August 25, 2006

Projecting Runway (All Over the Reader)

Every Thursday morning, I wrestle with whether to write an entry of substance, or loose the floodgates of my ranting re: the previous evening’s Project Runway. I know I reference this show a lot. Like, too much. And I know it’s technically a reality show. The mitigating factor of actual content, in the form of assignments and potential careers, only mildly assuages my guilt at being hooked on ‘reality’ television, which I hate to love. What I hate to hate is when my show, which I afford a begrudging amount of respect, does not respect me back.

First of all, I was really excited that the designer’s moms were the guest models. I was able to guess who they were by the expressions on their faces, these designers we’ve all come to know and… regard, with varying degrees of affection; their happiness was palpable. I started bawling at about the same time Laura did (shut it), knowing how happy it makes me to see my own mother when I’m particularly stressed, and the thought of designing something for her would be a welcome break. [Well done, Bravo—emotion and drama. Here’s your Emmy.] The guest interviews were touching, everyone was excited to meet everyone else’s parents / sisters; there was generally just a whole lotta love going on.

Until.

Oooooh, Jeffrey. Where to start? How about the obvious “Dude, if he had dared speak that way to my Mom? Humans can’t register the time before I’d have leapt over the cutting table and beat his inflated dickhead back into its badly-tattooed foreskin with the nearest mannequin, until he was medically talking out of his ass”. That said, how can anyone treat somebody’s mother that way? A woman has opened her cervix and painfully given forth new life, you better punctuate your remarks with a “ma’am”—regardless whether it’s your own mother or not, or whether you like their children or not (you know what’s cool? Getting back at Angela by making her mother cry! Oooh, score! Except for the eternal hellfire part). Ironically, the first thing I think when I see someone behave like that is “Where’s your Mom? I’m calling her and telling her she failed the Life exam”. Then I remember that Jeffrey’s mother is in the same room.

Okay: I’m not a mother. I don’t have kids. However, I am a human being, and I’ve seen plenty of parenting, both good and bad, and more than enough to recognize when someone’s child is not being taught properly. If you let your toddler treat people like shit, you have no right to act all garment-rending surprised when the resulting adult treats people like shit. Busting on Angela’s mom while your own mother is present? Where I come from, that’s called Bringing Shame on the Family. It doesn’t matter if his mother heard him or not—he should have been ashamed. Like, bowing and scraping, begging for the merest of undeserved apologies. If he didn’t, then he was just plain raised wrong, and his mother should be ashamed (which she wasn’t, and for which I hate her actively with the heat of an optic blast). Yes, Jeffrey’s been through a lot. He’s a (I’m assuming ‘former’) drug addict, alcoholic, and whatever else we haven’t heard about until his mother showed up, but that’s really no excuse to act like an asshole in the present, is it? Santino had a rough upbringing, and he may have been a little grating, but he wasn’t rude to somebody’s momma. Chloe Dao was raised in a fucking prison camp in Laos, and she couldn’t even trash-talk her competition! Sorry, Jeffhole, but any sympathy you may have dredged up has been negated by your performance tonight, at least by any well brought-up person on the planet. Forget the stepladder; asshole needs a hot-air balloon to get over himself.

Despite the fact that they were personally invested in their models, the designers’ attitude toward the challenge was largely (no pun; I’m not Heidi) ambivalent. Many comments were made, the most memorable of which was Jeffrey’s statement that he didn’t care if he lost the challenge, because there was “no way he could have prepared for this”. Riiight. No way could you have known they’d want you to design clothes for people. [I mean, after they expected you to make a coat for a dog, a dress from recycled materials, or a skirt out of a duvet—basically affirming they want you to be innovative and ready for anything—how big a shock is it to have to design a flattering ensemble for a woman? Isn’t that, like, Fashion 101?] People. Plus size? Is a real size. There are real people—many more, in fact, than the walking xylophones most original designs are cut for—with these bodies, living lives of style, with no qualifications to their beauty. And they need some hot clothes. So quit your infantile whining and get your scissors, bitches. Also, I don’t buy for a second that everybody “had no clue” how to design for a plus size, because not a thing that went down the runway made anyone look bigger, or wider, or heavier, which is basically Rule #1; most of them were even cut to make the models look smaller, (not necessarily the goal, but a popular option). Uli not only made her model look lovely, but used words like ‘lengthen’ instead of ‘slimming’ (which may seem like a condescension, but is, in fact, respect, Jeffrey), and you could tell from her model’s expression that she felt pretty and would wear the garment. For this, Uli should have won.

But…Vincent wins. Now, I really feel that this victory was sort of a ‘let’ for Vincent. He’s never won a challenge, we’re getting down to a handful of talented people—and there’s no way he’s winning it all. Plus, he cashed in his 401K and is more or less betting his life on this show, putting a pressure cooker around the vast amounts of crazy he’s got squatting in the belfry. The dress itself was not bad—it could have done without the Bela Lugosi collar—but it’s just another example of Vincent’s consistent flaw: his designs are always one or two details shy of good clothing. I liked his Twiggy outfit, minus the pockets and bell sleeves. His paper dress was too long; if the skirt had been shorter, or flared like a cocktail dress, it would have been fine—but again, just fine, not fantastic, and that’s the problem. It’s not that I think he’s not good enough, I just think everyone else is better. I think he’s going to get cut soon, and if he was let go without a win he’s got no chance of a career, except maybe in commercials (or on Bravo’s website). And since he toned down his usual moon unit influences for this challenge (and since Heidi doesn’t want to get a visit from one of Vincent’s personalities in the wee hours) they give him a win he arguably didn’t deserve. Having said that, I’m glad he won something, because I didn’t want him to feel like a failure. Or see him cry. Or go on a killing spree, or contact the aliens. I see it from Bravo’s attorney’s point of view: if Vincent’s happy, nobody gets hurt.

And since we’re on point of view, I need to make small mention of the judging process for this challenge. I’ve never really questioned the judges—well, I have, but just their decisions or comments—not their criteria. Michael Kors has never said anything that I thought was totally off the mark before, so I was gaping when he let loose on Robert for more or less making what his model requested. Dude: if the model didn’t want to show skin, or wear a print, or was otherwise specific about her sartorial needs, then the designer is not responsible for those limitations. The challenge was to make the dress wearable for the everyday woman—‘everyday’ not just connoting ‘overweight’ (*ahem* Bravo), but ‘functional for personal daily wear’. It’s a meeting of the client’s desire and the artist’s interpretation, and if there’s a clash of the two in any facet of the design, the solution is always to do what the client wants (unless you’re brilliantly talented and take a risk that you know will work, risking your reputation on your decision—and odds are very highly against that in this milieu). If Vincent’s sister wanted no prints, the most basic colors, and a very simple cut—and she’s happy with the outcome—it is not Robert’s fault. He made the client happy. What’s the point of making clothes tailored to a person’s style if they refuse to wear it? I come from a long line of overweight women, and if they feel that they’re exposing too much, or “look fat”, or feel like people will stare, they won’t go out in what you’ve chosen. Many years of dressing my sister for the bar have taught me this much. What was sorely needed is a judge who had this information, and would have expressed it violently at Monsieur Kors. Maybe a plus-size model, or I dunno… a plus-size fashion designer? Who told Michael Kors’ mom she knew sheers from shineola? I know it was supposed to be in keeping with the theme, but this is a competition; I love my Mom, but that doesn’t qualify her to end someone’s career. You know who should have been a guest judge? Queen Latifah. She’d tell them exactly how to make a ‘real’ woman look hot. Although, to be fair, Latifah could wear any of Angela’s Atrocities and manage to work it.

I’m done, I swear. For now.

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