Thursday, December 06, 2007

Stop volunteering, really

There's a double edged sword to the team challenges on Project Runway: you can't win if you aren't the team leader. But I don't know that in the entire history they've eliminated somebody that WASN'T team leader in the final analysis.

I mean, to be honest I'd probably want to be a team leader. If I wasn't, I'd probably end up being a little like Victorya because I am a very controlling perfectionist most of the time. This is why I hate team assignments in school, I loath them.

To be fair, just because I said I might act that way does not excuse Victorya for being a bit of a passive aggressive bitch.

But I'm here to talk about the designs!

The challenge is to update old out-of-fashion trends and make them hip and modern. But to work together in teams of three and create a three look "collection."

I have to say I'm starting to hate the word collection. Not being in fashion, I'm not sure I understand what it means. They say it has to be cohesive. In season one, we are told that fabric choices aren't the only thing that can tie them together when they did the future challenge. In season two, Daniel Franco gets eliminated for making them too similar. But then people get in trouble for making them too different. Where is that fine line? Can it even be described or explained? I know that watching some of the runway shows I've said, "This feels like a collection more than X or Y." For example, I was much more impressed with Kara's showing at Bryant Park (even if she was a decoy) than I was by Daniel V. Daniel V's clothes were wearable and interesting, but something about them didn't fit together as well.

So my thought process is this: is this something that is taught in their fashion schools? How do you learn this? It's just so darn nebulous. It's like that whole "I know it when I see it" idea.

Anyway. We're going to start with me agreeing with the judges again (what is going on with the world?). Jillian's team had the clear winner. Their fashion trends were 70's flare, poodle skirts, and overalls. I was amused that Tim pointed out that all the outfits looked like they were designed FOR Jillian. Yeah, I pegged her for that type of designer in my first post about this season.

That said, sometimes the challenge calls for that kind of thing. And since she was wearing overalls, we've seen her in very full poofy skirts, and I can picture her in flared-leg pants without trying to hard, then it seems obvious that she'd do well here.

The shirt here is really cute, in fact the whole thing is very cute. It's not something that I think anybody over the age of 30 could every get away with, but for young women it's stylish and girly. To be quite honest, I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if a look like this suddenly showed up on the front of magazines. To make it more everyday-wearable, I think it would be better to have a denim vest of this style and maybe different colored pants. But really, the things people are wearing these days? I could imagine this on the street with no problem.

I've been kind of griping about the hairstyles and things lately, and I really like what Jillian did here. The hair has a whiff of the stereotype of a farm girl that goes with the overalls, but also looks like a stylish girl in the city. Overall, this is a big win.

I can see why everybody loved this, honestly. I can kind of understand. But I think that those types of shorts are not flattering on anybody, not even Jillian. Everyone I've ever seen in them has looked generally more awkward in them. They pretty much delete a woman's hips, and why would anybody want to do that? They don't hang well, they move as one solid piece. It makes me think of polygons in a video game. There's no flow. And the shirt, well I chalk the shirt up to something that nobody would wear in public, but is considered high fashion. It did serve it's purpose on the runway.

All that being said, this outfit does fit the collection. It fits the theme by echoing the poofiness of the poodle skirt, and the denim of the overalls. I don't see much 70's flare, but they never said all three looks had to have everything.

This dress isn't modern or fashion-forward to me. At all. I feel like I had this dress in my closet in late middle school, and that was the mid 90's, not a high point for fashion. It reminds me of the sort of barnyard cute/farm kitsch stuff that becomes popular every once in a while and was pretty big when I was young.

It's trying, in another fabric it probably could have been adorable. Like a cute white sheer or eyelet lace over a muted pastel color. But the denim creates a lot of bulk, and restricts the flow. Which makes me make a point I think a lot of people miss: poofy skirts and poodle skirts are two different things. A poodle skirt is simply a full circle skirt, sometimes worn over crinolines that make it more full. But for the most part, it's just so much fabric that it falls a certain way.

I realize I'm not the high fashion police, and that I can't necessarily declare a definition. But I actually have made my fair share of poodle skirts for costumes, so I feel like what happened was that the trend itself was misnamed on the card. Or like the "poodle skirt" trend was actually already taking something and altering it in the first place, so that when Elle was reporting on it it was not truly poodle skirts to begin with, but poofy or bubble skirts like Angela was famous for.

All of that isn't important in the slightest, but it part of what bugs me about this dress. Poodle skirts are meant to swish and flow and twirl out and be as much fun as possible, that's why little girls love them. This skirt will swish, flow, and twirl, but not at all as much.

I hate to say this, it sounds so terrible, especially coming from me but do Rami's fashions make his model look large or is she just a larger size than the rest? Because the girl always looks so different in comparison to the other models, who can be so bony it almost looks painful. I think she actually looks like a real, healthy person. It confuses me.

Moving on to Christian's team, who were dealing with fringe, pleather, and zoot suits:

I can see the zoot suit inspiration here, but where's the pleather? Was there some fringe I can't see in the picture? My cable actually fritzed on and off during the runway show, so I didn't see this one actually walk.

Now, not all of them had to incorporate everything I'm sure. But I thought they had said that was their goal.

The only reason this is important to me is because this outfit bores me. Christian seems to usually do something at least innovative and a little off-kilter. This is so simple, that I can only hope something awesome is going on under the jacket. Otherwise, it's

I see some things that could be fringe...I see stripes (don't get me started about how zoot suits are more than just striped suits), but I see no pleather. And pleather was Jack's trend! Are the pants pleather? The accents? Why did they not play with this trend more? One of the reasons I think Jillian's collection won was because the influences were so clear, so obviously there. It was like when Top Chef had their "reinvent a classic American dish" challenge, and some people just went so far it didn't resemble the original dish. I don't see Chicken A La King on this plate.

I also very very much do not like this dress. It makes me think of a prison shift. The color isn't just dull, it actually looks like it's been washed so much that it used to be something interesting but now it's leached of all the dye and you're left with what happens when you don't seperate your clothes like you should.

In another fabric, this dress could maybe be cute. In another fabric, this dress would also still be pretty boring. If these are the most talented designers that the show has seen, then why am I so bored so often? Why are so many of the outfits things I could go buy at a handful of stores at Tyson's Corner? Is it that the challenges aren't challenging enough?

Kit still continues to surprise me. I don't know why, but her things are so unconventional, and her prints usually clash...but something about them makes me notice them. Are they so ugly they're good? I don't know. Lots of people on the internet seem to disagree with me greatly. Reading other blogs I'm finding that I seem to think the exact opposite of popular sentiment half the time.

I actually have little to say about Kit's outfit here. Again, I don't really see much fringe (unless you count the scarf) and the zoot suit is only echoed in a pin stripe, and where's the pleather? Can I just not spot the pleather? I thought that stuff was shiny...

But overall, it's not boring. It's not something that you have seen again and again. I think Kit is going to really break out soon, and I can't wait to see it.

Moving on to Chris' team, we have shoulder pads, baggy sweaters, and dancewear:

Eh. That's all I have to say about this, eh. I actually like the fabric of the jacket, and apparently since the episode was filmed, this look has become fashion forward (I'm sure Chris is gloating) but again I say: where is your first dress Chris? I wanted to see so much from him based on that one design, and he gives us this. It's just nothing special, and he took the whole shoulder pad thing so literally, making a jacket with shoulder pads, and not really very huge ones. Be bold! Be brave! Forget about if you're boring Nina, stop boring me!

I hate that Chris was out in this challenge, but he seemed like the only choice. The other choices I had were Ricky, Victorya, and Steven. But the last two weren't leaders, so they weren't really eligible. While I think that Chris' past performance was better than Ricky's, I also think that when you put these two outfits together individually, and judge if the collections came together, then Chris was the choice.

I don't have to be happy about it.

While again, this dress isn't all that out there or "wow" at all, it is a very well made, very interesting way to take on the idea of the baggy sweater. I wonder, if Sweet P had been allowed to do the designs for all three outfits, how would the collection had come out? Sure, this is once again something you could probably find in a store, it's also something that you might BUY in a store, which is a difference.

I also have to say that while it irked that Sweet P acted like she didn't know she would have to pick somebody, I commend her for the statement she made. She chose someone, she defended her decision, and she apologized. And Steven to his credit, acknowledged her fair criticism, and accepted it.

Sweet P was absolutely right, this outfit sticks out from the other two like a sore thumb. I vastly disagree with Nina though, she said she doesn't see dance wear in this. I see it as almost an exact copy of the photo she gave them, and half the modern dance outfits out there. This isn't a reinvention or an interesting take, he just made what was on the card. And actually, it came out kind of cute. But he no matter if I think I'd wear the top (I probably would, but never with leggings, I hate leggings) the fact is it shows no innovation and no creativity.

I think Steven was saved by two things here: his execution is very good, the outfit itself is very well made, and he wasn't the team leader.

Lastly, we have the train wreck that is Ricky's team! They had neon, underwear as outwear, and cut-outs. Victorya interviewed that she actually picked the team based on the trends and what they could do with them. I think that these three trends fit together SO well, that it's just depressing what was done with them. And with Ricky as a lingerie designer! Yet, I think the blame for it falls squarely on Victorya, not Ricky.

It's a toss up on which of the two outfits (Ricky or Victorya) is actually a worse design. But you can't change the fact that Ricky was the leader, even if Victorya decided to be annoying, or the fact that his execution once again failed. Last week he was almost eliminated because he couldn't finish his outfit, and this week he showed that he just can't handle making a nicely finished garment. Exactly why weren't these things pressed before they went out?

I don't understand the yellow to be honest. I don't know what it would take for me to accept the yellow, but basically from the bust down it's a different garment. Also, while sheer is interesting, that's the part that echoes underwear to me, not cut outs. Where were the cut outs? I see the neon influence, and that's cool (but doesn't excuse the yellow not tying in) and I see the influence of making undergarment type designs but the fact is that corset tops aren't that rare, so it doesn't automatically think "Underwear!"

With a different color option, better finishing, and some pressing, this could have been a really great dress. That's what is so annoying about Ricky, he's so close to good but isn't getting there.

If this hadn't been wrinkled all to hell like she'd slept in it (and it's Elisa's, maybe it was slept in) then it would have been really cute. Not too innovative or fascinating, but it looks like a slip or a nightgown (underwear), it has cut outs with neon in them. Tadaa! I want it to have something at the bottom so that the fabric doesn't just drop off the way it does, something to make it feel finished and less like a block. But it is the best outfit out of this group.

I want to say huge props to Elisa for two things. First, because she acknowledged on the runway that Ricky helped her understand what he wanted, and pointed out that he attempted to explain things in a way she would understand. Because honestly, there is nothing more valuable as a leader than the ability to communicate in the same weird ways as your team members. I think the way he took the time to say things in a more sculptural language said a lot about him as a leader. When you combine that with the fact that he sacrificed his own garment to help his team members, you see that he's probably a very good guy to work for and with.

The second thing is that she outright said what I've been waiting to hear for AGES. When asked who to eliminate she basically said "I have integrity and I'm always going to choose myself, no matter what."

Thank you Elisa. That could have been such a canned and terrible line, but she was very genuine with it, and just shrugged it off. She said it in a manner like, "this is what I do, ask the next person now." She's growing on me more every episode.

If you stop an inch or so above the waist, then this garment is actually pretty nice. At least Victorya admitted that Ricky helped her with the fit, because the top does fit well.

But the waist has execution problems (the puckering! How did that even happen?) and the bottom is reminds me of the skating outfits they made in season two. I don't understand it, I can't make it fit. If there was something in the waist are to either bring the two design elements together, or something like a waistband to seperate them, then maybe I could see it. But overall, there's just this puckering strangeness along the waist, and it doesn't work unless you're a figure skater or a dancer.

As for Victorya's behavior...well, it was ridiculous. Ricky more or less said, "Eh, I'll be in charge if nobody wants it?" and Victorya as much as said that he could be her puppet. She intended to control the group without taking the heat if it went wrong, and she almost got away with it. I'm very glad that Michael Kors basically said he was surprised that she was so terrible to work with. You get a sense that they've known designers like that before in their professional lives. While Ricky did lower himself to say he felt micromanaged, he also did it to defend himself and didn't go past what I thought needed to be said. Victorya managed to dig her own grave, and I was shocked to see it. Normally that type of person knows what to say and when to say it so they end up looking like they didn't mean any harm.

She very clearly wanted Ricky to be her fall boy, and even though I'm sad at losing Chris, and think Ricky is going to be eliminated next week if he doesn't get better at basic construction, I'm glad she didn't get her way.

That's it for this week! Slowly this thing is getting easier to write!