Saturday, February 2, 2013

Project Runway Season 11 Episode 2

Let's start off this recap with the most important fact about this episode: this challenge should rightly go down in history as the one in which Susan Sarandon learns there is such a thing as a skort. MIND = BLOWN! PSHEWWWW!

OK, so maybe this week was short of engaging moments. First off, the designers are crestfallen to find that they will be remaining on the same teams this week rather than reshuffling. I thought that was pretty clear from last week's episode, but it's not really a surprise to hear that the producers managed to confuse them at the time.

The challenge this week is to make new uniforms for a place called "Spin," which is apparently a chain of ping-pong nightclubs, owned by, you guessed it, Susan Sarandon. A ping-pong nightclub sounds pretty close to my own personal version of hell, but to each her own I suppose. We are treated to an array of shots of smiling people drinking and playing ping-pong. Insert snarky statements about product placement, celebrity schmoozing, back scratching, cronyism, etc.

The uniforms specifically are for male and female servers, and the "ball boys" who go around collecting ping-pong balls gone astray from the tipsy clientele. The designers get a chance to go to one in person - where they have to act as the servers and ball boys. Queue the montage of glasses being spilled and broken, and ping-pong balls flying everywhere.

This is the first true team challenge, as each team gets $500 to make five looks - so there's no way to divide that up cleanly among either eight or seven people. So each designer gets to make one or two pieces for the outfits. They are also provided with, I believe, an on-site screen printer who can put various logos and slogans for the chain on their fabric.

Team "Keeping It Real" gets virtually no screen time this episode. The majority of the footage is devoted to "the Dream Team" utterly imploding. Ben tries to be a leader, but ends up coming across as a micro-manager, especially to the defensive and embattled Cindy. Also he ends up neglecting his own work. Patty ends up getting stuck with only a plain pair of leggings to make, fueling her fears of being called out for not doing any actual design. She tries to complicate them, but gets smacked down by the combined forces of Tim and the rest of the team.

And speaking of Tim's visit - he's pretty taken aback by what he sees. He urges them to change things up. Why is Matthew making a pair of jeans? What's the point - how could that be new? Michelle half-jokingly suggests a kilt instead - and they go for it. Ben's tank top doesn't go with Cindy's jacket, so he makes it a top for the ball-boy instead of the waitress. James again strikes out with his team and they make him completely start over the shirt he was working on. He again responds by sullenly agreeing publicly and complaining privately that he totally disagrees.

During the runway show, I tried to jot down my initial, gut impressions of the garments like I usually do, but Dream Team's provoked virtually no response. It was a parade of blah. The olive dress made by Michelle seemed a little nurse-y (though definitely of a piece with her dress from the first challenge). The other female server outfit of jacket & dress (by Samantha and Tu) was a bit on the tight side, and had slightly awkward peekaboo elements. Then there's James' t-shirt and DENIM CAPRIS for the male server, which as worn by their shaggy-headed blonde male model read wayyyyy too Cali beach bum. Then there was Cindy's pretty good jacket and Ben's nothing shorts, then the infamous female-then-male tank and denim kilt. The finishing blow for the kilt was that Matthew positioned a flap over the crotch that read "balls are my business." Yes, really. (That's one of the slogans they were provided - way to make the double entendre back into a single, guys!)

Team KIR's output didn't really make that much of a stronger impression. Daniel has made an asymmetrical jacket with bounce-parabola details, but I agree with Kate that it didn't really work and came across like something from a theme park. This is paired with Layana's apron-pocket skort. Then there was a black t-shirt with black pants from Stanley, who is pleased that Susan Sarandon (who is guest-judging, of course) smiles at this one. To be honest, it looked like a confused, pitying smile to me, but who can know? There's an over-complicated shirt from Kate over a little skirt and Pamela's leggings. Then Amanda makes an LBD, heavy on the "little." Joseph and Richard's ball boy outfit looks, to me, just as silly as the kilt confection from the other team - it's black pants, a black & white shirt colorblocked across the chest, and a harness to hold the ball-catching net-on-a-stick around the shoulders - but the gestalt to me looked like drop-crotch hayseed overalls. On further inspection of the individual pieces it did look better, though.

Surprising nobody, team KIR wins again. Back in the green room, James inexplicably spouts about how he "knows how teamwork works," and that their teamwork isn't working. Uh, James? The guy who is passive-aggressively producing things he knows are terrible the punish his team for criticizing his initial suggestions? Yes, James, please tell us more of "how teamwork works."

Some highlights of the judge's criticism:
  • A sleeveless shirt for male servers means visible armpit hair. Ewwww!
  • The capris made him look like a poolboy.
  • Ben & Cindy's outfit looks like a suburban hotel clerk. It seems that New Yorkers consider that an absolutely withering insult?
  • The kilt outfit is too silly and too busy.
Layanna is named the winner for her apron skort! And now someday she can tell her grandkids: I made the skort that introduced no less than Susan Sarandon to the very CONCEPT of skorts. Wow, gramma - you're cool!

James is out for his sloppy man-pri'd poolboy. He wishes that he had done more to take charge and just look after himself instead of listening to the team.

Next week - looks like it's the "make something for Heidi" challenge. It will be interesting to see how the team aspect plays into that one.

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