Saturday, November 23, 2013

Project Runway All Stars Season Three, Episode Five: Bonnie and Clyde: Catching Fire!

Alyssa Milano: This challenge is inspired by the hottest new fashion trend: star crossed lovers! And it’s all thanks to the new Bonnie and Clyde sequel, which will be simulcast on Lifetime, A&E, and the Weather Channel!

Are you saying a current fashion trend is the result of an upcoming television movie?

Alyssa Milano: No, I’m saying this challenge is the result of an upcoming television movie. Maybe the movie is the result of a current fashion trend. Did you ever think of that? Why do you keep asking me these stupid questions?

Well, just so you know, Carolyn Murphy already told us about this “hot” new fashion trend almost a year ago, in episode eight of All Stars season two. So, what’s new about this challenge?

Alyssa Milano: More violence?

OK. I can work with that.

So, when we last saw Bonnie and Clyde, they had just been in an intense gun battle. We pick up the story at that point:

nope. still dead.
I don't understand this challenge. This is the silliest idea since The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler. Besides being dead, Bonnie and Clyde wore pretty basic clothes for the time, so updating that look to today would result in pretty basic clothes for today. Maybe we need to go back to the beginning of this story of star crossed lovers:

From the Treaty of the Treason: In Penance for appearing on earlier seasons of Project Runway, the eight remaining designers shall form teams of two and offer up a menswear and womenswear design at a public runway show. These tributes shall be delivered to the custody of the studio, where they will fight to the death, until a lone victor remains. Henceforth and forevermore this pageant shall be known as The Runway Games.

Alyssa Milano: Welcome! Welcome! Welcome! Happy Runway Games. And may the odds be ever in your favor. Now, before we begin, we have a very special film brought to you all the way from Parsons. President Mizrahi can’t be here this week but he did the voiceover for this film:

President Mizrahi: War. Terrible war. Widows. Orphans. A motherless child. This was the uprising that rocked our show. Former Project Runway designers rebelled against the show that fed them, loved them, protected them. Brother sewing machine turned on Brother sewing machine until nothing remained. And then came the peace. Hard fought. Sorely won. The designers rose up from the ashes and a new era of All Stars was born. But freedom has a cost and the traitors were eliminated. We swore we would never know this treason again. And so it was decreed that the various seasons of Project Runway would offer up in tribute contestants to design to the death in a pageant of honor, courage, and sacrifice. The lone victor bathed in a prize package worth half a million dollars and a guest editor position at Marie Claire, which will serve as a reminder of our generosity and our forgiveness. This is how we remember our past. This is how we safeguard our future.

Alyssa Milano: Ooh, I always find that so moving! Now comes the time to select the teams that will design the looks for the 74th annual Runway Games. Christopher...

Jeffrey: No! I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!

Alyssa Milano: Well, I believe we have a volunteer.

Host Alyssa Milano and All Star Jeffrey
So, here are the teams of star crossed lovers from the 12 seasons of Project Runway: Jeffrey is teamed with Seth Aaron. Christopher is teamed with Viktor. Irina is teamed with Mychael. Korto is teamed with Elena.

Elena: I can’t believe Viktor didn’t pick me. I often think back to that time several days ago when I was feeding my pigs in the rain and I threw that loaf of bread out in the mud because Viktor was hungry and needed my help. I should have gone to him. I should have gone out into the rain. But then, instead of being grateful, he totally stole my inspiration for using broken rulers. I will destroy him!

The designers go to Mood. It’s more luxurious than any of them could imagine:

Alyssa Milano: I think it's one of the wonderful things about this opportunity, that even though you're here and even though it's just for a little while, you get to enjoy all of this! I’m going to find Zanna. She’s probably in the bar.

Zanna enters the design room, drunk and belligerent:

Jeffrey: So, what should we do?

Zanna Roberts Rassi: Wow, you’re so eager.

Jeffrey: Yeah, you’re our mentor. You’re supposed to give us advice.

Zanna Roberts Rassi: Oh. OK. Here’s my advice: embrace the probability of your imminent elimination and know in your hearts that there is nothing I can do to save you.

Jeffrey: Then why are you here?

Zanna Roberts Rassi: The refreshments.

Mentor Zanna Roberts Rassi
The next day Zanna has sobered up and she is being a bit more helpful:

Zanna Roberts Rassi: You really want to know how to stay on this show? You get sponsors. Oh, not what you were expecting? Well, when you're in the middle of a challenge and you're freaking out, some eyeshadow, hairspray, or even a belt can mean the difference between life and death. And those things only come from sponsors, and to get sponsors, you have to cause drama. And right now, Jeffrey, you're not off to a very good start.

A gift from the QVC accessory wall: soup again?
Jeffrey does his best to be dramatic and win sponsors for the show. He has a fit because his model went to the gym a couple of times and now he is the first designer in history to work with a model that doesn’t have the exact measurements listed. He shoots an apple out of the mouth of a roasted pig. Everyone is shocked. The reaction shots to this meltdown give the producers an opportunity to show one of the male models in a pair of very flimsy underpants. And they manage to show this shot twice by including it in the upcoming scenes before the commercial break. It works. The ratings for the show go through the roof!

Jeffrey meets his stylist, Lenny Kravitz:

Stylist Lenny Kravitz and All Star Jeffrey
Lenny Kravitz: That was one of the bravest things I've ever seen, having a meltdown just to improve the show’s ratings. I'm sorry that this happened to you and I'm here to help you in any way that I can.

Jeffrey: Most people just congratulate me.

Lenny Kravitz: Well, I don't see the point in that. So tonight they have the tribute runway, they're going to take you out and show you off to the world.

Jeffrey: So you're here to make me look pretty?

Lenny Kravitz: I'm here to help you make an impression. Now, I want to do something that they're going to remember. I just think somebody in a look inspired by the 1930s shouldn't be dressed up in some stupid costume, now, should they?

The tribute runway
Well, no, they should not be in stupid costumes. And yet, that’s mostly what we ended up. Either costumes or looks that had nothing to do with the 1930s. So, on to the tribute runway, with random judges Bar Rafaeli, Elie Tahari, and Austin Scarlett.

The judging panel was a mess this week
Bar Rafaeli: Over one hundred thousand people craning to get a glimpse at this year's tributes. And the sponsors get to see the tributes for the first time. The importance of this moment cannot be overstated.

Elie Tahari: There they are! There they are! 

Austin Scarlett: This season's tributes!

Bar Rafaeli: It looks exciting.

Elie Tahari: It just gives you goose bumps.

Bar Rafaeli: Wait a minute ... Elie, I think those are tracker jackers. Am I wrong?

Elie Tahari: Oh, those things are very lethal.

Austin Scarlett: Very. For those of you who don't know, tracker jackers are genetically engineered wasps with venom that causes dizziness and poor judgement.

A swarm a tracker jackers falls on the judges. Things get a little weird:

Bar Rafaeli: I really like Christopher’s look because the model scares me. I don’t like Jeffrey’s look because the model scares me. I have no idea what I’m talking about.

Elie Tahari: I don’t think two different fabrics can be used in the same garment.

Austin Scarlett: Well, you’re both wrong. I think I’m on fire!!!

Alyssa makes an announcement:

Alyssa Milano: Attention, designers. Attention. Don’t worry, this isn’t a twist. The regulation requiring a single victor has been suspended. From now on, two victors may be crowned if both originate from the same team. This will be the only announcement.

Oh, my gosh! A double win?!

Alyssa Milano: Attention. Attention, designers. I have another announcement. There's been a slight rule change. The previous revision allowing for two victors from the same team has been revoked. Only one victor may be crowned. But the winner will get a screen credit for costume design in a Lifetime movie. Good luck. And may the odds be ever in your favor.

Jeffrey's winning coat
Oh. OK. Well, Jeffrey wins. Now, what about the elimination?

Bar Rafeaeli: Don't eliminate Mychael. You'll just create a martyr.

Elie Tahari: Well it seems we've already got one.

Austin Scarlett: Elie, why do you think we have a winner?

Elie Tahari: What do you mean?

Austin Scarlett: I mean, why do we have a winner? If we just wanted to intimidate the designers, why not round up the All Stars at random, and eliminate them all at one? It would be a lot faster.

Bar and Elie look at Austin like he’s crazy.

Austin Scarlett: I'll tell you why we have a winner: Hope.

Elie Tahari: Hope?

Austin Scarlett: Yes, hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it's contained.

Bar Rafaeli: So?

Austin Scarlett: So, contain it.

Mychael is eliminated. Sorry, Mychael.

Season Three!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Project Runway All Stars Season Three, Episode Four: Back to School!

Rodney Dangerfield performs the legendary Triple Lindy
Alyssa Milano: This week we are bringing back a classic Project Runway challenge!

Ooh, I hope it’s that challenge from season three where Rodney Dangerfield went to college in order to help Malan Breton make the diving team!

Alyssa Milano: Oh, yeah, that was a good one. But no, we are going to a school that specializes in art in order to let your inner artist run wild!

Oh, I know! It’s that challenge from season nine where the designers went to the Harlem School for the Arts and teamed up with student painters!

Alyssa Milano: No. Please stop guessing now. I’ll tell you what the challenge is. I went to the producers and said, “I think it’s time to bring back this classic challenge. People are still talking about it after all this time, so let’s try to repeat that success.” And they said, “Alyssa, you are a freaking genius.” So here it is! Ready for this classic challenge that I decided to bring back for this season of All Stars?

Sock it to me!

Alyssa Milano: It’s the unconventional materials challenge!

Huh? Which one?

Alyssa Milano: What do you mean? Maybe you are unfamiliar with this challenge. Let me explain. The designers have to make clothes out of unconventional materials. 

Yeah, we know what an unconventional materials challenge is. We have one every season. That doesn't really qualify as "bringing back a classic challenge."

Alyssa Milano: Really? OK, well, how about the season seven challenge where Arnold Schwarzenegger went undercover and took Tim’s place as mentor and the designers’ whining gave him a headache and Emilio Sosa suggested that maybe it was a tumor and he responded by saying that it was not a tumor?

Classic Project Runway.

Alyssa Milano: Great, we’ll do that one then.

The designers have four minutes to ransack a classroom, grab school supplies, and save Penelope Ann Miller from her drug dealer ex-husband.
This week, at Parsons
Elena: I can’t believe it! You totally stole my inspiration! You were doing one movie and then you completely changed your post to another movie! What am I supposed to do now? I’m ruined! I’ll be stuck in the top three again! Why does this always happen to me?!

I think you’re overreacting.

Christopher: No, I totally saw you steal her inspiration.

Irina: I don’t know why Elena is giving you movie inspirations anyway. This is a competition!

Jeffrey: I don’t remember anyone saying my dress had to be wearable!

Nobody has even criticized your garment yet, Jeffrey.

Jeffrey: I know. I’m just practicing.

Zanna makes her rounds and announces a twist:

Zanna: In keeping with the theme of the challenge, the makeup this week will be done by small children using the new Mary Kay At Play line of cosmetics, based on the idea that your actual lips are only a vague suggestion of where your lip color should go:

Close enough!
You go, girl!
On to the runway, with Alyssa, Georgina, Isaac, and actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Penelope Ann Miller.

Honorable mention this week goes to Irina, who created a really pretty, fun dress:

Irina's should have been in the top three

Elena, Viktor, and Christopher had the top designs.

Elena's nice but expected dress
Viktor's beautiful dress
Christopher's elaborately constructed sob story
Christopher's dress was certainly dramatic and flattering, but it also felt like something we've seen a million times before. And, unlike Penelope Ann Miller on the judging panel, I did not immediately get the reference to bullying from this.

Christopher: Growing up gay was really hard. So I made this dress.

Isaac feels manipulated by Christopher's story
Isaac: What's the big deal? So, you were tortured to the point of suicide. Walk it off!

I kind of get where Isaac is coming from. The story seemed a little bit manufactured to pull on the judges' heartstrings. Unlike, for instance, Dom, who seemed genuinely excited to be promoting equality in the bow tie challenge last season, Christopher just seemed to be feeling sorry for himself. I guess when the dress is used in the Mary Kay advertisement, he will mention that bullying is bad and maybe he'll change the mind of that one Marie Claire reader who had, up until that point, thought bullying was a good thing. Maybe that dress will change the world. What do I know.

Jeffrey, Mychael, and Korto were the bottom three:

Jeffrey realized his vision, terrible as it was
Mychael's does look better if you close your eyes
Korto's was a disaster, but the neck piece is nice
Alyssa Milano: We are bringing back a classic Project Runway elimination! Remember that episode where nobody was eliminated?

Why are you doing this?

Alyssa Milano: We can’t think of any reason to send anyone home this week.

I have a reason for you: the bottom three garments were awful.

Alyssa Milano: I mean besides that.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Project Runway All Stars Season Three, Episode Three: The Great Jay-Z!

[The Episode opens with Alyssa Milano talking to her doctor in a well-appointed room of a psychiatric hospital]

Alyssa Milano: In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice. "Always try to see the best in people," he would say. As a consequence, I'm inclined to reserve all judgments. But even I have limits. Back then ...

Doctor: Back when?

Alyssa Milano: Oh, sorry. I’m narrating this story. It all happened Thursday but I’m going to make it sound like it happened a long time ago. And there will be breaks in the narration in which the characters will be speaking. I know it’s a really annoying way to tell a story, but you’re just going to have to deal with it. Now, where was I? Oh, yes. Back then, all of the designers drank too much, except for Jeffrey and Elena, who ordered virgin cocktails. But the rest of them drank too much. And flirted pathetically with the bartender. The more in tune with the times they were, the more they drank. And none of them contributed anything new. I was disgusted. Disgusted with everyone and everything. Only one man was exempt from my disgust. Jay-Z. He was the single most hopeful person I've ever met and I'm ever likely to meet again. There was something about him -- a sensitivity. He was like one of those machines that register earthquakes 10,000 miles away. 

Doctor: Where did you meet him?

Alyssa Milano: We met at his 40/40 club in West Egg, Long Island. In the autumn of 2013 the tempo of the country approached hysteria. Stocks reached record peaks. The parties were bigger. The shows were broader. The buildings were higher. The accessory walls were sadder. And the ban on alcohol had backfired, making the liquor cheaper. 

This week, at Parsons
Doctor: Soooo ... you’re saying this challenge had something to do with cocktail parties?

Alyssa Milano: Cocktail parties ... Yeah. When I think about it, the history of this challenge really began that night I drove over to my cousin Beyoncé's for dinner. She lived across the bay in old money East Egg. Beyoncé, The Golden Girl. A breathless warmth flowed from her. A promise that there was no one else in the world she so wanted to see.

[break from narration to live action]

Beyoncé: Did they miss me in Chicago?

Alyssa Milano: Were you supposed to be in that movie?

Beyoncé: No, dummy. The city. You were just in Chicago.

Alyssa Milano: Oh, right. Yes, they’re absolutely in mourning. They’re crying “Beyonce, we can’t live without you!”

Beyoncé: I'm paralyzed with happiness!

Beyoncé in Christopher's cocktail dress
[back to narration]

Alyssa Milano: I had been drunk just twice in my life. And the second time was during this episode’s runway show. That night in the Project Runway studio we were buoyed by a sort of chemical madness. A willingness of the heart that burst thunderously upon us all. And suddenly, I began to like Viktor’s look and Christopher’s look and also Elena’s look, but not enough to want to wear it. So Viktor won the challenge and Christopher also sort of won the challenge but not really. High over the city, our windows must have contributed their share of human secrets to the casual viewer of the show. And I was the viewer too, looking up and wondering ... I was within ... and without ... enchanted and repelled ... by the inexhaustible variety of crap on the runway. I have no clue how I got home. But I do know that I awoke with the distinctly uneasy feeling that Jay-Z was watching me.

Doctor: Watching you?

Alyssa Milano: Yes. Jay-Z was always watching me. I got an invitation. I was the only one. By which I mean no one except me ever received an actual invitation to Jay-Z’s. You see, the rest of New York simply came uninvited. The whole city packed into automobiles and all weekend, every weekend, ended up at Jay-Z’s. I mean, everyone from every walk of life and every corner of New York city. This kaleidoscopic carnival spilled in Jay-Z’s door. Caravans of billionaire playboys, publishers and their blond nurses, Rebecca Minkoff and Nate Berkus comparing accessories on Jay-Z’s beach, Georgina Chapman losing money at the roulette tables, gossip columnists alongside gangsters and governors exchanging telephone numbers. Film stars, Broadway directors, morality protectors, high school defectors, and Isaac Mizrahi, dubious descendant of Beethoven. 

[break from narration to live action]

Alyssa Milano: Do you know where I might find the host, Mr. Jay-Z?

Beyoncé: Jay-Z? What Jay-Z?

Isaac Mizrahi: I've never seen Mr. Jay-Z. No one has.

Georgina Chapman: I heard he was a German spy during the war!

Rebecca Minkoff: I heard he’s third cousin to the Queen of England!

Nate Burkus: I heard he stabbed someone!

Alyssa Milano: Well, I don't care! He gives large parties. And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.

Jay-Z: I'm afraid I haven't been a very good host, old sport. You see, I’m Jay-Z.

Drink up, old sport.
[back to narration]

Alyssa Milano: His smile was one of those rare smiles that you may come across four or five times in life. It seemed to understand you and believe in you, just as you would like to be understood and believed in.

Doctor: What a coincidence that Jay-Z’s 40/40 club was just across the bay from Beyoncé’s house.

Alyssa Milano: It was no coincidence. He founded that club to be near her. He agreed to do the score for this pointless Baz Luhrmann movie just so he could put her on the soundtrack. He threw all those cocktail parties and invited the All Stars, hoping she would wander in one night. And now he just wants the All Stars to design cocktail dresses and accessories? The modesty of it kind of takes the breath away, doesn't it?

Doctor: Well, I agree it’s a bit odd.

Alyssa Milano: If only it had been enough for Jay-Z just to hold Beyoncé. But he had a grand vision for his life and Beyoncé’s part in it. It wasn't until the end of that challenge, on the last night I saw Jay-Z, that he told me of the life he had dreamed for himself since he was a boy. You see, doctor, Jay-Z isn’t his real name. 

Doctor: You’re kidding.

Alyssa Milano: No. His parents were farmers from North Dakota. But in his own imagination, he was destined for future glory. Chasing this destiny, a 16 year old Jay-Z spotted a yacht in peril. He rowed out and rescued the vessel and its captain, alcoholic millionaire Michael Kors. This was his opportunity, and he seized it. He sailed the yacht out of danger and into his future. And that’s how Jay-Z became famous. If you don’t believe me, check Wikipedia. And if Wikipedia says something different, it’s because some asshole changed the entry. 

[break from narration to live action. I know. Super annoying]

Alyssa Milano: So, the bottom two are Jeffrey and Melissa.

The judges don't like the crystals on Jeffrey's dress
Jeffrey: I've been everywhere and seen everything and done everything. I had a very bad time. I'm pretty cynical about everything. I hope the judges will be fools and let me stay. That's the best thing judges in this world can be. Beautiful little fools. All the bright precious things fade so fast. And they don't come back.

Alyssa Milano: Jeffrey, I know you won before, but you can’t repeat the past.

Jeffrey: Can’t repeat the past? Why, of course you can, old sport. Of course you can.

Alyssa Milano: Well, Melissa's look is clearly better than Jeffrey's this week, but it isn’t enough for the judges to love Melissa. They have to say they never loved Jeffrey.

Judges: Never?

Alyssa Milano: Never.

Judges: Please don’t,  Alyssa! You ask too much! We did love him once. We can’t help what’s past.

[Jeffrey and Melissa drive off through the cooling twilight ... towards elimination. But who will it be?]

Jeffrey: The judges rushed out at us as if they were trying to speak to us. It all happened so quickly! She tried — I mean, I tried to turn in time, but ...

Alyssa Milano: She?!! It was Melissa?!!!

Jeffrey: Melissa was very nervous. She thought driving would calm her nerves. It was instantaneous. She didn’t feel a thing.

Melissa is out
Alyssa Milano: They're a rotten crowd, Melissa. You're worth the whole damn bunch put together.

[back to narration]

Alyssa Milano: I was always glad I said that to Melissa. It was the only compliment I ever paid her. They were careless judges, Isaac and Georgina. They smashed up things and creatures, and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. So, once again those beautiful little fools didn’t have the balls to get rid of Jeffrey. I thought of Melissa's wonder when she first picked out the green light at the end of the runway. She had come such a long way and her dream must have seemed so close that she could hardly fail to grasp it. But she did not know that it was already behind her, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night. Melissa believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter -- For the next challenge we will sew faster, stretch our fabric farther ... And one fine morning ... So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Can we go now?