Thursday, July 13, 2006


Unbreak My Bed

All new credits -- including Tim! Because that's why we watch, really. Otherwise, I think I like last year's credits better. Time to meet the new crop of aspiring hopefuls:

It's worth noting that the apartments seem a little over-decorated with random stuff.

A note in each room invites the designers up to the rooftop for some socializing. Robert jokingly reads, "You have all been voted off." Heidi and Tim greet them on the roof with much product placement for the apartments and the champagne. Heidi has some complicated braids keeping her hair from blowing around. There's a choreographed toast.

Intro to Vincent: He had a go at the fashion business years back, stopped after he was nearly done in by the stress, and now feels ready to get back into it. I suspect he should have waited a bit longer. Financial planners are aghast to hear that he's cashed out his 401(k) to finance his comeback attempt. I'm aghast. (I'm not a financial planner, but I read Money magazine every month.) He seems like a nice enough guy, so if he winds up homeless and brain-fried, it's just not going to be entertaining.

Intro to Robert: Started out as an assistant to Isaac Mizrahi, then escaped to work for Barbie, who was far less demanding. He seems really comfortable with himself and has a sense of humor about things. I like him. He's probably going to get heartbreakingly close to the final three and then crash and burn. Not that I'm cynical or anything.

Intro to Stacey: Stanford degree, Harvard MBA, started various companies, one was a dot com. I hear undertones of "I cashed in and now I can do whatever I want." And now she wants to follow her true calling, which is fashion.

Heidi does the "gather around for an announcement" thing and hands out the first assignment: use the materials in their apartments to make their first looks, which must express their personalities as designers. Angela is shocked. Alison is thrilled; this is something she would have loved to do as a kid. Malan is irked about having to work with sub-standard fabrics. Tim explains the tools they have to work with -- scissors, pliers and a laundry bag. Heidi tells them they have fifteen minutes to load up their laundry bags with stuff. And we're off!

So, it's an orgy of destruction. Malan compares his fellow contestants to cattle at a feeding trough. Keith interviews that he knew everything that was in the apartment, so he knew what he wanted to grab. Laura goes for "the fur and the sparkles." Angela strips the brown leather off the chaise longue. Stacey describes the "offensive" strategy -- get what you need -- and the "defensive" strategy -- keep others from getting stuff. Laura jokes that Angela looks like she's been to a yard sale; her laundry bag is about to explode from all sorts of objects (including, I think, a fake plant). Katherine surveys the apartment with Bonnie, feeling she's missed something. Well, they've left a rug on the floor. Bradley is psyched to find a pillow still in its pillowcase. Robert protests that it's his pillow. Bradley asks if he touched it first and Robert says no, he brought it from home. It looks like Bradley takes the pillow, too, which is against the rules. The stuff the contestants brought is off-limits, which was probably intended to keep them from using their clothes. Bradley's moving out of the "nonentity" column into the "putz" column. Malan is disgusted by the boorish behavior of the others. We see Bradley and Vincent breaking up furniture and accessories.

The fifteen minutes are up and the apartments are wrecked. Mission accomplished, I guess.

At the workroom, everyone unloads their laundry bags. Robert observes that now it's time to edit their materials. Tim comes in and gives them eight hours to work. They each have been assigned a model for the first round. The winner will get immunity. Yay, immunity's back! Maybe we'll see some model-switching, too.

Angela is worried about the time limit. Kayne is used to working with more cloth-like materials in his pageant gowns. Keith has never made a woman's dress before, but he knows construction and thinks his taste is tops in the group, so he's confident. Jeffrey is also confident in his construction skills. He sticks pins into a person-shaped cushion, which currently is without an identity. I suspect his competitors are going to want voodoo dolls of their own sometime. Feathers are flying as Katherine empties out her down comforter. She jokes that she's trying to take out all the contestants with feather allergies. I knew I should keep an eye on her. Bradley is also playing with a comforter. Stacey doesn't know how to use the industrial sewing machines, and Keith is unsympathetic. Stacey switches to hand-sewing. That might work out tactically, but strategically, she better learn how to use the machines.

Two hours short of the deadline, Tim walks through. I think that's leaving the advice stage a little late in the game; there's not a lot of time left to fix things. He's concerned about Vincent's pockets, but Vincent likes the way they work with this basket that he's set on using as a hat. Jeffrey interviews that Vincent is clearly nuts, and I think Jeffrey can be counted on to know what nuts is. Tim comments that the basket doesn't work on its own as a hat, so Vincent is inspired to dress it up with some chain. Tim decides to shut up.

Jeffrey wants to be both different and better than the others. He finished a jacket and now he's working on a dress. Tim thinks the pieces are in competition with each other.

Stacey is piecing things together for Tim so he can see how it fits together. He questions some metal bits on the hem. Stacey tries incorporating them into the sash. She thinks the effect is "quite special." In the "let's not insult anyone" sense of "special," perhaps. Tim warns her about using stuff just to use stuff.

Tim is concerned that Keith's dress from a bed sheet isn't showing enough innovation. Keith interviews that he isn't impressed with the style of some of the judges, and maybe he'll just ignore their criticism. Tim asks him to at least try mixing it up.

Tim urges everyone to finish the bulk of their work tonight and leaves them to it.

Jeffrey is not impressed with the work of his competitors. Robert thinks Jeffrey is trying to do too much, not editing to focus on his strengths. Stacey would like to add another layer to her skirt, but mostly she needs to have a finished garment that she can send down the runway. And time is up.

Laura interviews that this was the first grueling day in the workshop, and they were all ready to lie down. So, when they get back to their apartments -- everything is still trashed. No shoemakers' elves for them. Everyone is dismayed, but there's nothing they can do but grin and bear it. And then go to sleep wherever they can.

Morning. Everyone gets ready. Jeffrey is sure he's safe; he's looking forward to meeting his model. Vincent is confident in his style. They head out to the workroom. Keith tried out some things, as Tim suggested, but after sleeping on it, he wants to take all the extra stuff off. So he does. Malan compliments Laura's look, referencing Clara Bow. Laura interviews that her style is very New York. Robert advises Angela to hot-glue something. Stacey still needs to finish her dress. Kayne and Michael agree that coffee is gross, but Kayne thinks Michael's coffee-filter dress "looks soft and like it would smell like Febreeze." That's just too good to be a product placement.

Tim arrives to give them the plan for the morning. They're three hours from showtime; they have to go to hair and makeup. The models are coming in now and will find their designers. Which they do. Fittings start. Bonnie is having bodice problems; her model proposes lots of double-sided tape. Modeling is so glamorous. Stacey's skirt is way too sheer, so she makes some lacy underwear to add modesty. Vincent is going gaga over his hat. Bonnie thinks his model looks like she's going to be "beamed up to Mars." If only the chains were made of tinfoil. Uli interviews that she wanted to say something about the hat just ruining the look, but Vincent was so proud of it. He contemplates adding more crap to the hat.

Makeup. Hair. Fitting. Walking. Tim summons everyone to the runway show. Heidi greets the designers. She's wearing a low-belted tunic dress and I'm guessing thigh-high boots, since it's leather all the way up the leg and I don't see a break at the ankle, but you can't see the boot tops, either, so it looks like pants. Heidi does the usual spiel about in and out, and describes the challenge again. She introduces the judges: Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and guest judge Kate Spade. And on with the show.

The judges tally their scores. Alison, Bradley, Angela, Kayne, Malan, Bonnie, Katherine, Michael and Uli are all safe. That leaves Jeffrey, Keith, Laura, Robert, Stacey and Vincent.

Kate asks Laura about her materials. Laura confirms that the cuffs and collar come from a rug. Michael thinks it's chic and wearable, if a bit noisy. Laura agrees that it's not for a wallflower. Note to future contestants: See how she didn't apologize for it being noisy? That's how you turn a possible negative into a positive.

Heidi tells Vincent that she would have done it without the hat, and asks to see the look without it. Kate says the hat distracted her from the dress, but now she can see how cute it is. Nina asks if he thought using the hat was innovative. Vincent says his style is clean and classic, but he wanted to keep things interesting. Michael thinks the hat makes her look drunk. Vincent "confesses" that he was questioning the hat and babbles a bit. They mercifully move on.

Heidi asks Keith what his dress is made of. Keith describes it as bed sheets and home accessories. Clearly anticipating some innovation criticism, he says his laundry bag was full of stuff, but then he pictured two images: Gone with the Wind and the Carol Burnett show. If you haven't seen them, in GWTW, an impoverished Scarlett needs a killer dress, so she pulls down some curtains for material. In the classic spoof, Carol Burnett does the same thing -- but she also wears the curtain rod across her shoulders, like the world's biggest shoulder pads. Nina asks about the buttons in the back; she thinks they're cute. I think they look rather haphazardly squeezed in. Kate and Michael agree that it's very creditable and not at all gimmicky.

Nina asks Stacey about her aesthetic. She likes things to be sensual, and so that's why she did the panty. There's a debate about whether see-through clothing is really wearable. Michael thinks she ran out of time. Kate likes the idea, but not the messy execution. Michael finds the top unflattering.

Heidi asks Robert about his materials. Up close, the skirt has a subtle print. He thinks it's like Maria from West Side Story, if she had metallic wall hangings. The judges all admire the back. Heidi likes that it doesn't need any jewelry. Michael says it's charming.

Heidi asks Jeffrey to describe his look. He's not sure where to start and the judges all immediately comment on how much is going on. Michael mentions the feathers, and Jeffrey says he likes shows from when he was a production designer. The judges found them distracting. Jeffrey started out in the business doing jackets, so he did that, and then he wanted to do a dress. Kate thinks the two together were messy. Heidi doesn't like the various hem lengths. Jeffrey mentions being inspired by animation, which is why he has his model's hair in a mohawk, and I don't know what that has to do with hem lengths. Michael warns him about doing too much.

Heidi sends them away so the judges can talk. She likes Keith and Robert. They like the modernity and the fit of Robert's frock. They love Keith's presentation with the Afro and the beads. Laura's was very thoughtful and very her. Vincent was torpedoed by the hat. Kate likes Stacey's idea but not the execution. Nina doesn't see much innovation. Michael doesn't like the panty. As for Jeffrey, Heidi had a Santino flashback with all the deconstruction and shredding. She and Kate don't like the long-in-front, short-in-back thing. Kate thought it was just messy.

The designers come back in. Laura is safe. Keith gets the win, and immunity. He and Laura look friendly backstage. He interviews that he won with the first dress he ever made, and solicits props. Robert is safe. Vincent is safe. Jeffrey is having a reality check. Heidi criticizes him for trying to do too much. Stacey didn't have either innovation or execution. Jeffrey is safe; Stacey is out.

Stacey feels she was true to herself. She doesn't know what is next, but every experience leads to the next. Yeah, that would be the basic nature of time.

Was Stacey the right choice to be auf'd? Doing too much is better than not being able to pull anything off, so Jeffrey deserved to stay. I'm not entirely sure why Vincent was safe. Without the hat, his dress was cute but not all that impressive. He really needs to take a deep breath and focus. But without technical experience, Stacey was doomed. Sooner is less painful than later.

Was Keith the right choice for the win? I like the dress, but I suspect the win had more to do with presentation than design or execution. I'm not too bothered by the bed sheet business; almost everybody used some kind of bedding or upholstery as their main fabric source. I just don't think he's that far ahead of everyone else. In addition to the top three, I liked Kayne, Michael and Uli. Michael was clearly the winner in the innovation category (dude: coffee filters), and Kayne and Uli had great movement. I have to rule out Kayne because of that weird loop thing sticking up from the back. Michael's was interesting but not necessarily flattering to the body. I don't mind Uli's strong color palette, but that's a matter of taste. I might have given the win to Robert if I had been in the mood for cute; otherwise, I'd probably give it to Laura for the clean lines. But Keith is a creditable winner. I just think it needs a little more "wow" to merit immunity.

So, how long with the apartments stay trashed? If they have to live like that and compete in a reality show, it's just too cruel. You can't get good creative work out of people living in those conditions. Of course, now the producers don't have to offer immunity; the designers will all compete their little hearts out for housewares. But I expect to see things back to normal, or at least habitable, within the next few days.

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