March 13, 2006Feature
The Hot Look This Season
Why Project Runway Is the Best Reality Show on TV
I kind of relive that every Wednesday night. I mean, I own a sewing machine. I know about fabrics and thread and color. I could totally compete with these crazy characters on Project Runway, right?
Yeah, not so much. Maybe I just have a mean competitive streak, but my default position when watching most reality television is, "If I were on this show, I would totally beat the pants off these clowns!" Whether I have the requisite skills is irrelevant. I probably wouldn't last more than a day on whatever deserted island Survivor is taking place on this season. I can't really sing, so becoming the American Idol is unlikely. But reality show contestants are generally sort of ridiculous and lacking in the common sense department, so I feel like I'd have the edge, you know?
|Even if you don't like the designs, there's clearly a lot of creativity there. Also, dude, sewing is hard. These guys are all clearly skilled.|
And on top of all the great fashion moments is the cast: sixteen designers from all over the country (and South Africa) with wildly different backgrounds and ideas about design. I'll talk about the finalists and the winner in a bit, but first, let's do a recap.
The Designers: The Good, the Bad, and the
In the interest of space, I'm not going to talk about all of the designers at length. We never really got to know some of the earlier eliminated designers, although I think Raymundo would have been a lot of fun if he'd stayed around longer. I mean, his Barbie challenge outfit was horrendous, but he would have brought the snark.
Guadalupe lost her marbles somewhere, which led to a bad haircut and some bad designs, but awesome television. I feel like we never got to know Emmett much beyond, "I'm a menswear designer, I've never clothed women before," like, yeah, we get it, thanks, but the hot pink skating outfit was pretty hilarious. Was that a little glitter "E" he added to it? I thought Marla was pretty cool, albeit matronly, in the beginning; her designs were indistinctive, but to me, she seemed like the type of woman you might find in a continuing education class, like she'd seen what life had to offer and opted for a career change. I liked her maturity, but she seems more suited to, say, design gowns for a bridal boutique than to have a show during Fashion Week.
I was sad to see Diana go; I love how contrary she is, the science nerd with the wild side. She looks so sweet with her meek voice and her glasses, and then she sent bondage-inspired undies down the runway for the lingerie challenge. Zulema annoyed me to no end, like her inner personality meter was forever stuck on Aggressive and Abrasive. And her insistence on referring to all materials as singular ("I've never worked with sequin," etc.) was highly problematic to my editorial ears. I loved Nick at first and had him in my final 3 prediction, but right around the time Zulema stole his model, he started wearing on me. Okay, so Tarah rocked, and I know he liked her a lot, but he acted as though Zulema killed his sister. And then the fishtail skirts and the "Paris Hilton on vacation" theme to most of his designs started getting old. And of course Kara, who nearly made it to the end but never won a challenge, whose explanations for her designs were more elaborate than the designs themselves, who had a cool accent. She actually grew on me as the competition went on, and I loved the design she created for Santino, but final 3 material she was not.
Andrae! Oh, I loved Andrae to bits. I love the faces, the expressions, the overreactions, the crying, the prancing, everything. And he was a great designer to boot! His was the first elimination I was really bummed out by. I hadn't thought he'd make the final 3, but I thought having him on the show really added a lot. You can imagine my delight when Santino chose him to be his assistant in the penultimate episode.
More on the finalists in a moment.
|I'll let the viewers make the call, but I will say that one of my favorite moments of the reunion show was when Rachael met Zulema's BS "I wanted you to grow with another designer" speech with a big raised eyebrow.|
So that whole walk-off thing. Do models really have walk-offs, or was that something Ben Stiller made up? Has Zoolander inadvertently ruined the fashion industry forever? Putting that aside, was Zulema justified? Sure, she was, I guess, but it felt like a cheap move. Rachael would have been a perfectly good model if you hadn't forced the L'Oreal people to put so much dark eye makeup on her. But it was Zulema's prerogative to choose a new model. Nick took it too personally, and Zulema couldn't have predicted that she'd lose and therefore end up sending the lovely Tarah home. I'll let the viewers make the call, but I will say that one of my favorite moments of the reunion show was when Rachael met Zulema's BS "I wanted you to grow with another designer" speech with a big raised eyebrow.
Although Daniel V.'s design was rich and gorgeous, Andrae should have won the inspiration challenge, if only for really embodying the challenge: he made a lovely gown based on a photo of dirty water in a gutter — hence turning something ugly into something beautiful — and the dress looked like the photo, so he really rose to the challenge in the way none of the other designers did.
And Santino's continued catty remarks cannot be forgotten, but, more than that, the fact that he repeatedly created completely impractical designs with little regard for the client he was designing for and yet remained in the competition continues to baffle me. Nina Garcia told him during the evening gown challenge that his dress was "the most editorial," and yeah, a gold dress with lots of shiny things hanging from it looked much different from the other three dresses — all of which looked like something one might find during prom season at Lord & Taylor — but "different" is not always "good." Santino may be a genius, but he missed the mark a lot and yet remained. Then again, maybe he deserved his chance at Fashion Week.
Love him or hate him, Santino was good with the impressions. His Tim Gunn was dead on, and the whole made-up story about Tim and Andrae at Red Lobster? Comedy gold.
Project Runway: The Musical. Again with the Santino — and this is why you can never really hate him as much as you want to — but the songs were awesome. The sequence during the reunion show featuring Nick and Santino singing "Daniel Franco: Where Did You Go?" was just awesome.
Other favorite moments: Daniel V.'s workroom games; Nick's wigging out over Sasha Cohen; Kara helping Chloe glue leaves during the flower challenge, showing it's not always all cut throat; the sequence of the designers taking photos during the inspiration challenge; Kara losing her doll's hat during the Barbie challenge and staying behind to fish it out of the Toys R Us escalator. And on and on. Have I mentioned that I love this show?
And Now, the Finalists
I had these three pegged as the finalists pretty early on; the season didn't contain many surprises in terms of eliminations. Well, at the season's halfway point, I was guessing Chloe, Daniel, and Nick, but that's because I was hoping Santino would be eliminated. Alas.
Daniel Vosovic, on the other hand. I loved him and rooted for him and I thought most of his designs were chic and elegant and wearable, but then, he got cocky. And then I liked him a lot less. All of his humility seemed to have fled during the first half of the finale, when he was shocked shocked that Tim wasn't heaping on the praise. It looks like he got that cockiness back in check, but it was not an admirable quality.
Chloe was my early favorite, although I wonder if she really does want more than her boutique in Texas. She seems more comfortable designing for clients than for Fashion Week. Then again, she is very cool, and her family survived a work camp in Laos, and she seems worldly and smart, if a little too in love with the color turquoise. Her designs are simple without being boring. She's great. But it's like all the air went out of her right before the finale, like she'd already given all she could. Maybe that made the end result that much more surprising.
First, the collections! These were my basic impressions as the finale aired:
Daniel: I love the printed fabric. I love the white coat! I want it. I love the outfit with the brown vest and the glen plaid pants, I would totally wear that. The collection looks luxurious, full of soft fabrics, but it also looks very simple, not that imaginative. (Don't get me wrong, it fits very nicely with my personal style, but there wasn't anything that looked like something I hadn't seen before.) And then poor Rebecca tripped at the end of the show! The collection is very preppy chic, but not so much a reflection of the alleged Asian/military theme.
Chloe: I like Chloe's prints, too, the green with the flowers, but I'm not crazy about the shiny pink or the gold fabric. I do like the brown pantsuit. I like the other pants outfit, with the lace shrug. And I like the blue dresses, particularly the last one, the long one with the short sleeves and the interesting back (that's really lovely). Chloe's collection is much more interesting and imaginative than Daniel's, less wearable but maybe more creative.
|His collection is not at all what I was expecting, and seems to be lacking some of the things that make Santino dresses Santino dresses. Where is the fringe and the ruffles and the feathers?|
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