Bloated, long-winded, and faintly aggravating; no, I do not mean Rush Limbaugh. Rather, the new format of Project Runway. The ninety-minute episode.
What do we get for our additional half-hour? The only good thing I can think of is no more Models Of The Runway. Instead, we get more of the designers talking trash about each other, * footage of them in their rooms at the ATLAS (as is constantly pointed out), extended footage after the aufs, and most important, many, many more commercials. Second in importance is that none of the designers are particularly interesting people. A message to Bunim/Murray: Absence of footage makes the heart grow fonder.
There is little that can keep my attention for ninety minutes other than fantasizing about Alec Baldwin naked. However, I threw myself on the sword for you, my darling readers. Here is my “recap” of Episode Two.
Another change is that the Bluefly Wall (“Designers, use it very thoughtfully”) has been replaced by the Pipelime.com Wall. At least Tim Gunn doesn’t have to choke out “Macy’s” any more.
Right off the top, one of the designers nails the essential paradigm of the show: “Public torture of designers on television.” I hadn’t thought of the program that way, except for Heidi Klum’s new vampire teeth. (I still maintain she tortures small animals in her spare time.)
This week’s challenge is to create a look for a Marie-Claire Times Square billboard. Joanna Coles, an editor of the magazine, reels off a series of meaningless adjectives to describe “the Marie-Claire woman.” As opposed to the “Marie-Claire bedroom set” or “Marie-Claire baked beans”. I can’t remember them, but I’m certain they were along the lines of “strong, modern independent, feminine, has a vagina,” etc.
A.J., who obviously has his pulse on what the strong modern independent woman of today wants, decides to devise a “grunge/punk Courtney Love look”. Okaaaay.
Would Courtney wear this? Probably. She is on drugs.
Jason, wearing his bowler as per his persona, wants to create a dress of “infinity.” Because, really, what’s better than infinity? It left his peers shaking their heads. Throughout the program, the contestants in short interviews continue to tear apart everyone else’s designs. It gets as tiresome as one of those “Real Housewives” things, except less Botox and false breasts.
Mondo, despite having possibly the most irritating personal style, turns out to be extremely shy, so my viewing party didn’t have to hate him after all. (They get vociferous when the gin reaches its level.) Christopher, despite or perhaps because of being from San Francisco, looks like a Chelsea Boy clone through and through. Sweet little A.J.’s claws come out when Casanova asks him for help. If the tension level is this high on Episode Two, there will be blood on the workroom walls by Episode Five!
When Tim (God) Gunn, my BFF, enters the workroom, as per usual they skip some of the finale garments. Casanova has gone from stripper un-chic to country club matron, with a puffy black jacket and conservative white skirt that would not look amiss at the bar of a restricted private golf range.
Apparently when Casanova is alone with the other designers, his English is perfect. But let Tim or the judges be present, and he pretends to barely speak the language! One admits, the moment he’s “outed” this season should be well worth it.
Jason baffles Tim with his “infinity” dress, a gray-green thing with a lot of large curves that are safety-pinned together. For some insane reason known only to the denizens of his universe, Jason feels that safety-pins are excellent closures. As opposed to, say, buttons. Or hooks and eyes. (Has no one told Jason about the 80s?) In an interview shoehorned in, Jason feels that he is being punished for being a straight man, that Project Runway is heterophobic. No, Jason, you’re just an idiot.
Inevitably, as the designers rush to complete their garments, the Twist comes. The Twist has become such a PR trope that I simply can’t believe the designers have the capacity to be genuinely surprised. This week’s Twist is that all of the clothes will be part of a photo shoot. The designer’s choice of shot will also influence the judging of his design. As Karl Lagerfeld is the only designer who is also a photographer, I’m not sure I trust this batch’s judgment.
My guests cannot decide if Valerie looks more like Tracey Ullman (in which case the wig-like hair is appropriate) or Juliette Lewis (ditto). Peach made an unfortunate choice of fabrics at Mood and she knows it, ending up making three dresses in the time allotted. The final product is uninteresting, but at least it doesn’t get her booted off.
By the time my viewing party is quite ready for the show to be over and the serious food to be served, the guillotine/runway show begins.
Heidi again appears in age-appropriate attire. Is this a sign of the end of days? Blood trickling from her fangs, she runs through the usual opening, and Joanna Coles is this week’s guest judge. The models have either been swapped out or mercilessly drilled in how to walk. They do a far better job than Episode One.
Nicholas’s design is, as they say, a “hot mess,” but very well made. What was he thinking draping that circle of heavy cloth over a backless silk blouse?
Jason’s satin dress is the disaster we all thought it would be, both in the photo and the runway. If a “modern, strong, independent” woman wore this, it was probably because she had been unexpectedly been struck blind.
Gretchen’s jumpsuit, while not my cup of tea, is extremely well made. I liked the shoulder and neckline the best. As a very tall, long waisted woman, I can tell you that jumpsuits are one of the banes of my fashion existence. I pull one up to my waist, then pull it over my shoulders and…
”Ouch” does not begin to describe the sensation.
Kristin sends down a strange mess of fabric that is gathered, bunched and draped, but does not resemble anything your faithful correspondent would call “clothes.”
Mondo’s creation is a bizarre combination of black and tweed with a pink lobster bib.
"For the seafood lover in you..."
Despite looking like an 80s prom dress made of upholstery fabric, I rather like Michael's garment.
It is a considerable surprise when Mondo's blob of stuff makes the top three. To cut to the chase (which the show seems unable to do), Gretchen is again declared the winner. This time, two designers are “auf’d”: Jason, who deserves it, and Nicholas, who does NOT. Nicholas breaks down in tears. His outfit, while badly styled, was finished and creative, if a bit on the not-well-thought out side.
This was the weekly “WTF?” moment in which all of my guests scream and throw things at the flat screen. (To guard against an onslaught of deviled eggs, I cover the flat screen with a thin layer of plastic before my viewing parties.)
Jason did not stick around to have Tim see him off, but Nicholas did. The other designers were stunned, as were all of us.
At the end, we watch Gretchen squeal at the billboard, which has Coco Rocha capering in the jumpsuit.
I’m guessing Ms. Rocha is short-waisted.
* This footage will be very useful for the "reunion" show.
Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog