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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