Saturday, December 22, 2007

Feliz Navidad, ya'll...

Alright, ya’ll. Christmas is officially upon us, and even though it might feel like a massive yuletide tractor trailer creeping up on your car on the middle of an empty highway, blinding you with its high beams and almost forcing you off the road, it surely is the most jolly of seasons and I’m actually (surprisingly) looking forward to it.

The Casa de La Reeva has been a-hustling and a-bustling for the past few days, preparing for the annual pilgrimage to wherever the holiday festivities are taking place. This year, the entire family is heading up to Washington, D.C. to visit Big Bro and Big Sis-in-Law. Every possible step to prevent a Griswald-esque family Christmas has been taken, but since it is my family, I’m sure there will be a holiday cornucopia of disaster to tell of once I get back to the Kackalack. The only way I can go forward without having a nervous breakdown is to remember that every hair-raising moment will be fodder for future funny stories on this journal… and that helps me sleep at night.

So far the elves have been busy. Li’l Sis and I braved our mall the other night to do most of our Christmas shopping for the family. It took a whole lot longer than it should have, mostly because we’re total dumbasses who can’t remember whether Mom likes Chanel No.5 or Chanel No.392398203975734, and then we strolled through Bed, Bath & Beyond for an embarrassingly long time without finding anything for Sis-in-Law. It sucks really hard when you spend hours shopping and come out with nothing to show for it. I hope Sis-in-law loves unwrapping gift certificates.

Today was Christmas baking day, and I tried my oven-mitted hands on our secret family recipe for the best damned sugar cookies anyone has ever tasted for the first time. They turned out well, if you don’t mind me saying. Then, we had Christmas No.1 by unwrapping all the presents under the tree so far, only because we needed most of the gifts for the big trip to D.C. I landed a stereo compatible with my new iPod and the first season of Lost on DVD. Then I spent some time pouring through iTunes since I had a gift card (Thanks Erin!) and got myself ready for hours of family angst by putting together several playlists to drown out any bickering and passive-aggressive sniping that may (will) take place over the next few days.

Since I won’t have internet access over the holidays, I wanted to take the time now to wish everyone who reads this blog a very Merry Christmas! It’s been a great year and I think next year is going to be ever better. I’ll be back before New Years, though, and I have some great posts planned/half-written/almost finished that I can’t wait to get up on here, including The Year in Music, and the Year of the Queen 2007 – as well as more Project Runway recaps.

Until then, Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men… and All That Jazz.

And if there was any question of whether or not I've been naughty this year, here's a naughty picture to get you in the holiday spirit...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Project Runway Episode 4

Oh, do not fear, Project Runway recaps, I have not abandoned thee.

In case you forgot, last time on Project Runway, we got to observe the very first challenge involving menswear, and the results were, in a word, underwhelming. We’ll chalk it all up to experimentation and call it a day. Let us all hope that the Project Runway challenge thinker-uppers think twice the next time they consider dealing with men’s clothes… unless it’s swimwear. That I could totally deal with. More after the jump!

Revisiting the drama from the previous episode is particularly painful because the bottom three designs probably rate as some of the nastiest crap that has ever trotted down Heidi’s runway. Kit Pistol does her best to convince Sweet P that she deserved to stay over Carmen based solely on the fact that her garment could be considered an attempt at a shirt (at least), while Carmen sent her model down the runway in a piece of fabric draped around his neck in lieu of a shirt. Apparently, the lesson here is that Project Runway is much like Kindergarten: the important thing is just to try, try, and try some more. Do your best and you’ll get a sticker and a cookie. Isn’t that cute? Thankfully, Sweet P is too mature to be proud of her efforts. She knows that her stay of Aufing was more luck than anything, and it easily could have been her ass with Heidi’s footprint embedded in it had Nina missed her morning coffee or Michael Kors’ pants been just a tad bit tighter. Ricky is also lucky to still be around, but I’m not sure he knows it. I think the veil of tears around his eyes is impairing his judgment as well as his taste.

After the models are picked, Heidi sends the designers back to the workroom to meet Tim and “an old friend” and get their next challenge. Who is there to greet them besides Tim but Nina Garcia (Hey Nina, Heidi called you OLD… Slap fight, please!), looking fabulous. In this week’s challenge, the designers will have to choose an old fashion trend (as opposed to an old-fashioned trend, which implies hoop skirts and bonnets), all of which are thankfully OUT. Luckily for Show, Elle Magazine has captured these massive lapses of taste in its pages for posterity, and thus, Project Runway challenges. A part of me can’t believe some of these trends were ever popular, much less worn in public, and they make me grateful I was a baby in the 80’s – I was too innocent and wittle to be traumatized by the sartorial horrors that plagued the nation. But wait, there’s a twist. The designers will be working in groups of three, and as a team, they will put together a cohesive collection incorporating all three heinous elements from fashion’s dirty, dirty past that they’ve individually chosen. That’s a little overkill, in my humble opinion. This could have been a fascinating challenge, one that could have shown us who among these designers are truly inspired and creative. Instead we’re going to get another one of those episodes that delivers nothing but inter-team politics and drama… not to mention truly fugly clothes. If you think about it, updating these fashion trends would be difficult even if they were done one by one. Combining three of them into each look in a collection just seems… impossible. Methinks show is trying a little too hard to best itself.

We wind up with four teams of three and the resulting fallout goes something like this…

Team Jillian
Kevin, Rami, Jillian

The three winning designs seen above were presented by Team Jillian, Kevin and Rami. Their outdated trends were Overalls (Jillian, who at that very moment was wearing overalls, how humiliating for her!), 70’s flare (Kevin), and the poodleskirt (Rami). During the working phase, Jillian was picked as the leader of the group, so we’re led to believe the finished clothes are her vision.

The first look, constructed by Rami, is the Ode to the Poodleskirt, fashioned out of denim and floral piping. The second, by Kevin, consists of denim shorts and a floral top with a crazy collar. Finally, Jillian’s look is an updated overall get-up with giant bell bottoms and a sheer blue top with embellishments at the sleeves and collar. I don’t think there was any question of the winner in this challenge. All the outdated trends are there, but only in small (non-abrasive) doses, and the collection is definitely cohesive. Personally, I think this team got lucky. Overalls are still worn today, and if one looks hard enough, one can find plenty of examples that don’t make one look like a farmer. 70’s flare shows up at least once a season somewhere, and poodleskirts are really just skirts with large bells. By using denim in each look and manipulating the details of the tops, each look effortlessly combines all the trends. So although the collection is successful, I think they had an easier time of it considering their fashion trends. I honestly don’t like any of the looks, but they completed the challenge with style, which is more than can be said for the other teams.

Team Christian
Christian, Kit, Jack

Coming in a close second was Team Christian, comprised of Christian (obviously), Kit and Jack. Their challenge involved combining such travesties of fashion as Pleather (Jack), Zoot Suits (Christian), and fringe (Kit). Christian volunteered to lead the team, resulting in a collection that is incredibly well-tailored and chic. All the looks have defined striped patterns to bring the Zoot Suit to mind, and I assume some of the components are made of pleather, even if you can’t really tell from the runway. While I personally like these three the most, I can understand why the judges didn’t pick them to win. First of all, I don’t really see fringe. I’m sure it’s there, but it isn’t emphatic enough for this challenge. Also, Jack’s baby doll dress is a mystery to me. I don’t see how it fits into the collection, other than the fact that it’s striped. Again, I think this team lucked out in that their three out-dated fashion trends were some of the least offensive options, so only some serious breaches in taste would have put them at the bottom.

Team Ricky
Ricky, Victorya, Elisa

Ricky’s team found themselves in the bottom two, and with good reason. His cohorts were Victorya and Elisa, and their trends were Neon (Ricky), cut-outs (Elisa), and Underwear as Outerwear (Victorya). From the beginning, this team was doomed, not only because Ricky and Victorya turned out to be two of the most aggravating personalities ever, but also because their trends were beyond difficult. Ricky’s look, on the left, has clear intentions: the block of yellow at the bust to imply a bra (underwear as outerwear), and a short shift in a deep grape color. The sheer block above the bust is sort of weird, though, and I’m not sure the look is wearable under any real circumstances. I’m assuming that the blocks of color are supposed to invoke cut-outs, but… I’m not sure I get it. And these colors aren’t exactly neon, either. Victorya’s look in the middle is way too reminiscent of an ice-skating outfit, and once again, pretty unwearable. Elisa’s shift on the left is probably the most accessible of the three, but the cut-outs along the bust look amateur, like an art project. It was clear that the collection lacked unity, but the trends weren’t represented well, either. In the immortal words of Karen Walker, this collection was a Fiesta Del Failure.

Something must be said about the dynamic between Ricky and Victorya, because, in retrospect, they both exhibited some of the worst social skills I’ve ever seen on this show, with the possible exception of Wendy Pepper and Angela. Victorya is a self-proclaimed control freak. She convinced Ricky to be the team leader, but made herself an obstacle to his success at every step. Clearly, she's one of those people, you know... the ones that are too cool and too busy to actually take charge of a creative process, but somehow find the time and energy to criticize, manipulate, and back-stab. I HATE those people! Ultimately, Victorya's passive-aggression and uncooperativeness sunk the entire team, and I’m so glad the judges saw through it. It’s a hard lesson to learn in life, but in a team, the individuals are obligated to submit to the rule of a leader, even if they don’t agree. If you are so bent on having your way with things, then you also have to have the balls to lead, and later, be strong enough as a person to accept the consequences, and clearly, Victorya isn’t mature enough to know that. To be fair, Ricky made some truly awful decisions (fabric, overall aesthetic, etc.), AND he failed to assert himself when it came to major decisions with the collection. Since it probably would have been his butt on the line anyway, all Victorya did was show the judges a bad side of herself. And these judges don’t forget that kind of stuff.

Team Chris
Sweet P, Steven, Chris

The other team in the bottom two was Team Chris. Chris was joined by Sweet P and Steven, and their three out-dated trends were truly challenging. Chris managed to get stuck with shoulder pads, Sweet P got baggy sweaters, and Steven ended up with dancewear. At first, I thought they might have an easy time of it; just think of that chick from Flashdance, with her leg warmers, baggy sweatshirt, and prominent shoulders, and bippity-bobbity-POOF! and you’re done. Unfortunately, these three aren’t anywhere near as smart as I.

Early in the working phase, Chris somehow found himself named as the leader, and it’s obvious he wasn’t thrilled about the idea, but hey, what is he gonna do? He’s working with Sweet P and Steven, who’ve proven to be two of the weakest links in the work room chain. As the looks started to materialize, Steven expressed concern over the shrug Chris was constructing, but (of course) he doesn’t actually express that concern to Chris, but rather snarks about it in the confessionals, which is not only rude, but also unhelpful.

The sad part about all of this is that the three looks in this collection are all pretty strong individually, in my opinion. Sweet P’s dress is gorgeous, and not just because Donna Karan said so, but because it actually is. Steven’s wrap dress with tights is eye-catching and pretty (although, not really all that wearable in real life), and Chris’s look isn’t nearly as awful to me as it seems to be with everyone else in the world. Admittedly, the shrug is a little Pro-Football-esque and the fabric is a tad dreary and elderly, but the dress underneath is absolutely adequate, and the challenge was to incorporate shoulder pads, after all, right? What made this collection a failure is simply that it isn’t a collection at all. Michael Kors said it best when he said that all three looks belong in different collections, which is a big strike against you in this particular challenge. It was also pretty obvious that the looks didn’t incorporate all three out-dated elements, and that Chris and the team had decided to address each trend individually rather than combine them. That would be another strike.

So the judges were forced to choose between a collection that was downright fugly and a collection that didn’t satisfy the requirements of the challenge. Based on those principles, I thought the judges were correct to Auf Chris, even though it totally broke my heart. I won’t get on the bandwagon that’s screaming SHENANIGANS on the judges on this one, mostly because I’m saving my complaints for the next episode, recap coming very soon.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

my iPod and me...

Subtitled: How a piece of gadgetry almost ruined my life.

I know I haven’t been updating much lately, and for that, so sorry, but really, this blog has missed nothing. Truthfully, and without exaggeration, all I’ve done for the past week, excluding the miserable hours at work, is fiddle with my new iPod. Funny story about that… it almost didn’t work.

My iPod arrived like a new-fallen snow, or the first rain of spring, or a rainbow after a flood – it was all magic and angels singing and babies gurgling and what not, just as I’d expected. The first phases of getting it online went by without incident. My little computer properly downloaded and ran all the appropriate updates and programs. When the help wizard told me I was finally ready to start importing my music – I could barely contain my glee. And so it began. I started at the beginning of my first giant traveling case of CD’s, and we were off and running. The first CD I imported was one of my newer ones, Cyndi Lauper’s first album, She’s So Unusual (I bought it for Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and seriously, don’t we?). After the little jingle jangle that signified the import was complete, I connected my new Ipod and let it sync, all the while shivering with excitement… my FIRST digital listen! The sync went fine and the album showed up on the crystal clear screen of MyPod, and I pressed play. Ah, the joyful strains, “I come home in the morning light/ My mother says, “When you gonna live your life right!?” and so on and so forth, and we’re just about to rev into the chorus when…


Girls, th…


Ey wanna h…

Blippity, Bleep…

Ave f…

Gagahgahgahgah… skippy skip…


What. The. F*ck. Why is my iPod skipping? I don’t panic... no, it’s much too early for that. Instead, I erase the album, restart my computer, and try again. And this time, it’s much better. Sigh of relief. After that, the importing began in earnest. As my CD’s were one-by-one fed to iTunes, I read His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman, and watched some of the first season of Ugly Betty on DVD. Fine Holiday Fun.

All of that was Thursday night. It had been a busy night – 58 albums imported. Friday at work passed slowly, and when I got home, I went straight to my computer and began importing. As I put in the soundtrack to Chicago, I noticed that the music wasn’t sounding all that great coming out of my computer. It was fuzzy and…you guessed it… skipping. I thought, maybe it’s the CD, so I let it finish and listened to it from the iPod. All That Jazz was almost unrecognizable amidst all the hissing and scratching. I was upset, understandably, because what the hell good is this iPod if my Chicago soundtrack isn’t on it? Right!? But then I went to listen to some of the other stuff I’d imported. EVERYTHING WAS SKIPPING!!!

I think the cloud of obscenities that erupted from my mouth at that point is still hovering over the Kackalack in a dense haze. It might not be safe for flying.

Once I managed to compose myself, I went online to see if anyone else was having these kinds of problems. Can I just say that the iPod tutorials and forums are incredibly UNHELPFUL when it comes to troubleshooting. The problems discussed are either as inane as, “How do I turn this thing on?” or so complex and out of my league that I can’t understand the words much less put them into action. After several hours of hair-pulling and nail-biting, I was close to tears… but then I found a blog that answered my questions. Turns out, my computer doesn’t really have enough memory to support iTunes, and my laptop’s CD drive is a little outdated and can’t handle the speed iTunes wants to use for importing. So, some CD’s will import just fine IF my computer is having an amazing day and IF it’s the only album currently residing in iTunes. Basically, I was screwed.

I felt like I’d hit some sort of rock bottom. I called a friend and said, “If I don’t figure out how to get this G’Damn thing to work, Ebeneezer Scrooge won’t be able to hold a Grinch-scented candle to the level of Stank I will unleash upon this holiday season.” Clearly, everyone’s Christmas was at stake.

At that point, I figured my only options were to a) go buy a new computer (not happening) or b) use my parents’ nicer one. So that’s what I did… I took my iPod and my two giant CD cases and parked in front of my parents’ Mac. I said a little prayer to the Heathen Gods of my ForeGays, and BEHOLD!, the CDs started importing without problems. I was so excited that I just started importing with wild abandon. One album after another, over and over, again and again. Before I went to bed that night, I’d caught up with my previous stint and then some.

Four days later, and ImportFest 2007 is almost complete. I had no idea what a shitload of music I had. The iPod is running fine, and my parents’ computer has taken the digital onslaught like a champion. Now, though, I need to start thinking. I’m moving out very soon, which means my iTunes library is going to be stuck at home. Does that mean I have to come home every time I want to add something to my iPod?

Also, my computer is a PC and my parents’ computer is a Mac. My Pod can’t do its updates on the Mac – I’ll have to do that with the PC. Is that going to screw anything up? Does it matter if my iTunes library is on one computer but not the other? When I plugged my iPod into the Mac, it made me erase all that I’d already downloaded, which was fine because it was all skipping, but will it make me do that again when I need to download the software updates? I know it says you can use it on up to five computers, but does each computer have to have all the same music in its library in order for the iPod to sync properly? Will I have to erase and start over every time I want to sync? Is there a way I can move my iTunes library to another computer when I want to? What is the meaning of life? Where do we go when we die? What did I get on my shirt at lunch?

I need to lie down.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Project Runway Episode 3

Ok, seriously, what could possibly top a visit from Sarah Jessica Parker? These questions and more answered on Project Runway Episode 3.

We open with the remaining male designers fretting over the dismissal of Marion, as is tradition. The more pressing matter, though, is how close Christian came to being Auf’ed, something no one could have predicted. Christian admits to the cameras that the last elimination was a humbling experience, and I’m glad to hear him say that. He seems like a genuinely nice little queen, and self-aware enough to know when he has come up short, which means the arrogance is all mirth and no malice. I really want to like Christian, and this helped.

What’s that, Heidi? No playground-style model elimination this week? What on Earth could you mean?? Once again, Heidi leaves the designers in suspense, and shoos them off to find Tim Gunn somewhere in Manhattan where they will get their next challenge. She does mention, however, that this challenge is a first for Project Runway. Color me intrigued!

The designers meet with Tim Gunn in what looks like a TV studio, and Behold! Tiki Barber. Yeah, I didn’t know who that was, either, which apparently establishes once and for all that I’m a giant homo. Aren’t we glad that’s settled? I know I am. Tiki (and don’t you just love that name? Tiki… what whimsy!) is a famous runningback, and since I don’t follow the foozball, I’ll just have to take Tim’s word for it. Tiki’s reception is decidedly luke-warm, especially compared to last weeks squee-fest over Sarah Jessica Parker, but Kevin, the one and only straightie, seems to think this is a big deal, so I guess it must be so. Tiki explains that his gig nowadays is as a correspondent on the Today Show, and this week the designers will be creating a look for him to wear on the air. Now THAT is a big deal. He goes on to give the designers his vital statistics: thick neck, big butt, and a certain “short”age in the height department. He likes color (including pink and pastels) as long as they compliment the overall look. With that, Tim Gunn sends the designers on their merry way, which isn’t really true, because most of them look absolutely terrified.

Out of all the designers, only two can say they have any experience in menswear. We learn that menswear is by far the most difficult kind of designing, from the construction to the fit to the styling, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see so many of them looking so scared and unprepared. As we listen in on the planning phase, many of the designers are spouting out words like ‘three piece suit’ and ‘blazer’ and I really want to call them to remind them that they’re on Project Runway, which is famous for giving contestants insanely difficult challenges and not enough time to complete them. Hello!! It took my local department store three days just to frikkin’ alter my last suit, so I can’t imagine how long it took to make the damn thing! As usual, I’m smarter than all these people.

Ooooohhh, male models!! I’d almost forgotten about them. They’re hot. That’s all that needs be said.

After the sewing and cutting and more sewing, it’s time for the Runway Show, and some of the designers are the most unfinished I’ve ever seen. This show loves to tease us with the possibility of someone sending a model down the runway nude, but that has never come close to happening. I’m reminded especially of Bradley on Season 3 during the Dog Challenge – they made this big deal about him having to start over from scratch the day of the Runway show, and… well, he almost WON the challenge. But this time, they aren’t screwing around with us. There are jackets being held together with safety pins, and please believe it, actual non-clothes. Nina is going to totally flip.

I found almost all of the designs to be rather disappointing, but we’ll go through them anyway… starting with the winner…

This striped monstrosity is brought to you by Jack. Ya’ll… I really don’t like it. Yes, it’s well made and it’s admirable that Jack decided to edit his workload in order to show finished products, but I think there are some seriously unfortunate choices being showcased here. First, all the stripes; I mean, doesn’t anyone else start to feel dizzy after looking at this? I like the pin-striped pants and I like the shirt, too, but together? Maybe I’m fashion-backward, but I would never wear this. I was seriously uneasy when they picked this as the winner, mostly because I feel like there were other designs that were more ambitious and just as well executed. The only way I can justify it would be Tiki’s involvement, because he’s thinking of what he’ll look good in on the screen. So, case closed. But I still don’t like it.

Ok, ok… girlfriend sent her model down the runway with a very aqua piece of fabric tucked into his pants instead of a shirt, but this elimination still hurt my feelings. Carmen really got shafted on this one. I honestly can’t figure out how her time slipped away from her so badly, especially when there were other designers that made full ensembles, but what IS finished looks just as good as all the other crap that came down the runway. The judges and Tiki had no love for the jacket, primarily because it was too short, thus accenting Tiki’s badonkadonk (which, hey, if you got it, flaunt it), and the pants aren’t right in the crotchular region. But I think her ideas had potential. At the end of the day, I can’t fault the judges for kicking her off. To La Kors and La Nina, unfinished is the biggest sin, and this belongs in Project Runway Hell. So sadly, Carmen: Auf!

Joining Carmen in the Bottom 2 were Sweet P and Ricky. I think Sweet P knew she was in trouble – I mean, if she thought she was going to slide through with that shirt, she’s more like Dumb P. On the bright side, the pants look alright, if not a little poofy in the hips, and I’d totally wear that tie. So how did she screw up the shirt so spectacularly? Only Sweet P knows, and she’ll probably never tell, lest she embarrass herself even further.

Ricky, on the other hand, had problems of a different sort. First, I really don’t recall Tiki asking the designers to fix him up with a tuxedo, so what’s with the black and white? Secondly, every piece was comically unfinished. If one has to enlist the help of the model to help one sew the jacket together right before the runway show, it is safe to assume that one has bitten off quite a bit more than one can chew. Ricky eventually had to settle for pinning the model into the clothes, leaving him to rely only on prayer that Nina wouldn’t see the metal gleaming from inside the seams. Well, eyes like a hawk she has, and she sure enough called Ricky out for the pinning. And honestly, I really don’t think the sharp, metallic tinkling of light coming from inside the coat was going to be confused for bling bling. Basically, Ricky is found guilty of Boring and Unfinished, something the judges have already addressed, so I fear Ricky is not long for this Runway.

The two looks joining Jack in the Top 3 belonged to Kevin and Kit Pistol. Starting with Kevin’s, I respect his color choices and his overall plan, but I can’t say it turned out that well. If I was judging, I would have questioned the shirt being too short to tuck into the pants. That’s either a conscious decision that must be defended or a mistake. Besides that, the sleeves look way too tight, which I can tell you for true, is very uncomfortable. Tight sleeves are a deal breaker for me in a dressing room. I’m also not thrilled with the fact that the judges sort of glossed over the fact that Kevin tried to pin the vest together, considering how they raked Ricky over the proverbial coals about his pinning. Surprisingly, Tiki seemed to enjoy this look, especially the color, and I can see it working on him with some major adjustments.

Kit was a close second with her very dapper ensemble. The pants are well made and very flattering, and the fleece jacket is a very nice bonus. I love the idea of a fleece sport coat, and I’m surprised no one has thought of it before, especially because it can be done cheaply. The only real complaint I have about this look, and I think the judges probably agreed with me (hence, Kit not winning) is it might be just a tad bit too conservative (as in, it looks too much like a prep school uniform). It isn’t boring by any means, but it might not be flashy enough for a TV show. There does have to be a punch to the outfit when you’re on screen. Anyhow, well played, Kit!

Snooooozzzzzzzze… I’m so disappointed in Chris March this time! How could someone who routinely works with drag queens let something so dull shoot out of his sewing machine? All black? Really, for TV? If the challenge was designing for Michael Kors, then SCORE, but Tiki said he liked color! There’s nothing wrong with it, really, even if it is a little Miami Vice at a formal dinner party, but I just expected something a little more exciting from Chris March.

Beside that is the design by Christian, who redeemed himself from last week, at least in my eyes. I think the whole thing is very stylish, not to mention well-made. I really like the curving zippered collar on the shirt, and the jacket and pants appeal to my love of all things shiny. I think Christian did an excellent job of experimenting with texture and fit here, and the only reason he didn’t do better would probably have to be his lack of consideration for Tiki’s body. This isn’t something Tiki could wear, true enough. However, it’s very cool looking. Pray Christian keeps it up. Pssstt… I’m not super excited about the detail on the jacket pockets, but… moving on…

As we dig through the middle of the pack, the designs start to smack of strange styles, all of which I’m sure were unintentional. Elisa’s look on the left is very nice. It fits that model like a dream and doesn’t betray any of Elisa’s weaknesses when it comes to finishing and finesse. However, doesn’t it look a little… Renaissance Fair to you? I’m getting a distinct peasant vibe. Granted, this peasant is very well put together, but urchin-like nonetheless. Perhaps it’s the earth tones, or the fact that the vest doesn’t close… I don’t know. I like it well enough, it just makes me want to sing madrigals and eat a turkey leg. It isn’t helping that the model is very cave-man-like. I mean, Good God, who did his makeup?

And then there’s Jillian’s outfit, which is as pimped out as it can be, minus the pimp-cane and pimp-hat. Ok, it isn’t so much “pimp” as much as it is “Saturday Night Fever” but I still have to question the whole 70’s vibe. There’s the high-waisted vest, the prominent collar, the light-colored shoes… yep, he’s got all he needs to hit the disco, so let’s go boogie.

Rounding out the rest are Rami, Steven, and Victorya, respectively. If I may start with Rami? That’s totally what I wore for three years in Catholic Junior High. I’m completely serious. Blue slacks, white shirt, and a tan jacket. While this look is definitely classic and very well-made, it is also B to the Oring. ALSO! Much fuss was made over Carmen’s jacket looking suspiciously like a Members Only jacket. As someone who owned several of those jackets [shudders] I will testify here and now that this jacket is closer to Member Only than anything else that came down the runway.

Next, it’s Steven’s ode to the armed forces. Tell me this doesn’t smack of a sailor on shore-leave! First of all, he’s wearing an ascot. I love me an ascot every now and then, but, wow… that’s dated. Second, those pants are so high-waisted; perfectly executed, mind you, but all the way up to the navel. In fact, I’d say Steven flew right past classic and ran into retro. Thirdly, the sweater is tucked into the pants, and while I know some guys do this, it has a tendency to age a person. If I think about it, I can’t think of any old guys that actually tuck in their sweaters, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s an old guy thing to do. More specifically, it’s a mistake an old codger would make, along with putting on different colored socks. All of those together equal a thrilling evening of tap-dancing and Singing in the Rain with the rest of the Brat Pack.

Finally (I know, right! I’m tired, too), Victorya has designed the perfect outfit for Tiki to wear if he has to go wait some tables right after chilling with Al Roker and Meredith V. I really can’t say anything else about it because that’s seriously all I see. If that model had a thought bubble beside his head it would say, “Would you like some freshly ground pepper with that?” And for Realz! White jacket, black pants, and BROWN SHOES!! NOOOO!

So the first menswear challenge in Project Runway history has come and gone. What have we learned?

1. Designing for men is HARD!
2. Male models are very hot – well, we didn’t so much learn that as have it enforced, and quite convincingly.
3. It is very hard to design for men without everything starting to look like a uniform.
4. Tiki Barber used to play football and was allegedly pretty decent at it.
5. If it is decided that Project Runway officially jumped the shark this season, this episode will surely be the one blamed.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Project Runway Episode 2

After a most auspicious beginning, Project Runway has continued to astound and thrill me… perplex and bamboozle me… basically be the best show on television. Except for maybe Pushing Daisies. Or Supernatural (mmm… Padalecki).

One of the contestants, Carmen, hinted in the promotional materials that this season would bring some of the most surprising and exciting guest judges ever and I have to say, Show definitely delivered.

Episode 2 begins with the traditional insincere mourning of the most recently Auf’ed designer, which was… geez, I can’t even remember that loser’s name… Samantha? Siddhartha? [tick tock tick tock…] SIMONE!! Yeah, the other designers aren’t too upset, either. When Heidi comes out on the Runway, she tells them this challenge will involve designing something for a celebrity and fashion icon. Ok, see, the last time she said this, Nicky Hilton came strolling through the doors, so I’ve taken everything Heidi says well salted ever since. Heidi won’t be divulging the mystery guest, though; Show has left that up to Tim Gunn, so the designers head back to the workroom. As they wait, several names are put forward, such as Madonna and Britney Spears. First, Madonna would never let some random reality contestant near her person. And Britney can barely be trusted to show up to her own videoshoots, much less a court hearing about custody of her own children, so I’d say these designers have either been living under fabulously decorated rocks, or are just plain stupid.

When Tim comes in to announce the celebrity judge, the anticipation is palpable, and for once I don’t get the feeling the tension has been fabricated by the editors and a soundtrack. The room is actually, factually intense. Who. Will. It. BE?

OMG! It’s frikkin’ Sarah Jessica Parker. I’m not ashamed to admit I totally squeeed in my living room. I can’t effectively explain what it is about SJP that makes the gays and many straight females adore her so (and just to be fair, I know plenty of both that can’t stand her), but she has always struck me as approachable and professional and nice and all those things we all hope celebrities are, even when we know they aren’t. The designers are understandably awe-struck, and I think some of the gays even have the vapors. Chris March is crying, you see, because SJP and her inspirational turn as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City was one of the main reasons he moved to New York in the first place. As expected, Ms. Parker is gracious and as sweet can be as she informs the designers they will be designing a two piece look for her clothing line, Bitten, and it MAY (note: operative word) be sold at certain department stores with the Bitten Brand. But there’s a catch (like always): Bitten is a bargain brand, as SJP passionately explains, because fashion shouldn’t have to be a luxury. Tim Gunn goes on to say that the two piece look must retail for less than $40, so the budget for this challenge will be… $15. Chris March assumes they will be making the clothes out of toilet paper and Scotch tape, and he’s totally kidding, but I’m all… make it work!

Aaaaaaannnnnnnddddd… this is a team challenge, with the designers working in seven groups of two. After a hilarious little montage in which La Parker proves everything I assumed about her personality (see above), SJP announces the seven captains who will show their work on the runway, and they are: Victor(unnecessary)ya, Kit Pistol, Marion, Rami, Christian, Ricky (is he going to cry? Probably), and that box of crazy, Elisa. The seven captains then pick their partners in a lottery, and the only real news there is Sweet P is a little nervous about working with Elisa, and… she probably should be.

So they sew and they cut and they sew some more, and that brings us to the runway show.

Let’s start with the winner…

Victorya and Kevin put together this shirt-dress and vest, and once again, I’m a little underwhelmed, but having seen the rest of the designs, I’m not altogether critical of this choice for the winner. The vest is done in a tasteful red plaid, which compliments the dark color of the dress quite nicely, and the frou-frou around the neck is interesting, although it is does remind me of the flower embellishment she threw at us last week. So with the exception of the vest, she’s made the exact same dress. Beware the one-note, Victorya!!

And now the loser…

Umm… Yikes. I have to give credit to SJP for so diplomatically (and perhaps desperately) trying to find the good in this piece, because I absolutely hated it. Heidi said it looked like something she would find in her basement, dirty and nasty-looking, and I really have to agree with her, although I may not want to see her basement anytime soon. The look is so heinous, we have to wonder why SJP picked Marion in the first place, so the editors make sure to flash us a good look at his sketches, and it is decidedly more interesting on paper. Marion explains that the knitted fabric of the top sagged and stretched after being worked, which he had not anticipated. Be that as it may, that still doesn’t explain why he picked that drab color. Unfortunately, the god-awful-ness of the top totally obscures whatever goodness the skirt might have been, and based on what we saw of it during the construction phase, it might have been decent looking, but… alas, the skirt is ignored. A horrendous tent of a top has the tendency to do that.

I have to assume that all of these designers have seen this show before, because neither Marion nor the other captain in the bottom two tried to blame their failures on their partner. So Marion? Auf!

Christian and his partner Carmen were the other twosome that found themselves in the bottom 2, and I’m really surprised Christian let this come down the runway. I was so impressed with him in the first challenge, and I had high hopes this look was going to blow me away, but when it came down the runway, I knew he was in trouble. Don’t yell at me, but I actually like this look quite a bit, mostly because it seems like something Nelly Furtado would wear – and didn’t you hear, the 80’s are making a comeback (call all your friends!). However, this couldn’t have been further from the Bitten aesthetic, so from a purely commercial standpoint, it’s a definite miss. I was impressed by SJP’s assessment of the outfit: the look is too short and too severe. I couldn’t have said it better myself. The jacket is exquisitely made, though.

Despite some decidedly odd moments during the construction phase, Elisa and Sweet P put together this number. I don’t hate it at all, and I agree with the judges when they said that it looks expensive for something made with only $15, but I can’t say I’d enjoy it if I saw it coming down the street. I dunno, maybe it has something to do with the length (SHORT) of the skirt paired with the cozy-looking cape. It’s like when you see frat guys wearing shorts with a long-sleeve sweater – there’s nothing inherently wrong with it, it just looks silly. Anyway, with the unimportant exception of the color, the dress is very fetching (both SJP and I love the sleeves), and the cape is cute enough. Most importantly, the look is polished, finished, and expensive looking. Maybe Elisa isn’t as loony as she seems, even if she does spit on the fabric. (sidebar: I really don’t get what was so bad about the whole spit-marking thing. Granted, it’s odd and little bit gross, but why was Sweet P so scandalized? It isn’t like Elisa wiped her butt on it or anything! {Ewww! I’m sorry about that! If I think about it, maybe I’ll delete that before posting}{or maybe I won’t.})

Ricky and Jack worked together to create this outfit, and I really wish it had received just a little bit more credit for being the one outfit I think most women would actually wear. A lot of women can’t pull off a t-shirt dress, especially if they’re of a certain size, and even less women could work a neon blue mini-dress and a cape. This dress, though, seems highly accessible. I love the detailing on the collar and the contrasting texture on the belt.

These last two middle-of-the-road looks are courtesy of Rami/Jillian and Kit/Chris. I put them together because they're basically the same: black/brown tights and a black top. Hasn’t Lindsay Lohan been wearing this exact outfit for the past year or so? There’s nothing bad about either of these looks, but I just don’t see any creativity or inspiration. I have to remind myself that this is a client-based challenge, and that said, I’ll lay off. But seriously, lose the beret. This ain’t Paris.

To conclude: a moment from this episode that has quickly climbed the charts as one of my favorite moments in Project Runway history!!

Sarah Jessica Parker shaking hands with the air = GOLD!!