Saturday, March 30, 2013

Project Runway Season Eleven, Episode Ten: HPmaster Cycle!

Heidi: “In this episode you will be going to the Guggenheim Museum!”
Welcome to the Guggenheim!
Tim: “That’s right. This is the HP avant garde challenge. It's really your opportunity to push the boundaries and create readable art!”

Ooh, I'm an avant garde blogger, so this challenge is perfect for me! I'll be really embarrassed if I screw this up. So, this post is inspired by Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle, a series of five films, released out of order, in which the Guggenheim was a major character. The series culminated in a major exhibition at the museum. As a tribute, this post will be written in five parts and displayed out of chronological order.

Part Three: The Entered Apprentice:
The Entered Apprentice
We open with the Entered Apprentice climbing up the atrium of the Guggenheim Museum. He is trying to get away from a woman with glass legs who has just transformed into a leopard. 

Much like Layana, she thinks she's the cat's meow.
Meanwhile, at the top of the ramp, the sculptor Richard Serra, representing the mythic architect of Solomon's Temple, is throwing molten Vaseline at a wall. 

It's art, people!
All of this represents the equilibrium in the stage of fetal development before the gonadal structures rise or fall to become ovaries or testes.

Tim: “Well, obviously. But I’m going to stop you there. I think you’ve pushed the boundaries just a bit too far. You need to rein it in a little.”

Patricia: "Are you scared by this post, Tim? Good. You should be scared. At least it means you’re feeling something."

Thank you, Patricia. I appreciate your support.

Patricia: “These people just don’t understand modern art like we do.”

So, where were we? Oh, yes:

Part One: The Ascending Team:

Michelle is working with Stanley on a giant dress made of bubble wrap. The model will pull two blimps, each containing the same woman who is creating images out of grapes.

avant garde look by Stanley and Michelle
Michelle: “I can just hear Nina now: ‘Meeechelle, no woman is going to want to pull a couple of Goodyear blimps around a football stadium. What were you theeenking?’”

But, it turns out the judges actually love their looks and they are the winning team. Stanley wins the challenge and $10,000.

Stanley does his happy dance
Part Five: The Descending Teams:

The designers are creating an avant garde piece and a companion ready-to-wear piece. They are in teams of two, one male and one female. Equilibrium had been achieved with Michelle and Stanley, but the tension between male and female is being felt in the other two teams. 

This tension is played out in two locations. Patricia and Richard are participating in a demolition derby in the lobby of the Chrysler Building, which represents ... um ... something about the Order of Freemasons? Whatever. 
These Chryslers are in the lobby of the Chrysler building.  How cool is that?
Patricia creates a pretty cool avant garde look with a veil. Richard spent two days making a bracelet. He’s out. Sorry, Richard.

Ursula Andress loves Patricia's look
Meanwhile, Daniel and Layana are at a rodeo, which represents the execution of a murderer who might have been the grandson of Harry Houdini. I have to admit that I got a little confused at this point. The result is that Daniel created his best look of the season. The jacket was beautiful and the skirt was modern and sexy. Layana inspired him to create a more youthful look and she forced him to make a miniskirt by hoarding all the fabric for herself, but it was still clearly his look and he had every right to take credit for it. Layana, on the other hand, created the worst look on the runway. It just had too much crap stuck onto it for no reason:
Is the sculpted Vaseline goat just one too many elements in this look?
Part Two: The HPmaster challenge:

The designers get to create their own textile designs using the new HPmaster system:

Tim: "Just look at this amazing technology! You can use the new HPmaster system to sit on the floor of a blimp and arrange grapes into any design you can think of! It's completely state of the art!"

The HPmaster grape design system
Michelle: "I am so inspired to design with grapes!"

Patricia: "It would take me at least four days to create a fabric design out of grapes on the floor of a blimp back in my studio. I love the new HPmaster system!"

OK, we get it. The designers love product placement. Can we get on with Tim making his rounds in the design room?

Tim: “Stanley and Michelle, I love everything about your looks! Your fabric is so amazing I have chills!”

Stanley: “Well, I think Tim really nailed that critique.”

Tim: “Patricia and Richard, on the other hand, are a mess. Richard hasn't done anything and I'm wondering if he's making sure Patricia is responsible for everything so she will have to take the blame."

Patricia: "What? I never considered that! Now I'm really angry that I didn't think of doing it first!"

Richard: "What? I'm flattered that anyone thinks I'm clever enough to actually have a strategy."

Part Four: Layana loses her ... uh ... stuff:

Daniel: “Why are you crying, Layana?”

Layana: “Daniel, several times during this challenge I tried to give you a high five and every time you either left me hanging or you missed my hand. I feel so betrayed by you.”

Daniel: “I’m sorry. My hands were a little awkward.”

Layana: “Not YOUR hands, Daniel. OUR hands! Our hands are fifty fifty.”

Daniel: “So now ALL the hands belong to you?”

Layana: “Just don’t speak to me any more."

And that brings us to the beginning of the HPmaster Cycle, where we are back in a state of equilibrium between the ascending and descending designers.

Nina: "I can see what you were trying to do with this post, but, unfortunately, it was not successful."

Rachel Roy: "I think if you took this post to Mattel and said, Hey I wrote this post for Barbie, they would tell you that it isn't even good enough for Barbie to read."

Heidi: "Yeah, I just don't get it."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Project Runway Season Eleven, Episode Nine: Girls against Boys!

Michelle: “These are the good years for Daniel and me. We made it into the final seven, and since we assume nobody is watching the show anymore, it really takes the pressure off. Patricia has developed a new strategy of just nodding and smiling at everyone like a deranged robot. And Richard has stopped speaking. I didn’t think life could get any better. Then one day I found Daniel ripping apart his pink jacket ...”

Daniel: “I just wanted to make clothes that make people happy. I’m a happy person! These are tears of happiness! I’m sorry if you have a problem with that, Michelle, but I’m so freaking happy right now I just want to jump in front of a bus!”

Michelle: “Daniel, what are you talking about?”

Daniel: “You told me that I have to make clothes that make people miserable.”

Michelle: “I didn’t say that.”

Daniel: “You stood right there and told me that happy clothes are not in fashion now and I have to make clothes that make people sad. I just want everyone to know that.”

Michelle: “Daniel, I ...”

Daniel: “No, that’s fine. You clearly know much more about making people unhappy, so I’ll defer to your expertise on this.”

Michelle: “Oh, I think I know what the problem is. Honey, have you been getting enough ketchup lately?”

Daniel: “Ketchup?”

Michelle: “Yes, ketchup. Ketchup has natural mellowing agents that help reduce psychotic episodes so you can finish a challenge.”

Daniel: “I guess you’re right. Maybe I just need more ketchup. Thanks, Michelle.”

These are the good years, 
in the golden sun. 
A new day is dawning, 
a new challenge has begun. 
Life is flowing 
like ketchup on a bun. 
[Brought to you by the Catchup Advisory Board]
Thank you. This week’s challenge pits the boys against the girls.

Tim: “No, it doesn’t. The judges thought very carefully about how to team up the designers.”

Oh, really? Let’s take a look at that conversation, shall we?

Heidi: “Patricia and Stanley will really get on each other’s nerves.”

Zac: “Yeah, let’s make them work together!”

Nina: “That will be funny! And I think if Michelle and Daniel work together one of them could have a complete mental breakdown.”

Heidi: “Then that’s our second team! That leaves Samantha, Layana, and Richard as the third team.”

Zac: “Ooh, Layana and Richard might actually kill each other!”

Heidi: “Perfect! I am so excited about torturing these designers!”

OK, I stand corrected. I guess they did put a lot of thought into that. Anyway, that doesn’t change the fact that it was the girls against the boys this week, even if that wasn’t the official team breakdown. So, let’s look at what He said and what She said:

Richard: “Samantha, would you please tell Layana that I am not speaking to her?”

Layana: “Samantha, would you please tell Richard he’s just jealous because I’m prettier than he is?”

Samantha: “Would someone please tell me what the hell I did to deserve this?”

Well, you agreed to go on this show, for starters. Anyway, the challenge this week is to create a look that can be sold at Lord & Taylor and retail for around $250 (I think) and it’s supposed to be inspired by their signature rose and apparently it should be designed for a younger customer (I think) but not too young (I’m looking at you, Samantha). The president of Lord & Taylor tells us the fascinating details about the typical Lord & Taylor customer:

Lord & Taylor Lady: “Our customer hates fashion and likes to look dated and awful.”

Well, obviously. Who doesn't? So, the designers are creating their own individual looks this week and the teams are apparently just there to lead to unnecessary conflict and, if the producers have their way, homicide.

Tim: “That’s not true! These designers are helping each other. They complete each other. Daniel is like the chocolate to Michelle’s peanut butter. Stanley is like the Vicks VapoRub to Patricia’s Breathe Right nasal strips. Now, Daniel, do something about your awful pink jacket; Michelle, lose that “rain vest,” which, by the way, is not a thing; Patricia, simplify your pant to keep your look within budget. There; See how everyone is helping each other?”

No, YOU just helped them.

Tim: “Oh, you’re giving me too much credit.”

I give up. So, how did the designers do? Well, it could have been worse. There was nothing very exciting, but most of the looks were pretty nice. 

Patricia and Stanley both created nice looks that probably would have made them the winning team if the judges hadn’t ignored the teams part of the challenge this week. Stanley’s dress wouldn’t have much hanger appeal, but it had beautiful seam lines and I actually liked it. Patricia’s silk pants were a little off, but her chiffon top seemed like it could sell. Again, I didn’t think either look was amazing, but I thought their combined score should have made them the winning team.

Michelle won this challenge all on her own. The judges simply ignored how horrible Daniel’s pink disaster was. I think he would have been better off with the jacket and shorts. (But not matching shorts!) Oh, well. The judges loved Michelle’s dress so much they didn’t care. And it was a cute dress. At first it reminded me a little too much of Mondo’s Nanette Lapore dress, which was for a similar challenge and had a similar silhouette and horizontal color blocking. But after going back and looking at Mondo’s dress, I guess they don’t look much alike. Michelle wins the challenge! Congratulations, Michelle!

Not Michelle's dress
And Daniel was very lucky to be teamed up with Michelle:

Daniel: “Yes, without her I wouldn’t have made this dress.”

Michelle: “Please don’t give me credit for that dress.”

Daniel: “Don’t be silly. You deserve it. This pink dress is all you!”

Poor Daniel. I can see that it would be confusing to be on the winning team when you actually have the worst look on the runway. 

The bottom three were Richard, Layana, and Samantha. All three looks had problems. Richard and Layana made decent dresses that can’t really be worn anywhere. They were too casual for evening and too dressy for day. 

I said almost exactly the same thing the Lord & Taylor lady said when I saw Richard's look: it looks like a dress you would wear to the beach, except that you obviously wouldn’t wear that dress to the beach.

Lord & Taylor Lady: “Jinx! You owe me a coke!”

Fine. I owe the Lord & Taylor lady a coke. I can live with that.

Layana’s dress was also weird. It was kind of pretty, but it was wrong for spring. And where do you wear a gown like that? A photo shoot for your new fragrance? I just don’t get it.

Samantha. Why? What was that? Why didn’t Tim talk her out of it. They all saw that it was looking too junior. When has the word “junior” ever come out of Nina’s mouth as a compliment? The judges do not want to see anything junior. But, ignoring that for the moment, the dress didn’t even look junior to me; it looked like childrenswear. As a teenage girl, I can say I don’t want to wear that.*

*That's right. Eric3000 is actually a teenage girl. I've just been pretending to be a forty-[mumble] year old man so that I would be taken seriously in the literary community. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Project Runway Season Eleven, Episode Eight: Thunder Down Under!

This ain't one body's Tell. It's the Tell of us all. We got it mouth to mouth. You got to listen it and 'member. 'Cause what you hears today you got to tell the birthed tomorrow. I's looking behind us now, across the count of time, down the long haul, into history back. I sees the end what were the start. It's Pockaclipse, full of pain. And out of it were birthed crackling dust and fearsome time. It were full-on winter and Mr. Dead chasing them all. But one he couldn't catch. That were Tim Gunn. He gathers up a gang of designers, takes to the air and flies to the sky. So they left their homes, said bidey-bye to the high-scrapers and what were left of the knowing they left behind. Some say the wind just stoppered. Others reckon it were a gang called Turbulence. And after the wreck some had been jumped by Mr. Auf Wiedersehen but some had got the luck, and it leads them here. One look and they's got the hots for it. They word it Parsons the New School and they says, "We don't need the knowing. We can live here." Time counts and keeps counting. They gets missing what they had. They get so lonely for the high-scrapers and the video. And they does the pictures so they'd 'member all the knowing that they lost. 'Member this? Tomorrow-morrow Land! 'Member this? The River of Light! 'Member this? The Lord and Taylor accessory wall! Then Tim Gunn picked them of an age and good for a long haul. They counted eight designers, and that were them. The great leaving. They said bidey-bye to them what they'd birthed. And from the nothing they looked back and Tim Gunn hollered, "Wait; one of us will come."

Our hero, Tim Gunn wanders into Bartertown. He has just had all his worldly possessions stolen by a man in a little airplane and he’s trying to get back what is rightfully his. He’s dragged before Heidi Klum, ruler of Bartertown:
Your host, Heidi Klum
Heidi: “Why did you bring me this raggedy man?”

Tim: “I beg your pardon? I’ll have you know this is a bespoke suit!”

Heidi: “Come with me. Look around. All this I built. Up to my armpits in thread and hair gel. Where there was desert, now there's a design room. Where there was robbery, there are hair and makeup people. Where there was despair, now there's even more despair. It's civilization. I'll do anything to protect it. Today it's necessary to send a designer home. What do you say?”

Tim: “What do I have to do?”

Heidi: “You have to go to the place we call the Underworld. It’s the power source for this episode of Project Runway.”

Tim: “Oil? Natural gas?”

Heidi: “No. This episode is powered entirely on methane from pig manure. The lights, the sewing machines, the HP touchpads -- all of it pig manure.”

Tim: “I thought I smelled chaos and bedlam, but now I realize it’s the manure. But how do I get down there? I don’t know anything about methane.”

Heidi: “You can shovel shit, can’t you?”

Tim: “We’ve been doing it for years!”


Heidi: “You know the law. Two teams enter, one designer leaves.”


Heidi: “Then it's your choice. Welcome to another edition of Thunderdome! Listen on! Listen on! This is the truth of it. Fighting leads to killing, and killing gets to warring. And that was damn near the death of us all. Look at us now, busted up and everyone talking about tear-away pants. But we've learned by the dust of them all. Bartertown learned. Now when teams get to competing, it happens here and it finishes here. Two teams enter, one designer leaves. And right now, I've got two teams. Two teams with guts full of fear. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, runway time's here! First up is Team Slick and Hip. They’re ball crackers; death on foot; you know them; you love them; they’re Richard, Layana, Samantha, and Amanda.”
Team Slick and Hip
Heidi: “The challengers are Team Shades of Gray, direct from out of the Wasteland. They’re beautiful; they’re crazy; they’re Patricia, Daniel, Michelle, and Stanley.”
Team Shades of Gray
Heidi: “Thunderdome's simple. Get to Mood, get materials, and use them any way you can. I know you won't break the rules. There aren't any! Remember where you are. This is Thunderdome! Death is listening, and will take the first designer that screams. Prepare! Two teams enter, one designer leaves! You know the law! This is Thunderdome!”

Let me get this straight. Are you saying I know the law? And that this is Thunderdome?


The designers are attached to bunjee cords and they jump around in a cage, trying to grab sewing machines and steamers and chainsaws. They are fighting to the death and it’s not pretty to watch. Finally, it’s over:

Heidi: “That was terrible! I’m sending everyone home this week.”


Heidi: “What’s this?! Do you think I don’t know the law?! Wasn’t it me who wrote it?! These designers made a deal to create decent looks and they broke that deal. And the law says, Bust a deal, face the wheel!”

BUST A DEAL, FACE THE WHEEL! BUST A DEAL, FACE THE...wait...why am I chanting that?

The designers play the post-apocalyptic version of Wheel of Fortune. Amanda lands on ‘Gulag’ and is tied to the back of a horse and sent out into the desert. Sorry, Amanda!

Tim leads the remaining seven designers to safety. He commandeers the plane from the thief who stole all his belongings at the beginning of the episode. They start to fly away, with the bloodthirsty gang of Project Runway judges in hot pursuit, but there is just one problem:

Pilot: “Not enough runway.”

Tim: “We don’t have any choice.”

Pilot: “Between them and us, there’s not enough runway.”

Tim: “This is Project Runway! How can there not be enough runway?!”
Tim drives his truck directly into the judges, leaving just enough runway for the plane to take off, saving the designers for one more week.

This you knows. The years travel fast. And week after week I've done the Tell. But this ain't one body's Tell. It's the Tell of us all. And you got to listen it and 'member. 'Cause what you hears today, you got to tell the birthed tomorrow. I's looking behind us now, into history back. I sees those designers that got the luck and made the show watchable. It lead us here and we was heartful 'cause we seen what there once was. One look, and we knewed we'd got it straight. Those what had gone before had knowing of things beyond our reckoning, even beyond our dreaming. Time counts and keeps counting. And we knows now finding the trick of what's been and lost ain't no easy ride. But that's our track. We got to travel it. And there ain't nobody knows where it's gonna lead. Still and all, every week we does the Tell so that we 'member who we was and what Project Runway used to be. But most of all we 'members the designers who finded us and made us heartful of the show in history back. And we turns on our televisions. Not just for those designers but for all of them that are still out there. 'Cause we knows there'll come a night when they sees the distant light and they'll be coming home.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Project Runway Season Eleven, Episode seven: A sticky situation!

The producers of Eric Three Thousand would like to apologize for last week’s post. Market research suggests a Golden Girls parody would have had broader market appeal. However, so much time and effort had gone into viewing that damned Cocoon movie, that it was too late to abandon the project. You would not believe how hard that movie is to find! It was like the quest for the Holy Grail. I encountered killer bunny rabbits, rude French people, and shrubberies. And that was just while trying to log into iTunes. The good news is everyone wanting to watch the sequel, Cocoon 2, which is exactly zero people, will have no problem at all finding that movie, for some reason.

We start this episode by meeting Fred the Duck. Tu is terrified:

Tu: “Ducks scare the hell out me! They make me think of that insurance commercial, which makes me think of Ben Affleck and that brings back terrible memories of the time I was viciously attacked by Jennifer Garner while waiting in line at Starbucks.”

That’s ridiculous. All of us have had violent encounters with Jennifer Garner at Starbucks, but that’s no reason to blame Fred the duck. He’s so cute!

Anyway, Fred the Duck was just a clue to the challenge. To actually explain the challenge, Tim introduces us to Bill from Duck brand duct tape:

Tim: “This is Bill. I know you are probably noticing how cheap and ill-fitting his suit looks, but you will be impressed when you learn that it is made entirely out of Duck brand duct tape! Isn’t that fun?”

Bill: “Actually, only my tie is made out of duct tape.”

Tim: “yikes. so that’s a real suit?”

Bill: “yes.”

Tim: “I see. Well, this is what I would call a sticky situation.”

Yeah, that was a little awkward, but I’m sure Bill will get over it. I doubt the duct tape industry is supposed to be very fashionable. So why are we meeting Bill?

Bill: “I’m here to tell you about this challenge. As you know, the duct tape industry is all about fashion.”

OK, I guess I was wrong.

Bill: “Prom dresses are now the second most popular use for duct tape, just behind car repairs and slightly ahead of taping ducts together. There is a whole tradition now called Stuck at Prom and a bunch of new fashion colors and patterns that don’t look anything like duct tape and completely defeat of purpose of making clothes out of duct tape.”

Right. So people can make clothes out duct tape that looks like fabric. I don’t get it. Wouldn’t it make more sense to make fabric that looks like duct tape?

Bill: “Ooh, let me write that down!”

We have a real team challenge this time, with teams pairing up to collaborate on one dress per team. 

Stanley won last week so he gets to pick his teammate first. He picks Layana and stabs Richard in the heart:

Richard: “Et touché Brute?”

Yes, that romance was short lived. Well, Stanley will be sorry when he finds out Richard’s speciality is making gold prom dresses out of duct tape. Or, more likely, he won’t be sorry.

Stanley and Layana make a cute dress from black and zebra print duct tape. They created a full skirt using panels that give the skirt movement, despite the stiffness of the material. The giant pink bow was perfect and the little crinoline made from original duct tape was adorable. 

Kate picks Tu because she has grown so fond of his willingness to do everything she says.

Kate: “I feel like he’s my soul mate. A soul mate is like your servant, right?”

Kate and her assistant make a blue denim duct tape gown. It looks more like a pageant or red carpet gown. I think many girls do want long dresses for prom, but I don’t think many want stiff mermaid gowns you can’t dance in.

Michelle picks Amanda and they make a really fun dress with their own very cool duct tape houndstooth textile. There is math involved in creating the print, so Michelle is in heaven. I agree with some of the other designers that it is perhaps a bit costumey, but I still think it’s pretty great.

Richard is on the rebound and he picks Daniel as his new partner. They work well together, but they feed off of each other’s obsessive self praise and are unable to objectively critique their own work. Also, they selfishly took all 250 yards of gold duct tape just to make sure nobody else could use it. We know the number of yards because Michelle did the math for us. Of course Richard knew there was another designer who would want to use the gold:

Richard: “If Layana thinks she can get away with stealing my man, she has another thing coming.”

Obviously, it turns out they did everyone a favor by taking all the tacky gold tape, but it was still a little rude.

Patricia and Samantha get paired up and they do their best to work together, despite the fact that each is completely bewildered by the other. Patricia creates another interesting textile but I do not at all understand the silhouette of the dress. It’s certainly strange, which I appreciate, but it looks to me like a craft project or possibly a stage costume. I can’t imagine it as a prom dress.

The designers head back to high school to show off their creations and also break up a drug ring:

The designers under cover at prom
The high school students vote on their favorite dress and this will supposedly count for twenty percent of the score for the challenge. I don’t think we are ever told the outcome, except for the dress that received the most votes. For some reason, the high school students love the bizarre blue dress Patricia and Samantha made. I blame it on the drugs. The judges love it, too, but not enough to give it the win.

The win goes to the dress made by Michelle and Samantha. The students didn’t seem to like it much, but apparently that didn’t really have anything to do with the judging, after all. Michelle wins the challenge! Congratulations, Michelle!

The bottom four are Richard, Daniel, Kate, and Tu. The judges think both dresses are dated and clichéd. Richard and Daniel took a beating but they are safe and still loved working together:

Daniel and RIchard
Nina and Zac argue over whether girls want to wear long dresses to prom. It starts getting ugly and then something surprising happens:

Nina: “Girls do not want to wear long dresses to prom!”

Zac: “You have no idea what you’re talking about, old lady!”

Nina: “What do you know about what girls want, sissy boy?!”

Zac: “I dress girls for prom all the time! When was the last prom you went to?”

Nina: “Actually, I never got to go. I had to ... this is hard for me to talk about ... I had to drop out of high school and support my family by becoming the assistant editor of Vogue.”

Zac: “Oh, that’s so sad. I’ll go to prom with you, Nina.”

Nina: “This is the most magical night ever!”

Well, I hate to break up this love fest, but we have to get to the hard part. Shockingly, both Tu and Kate are sent home. I knew that it was probably Tu’s time to go, but I thought Kate would make it to the end.

Next week the designers go under cover again, this time at a Chippendale's Male Revue:

And they are serious about it!