Friday, October 27, 2017

Project Runway Recap - Season 16, Episode 11

Welcome back, kids! Ready for another exciting recap? Me too! If you find one out there on the Interwebs, please let me know....

Last week, Michael made a crap bondage-style outfit and was deservedly auf-ed for it. I know there are a lot of people in the fandom that think Tim should have used his Tim Gunn Save™ to keep Michael in the competition, but why? He is a good designer, but certainly not the best among the people remaining. He was not the winning designer. How do I know this? Well, it's pretty obvious. He was eliminated. Look, this is a very strong season, and Brandon and Ayana are definitely the two to beat. Each has a very strong point-of-view, or aesthetic, if you will. We haven't seen work like theirs ever in PR history, and one of them is going to win. So what if Michael gets aufed in week 10? He still got to show at NY Fashion Week, even if he was just a decoy. (I think his is the first collection on this page).

This week's episode starts in the designers' apartments, where there are only two guys, the Brothers Brantaro, and three gals, the aforementioned Ayana, plus Kenya and Margarita. They are discussing the previous week's challenge and elimination of Michael and generally wasting my time before they notice that someone snuck into their rooms and left behind a pair of pink boxing gloves and a note. They're pink, it's October, so this is likely to be a breast cancer awareness challenge of some sort, no? Kentaro picks up on this right away, telling Brandon that the pink color is the key element here.

The designers find Tim at Gleason's Gym, in Brooklyn, where he is wearing sweats and standing in a boxing ring. There are several women in pink around him, so I'm thinking this is going to be another real woman challenge with the designers creating looks for these cancer survivors. But I'd be wrong. Tim introduces Evy deAngelis, the Executive Director of Sales at Avon who is only there because this is evidently the "Avon Challenge," though Avon isn't giving an extra prize to the designer who wins. Evy talks a bit about the Avon Breast Cancer Campaign and two of the women standing nearby talk about their experience as a survivor. Tim tells the designers that the challenge is to create a high-fashion, editorial look inspired by warrior women. This is a two-day challenge, with a $250 materials budget. But before they get to sketch and shop, they have to participate in a boxing boot camp. Seriously? The five pull on the pink gloves and throw some punches.

Ayana especially seems to have some issues to work through, as she's not only punching but also kicking. Bet she's doing some sweating in that headscarf and long sleeves, too.

Eventually the designers get to Mood. Brandon says because Zac was picking on his drab color story, he was going to snazz things up a bit by using pink and brown fabrics. The two colors he's been using the whole season. So different!

At the workroom, everybody gets started except Kenya, who is having designer's block. She grabs a can of Coke with red tape over the label (because Coke isn't a sponsor) and hopes the caffeine and high fructose corn syrup will help her think. Kentaro is also having a few issues. He's been assigned one of the plus-sized models, Jazzmine, and he's torn between wanting to make her look good and making simply what he wants to make.

By the end of Day 1, Kenya has nothing to show for the day's work except some scraps of blue fabric and her own sense of despair. At the start of Day 2, we see that Kentaro has fabricated a white hoodie and sweater combo that don't look quite large enough for Jazzmine. The sleeves especially look too slim for a plus-sized woman's upper arms. Brother Brandon has a very similar thing going with a white hoodie. Perhaps the Brothers Brantaro are rubbing off on each other? Just don't let Margarita catch wind of any of this....

Tim comes in for his critique. He thinks the ruffled men's shirting top Ayana's working on is a real "wow moment." It's got a sideways collar, which has been a thing all season, and a lot of other stuff going on, too. While it's ok that Ayana's top is crazy busy, Tim suggests that Kentaro might have too many competing ideas.

Brandon is advised to push beyond what the judges have seen already--the light colors, the floppy straps. Too late--that's what they're going to get.

By this time, Kenya has some blue fabric petals and half a skirt pinned to her form. She tells Tim she's in a "creative black space," and he reminds her that she's the only designer left without a win. Way to twist the knife, Tim.

At first he seems unenthusiastic about Margarita's very literal warrior woman red floofy dress with gold corset, yet Tim tells her he really likes it. That he gets what she's trying to say, and that she can't control if the judges get it or not. It might be too super-hero-ish to them, but he's imagining paintings of Queen Elizabeth I in formal dress with armor on top. I'm not sure the judges think that deeply, Tim. Margarita realizes it's very Wonder Woman, but with Tim's assurances, she doesn't change a thing.

There's an amusing scene where Brandon is checking the fit of his drop-crotch pants on Kentaro. It reminds me of the Chinpokomon episode of South Park.

We get a little glimpse into Ayana's life in the next scene as she calls her Mom for a chat. The narrative tells us that Ayana got divorced and moved to Utah from Tennessee, with plans to show in Utah Fashion Week. I had to check out this Utah Fashion Week, as I can't imagine that it's something that serves very many designers. Turns out that on St Patrick's day of this year, both Ayana and Brandon sent garments down the runway for an Urban/Streetwear show at Utah Fashion Week. No telling if they included magic underwear in their collections.

The models come in, but before they are fitted with whatever scraps the designers have ready, they have to go to makeup. Because this is the Avon challenge, we get to visit the Room o' Cosmetics twice this week.

I'm sure it was fun trying things on while avoiding getting electric blue eye shadow on everything. Jazzmine has to wear a schmatta over her face while trying on Kentaro's very snug hoodie/sweater combo.

After nearly ripping Jazzmine's ears off, Kentaro realizes it doesn't fit and goes back to the drawing board for a new top idea. He's left with only black fabrics, so he's using them to make various kimono-esque layers. Margarita, on the other hand, is feeling that she's finding her voice as a designer. Sure, if she's going to go work for Marvel Studios. The two are both getting serious loser edits.

The next morning, the designers send their models to get another layer of Avon makeup spackled on, along with a visit to the No Name Hair Salon. Tim advises them to use the JC Penney accessories wall both "very thoughtfully" and "carefully."

After a commercial break, we see Heidi embrace guest judge Rachel Brosnahan, saying, "I'm really garlick-y," which I guess means she had just snarfled down some Thai take-out before filming. Brosnahan is one of this season's many Millennial guest judges whom I don't know from Adam. Or in this case, Eve. However, she seemed vaguely familiar, so I consulted IMDB. Apparently she was in something I had seen--she was Rachel Posner on 19 episodes of House of Cards, a vaguely memorable character who met with the show's typical gristly end. But that's neither here nor there. What qualifies her to be a judge on a fashion show? Perhaps her aunt Kate Spade.

With only five designers, the runway show is short. Why oh why do they still need to stretch the episode out for 90 minutes? So much blah blah.

Kenya gets the first critique. Liris looks amazing. Kenya's design highlights all her best features and emphasizes her hourglass figure. Heidi thinks Kenya's the first designer who understood how to dress that particular model's shape. Zac finds the dress empowering. Nina loves the shoulder treatment.

Then comes Little Pink and Brown Riding Ninja. Heidi feels that Brandon's "nomadic warrior" is "out there," but she loves it. It's both masculine and feminine, and extremely editorial. The regulars hate the "baby bonnet," but Brosnahan loves it. Zac thinks Brandon knocked this one out of the park, even though he made a pair of "poopy pants." I don't find it to be either masculine or feminine. Not unisex, even. There's just something very infantile about it. The judges see it too, with their "baby bonnet" and "poopy pants" comments. Had someone else made pants with that crotch (roomy enough to accommodate a full diaper), they'd have been ripped to shreds. I don't get it.

Margarita doesn't get such high praise. Zac says the draping of the skirt is nice, but it seems more "clubby" than "armor." Heidi says it's too literal a Wonder Woman look, and Nina agrees, calling it cliche and a costume. It's also a bit too sloppy to be the result of two days of work.

Brosnahan doesn't like that she can't see Jazzmine's body in Kentaro's rather austere garment. And it's black; the judges don't like black. "Black is hard to photograph," and "it's more monastic than majestic," says Nina. They're disappointed that Kentaro has gone back to what he was designing before the competition, rather than doing what they want him to do. (Now wait a minute. They are judges, not mentors. Why should Kentaro change his whole aesthetic because the judges want to see color? Pleasing the judges is of course a better way to win a competition, but being untrue to yourself as a designer won't do you well in the long run.) Heidi notices that Kentaro's look somewhat resembles Brandon's, at least in the strappy thing that Kentaro put around the neck of his model. Haven't we gone through this whole "designers are influenced by other designers" thing a couple of episodes ago? Move on, people. You don't like Kentaro's work? Then don't put him in the top three. Period.

Finally, Ayana's look is deemed "wacky" but incredible. Zac is blown away. The look is bold, beautifully tailored, strong, and sexy without showing skin.

At this point, I realize I don't understand the whole model competition aspect of this season. Christina was Michael's model last week. He was eliminated, but she's still here, wearing Ayana's garments. How does this work? And if you look at the photos from the finale, there are a few models who haven't appeared on the show for a few weeks already. How did they get chosen? Why aren't they all there?

After manhandling the garments to get a closer look, the judges decide that Brandon's toddler ensemble is the winner, rather than Ayana's very cool and well-thought-out take on a power suit. Margarita is sent packing. Or is she? Tim Gunn Save™ to the rescue! So we're still at five designers. However, next week's promo hints at a double elimination. Who do you think will go? (My guess is Kentaro and Kenya. For my reasoning, see this post.)

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