Friday, April 29, 2016

Project Runway All Stars Season 5 Episode 12, or Everybody Hugs Sam

I must really love you guys. I missed Manny Machado's grand slam last night because I was watching PRAS instead of the Orioles/White Sox game. My allergies are killing me right now, so forgive me if I am less than coherent this week. But, as they say, the show must go on!

There are four designers left, which means only one more week of missed baseball! Those final four--Kini, Dom, Sam, and Ken--meet Alyssa at the runway where she unnecessarily involves two other people in order to introduce a relatively straightforward and very familiar challenge. This week's guest judge and regular Project Runway critic, Meana Nina Garcia, is trotted out (rocking a fabolos jumpsuit pretty hard, I might say), as is some poor bland girl named Barbara Meyer (who isn't wearing anything particularly memorable, in fact she's got no business standing anywhere near a runway in that Drab Debbie outfit) in order to convince the designers that cellphones are a fashion accessory.

In the past, HP has been involved in the design-your-own-fabric challenge, which is what this penultimate contest is all about. The All-Stars twist, to fancy up an ordinary Project Runway Mothership challenge, is that the designers have to use more than one print! Omigod! How creative! How novel! How isn't this what Dom does every week? For a perk, such as it is, the winning designer will have his or her pattern printed on an Otterbox, which is where Blandina Meyer comes in. She's the PR director for Otter Products, makers of Otterbox, a protective case for cell phones. The PR director! That's the best they can do? Not the owner, or another designer? The least they could have done is tarted her up in some bizarre sparkly dress with built-in digital technology, like Alyssa's dress by Cutecircuit. (Personally, I think it's gimmicky to have lettering flash across one's chest like a human Times Square marquee, but I'm no Katy Perry.)

After watching her for two seasons, we know this whole pattern mixing thing is right up Dom's alley. She is amazing with prints, and is the Print Goddess, as Ken calls her later in the episode. Ken, on the other hand, is terrified of prints. They haunt his darkest nightmares, so he doesn't use them. He tells us that the only prints he wants to work with is the one that wants to party like it's 1999. Which is scarily timely, being that he passed on to that big Purple Rain cloud in the sky a week ago.

So the designers head to the workroom to play with their own prints, then take $150 to Mood to sketch and buy more prints. Once there, Sam announces that not only does he want to make a jumpsuit, he also wants to work with the same white neoprene mesh that he's used in the past 467 challenges. And lest you think he's joking - he's not.

Back in the workroom, Sam and Ken have a little chat. They both mention something that happened "last night," and if we go by the usual PR convention of speaking about challenges being a week apart, we might wonder if something else happened between Sam and Ken. But no, it's the whole, "you're a snake," "no I'm not" green room encounter from the end of the last episode in which Ken expresses his displeasure in Sam's seemingly lackadaisical method of design and fabrication.

Ken, who shows us every week how he's grown as a person, tells Sam he didn't mean to hurt his feelings, but meant his words more as a push. Sam says he definitely feels pushed off a ledge and the two hug it out.

The designers haven't received their printed fabrics yet and expect Alyssa to come in with the Head Sanitation Engineer from We Print Ur Fabrix, Inc., any minute now. Instead, they get the four former winners of PRAS, Mondo, Anthony Ryan, Seth Aaron, and Dmitry. They bring not only the fabric, but also words of advice for the Final Four.

Mondo, who was Sam's mentor on Under the Gunn, tells him that he believes he can win it all, provided his craftsmanship improves. Sam is happy for the advice, and he and Mondo embrace.

The most important advice given to the group comes from Seth Aaron, who admonishes them all not to bore Nina.

Let's pause to take a look at the designers' fabrics now. Veddy interesting. Would love to know how long they had to create them.




...and Kini's. What do you think of any or all of them?

Not long after the previous winners finish wasting the designer's precious little time, Zanna comes in, right after a sound bite of Ken saying, "can Zanna come tomorrow?"

She starts her critique at Kini's station. He tells her about dramatic shoulders, and she warns him to make it interesting in a good way, not gimmicky.

Sam then dismays her with his concept. He says he thinks the mesh is "different and weird and cool," but Zanna doesn't think it's all that different since he's used it for several challenges in the past (and Kini has used it, too).

She runs screaming over to Ken, where it's not all that much better. His Mood print is better than the one he created, and she's not seeing them working together.

Finally, Dom's painted pleather gives Zanna pause. Not really, but she has to say something bad, and she knows Dom's got this challenge in the bag.

Models come in for a fitting, but the designers don't really have all that much done. By the end of the day, Ken is worried about time management, as he's just got sleeves and nothing else. Dom has a whole jacket to create, and Sam hasn't even started on his jumpsuit.

The next day, they manage to get all the 10,000 things completed and send their models for hair and makeup. The makeup artist, Mr Crazy Moustache, suddenly gets all creepy on Dom. After they decide to put a nude lip on her model, he declares that Dom would herself look pretty nude. She seems slightly taken aback. He must be one of those gay guys with a boobie fetish.

They toss cheap accessories and shoes on their models and send them down to the runway where Meana awaits.

They start with Kini. They think his girl looks "10-feet tall," partly because she is that tall, but also that skirt gives the illusion of height. Isaac prefers the print Kini bought to the one he made. Nina said she recognized the work as being Kini's immediately, and Alyssa thinks his print deserves to be on a phone case. Not sure that was a compliment?

Sam is next. Georgina doesn't like the prints and thinks the jumpsuit is just bad. Nina likes the coat, but doesn't like the slouchiness of the jumpsuit (which I do like).

Isaac thinks the Neoprene Net Council must be paying Sam to use their product so much.

Nina thinks Dom's is both fabulous and fresh, which of course it is. And the contrast between the two pieces is "phenomenal." (One of Nina's favorite words; a shame she doesn't know what it really means.) The sideways high-low length is a bit weird though. Alyssa thinks the coat is a piece of art, and while Isaac likes both the coat and the dress, he think he prefers them more apart than together.

Finally, Ken's prints don't gel together. Georgina thinks there's a lack of polish. With the high waist on the skirt, the neckline should be lower, and the hem should be shorter. Ken's print is taking a back seat to the Mood print, rather than vice versa. Isaac said if that print were on his iPhone case, he'd cry every time he called his mother, which is no different from what already happens.

Back in the green room, Dom remarks that seeing Nina was a bit like encountering the ghost of Christmas past. Sam says to him it was like meeting Santa Claus, which is pretty cute.

The judges are deliberating. Dom and Kini are on top, Sam and Ken are on the bottom. They come to a winning decision, but can't seem to decide who should go this week. They bring the designers out and announce Dom as the winner (of course). However, "for the first time this season" they can't decide who to send home. Which of course is absolute bullshit, because the same thing happened twice already this season. In episode 1, they couldn't decide whether Mitchell or Danielfranco should go home, and in episode 5, whether Valerie or Sam should be escorted to the door. In both cases, both designers were allowed to stay. This time, however, either Ken or Sam would have to leave. Or, they could fuck with us and allow both to stay.

Fuck with us they did, not by allowing both to stay, but by tacking another half hour onto the episode, half of which was commercials. They make the potential losers battle each other right there on the runway, not with maces and swords (which would be fun) but with sewing machines.

How was it that the prop department happened to have large cardboard boxes with question marks printed on them? Were these left over from a Lifetime movie of the week about the secret forbidden romance between Batman and the Riddler? Or was this whole thing planned? In any case, the boxes each contained two looks--one winning and one losing--from the season. Sam and Ken have to use components from each look to create a third look. Let me remind you that we've seen this before not all that long ago: Korinna and Char faced a sudden death challenge in episode 11 of season 13.

Ken gets his own winning and Mitchell's losing look from the baroque challenge. Sam gets Asha's winning and Alexander's losing looks from the fairytale challenge. They slice and dice and the judges return. Sam's made a wonky jacket from the bodices of both dresses over a dress made from Alexander's lining. Ken crops his dress, makes a collar for it, and only uses a bit of fabric from Mitchell's as trim. The judges hem and haw and finally send Sam home.

You read that right. Sam is out. Despite the entire season seeming rigged to allow Sam to win, he gets eliminated. And you know what? I feel bad for him. I want to see an entire 8-look collection from him. I want to see him do something that doesn't involve neoprene mesh and jumpsuits.

Big hugs from Alyssa before Sam goes to clean up his workspace.

Next week: no jumpsuits, no neoprene mesh. Fingers crossed!

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Christian Siriano for Lane Bryant

Venerable plus-size clothing specialist, Lane Bryant, is seriously upping its cred with the introduction of a new collection by Project Runway season 4 winner, Christian Siriano. Online only today, in stores starting tomorrow, April 28th.

Siriano has been a celeb red carpet favorite pretty much since his PR win. Now we non-famous larger ladies can clad ourselves in some of his chic designs.

I'm loving the hot pink and black, and touches of animal print. Some of my favorites from the collection:

Portrait neck mesh dress $148.00

Perforated moto jacket $168.00

Animal print dress $128.00

Cropped stripe tee $48.00 and organza plaid circle skirt $108.00

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Project Runway All Stars Season 5 Episode 11, or, Avant Garde a Clue

This week, PRAS gets all artsy-fartsy (or, as Zanna and Mrs Weinstein might pronounce it, aahtsy-faahtsy) on us. The five remaining designers meet Alyssa at Agora Gallery in Chelsea, where the current show is an exhibition of some of "New York's cutting edge artists."

Alyssa, who appears to be dressed as an android, at least from what little we can see of her outfit (and, oddly, it has potential), tells the designers that this is the Avant Garde challenge, and they are to produce wearable works of art, innovative out-of-the-box fashion, dramatic looks, and assorted other adjectival phrases. She then reveals the name of the guest judge this week--Boy George--which is probably some contractual obligation on the show's part. Because - why does it matter? They're not designing for him. He just wants to get his name out early and often, I suppose.

The designers toast with champagne and schmooze the artists for inspiration. Sam is absolutely fixated on Carl Hopgood's piece, "Digital Taxidermy," a digital video of an owl under a glass dome. Hopgood says the concept of the piece is taking a moment and making it last forever, which really resonates with Sam. Sam is excited about gay marriage being legal across the US and wants to celebrate that in his garment. Hopefully, legal marriage for all isn't just a "moment in time," and will be an enduring thing. Unfortunately, with the current divisive political climate, nothing in this country seems to be guaranteed anymore.

Both Emily and Ken are inspired by the works of Lexi Bella, an artist who paints "strong women." Be careful with googling her; there is also a Lexi Belle, who does porn, and she has far, far more links. Of course, if you're into that stuff, google away. I'm not so impressed by Bella; her work looks a lot like the partial faces and portraits of imaginary women I doodled on my book covers in high school, only bigger and in color. However, both designers feel they design for "strong women" (does anyone design for weak women?) and her words and images resonate with them.

I'm far more into what Dom is into - the work of Juan Carlos Pinto, who makes mosaics out of cut up Metro Cards (and other stuff). I love mosaics; I suppose it's not unlike the beadwork I've done in the past, attaching small pieces together to form a cohesive whole, only in 2D. Dom recognizes that the way she plays with fabrics is not dissimilar to the effect of Pinto's cutting and pasting.

Kini gets into the work of Bradley Theodore, whose boldly colored works make me think of both Matisse and classic Mexican Day of the Dead iconography. Theodore is primarily a street artist, but his work translates well to the smaller scale of canvas.

The designers sketch for a while at the gallery. Have you noticed that what they are actually sketching doesn't always (often not at all) resemble the sketches that are blown up for our viewing pleasure? Clearly they make the designers re-draw their creations after they are finished, and those "sketches" are the ones shown to us with the designer's voice-over. Personally, I'd rather see the originals, as it gives us a glimpse into the design process and the way it evolves while making a piece. The original design often changes quite a bit, as seen in Ken's original and post-sewing drawings.

The budget for this challenge is $400. At Mood, we find Kini once again buying brocade. WTcompleteF? And Sam, who has just as much money to spend as everyone else, instead buys some floaty fabric and a ton of fabric paints.

This week, in addition to Kini's now-expected bitching about Sam, Ken gets to have his say as well. He thinks Sam is a huge threat (notice he didn't say "competition,") not because of his talent, but because he holds the judges in some strange thrall. That's called "producer manipulation," Ken. Kini seems to think that an avant garde look requires a lot of technical skills, which he believes Sam is lacking. But that's not necessarily true. To be avant garde simply means to be innovative, or in the forefront. To do something that nobody else has done before. The early 20th century art movement called Dada or Dadaism is a good example. While today, in the age of the Piss Christ, a urinal posing as art is no big thing, back then, it was shocking and unexpected. It wasn't art, it was anti-art. Yet somehow that made it art. So really, anything goes when it comes to avant garde fashion, as long as it still remains fashion, that is, wearable. However, Sam seems to think that it's about "an idea, a feeling," and that the type of avant garde that is "overdone and ridiculous" is not who he is as a designer.

What we have here is a clear non-understanding of the concept of avant garde. Admittedly, it is somewhat difficult. It is very very hard to be an innovator.

Sewing, sewing, bitching, then Day One comes to an end. Luckily, the designers have two days for this challenge, and not long after they get to the workroom on Day Two, Zanna comes in for...what would you call the opposite of a pep talk? A demoralization meeting? She starts with Emily, and tells her that her dress might be too literal a translation of the painting, what with the colors and the mimicking of the shapes on the upper left side. It's clearly an Emily dress, and while a cool concept, it's not particularly avant garde. Zanna tells Dom to "bring it." Kini's look isn't particularly modern or avant garde. (I blame the brocade.) She tells Ken not to make his dress too "Blade Runner." But if he could somehow make his dress look like a (much) younger Harrison Ford, we'd all be happy.

Ken is happy that this is a two-day challenge, as he's decided to scrap his original idea and make some major changes. His first (real) sketch showed a cage-like structure around the neck and shoulders. He chucks this out the window and works on a "neckpiece, collar moment" that will cover his model's face. And look like a giant leather taco.

When Zanna questions Sam about his choice of a rainbow, he tells her about wanting to capture the whole gay marriage is legal moment. She tells him that it's not about capturing a moment in his life, but about being inspired by the artist. But Sam is clearly inspired by the artist and the artist's concept, which is about capturing a moment. Had he decided to make an owl costume for his model, she would have had issues with that as well. The real issue here is that his design is probably not avant garde. Oh, and rainbows are a cliche.

Like Ken, Sam is happy that he has extra time for this challenge, because he is, once again, for the umpty-eleventh time in this competition, going to scrap his original design and make a jumpsuit start over. He bought some filmy purple fabric in addition to the stuff he painted, and he drapes that over the rainbow. As Sam's draping and sewing, draping and sewing, Ken gets another bee in his bonnet about Sam's lack of construction technique. He actually finds it disrespectful. There's lots of bleeping as he curses up a storm.

Eventually time is up, bitching is momentarily halted, and the designers send their models to hair and makeup. Obvious rummaging through the K-Mart Shoe and Jewelry Sale Rack also happens. Time for the runway!

Mini Cher Alyssa introduces the regular judges--Mrs Weinstein and the Iconic Isaac...

...and Boy George. I love me some Boy George. We're of the same generation, and I spent what I consider the best musical years of my life listening to Culture Club (among other artists) being fascinated by George O'Dowd's androgynous appearance. When I was in high school, I constructed a life-sized fabric mannequin of the Boy, which sat around in my bedroom for about a decade before I disassembled him and reclaimed my favorite t-shirt, which he had been wearing (it was pink, had a drawing of Big Ben, and "London" in a fancy gothic typeface). His latest album, This Is What I Do, is pretty terrific, IMHO.

The runway show goes so quickly with only five competitors left.

It's hard to tell from the commentary immediately following the runway which looks are on top and which suck. Dom is one who is on top with her mosaic dress and wacky makeup. I wonder if Zanna mentioned to her that her look was also a pretty literal translation of the original work of art, in both the colors and the effect of the pattern? The colors and patterns also remind me a bit of Roy Lichtenstein, an artist famous for his comic book-style pop art images. This look is 100% not avant garde and 100% Dom. Perhaps had Sam made this dress, which 100% would not have happened, it would seem more avant garde, because it would be 100% unexpected from him.

Also on the top and 100% representative of its author is Kini's dress. Personally, I hate it. There's so much damn technique going on. The body suit with full head mask, which echoes the black shapes of the figures in inspiration artist Bradley Theodore's works, isn't particularly new, and it's weird and lumpy. The "bow" looks heavy. And despite the skirt being hot pink instead of screaming yellow, I can't help but think of Big Bird. Isaac thinks it's too pretty, and Georgina thinks it's something that might have been worn on "Dinnastee" (Dynasty) in the 80s.

Ken's giant black taco is the closest to avant garde we get on this runway. His model's head appears to be floating, which is a neat effect. The rest of the look falls into the "nice dress with ruffled sleeves" category. Boy George thinks it's "pure Grace Jones," which I can see. Isaac thinks it's divine, but it's slightly too short and needs a bit more drama at the bottom, like a train. 

Poor Emily is on the bottom for creating something that is simply too wearable. The OCD knitter in me wants to unknit her cables and reknit them correctly. One judge opines that it would have been better if the shoulders were huge. Emily mentioned earlier in the show that that wouldn't be her thing, but we don't know if that confessional had been filmed before or after the runway show. The judges also think it might have been better in all black, but that still wouldn't have made it avant garde. However, it's a cool dress, and styled well.

Then we get to Sam, who has to explain his whole "gay marriage moment in time" thing. The judges love the story; Boy George wishes he had heard it before he saw the piece. Georgina thinks the design is unresolved, and Alyssa thinks it looks like a kite caught in a tree. Isaac LOVES it. It's his favorite look of the day, despite the fact the model is not wearing flats. He is obviously drinking the producer's Sam-flavored kool-aid by the gallon. Either that, or he wants to get into Sam's pants. Eww*. (Could be difficult, as Sam, King of the Jumpsuits, is wearing a jumpsuit.)

I don't really know what to say about it. Ken and Kini have thrown enough shade at Sam; I don't need to pile on. Suffice it to say that I think he could have done better, even keeping the whole rainbow flag motif. It's more sloppy than avant garde.

While the judges deliberate, we have even more drama between Ken and Sam in the green room. Ken calls him a snake and a liar. And while it's true that Sam has not produced many memorable garments this season, it's not his fault that he wasn't eliminated weeks ago despite being on the bottom three times prior to this one. Blame the producers, who have sacrificed quality for drama this season. It's one thing when producer interference is subtle (and it's bound to happen every season), but this season it's painfully obvious.

Back out on the runway, Ken is named the winner. Congrats to him for understanding the concept! And while Georgina thinks that Sam's entry in the competition looks like a panic and a mistake, with neither Alyssa nor George being particularly into it, he is safe. Which means Emily is out. Which is completely ridiculous. Perhaps if she had stuck to her original concept of the dress appearing to be unraveling, and really exaggerated that with strands draping the floor and coming detached (maybe with wire inserted into the tubes and bent into flowy shapes), giving it a bigger collar, and yes, bigger shoulders, she wouldn't have been on the bottom. Certainly not eliminated. But someone had to go, and apparently it was not/is never going to be Sam.

Next week: the return of past PRAS winners and Nina Garcia! And we also get a glimpse of Alyssa saying something about "for the first time this season, the judges can't make a decision," which: 1) is a lie, they couldn't decide whom to auf in two episodes so far; 2) might mean that all four remaining designers go to the finale. Ugh.

* Isaac looks like he might smell like mothballs. Or whatever cheap perfume Shawnie Sue is wearing on his QVC segments. Plus, he's more than twice Sam's age at 54. When I was 23, 30 was ancient.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Project Runway All Stars Season Five Episode Ten, or, Everybody Smoked Crack This Week

I'm not feeling this week's episode. It annoyed me, and I'm tired (it's been a stressful week). Despite the presence of two of my favorite PR designers, Dom and Kini, I am finding this season of PRAS to be altogether lackluster and repetitive. While Dom has been cranking out great stuff every week, she's barely being recognized. Kini's done some good stuff, but he's too busy rolling his eyes at Sam to reach his true potential. And I'm starting to feel that this season is being manipulated so that Sam gets the win at the end. Not that he's a bad designer, not by a long shot. I just don't think he's shown anything this season that's good enough for a $100,000 grand prize. I hope I'm wrong, because I don't want to end this season angry, as I was at the end of PR Season 8, when Gretchen won. Gretchen. Still makes me grind my teeth when I think about it.

On with the whining.

This week, the designers are back at their normal beginning-of-the-show meeting spot - the runway. Alyssa comes in wearing black pants and a red jacket and she looks...amazing. And in a good way.

I'm so busy being shocked at Alyssa's transformation that I almost miss the name and organization of her special guest presenter, Yvonne Niami. Niami is a philanthropist, which means she gives money away to good causes. She is so philanthropic, in fact, she founded a company called n:philanthropy (which I can't help but want to call "En Colon Philanthropy" because punctuation + the lack of capital letters is pretentious) to remind everyone about her super-philanthropic-ness. With its creative director, Alexandre Caugant, the company produces "apparel with a purpose/fashion with a mission." (It also appears to be "athleisure" wear.) Ten percent of the net proceeds of En Colon Philanthropie (spelling change in honor of the French dude) go to pediatric cancer research and animal welfare. Ten whole percent. I've never found 10% to be an incentive to buy anything, sales included. It's a mere one out of every ten dollars, and a dollar doesn't go all that far, particularly when it comes to medicine. I'd rather give money directly to an organization; you can keep the $128 shrunken sweatshirts and $70 distressed "BFF t-shirts." "But," you sputter, "$12.80 cents of that sweatshirt goes to Children's Hospital Los Angeles!" Nope. That would be 10% of gross earnings. This is net, which means after expenses and taxes and all the other expenditures that come with running a business. We have no idea how much really goes to help others without seeing their financial paperwork. (Stuff to keep in mind before you donate to any charity: how much do the people who need it really get? If not a lot, then find someplace else to give.)

So the challenge this week is to make something that fits a lot of random adjectives: modern, sophisticated, and badass. The designers need to create something fashion forward for summer, to be worn by a "rebel with a cause." Everyone pretends to be excited, but you know they're all just exhausted by this point. I know I am. (Being marginally clever is hard work.) And the winner of the challenge gets to design a look for En Colon Philanthropie's summer line. All the profits from this look go to Children's Hospital LA, so at least that's something (in other words, you can feel good about buying the winner's collaboration).

The designers head off to sketch and shop at Mood, where the budget is $250. Ken and Asha both say that the sophisticated badass woman is just the person for each of their aesthetics. Josephine Baker is Asha's ideal "rebel with a cause," so why does she choose to work with the abstract patterned fabric that Peytie used in the last two episodes of Project Runway Junior? It doesn't exactly scream "talented and exotic dancer who made her mark in France because her home country of the US didn't get her, never depended on a man for financial support, did undercover work for the French during WW II and was a sub-lieutenant in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force,  adopted 12 children of different ethnicities (eat your heart out, Angelina Jolie), and received a 21-gun salute at her Paris funeral before being buried in Morocco." But whatever. Details.

Kini buys some crazy-ass acid yellow and silver lamé/damask fabric (we'll call it "lameassk"). Fabric choices have certainly been out there this season.

Dom chooses various metallic fabrics and lamé, because, you know, it needs to be a summer look. "Summer" is the only thing that Sam heard, so he buys seersucker.

Back at the workroom, Sam tells us he's making--surprise!--a jumpsuit. I know when it's summer and I'm sweaty and gross, I definitely want to struggle with taking off a jumpsuit when I have to pee. Actually, that's true any time of year. Jumpsuits, and their sassy cousin, the romper, might look cool, but they are not practical unless you have a catheter, in which case they need to have wide legs. And, to me, seersucker screams "pretentious yuppie in a straw hat," or maybe "railroad worker." Sam admits that it's easy to make black look badass, but that one would need to "design the hell" out of pretentious yuppie/railroad worker fabric to achieve the same result. So why make the challenge even more challenging?

In the sewing room, Sam blurts out "Mommy wants me to wear one of her old suits; I'll show her." We're going to assume that he's speaking in the voice of the woman he's designing for, some child (or pretentious yuppie) that still calls her mother "Mommy" and has some sewing skills. As if "Mommy" even had a seersucker suit. Dom is in the room with him at the time and tells us the he must design for 15-year-olds.

 Somebody has to design for 15-year-olds, I suppose.

Zanna comes in for her weekly chat, and brings Yvonne Niami with her. Niami is wearing an En Colon Philanthropie pleather dress with long fringes. Trashbag Chic. They start with Emily's "rework of a power suit," and suggest that she might be doing too many things, what with a hand-painted vest, voluminous print pants, etc. Emily decides to crop her pants to keep things more summery. Asha's look, which not only involves Peytie's fabric but also lots of semi bondage-esque straps, seems to read fall-winter (but it doesn't, really, they just need something mean to say). Dom's silver and black dress is also not particularly summery, and maybe a bit too sophisticated, without that "Dom edge."

Zanna calls Kini's crazy yellow genie pants with sorta matching yellow tweed jacket a "disco banana" (pronounced buh-nohh-nohh) and says it needs to look more "sophisticated call girl." Or maybe she said sophisticated cool girl.

Sam's jumpsuit look is "safe" and "Hampton's," which I suppose they meant as an insult, but considering that people who go to the Hampton's will probably be the ones buying this stuff, it's actually not.

Sam doesn't want to send "safe" and "boring" down the runway, so he decides to take his jumpsuit apart with two hours left in the day and start over. Doesn't he do this every other week? He's switching to a spin on a "rock and roll tuxedo." Unfortunately, he's still using seersucker, a fabric that Kini associates with babies. Pretentious yuppie babies that work on the railroad.

After the "disco banana" comment, Kini decides to dip dye his yellow jacket with black. I couldn't help but think, as he slipped on a black rubber glove, of OJ Simpson. And nobody wants to think of OJ Simpson.

And the black dye? Not an improvement. In fact, it might make things even worse. Sam says Kini's look is "more drag queen than badass," and that the "weird iguana genie pants" makes his model's ass look "3 feet wide." But Sam is using seersucker. SEER-SUCK-ER. So he shouldn't really talk.

Ken, who thinks his pants are "faboluss," is having a problem with the top. He's using an orange-y fabric not all that different in hue from the neoprene he was stuck with in that awkward fabric-switching challenge a few weeks ago, but he just can't make it do what he wants. Not that he knows what he wants. He thinks it looks cheap and ugly, and last time he did ugly, he went home. Dun dun DUN!

On to the BJs Wholesale Warehouse Hair and Makeup Studios, where we hear the show's resident makeup guru, Scott Patric, say the strange but somehow magical words "gelato swirl illuminator in ballerina." What can it mean?

After makeup and still without a proper top, Ken grabs some of the white fabric he used for the pants and whips up a halter in the five minutes they have before heading out to the runway. It's pretty, but it's not anything we haven't already seen. In the 1970s.

Speaking of 1970s, Dom's cranked out something that would make Bob Mackie and Cher proud. So much lamé and silver. So over-embellished. In fact, it reminds me of the "fortune teller" costume that I had for my Cher doll in the 70s (see below).

On to the runway!

After doing so well in her first appearance, Alyssa has slipped from "looking great" to full on crazy. She looks dumpy and neckless, even a little bit...fat. The wide expanse of black fabric across her ample bosom is simply unflattering. While the getup she's wearing might be fine on a 6'1" model with a long bony neck, on someone 5'2", it looks costume-y. Like a Princess Leia reject.

She introduces this week's guest judges, actress and star of Cooking Channel's Extra Virgin, Debi Mazar, and regular PR judge, fashion designer, and brooch-wearer, Zac Posen.

The runway show is unspectacular. And short, as there are only six designers left.

Emily's look is terrific. Not sure that culottes are "badass" but the overall look works with all of the adjectives assigned at the beginning of the challenge. Everybody loves it, but Isaac doesn't get parts of it. When they were back in the workroom, Ken wondered, admiringly, how the various shapes in Emily's designs come to her head. Some people are just unconventional thinkers, which may or may not make them better artists.

Kini wisely decides to leave the ugly yellow and black jacket in the workroom. His pants are quite enough, thank you.  He gets mixed reactions, from a "kooky 50s throwback" to "summery, edgy, and ballsy." Georgina is perplexed. Somehow he's on the top.

Sam's jumpsuit is just...odd. Zac doesn't love it, and Alyssa doesn't equate seersucker with "badass" (of course not) but the other three judges seem pleased. Even though there's something very "Baby Bjorn" to it, only missing the baby. The pants fit very well, but I have to hope there's a side zipper going on somewhere, otherwise how does this thing come on and off? And there's definitely no place to hide a catheter.

Bob Mackie's Dom's look isn't summery at all, and the slit is too high. It is badass, and definitely Dom, what with all the embroidery and various fabrics and quilting. Had the challenge been anything else (create a modern interpretation of a baked potato; create something for a Kardashian to wear to the movies; create something for Cher! The Musical), it might have won. As it was, Dom ended up on the bottom.

Ken's "faboluss" pants were neither badass nor fashion forward. Isaac thought they were too long, which they are. Ken got mouthy and said that his model walked just fine, but that's not the point. They are too long. If the top of the cuff is dragging on the ground, they Are. Too. Long.

Asha's Peytie Bondage dress was also on the bottom. It's really not a bad design, but it's poorly made. The straps are all weird, and the fabric is too stiff for the cut of the skirt. It's vaguely badass, and I don't think it's un-summery. Debi Mazar thinks it's dated and something Sylvester Stallone's second ex-wife Brigitte Nielsen might have worn. Which makes it 100% not Josephine Baker-esque.

Emily gets the win, as the only person in my mind who should have been on top in this challenge. Now she gets to design an inside-out cropped sweatshirt or a plain white T for En Colon Philanthropie. (Woo f-ing hoo, but remember,...100% for cancer research.) I think Ken should have been put out of our misery this week. It's clear that he's sick and tired of holding it together by this point (his big smiles at Zanna and Yvonne during the critique seemed painfully fake). But he gets to stay on, and Asha is kicked to the curb. I don't think she deserved to go, but as Kini opined in the green room, even good designers are eliminated at this point.

Next week: Boy George! And someone is sure to make a jumpsuit.

Posted by theminx on
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