Thursday, November 29, 2007
Who Are You
Let's meet the latest crop of aspiring fashion designers:
- Sweet P, 46, freelance designer: And former biker -- the name was bestowed by her all-girl biker gang. She also has a tattoo of "Mean P," whom I hope will come out to play once or twice. There are a couple of people who could really do with a dose of Mean P. But Sweet P can stick around; she seems to have had an eventful life, so I'm sure she knows how to roll with the punches.
- Chris, 44, costume designer: The go-to guy for drag queens who want to make really big statements, judging by his portfolio. Which includes an outfit made of salad ingredients, so if there's a supermarket challenge, he's good to go. He's kind of mellow about his snark, so I hope he gets lots of sound bites.
- Elisa, 42, multimedia artist: She got into fashion by designing costumes to appear with her marionettes. Very organic and spiritual -- kind of a mix of Lupe and Angela, yet not annoying. I think it's because she's too busy being artsy to worry about impressing you with how artsy she is.
- Marion, 39, boutique owner: "Boutique" as in "flower shop." Although he also designs clothes in his shop. Sounds like he's hoping to quit the day job.
- Jack, 38, activewear designer: Studmuffin. He has worked for other designers and wants to shine his own light for a change. And if taking off his shirt helps that happen, so be it.
- Carmen, 37, freelance designer: Former model. Apparently design school is all well and good, but modeling is the thing for learning the ins and outs of fashion. She's intense; I suspect she'll be good for a little drama.
- Ricky, 35, lingerie designer: Came to New York from a large, poor family to be a dancer and wound up in fashion. Now he has his own line of lingerie. Looks to be the go-to guy for waterworks.
- Victorya, 34, freelance designer: Originally from Korea. Overachiever. So far, that's about it.
- Simone, 32, freelance designer: She's just so damn earnest, I can't stand it. If she said anything of substance, I missed it.
- Rami, 31, freelance designer: Originally from Israel, now living in LA. Since he has already dressed Jessica Alba for the MTV Video Music Awards, he's already pretty successful by fashion standards, but he wouldn't mind being better known.
- Kevin, 30, freelance designer: He had his line of jeans featured on the Victoria's Secret catalog, but he wants to get back to doing collections. By the way, he's straight. Not that a producer asked him to mention it or anything.
- Steven, 29, freelance designer: He just missed out on the show last time, so he tried again. I suspect he was mining the same classic vein as Laura, and she won out. He has a sleepy, sly humor.
- Jillian, 26, designer/illustrator for Ralph Lauren: Which is fine and all, but ultimately she wants to do her own thing. She seems really high maintenance.
- Kit, 26, stylist/designer: And she has styled herself "Kit Pistol." She has the radical notion that clothes are a form of self-expression. Kinda like pseudonyms. Looks to be the go-to girl for the obvious.
- Christian, 21, freelance designer: Given his age, his biggest accomplishments thus far are going to college in London to study with Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood, and sculpting his hair. Not that this will stop him from thinking highly of himself. In his interviews, he tilts his head back so he's always looking down his nose. Feel free to inject a "shut up, Christian" after everything he says.
The roomies are: Chris, Rami, Christian, Ricky; Sweet P, Carmen, Jillian, Kit; Kevin, Jack, Steve, Marion; Elisa, Simone, Victorya.
The designers traipse over to Bryant Park to drink some champagne, and then Heidi and Tim show up to put them to work. I love how Heidi chirpily cracks the whip. I wonder if she does that with her kids: "Are you have a good time playing with your toys? Well, too bad. It's nap time now." It's the usual "express your identity as a designer" challenge. They get $50,000 in fabrics donated by Mood, arrayed in three tents across the park. Heidi sets them racing across the park to grab their selections; Elisa pauses long enough to give her a sunflower for her birthday. There is much grabbing. Elisa decides to "imbue" one of her fabrics with grass stains; she likes to "feed the fabrics" with organic sustenance. This gives us our first opportunity for "That Elisa sure is weird" comments.
Parsons. The designers have until 1 am to work. Tim gives them their inaugural "Make it work." And go! Workety work work. Elisa is wacky some more. Tim comes through for his critiques. Rami is looking good. Tim points out that Christian matched up his fabric along the seam, but not at the sleeves, which is not what Christian wants to hear. Simone has a lot of work. Elisa's train thing has sort of worked when she tried it in the past. Tim goes away. Elisa decides she's done and takes a nap. Workety work. Time's up.
Morning. Crunch time. Tim rallies the troops. Steven summarizes, "It's freak-out time here, ladies and gentlemen." Models arrive. Fittings. Hair. Makeup. Show time! Guest judge is Monique Lhullier.
- Elisa/Lea: Long blue sheath dress with a V-neck; the left sleeve is open at the bottom and the right sleeve is open at the top, for a diagonal effect. That part is really lovely. In the back is a long, messy train of bedraggled fabrics that trip up the model. I kinda get what she's going for, but the fabric is too heavy. If she had cut it into thin strips, they might have had a chance to flutter as they trailed, and not weigh down the dress. But still a tripping hazard. Also messed-up are the not-quite matching suede boot fully visible as the gown opens in front; they're just wrong. But Lea's hair is lovely, and she manages the dress as well as anyone could expect, all things considered.
- Chris/Marcia: Long skirt in eggplant satin topped with a patterned halter twisted and tied in a big bow in back, with strips of olive setting off the halter. Since he's a costume guy, I'm relieved to see an actual dress. A dramatic, red carpet dress, but a dress nonetheless. Marcia works it quite well.
- Kevin/Katie: Black strapless mini dress with a full skirt banded at the bottom in red and a ruffled red edge at top, silvered bustier that flares out at the bottom, big red bow in back. I don't think all the pieces come together. It doesn't help that Katie has bad posture and kind of slumps down the runway.
- Sweet P/Christina: Short sack dress of yellow print fabric with halter top and a skirt banded in red; the top is held up by red and blue ribbons with a bow in front. The skirt is obviously trying for volume but winds up just shapeless. It was heading in the direction of cute, but didn't quite get there. Christina is pretty and poses well, but needs to smooth out her walk a bit.
- Simone/Lauren: Baby doll with white top, peach skirt and acid yellow belt and shoulder straps, topped with a short sleeveless jacket in black-lace looking fabric gathered and tied at the waist with ribbon. The yellow clashes with the other colors, and the jacket is rather shapeless. The dress itself is nice, but too simple. Lauren walks well and manages the jacket without getting tangled.
- Jillian/Amanda: Coral red halter mini-dress with a poofy, almost 80s-ish skirt; the back has some interesting lacing. It's cute. Jillian seems to design for herself -- Amanda is even styled to look like her. She also walks well despite wearing giant sunglasses indoors and having her hands in her pockets all the time.
- Christian/Lisa: Black-and-tan plaid jacket with black ruffles down the front and poofy short sleeves; camel pleated skirt with asymmetrical hem with black "tuxedo stripe" down one side. The jacket and skirt colors don't really mesh and the skirt kinda looks like she got the hem tucked into her underwear -- not necessarily intentional. Lisa's hairstyle makes her look really severe. She attempts to sell the outfit but doesn't hit her poses strongly enough. Points for trying, though.
- Victorya/Jacqueline: Black V-neck sack dress with what look like fallen-down bra straps around the upper arms, giant silver tinsel flower embellishment on left side. Perhaps it's all the black, but the dress is rather shapeless, although it does move nicely. The flower looks like it was leftover from last season's recycling challenge. The bra strap thing drives me crazy. Jacqueline is pretty and walks reasonably well, although she lets her handbag flap around.
- Rami/Ashley: Draped one-shoulder gown in dark grey flowing fabric. It's all very Grecian-looking and graceful, but the billowing fabric doesn't do much for the figure. Ashley has a smooth walk, but she's very blank-looking in her poses.
- Ricky/Wendi: Silvery-black baby doll with lace edging on the bodice. It's a fairly simple dress, but he used the small stripes to good effect. Wendi looks like she's kind of new to heels, let alone the runway.
- Jack/Aviva: Halter dress of an ornate black-on-white print with bright blue belt and big blue bow at the neck. It's cute, but it reminds me of Robert Best's cute little dress made from wall hangings. Aviva walks and poses well.
- Marion/Cheron: Another halter dress. The top is made of lacy black fabric that unevenly overlays the skirt; the skirt is some heavy dark fabric that's light on the reverse; the skirt is full but jagged. All and all, it's quite ugly. Cheron's long straight hair only emphasizes her mannish jaw, and her walk is a little stiff.
- Steven/Sam: Black pencil skirt, black fitted jacket with a bustle. Dramatic but severe. Sam needs to hold her poses a bit longer, but she tries to sell it.
- Carmen/Anna: Dark wide-leg trousers, orange scarf-like halter, short cutaway gold jacket. The colors and styling are busy, but I still like the lines of the jacket. Anna's walk makes it all feel flowing and elegant.
- Kit/Marie: Black print strapless dress topped with half a red jacket/bustier. The basic dress is cute, if simple; the jacket might have been interesting if it had been complete. As it is, this outfit just seems to say, "Look at my left boob!" Marie's walk is just okay, but she does have some expression as she poses.
Overall, a good first showing. Not a lot of head-scratchers among the outfits. The models were more problematic -- a couple were downright clunky and several were just okay. We'll see if they improve over time.
The judges confer. Chris, Kevin, Sweet P, Jillian, Jack, Marion, Steven, Carmen and Kit are all safe. This leaves Rami, Victorya, Simone, Christian, Elisa and Ricky. Christian has good shapes and some nice details. Simone has construction problems and her pieces didn't go together. Rami has good construction, although Michael is not thrilled with the flower. Ricky played it safe. Victorya's flower doesn't bother the judges. Elisa puzzles the judges with her artsy talk and her unwieldy train.
The judges deliberate some more. Victorya was a little safe but had charm. Christain had detail and innovation. Rami was skillful and expressive. Ricky was safe but well-made; Elisa was weird but the basic construction was excellent; Simone was unfinished and boring. Results: Victorya is safe. Rami wins. Christian is safe. Ricky is safe. And -- Simone is out, so Elisa is safe. Yay! Simone kind of bored me but Elisa is fun.
I would rather have seen Marion in the bottom three than Ricky -- the judges need to stop accepting "ugly" as a point of view. And I don't get the love for Victorya's giant flower. I like Chris's dress better, if we're going to praise oversized embellishments. I was hoping Rami would win, because his draping is just so elegant and because Christian would be insufferable if he took the first blue ribbon. So that worked out well. As for the bottom two, Elisa's dress was fundamentally beautiful and just needed to lose the train, while Simone's dress was ordinary where it wasn't off-putting, so I agree with the judges on both decisions.
This reminds me of the latest season of Top Chef, with contestants cast more for talent than character. By the end of the season, people were practically contorting themselves to come up with a "villain" because no one was really that bad. They were annoying to various degrees, but they weren't jerks. No one in this crowd seems particularly provocative. So far, the best contender for the "villain" mantle is Christian, and he's just a twerp.
Labels: Project Runway