Thursday, January 26, 2012

PR All-Stars: Good Taste Tastes Good

Hello, PR fans! I type with weakened fingers, as I finally made it back to Zumba tonight and am now spent. Lifetime, be gentle with me. The title of this week's episode gives me some pause, given that last week we had Miss Piggy as our guest judge/client. Tonight are we going to see Charlie the Tuna?

No, but I'm not as far off as one might think. The designers' next challenge is to make an outfit inspired by the colors and flavors of gelato, and they've actually got some poor scoop jockey with a cart from "L'arte de Gelato." April points out that the board of flavor options is rather over the top, and she doesn't even know what some of these flavors are (notably, "Fruits of the Forest"). Michael is last week's winner, so he gets to pick first.  He scampers over and chooses grapefruit, and is handed a tall skinny cone from the server.  He's a little disappointed, because the ice cream is sort of pale blush-colored, not the ruby-red grapefruit color he'd hoped for.

Michael then chooses the next person to pick--Mondo. Mondo wants cantaloupe. Mila chooses "Milk and Sour Cherries." April chooses blueberry. Jerell chooses the infamous Fruits of the Forest, which turns out to be a rich red color. Kenley chooses passionfruit. Austin chooses Vanilla Madagascar (I have visions of a white gown with a Carmen Miranda hat). Anthony chooses green tea. Rami chooses kiwi, and last is Kara, who winds up with "chocolate with cayenne pepper." She's disappointed, but I don't think it's a bad pick--I'm not sure why she's so upset.

To follow the ice cream handout, the judges are even more excited to discover that their guest judge for this week is...Diane von Furstenburg! OK, that is a pretty great judge. DVF tells them the bad news--they only have 6 hours for the whole challenge. The designers' faces fall, and you can practically see their cones sag in sympathy.

Sketching time! They have 30 minutes, and they're all freaking out about how they'll manage to pull this off.  Michael's sketch looks like a Halston-y kind of jumpsuit with big ruched sleeves (they kind of look like harem pants for your arms). Jerell's doing something with color-blocky lines, and Kenley says a bit sourly, "Well, I'm not gonna try anything new, not in six hours." Not like we've seen her try anything new yet this season, but whatever.

Oh! They don't have to lose time traveling to Mood, because they've set up a "mini-Mood" in the next door room. April's freaking because she wants black jersey, but there isn't any to be found, so she has to reinvent her idea. Kara explains that her creation must acknowledge the chocolate, but it's really not about the chocolate, it's about the flavor, so she's working with fiery colors.  Mondo ran out of time before he bought all the fabric he wanted. "Shucks," says Mondo.

Michael's color looks pretty ugly on my TV--more peach than grapefruit, and it's sort of satiny. Michael's not worried at all about the time, because he has clients who need clothes done in 45 minutes. (Really? What kind of life does one need that requires made-to-order clothing but has only 45 minutes to do it in?)

Kenley and Austin are a little giddy, while Mila proudly shows Michael that she's not including any black in her dress today. She wants to show the judges the softer side of her aesthetic. And then--crisis! Michael has somehow mismeasured, and his fabric is now 8 inches too short on one side. Ruh-roh. Guess he doesn't have that much time after all.

Kara is racing back and forth to the sewing room, which introduces our sewing room footage. Everyone is worried, bobbins are breaking, cocktails are longed for. No fights, though. In general, this group of designers seems totally unconcerned with manufacturing drama. I wonder if that bums out the producers?

Joanna comes in, tells the designers to keep working, as this is the shortest challenge in PR history, and says that she's brought them all "a little snackeroo to keep you sugared up." She's holding the chocolate and cayenne gelato, so she starts with Kara. Kara shows her layers of sheer fabric, beginning in pale colors and descending to fiery red to evoke the cayenne. Joanna seems content, if not blown away.

April is next, and her gown is made of some really pretty deep purples and blues. April gets a pop quiz, poor thing: Joanna asks her, "With a deadline like this, what are the tricks of the trade?" April says, "Staying with what you're comfortable with." [sic] Then Joanna goes in for the kill: "How can you have a fashion moment if you're staying with what you're comfortable with?" Doh! April tries to say that she's working with color, but Joanna seems skeptical and points out some technical hem issues.

On to Mondo, whose fabric really does have cantaloupe colors--the body of the dress is bright orange, but the sleeves are pale green & cream.  It's looking kind of Golden Girls to me, to be honest, but Joanna doesn't seem to think so. She talks to Mondo about how to accessorize, and they try some different belts.

Anthony shows his green tea bodice (lots of folds and pointy bits) to Joanna, who wants to hear his DVF pitch. He sounds well-spoken, yet says nothing of substance. That's all we get. On to Austin, and Joanna says, "Of course it would be vanilla with madagascar for you." He shows her a bit of draping, and she warns him, "Don't channel the wedding, channel the fabulousness." Words to live by for all of us, really.

Rami's piece will have a wrap skirt, and Joanna accuses him jokingly of sucking up to DVF, since she's queen of the wrap dress.  I'm more concerned that he seems to be working with three different and uncomplimentary tones of green. Moving on to Mila, I notice that Joanna seems to have stopped delivering ice cream. She seems to think that Mila's piece isn't going to wow the judges enough. It doesn't look like much on the mannequin right now, it's true.

Over to Michael, who is asked, "Now, what is this shade of pink?" She's not in love with it, but simply warns Michael to be sure it pops because the color's so pale. She also says that he's the envy of all the other designers because he works so quickly.  Austin is hot-gluing his trim onto his dress, and tells us in confessional that he's ashamed. With only six hours, I'd be more worried that the glue won't dry in time!

Kenley loves her print and says it's very her--looks like a bright red/hot pink with chartreuse polka dots and a Peter Pan collar. Mila turns up her nose at it. She also thinks that Rami's look "is of questionable taste...garish." Well, Mila just knows everything today!

Anthony is throwing shade of his own, saying, "I love Mondo's caftan, is a caftan. It is a dress that I designed when I was in college." Um, maybe you should win a challenge before getting so confident, Anthony. I will say, the glimpse of styling we get on Mondo's model suggests that he has figured out how to make it a Paris Hilton caftan and not a Rue McClanahan caftan.

Fashion crisis two! April's dress doesn't fit her model and she needs to add panels, but she doesn't have enough fabric. The solution to this dilemma is not addressed in this shot. Anthony changes his skirt from a pencil silhouette to a swishy A-line. It's a pale yellow, so I'm not sure how that says green tea. Mila has just now figured out that her dress is see-through. Sorry, model!

Austin comes in to find Kara at "his" sewing machine, and just stares at her pointedly. She looks up, quickly finishes what she was working on, and says "thank you" as she walks away.  Now that's a Project Runway first! No screaming over "you stole my machine"? Astounding.

Fittings! Kenley's happy, Austin's sewing his poor girl into the dress because he doesn't have time to do a zipper, and Kara's sort of vaguely freaking out but not crying. Jerell tells us that he most admires Mondo's cantaloupe dress, which I agree is the best we've seen in both fully embodying the flavor and yet not looking costumey.

I'm always so impressed by how the designers just rip their fabric into pieces--is that a typical sewing thing? I mean, sometimes you see them use their pizza cutters, but sometimes it's just rrrrrrip! And yes they never seem worried about not being straight, or having raggedy edges, or anything. Any sewers who care to explain in the comments, be my guest!

Mondo and April are checking out the accessories wall, and Mondo says, "They have a lot of cute stuff today." Interesting--I didn't realize they changed out the accessories for each challenge. I assumed everything was there all season, so if you loved a pair of sandals or a handbag one week, you might seek it out again. More fun this way, for sure.

Hair and makeup! Neat bun, messy bun, braids into bun. Buns are apparently hot, hot, hot.

April's worried about how short her dress is (guess she stole her extra fabric from her skirt), but I don't see why she's not worried about the weird neckline that is jutting away from her model's chest. It's sort of a "Maleficent" cut, with the neck scooping up into twin exaggerated points. Do not like. Kara has figured out that her proportions aren't right--Jerell elaborates so I don't have to: "Her model is a rail, and she had her looking like a pregnant cupcake? That's not the business." Hear, hear. It's true--the tiered skirt starts right under the bust and she looks fat.

Uh-oh...the previews show everyone looking sad, and all the judges being disappointed. Maybe they didn't get any gelato?

Showtime! "Seems like I just saw you a few hours ago!" jokes Angela. She's still no Heidi. We meet our judges, Georgina, Isaac, DVF, and model Miranda Kerr, who will wear the winning look to an industry event.  We start with Mondo, who thinks that his kimono styling will impress the judges because it's a departure for him. Next is Anthony's green tea dress--origami bodice with fluffy dull yellow skirt. It looks kind of tortured to me. Anthony's worried, too: "When Diane von Furstenburg likes something, she looks at the designer and kind of winks at them....Diane does not wink at me."

Kenley's passionfruit dress is next, and she's delighted with herself. It is a cute dress (the collar now has a floppy bow), but it looks very off-the-rack to me. Nothing special about the silhouette or the styling.  Like, I could wear that dress.

Ooh, Rami. I love you, buddy, but I don't get this one. The skirt is a yellow-green satin, and the bodice has like three different fabrics--more of the satin, a green and black polka dot, and a minty green organza-looking fabric. The top greens have blue undertones that I think clash with the yellow-green of the skirt, and while the layers don't look bad, I think it's a bit bulky and awkward.

Mila managed to do something so you can't see through the dress--lined it all in red? It's cute, breezy, but not memorable. Jerell's is crazy! Strappy on top, short hemline in front swooping back to almost a train behind, it's done in a couple of rich berry prints that somehow work together. I don't like the strap details, because it looks like they've strapped down the model's boobs, but other than that, it's interesting. DVF loves it! The camera deliberately shows us her grin and the thumbs-up she shoots Jerell. He's psyched.

Oh, Kara. Kara, Kara, Kara.  She's thrilled with the dress, and it's true that all the little tiers of fabric are fluttering like a sea creature on a coral reef. But the dress has a white bodice and more pale than fiery layers, so this doesn't say "chocolate and cayenne" very loudly.  And as discussed, there's so much bulk beginning right under the model's breasts that she looks 7 months pregnant. Kara says, "I see DVF's eyes and she's definitely reacting to the dress." Um, yeah...I don't think that's a wink, though, babe.

Michael's turn! He, too, adores his creation and think she looks great.  I think she looks like she's wearing a bathrobe that's too big for her. There's voluminous fabric everywhere, and I can't distinguish anything about the sleeve because it's getting lost in the skirt. The neckline plunges to her navel, and she's wearing a big blingy necklace. Do. Not. Get. It.

April's model looks cute but unremarkable coming down the runway--pretty color, fits decently--but as she turns around, I gasp a bit at the length of the skirt. Let's just say the model better not drop anything on the way backstage, because she won't be able to pick it up. Austin's dress comes next, and it's an off-white, gauzy creation that has a huge braided detail on the bodice creeping up over one shoulder. It's a little goddessy, and the dress itself is pretty, but I think the braid looks incredibly heavy and overworked, and it smothers the dress. Not feeling it.

Our callouts are: Austin, Rami, Jerell and Kenley. Turns out those four are safe, but neither top nor bottom. I was duped by the producers! I should have known they wouldn't show us Jerell's DVF wink if he was going to be in the top.  This also gives me a chance to observe that Isaac is wearing red loafers (or maybe Moroccan slippers?) with no socks. Just sayin'.

They start with Kara, who gives a great pitch for her ugly dress. The judges all love her summary of how the dress shows the layers of flavor and ends with the pop of cayenne at the bottom, but in closeup I can see that her hems look raggedy.  They all say that she has passion, but her dress doesn't. DVF calls out the unflattering profile--they all say "pregnant."

Anthony tells the judges that his dress was inspired by watching his ice cream melt, and Isaac says, "Before you explained your inspiration, I liked the dress much less." I think that's rather silly--this isn't high curation. Do you really think the dress has become more beautiful just because Anthony cites melted ice cream? Angela found it messy, and DVF likes the concept, but they all feel it was overworked in the bodice, especially in the back.

Mila's next, and Isaac loves it! Angela, too--the color blocks and the layers of sheer fabric really spoke to them as saying "cherry ice cream." DVF also likes the concept, but thinks it's a bit sloppy and the time restriction shows. Georgina recognizes the challenge of doing all the seaming in six hours, but dings Mila for choosing heavy accessories that weigh the look down.

Michael sucks up to DVF for a bit, but it's Isaac who jumps in first to say he loves the dress. Really? Why? They ALL love the dress and its draping. I don't get it. But none of them likes the color that much, although they basically give him a pass because that was the color of the ice cream. (It also looks much pinker here on the runway, and not as salmony as it did in the work room.) Diane gives Michael a heart attack by telling him, "I think it's a beautiful dress. Michael, you gotta call me after the show." Michael does his best "Taylor Swift surprise face" and the other designers laugh.

April explains her blueberry concept, and Georgina loves the layered purples, but she feels the corset was too ambitious for the time allowed. She says it's "all over the place," but I don't really understand what she means. It does look uneven. Isaac hates the styling, and says the back is "scary." Basically, they love the concept and think it was about half good, but half Halloween. They make her take the belt off and like it 100% more.

Mondo is next, if the editing is to be believed, but interestingly, April's model has her belt back on, so clearly he actually went before her. The magic of television! You'll be pleased to know that Mondo is wearing short shorts, as is his tradition on the runway. He shows off the cantaloupe-rind sleeves, and the judges adore it. Georgina is impressed that he somehow makes these two disparate fabrics work together, and Angela loves how it flatters the model's figure, but she doesn't like the bright orange.  That's sort of a dumb critique when you gave him cantaloupe. Isaac is less head-over-heels because he doesn't think it's revealing enough, but then felt it was saved by the back, which is quite low and reveals a swath of bare back.

The judges powwow, but I'm going to skip that because honestly, I'm tired. But perhaps it's worth knowing that Isaac expresses particular doubt in Kara's future as an All-Star.  Time for results! Mila is safe, but didn't win. Michael and Mondo are the top two, and the winner is...Michael! Ecch. I think that sucks. I thought Mondo's dress had a much higher degree of difficulty. Also, I clearly just don't care for Michael, even though he hasn't really done anything wrong this time. Angela tells Mondo that all of the women on the panel wanted to wear his dress, and they loved it, and Mondo's tight smile reads as "then why didn't I win, dammit?" But he is safe, and doesn't sound too disappointed in confessional. Anthony is in the bottom three, but is sent to safety without much fanfare.

It's down to April and Kara. April's construction was lacking, and Kara's dress lacked passion and her silhouette was too unflattering. But...Kara is still safe! She is shocked and relieved, and tells the judges that she does have passion. Now there are tears. April is also crying, and she is kindly dismissed by Angela. She tells us she's not going to give up, and reminds us that she's only 22. Oof. Yeah, kid, you'll be OK.

And that's it! Tune in next week to find the judges in the park, seeing muses among the passersby.  Until then, keep your skirts short and your walks fierce!  You are all the favorite accessories on my Neiman Marcus Wall of Love.


Betsy said...

How do you Marshall the strength to blog as you do? I must say I enjoy it to the Maxx. (Guess where I get my couture look.)

Abby said...

Thanks, Betsy! That's a real boost to my Filenes. I hope others Macy's the opportunity to enjoy the recaps as well.