Monday, July 29, 2013

Project Runway Season 12 Episode 2

In this week's challenge, Heidi pulls out the button bag and selects the order in which the designers get to chose a new model from the lineup. The catch is that each model is wearing a very fancy set of jewelry (necklace, bracelet, and earrings) and they must make a dress to show it off. And, as they keep telling us, the total sum value of all this jewelry is THIRTY. MILLION. DOLLARS. OMGWTFBBQ!

I'm not a jewelry person. The majority of the stuff doesn't appeal to me aesthetically - and even when the design is interesting, I'm unable to see why having a "gem" (of transparently over-inflated cost created by false scarcity and global monopolies) looks better than colored glass. So this one leaves me a little cold. As it turns out, I'm actually in agreement with Timothy on this one - due to his personal philosophy jewelry isn't his thing either.

The best moment of the episode is the very beginning, before the jewelry is revealed. They bring it in an armored truck, complete with serious-faced dudes in bullet-proof vests and black BDUs, who come out onto the runway before Heidi or the models. So for a few moments the designers are led to think they have to do directly with the challenge - like they have to design clothes inspired by the quasi-military look or something. But alas, just jewelry instead.

In an interesting turn, the designers are given pre-paid cards with four thousand dollars on them - which must last for the rest of the season! So they will be in charge of their own budgets. I'm assuming they get to "roll over" any leftover fabric from challenge to challenge, but it's never mentioned either way. Less interestingly, nobody exceeds the "suggested budget" of $300 for the challenge, at least as far as the editors let us know.

Timothy's ethics will only allow him to use deadstock fabric - in this case, Mood lets him rummage through the bags of discards in the back. I wonder if he'll manage to keep that up for as long as he sticks around. Sandro kicks things off in the sewing room by kicking off an incomprehensible fight with Ken, causing Justin to follow through on his threat to turn off his cochlear implant if need be. Boop!

In Tim's workroom visit, he warns Dom that her beachy look could easily turn to a Palm Beach golddigger, Alexandria that her graphic trim could overwhelm the jewels, Justin that he should lose some of his layers of tulle, and Bradon that he should take risks because Nina is already worried he may not have much range. Justin , for his part, states he's going to ignore Tim's advice. Next, Tim is aghast that Kahindo seems to be making a hash of her first time ever working with silk charmeuse, and advises her to shroud the pucked, printed result with some tulle.

And then we get the usual roll of catty comments. Alexander thinks Kate's is unoriginal. Jeremy says Helen's has too much ruching and isn't his taste - and of course edits this comment over a shot of him being surrounded by the ruffles he's sewing. Dom rolls her eyes while Tim worries that Sandro's is too retro. Tim accuses Alexander's of looking too "granny." And Ken delights in the "hilarious face" Tim makes when contemplating Timothy's effort. Tim tries to have a conversation about it, but as soon as he enters into any criticism (like "it doesn't make visual sense"), Timothy simply shuts down. He pretty much just says "uh huh, uh huh" with his eyes glazed over until Tim gives up and wanders off.

Having seemingly ignored Tim, the now thoroughly-bummed-out Timothy now goes around and begs everybody else for advice. He gets a number of design suggestions to his face, and go-back-to-school suggestions behind his back. Helen uses this as a chance to go around and give unsolicited advice to a bunch of other designers - and everybody knows how much people love that! Timothy ends up starting his dress completely over.

With one hour left, Helen is seriously behind everybody else. It falls to Sue, however, to have the next meltdown of the episode after Dom changes the thread on one of the machines from black to green, Sue tracks down Dom and makes her change it back (apparently Sue just doesn't have the time to learn how to do it herself!) all the while aggrievedly kvetching at her about it in an extremely obnoxious and ungracious manner.

The next morning, Helen says that "[her] work next to Kate's looks like a dog turd." But it then falls to Sandro to have the next meltdown, wherein he screams to the world at large to inform him how to make the steamer work, and tries to drag one of the crew on screen to come and do it for him. That poor soul scampers backstage and out of reach as quickly as he can. Sandro ends up sobbing poutily sitting at a sewing machine. Both Sandro and Helen are still frantically sewing clothes onto their models as Tim chivvies them off to the runway show.

Before the show, Heidi points out that the "blind judging" is reduced this week by the extent of her own good memory - since she was there when they picked the jewelry, she might be able to recall which is whose.
My favorites were Justin, who made a black dress with an interesting bodice and good movement, and Bradon, who made a very sparkly dress and shrug out of curtain material. Alexandria also worked the similar "glossy red carpet gown" feeling with a dark blue column with a draped neck. Ken and Karen fell a little short of that mark - Ken's teal effort was very generic and seemed too big for his model, and Karen's bright blue thirties-ish gown had odd proportions and badly gapping armpits. Further down the line, Kate made a big, messy, poofy asymmetrical ballgown - the kind of thing you see both on worst- and best-dressed celebrity lists. I'm not a fan of that style for my part.  Sue's black dress is also very busy with ruching all over and is way, way overstyled. Jeremy's dress is pedestrian, and with his floofs around the hem, looks like the dress that at least one designer does with each "unconventional challenge" wherein they drape square of fabric (or napkins or what have you) on the bias down the skirt and always think they've done something original.

Helen, alas, knows that what she made is completely terrible, and it is finally her turn to have a meltdown, as she starts sobbing uncontrollably even before it comes down the runway. They actually stop the show so that Tim Gunn can go over and give her a little pep talk. As it turns out, the model who has to shuffle out in her creation is Timothy's model from last week - that girl can't catch a break!

As for the designers who opted for a less red-carpet-ready take, Miranda and Sandro both went for retro two-piece midreff-baring ensembles - Miranda's in blue, which had a good silhouette and interesting details but ended up looking cheap and hasty, and Sandro's in beige and black lace, which definitely read as campy (though not as much as last week's). In the realm of odd fabric pairings, Kahindo's mesh-over-print cocktail dress ended up being a bit awkward, as did Timothy's graphic pieced blue velvet and white who-knows-what dress. But at least Timothy actually did allow his model to wear makeup this time, and her hair was up (though apparently no hair products were permitted). Alexander and Dom both worked a more floaty, loungewear type angle, in floaty boudoir black with costumey yellow-lined sleeves, and a green and white print, respectively.

Justin, Ken, Alexandria, Miranda, Alexander, Karen, Jeremy, Sue, and Bradon are safe. Well, there go my favorites!

The judges love how Dom's green print coordinates with her assigned emeralds and feel like it's a "new way" of showing off jewelry. However, they think the stiff fabric she put around the hem messes up the flow of the fabric and the headband she styled it with is too much.

They love Kate's "Marie Antoinette" vibe and note that the color is perfect both for the model and the jewels. Her styling is good and they think it looks like a perfume ad - which I guess they meant as a compliment, but when I thought the same thing it was more of a disparagement. Overall, they agree it's the best thing they've seen from her.

Sandro is also in the top. As Heidi puts it, like last week he piled on and piled on and piled on again - but it worked this time. They like the length and the unexpected neutral color of the fabric, but the exact fabric he chose is too prone to wrinkling. And the amount of black lace, and bare midriff, edge it over a bit too close to trashy.

Heidi and Nina are very irritated that Timothy's reverse-halterback makes it impossible to wear a bra underneath. Zac Posen recognizes the blue velvet as being a cast-off from his very own studio! Nina wishes he had made a tuxedo jacket instead. Or even just turned the dress around so the all-white back was the front. In contrast to how he shut down in the face of Tim's visit, he actually welcomes the discussion this time and accepts what the judges are saying.

On Kahindo's behalf they are merely sad. She hasn't done enough. It looks like uninspiring sand art. And she's committed the cardinal sin of dressing and styling herself to look cooler than the model! When they get to see the dress up close, they hate the print even more. Tim explains he shares much of the responsibility for the tulle covering, but they state that the print is so terrible 

When they get to Helen, Heidi is aghast that she attempted to sew fitted breast cups when she's never done that before. Why do you designers always do that, she asks, trying to understand this type of failure she's had to see so many times before. Not only does the model's bust look squished, but there's some terrible "unintentional ruching" (i.e. a completely failed bunched seam) in the back. Plus the panels of some kidn of textured fabric at the top of the skirt are described as "hairy hips." Helen has her second meltdown as she tries to explain how much this all means to her and how doing eveningwear is what she truly wants to do. The judges basically tell her there's no "A for effort" in fashion. She actually manages to pull herself together and tells everyone waiting backstage that she "got ripped a new asshole, up and around my body. Practically I'm split down the middle."

Then she goes right back to dispensing advice! For some reason, Sandro and Helen are trying to get Timothy to change his strategy with the judges. They think he should NOT engage in any discussion or accept any criticism - just say "I stand behind what I made" and clam up. What I want to know, is what makes them think they're in any position to tell anyone how to speak to the judges?

Kate is named the winner. Dom and Sandro are safe. Helen is given the reprieve first - and then Timothy. The green room is distinctly NOT happy to see him return instead of Kahindo. As so often happens in this show, the crazy mess that nobody would be caught dead in is safe, whereas the outfit that seems less terrible is eliminated, due to a lack of some ineffable quality perceived by the judges.

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