Saturday, February 23, 2013

Project Runway Season Eleven, Episode Five: Smashville!

Previously on Smashville: The reigning queen of country music, Rayna Jaymes, and the bubble-gum pop princess Juliette Barnes were competing to play the role of Marilyn Monroe in a new Broadway Musical being produced by Morticia Addams. Rayna’s incompetent loser of a husband ran for mayor of Smashville and got really jealous about Rayna’s relationship with her ex, Deacon, who is playing Joe DiMaggio in the show.

Meanwhile, Juliette stole a lipstick and is reduced to being in the chorus of Heaven on Earth. She wants to be taken seriously as an artist so, even though she’s sleeping with the director, she marries a football player and then takes a bottle of pills. Her mother, Bernadette Peters, is a junkie who was never able to show her love, but is trying to make up for it now by seeing her perform and then going into rehab. 

Tim: “I’m sure last week’s cliffhanger was so suspenseful you were hardly able to sleep! Unfinished business? What could it mean? Will someone be discovered at the Bluebird? Will the director be involved in a sex scandal? Will Morticia throw a drink in someone’s face? Well, it’s even more dramatic than any of those things! Heidi’s bringing out the black velvet button bag! For this episode of Smashville everyone will be paired up. Rayna and Juliette will have to team up and go on tour together!”

Rayna Jaymes: “I built this label! How dare you treat me this way! There is no way I’m pairing up with that talentless pop star! What’s that you say? It will get me away from my worthless husband for a few months? Fine, you talked me into it.”

Julette Barnes: “It’s so unfair! Why doesn’t anyone surreptitiously film me when I’m NOT stealing things?! Well, there is no way I’m sharing a sewing machine with that washed up old hag! What’s that you say? I can eat hummus on my private jet? Fine, you talked me into it.”

Great, so the designers are paired up to make looks for Rayna and Juliette to wear for the touring production of Bombshell. The looks should be a little bit country and a little bit Broadway. One look should be sexy and flashy and the other look should be more sophisticated and glamorous.

Richard and Stanley are working together as waiters at the legendary Bluebird Cafe. Stanley is shy and writes poetry in his spare time. Richard plays the guitar and has pined for Stanley from the first time he saw him. If only Stanley didn’t have that jerk of a boyfriend who treats him like crap. Well, Richard decides that since he writes music and Stanley writes poetry, maybe he could use songwriting as a pretext for spending more time together:

Richard: “I knew immediately I wanted Stanley! I didn’t even have to think about it! Stanley is EVERYTHING!”

They make beautiful music together and Richard wins the challenge with his cute fringe dress that would be perfect for Juliette. The judges catch their performance at the Bluebird and Heidi signs them up for her label:

Heidi: “You two will be the next Rayna and Deacon!”

High praise indeed!

Amanda and Benjamin are writing partners who have been going through a dry spell. Their previous Broadway work, Heaven on Earth, was panned by the judges, so they are really trying hard to make it back to the top. Finally, they create a hit! The judges love Amanda’s fun and flirty fringed jersey dress for Juliette and they also love Benjamin’s boring but flawlessly constructed gown for Rayna. 

Benjamin: “I was worried because Amanda’s team thew her under the bus. I’m not saying she didn’t deserve it. Her stupid plan to adopt a baby to save her marriage was just painful and cheating on her husband caused her son to get arrested for doing drugs. But I’m still glad I was able to push her to be more adventurous and now her boring husband and son are off the show. All’s well that ends well.”

Michelle is the badass Broadway producer who is having trouble financing the show because her ex-husband has tied up all their assets in the divorce proceedings. She loves the 80s and really severe bangs. Matthew is Katherine McPhee’s hot boyfriend who works for a politician and has to choose between staying in Smashville and following his career to Washington D.C.

Michelle: “I’m really worried about Matthew because basically our characters have absolutely nothing to do with each other. I don’t think we’ve even met. I have no idea how we are supposed to team up and work together. This just sounds like a bad idea.”

And it is. I actually liked Michelle’s look. I even liked the crazy leather fringe necklace, though I agree that it pushed the look over the edge and probably should have been edited out. And maybe the denim gown looked worse in person, because I thought it looked kind of cool on television. It was so soft and flowing that I didn’t even think it read as denim. And I was watching in HD. Anyway, the judges hated it. 

But the real problem, of course, was Matthew. He just had no confidence. He was worried that Katherine McPhee was having an affair with the director and then he accidentally slept with Megan Hilty and left a diamond ring in her hotel room. And despite that one fabulous Bollywood number, he just never resonated with the judges. So he’s been sent to take an important political job in D.C. and he’s off the show. Sorry, Matthew!

It was a close call for Daniel, who is so accustomed to being praised by the critics, he just lost any ability to judge his own work. Nina really ripped him a new one. He’s still on the show but he’s probably going to have a slightly different role from now on.

Nina shows Daniel what she thinks of his dress

Friday, February 15, 2013

Project Runway Season Eleven, Episode Four: Pretty Pink Candles!

Tim: "Don't you hate it when everyone forgets your birthday and it leads to you giving away your panties and also there is a foreign exchange student suddenly living in your house? Well, finally, Glade has solved this problem! They have combined the scents of Hawaiian breeze and vanilla passion fruit. The pretty new shape of the candles will definitely make that Jake Ryan fall in love with you and then all your problems will be over."

Heidi: "Sure, that's a good challenge. But I also like another two-in-one challenge: the one where Molly Ringwald combines Annie Potts' old prom dress with the thrift store dress Harry Dean Stanton bought for her even though he was unemployed and couldn't afford it."

Tim: "Well, Heidi, that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard! That movie has nothing to do with Hawaiian breezes or vanilla passion fruit! At least my movie has candles in it!"

Heidi: "I don't care! That's what the challenge is going to be!"

OK, so the designers have to create cohesive collections inspired by candles and flowers and Hawaiian breezes and string and wire mesh and John Hughes movies. Fine. It makes more sense than most challenges. But before they get started there is some rearranging of the two main high school cliques, with the richie kids and the kids from the wrong side of the tracks trying to decide if they can accept outsiders:

Come on, baby! You know you want to join our team!
The designers are having some concerns about this challenge:

Michelle: "I hope that stuck-up Blane doesn't pick me. I'd much rather stay over here with Duckie."

Amanda: "Candles are my worst nightmare! I didn't even have candles at my wedding!"

Tu: "Long Duk Dong is a really funny name!"

I was impressed with the results of this challenge. Most of the dresses looked similar, with stiff bodices covered in string and skirts covered in flowers, but they were pretty and well made.

Heidi: "Both teams were so great that we don't have a losing team this week! We have a winning team and then a less winning team!"

So, in other words, a winning team and a losing team.

Heidi: "uh ... yes."

The Dream Team, which now includes Layana and Stanley, were the winning team. Their collection was cohesive and pretty and a little repetitive. Layana's cage dress made of string was beautiful. Benjamin's fabric, which he made on his own loom, was amazing, but there was so little of it and the pattern was so subtle, I'm not sure it was worth the effort. The winning look was Samantha's. The judges love her use of the mesh:

Nina: "It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen in my life! It's metal but it looks so light!"

OK, calm down, Nina. It's not barbed wire. It's just mesh. And I'm not even convinced it's metal. It looks more like window screen mesh, which is usually made out of fiberglass now. In any case, it's just like a really heavy tulle and not that much different from something you could get at a fabric store. I don't get what's so exciting about it. 

Team Keeping It Real, which now includes Michelle, were the losing team. They didn't create a cohesive collection, although they all looked like floats in the Rose Parade. I found their collection much more fun and dramatic than the other team's. Kate's giant floral dress and Michelle's and Richard's mini-blind dress were my favorites. I didn't understand Patricia's mess at all. Was the dress made out of mud? Do they sell mud at flower shops? Anyway, the judges pretended to like it. The bottom two were Joe, who made an ill-fitting dress made out of more mesh, and Amanda, who made a dress out of Moss.

Kate Moss: "I really wish Kate had made the dress out of moss, because then I could have worn it and people would ask, Who are you wearing? and I could say, It's Kate's moss dress, and then they could say, Oh, it's Kate Moss in Kate's moss, and then we would laugh and laugh and finally they would ask me why I'm there."

Yes, well, life doesn't always work out the way we want it to, does it, Kate? Anyway, Amanda's moss dress isn't great but it isn't that bad and she probably shouldn't have been in the bottom two. The only reason she was there is that she was apparently making her teammates sick worrying about her and her stupid moss.

Finally, remember the anticipation, the dramatic buildup, the nail-biting tension, waiting for what was supposed to be the most mind-blowing avant garde dress of all time? And then we get this?

Well, it wasn't that much of a letdown, but it was still a disappointment. Joe is out. His dress was unflattering and uninteresting. His original idea of drowning the model in flowers might have been cool, but he changed direction at the last minute. He spent too much time making a net that looked just like landscape netting he probably could have bought at the hardware store. I loved his anti-fashion sense and I'm sorry to see him go, but I don't think the judges had much choice.

But just when we thought the episode was over, Tim makes an announcement:

Tim: "There is still some business to be taken care of, so I want you to meet Heidi and me on the runway in ten minutes. And someone had better be able to answer this question: Where is my automobile?"

To be continued...

[spoiler: it's in the lake]

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Project Runway Season Eleven, Episode Three: It Stinks So Good!

On this episode of Fashion House the designers have to create looks for an international fashion icon:

Grace Jones: "I'm thrilled to be the new face of Lady Eloise Cosmetics and I need two looks to promote my new fragrance called Steel Vagina."

It stinks so good!
Heidi: "Seriously? That joke is so old."

Zac Posen: "Yes, it's perfect for Heidi."

Heidi: "Excuse me?"

Kristin Davis: "Heidi's mad! Heidi's mad!"

Heidi: "Calm down, Kristin! I won't hurt anyone. I'm in too good a mood today. I've brought in a box filled with all the inspirations for my new fragrance called Stunned Silence. It has top notes of vanilla and roses, middle notes of chamomile and patchouli, and base notes of barbecue sauce and arsenic. OK, fine, I just made that up that last part. I've never actually smelled the base notes because I have my assistants bath me every 26 minutes and apply new scent. Also, I lost my olfactory sense in a Victoria's Secret accident. Don't ask me about it. It's a secret. Anyway, I wanted to make a statement about how everyone has a fragrance now, so I designed a box using the color combination pink, black, and gold so that it would look like every other fragrance box you will see."

Wow, it's amazing how well that box will blend into the background! It's completely unmemorable!

Heidi: "Thank you! I'm really excited about promoting it! So obviously I want to wear a dress that looks like it was made in one day."

You've come to the right place! I'm sure these designers can come up with something worthy of your fragrance.

OK, so this challenges is a bit better than the last one. But it still seems specifically geared to making sure the designers create boring looks. Heidi has two basic silhouettes that she will wear and they've been given a very limited color palette, so there just isn't much they can do. But that's life. I accept that.

Heidi: "Good."

Yeah, it is good. I'm not going to hope for excitement or innovation or even anything remotely interesting. I'm just going to hope for a pretty version of a dress we've seen a million times before. You know what? I feel like I've made a breakthrough. This is an important step in my recovery.

Heidi: "Well, I'm happy you aren't expecting much. You're still going to be disappointed."

Of course I am. Alright, let's get to the runway. The winning team was Keeping It Real:

Amanda and Joe worked together on this challenge. Why? That's a good question. I'm sure Amanda would love to know why. But it is a mystery locked in the pure, innocent, childlike mind of Joe, who is the only person on earth who didn't realize it was a terrible idea.

Daniel made a boring but decent gown that Heidi could have worn for the ad campaign if there hadn't been a better option. It's completely wrong for a press event, so that's where she's going to wear it.

Patricia made another super cool fabric out of little squares of leather. I think she sewed them to paper and then peeled the paper off the back. The dress was a complete disaster. But if it had actually looked finished, it could have been really cute, which is why I suppose it did belong in the top three.

Layana and Kate worked together on the winning dress for the ad campaign. I thought it was feminine and sexy and absolutely perfect for this challenge:

Love the mix of hard and soft!
Kate chose the color scheme and she deserved to win. Congratulations, Kate!

The losing team, once again, was the Dream Team:

And Michelle, once again, made the best thing on the losing team. It was a little black dress that Heidi could have worn to a press event if Michelle had been eligible to win. Poor Michelle. Well, eventually she'll be the only one left on her team and then maybe she'll have a chance.

Samantha made a really weird "illusion" dress. We've seen this dress attempted before on the show and it never works. Apparently the completely visible pink mesh was supposed to be invisible so that the rest of the dress would look as though it were floating on the model's body. Unless you are JLo and you can get fabric that perfectly matches your skin, please do not attempt this look. And even then, please do not attempt this look.

The bottom three were Matthew, Benjamin, and Cindy:

Matthew ... I don't even want to talk about it. He's lucky he wasn't sent home.

Benjamin designed the perfect dress for Heidi's ad campaign. Unfortunately, he didn't actually make that dress. Forensic scientists are still trying to piece together what went wrong. 

Benjamin: "It's a disaster. I can't say anything else."

Zac Posen: "Let me give you some advice: you need to slow down on the excuses. We're tired of hearing all the minutia of excuses."

Benjamin: "Thank you. I acknowledge your completely psychotic and patronizing advice."

Cindy made a little dress that was not so bad. For some reason, though, she chose the tackiest prom dress fabric she could find. I appreciate that it is not a fabric she would normally use, but the fact that she thought this was actually "classier" than what she would normally use is really frightening. I agree with Zac that this is a fabric that can only be used ironically and that is not what she was doing. It was not the worst dress of the night, but she's been on the bottom three weeks in a row and the judges had had enough. Cindy is out.

Sorry, Cindy! You made a very dignified exit that was a million times classier than your fabric choices. If it's any comfort, even Grace Jones knows how it feels to be rejected:

How can you turn this down?

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Project Runway Season Eleven, Episode Two: Grab Life by the Ball!

Susan Sarandon: "Do you miss being in middle school? Does your idea of a good time include being hit in the face with balls while you try to drink a martini? Do you agree that there are no good ideas left so we might as well try some stupid ones? Then come on down to my new dodgeball social club, where our slogan is 'Grab Life by the Ball!'"

Team captains Benjamin and Daniel 

Look, I like to keep up with the latest trends as much as the next person  -- that's why I've switched to crossbows for the fox hunts at my country estate -- but, seriously, what the hell?

The challenge revolves around a dispute between the corporate team Globo-Design, and the small local design team across the street, Average Joes, which Globo-Design wants to acquire and turn into a parking lot.

Team Globo-Design is Amanda, Kate, Patricia, Joseph, Richard, Daniel, Layana, and Stanley.

Team Globo-Design
The Average Joes are Tu, Samantha, Michelle, Matthew, Cindy, James, and Benjamin.
Average Joes
The Average Joes are not doing well. They lost the challenge last week and unless they can raise $50,000 this week to cover the mortgage on the Brother Sewing Room, the bank will foreclose. They realize the only way to get the money is to compete in the annual dodgeball-uniform-design tournament in Las Vegas.

The Average Joes get help from their coach, Tim Gunn, who gets them in shape by forcing them to run in traffic:

Tim says if you can dodge cars you can dodge balls!
Tim Gunn: "I have to tell you I think you are in trouble. You should make a kilt."

I thought the Average Joes did OK. I liked Michelle's dress and I loved Matthew's kilt.

Susan Sarandon, however, didn't think her male employees would wear the kilt:

Susan Sarandon: "I'm just afraid some of the guys won't go for it."

Nina: "I have an idea, Susan. Why don't you grow a pair? If you tell your employees to wear a kilt, they'll wear a damn kilt! They're lucky to have jobs. What else are they going to do? Go work for your competition, the rhythmic gymnastics social club?"

Exactly. Unfortunately, the judges also didn't like that Matthew put the club's slogan "Grab Life by the Ball" right on the crotch. They thought that was a little tasteless. Meanwhile, this is something they actually sell on the club's website:

oh, yeah, that's classy
So, anyway, most of the collection was crap, but there were a couple of interesting pieces and I actually thought it was better than team Globo-Design. I thought Globo-Design's collection was an ill-fitting, boring mess.

However, there was one great piece and that was Layana's skort with an apron front. It was both practical and cute and she totally deserved to win, even if Daniel helped her drape it.

Globo-Design win the tournament! The average Joes lose again and the Brother Sewing room will be turned into a parking lot.

Benjamin: "No, that's not what's supposed to happen! The underdogs always win! Everyone knows that!"

Well, sorry, but that's not what happened? I just report the facts. I can't make stuff up.

Benjamin: "I think you need to rewrite this, adding more jokes and changing the ending."

I really feel like you are trying to micromanage me here, Benjamin.

Benjamin: "If I could step in and say something. In a team, when you're working, often there is a leader. I've come from a background where I've written a lot of parody blogs, so I have a lot of experience with this and I'm just trying to help. I spent more of my energy checking in on everyone's pieces when I should have focused my energy just on writing your blog for you. I stepped in and filled the gaps and I think because of that I really compromised myself."

I can't tell if you're taking responsibility or blaming everyone else.

Benjamin: "Oh, good, then I said it right."

Anyway, James is out.

Susan Sarandon: "I have to ask this question: You do know there was a movie about ping pong called 'Balls of Fury,' right?"


Lifetime: "Don't forget to watch 'Betty & Coretta,' starring Mary J. Blige and Angela Bassett as the widows of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr."

Oh, my God, that sounds amazing! I would be so excited to watch that except for one small problem.

Lifetime: "It's on Lifetime?"

It's on Lifetime. Lifetime is pretty much the place where good ideas go to die. No offense.

Lifetime: "None taken. We get that a lot."