Saturday, March 26, 2016

Project Runway All Stars Season 5 Episode 7 or, Really Sam? Kini? That Fabric is Hideous.

This week, the designers go to Mood before they do anything else. Alyssa is lying in wait for them, evidently just back from the gym. She's wearing a red cropped tank and black shapeless pants. Why else would she be wearing this unless she had just been working out?

The designers are told they will be shopping for fabric first, then designing, and they all freak out a little bit. The goal is to make high-end resort evening wear, but of course, there's a little twist. Rather than having full control of their textiles, the designers will be assigned fabric categories; they can only choose the colors and patterns with which they will work. Alyssa calls Ken over, as the winner of last week's challenge, and tells him to choose a colored envelope and distribute the rest to his fellow competitors. They open the envelopes to find their assignments, which range from the sublime (linen, lightweight cotton) to the ridiculous (neoprene, upholstery, brocade).

The designers scurry off to shop with a $200 budget. Sam, clearly not in his right mind, decides on some completely hideous turquoise and silver crap. He's been assigned lace, you see, so he decides to just sabotage himself right then and there. But crack is powerful stuff. He tells us that his piece is going to be so amazing, it will knock everyone else off the runway. Yeah, in horror.

The designers get back to the workroom and find that Alyssa is there, too. They know that can't be good, and it's not. As a further twist, she makes them switch shopping bags and work with the fabrics chosen by another competitor. It's kind of like Chopped, what with the designers essentially getting baskets of mystery ingredients with which to work.

Ken starts off by taking Asha's nearly-neon orange neoprene, Asha takes Dom's jersey, and so on down the line until only Kini and Sam are left. They, by far, have made the worst fabric choices, and they get to swap with each other. It's almost as if they knew in advance they'd have to swap, so chose the ugliest material they could find. Sam says that getting Kini's baby blue and baby pink brocade is the equivalent of getting coal for Christmas. At least Kini was on trend--baby pink and baby blue, known as "rose quartz" and "serenity" in Pantone parlance, are the colors of the year for 2016. Not a particularly comforting thought, however, as they are still both pretty horrible, especially together, in a garment for anyone over the age of 3.

Everyone kinda stomps around, angry at the turn of events, but then they get down to work. Ken is annoyed at the color of Asha's fabric, which begs the question of why he chose it. Valerie is happy with Layana's peachy cotton sateen, and Layana seems pleased with Ken's dark red silk charmeuse. Both are making jumpsuits, because that's the only thing Project Runway designers seem to know how to make anymore. Dom, checking out the rainbow of linen that Valerie had purchased, decided it was too "Toucan Sam," and picks just a couple of the fabrics to work with. She then cuts strips from the blue and yellow and sews them together to make her own striped textile.

Emily, on the other hand, is not at all happy with the fabrics originally chosen by Alexander. He has five yards of a sheer grey with ginormous clownish polka dots, and a yard and a half of a stiff dark red, which he says was all they had. His assignment was upholstery fabric; why that sheer was in that section is a mystery. According to the Mood website, it "has a hand similar to organza" and is "great for drapery." Emily can't figure out what to do, so she's draping a dress. Personally, I'd do a short little sleeveless dress in the red fabric, with a floor-length sheer over-skirt. Or, a top and booty shorts with sheer super wide-leg trousers to go over. But I'm not a professional designer, so what do I know?

Before we know it, it's Zanna Time. She critiques Sam's work first. It's a jumpsuit, of course, his 15th in 7 episodes. Zanna has seen it from him before, and she says it's very Disney cruise. Ha!

She tells Valerie, for the second week in a row, that hers needs a "wow factor." Kini says he's not happy with the lace at all, but Zanna's like, suck it up and make it work.

Layana's jumpsuit is "gown-y" but as it's an eveningwear contest and I don't see the issue here. Weepy Emily's dress is "too serious" and Zanna would rather see something "strappy and sexy" from her. And everybody says the word "aesthetic" at least four times each.

Sam's not feeling the whole Disney cruise thing, so he scraps his original design and goes for making a gown with the other horrible rose quartz and serenity brocade.

Let's rant, shall we?

Keep in mind, folks, that Mood is huge. Multiple floors of fabulous fabrics. There is not just one kind of lace (ugly, floral) or one kind of brocade (ugly, floral). Take a look at these fabrics I found on the Mood website.

These are lace. While the third one is kind of pricey at $80 a yard, it shows that lace need not be what typically comes to mind when one thinks of lace. The first one is $40 a yard, but pretty amazing. And if one really wants to buy stereotypical lace, why not some pretty crochet stuff? Several seasons back, white crochet lace dresses were all the rage. Dolce & Gabbana does amazing stuff with lace, even the kind that looks like grandma's table covers. But note that none of it is turquoise with giant silver roses. There's no way that someone can make that stuff look good in one day. Or one month.

As for brocade, it doesn't have to look like upholstery or flocked wallpaper. The first example is a gorgeous Carolina Herrera fabric at a mere $40 a yard. The others run $25 a yard. With the right trim and a bit of imagination (they are professional designers, right?) even an ikat-style brocade or wide awning stripes can become a fab eveningwear garment. Especially for a resortwear collection.
</end rant>

But, drama.
The next day, the designers raid the Dated Asian Stereotype Shoe Wall and the Grotesque Granny Jewelry Display and send their models to the hair stylists who use products with a German name that are developed with the assistance of a German model but have a British voiceover attempting to pronounce French names in their commercials, and makeup artists who use products from QVC.

The judges this week include Megan Hilty from Smash, a show that Alyssa says received a "cult following." Not ever having been in a cult myself, I can't say I enjoyed it.

Overall, the jury is quite generous with compliments this week, even telling the three designers who are safe (Alexander, Asha, and believe it or not, Kini) that they did a great job.

I can see her ass cheeks, Kini. Ass cheeks only equals eveningwear in Kim Kardashian's world. In fact, I can see Kim in this, but it would have been designed by Riccardo Tischi or Balmain. Or Kanye. But of course then it would really look like this, and the judges would fall all over themselves to tell Kanye how great it is. But I digress.

On top are Ken, Dom, and also miraculously, Sam. Ken's textured neoprene dress is spectacular. He wasn't a fan of the color, but he really made it work. The draping at the top might have been a little too much; a cleaner single shoulder strap might have been better. A halter would have been nice, too, but there were too many of those on the runway already.

Dom's is also pretty fabulous, what with the fabric she made and the flowing lines. It's definitely resort, and definitely evening. Alyssa pees in her lunchbox by saying it reminds her of a beach towel, but maybe that's because the skirt she herself is wearing is reminding her of a beach ball. Dom said the beach towel resemblance was slightly on purpose, because, after all, it was a resort challenge. Alyssa threw her a bitch face.

Sam managed to make something pretty from the less-than-pretty brocade Kini chose for him. Alyssa thinks it looks "homemade," because of course she could whip up something just like this at home.

Then we get to the bottom three, Emily, Layana, and Valerie.

Emily's dress looks like it belongs on a barmaid on Venus (thanks for that comment, Mr Minx!). The judges didn't hate her look, but the belly button + shorts + skirt was a bit much for Mrs Weinstein.

Layana made a jumpsuit with Ken's silk charmeuse, and while the pants flowed beautifully, the top is so skimpy. It's definitely for someone scrawny and flat-chested. And it's painfully boring.

And then there's Valerie's jumpsuit. I hate the styling, which is a little on the cray-cray side. That "turban" looks more like a soiled nappy. When she said she was going to put a turban on her model, I thought she was going to take her full Norma Desmond. Or full Ken.

During the judging, Isaac insists that the freshness and lightness of Ken's and Sam's looks beat out Dom's a little bit. I am stupefied by that statement, because clearly we haven't seen anything like Dom's out there before. Mrs Weinstein doesn't agree. Isaac continues that the drape + hideous cheapass necklace and earrings is a lot of look. And maybe it is. But the styling shouldn't take away from what is a fabulous garment. And why why why does Dom not deserve to win this challenge? (And several prior challenges.)

Isaac and Georgina also disagree on the bottom looks. Taking Emily out of the equation for whatever reason, Isaac prefers Layana's jumpsuit (as does Alyssa) but Georgina thinks Layana has a taste issue. But they make their decision and offer a verdict.

Dom's look is the winner (yay!) and Megan Hilty has decided she wants to wear it at her next Broadway event. 5'3" size 8 Megan Hilty wants to wear the same dress that the size 5'11" size 2 model is wearing. Looks like Dom will be spending more time cutting linen into strips and sewing it into a new textile.

The judges had a hard time deciding between Layana and Valerie, because both are "such all stars." Yeah, but you can't give everyone a second chance every week. It's already happened twice in the last six episodes. They should both go, as both of their jumpsuits were equally meh. Instead, Valerie is sent home.

Next week: Sam makes a jumpsuit. Kini tells us how much he hates Sam. Alyssa wears something unflattering.

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Flashback Friday - Project Runway Premiere

This post was originally published on November 15, 2007.

Project Runway Premiere

I have been waiting for entirely too long for a new season of my favorite reality show, Project Runway. We got two seasons of Top Chef in the interim, but it's not the same thing. Although entertaining, there's none of the snark and little of the petty bitchiness of PR.

This time around, PR has upped the GQ. That's Gay Quotient. Eight of the designers are male, only one of whom, at least that I can tell, is straight. There's already been tears, from Ricky, while talking about the opportunity to be on Project Runway. So. Touching. Next week we're gonna get more. Oh baby, bring on the drama! We'll need it to liven things up, as the first few episodes are too full of mediocrity to be really interesting. Too many designers, not enough talent.

The episode started with the customary Meeting of the Designers in Their New Digs, this season at the Gotham rather than the Atlas. As each new person enters the scene, we see a bit of a cutaway interview and get a little info about him or her. When we see Simone, her name flashes on the screen and immediately we are introduced to the next person. "A-ha!" I exclaimed, "Simone will be eliminated this week." ::::cue dramatic organ music of portension here::::

For the most part, this team of designers is young and attractive, apart from all of the scary tattoos and Sweet P's eyebrows. The one standout in all the pretty is Christian, a bloviating youngster from Annapolis and alumnus of the Baltimore School for the Arts (alma mater of Jada Pinkett Smith and Tupac Shakur), who resembles a reject from the Flock of Seagulls reunion tour with his intentionally cowlicked hair. He's small and mouthy and one of those obnoxious children one hates at first sight...the Marcel Vigneron of Project Runway. His affected tone also bears resemblance to that other creature I love to hate, Paris Hilton.

Back to the show...once all designers are present and accounted for, they scurry to Bryant Park to drink champagne and meet Tim and Heidi. They then receive their first challenge which resembled a three-legged race to a pre-Christmas one-day sale: run across the park and manhandle $50K worth of Mood-donated fabrics to create an outfit that shows who they are as a designer. Laughter (the pathetic/uneasy sort) ensued when tubby costume designer Chris couldn't get his portly ass to the tents as fast as the rest of the manic gang. He still ended up with good fabric, despite the mess left behind by the greedy gropers as they cadged their loot.

With a challenge like this one expects to see something interesting. Why did the judges choose these particular designers to compete for the big money? That is a question that so far will remain unanswered. Too many of the outfits that came down the runway were just plain uninteresting. There were several short, unflattering, baby-doll-type dresses that resembled prostitutes nightgowns (should they feel the need to wear nightgowns), one pants suit, a few long dresses. Highlights and lowlights follow:

I couldn't really see the details of this black dress too well because of the...blackness...but I wasn't fond of it at all.

Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Dress. The front is fine - slinky, interesting, good color. The back, however, was scary. To paraphrase Heidi, she looked as if she was oozing fabric. Heidi actually said "poo-ing," suggesting some pretty weird anatomy since the "train" was attached somewhere around the back of the knee. And that was probably why it dragged so unappealingly on the ground, making Elisa's model Lea stumble. Or it could have been those 80s cast-off boots. Or all of the above.

Christian made an interesting plaid jacket that unfortunately made his model's head look too small (the Olive Oyl hairdo didn't help), and what was that weird furry trim down the front? I hated the bland beige skirt. Perhaps some skinny black trousers would have worked better but the judges (and I wonder about them sometimes) seemed to like it ok.

Such a sad expression. But you can see why. What is the skirt made of, and why are we seeing the underside of the material? It looks thick and coarse, like denim. Or oilcloth. Or even naugahyde. It makes her look bloated.

The shrugly thing on top hid the ill-fitting bodice, but it certainly didn't improve the outfit. And damn, wasn't I right about Simone getting the boot?

The best and winning look came from Rami who showed himself to be a master draper. He also brought back the fleurchon in a big way. Michael Kors didn't like it, saying it was too "mother-of-the-bride." Indeed. It's something Angelina Jolie might wear to the wedding of her Zahara or Shiloh. Oddly, nobody commented on the fugly shoes that came from the Bluefly wall o' accessories. Too clunky, bad color for the dress.

Thus concludes the long-awaited Season Four recap. Such as it is. I hope to be more entertaining in the future.

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Friday, March 18, 2016

Project Runway All Stars - If It Ain't Baroque, Don't Fix it, Or, Am I Getting My Period?

This week, the designers are 20 miles away from downtown Manhattan in lovely Lyndhurst, NJ, where they must endure the camp and spectacle of Medieval Times. They are clustered on the arena field when Alyssa arrives on horseback, flanked by knights, squires, and the like. She's wearing what appears to be the Medieval equivalent of a mother-of-the-bride dress, in cobalt blue and gold lace. It's tacky as hell, but is probably Marchesa.

She tells the designers that "the Medieval Period is having a real renaissance in pop culture, with books, TV, movies, and fashion all drawing on its themes." Wait. Let that sink in. Medieval Period having a "renaissance." And therein lies the theme of this episode, Twisted History, or as they call it in Texas text books, "history."

Back to pop culture. The Medieval Period, or "Dark Ages," as it was once called, was a thousand-year span of history (c. 500 AD - c. 1500 AD) known for fun things like barbarians, the Crusades, and the Black Death. (I presume Alyssa is referring to the popularity of Game of Thrones, which of course is set in a fantasy world, and not historical Earth in the Middle Ages.) She continues, "This led into the Baroque movement," which, technically it did, being as it preceded about 100 years. (The Baroque Period lasted from about c. 1600 - c. 1725.) In any case, the designers are tasked with "creating a couture-inspired gown that celebrates the ornate detailing and fantasy of Baroque fashion."

In other words, the whole premise of this show has nothing to do with Medieval Times, or even the Medieval Period. But the designers have to sketch their Baroque-inspired designs there in the arena, while watching Medieval knights jousting and shit. Meanwhile, we don't even know if they are shown examples of actual baroque clothing. (Plunging necklines, wide lace collars, dropped shoulders, tight-fitting bodices, padded hips, flowing skirts, and voluminous sleeves gathered at the wrist or elbow were characteristics of the era.) The images shown on screen to viewers at home were more typical of Renaissance fashion, like the garments worn by King Henry VIII or Queen Elizabeth I. [Edited to add: the designers DID get a dossier of images. We cannot, however, presume any were historically accurate.]

Today, when we hear the word "baroque," we generally think of something that is very embellished, and this is more consistent with the music of the Baroque Period than of the fashion, In any case, the modern understanding of the word is perhaps what the designers were actually supposed to take into account, rather than anything truly historical.

Kini finds the jousting and shit "inspiring." (Why?) Ken wants to create a gown for a powerful woman, "such as Queen Elizabeth." But which one? The current, modern day Queen Elizabeth, or Queen Elizabeth I, whose era was at the end of that mystery century between the Medieval and the Baroque Periods (aka, the Renaissance). What he's sketching wouldn't work for either Queen (or any other in history).

Once sketching is over, the designers head back to Manhattan and Mood, where they have a $300 budget to spend on lace and other fashionable gee gaws. Sam wants fabric that looks like the Sistine Chapel, and by that, I assume he means the chapel's ceiling, famously painted by Michelangelo between 1508 - 1512, which of course is the early Renaissance Period. The Chapel itself was built in around 1470, at the end of the Medieval Period. In any case, he doesn't find it. What he does find is some very expensive white and black lace, and he buys a lot of it.

Back at the workroom, Kini, once again, is casting aspersions on Sam's integrity. In fact, Sam is being cast as a real villain this season, thanks to the magic of editing. But he's what - a 25-year-old kid who wants to win a competition? He's no different than anyone else going for the same prize. He's not nice, sure, but he's no villain. Kini, and everyone else, just needs to let it go. It doesn't help matters much when Dom suggests that Sam cut flowers out of his lace and applique them to his gown for modesty, rather than lining it with muslin. He'd be stupid to ignore her, but we see eyebrows go up around the room (whether they actually did or the producers just want us to believe that) and hear suggestions made that if he's on top, he won't cop to the judges that it was actually Dom's idea.

The next day--they get two days for this challenge--Mitchell opines that Ken's fabric looks like tree bark. "That's shade, bitch," is Ken's reply. When assured that it was not shade, he admitted, "it's expensive tree bark, like the kind in Marie Antoinette's garden." (I probably don't need to tell you that Marie Antoinette lived from 1755 - 1793, not in the Baroque Period.)

Zanna time. Looking slightly bedraggled this week, Zanna announces that she's going to be "all up in your business," during her critiques. And she pretty much deflates every ego in the place with some much-needed negative criticism. Kini needs to modernize, because his look is perfect for a Medieval costume party, Valerie needs a "wow factor," Dom needs to be "more baroque' (whatever that actually means), Asha's is costume-y. Etc. When she leaves, the vibe in the workroom is "fear."

Soon enough it's time for "hah" (as the voiceover in the Schwartzkopf commercials pronounces it) and makeup. Ken tells the makeup artist that he wants a "strong Victorian look." The Victorian period started in 1837, when Queen Victoria ascended to the throne, and ended with her death in 1901. Makeup in the Victorian era was subtle, with plucked eyebrows, rice powder or talc to cover freckles and blotches on the skin, a bit of eye liner, lip pomade (which may or may not be tinted), and perhaps a smear of beet juice on the cheeks. They were also fond of dropping citrus juice, or poisonous belladonna, into their eyes for a luminous look.

As the designers get their models ready for the runway, it's clear that Mitchell has bitten off more than he can chew. He spent a lot of time on the bodice, and it's rather interesting, even if it does remind me of C3PO. The zipper on the back of his gown has broken and he does an awkward patch job to hide it. Also, he's not finished working on his greaves, which he's talked about incessantly but we've not seen. Greaves are shin armor, popular in ancient Greece and Rome and in Medieval Europe until about the ninth century, which was quite a bit of time before the Baroque Period. I feel that it's pretty clear at this point that he's going home.

Apart from Isaac, in his usual all-black ensemble, the judges all look a bit nuts. Alyssa is wearing a pretty strapless black lace dress that looks like it wants to slide off her boobs. The lovely Mrs Weinstein is wearing one of her Marchesa creations with frayed black lace. Special guest judge, model Coco Rocha, is wearing an absolutely hideous pantsuit. And Mrs Weinstein's business partner Keren Craig is wearing a dress suitable for a Madame in mourning.

The Marchesa gals tell the designers that they're offering a special prize to the winner - they will partner with him or her to create a look for their cheap line, Marchesa Notte.

Let's start the show!

Kini's looks unwieldy, and also entirely too much like the upside-down umbrella dress he won the wet runway challenge with in his season, only in red. Emily's skirt appears to be a dry cleaning bag over a garbage bag. They are both safe, as are Dom and Asha. I think Dom's look is an absolute knock-out. Why she's not winning every week is beyond me.

Ken, Sam, and Valerie are on the top. Layana, Alexander, and Mitchell are on the bottom.

While Isaac doesn't like Ken's gown, the other judges find it to be austere and elegant. Sam's is "not very Baroque" (whatever that means), but is "light and fresh," and looks expensive. Alyssa thinks she's seen it before. Valerie's walks well and is "modern" and shows great craftsmanship.

 Ken's looks like it weighs a ton.

Sam's looks like a bunch of lace fabric to me. There's something very unfinished about it, and I hate the bit of lace peeking out beyond the trim on her shoulders.

Pretty, but boring.

According to Isaac, Layana's gown looks like a factory-made dress trying to be couture, which seems a bit harsh. It's just ugly. (I am not fond of yellow.) There were too many ideas, and brown was a truly awful choice for a secondary color. I think the patchwork makes it look a bit country, and there's also something kinda matador about the whole look.

Also, what on earth is Layana wearing?  It's very Madonna-esqe.

Mitchell's dress was also "not baroque" (which Georgina pronounces as "ba-rock," as if she were on first-name basis with the President). Alyssa finds Mitchell's bottom unsettling. The bottom of his dress. And those boots are just awful. He's also dinged for the awkward zipper covering.

Alexander's dress is proclaimed "very Breakfast at Tiffany's" and a bit costume-y. Nobody likes the pearl embellishment, which Isaac calls "seed pearls." Um, they're about 1000 x bigger than a seed pearl, which is why it's so awful. I recall someone remarking that it was "not the right period." Huh? As if anything in this episode, from Medieval Times to the winning look, was from the "right period."

So we don't really get couture or Baroque in this episode, and even that whole conceit is tossed aside when Ken is proclaimed the winner for his artful interpretation of a tree in Marie Antoinette's garden.

Mitchell, of course, is out.

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Flashback Friday - Native American Jewelry

This post was originally published on October 8, 2007.

Native American Jewelry

I seem to have inherited an appreciation for Native American jewelry from my mother. She was a big fan of turquoise and used to wear a costume jewelry version of a squash blossom necklace, in plastic "turquoise" and silver-plated metal, because she couldn't afford the real thing. I regret not buying one for her when she was still alive and I made enough money to spend on such a worthwhile extravagance. Every one I see brings a little pang of "coulda shoulda woulda" guilt to my heart.

When I worked for the buffoons guys at the jewelry store in the early 90s, I was lucky enough to have done a "for sale" appraisal (what we'd pay for the stuff, basically a low wholesale value) on a lot of jewelry that included some nice turquoise pieces. The store did not sell silver jewelry and after the purchase was made, the turquoise was relegated to the scrap pile (mostly miscellaneous gold mountings that had the stones removed). I jumped on the two sterling bracelets and one non-sterling sandcast cuff and offered to buy them for the same amount my employers paid. Sold! A nice start to my personal collection for about $9.

I perhaps should have invested in more jewelry the first time my husband and I visited New Mexico on our honeymoon. I did come away with a remarkably heavy cuff fashioned from a solid bar of silver and adorned with symbols representing a rainbow legend. And I wish I had bought the giant inlaid bear fetish pendant at the Taos Pueblo. On our most recent trip to that lovely state, in September, I made a point to look at as much jewelry as I could. Overload ensued, as so much of the jewelry being produced now looks the same to me, most especially when laid out in row after row on blankets at the feet of Native Americans in front of Santa Fe's Palace of the Governors.

I got a tip from my friend Chris that I should check out the jewelry in Old Town Albuquerque before heading to Santa Fe, as I would certainly find better bargains there. And she was right. Neal and I ventured into Skip Maisel's and were dazzled by the vast collection of native-made jewelry, all at 50% off retail. This sterling and opal inlay ring cost me a whopping $12.

This large turquoise and sterling ring was $36. (Obviously not shown actual size.)

I wistfully eyed the squash blossom pieces with their elegantly-curved naja pendants and the modern needlepoint turquoise and coral necklace and earring combos, but kept my purchases to the two rings. No need to overdo it, after all.

For those of you out there who share my interest, I recommend eBay as a good place to find old Native American jewelry. Modern pieces as well. Be aware, however, of the elaborate inlaid sterling pieces that have prices that seem too good to be true: they are not old, nor are they native-made. In most cases, the stones are man-made as well. If you read through the descriptions, these facts will be noted by those dealers who are honest and scrupulous in their transactions. I have bought several of these items because, hey, the real stuff is really expensive! And these replicas are so pretty; although not native-made, the inlay work is extremely intricate and well-done.

If you have a particularly nice piece of Native American jewelry you'd like to share pictures of, I'd be very happy to look!

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Charlie Price and Beauty Underground do Hair at Jean Paul Ataker

Shear Genius season 2 finalist Charlie Price did hair at the Jean Paul Ataker show at NY Fashion Week in February. He and his team from Beauty Underground, graciously allowed me to hang around backstage and observe hair (and makeup).

When I asked him about his hair design, he said, "I wanted to make the hair chic and timeless, but modern and relaxed. Like Grace Kelly." The majority of girls had long hair that was styled into tight low buns that were slightly imperfect in form. The minimalist hair went well with the relatively minimalist (yet dramatic) pieces in the collection.

Styling products were provided by Arrojo.

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Project Runway All Stars Episode 5 Recap

Not really in the right mood to recap today, plus the video on the Lifetime site was giving me fits and the photos weren't working at all. Soooo.....I'm going to make this one relatively short. At least, short on images.

Alyssa comes out wearing a dress that would not have been out of place in Isaac Mizrahi's old Target collection. It's not completely awful, but keeping with the tradition of this season, it ain't great, either. At least it's not an unflattering shape or color. She also has the dreaded Button Bag of Doom.

She introduces ten naked people, members of Young Naturists America, a group of people who like to walk around naked for whatever reason. Bully for them, but don't dare put a bare ass on any of my upholstered furniture. The challenge this week is to design fashionable winterwear--'cause even nudists want to put something on when it's cold. Shrinkage and all that. Not only do the designers have to put out something that is fashionable, but also something that their models are comfortable wearing.

Alyssa hands the button bag to last week's winner, Sam, who chooses a person and passes the bag around until all designers have their assignments. They then troop to the workroom with their respective nudists to have a consultation. This brings up a question: is the runway set and the workroom in the same building? If not, that means the naked folks have to cover up in order to get from one place to another, then disrobe again. So contrived. Even if they were in the same building, chances are they had to put on robes at least, so as not to offend the sensibilities of any non-PR people they could encounter on the way from one place to another.

After sketching and chatting, the designers get $250 to spend at Mood.

Back in the workroom, Kini is *still* bitter about the praise Sam got for garments Kini created, and comments that he has no idea why Sam won last week's challenge. Layana piles on and asks Kini what he's making for Sam this week. Sam, apparently forgetting that Kini not only finished his pants but also *designed* the top for his model two weeks ago, says, "Kini is a very talented sewer. Period." Sam also takes the opportunity to trash talk Mitchell, saying he starts out with a good sketch, then everything goes to hell. Of course, nobody really has any faith in Mitchell as a designer. Alexander thinks, with this challenge, he is in over his head, and Mitch himself admits that he has no clue about outerwear, as he's from south Florida where his wardrobe consists of flip flops and Speedos--not much more material than the naturists wear.

This bitchiness makes me miss Project Runway Junior. Those young designers had not yet developed egos, so were nothing but supportive toward each other. I didn't find it the least bit boring; in fact, it allowed me to forget that Donald Trump exists and have a little hope for our future.

Zanna comes in to burst the designers' bubbles further. For some reason, she claims to have confidence in Sam to make his insane fabric choices work, but she dumps on Valerie's relatively staid grey/lime/camo/other print choices. She also thinks that Kini has too many things going on, what with his hoodie, coat, kilt, sheer shirt, and whatever else he's planning on whipping up in the next few hours. Zanna says she's all for Ken's manskirt, but her reaction seems to indicate otherwise. She praises Emily's decision to make the skirt and sleeves on her outfit short, so her nudist doesn't have to go from completely naked to completely covered. And before she leaves, she points out the cheap-ass accessories and shoes to remind everyone that Sponsors Are Important.

The naturists come in for fittings, thankfully wearing underwear so they don't rub their junk all over the designer's fabrics. Sam's client doesn't seem to like his green and yellow plaid mohair coat, but she is polite about it. Just the words "green and yellow plaid mohair coat," make me shudder. It sounds like something that a horse should wear, not a human. But Mood had a big roll of the stuff...some unfortunate person out there in the world is going to end up wearing green and yellow plaid mohair. We can only hope that it ends up on an even more unfortunate couch.

Once the naked people leave the workroom, Sam goes from person to person, asking if they have any leftover fabric so he can make something less-ugly than what he's got. Of course nobody has anything left for him, even if they do have scraps large enough to make another garment. Kini tells him that he's made extra pieces though, just in case. Ha ha, Kini, ha ha.

Meanwhile, Mitchell, is turning out something quite different for him - something that looks good. It's simple, not over-embellished, and quite amazing for someone who has never even made a jacket before, much less a wool coat. It's not haute couture, to be sure, but it's better than the average Made by Mitchell rag.

The next day, the naked people are transformed into clothed people. They are also mercifully underaccessorized with junk jewelry and ugly shoes and head to the runway. Alyssa is dressed as Bea Arthur from her Maude days. Maude Goes to a Fancy Party: sparkly black pants, black top, knee-length vest. Some maribou feathers would have really completed the look.

This week's guest judges are fashion blogger Aimee Song and former Halston apprentice, now super well-known designer, Naeem Khan.

The runway show is weird. The models come out naked first, then are automagically clothed by the miracle of television. I love Layana's look, the weird pleated pants and the terrific leather + non-leather jacket. She's in love with it, too, according to her voiceover. We didn't see much of her in the workroom, so it's definitely just a safe look, I also like Emily's and Dom's looks, both of whom are chosen to among the top designers this week, along with Kini, and, what? Mitchell!

I like almost everything about Emily's look - the length, the colors, the fabric she chose for the coat. I do wish the cape were more dramatic, and that the black belt were, I'm not sure - narrower? But it's a great look and totally Emily.

Mitchell's look is pretty amazing, considering what all else we've seen from him. The break on his pants is very sloppy, but alas that seems to be the style these days, as if men can no longer afford a tailor. But the coat and the sweater vest + cowl are great. He really should think of switching from making somewhat tacky (ok, more than somewhat) womenswear to menswear.

Not sure at all where Sam's pretty little head was this week, other than up his perky little ass. The bulky blobular sweater and overly voluminous skirt remind me of some of the fat girl work clothes I wore in the 80s (accompanied by a fluffy Farrah Fawcett-style hairdo and oversized glasses, although the sweater would have been pink back then). That sweater could only look chic if it were paired with something with less volume on the bottom, like perhaps skinny black pants. To her credit, his client didn't seem to loathe it. She isn't called "Zen" for nothing.

Val also seemed to go back a step this week, although her pieces weren't as much of a crime as Sam's.

Georgina claimed that Valerie's coat looked like a "housecoat on steroids." The image to the left is a housecoat. I don't think Georgina has ever laid eyes on such a thing, and she was just reaching for a Michael Korsian insult just to hurt Val's feelings. Personally, while I agree that there was a tad too much fabric in that coat, that the triangle print was completely unnecessary and it was a bit bulky, I thought it was otherwise pretty fabulous. In a thinner fabric than wool, lined with something also not wool (but in the same grey and lime palette) on a taller woman with a longer neck, it would be gorgeous.

I'm not at all a fan of camo, so I can't say anything nice about that part. But her client seemed happy, and that was part of the challenge.

The designers are dismissed and the judges deliberate. Dom's military-inspired coat was great, but not amazing, and Kini's was pretty good, but not the entire look, so they were dismissed early on. That left Mitchell and Emily to contend for the top position. While Mitchell's was pretty amazing--for him--it wasn't quite challenge-winning caliber. Emily's definitely was, and she was awarded her very first win ever.

The two bottom looks were deemed "Salvation Army," "dreary," and "aggressively clueless," which, when applied to Valerie's look, seemed a fairly clueless comment in itself. Yet, the judges noted, both Valerie and Sam pleased their clients. While that was a mandate of the challenge, I'm not sure it was as important as "create fashionable winterwear." By that measure, Sam clearly should have been out, having created neither fashionable nor winterwear. Alas, both designers were given a second chance, the second time this season that nobody went home.

Back in the green room, the other designers were surprised to find out that both Val and Sam were staying on in the competition, merely because they were good designers. It was brought up that neither Stella nor Fade, both also good designers, were given that second chance. And Alexander remarked that perhaps he should try flirting with the judges, as Sam seems to do (at least last week).

Are the producers just trying to ramp up the drama on this show, knowing if they get rid of Sam this week and Mitchell sooner rather than later, there will be that much less drama? Even Ken seems to be comporting himself as a gentleman this season, so he's not a reliable source for crazy anymore.

Things that make you go...hmmm.

Posted by theminx on
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Friday, March 11, 2016

Flashback Friday - I Love Fashion!

This post was originally published on September 28, 2007.

I Love Fashion!

It might be said that fashion designers are "innovative," or "visionary." But I prefer to refer to these demiurgic dervishes as "wacky," "cuckoo," "nutty," and "insane." I always have a good time going through the aftermath of the various fashion weeks, slogging through the hundreds of photos at New York Magazine's fashion section, my favorite, and possibly the best, online source for what's new and exciting in the world of fashion. The next few posts here will feature my favorite findings.

First up, young British designer, Gareth Pugh. Can't tell he's really a costume designer now, can you?

This little number reminded me of something that might go over well in a Harry Potter movie. Some half-crow, half-human that Hagrid might fancy as a pet, perhaps.

Here's a nice piece for the forthcoming Clan of the Cave Bear meets Mad Max flick. (In Hollywood these days, anything is possible.)

The latest in post-apocalyptic fashion - the cape o' rats! Freakin' GENIUS.

Posted by theminx on
Because of recent content theft, I am forced to add this new statement to the end of my posts: If you're reading this post anywhere besides the Opalescent blog, (also then this content has been stolen. Please do not support this thief!


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