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Friday, October 29, 2010

Ep14: The End

We begin with the Final Three waking up. And grooming. And spouting the usual formulaic I Just Want To Make Blah Blah Blah Proud. Can I just say that in the past few eps we've been treated to several shots prominently featuring Mondo's pit hair?

[rant] I live in an area that includes at lot of very old-authentic-hippie types, and in my Master's Swim group there's been debate about whether women should shave their armpits. IMO, everyone should shave their pits. In general I don't find extreme metrosexual looks in men attractive (hate waxed brows unless they're very subtle) -  but armpit hair is unsightly and traps smell. Actors and models wax the chest - why not the pits? Some group of young men need to get the fad going. Unfortunately, katson and his friends have declined. Maybe we'll have a group of hotshot swimmers in the next Olympics who can get it going? [/rant]

When they sit down to breakfast, there's a note that some friends want to congratulate them.

And that gets us into The Reunion.
  •  Valerie and Christopher are still adorable.
  • April has artfully dishevelled pigtails.
  • Asshat Jason is rather attractive without the hat.
  • Peach has a huge gay following.
  • Ivy is wearing a blouse that appears to be patterned in blood spatter.
We are treated to clip segments on Andy, Gretchen and Mondo, and some platitudes on how confident women are considered bitches - a word I have serious problems with. It's incredibly degrading when you think about it - women as not-human, subservient animals. Anway, I don't think the whole cliche applies to Gretchen. She's self-absorbed, not nasty. Ivy is nasty. And appears to think it's fun that people think so. But we don't get to hear about that, and they skate over  the scapegoating of Michael C.

Well, that was one useless reunion. All the elephants are still in the room.
Back in the workroom... it's Tim's Last Walkabout. He tells the Final 3 that they will show 10 of their 11 looks. He asks each in turn what they heard the judges say in reaction to their mini-collections, and what they intend to do about it.

Mondo: Maybe I should replace my final bubble gown with this solid look.
Mondo decides against it after some consultation with Tim. FWIW, I think he's right. The solid look would be strange at the end of his show. It would have been better as a breather in the middle.

Andy: They hated my bikini, so here's a new swimsuit.
Tim is disturbed; he thinks it looks like hair growing up from the crotch. Disagree, but it does seem kind of tortured for a swimsuit.

Gretchen: They want me to pump up the styling.
Tim agrees and wishes her luck.

Before he leaves, Tim congratulates them all once again.
 And I'm struck by how often we've been told by Tim and Heidi so far in the show that these three designers are incredibly talented and that their collections are incredibly exciting. Interesting that they keep hammering the point, like they're trying to convince us. Or maybe themselves.

Peter Butler. Hair.

Mondo is still using his hair ball-and-ribbon connoctions...

... and Andy hasn't edited out his beautiful headdresses.
Collier Strong. Makeup.

Model fittings.

Back in the hotel, the Final Three say pretty much the same stuff they said in the morning.

Next morning, they're off to Lincoln Center.

That's one long metaphor.
The mean side of me wondered if they had the scrub the makeup print off the vinyl.
There's some reflection, and then the usual flurry.

Mondo's lineup is out of order.
There are crazy fashion people.
Andy's making some last-minute pants.
And Gretchen is A-OK.

Runway time!
The guest judge is Jessica Simpson.
I don't know - she has an eponymous clothing and shoe line, but who knows how much she actually has to do with it? I saw part of one of her The Price of Beauty shows, and she came off as pretty ignorant, and not in a charming way.


Running through Thunder in her underwear.

Look 1: Let me just go on record that these brief-bottom looks are stupid. The models just look like they forgot to finish dressing, and I refuse to believe there are women who walk around like this. The jacket at least is nicely color-blocked.

Look 2: This isn't boho. It's more little dress from the prairie, with an extra shoulder slit that looks like an afterthought. The slightly Missoni-style print in somewhat interesting if muddy. Total meh.

Look 3: The asymmetry of the tunic is kind of interesting. The pants would be better if the leather was less shiny. In anyone not model-thin, the patent would rub and make a horrible sound, plus chafe. Also, these pieces don't look right together. The pants need a tougher top.

Look 4: I'd wear this to work if the pants were flat-front. The copper color is pretty, and the ombre top adds interest. But this isn't innovative in any way.

Look 5: Grey tee and briefs? Is this maybe sleepwear? Guess not, given the hat.

Look 6: Basic, off-the-rack.

Look 7: Another set of briefs, this time with a leather robe that doesn't close. I've said it before - stripper on a break.

Look 8: Last week's ugly non-matching print look, tarted up with a bare midriff. Isn't that out now?

Look 9: Best look of the ten. The leather shorts are cool, and the print top goes well with them.

Look 10: Can't imagine this on a red carpet. It's more like something Austin and Santino would come up with for a cattle ball. Or it could have been a costume for one of the Firefly characters.

My overall rating: Distant Third. Half of these clothes are recycled Chico's, and the other half are unwearable. You can't tell from these screen grabs, but all of these looks have cut-outs that expose the lower back. You know, the place where anyone with an extra pound or two shows a roll? Katspouse wondered if there was a sale on dowdy brown print. Even the jewelry looks like Frank Lloyd Wright knock-offs. Call it Tranq Lloyd Wright.


Dedicates his collection to his mom.

Look 1: Great start! The jacket has beautiful stitching detail, and Andy's signature draped pants are very sophisticated in pale grey shantung.

Look 2: Deceptively simple. There's some very nice play on texture in this outfit.

Look 3: This is so wearable and commercial while being interesting at the same time. I especially love how Andy deals with the sheerness issue in the top organically by layering. I want the whole outfit.

Look 4: At this point I'm really glad for a shot of color. Andy clearly made the decision to let the textiles shine (pun intended), but the subtlety may be lost on the runway.

Look 5: Not sure if this is swimwear or lingerie. The sort of tree-root shape is very intriguing, though.

Look 6: Reminiscent of Laura S3, but with chains instead of feathers. Clever - it's not often you can describe a dress as both subtle and rock-n-roll at the same time.

Look 7: Another great real-world look, and the separates would pair with many other things in a woman's wardrobe.

Look 8: Perhaps a touch costumey - I can picture marcelled hair and tap shoes. But it has great balance and details. I can see Christina Aguilara or Christina Ricci in it.
Look 9: My favorite in this collection, and 2nd favorite in the whole finale show. Love the color combo, the deceptively simple weaving of the top, and the shine of the pants. So flattering.

Look 10: Very, very pretty. Maybe better without the belt?

My overall rating: Close Second. Andy made two big mistakes. First, he should have ditched the headdresses. They're very cool, but also very distracting. Second, there's too much pale grey. If he had mixed in some of his signature black, the individual looks would have stood out more. Still, he's shown the judges that he has more in his arsenal than "warrior woman."

Mondo has a spirit guide.

Look 1: Love the blouse and shorts together and as separates. Once they were translated for the sales floor and thus somewhat longer, those shorts could be worn by women of many ages.

Look 2: Another great pairing that would break up equally well. As it is, I can see Chloe Sevigny in this as-is.

Look 3: To me this is dowdy. It might be because the model's hair doesn't work with the others, or maybe the proportions.

Look 4: Fun, cool, and a great transitional look. Women of all ages could rock that skirt.

Look 5: Love this - my favorite of the entire finale. Fun but sophisticated, exuberant but controlled.

Look 6: The black shorts remind me of Mondo's Cabaret Emcee Marionette runway-wear, but they're certainly versatile. Love the top - perfect day-to-evening if you wore it to work with a jacket.

Look 7: The bias-set plaid of the pants is unusual and interesting. The jacket would work as a layering piece with many of the bottoms and shirts in the collection.
Look 8: I wish Mondo had resisted this bubble print - in this look, the circus has definitely come to town.

Look 9: Great as a dress for the younger customer and a top for those over 35. Glad he used an overscale color block instead of a busier print.

Look 10: The bubble print works much better as an expanse than a top, but I think Michael was right - it would be better sleeveless.

My overall rating: The Winner. Mondo's collection reminds me of S4 Christian's, not in the garments themselves obviously, but because it is relentlessly his point of view. It's a bit worrying that he didn't follow the judges' advice to lose the hair ornaments and tone down the wacky a bit. Still, he's got so much talent and so many ideas that he's clearly the winner of the season. 

The judges make the point once again that all the shows were marvelous. Then they bring out the designers.

They start with Andy. There's a lot of praise for individual looks, but overall they felt that he might have gone overboard on the theme. And, after critcizing Andy for being too "warrior woman", Nina penalizes him for moving away from it.

Next comes Gretchen. They are happy with her new styling. They mention that her collection is montone, but feel it is "now." Michael found the leather incongrous.

Finally, Mondo gets kudos for being himself, and for his level of creativity. They feel it might be overboard, and question why he kept the bubble-dress. They like his drama, but think he might have gone into costume.

Mondo thinks he should win because of personal and creative growth. Gretchen thinks she's shown what she can do and needs help to get women in her clothes. Andy really, really wants to win.
The designers are dismissed. And now things get weird.

Although everything he showed is beautiful and wearable, Andy's collection is declared the obvious third.
They feel that Andy went too mild.

And Jessica wins my heart when she astutely asks whether they scared him off.
Now comes the great debate, in which Nina and Michael are both enamoured of Gretchen's clothing and think Mondo's are way over the top.

Meanwhile, Heidi and Jessica think that Gretchen is safe while Mondo brings a spark and a wink. 

After a season of talking about how inportant it is to design young, Nina thinks Mondo is too teenage. After wanting runway shows instead of off-the-rack, Michael thinks Gretchen is designing for "real women." 



I don't know how to express my disappointment - dismay - disgust. Are Nina and Michael so ego-driven that they can only see that Gretchen followed their directions? Are they so struck by her personal style that they don't see how unappealing her clothes are to women in general? Are they so out of touch with the run-of-the-mill market that they don't know about Chico's? I just don't know.

It's been fun recapping this season, and fun "meeting" some of you virtually. Don't know if I'll be back, either to recaps or the show. And I've never said that before. This has just been really disillusioning.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ep13: The Long and Winding Road

Out on the runway after the April auf, Heidi (in a great dress - the new stylist is really working out) tells the final four that they have $9,000 and six weeks to create collections. Three of the four will go on to compete for the win. And we'll all pretend that the fourth will not show at Fashion Week, but in fact 10 designers will show.
Lest we forget.
[rant] How is it that in so many seasons, the producers can't count backwards and end up with at least just a few decoys? I think two or three are kind of nice, and might even balance out bad judging. But if 10 out of 16 (or was it 17?) designers show at MBFW, what's the real reward of making it to the final 3? [/rant]

Tim gives them a final pep talk, and Heidi wants to be wowed.

Who would have thought we'd see Judgemental Andy, Queen Bee Gretchen, Outcast Michael and Isolated Mondo in a group squeeze?
In many ways, the clothes (which have been largely unremarkable) have been less interesting than the personal interactions this season. I'm surprised to say that about Project Runway, and I hope it isn't a trend, but it's been rather satisfying with this group.

Tim's Walkabout takes him outside the 48 contiguous states for the first time as he visits Andy in Waianae, HI.

A Project Runway first: Tim in Wellies.
Andy's family lives on a huge farm...

where they raise orchids and coconuts and catfish.

Tim vs Chinese catfish
The house looks pretty ramshackle, but it appears that Andy had an idyllic place to grow up. He mentions that he appreciates his unusual childhood. The thing is, kids don't appreciate living differently while growing up - they see the value in retrospect. I can picture teenage Andy itching to get to the city. It's great that he's come to realize how lucky he was so young.

Andy's cool mom
Tim asks Andy's mom if she's surprised that Andy's childhood produced a fashion designer, and she talks about her support for her kids to do what they love.

Laotian textiles and metals - could be an exciting collection!
Andy isn't very far into his collection, except for headdresses, because his fabrics just came from Laos. He's got to make 10 looks in 12 days. Yikes!

Next Tim visits Michael C in Palm Springs, where he meets Michael's partner Richard. So OK, maybe I was slow on the uptake, but my first impression of MC was gay, then after learning about adorable Giovanni I wondered - plus no straight male designer on Project Runway has ever not made a thing of it (remember Asshat Jason?), except I think Seth Aaron.

Tim: Stop the design diarrhea
They get right to the critique. Michael's problem is the opposite of Andy's. As per usual, he's done twice the number of garments he needs. Tim tells him to knock it off and finish his chosen looks.

Michael's inspiration: Sunsets and feathers (and whiskers on kittens...)
Dinner with Michael, Richard, Giovanni and some friends reveals that the Costellos haven't been supportive of Michael's coming out or his choice of career.

Giovanni is clearly very impressed by the cameras and the fashion talk. Plus, maybe a little less trashing of the grandparents in front of the kid?

Although I'd never want anyone to deny their true selves, when people with kids come out it can be extra complicated for the former spouse, the grandparents and the children. Hopefully some day we'll get to the point where that won't be true, and when people won't feel pressured to live in a way that doesn't work for them.

Off to Denver to see Mondo. His collection is inspired by the circus and the Day of the Dead. Can't argue with that as Mondo inspiration.

Tim: This top  is a 3D definition of "jejune."

From what we see, it's clear - in case it wasn't before - that the season is Mondo's to lose.

More revelations of tough childhoods as we learn that Mondo's parents tried to make him  "more macho." They all seem pretty good natured about the whole thing now though. As Mondo plays the piano, noting that he had to play baseball if he wanted lessons, he VOs a heartfelt and timely message to young people who are different.

"You ARE cool. Don't let people convince you otherwise."

By the way, if you haven't seen Tim's It Gets Better message, you must. Be prepared to be floored.

Next, we see Gretchen and her mother, it looks like packing up her home. And that's what they're doing. Turns out, Gretchen came home to a broken relationship and and empty bank account. You know, I always thought the edits were setting Gretchen up for a Reality Show Comeuppance. It's sad to see that it's actual reality.

A few days before Fashion Week begins, the designers all gather in a suite in NYC. Tim drops by with the unexpected good news...

...and the expected bad news.

Although it isn't that bad - they get

Michael C is making one of his Effortless Draped Dresses. It's a pretty color, and it would make a great red carpet dress for someone like Kate Beckinsale or Elizabeth Moss, who has a great figure but doesn't like to show all the goods at once.

Mondo's in trouble. His first dress is a kindergarten-y mess.

I don't know what Gretchen is doing with that lichen-colored linen. She's got the tail of the dress attached to the neck in the back. Uli in S3 did this to beautiful effect in her final collection, but it's not working for Gretchen.

Andy has a very cool pleating device, and he's going to town with this chartreuse silk.

Tim's mini-walkabout shows that he thinks Mondo, Gretchen and Andy are in pretty good shape, and that he's worried about Michael C.

Runway time! No guest judge, just the Big Three. Reminder: 3 go to Fashion Week, 1 is OUT.

Look 1: The silver romper - and I hate rompers on anyone over 6 - is pretty, with the ruffled collar balancing out the tiered shorts.

Look 2: What was he thinking, showing this as part of his mini-collection? The bikini doesn't fit on top at all, and the sheer overlay is bizarre. It floats in a dramatic way, but it doesn't do anything for the model. This might have passed as part of a larger collection, but it's a disaster here.

Look 3: Wow. The pleated top is a major accomplishment, and the skirt is just the right proportion. Don't know about the belt, but otherwise stunning.
My rating: IN, and if the rest of the collection lives up to Looks 1 and 3, he could walk away with the win.

Michael C
Look 1: Very pretty, and very Michael C. A million women of many ages, me included, would love to wear this, albeit with a much less dramatic leg slit.

Look 2: Good idea, awkwardly executed. There's too much of the trim, and the feather shape of the skirt is too boxy.

Look 3: The sequined pants are nice, although I don't get the top. The fringe is used in an interesting and unexpected way, but the single sleeve and the way it is placed over what looks like a heavy-duty long-line bra are strange.

My rating: IN, but unless his collection contains some surprises, he's a distant third.

Look 1: I've already given my opinion of the back. the front is nothing special. The twisted straps are sort of cool maybe.

Look 2: Sale rack at Chico's, including the jewelry. The prints are ugly together, the top is nothing special, and the pleated, cropped pants would flatter no one.

Look 3: This is a complete WTF. Where exactly does someone wear briefs and a sequined smoking jacket? It's not beach, or party, or anything other than stripper-on-a-break. Also, I think it's offensive to cover women's eyes, mouths or faces as "fashion." It says that we're not people, just bodies to be stared at or played with.

My rating: OUT

Look 1: Another masterful mix of prints, and both the blouse and the shorts are great separates.

Look 2: Mondo pulled it out. The skirt is great, and he managed to make the turquoise and pink work with the tan and black check. I like how this look links the other two.

Look 3: The panelling is flattering, but to me this is too Tim Burton-character-costume. The circle print (those can't be called polka dots) is too big, and the skirt is too tight not to have some sort of slit.

My rating: IN, and the winner if his collection doesn't get too cartoonish. Lose the hair ornaments, Mondo! 

The questioning is interesting, as Michael and Nina let them know that for the most part they were not smart about picking their mini-collection. Andy and Michael C are particularly lambasted. They also say that Gretchen's looks are too off-the-rack and, word.

The verdict:

No surprise here.

They have got to be kidding!! Nothing about any of the three pieces Gretchen showed are worthy of the Final Three. They've been giving her a "you're better than this" pass for weeks, but it shouldn't get her into the finals - and ahead of Andy? Travesty!

Good - two of Andy's three looks belong on the final runway.

There's a pause, so you think there might be a surprise Final Four, but no.

Michael C was robbed - not because the three pieces he showed were great, but because Gretchen's were abysmal.

And he is totally, completely, nakedly devastated.

This was so hard to watch. Michael C, I hope all of your loved ones rise to the occasion. You've proven yourself to the entire country, and even if you weren't a finalist, never forget you showed at Fashion Week!


After everything he went through, I'm sorry to say Michael C's decoy collection is disjointed, but there are some lovely looks. My favorite below; check out the whole thing on Blogging Project Runway.