Saturday, October 21, 2006


Okay, We're Done

Previously on Project Runway: Laura thought Jeffrey had help with his collection -- he's too done and some of it is too good. She talked to Tim and then to Jeffrey. Tim reviewed the clothes with Jeffrey.

Jeffrey broods. Uli is uncomfortable with the tension and wishes the controversy had never come up. Laura is unimpressed with Jeffrey's claim that his professional status made everything look good. Michael points out to Uli that she noticed the excellent leather pants right along with Laura and himself. Uli doesn't think the competition is about "that" but Laura compares Jeffrey to an athlete taking steroids. She interviews that Jeffrey has a business with people working for him, so he had the opportunity to get help and "I suspect" he did.

Somehow, Jeffrey and Laura wind up conversing in a doorway. Laura thinks sending leatherwork out is legal, as long as he has a receipt. Jeffrey complains that she's questioning his integrity, and she protests that she isn't. But yeah, she is. Not as much as if she claimed they weren't his designs, but breaking the rules is a matter of integrity. Is it punk rawk to be all worried about one's integrity? (Apparently there was another conversation where Laura agreed that she was, in fact, questioning his integrity and that she should have spoken to Jeffrey first -- although I can see needing to grab Tim when he was available. Why couldn't they have aired that conversation? I'm really ticked with the whole bonus footage angle. They manipulate the interactions with editing, but then the stuff in the bonus footage is less cartoon-y and just highlights how much they're manipulating things in the editing. Save everyone time, stop playing games and show the full(er) story on air. Schmucks.)

With 5 hours left to the day (presumably Wednesday, with the runway shows on Friday), Tim calls Jeffrey about a missing receipt from the pleaters. If Laura hadn't raised the issue of cheating, would anyone have known how many receipts to expect for the pleating work? Presumably they audit all the collections, but we haven't see anything beyond a simple totting up of receipts, and that's a pretty cursory level of examination. It would be nice to see something more substantive. If you have rules against cheating, you have to be able to enforce them, or why bother? Tim wants Jeffrey to have the company fax over copies. Jeffrey worries that they might not be able to find it because "it's like Sanford & Son over there" (perhaps they taught Jeffrey record-keeping) and then what? Tim says they'll cross that bridge when they get to it. Jeffrey recaps the situation in an interview, because the stress has obviously wrecked our attention spans and it's critical that we realize there's a receipt missing or we'll be lost for the rest of the show, or at least until they finally get to the runway stuff. He calls the pleaters and frets that he might get booted over a missing receipt. Let that be a lesson to all you future contestants -- keep your papers in order, especially when a Bryant Park fashion show is on the line.

The next morning, Jeffrey broods some more. Aw, let's all feel sorry for the administratively incompetent. Okay, done. The others do some more finish work while Jeffrey leaves a message for Tim. He interviews that he worked really hard, and a disqualification at this point would be "tragic." Finally, he goes inside and starts making a skirt in case he needs to replace the pleated shorts because of the missing receipt. Yay, a constructive response! I have a low mope threshold.

With 8 hours left in the day, Tim arrives and gathers the designers. He reviews the situation and announces that he is clearing Jeffrey after a "thorough investigation." What investigation? Laura raised the issue Tuesday night and it's now Thursday afternoon. That's barely enough time for the various lawyers involved to put together the "here's how we proceed without getting sued" memo. Looking at the receipts won't tell you if he had outside help, not if he has half a brain. Looking at the clothes might tell you something, but we never saw that happen. If they're going to make a big hoo-hah out of Jeffrey being accused, they need to make as big a hoo-hah over everything they did to clear him. I want to believe Tim, but the producers have not exactly established themselves as forthright and trustworthy. (See previous rant about the editing and bonus footage.)

So, anyway, Jeffrey relieves his stress by sobbing into Uli's shoulder while Laura and Michael look on. Tim continues that the pleating was allowable, as long as he had receipts. Since the receipt for the shorts didn't turn up, the shorts are out. That seems fair. Also, Jeffrey is over budget by $227.95, so he'll have to remove more stuff and the judges will be notified. Tim does the integrity speech again. He's confident they've sorted everything out. Laura shakes hands with Jeffrey and says, "Meet you on the runway" while Uli thanks her for "starting this." These problems should have been found by the standard audit, and this way, Jeffrey had enough of a heads up to start making a replacement for the shorts. Also, they should all be thanking Laura -- the controversy meant they weren't subjected to any last-minute stupid pet tricks by the producers in the name of drama. Jeffrey and Michael shake hands and hug. Jeffrey interviews that he's completely satisfied.

Out on the terrace, Uli teases Jeffrey that he's really a softie. She congratulates Laura, "You won. You made him cry." Laura disclaims any desire to make him cry. (Somewhere in the midwest, a voice calls out, "Do it again!") Which I believe. She had her opinion and she was going to speak up, and whether Jeffrey cried or not was irrelevant. I didn't see any indications that she enjoyed his discomfort (unlike Jeffrey, who practically hooted with glee over his treatment of Darlene and Angela). Jeffrey attributes Laura's accusations to her inexperience, and it's all good. Laura tells Uli, "I was whispering 'Don't cry, Jeffrey, don't cry.'" She interviews that she wasn't trying to boot him and she's happy to be competing with him. I don't think she expected to have him booted -- she acknowledged from the outset that it would be difficult to prove her suspicions. And I don't think she was trying to throw him off his game -- he was already done, so what effect would head games have at that point? I think she just likes putting all the cards on the table and letting the chips fall where they may.

[On the cheating front, it turns out that Jeffrey has a lot of equipment for his regular business, including specialized machines for leather, so that affected the level of craftsmanship of some pieces. It's not cheating, although it's clearly not a level playing field. (Tim said the others had the option of renting or buying similar equipment, but that would presumably come out of their collection budgets.) It would have been nice to hear about that on the show, instead of having to read an interview with Tim for the information. Once again, the producers are schmucks.]

With an hour to go, people start wrapping up. Michael (remember him?) feels good about his work. Uli is pleased with her collection. Jeffrey has decided to ditch the wigs to get back under budget. Bummer. I was looking forward to snickering over them. Also, it turns out he has a spare pair of leather pants, so he'll use those instead of the shorts. Dude, maybe you should have taken inventory before you started working on the skirt. I know, stress messes up your thought processes, but honestly.

Tim arrives for their final "gather 'round." He gets verklempt about it and Laura urges him to "make it a good one." Tim does the proud papa thing again. They finish up with a group hug. (Tim brought in the velvet bag of impending randomness, so presumably they figured out the show order. I can live with not seeing that.)

It's the wee hours of the morning and the designers start getting ready. Jeffrey claims a whole two hours of sleep. Laura is "relieved" that Jeffrey will be showing so she can "beat him on the runway, not in the accountant's office." And they're off to Bryant Park. Tents! They wander around the vast, empty whiteness of the show's tent. Everyone does the introspective thing. Okay, time to get busy. Backstage activity -- hair, makeup, fitting, lighting. People start filling in the seats and we catch glimpses of familiar faces. Tim gives Laura the 10 minute warning. We see the various families as the designers voiceover their final rah-rah speeches.

Heidi greets the crowd and introduces the judges. The guest judge is Fern Mallis, who created Fashion Week. There's some serious credibility in the room, y'all. And showtime!

Jeffrey gives a short speech acknowledging his family; he hopes the crowd loves his collection as much as he does. The music is kind of gloomy. How are we supposed to enjoy the show with this downer music?

Uli greets the crowd and talks about having dreams come true. Her music is spritely, kind of a spring-like techno.

Laura jokes about making it "big" in the fashion world. The music is kind of jazzy; it would probably be fun to walk to.

Michael gets the biggest applause from the crowd. He describes his idea as a woman searching for her inner self and finding a sexy tigress inside. The music has drums and sirens; I think it's trying too hard.

Post-show interviews. Everyone is happy. Uli and Laura are pleased with the crowd reactions. Brandy loves Michael but votes for Uli's collection; so does Chloe from Season 2. A VP of L'Oreal Paris votes for Laura. A VP from Wal-Mart votes for Uli's collection but Michael's body of work. Raymundo from Season 2 picks Laura and Malan nods. A senior VP from LVMH picks Jeffrey for his passion. Heidi asks the Wal-Mart VP if any of the designers will appear in his store; he's non-committal. Kayne loved Uli's collection and Katherine nods in agreement.

Back at Parsons, the judges are all happy, too. The designers come out and Heidi handles the usual housekeeping. The models come out and Heidi describes the prize for them.

Laura gets to go first. She reallly wanted to do evening wear -- romantic, escapist, luxurious. Heidi and Michael think she made $8,000 look like $30,000. They get into the beading. She did it all by hand, but over the whole period, not just in the final week. Michael thought everything was beautiful but wanted a surprise. Nina pursues the issue -- Laura knew they saw her as limited, so why not stretch? (In the first half, Laura said she did evening wear because she thought it made for a better show.) Fern thinks it's fine to have a limited focus (hooray for a fresh perspective) and everyone goes for black evening wear. I would have liked to see more infusions of color, though, like with the last dress.

Michael talks about being on a search for his identity as a designer, and that turned into the safari theme. Fern is sad that his collection didn't match the welcome he got from the crowd; overall, she was disappointed. Michael Kors found it all too loud. Michael wanted to really make a point. Nina says there's a fine line and Michael brings up the youth factor. Nina and Heidi like the range of outfits.

Jeffrey describes the Japanese ghosts and demons thing. Fern admires the zipper details. Michael likes the range; Jeffrey talks about trying to show range in 12 outfits without being "schizophrenic." I really didn't see a big range; everything seemed pretty casual. Fern thinks his sporty looks were stronger; the blue Uli dress and the blue party dress felt disjointed. Heidi brings up the budget issue. By tossing the wigs, he wound up around $400 under budget. So, about $600 for 12(?) wigs, or $50 a wig. (Sorry, reflexive math response.) I'm not loving the shapeless and deconstructed aesthetic. To me, it just reads as messy.

Uli wanted to show she can do more than just prints. Nina thinks her clothes are terrific and will sell. The tone implies a "but" but we never hear it. She compliments the solid separates. Heidi would wear all the outfits; she liked the variety. Michael thought the color story was disjointed. I agree; I would have liked a bridge between the solids and the prints. The earthtone zebra stripes might have done the job if she had arranged the order differently. Uli thought about taking out all the prints, but that's where she gets her inspiration. Maybe she'll move to New York. Fern dissuades her; the resort market is huge, and Uli has a good source of inspiration.

Heidi sends them all away for deliberations. Women just like Uli's clothes and Nina likes the details, but Michael found the show uneven. For Jeffrey's show, everyone liked the variety within a coherent vision; everyone hated the long blue dress. Laura is meticulous; Heidi thinks they're investment pieces. Nina doubts her innovation. Michael had taste issues. Fern liked the safari story. She thinks all four have real futures. Nina already has people pestering her for Uli's number.

Thus endeth the deliberations. That took about the same amount of time as the challenge discussions. I'd rather have more discussion and analysis. But I also like seeing all four collections. Either they need to start the runway shows at the start of the second hour, or they need to do a two-hour finale.

The designers return. Heidi gives everyone kudos, but now it's time to winnow the field. Michael's not ripe yet; he's out. He believes in himself, so he'll be out there getting it done. Laura is too limited; she's out. She's happy with what she achieved. Uli and Jeffrey hug. Jeffrey was innovative and cohesive; Uli stretched to make a beautiful collection. Jeffrey wins. Uli thinks second place is the best spot for her; she knows she can survive the fashion world. Marilinda wins the fashion spread. I like her, so that's nice. Jeffrey's family comes out for a celebration. Jeffrey describes the whole experience as "intense." He gets another hug from Tim.

So halfway through the festivities, I realize that I'm bored. I'm not surprised by Jeffrey's win, not after the redemption edit and poor-Jeffrey edit and all the fuss over the allegations and the receipts. I'm not annoyed by the win; I didn't like his collection, but I can understand the philosophical appeal of it. I'm just tired, and glad it's over. Let's hope the next season has more fun and more fashion, and less fury.

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I have throughoutly enjoyed all your posts on Project Runway, and on Design Star!

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