Saturday, September 09, 2006


Tour d'Awful

Previously on Project Runway: The designers got to dress "hip, international jet setters" -- themselves. Angela threw a party at the news but then got stumped because she didn't know any jet setters. Runway show! And a trip to Paris! And Catherine Malandrino! Jeffrey bedazzled his crotch and bedazzled the judges into giving him the win. Kayne was "reedeecoolous" but Angela got ze boot.

Happy accordion music -- we're still in Paris. In fact, we're still in the Parsons Paris workroom. Tim congratulates Jeffrey and confers immunity on him. Catherine Malandrino announces the next challenge: since they're in the home of couture fashion, they will be making a couture gown. Uli speaks for the other designers when she says, "Ooof." Tim handles the academic background info on couture: the government of France licenses the only true couture designers; it can take "hundreds of hours for six to eight people" to create a couture gown. The designers should use "couture techniques" for their gowns, such as hand-sewn hems, embroidery and beading. And instead of hundreds of hours, they're getting two days. Catherine will host a party Sunday evening where the gowns will be shown. Tim thanks Catherine and dismisses her. He then announces that he's going to take them all out to dinner after a stop at the hotel. Happy designers cheer.

Kayne and Michael stand on what looks to be a rooftop terrace, enjoying the view. Kayne interviews that he's rooming with Jeffrey, Vincent and Michael in a top floor room that's "incredible." Laura and Uli have their own room. Presumably not a rooftop one, since Uli is looking out a window. Laura interviews that they were all adjusting to the new location. Uli enjoys being "home" again in Europe. Jeffrey interviews that while he's happy to be in Paris, he's even happier that Angela isn't. Good grief. How did she wind up being such a thorn in his side if we never saw her do anything to him? Well, other than win the Macy's challenge that he wanted, although Keith had the design credit on that challenge. He's such a sensitive little sourpuss, our Jeffrey. Tim arrives at the guy's room. After expressing his admiration of their quarters, he asks if they're "revived" after their trip. Jeffrey replies that while they aren't revived, they are at least "refreshed." So time to go to dinner.

The designers and Tim walk through Paris on the way to the restaurant. I wonder how Laura's feet are holding up now? Michael interviews that the scenery definitely inspired him. Laura narrates as they walk through the courtyard of the Louvre and off the the restaurant. She describes the occasion as their first "relaxing" dinner together, instead of the usual grab-and-go meals. Tim proposes a toast to their trip and the challenge; Kayne adds a toast to Jeffrey's first win.

Morning. More wakey-wakey shots. Did we see the designers in the previous seasons rolling around in bed even half so much? Does somebody have a sheet fetish? Laura interviews that the stakes are high because the remaining designers are all talented. Tim finds the guys sketching. He fetches everyone and herds them into the Metro station. On the train, someone asks Jeffrey if he's a musician. He's less impressed to learn that Jeffrey works with clothes. 'Cause musicians run around with bedazzled crotches, but designers don't.

Much climbing of stairs. Jeffrey interviews that they had another lovely walk through the city, absorbing the inspiration. Tim announces that they've reached their destination: Sacre Coeur, the "heart of Paris." They can sketch for half an hour, and then it's time to shop. The designers scatter. Michael and Jeffrey sit on the grass; Jeffrey has his shoes off. Kayne is also on the grass. Laura and Uli sit on a low wall by the steps. Michael interviews that he didn't want anything too "avant-garde" because couture work is new to him. Vincent also sits in the grass. He interviews that he has trained in couture dressmaking and it "just turns me on." Dude, find another way to say "I really like it." Making a couture gown in Paris is "a dream come true" for him. Sketching. Kayne shows Vincent his sketch and Vincent pronounces it "couture."

Time to shop! Instead of Mood, they're at Reine. They have a budget of $375 and an hour to shop. Laura calls shopping "a little spooky" because they're starting all over again after getting used to Mood. Uli interviews that she's sticking with what she knows and making it more couture so that she can get it done. See, it's not that she doesn't have other ideas; she's just playing it safe. Ridiculous time limits tend to force these kinds of decisions. Vincent compliments a clerk for finding what he likes. Tim approves Jeffrey's fabric choice of yellow plaids; it's unexpected, and the designers were asked to take risks. Jeffrey interviews that he wants to make a happy gown, and his starting point is the Statue of Liberty. He also wants to be the first designer to win a challenge while having immunity. It's not clear if he means first ever or first this season; I don't have the Season 1 DVDs (what kind of fan am I?), but it's possible Kara Saun did it with the futuristic collection and postal challenges. But apparently, being the first designer to win immunity with a bedazzled crotch isn't enough for him.

Back in the workroom, they find cards on their tables with their Paris models' information. Tim reminds them they'll have to refit the gowns onto their regular New York models, too. Right there, that tells you they're not really making couture gowns. Real couture gowns are not just hand-made, they're custom-made for a particular client. Their challenge is to make an evening gown with lots of couture-like handwork. Tim tells them, "Débrouillez-vous!" They have 8 hours until midnight to work. Uli recaps the challenge and explains that the time constraints didn't leave room for futzing around, so she just started draping. But she didn't use any prints or crazy colors, which is quite the achievement for her. So she's listening to the judges. But if she were listening to the fans, she'd do something with sleeves. Even little cap sleeves would do it, I think. Laura was inspired by the classic black dress with white cuffs, but she's going to "really vamp it up." If she were listening to the fans, she'd do a halter dress. Michael explains that he wants to keep the base of the dress simple and then add his by-hand details on top. If he were listening to the fans, he'd be too busy getting married and fathering children to ever design again.

Work work work. Kayne tells the sewing room that he's going to "love this dress" when he's done. It's a dress he'd make for one of his "favorite pageant girls." Laura warns him about the judges, but Kayne assures her that it will be couture instead of pageant. Laura interviews that Kayne has a tendency to go all Las Vegas with his designs, and his gold mesh is looking like a pageant gown. I wish someone would explain exactly what the difference is, other than "taste" and maybe "too much sparkly stuff." Jeffrey thinks it's a prom gown. See? Is it a Vegas prom gown? I need definitions. Kayne says it will be "fun," but it will also be a "miracle" if he can get the mesh to behave the way he wants it to.

One hour to go. Vincent interviews that the pattern will demonstrate his level of couture work. I thought the dress was supposed to do that. Laura interviews, "Vincent is a legend in his own mind;" he spends a lot of time admiring his pattern and getting the other designers to come over and offer admiring opinions. Vincent asks Kayne if he likes it; Kayne says he "honestly" loves it, which means he's lying. Vincent says, "Matte reverse," which I just don't understand at all. Kayne nods his head, so maybe it means something to him. Laura asks Michael if he'll be able to pull off all his planned scallop work; he's going to try.

Morning again. Jeffrey pulls out his electric razor. Still bundled up in bed, Vincent grumps, "What's wrong with you? You see me sleeping here. What's wrong with you?" You want a complete list, or just the short version? But Jeffrey goes out on the balcony to shower the streets of Paris with his chin fuzz.

In the workroom, Tim comes through for a checkup. Michael explains his plan of detail over a basic shape; he and Tim are both worried about time. Laura's basic dress is finished and she's working on the collar. Tim asks how far she's planning to take it, and Laura explains that it's the only way she has to make an impression. Tim thinks it should be "exuberant" and completely overshadow the dress. Laura agrees. I have this picture in my mind based on Tim's advice, and I think the fabric in Laura's hands needs to be a lot bigger. Kayne's bodice is causing Tim some concerns. He doesn't like seeing the boning through the mesh. Kayne interviews that Tim "hates" his dress but Kayne is in love with it. Which is fine, unless love is blind. He hopes Tim will see that when he's finished with it. Did Kayne ever go to design school? Because one would think he'd be a little better dealing with constructive criticism if he had. Although the spanking he got for his Elvis outfit was a little unfair, so I can see how he might be feeling defensive.

Jeffrey has a manic fit, laughing hysterically as he compares designing a couture gown in 2 days to making an "atom bomb" in 2 days. Laura is worried that Kayne "is going to have his head handed to him on a reedeecoolous plate tomorrow." She doesn't want to see him get hurt. Ever the humanitarian, Jeffrey wonders, "Who cares if he gets hurt?" Laura, for one. She just said so. Duh! Jeffrey continues that no one would buy Kayne's dress "unless it's Halloween." I think people sitting in the midst of a plaid explosion are not in the best position to throw pumpkins. Kayne relates that Tim is worried about the corset, but he'll just have to do what he can. Laura interviews that her dress needs to demonstrate "that couture thing goin' on" and she was doing that with the collar. She has a sign at her table:



In the sewing room, Vincent tells Jeffrey, "Laura made a Creature from the Black Lagoon dress." Jeffrey knows. Vincent is stunned by the collar; the dress is horrible. Hmm, I seem to recall someone else making a basic black dress with an exaggerated collar. Jeffrey calls it "boring." He interviews that Laura doesn't understand couture and she only knows how to do one thing. This from the guy who has made only one dress that didn't involve vertical strips of fabric, and that dress used horizontal tiers of vertically pleated fabric. Meanwhile, Laura has made a coat, a scoop-necked gown, a suit, a cropped short-sleeve jacket, pants, a mini dress, a collared button shirt and pencil skirt, and a cocktail dress. Jeffrey has shown range by bedazzling his crotch. Shut up, Jeffrey.

The clock ticks down to four hours. Vincent comes over to inspect Michael's handiwork. He interviews that the dress is poorly made, "unfortunately." He advises Michael to hide the threadwork. Michael explains that the whole bodice will have hand-sewn ruching, which is something he's never done. While eating chicken (in the workroom? Get your greasy fingers outta there!), Jeffrey opines that Michael is doing what Malan was attempting in his Miss USA dress. Michael guesses that's a compliment, and Jeffrey confirms. Vincent explains that he's crunched for time. Let that be a lesson to you -- less time admiring, more time sewing. As he sews, Kayne proclaims, "Sometimes you just gotta take a risk." Vincent(?) replies, "How about I couture your face?" and then cackles with laughter. Work work work. Uli stiches the bodice by hand. She interviews that she's pleased; her dress is recognizably "an Uli dress" but it's also a couture gown.

Jeffrey announces that he's the only one doing an actual couture gown, since his is "85%" hand sewn. If it's only 85%, it's not actual couture. Laura argues that it just has to "look handmade." Jeffrey tells her she doesn't have anything handmade, and she points out that she just spent a day making the collar by hand. Jeffrey announces that he doesn't have any glue on his dress. I think they're all just too tired to throw him out the window, so they have to humor him. More work.

Midnight arrives. They get to take the Metro back to the hotel. Laura explains that they'll be presenting their gowns the next day, and they're all pooped. On the train, Jeffrey says, "I've never been this delirious." Oh, is that how he's explaining his behavior? Laura explains that it's harder for her, with the pregnancy, and her feet and ankles are giving out. Back at the hotel, Laura goes to lie down while the others decompress. Kayne relates that Tim is down on his gown, but he "looooves" his dress. Vincent and Michael turn in.

In the morning, Uli and Laura come up to the guys' room before they're ready. Jeffrey has just gotten his pants on and Uli has to urge "Mr. Kayne" to get out of bed. As we watch him groom, Kayne explains that everyone is very serious and focused on what needs to get done.

Off to Parsons Paris. They have 3 hours until the party. Jeffrey wonders what Catherine expects. Uli interviews that Vincent hasn't finished the dress and the fabric for the skirt "looks a little bit like a sofa." Whoa, is he cutting out the skirt now? That's just insane. (Yes, I know, it's Vincent. Still.) Michael needs to finish the bodice. He's not entirely happy with it, but he's trying to make it look couture. Tim arrives and delivers the standard prep-the-models message. Laura asks if they have a runway presentation, but Tim "can't say." Which could mean "I don't know" or "I'm not allowed to tell you."

Uli meets her model. She interviews that Ida is "tall and pale," which will help set off her dress. Vincent is stretched out of the floor, pinning the hem, when Tim asks him what he's doing. Vincent gives him the literal answer. Tim asks if he'll have time to hand-sew the hem and Vincent says, "Yes, of course." Tim's like, "Of course?" and Vincent's like, "I have to" and Tim's like, "Whatever, crazy dude." Vincent adds ribbon to the waist of the gown. Michael explains that his model (Amandine?) is four sizes smaller than what he was expecting (which makes her about a size -3, I'm guessing), and now he's stressing over the adjustments. Laura warns her poor model that the dress is going to be really hot, since it's a long-sleeved wool gown. In June? Ouch. The poor model says, "Yeah, but it's really nice." So at least she'll be uncomfortable in service of something she likes. Kayne laces his model into the gown. Vincent assures the model that she won't get dripped on as he tacks things with glue. However, the dress is off the model when Tim finds him gluing the ribbon trim at the waist. Vincent explains that he wanted this final "treatment" and he didn't have time to sew. Tim ascertains that he also glued the hem; Vincent blames the clock. Tim thinks it's a shame he had to resort to gluing because that "discounts" the rest of his work. Vincent is like, "Yeah, yeah, whatever." Tim finally says, "Just keep gluing the hell out of it" and goes away before he's forced to do violence to either Vincent or the gown, take your pick. Vincent interviews that he doesn't have time to make a couture gown. Or even a well-made gown, apparently. Tim gives them the five-minute alarm. Laura interviews that they don't know anything about where they're going, they just know it's a party and they'll present the gowns to Catherine. Michael tells his model that the dress sucks, so she'll just have to fake it and sell it as best she can. And everyone is shooed out the door.

Jeffrey interviews about the whole "we don't know where we're going" thing. They walk along a street (in couture gowns?) to a landing for a bateau mouche (a river boat) on the Seine. Vincent recaps the venue and says it will be beautiful. "What else more could you ask for?" Eggs! Some joker up on his balcony tosses raw eggs at the festive party. They scurry aboard. Michael's dress got splattered. He recaps the events, in case we forgot what we just saw. He needs champagne.

Up top, Tim greets Catherine and presents the designers with their models. Catherine commiserates that the challenge was "extremely difficult" but she's impressed on first view. Time for a toast. Kayne, wearing a beret and some silly painted-on facial hair, does a bad French recap of the party scenario, in case we forgot what we just saw again. What's up with the Short Attention Span Theater?

Catherine asks Jeffrey to decipher his neck tattoo because it's hard to read. He points out his son's name and then the (bad) Italian for "the love of my life." Catherine asks about his gown's inspiration and Jeffrey names the Statue of Liberty. Yeah, not seeing it. Catherine takes a look at the back. She thinks it's quite "audacious" to make an evening gown from cotton. It's audacious to make an evening gown that reveals your model's underwear, too.

She finds it "interesting" that Laura's dress covers the arms, and Laura explains that she's always cold. Yes, that would be why most people cover their chests with fabric.

Kayne explains that he wanted a structured corset and he used the lacing to adjust the fit. Catherine thinks the lacing is "brave" and the fit is perfect; that's difficult to achieve. Kayne interviews that she gave him "great compliments" on his gown, so he felt optimistic.

Catherine tells Michael that a couture is "all about the detail" and being able to admire the detail from up close. You can just see Michael thinking, "No, don't get close!" She asks about the construction, and he talks about molding the ruching by hand. He interviews that the dress is just "horrible," but he tells Catherine that the model "wears it well."

Catherine tells Vincent it's been "a long time" since she's seen an evening gown with shoulder pads. She asks about his inspiration; Vincent doesn't know, but he likes the dress. He doesn't know what inspired him? This is like when Tim asked him what he'd made for the recycling challenge and Vincent had no idea. How can you expect to succeed in a creative field if you can't understand, let alone control, your own creative process? "I'm just winging it" is not a sound basis for a business. "It turns me on" is a sound basis for business only if you're dealing in porn. Speaking of obscene, Vincent starts fawning over Catherine. He finishes by asking if she's wearing her own (designed) shoes; she disclaims. He asks her to tell him -- honestly -- if his dress is too much of "a throwback" or if it's modern. She calls it "interesting."

Catherine asks to see the dresses move, so they have an impromptu runway. Tim provides Catherine with score cards, which he will take back to New York to be added to the scores there. Business over, it's time to party. Jeffrey interviews that it was nice to be able to relax in Paris. Uli asks Catherine if she likes her gown, and Catherine calls it "light" and "effortless." Kayne compliments a couple of the French models; American models are very good but they are "superb." There's a shot of an al fresco tango class along the river. Michael doesn't want the evening to end. But they need to go home and get on with the competition. He kisses Catherine's hand as he thanks her for the evening. Laura shows how her fringe shimmies as she voiceovers basically the same thing Michael said. Socializing, socializing, socializing.

New York. Laura interviews that it was nice to work in Paris, but she's eager to show their work to the judges in New York and see who will be in. Up in the workroom, Tim announces that the models are imminent and they have two hours to get ready. Kayne explains the two-model challenge to Amanda. He interviews that his Paris model was 3" smaller all around, so he has some adjusting. Marilinda barks as Jeffrey fits his dress; I don't think she's calling it a dog, though. Vincent explains to Jia, as he glues some more, that only a few designers are left. Laura's ruffles have been flattened in travel, so she's trying to revive them. Hair. Makeup. Time to go.

Heidi is wearing a decent, if uninspired, strapless little black dress. She asks if they enjoyed their Paris detour and everyone of course says they did. Michael also says, "Thank you." Manners are good. Heidi does the usual housekeeping. When Heidi says they were asked to "pay special attention to hand sewing, construction and detail," the camera shifts to Vincent. Ah, those crafty editors. The guest judge is Richard Tyler, who designed the product-placed flight attendant uniforms from the last episode. Heidi teases some more about future benefits which will accrue to winning, and it's showtime!

Quiz time! Uli goes first. She wanted show hand details but hide the seams. Heidi likes how she toned down her usual style. Michael calls it "elevated" and definitely not suitable for flipflops. Richard Tyler loves it; he thinks it's unfinished, but the color and cut are great.

Kayne wanted something with visible structure, so he used a gold mesh with boning. The handwork came in cutting out the beaded lace and sewing it on as appliqués, and also with the ribbon detail. Richard Tyler finds it busy. Nina thinks he throws in too many details (Kayne has a look on his face like "Here we go again") and he should restrain himself a little. Michael praises his construction and he loves the ombre chiffon, but it got overpowered. The comments are kind of harsh but the tone is restrained, so I don't think they're saying they absolutely hate it.

Heidi calls on Jeffrey and he looks like he's waking from a nap. Or a daydream: "If Angela were here, I'd be all In your face! And she'd be all, Why are you so mean to me? and I'd be all, 'Cause you SUCK! Ha ha ha! And then she'd be all crying, and I'd -- Oh, hey, that's my name. Heidi wants me bad." He talks about being ambushed by the fabrics; he loves the color. It was mostly handmade. Nina applauds his creative risk-taking. Michael explains how people might think Jeffrey is all dark and goth, but here he's using color in a way that still true to his aesthetic (which Michael pegged before as ugly/beautiful). Richard Tyler asks to see the back again. Marilinda almost takes out Jeffrey and Vincent while spinning around; those straps are not OSHA-certified. Richard Tyler says it's not perfect -- and how could it be? -- but the model "obviously loves wearing it."

Heidi asks Vincent what he did by hand and Vincent says, "So, I used very expensive fabric." Oh, there's a convincing dodge. He talks about the sleeve detail; the dress is "soft and feminine and I like it." Michael doesn't care for the sleeve, but if you're going to do something like that, it should fit. Vincent shrugs that he "took a chance." Vincent is the king of non sequiturs today. Nina finds the top confusing; she'd rather see the back as the front, because the front doesn't fit. Vincent mumbles he "knew it" about the front. Richard Tyler hates the glued-on flower.

Michael's inspiration was the architecture of Paris. The bodice is done with his first-ever attempt at hand-ruching. Nina doesn't care for the execution. Michael Kors thinks it looks like a returned loaner. Michael explains how they were ambushed by an egg thrower. Heidi doesn't like the "bunny ears" sticking up from the neckline over the bust. Richard Tyler "really" hates them. Heidi asks him to tuck them in, and the judges are all much happier.

Laura wanted something really dramatic. Richard Tyler is bothered by the collar. The judges want it to be livelier. Nina thinks it looks like old Yves Saint Laurent (so Angela is not alone in having her clothes taken for his). Michael says that a shorter skirt and a feather duster would turn Camilla into a French maid. To the delight of many viewers, perhaps, but that doesn't help Laura.

Heidi sends them off so the judges can confer. Catherine loved Uli's dress, and Heidi thinks it's the one she'd wear. Michael says it was three-dimensional and showed "a lot of handwork." Jeffrey got stars and a "magnifique" from Catherine. Michael thinks he did a great job; the model hit the runway with lots of energy and the look was youthful. Richard Tyler calls it "really, really cute." Yeah, I don't think "cute" is really the right word. "Impressive," maybe, but it's too shapeless for "cute." Catherine panned Michael and his "heavy draping." Richard Tyler blames Michael for letting his dress get egged. That's just ridiculous. When is he showing next, and what's the best way to smuggle eggs? Kayne gets compliments for the bustier, but Catherine finds it "old." Well, so much for it being a prom dress, then. The judges beat up on him for being "tacky." Okay, needing definitions again. They complained about it being busy, not tacky. Nina worries that he just doesn't have taste. Michael thinks poor Jia was "basically topless" and the sleeves were weird. Richard Tyler doesn't get the sleeves, either. Michael also pans the flower. Catherine's comments: "No. No, no, no." Nina thought Laura's dress was obvious and old. Michael and Richard Tyler say it was just dead. We don't get to hear Catherine's thoughts.

The designers return. Straight to the win. Jeffrey takes it. I'm not terribly surprised. I'm not thrilled, but I'm not surprised. However, he does not have immunity. Uli smiles and Michael congratulates him as he passes. He has a little party in the waiting room by himself. He interviews that it feels amazing and whatever else happens, he has his two in a row. He must be feeling good -- not a word about Angela. We'll see how long that lasts. Uli is in. Michael is in. Kayne is in. He wishes Laura luck as he passes; the safe designers welcome him. Vincent is spanked for the lack of finishing and detail; the fit was bad and it was confusing. Laura's dress was old and predictable; she has done better. So now I'm praying that Laura stays, because I want to see her collection. Plus, if they keep Vincent yet again, I'm going to have an aneurysm. I'm pretty sure they're going to boot Vincent, especially if they ever bothered to inspect the gown, but you can't be sure. Laura is in. Vincent is out. Yay! Laura gets hugs from Uli and Michael. Heidi looks sad as she gives Vincent his auf wiedersehn. She always had a soft spot for him. I really don't know why.

Vincent tells his fellow designers that he had fun. He interviews that he's sad to be out "for whatever reason;" he really wanted to show a collection. Tim manages to sound suitably regretful in sending Vincent to clear out his space, and gives him a hug. Then he runs home and busts out the champagne. Once again, we hear about the cashing in of the 401(k). Vincent is happy he took this chance, because the show put him in a good place. He finishes with another reference to "getting off." And off he has been gotten. It's about damn time.

All in all, that was a whole lot of bad on the runway. I can see why the judges were so interested in Jeffrey's gown, and it isn't just Marilinda (although I give her a lot of credit for that walk). It was an ambitious undertaking, and they had to respect that. I don't think it's a particularly attractive dress, but what were the alternatives? Uli's dress was lovely, but it didn't have a lot of impact. If she had used a stronger color, like Michael's blue, maybe it would have been more striking. But I think she wanted something softer to contrast with her print dresses, so that's a fair choice. Kayne's dress had the beautiful skirt, but the corset overpowered it. Think back to the first challenge, when the combination of Jeffrey's jacket with Jeffrey's dress was just too much. It's essentially the same thing. If Kayne really wanted to work with the idea of visible structure, he should have worked the mesh into the skirt as well. So he had ambitions, but not quite enough. Michael was also saved by his ambition; although his bodice was a mess, he made an attempt in the spirit of the challenge. As did Laura. Her collar fell flat, but when it worked, it looked pretty good. Given Catherine's scorecard and the length of the judging session, I suspect the judges realized that it showed better in Paris. I suspect they wanted to fire a warning shot across Laura's bow, just as they did with Uli last episode. So we'll have to see what happens in the next challenge.

Excellent blog and thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts here. I am putting together a collection of photos and information on Dodge and so far I managed to cover some of the models, and you will find some cool Dodge 400 photos, Dodge 600 photos and high resolution Dodge Custom 880 photos. I hope you’ll find the website to be interesting, in case you want to pay it a visit.

Enjoy your day!

Michael R.
Webmaster, All car photos
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