Saturday, September 28, 2013

Project Runway Season Twelve, Episode Eleven, Girls who da Vinci Code!

We start the episode with Tim Gunn being chased through the Grand Gallery of the Louvre by a murderous albino monk. But that’s not important right now. 

This week, at Parsons
Let me just get out of the way that Dom won the challenge this week. I think she deserved it and I’m very happy for her, but she was clearly not the focus of this episode. 

We cut to world renowned symbologist Professor Kate Pankoke:

Kate: “Symbols are a language that can help us understand the Project Runway challenges. I’ve been given a clue to this week’s challenge by Maria, the founder of Girls who da Vinci Code. She’s going to be my inspiration. First, I have to decode all these numbers. Oh, I figured it out! It’s a Tribonacci sequence, but out of sequence!”

I hate to state the obvious, but it’s not a Tribonacci sequence if it’s out of sequence.

Kate: “whatever . . . Look! I found another clue! ‘O, Draconian devil. Oh, lame saint.’ It’s an anagram for ‘You have a recommended budget of one hundred dollars at Mood.’”

No, it isn’t.

Kate: “Who cares!”

Good point. The designers go to Mood to look for more clues to this week’s challenge.

Helen: “My receipt has ‘the dark con of man’ written on it. In blood. What the hell?”

Kate: “Helen, when you were a child, were you aware of any secret gatherings? Anything ritualistic in nature?”

Helen: “Sure.”

Kate: “Was there ever any talk of something called the Priory of Project Runway?”

Helen: “The Priory of Project Runway is a myth.”

Kate: “No, it’s one of the world’s oldest and most secret societies, with leaders such as Sir Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michael Kors. They’re the guardians of a secret they supposedly refer to as...”

Helen: “The dark con of man!”

Kate: “They are here to protect the source of Project Runway’s power here on earth. ‘The dark con of man’ is actually another anagram. If you rearrange the letters it spells ‘look behind the chiffon.’”

Again, that’s not even close. But the designers look behind the chiffon and they find the new HP ENVY Rove. We are introduced to Rob le Bras-Brown, Vice-President of Something-or-other at Hewlett Packard and leader of Opus Dei:

Rob le Bras-Brown: “The new HP ENVY Rove is a state of the art cryptex. It’s da Vinci’s design. You create your textile pattern on a papyrus scroll, which is then rolled around a thin glass vial of vinegar. If you try to remove the keyboard by force, the vial breaks and destroys the clue to finding the tomb of Mary Magdalene. This is a major improvement over the old HP model, which would simply explode. Plus, it has a little built-in stand.”

The new HP ENVY Rove
Ooh, nice. Maybe there is some truth to the Priory of Project Runway.

Kate: “I hope not. Every Project Runway story ends in bloodshed. It all started over a thousand years ago when the Weinsteins conquered the holy city of New York. This crusade, one of the most massive and sweeping in history was actually orchestrated by a secret brotherhood called the Priory of Project Runway and their military arm, the Magical Elves.”

But I thought the Magical Elves were created to protect New York. 

Kate: “That was a cover to hide their true goal. Supposedly the invasion was to find an artifact lost since the time of Christ. An artifact, it was said, NBC Universal would kill to possess.”

Did they find it, this buried treasure? 

Kate: “Put it this way: One day the Magical Elves simply stopped searching. They quit New York and traveled directly to Rome. Whether they blackmailed NBC Universal or NBC bought their silence, no one knows. But it is a fact they declared these Priory Elves of limitless power. By the 1300s, the Elves had grown too powerful, too threatening. So NBC issued secret orders to be opened simultaneously all across Europe. They had declared the Elves Satan worshipers and said God had charged them with cleansing the earth of these heretics. The plan went off like clockwork. The Elves were all but exterminated. The date was October 13th, 1307. A Friday.”

Friday the 13th!

Kate: “Right. NBC sent troops to claim the Project Runway treasure but they found nothing. The few surviving Elves of the Priory had vanished and the search for their sacred artifact began again.”

What artifact? I've never heard about any of this. 

Kate: “Yes, you have. Almost everyone on earth has. You just know it as the Holy Grail.”

Dun Dun DUNNNN!!!

The designers visit the estate of the famous Project Runway historian Ian McKellen:

Ian McKellen: “The Priory protects the source of the Project Runway’s power on earth: The Holy Grail. 

I don't understand. What power? Some magic dishes? 

Ian McKellen: “Did you think the Holy Grail was a cup? Project Runway did not arrive by facsimile from heaven. The show as we know it was finally presided over by two men: the emperors Bob and Harvey Weinstein. The Weinsteins were New York's supreme holy men. From time immemorial their followers had worshiped a balance between nature's male deities and the goddess, or sacred feminine. But a growing religious turmoil was gripping New York. Three centuries earlier a young network named Lifetime had come along preaching Golden Girls marathons and horrible made-for-television movies. This network’s followers had grown exponentially and had started a religious war against Bravo. Or did NBC Universal commence war against the Weinsteins? We can't be sure who began the atrocities in that period. We can at least agree that the conflict grew to such proportions that it threatened to tear Project Runway apart. So the Weinsteins may have been lifelong pagans but they were also pragmatists. And in 325 Anno Domini they decided to unify Project Runway under a single network, Lifetime. Lifetime was on the rise. They didn't want their empire torn to pieces. And to strengthen this new Lifetime tradition the Weinsteins held a famous ecumenical gathering known as the Council of Nicaea. And at this council the many sects of Project Runway debated and voted on--well--everything, from the acceptance and rejection of specific challenge rules to the model selection to the administering of the judging, and of course the immortality of Heidi Klum.”

I don't follow. 

Ian McKellen: “Well, until that moment in history Heidi was viewed by many of her followers as a mighty prophet, as a great and powerful woman, but a woman nevertheless. A mortal woman. 

Not a Godess? 

Ian McKellen: “No. For many Project Runway fans, Heidi was mortal one day and divine the next.”

But who is human and who is divine? And how many have been eliminated over this question? 

Ian McKellen: “As long as there has been a one true Project Runway, there have been eliminations in its name. Now, let me show you the Holy Grail. I trust you recognize the Project Runway judges: 

Leonardo da Vinci, The Judgement of Project Runway
Of course. It’s the famous fresco by Leonardo da Vinci representing Heidi, Zac, Nina, and guest judges.”

Ian McKellen: “That’s right. And as you can see, Zac and Heidi are leaning away from each other, creating a “V” in the negative space. The “V” represents the sacred feminine and it proves that Heidi and Zac are actually married.”

But that would be the most shocking revelation in Project Runway history!

Ian McKellen: “Exactly! If it were revealed, it would devastate the very foundations of cable television. That’s why there are powerful forces trying to eliminate the evidence. Yes, we are in the middle of a war. On the one side is NBC Universal and on the other side is the Weinstein Company.”

The next day, back at Parsons, the designers get their papyrus scrolls and start deciphering the clues:

In London lies a knight a Pope interred
His labor's fruit a Holy wrath incurred
You seek the orb that ought be on his tomb
It speaks of Rosy flesh and seeded womb

So we’re looking for a knight whose funeral was presided over by a pope? Who could that be?

Some Guy on a Bus: “Here's your problem, mate. It's your basic linguistic coincidence. See ... keywords keep coming up with the writings of some bloke named Alexander Pope.”

OH! It’s not “a Pope”! It’s “A. Pope”! It’s a reference to the 18th-century poet and fashion designer Alexander Pope!

Alexander Pope
Alexander: “Yes, and I was inspired by my name to create a costume based on the tunics worn by the religious order of the Knights of the Magical Elves.”

Alexander's look
Alexander is eliminated. Sorry, Alexander.

Kate and Helen find one more clue:

The Holy Grail 'neath ancient Roslin waits 
The blade and chalice guarding o'er her gates 
Adorned in masters' loving art, she lies 
She rests at last beneath the starry skies

Kate: “the ‘art’ and ‘the blade’ clearly refer to your tattoos, Helen! We need to go to the chapel of St. Roslyn in Newark, New Jersey.”

So they go to Newark and make a shocking discovery:

Kate: “Your name was never Castillo. It’s Saint-Clair, one of the oldest families in Newark, descended from the Merovingian kings who ruled greater New Jersey for over three hundred years. I was wrong, Helen. You aren’t meant to guard the secret of the Holy Grail. You are the secret. You are the heir, the end of the bloodline. You are the last living descendant of Zac and Heidi. That’s why the judges love everything you send down the runway. That’s why you’ll be the winner this season. It's your destiny.”

Helen attempts to walk on water
Kate is also eliminated. She was just getting too close to the truth and the Project Runway producers had to get rid of her.

Later that night, as he is shaving, Tim Gunn figures out where the Holy Grail is hidden. Roslin is the Old English spelling of Rose Line. And if you translate ‘Rose Line’ into Pig Latin and then into Ancient Sumerian and then back into English it becomes ‘Runway’! The Holy Grail is buried under the runway in the Project Runway Studio at Parsons! It all makes complete sense now!

Well, duh!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Project Runway, Season Twelve, Episode Ten: Super Friends!

This week, at Parsons...
So this is the real world super hero challenge that we dread every season, in which a bunch of average, ordinary super heroes get makeovers from the designers. The designers always bitch and moan about how they don’t like to design for super heroes because they have giant muscles and the garments need to be able to withstand temperatures of up to 57,000 degrees Celsius and they might need to add a strap for a lasso. We always end up feeling bad because these people spend all day fighting diabolical villains and trying to keep the earth from being invaded by space aliens and all they want in return is a nice outfit so they can take a break and go out to dinner at the Red Lobster and instead the designers end up humiliating them by telling them things like, “I’m not used to making garments with wing holes in the back,” or “I’m putting you in black because it will de-emphasize your gills and the fact that you don’t have a belly button.”

Tim: “This time it will be different! These are not just any super heroes; these are the members of the Justice League of America! These are the Super Friends!”

Swatch the Wonder Dog and his companions
The clients show up in a bus:

For most of them, this is the first time visiting New York City!
They are super excited to be in New York and have the opportunity to visit Parsons and Mood and see the runway in person. They nearly wet their tights when they first see Tim. I enjoyed this episode. Most of the garments weren’t great, but the Super Friends were fun. The only tears were tears of joy and I think it helped that they all seemed to completely understand ahead of time what they were getting into.

So, this happened.
Unfortunately, there is a second, completely different story going on back at the designers' hotel, where Ken is quietly going about his nightly facial treatments:

He’s trying to do his housework:

I couldn't find a picture of Ken ironing.
And then, all of a sudden, with no warning at all, Alexander starts dating Sally Field and is trying to become a better father figure for Justin and then he throws a lime on the floor and makes a hilarious comment about a “run by fruiting” and Ken completely loses it:

Ken: “How dare you! This hotel room is my temporary home and Justin is my temporary family and I am not going to just stand by and let you invade my temporary home and try to prevent me from having full visitation rights with my children!”

Tim: “I think there is only one way to solve this issue.”

The designers take their clients to the hair and makeup studio and meet with the consulting stylist for L'Oreal, Johnny Lavoy, who will be doing the makeovers:

Ombre hair is totally on trend for the next five minutes
The makeovers are mostly really good:

Oh, Yes!
OK, not so much.
Like I said, the clothes were just OK. Definitely better than most of the horrifying looks we usually get in these challenges, but nothing to write home about. 

Helen won with a very nice navy gown that was much more realistic than I expected. When we first saw her design, I though, “Is this Super Friend planning to attend the Oscars?” and then it turned out that is exactly what she was planning to do. But the actual gown was a little toned down from the drawing and it could probably be worn to real life formal super hero events.

The bottom two were Ken and Alexander. Alexander’s suit was really a mess. He didn’t finish it. But at least it looks like he put some effort into the design. Ken, on the other hand, made a decent dress that didn’t look too bad and made his Super Friend really happy. But it was such a simple, boring design and it had execution problems, which are inexcusable in a simple dress. Also, the producers needed to get rid of him without actually kicking him off the show. So Ken is out.

Next week, this happens:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Project Runway Season Twelve, Episode Nine: Designing Designers!

This week, at Parsons...
OK, do we all understand what “Modern. Southern. Style.” is now? No? I didn’t think so. I have no idea what it means, you have no idea what it means, the designers have no idea what it means, and the judges sure as shit don’t have any idea what it means. So let’s try to narrow it down, shall we? 

Is it this?
No, that’s not it. How about plaid? Does the South have some connection to plaid? Not that I know of. I think plaid can be modern and there is no reason it can’t be worn in the South, so I had no particular objection to the designers using it for this challenge, but I didn’t understand the suggestion that it was a stereotypical Southern look. Were the designers confusing tartan plaid with gingham? And were the designers confusing the Midwest with the South?

Toto, I don't think we're in Belk's anymore
You were never in Belk's. I’ve done some research on the Belk website and come to this conclusion: they have the same damn clothes you’d find at any Macy’s in the country! What the hell is this episode about?

The Modern. Southern. Woman.
Tim: “I’m pleased to introduce you to the vice president of private brands at Belk, Julia Sugarbaker, who will try to explain the Southern woman.”

Julia Sugarbaker: “Thank you, Tim. I’ve been a Southerner all my life, and I can vouch for the fact that we do eat a lot of things down here. We've certainly all had our share of grits and I’m sure there is no self-respecting Southern woman who hasn’t eaten at least a ton of her momma’s homemade biscuits and gravy, and I myself have probably eaten enough fried chicken to feed a third world country--not to mention barbecue, cornbread, watermelon, fried pies, okra, and yes, if I were being perfectly candid, I would have to admit we have also eaten our share of crow, and for all I know, during the darkest, leanest years of the Civil War, some of us may have had a Yankee or two for breakfast. But, speaking for myself and hundreds of thousands of my Southern ancestors who have evolved through many decades of poverty, strife, and turmoil, I would like you to know that we have surely eaten many things in the past, and we will surely eat many things in the future, but, God as my witness, we have never, I repeat, NEVER EATEN DIRT!!!”

Tim: "We'll keep that in mind, but we were actually more interested in knowing what Southern women wear."

Julia Sugarbaker: "Oh. Sorry. I can't help you with that."

Tim: “OK. I'll give it a shot: The Southern woman likes to be vibrantly, expressively, and fashionably put together and knows how to use accessories and she loves color and anything with feminine details.”

That explanation isn't helpful. I still don’t get what distinguishes Southern style. The designers deal with the challenge by just making a bunch of clothes, some of them good and some of them, bad but none of them different from anything they would make for any other challenge.

Ken is so sure that his awful purple prom dress is a winning look that he nearly has a stroke when the judges explain to him that it is an awful purple prom dress. He understandably thinks he knows more about Southern style than a bunch of New Yorkers. But if the representative from Belk doesn’t want to sell an awful purple prom dress, then that’s pretty much the end of the story.

Helen made a pretty yellow dress with a white flower overlay. Unfortunately, she made it as a gown, when it should have been a short sun dress. She’s safe.

Justin made a very interesting salmon-colored dress. He’s safe.

Alexander made a plaid cocktail dress. I don’t know what was modern or Southern about it, but the fabric was nice and I guess it was cute. He was in the top three.

Alexandria made a really terrible dress, but she’s safe.

Bradon also made a strange plaid dress. He wins. I am looking forward to seeing how this dress sells in the Belk stores. I suspect it will not be in this fabric.

Dom made a horrible blue and green gown. She scared me with this look because I was actually worried she would be eliminated for it. It was that bad. She was in the bottom three.

Jeremy made a cute but extremely basic dress. He knew the dress was basic; it was meant as background for what he thought was another amazing old-lady jacket. As I've said in the past, I think old ladies should be able to buy jackets and I guess someone needs to design them, but there was just nothing modern about this and the challenge was to design something modern. He’s in the bottom three.

Kate made a cute orange dress that looked a lot like the other cute dresses she has made. It was still cute, though. All the judges loved it except for Heidi, who thought it made the model look pregnant. But that’s Kate’s go-to silhouette, so I don’t know why Heidi was so surprised to see it.

The bottom three were Dom, Ken, and Jeremy. For the first time in Project Runway history (except that it isn’t) the designers will be sent back to redesign their looks and see if they can improve them.

Dom, with some help from Helen, created an amazing new dress in an hour. I feel like she already made this dress earlier in the season, but that’s OK. She is the second winner for this challenge and her dress will also be sold at Belk. I think her dress will actually sell.

Ken, with some help from Kate, turned his horrible purple prom dress into a slightly less horrible purple nightclub dress. I still don’t see anything modern or Southern about this dress, but I’m sure there are women who would wear this for a night out in Las Vegas.

Jeremy, with some help from Alexander, thew out his first look and started over. He made a simple bias-cut dress that I thought was pretty great. The judges said it was too plain, but the dress was so much better than Ken’s that I think they were just making excuses. Jeremy is out. Sorry, Jeremy. You shouldn’t have been out for this dress, but I do have to admit I have found most of your clothes this season to be a bit dowdy.

Julia Sugarbaker: “Excuse me.”

Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know anyone was there.

Julia Sugarbaker: “Yes, and I gather from your comments there are a couple of other things you don't know. For example, you probably didn't know that Jeremy was the only contestant in Project Runway history to sweep every category except congeniality, and that is not something the members of my family aspire to anyway. Or that when he walked down the runway in his swimsuit, five contestants quit on the spot. Or that when he emerged from the isolation booth to answer the question, ‘What would you do to prevent war?’ he spoke so eloquently of patriotism, battlefields and diamond tiaras that grown men wept. And you probably didn't know that Jeremy was not just any Project Runway contestant, he was THE Project Runway contestant. He didn't twirl just a baton; that baton was on fire. And when he threw that baton into the air, it flew higher, further, and faster than any baton has ever flown before, hitting a transformer and showering the darkened runway with sparks! And when it finally did come down, sir, Jeremy caught that baton and twelve thousand people jumped to their feet for sixteen and one-half minutes of uninterrupted thunderous ovation, as flames illuminated his tear-stained face! And that, just so you will know — and your children will someday know -- is the night the lights went out in Georgia!”

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Project Runway Season Twelve, Episode Eight: Unbalanced!

This week is a repeat episode. The designers compete in some sporting activity and then create boring activewear outfits for Heidi to use for her Unbalanced clothing line, a clothing line specifically created to make designers become completely unhinged and start screaming at each other for no reason. So, in honor of this completely unoriginal episode and because I'm technically on vacation and shouldn't be wasting my time on this, I'm just going to repost this exact challenge from season nine. You won't be able to tell the difference.

Project Runway Season Nine, Episode 5: New Directions!

Heidi: "My product line is for New Balance, not New Directions."

I know. But I wrote this back in 2011 when Glee was actually worth watching.

Heidi: "Look, I pay you a lot of money to promote my product line."

No, you don't.

Heidi: "Really? Well, would you mind doing it just because I'm pretty?"

Well, OK. Buy Heidi's New Balance product line, everyone! Like I've said in the past, her clothes are perfect for women who want to look like they might go to the gym.

Heidi: "Thank you."

Last week Kimberly won and Julie was out [just replace those with Helen and Miranda]. Cecilia is really pissed off because she did absolutely everything she could think of to get kicked off the show and yet she's still there:

Cecilia: "I made a beige dress for Nina Garcia! It was a metaphor for stabbing her in the heart! Do I need to actually kill someone to get out of here?"

Anyway, over in the boy's apartment, even though it's a little early in the episode, it's time for our favorite segment of the show called...say it with me...Bert Gets Confused!:

Viktor: "Hey, Bert, what are those boxes there on the counter?"

Bert: "What boxes?"

Viktor: "The boxes right in front of you."

Bert: "I don't know what you're talking about, Sean. I can't see anything on the counter because it's covered with all these boxes."

So, apparently, while the designers dreamed of sugarplums, the elves brought them packages. And it is pretty magical because at this point the designers are still sleeping in the living room and yet they slept through this delivery. The designers are as excited as kids on Christmas morning:

Laura: "I hope it's a miniature pony!"

Bryce: "I hope it's an easy-bake oven!"

Close. It's running shorts and sneakers. The designers head over to the New Balance Track and Field Center, where they all die.

Well, not quite. But those New Balance shoes are really dangerous. Olivier trips and nearly kills himself.

Heidi: "That has never happened before!"

Look, I'm sure Olivier is not your target demographic. In fact, it looked like running was a completely new concept for him. Poor thing. I seriously almost passed out watching this scene. I think this show may be too violent for me.

Oh, wait! I forgot! Before that happened, Cecilia decided to quit [just replace this with Sandro and pretend it didn't happen several weeks ago]. Heidi makes a little speech that reflects either the fact that they have too much time to fill or there have been legal issues:

Heidi: "I want to make it very clear that the designers are not being kept here against their will. We are not, I repeat, NOT holding their family members hostage in exchange for their participation on this show. Do not believe those rumors. Cecilia is free to leave at any time. I will make sure she regrets it for the rest of her life."

Cecilia: "What?"

Heidi: "I said there are no hard feelings, and I wish you the best of luck in the rest of your life."

So, the team leaders are the first four runners who finished a lap and they pick from the other designers:

Josh picks Anya and Becky
Bryce picks Kimberly and Daniel
Anthony Ryan picks Laura and (reluctantly) Bert
Viktor picks Olivier and will get to choose a returning designer

OK, that is pretty crazy! Viktor gets to choose which eliminated designer actually gets to return to the show! For some strange reason, all the designers want Josh C. to return. Apparently, everyone loves him. It's very sweet. Either that, or they know he will be the weakest competition. No, that's just being cynical.

So, yes, we have two Joshes on the show again and I have to distinguish between them when I'm writing my recaps [you can replace this with our two designers named Alex, if you care to]. What a pain in the ass. I don't have time to be typing in the first letter of their last names! I'm very busy! Doesn't anyone on this show consider my feelings?!

Anyway, the challenge is for the teams of three to create three casual looks to wear with sneakers and the winning look will be produced as part of Heidi's New Balance line.

Becky and Bert are not being allowed to participate in their teams. While the editing doesn't actually show Bert being such a terrible teammate, I think it isn't a coincidence that nobody likes working with him. Becky, on the other hand, seems cooperative, but Josh Not C. is just yelling at her. It started when Becky asked Tim if she could use the sample garments as a guide for her pants and Tim said, "Sure, why not? Just don't tell any of the other designers because I want you to have a huge unfair advantage over them" and then Becky said okey dokey and then when Josh asked her what she and Tim were whispering about she told him to mind his own business. This sent Josh off and he screamed at her until she finally goes and cries in the toilet and tells Tim she's afraid for her life and then Josh gives her a half-assed apology:

Josh Not C.: "Becky, I am really sorry that you design dowdy clothes. And I mean that sincerely. We are all just tired. I'm sure if we all weren't so tired, we would all just agree that you are untalented and there would be no problem. So, are we good?"

Becky: "Yeah, OK."

Time for the runway. Heidi is wearing a black sequined trash bag. There is a guest judge. That's all I can tell you about that.

Some of the garments were pretty good and others weren't. I don't have time to describe them, because it takes too much time typing in the first letters of the last names of the two Joshes.

Viktor wins with a wrinkly dress and a biker jacket [just replace this with Helen winning for her jacket]. Then Josh Not C. also wins with Anya's maxi dress, which didn't make any sense, but whatever.

The loser causes more problems. Anthony Ryan [replace with Karen] created one of the worst looks in history, but Danielle [replace with Ken] also made a boring look and she [he] has been in the bottom a lot. Heidi and Nina argue over the rules of the competition. Nina thinks a designer's promise should be factored into the judging, while Heidi has a more strict view about rules:

Heidi: "The Ten Commandments of Project Runway are very clear. The First Commandment states: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's ass, unless thy neighbor's ass is totally awesome, in which case nobody would blame thee. Oh, I'm sorry, that's the wrong one. It's the second one: One day thou art in and the next thou shalt be out."

Nina: "Don't be so uptight, man. You're totally harshing my buzz. You need to open your mind and experience the universe."

In general, I agree with Nina. We shouldn't be so uptight about rules. If two looks are almost equally bad, the judges should be free to take other things into consideration. But in this case, Anthony Ryan's [Karen's] look was far worse than Danielle's [Ken's] and I think Heidi is right.

Anthony Ryan was saved but Karen is out. Heidi was overruled this time only in the case of Alexandria, who she wanted in the top but ended up just being safe because the other judges didn't like her poopy pants.

Heidi: "Please buy my clothes. But please do not go jogging in them or you will be severely injured."

The big difference from the 2011 episode is that Tim is dressed in a black and white striped referee uniform.

Tim demonstrates how to do the wheelbarrow with guest judge Michael Kors
The only exciting development this week is that Helen finally came up with a new phrase to replace the tired old "I didn't come here to make friends":

Helen: "I didn't come here to get stabbed."