to scare us away by excessively promoting the teams aspect of this new season?

Heidi: "Let me explain. Since NBC/Universal and it's parent company, Sheinhardt Wigs, sold our show to Kabletown, the quality has really gone downhill. We decided there was only one way to save Project Runway: we need to get Kabletown to sell the show so we can take back control."

Tim: "That's right. We realized the only way to save Project Runway is to tank it!"

It all makes sense now. How long has this been going on? Six or seven seasons?

Heidi: "Uh ... yes, that's it. The show has been terrible for years on purpose. We've been planning this for a long time."

Tim: "Heidi and I teamed up to bring down the show. We thought long and hard about what viewers hate most about Project Runway and it was pretty clear that everyone hates team challenges more than anything. So we turned it into an entire season!"

You two are evil geniuses! It was hard to imagine how the show could have gotten any worse, but you figured out a way! There is only one small problem: the teams gimmick doesn't seem to have anything to do with what we think of as team challenges, in which designers have to work together on shared looks or collections. Here the concept is mainly related to how the judging is conducted and it gives the designers a small incentive to help each other. I actually liked it.

Heidi: "Well, keep that to yourself. We're hoping just the threat of team challenges will be enough to drive viewers away. It doesn't really matter that the show isn't as awful as you were expecting it to be."

Don't worry, your secret is safe with me. The only thing that gets fewer viewers than Project Runway is my blog.

The challenge this week was to be inspired by New York City. Most of the designers come up with the brilliant idea of making something "architectural" because, you know, there is architecture in New York City. Whatever.

Zanna Roberts Rassi: "Hi! I'm Zanna Roberts Rassi! Let's meet the season eleven designers!"

What a great idea, Zanna Roberts Rassi! What would we do without you? OK, I wasn't immediately excited about most of these designers or the work they brought in for the auditions, but I was impressed by the fact that they are all distinct from one another. I haven't memorized their names yet, but I think I'm going to be able to tell them apart. Usually there are a couple of designers with the same hairstyle or name and I get them mixed up for weeks. The other nice thing about this group of designers is that most of them seem to know how to sew and they are not menswear designers trying to branch out into womenswear for the first time.

Benjamin is from Australia, so he is not really very familiar with the phrase "all about the Benjamins." Believe it or not, he is not sick and tired of hearing this. In fact, he has no idea what you are talking about. Just please stop talking. You are giving him a headache. I liked Benjamin's layered chiffon runway look this week; it was my favorite look on the losing team.

Michelle is the punk girl from Oregon who is trying way too hard to be fun and doesn't really seem to understand the meaning of geek chic. But I do like her clothes.

Amanda is an ex-Mormon with a famous brother and a desire to make clothes for cool girls. So far I'm not impressed.

Patricia is the Native American artist. Her fabrics are amazing and I loved her runway look, which placed her in the top three, but I'm wondering if her design skills can go beyond creating great fabrics.

Joseph is the crazy cat lady. His designs are fun and weird and we'll have to see if he can actually perform on the show.

Daniel will probably come to be called Uncle Daniel because he really knows his technique and he is very willing to help the other designers. I wasn't really blown away by the clothes he brought in for the audition, but there is no question he is mad talented and his sculptured black suit with a cigarette pant was impeccable. He won the challenge this week. Congratulations, Daniel!

Kate makes cute dresses. That's all I can say for now.

Kate: "I enjoy finding people's weaknesses and then making them hate themselves."

Oh, right, I forgot to mention she's also a completely horrible human being.

Richard made a really cool asymmetrical dress that was in competition for the win. During the road to the runway, we learn that Richard doesn't just like himself; he loves himself.

Kate: "Not for long!"

You leave him alone, Kate!

James is clearly an experienced ready-to-wear designer, but I find his clothes rather mundane. He was in the bottom three this week and blamed it on his teammates, claiming they forced him to make the top more boring, when that is actually the opposite of what they suggested.

Layana thinks she will be good for ratings, but so far she is the least memorable designer. But the season is still young and so is she.

Tu is the ex-monk. His runway look this week was pretty cool.

Samantha brought some fun clothes to her audition, but her runway look this week was forgettable.

Matthew is the happy fun guy inspired by drug addiction.

Stanley's mother was not able to pray the gay away, which is strange, because that sounds like it should work.

Emily seemed nice enough and I loved the melted chiffon dress she brought in for the audition. It was pretty hilarious that she claimed her hatred of team challenges was based on the fact that she would end up doing all the work for everyone else. What actually happened, of course, was that the entire team ended up doing her work for her and she still couldn't complete a single article of clothing. Nina Garcia tried unsuccessfully to make an even more outrageous claim: that Emily's was the least finished look in the history of Project Runway. It was certainly awful, but we've seen less finished looks before. She was in the bottom two with Cindy.

Cindy is the lady who likes showing us her giant house and telling us that she's actually been to Paris.

Cindy: "Well, for all you SNL fans, I'm 59! I'm 59! I can kick! You know, I need to do that without this dress on, but, you know, maybe later at Trader Vic's, boys and girls. What do you say? I'm 59! You know, I was going to bring out my walker tonight but it just didn't go with the cleavage. So, while I'm here being all confessional, I guess I have a sudden urge to say something that I've never really been able to air in public. So, a declaration that I'm a little nervous about but maybe not quite as nervous as my publicist right now, huh Jennifer? But I'm just going to put it out there, right? Loud and proud, right? So I'm going to need your support on this. I am ... a funeral director. Yes, I am a funeral director. No, I'm kidding, but I'm not really kidding, but I'm kind of kidding. I mean, thank you for the enthusiasm. Can I get a wolf whistle or something? You guys might be surprised, but I am not Honey Boo Boo Child, No, I'm sorry, that's just not me. It never was and it never will be. Please don't cry, because my reality show would be so boring. I would probably have to make out with Wendy Pepper or punch Daniel Franco in the nuts just to stay on the air. It's not bad work if you can get it, though. But seriously, if you have been making clothes from the time you were a toddler, as I have, then maybe you, too, might value privacy above all else. Privacy. Well, I may never be up on this stage again, because once I turn sixty I'll be too embarrassed. Change: you gotta love it. I want to be seen, to be understood deeply and to be not so very lonely."

Well, Cindy, your dress was the worst thing on the runway this week, but there was no way the judges could send you home after such a bewildering speech. Emily is out. Sorry, Emily!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Project Runway All Stars Season Two Finale: The Confession!

Oprah interviews Project Runway All Stars champion and cancer survivor Anthony Ryan:

Oprah Winfrey: “So here we are in Austin Texas. A few days ago you texted to the Associated Press and you said ‘I told her to go wherever she wants.’ -- her meaning me -- ‘and I’ll answer the questions directly, honestly, and candidly. That’s all I can say.’ Those are your words?”

Anthony Ryan: “Those are my words.”

Oprah: “When we met a week ago today, we agreed that there would be no holds barred, there would be no conditions on this interview, and that this would be an open field.”

AR: “I think that’s best for both of us”

Oprah: “I agree. So here we go: open field. So let’s start with the questions people all over the world have been waiting for you to answer, and for now I just want a Yes or No. This whole conversation, you will have plenty of time to go into detail, but for now just Yes or No.”

AR: “I understand.”

Oprah: “Yes or No: Did you ever take substances to enhance your designing performance?”

AR: "Yes."

Oprah: “Yes or No: Was one of those substances caffeine?”

AR: "Yes."

Oprah: “Yes or no: Are you so adorable that the Project Runway judges just want to eat you up with a spoon?”

AR: "Yes."

Oprah: “Yes or No: Is it true that Kayne Gillespy did much of the work on your final collection?”

AR: “Yes.”

Oprah: “Yes or No: Is it true that you just make variations on the same damn dress over and over again?”

AR “Yes.”

Oprah: “Yes or No: In all seven of your Project Runway victories, did you ever use glue or boob tape?”

AR: "Yes."

Oprah: “Was it humanly possible to win Project Runway All Stars without the judges being on crack?”

AR: "Not in my opinion. I didn't invent the culture, but I didn't try to stop the culture."

Oprah: “So you’re saying there is a crack culture among the Project Runway judges?”

AR: “Absolutely. Everyone knows they are on crack.”

Oprah: “Did you supply them with crack?”

AR: “No. That is a lie. I never tried to bribe the judges with crack. I know the accusations are out there, but it’s just a lie. The judges have been getting their own crack for years.”

Oprah: “OK. But it's true you had help with your final collection from one of the eliminated designers?”

AR: “Yes, but everyone was doing it. I know that isn’t an excuse, but I felt I had to do it in order to make it an even playing field.”

Oprah: “But you are Anthony Ryan. You set the standard. Everyone looks up to you. Don’t you think the other designers felt pressured into doing it because you were doing it?”

AR: “No, I didn’t ask anyone else to be involved.”

Oprah: “Are you sure? Because according to Joshua, you asked him to be a part of it. He couldn’t take the pressure anymore and he refused. You have to be in a pretty dark place to refuse to help your best friend achieve his goals.”

AR: “Well, I don’t want to talk about other people. If Joshua says that then I’m not going to say he’s wrong.”

Oprah: “So let’s talk about the endorsements. A capsule collection for Nine West; a fashion spread in Marie Claire and a position as guest editor for a year; an all-expenses-paid trip around the world to visit fashion weeks in cities such as Paris, London, Milan, and Tokyo from Laura Mercier; a technology suite and office space from HP and Intel to help run your business; a sewing and embroidery studio from Brother; and $150,000. You lost all of that.”

AR: “No, I won all of that.”

Oprah: “Oh. Well, what about your cancer charity Rock One? I assume they want to distance themselves from you because of this scandal.”

AR: “What scandal? I won Project Runway All Stars! I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Oprah: “Still in denial. So sad. You really don’t think this entire season of Project Runway All Stars has been a scandal?”

AR: “No. I don’t know what you’re talking about, Oprah!”

Oprah: “OK, maybe scandal isn’t the right word. Travesty? Atrocity?”

AR: “Gee, I really don’t think it’s that bad. You did vote for me for fan favorite.”

Oprah: “Did I?”

AR: “Yes. And when I say ‘You’ I mean everyone in the country.”

Oprah: “I don’t remember doing that.”

AR: “Are you calling me a liar, Oprah? Because I will sue you!”

Oprah: “Let’s move on. This season you created looks inspired by graffiti, the nineteen twenties, and haute couture, you were critiqued by everyone, from Diane von Furstenberg and Jason Woo to Kylie Minogue and Katie Holmes, and if that wasn't enough you also flew to Paris. So tell me, why admit to all this now?”

AR: "That is the best question. It's the most logical question. I don't know that I have a great answer. I will start my answer by saying that this is too late. It's too late for probably most people, and that's my fault. I mean, my performance on All Stars is just this mythic perfect story."

Oprah: "Was it hard to live up to that picture that was created?"

AR: "Impossible."

Oprah: "But didn't you help paint that picture?"

AR: "Of course I did. And a lot of people did. All the fault and all the blame here falls on me. But behind that picture and behind that story is momentum. Whether it's fans or whether it's the media, it just gets going. And I lost myself in all of that."

Oprah: “Let’s talk about your ruthless desire to win this competition.”

AR: "My ruthless desire to win at all costs served me well in the design room, but the level it went to, for whatever reason, is a flaw. That desire, that attitude, that arrogance."

Oprah: "Were you a bully?"

AR: "Yes, I was a bully. I remember one time I said I was going to win this competition, which is kind of mean because it implies that everyone else is going to lose."

Oprah: “Ouch. That’s harsh. Is that your nature? Have you been like that your entire life?”

AR: "My entire life. Before my diagnosis I was a competitor but not a fierce competitor. When I was diagnosed, that turned me into a fighter. That was good. I took that ruthless win-at-all-costs attitude into designing."

Oprah: "So that was the tipping point? And your comeback was also a tipping point? Do you regret coming back to Project Runway as an All Star?”

AR: "We wouldn't be sitting here if I didn't come back."

Oprah: “This is an epic story. What’s the moral to the story?”

AR: “Project Runway All Stars has given me a second chance to do what I love and I was faced with a lot of challenges and it's those crazy ass times that you really find the best of yourself. I came to this not expecting anything out of it other than coming back to design, showing a collection and I'm going to be able to do more.”

Oprah: “The truth will set you free.”

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Project Runway All Stars Season Two, Finale: All Stars Goes to Paris!

In the exciting season finale the All Stars go to Paris and ...

Carolyn: "Um ... I don't know how to tell you this, but this isn't the finale."

pardonne moi?

Carolyn: "I said this isn't the finale."

of course it is. What are you talking about?

Carolyn: "The finale is next week."


Man, I really thought this was supposed to be the finale. Anyway, in this episode the designers get to go to Paris as part of Parsons' study abroad program.
All Stars in Paris
Joshua: "I can't believe we're actually in Paris! I can't believe it!"

Emilio: "Will you stop saying that?"

Uli: "You can't blame him. This is like a dream. We've only seen pictures of these places and now we can practically reach out and touch them."

Anthony Ryan: "Keep your hands in the vehicle at all times!"

Joanna introduces the designers to some Parisians:

The French are always thrilled to have us visit
We gave you the Statue of Liberty and you give us these All Stars?
The designers thought they would be sightseeing in Paris, but instead they are taken by bus out to Valentino's school for designers:

what a dump
They are forced to do push ups and read poetry:

when you finish those, I want you to re-design those outfits
They are so bored:

we know how you feel
Fortunately, Joshua has another one of his brilliant ideas:

Joshua: "I just had another one of my brilliant ideas! Why don't we all make a break for it?!"

the All Stars make a break for it in front of Notre Dame
Finally, they get to do what they want. Emilio sketches Sacre Coeur, Uli and Anthony Ryan help a writer get published, and, most shockingly, Joshua falls in love during a trip to Le Mans:

they share a of love of motorcycles and hotpants
After these adventures, the designers go to Jenssens & Jenssens, the best shop in Paris to buy couture fabric and organic produce:

just look at that selection!
The designers have their fabric and now they need to make haute couture-inspired dresses in one day. The problem with that plan is that the only reason haute couture dresses look any different from other dresses is that a team of seamstresses has spent months making them by hand. I really don't understand the concept of trying to make something that superficially "looks" like haute couture without having any of the qualities that distinguish haute couture from other fashion.

Anthony Ryan: "Well, I always say, When in Paris, do as the Romans do."

I can't argue with that. So, let's look at the runway:

oh, yes! Work it, ladies!
Uli gives us some great styling:

love the hair!
But, unfortunately, the dress is not very exciting:
the judges think it's a little blah
Emilio, again, lets his fabric do most of the work. It's a beautiful, bold look, and at least he knows how to pick great fabrics and use them correctly:

Anthony Ryan wins again, with a nice tight black dress. Apparently it looks couture inspired because ... it's see-through? I honestly don't know. I like it, I just don't know what makes it different from a dress he would make for any other challenge.

Joshua put together clashing fabrics. Easily the most interesting thing on the runway this week, I don't think I've ever seen a dress before that looked quite like it. It was uniquely ugly. And I mean that in the best possible way. It was so ugly that I really, really wanted to like it. Ultimately, though, I didn't. I agree with the judges that the main problem was the scale of the print next to the lace:

a bold pairing, but they just don't look quite right together
While I know the final twist challenge was planned ahead of time, I actually thought it really was tough to choose between Uli and Joshua. I didn't really like either of their looks.

Carolyn: "This final challenge is something only a handful of designers have ever attempted. The late great Alexander McQueen did it. That's right; you guessed it: you have to make a souffle! In one hour! Right here on the runway!"

a Project Runway first!
We await the judges' final decision:

please, please, please
Uli is in and Joshua is out

oh, my poor souffle!
Josh has to say goodbye to Paris and to love:

I'm not ready to say goodbye!
[thanks to LeoAmes for posting this movie on YouTube and for some television station called cts for keeping their logo on the screen through the whole thing]

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Project Runway All Stars Season Two, Episode Ten: Double Designers!

This episode is brought to you by the new Lifetime hit Double Divas:

Boasting a hilariously unfiltered cast exuding Southern charm and hospitality, "Double Divas" follows LiviRae owners and best friends Anthony Ryan, the "boob whisperer," and Joshua, the "Thomas Edison" of custom lingerie, as they display their natural talent helping women with any and all intimate apparel needs.

Oh, Lifetime, you had me at "Hayden Panettiere's dead"! I am so watching this new show. Everyone knows the only thing I love more than seeing a plus-size woman find the perfect wedding dress is seeing a woman finally get a decent bra fitting. I prefer my bra fitters to be sturdy old Eastern European women, but I'll give these two a chance. I just hope Lifetime doesn't somehow manage to turn such an important subject into a venue for exploitation:

Anthony Ryan loves how this bra doesn't draw attention to the chestal region
No, I'm sure the show is going to be respectful and fun. Just look how happy that lovely woman is! OK, so for this episode the designers meet at the USS Intrepid, where they are inducted into the military. As you know, congress just passed legislation finally allowing fashion designers to serve openly in the armed forces. What not everyone realizes is that all fashion designers are now required by law to serve. Fortunately, in addition to the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, there is a new branch called Fatigues to Fabulous, which focuses on creating beautiful dresses for the women (and men -- we're not judging) to wear when not in uniform.

The designers are creating dresses for some amazing veterans who need something to wear when they take off their combat boots and put on some heels. Seriously, these women are great and such good sports. The designers don't spend a single moment bitching about how they are "real women" who don't all look like bikini models. It could be because the designers know these women could beat the shit out of them, but I suspect it has more to do with the fact that they are genuine All Stars and they are more mature than some of the jerks we've had to deal with in the past. They know that a designer's job is to make women look and feel great!

Isaac: "No, that's YOUR job as a designer! Another designer's job might be to make women look and feel like crap! Stop demanding that all designers do the same thing!"

Uh, OK, so ignoring Isaac's mental breakdown for the moment, the designers all did a perfectly boring job with this challenge. Uli made a nice Uli dress for Jessica to wear to a wedding; Joshua made a decent little black cocktail dress for Lesley to wear to military events; Emilio made a semi-acceptable yellow dress for Lisa to wear to a Vegas bachelorette party; and Anthony Ryan made an unflattering dress for Donna to wear to her 40th birthday party. 

Anthony Ryan gave his client the exact opposite of what she asked for. She wanted to de-emphasize her bust, but Anthony Ryan couldn't have drawn more attention to it if he had created a giant neon sign with an arrow pointing right down her cleavage. She has a beautiful figure and the right dress could have really shown it off. Anthony Ryan failed miserably and the second I saw his dress I knew exactly what was going to happen:

Carolyn: "This is All Stars and someone is always in and someone is always out."


Carolyn: "For the first time in All Stars history we don't have a reason to send anyone home this week."


Carolyn: "This is a dramatic twist that no one saw coming!"


Carolyn: "Why are you always so rude to me?"

I'm sorry. I'm actually growing fond of you. If I didn't like you I wouldn't mention you at all.

Carolyn: "That's sweet. I'm flattered!"


Carolyn: "I give up."

So all four of the designers are through to the final. I'm sorry, but there really isn't anything else I can say about this boring episode.

Katie Holmes: "Why didn't you mention me?"