Friday, August 05, 2011

Catbox Fashion

Okay, so I'm going to get back into the habit of my recaps of Project Runway! For those of you who have no idea who I am or what I do or why you should care...

Basically, I'm a filmmaker and a former art history student. I've worked in the wardrobe department of several films, and also worked as a photographer for a short period of time. When I do a "recap" of the show, what I'm really doing is taking each of the looks and taking it apart from an artistic point of view, looking at it from (hopefully) a different point of view than the standard "fashion" idea. Because honestly, I don't know from fashion. I know art, and I know clothes.

Sometimes I'll also talk about what the designers do and don't say on the runway, because I honestly think half of them could hire a media consultant to learn how to represent themselves with clients (which is how they should treat the judges). That's something else I do, work with clients as an artist.

Anyway, you'll get the feel for what I do pretty quickly! I'm going to do episode two first, and go back and pick up episode one when I have time.

Honestly, this dress was the clear winner of the top three, and we all know it. I'm a little glad this was the first dress, since I go in alphabetical order. I didn't actually love this one the most, but like I said, of the top three, it was the best. I liked the sunflower seeds and the pattern they created at the neck. But I can't say that I love the fact that the rest of the dress literally was just a muslin base coated with glue and birdseed. Difficult? Of course. But just not the kind of thing I like for these sort of challenges. It's not really creating a dress out of unconventional material so much as it's creating a dress from conventional material and decorating it unconventionally. It's no corn-husk dress. But that's a quibble.

Anyway, the thing is, I actually said at the end of last season that I probably wasn't going to watch if Nina wasn't replaced as a judge. Her comments during the whole Gretchen/Mondo debate proved without a doubt that she is just not with it anymore, somehow. Last week, I thought "maybe I rushed to judgement. I feel like this is the show I missed..." But then this week...she was rude to Heidi, condescending, and she was basing her dislike of this dress on the LENGTH? I felt like it was a problem that had nothing to do with the challenge itself. Yes, a few extra inches on the bottom would have made the shape and size of the dress look better. But considering what else he accomplished and how nice it looked? Not at all a concern.

I'm still a bit baffled by Anya. I've been sewing for most of my life, though not in any serious way. So for her to say she'd never touched a sewing machine until four months before this challenge? I just don't think it's actually possible. It reminds me of people who advertise that they made "no budget" films. Then you find out that they spent a ton of money on their movie, they just pretended that wasn't part of the "budget" so that they would have a marketing gimmick.

Anyway. I don't hate this, but I don't love it either. It's certainly interesting, and a bit innovative. But the halter on the top seems a bit too long and it elongates the model in an odd way. And for some reason it always looked like a dress from the candy challenge a few seasons ago. Ultimately, it's forgettable.

I love this dress. It might have been cliche to go for the aquarium plants, but Becky made something with a cute shape, fun movement, and a lot of nice color. It was a little young, but they didn't ask for anything specific with this challenge (unless I missed it) so it didn't have to be a cocktail dress for a woman in her 20's. I think she did something that reminded me a bit of Chloe's leaf dress from back in the day, only much more colorful. Which is probably why the judges didn't pick it for the top three, even though I would.

This is such an inoffensive and boring little dress. It's okay, there's nothing that makes me go "ugh, how awful" or even really think about it at all. It's just there. Bert's attitude about the challenge though...what show did he think he was auditioning for? Seriously, every season designers complain that they're DESIGNERS why do they have to make things out of trash? Do you WATCH the show? Note to the world: don't audition for reality shows you haven't seen! And if it's a new show, then watch some shows by that production company, or just watch some reality TV. Or just check out some of the super-cuts from fourfour or something. You're not there to make friends, you're there to make dresses out of weird junk.

(For the record, I recall Bert saying in the first episode that he wasn't there to make friends. Since that's so cliche and he didn't seem to be trying for ironic, I'm going to assume he doesn't have cable and didn't watch TV during the time he wasn't designing).

Oh, sigh. At one point in the episode, when Bryce had first started putting the puppy pads on his dress, some of the other designers were making fun of it and I thought "but that doesn't look bad, from that distance I kind of like it, I'd think about buying it if it was real fabric."

That was apparently just the bottom layer. He just kept adding things, and adding. And for the record, I've never seen those things called "wee wee pads." Maybe it's a brand thing, but I've ALWAYS seen them called "puppy pads" or "training pads." So the constant refrain of "wee wee pads" made me want him to get eliminated just to make him stop saying it.

The entire thing is a complete mess, and it was obviously the worst thing on the runway. I don't know how he wasn't even in the bottom two. It looked like (literal) trash walking down the runway, it didn't fit, it didn't move...I just don't understand how he was safe.

Okay, first of all, has anybody besides me noticed that the standard length on these mini-dresses is almost exactly the same as the "too short to win" dress Anthony made?

Anyway, I have nothing to say about this particular design except to point out how much I hated every single design that basically glued bedding to fabric and called it a day. Have you ever really dealt with hamster bedding? Or the papery stuff that I think is for mice? That stuff has a horrible texture, and it looks even worse. It looked terrible, on every single dress that did it. It basically looked like the remainders of a lint trap, or what gets stuck to a sucker that's been dropped on a carpet.

This picture doesn't look that bad, but this is actually one of the better dresses of the ones that went for this "technique." But up close, it was pretty bad, IMHO.

This isn't bad, it's at least interesting. But it feels really 80's to me. I can't be the only one that got that vibe from it, right? I think it would look right at home in a hair metal band music video.

But really, that's not a terrible thing. I mean, it's not a winning look, but it's certainly better than half the other stuff this week.

This dress looks better in this photo than it did on the show. The colors on the show really were off, and the proportions weren't great either. But I really did not understand the sheer volume and intensity of the hate that was heaped on it by the judges. It came across to me like Bert's dress-inoffensive and forgettable. I'm hoping that if Bert didn't have immunity he would have taken Fallen's place in the bottom three.

I do have to comment about her attitude on the runway though. I just finished up with my MFA, so I spent the last three years having my work critiqued (part of the reason I haven't been writing recaps). Sometimes, the films/scripts/work that was being looked at were not my best work, and more than once they were things that I was done with and had more or less wiped my hands of. So I get a little bit of where Fallen was coming from. But you don't SAY those kinds of things to the judges. You can say, "I struggled..." or even "Yes, I see what you mean, I wish I had been able to X..." or even "What I was trying to get to was Y, but I couldn't quite capture it." Usually with what I do, that's followed with, "Do you have any suggestions" which I guess she couldn't do.

But to stand up there and say, (paraphrase) "I can't defend this dress because I hate it, and I wish I hadn't made it?" That's just asking to be eliminated. It's unprofessional as well.

Josh C.
Okay, can you honestly say he deserves to be ELIMINATED for this? I know, it's just "real fabric." But he used the exact same material for his skirt that one of the top three designs did (actually, I think several of them used that lizard bedding stuff). And while the top was fabric-LIKE, it still wasn't as close to a normal textile fabric as, say, Oliver's. Which, you know, won.

They say all the time that they are just looking at what is in front of them THIS WEEK. This elimination proves absolutely that it's wrong. He played it safe, yes. But when you compare it to the blue trainwreck that is Bryce's dress, it's obvious he was auf'd because of last week.

I'm not saying this was a winning design, far from it. It's actually just uninteresting and safe. But the rationale the judges were using to dismiss it were not consistent with their other comments during the same challenge.

Also, that purple on top looks really terrible. He shouldn't have used the part with the dog print. And I don't know that I've ever seen a top designed like this that didn't make the woman look...unsupported.

Josh M.
This picture does not begin to do this top justice. This one is a rare case where I agree with pretty much everything the judges said. The styling was bad, the design on the top was STUNNING, and the skirt was adorable. I don't really like the midriff bit, but I think that with the way he made the top it was probably the only way to make it work.

These aquarium rocks are about the only dress in this episode where I will give somebody a bigger pass for basically just gluing something to muslin and calling it a day. He created a pattern with different colors of rocks, which I think was more impressive looking than even the sunflower seeds on Anthony's dress.

A very solid second place, and only just. If it was styled better it would be the obvious winner.

This dress is just...there's nothing positive I can say about it. I just hope that they donated all of that dog food to a local humane society or shelter.

And then let's just forget this dress ever happened.

I don't hate this top...but I don't love it either. I like what she was going for, I applaud the work she put into it. but it seems a bit haphazard. The tubing doesn't seem to really be forming a pattern so much as it's just THERE. It's almost tangled or heaped on, like she wanted it to make a pattern but she couldn't quite get it to go there so she just glued it where she could and called it a day.

If she could have done a really interesting design with the tubing, I probably would have loved this one.

I didn't LOVE the dog-cone skirt. But I thought it was inventive and it would have probably put Laura in the top. It was way too short, that never would have worked. But I don't understand why she couldn't have done something underneath it to deal with the problem rather than scrapping it entirely and going with this pretty uninspired and forgettable cardboard thing.

I mean, couldn't she have done a cardboard pencil skirt under the cone skirt? Or even just a mini-skirt?

This isn't BAD, actually it's really well done. It looks nice, and probably is the most photogenic of all of the designs. But it's just not got that bit of something that will make people remember it in a couple seasons. I mean, remember Michael Knight's coffee filter dress? And that one made of Twizzlers? THAT is what this show is looking for. The cone was her best chance at that.

Look at this model. You can't tell me she looks like she's standing up straight. And maybe she's not, but this dress would make any woman who wore it look like they were slouching and hulking over as they stomped through whatever they were doing. It makes her entire front look squished. It's bringing up her belly, bringing down her shoulders... aesthetically it's a mess.

And knowing dog beds as well as I do (which is to say, not that well since I don't own a dog, but well enough since a lot of my friends do) the fabric that the top is made of? It would be wretched as an actual garment. It picks up hair, dirt, and fibers like nobody's business. It's not's just a terrible, terrible textile. I actually refuse to buy cat beds that have that woolly stuff on it. And the wood chips glued on the muslin. I think I've already made my point on why I don't like it. I mean, at least it's better than the paper bedding. But just because it made a pretty pattern in a still photo doesn't mean it moved, that it functioned.

If Nina thinks that this is where fashion is heading, then I will be trying my hardest to never be fashionable. This is the kind of dress that would make any woman look worse, even Heidi. It will never do the female form any favors, and it will always make me itch just thinking about it. The fact that it won makes me wonder if I shouldn't have listened to myself so many months ago and given up on this show.

Why in the world wasn't this dress in the top three? I mean, considering how much I hated Olivier's, it's obvious to me that this should have been the replacement. This still is terrible (what the heck is the model doing?) but between the dye job and the banded look of the fabric, I think this looks a lot like what I'm seeing in red carpet photos these days. It's a great color, and if it was made of actual fabric then it would be a pretty middle-of-the-road dress. But considering it's made out of the same puppy pads as Bryce's dress, it's a huge success. I hope Viktor gets some recognition soon, he deserves it.

So there you go guys! I hope you enjoyed, feel free to tell me how terribly not stylish I must be in the comments.

I'm currently filming a documentary, which takes me out of town frequently. I'll try to keep up with the recaps but I can't make any promises. If you subscribe on RSS, then even if I'm late with them you'll still get them eventually!