Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's a jungle out there

The first team challenge of the season coincided with the first product placement. In this case, the "product" was Lipstick Jungle, NBC's horrid Sex and the City rip-off (NBC is Bravo's parent network.) The designers had to create a look for Brooke Shield's character, movie studio exec Wendy, to wear in an upcoming episode.

Jerell and Blayne are two of this season's strongest personalities but they worked well with their partners, Stell-vira and Leanne respectively. All the other teams were at each other's throats.

The issues between Korto and Joe and Terri and Suede seemed to result in more polished designs on the runway. Korto's jacket was described by Tim Gunn as a "giant sweet potato" and panned by Joe in the work room but the garment looked a lot more streamlined on the runway. Terri made Suede do-over their ruffly paisley top, which looked great in finished form.

Meanwhile, Kenley and Daniel further established themselves as this season's villains in the running.

Despite their differences, Kenley and Keith won the challenge, with this garment:

But Kenley spent most of the episode picking on other designers and generally trying to cause arguments. I cheered when Tim Gunn backed up Keith in panning the lurid flowered fabric that Kenley picked out at Mood. Kenley is very confident, but I don't think she quite has the talent to back it up. All of her designs (including the garments she wears on the show) are all about 1940s glamor and construction. We have yet to see proof that she can do anything else.

That said, Daniel kind of deserved Kenley's giggly outburst when he started bragging about his impeccable taste on the runway. His work has been completely forgettable so far and he was lucky to still be around after last week's disaster.

The design Daniel created with Kelly was definitely her aesthetic. But Daniel seemed to give up on the challenge as soon as Brooke didn't choose his design. I can't imagine that he was much help to Kelly, who proved her talent with a winning design in week 1.

Bye Kelly! I'll miss you, but this was awful:

Props to Blayne for taking responsibility for his design, rather than throwing Leanne under the bus. It looked fine but I think the outfit was more suited to a 20-something spending a day walking around New York City than for 40-something Brooke Shields playing a business executive.

Seriously, I think this entire look is for sale at Target:

I would have given the win to Jerell and Stell-vira. They made three pieces using a different prints and fabric for each. But the design looked completely pulled together on the runway. Kelly should have taken note of the skirt, which was a good example of animal-print done right:

Quotes of the week
On Kelly and Daniel's garment:
"Slutty, slutty, slutty" -- Michael
"It just looks so much cheaper than I thought it should look" -- Brooke

Next week: Designing for drag queens! I'm almost glad that Daniel wasn't kicked off because I'm sure he'll thumb his nose at this one.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Going for the 'Old'

Anyone who made it through the third grade knows that brains count for nothing if you don't read the directions before the completing an assignment.

Apparently, most of the Season 5 designers were asleep during this crucial grade-school lesson. In nearly every design challenge so far, at least a third have created looks that simply miss the directives of the given challenge. Either they aren't listening or they just don't care.

No matter what the reason, I'm underwhelmed with almost all of these people. The whole point of Project Runway is to challenge the contestants by forcing them to design outside their comfort zone. If the designers refuse to leave their respective niches, the competition is a wash.

The cluelessness continued this week as the designers were asked to create a look for the American team to wear during the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Tim took the contestants to the Olympic museum at New York's Armory Track and Field Training Center for inspiration.

Most of the group immediately latched on to photos of Olympic outfits from the 1940s and 50s and completely let go of the essence of the challenge -- creating a modern design that athletes could wear while representing America to the world. Instead they created looks that mostly seemed to represent wardrobe from old Doris Day movies.

Daniel was among the worst offenders. He claimed to have never watched the Olympics and I almost buy that. But the footage shown on TV indicates that the museum included photos from recent Olympics. Daniel must have seen these photos and chosen to ignore them.

The judges said his dress was perfect for an Olympic drinking competition. I think it looks like the dresses Lois Lane wears in old Superman comics:

Lucky for Daniel, Jennifer's dress was both unpractical for the Olympics and completely boring:

In her goodbye interview, Jennifer claimed that her "Surrealism" design aesthetic brought something different to the show. Too bad those comments were the only thing even close to surreal that Jennifer did during her tenure.

Joe, Korto and Terri came to the runway with an automatic leg up on the competition since they actually created the type of look the challenge required.

Korto won:

Her design was cute, but those linen pants would have been crazy wrinkled by the time the hours-long Opening Ceremony was over.

I would have given the win to perennial bridesmaid Terri. Her look was sophisticated and sporty. In addition, there were several different layers so the athletes could have bundled up or stripped down according to the weather conditions.

When are the judges going to reward Terri? She is the season's single design bright spot:

I can't believe I'm saying this, but Stell-vira is another of the season's (few) bright spots. Designwise, she is way out of her league and I want her kicked off as soon as possible. But her utter lack of tact and self-awareness cracks me up.

Here are some of the winning Stell-vira quotes this week:

On her decision to create an all-black Olympic ensemble:
"There's a lot of bikers in this country who watch the Olympics."
"It represents the country in a bad-ass way."

On her desire to win a challenge:
"Whoever gets immunity is really important because you get a chance to fuck up and not get fired for it."

Some of other quotes of the week:

Tim after learning that Blayne doesn't know who the Beatles are:
"Oh God, youth!"

Another exchange about Stell-vira's black design:
Jerrel: "So Stella, why are you using all black?"
Blayne: "Because we're going through a depression."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Not Listening to Tim Gunn = Kiss of Death

This week, the designers were let loose on New York City. In a challenge similar to one from Season Two, the group took pictures of NYC at night and had to create a look inspired by one of their images.

Kenley won with this look:

I was surprised that Kenley came out on top. Personally I agreed with the comment by one of the judges that this is a look that would only look good on a tall, skinny model. Thus, this dress looks great coming down the runway but looks horrible everywhere else. The judges seemed to think the look was fashion-forward but does that really matter when no one can actually wear it?

I would have awarded the win to Terri, who made this:

I was concerned when Terri decided to use a graffiti photo as her inspiration. That decision did not serve Santino well in the Season Two NYC inspiration challenge. Wouldn't it have been hilarious, though, if Terri had chosen the same swirly graffiti fabric that Santino used in that episode? It would have been a three-peat, as Austin also used that fabric during Season 1.

Back to Terri -- she is the only designer who has really impressed me this season. Her designs are very polished and she really seems to be thinking about each challenge.

In other news, Leanne redeemed herself after last week's disaster by creating this beautiful dress, which was inspired by a tree grate:

The bottom two came down to Emily and Jennifer. It really didn't matter who got kicked off. Neither has a distinguishing personality or design aesthetic.

Emily ultimately emerged the loser. As well she should, because she committed the cardinal sin of Project Runway: not listening to Tim Gunn. Emily refused to listen when Tim said her ruffled design looked awkward.

She was fooling herself about this design right up until the exit interview:

The dress looks like it's vomiting fabric. I have one last nit to pick with the judges: if they hated Emily's work so much, why didn't they say anything to Blayne, who created a very similar design?

Blayne's neon dress captured the essence of his chosen inspiration, Times Square. But it also looked like a bad 1980s prom dress:

Somewhere there is a 30-something woman with this dress hanging in her closet.

Quote of the week: "Holla at cha boy!" -- Tim Gunn. He's so cute when he's trying to be hip.

Next week: Another Field trip!

All photos courtesy of Bravo's Project Runway web site.