Thursday, January 19, 2012

PR All-Stars: Model Muppets

Hello, all-star readers! While I'm enjoying the season thus far, I can't say that I'm particularly excited for tonight's episode, "Patterning for Piggy." Not only has the Muppet movie come and gone, but I don't care if these designers can design for a puppet. And I don't really need to see a talking ball of foam judge the dresses.  But hey, maybe they'll surprise me.  And it's certainly ripe for a Surprise Twist, in which the designers think they're making a dress inspired by Piggy, but then at the last minute ALSO have to make a matching dress FOR Piggy! (If it happens, you totally heard it here first.)

Angela comes out and does a coy intro to the challenge, telling the designers they're to design "a flamboyant cocktail dress for one of the most famous fashionistas in the world." She also tells them that this guest has had everyone from Burberry to Prada design for her. Huh. I did not know that. Austin thinks it'll be Cher or Lady Gaga, but the designers all laugh, and a lot of them seem really psyched. The Muppets touched us all, I guess. We see a lot of Miss Piggy shots in various outfits, and there's one with straightened hair that kind of reminds me of Jill Zarin. Ah--"the winning designer's cocktail dress will be modified for Miss Piggy's figure." So they still get to build human-sized clothes, at least. (Good thing--you know how these designers all are about working with plus-sized models!)

In the workroom, Mila decides to go 60s Mod for Piggy, because it doesn't need to be costumey. Kenley tells us she loves Miss Piggy because she grew up watching the cartoon, and I immediately start grumbling that that isn't authentic Piggy. Muppet Show is where it's at! Statler & Waldorf 4eva!  Let's go to Mood and walk it off.

Austin wants a hot pink fabric, but Gordana notes that a lot of other designers are grabbing black. I also observe that this time, the designers keep their own Tim (or even Swatch!) to chivvy them along. With an "All right, Mood, Imma holla atcha!" from Anthony, we're off to the workroom to sew, sew, sew!

Gordana doesn't want to do structure, like the other designers are--she feels that her vision is more free-spirited and flowing, which is beautiful on a woman (or a pig, I guess). Mondo tells us that he thinks her dress is beautiful, quiet and soft, and doesn't fit the challenge requirement of "flamboyant." I'm thinking that all this working footage would be improved if they played the theme to the Muppet Show over the top.  Here you go (here you go, here you go again...)!

Midway through, the designers start eyeballing the accessories wall and staking their claim to stuff. This leads to some scuffles and negotiations, and Kara and Mondo start to get into it over some pink elbow-length gloves before both of them do the dance of "Never mind, you can have them." "No, you can." "I don't care." Mondo says he didn't want to fight, and told Kara she could have them, but then claims to be pissed off in his talking head. Dude, stop being so passive-aggressive; if you told her she could have them, you don't get to be mad at her for believing you.

Non-PR Interlude: Tonight I did yoga with my Wii Fit Plus, and tried out the feature that puts the "Plus" in Wii Fit.  Whereas with the original Fit, you had many yoga exercises but had to back in and out of the selection menu after each one, Fit Plus lets you build a whole routine and run them end to end. I put together 16 poses in a rough approximation of the routine my yoga class at NYSC does, and it totally worked! It was great, and I really liked being able to do 30 solid minutes of yoga rather than 10 blocks of 3 minutes a pop. For any of you who have the Fit and haven't touched it in a while, or those who've been thinking about getting one, I totally recommend Wii Fit Plus. [Wii is not a sponsor of this blog, and my opinion has not been paid for. If they'd like to, though, I'm totally open to that!]

We're back! Kara's wondering if she can "sex up" Miss Piggy, Mila's not entirely feeling this challenge, and then, the best exchange I've heard all season happens! I will render it as a script, so you can feel like you're right there with me.

ANTHONY (working on garment): Why is my zipper doing the snake?
GORDANA (in her fab accent): Well, you were supposed to first take a seam down and then put the zipper in so that way it doesn't stretch while you're applying it.
ANTHONY: Riiiiight, but now that we're past that, Gordana...
GORDANA: You are shit out of luck.

Thank you, Lifetime. That almost makes up for no Tim.

Seems like the designers have a lot of wandering-around time this week. Jerell's bugging April, who's pleasant but ignoring him. Kenley's showing off her pink giraffe-print bodice in the sewing room, which gives Mila a chance in interview to roll her eyes at how "some people" are very needy "ALL the time." Fortunately, Joanna comes in to do the sniff 'n' sneer. (TM Top Chef--will have to find a fashiony equivalent, since she doesn't actually sniff the dresses.) She tells us enthusiastically that she things this is the best challenge in the history of PR, but as always, there is no feeling behind her eyes. I think Joanna Coles might be a cyborg.

We start with Gordana, who wanted a youthful look that would show off Piggy's great legs. Joanna warns her that it's looking a little nightgowny, and that Gordana's assertion that Piggy would be so comfortable in this dress (which does look a little like a peasant top at the moment) is not the utmost consideration. Joanna tells us that the people she shoots for Marie Claire will wear double Spanx (eek!), Saran Wrap, whatever it takes to squeeze into a dress--comfort is not important when dressing a "mega-celebrity" like Miss Piggy. It should be noted that Joanna throws her heart into this line. I retract my cyborg accusation...for now.

Mila's mod look is cute--it's a black shift with what looks like a sheer stripe about an inch up from the hem in a sort of colorblock manner. She tells Joanna she plans to add a headband, and Joanna reminds her of Piggy's ears, which Mila had forgotten. On to Kenley, whom Joanna asks, with a straight face, "How does a pig FEEL about wearing giraffe print?" Kenley tosses it right back and says, "Well, she loves wearing leopard." Joanna must concede the point.

Austin goes on a tear about how he and Miss Piggy are kindred spirits: their love of French phrases, their tendency to refer to themselves as "moi"...he tells Joanna about his big sculptural bow idea, and she warns him to steer clear of gift-wrapping. (Also, hasn't he done the big bow thing already this season? In the first week?)

Mondo is also channelling the 60s a little, because he remembers Miss Piggy from his own childhood and thus extrapolated that she was born in the 60s. OK, why not? Though I'm sure the Divine Miss P would say that she is timeless. Mondo's using a sort of pointilist print fabric in red/orange/purple that sort of looks like what would happen if you melted a package of Skittles. It has a shiny, almost plastic quality to it, but I can't tell if that's just an odd effect of lighting or not.  Joanna just warns him to stay focused, because there's a lot of competition in the room. And that's all we see!

The models arrive for fittings, which means it's time for Bitchery! Mila has trouble with sleeves, Anthony thinks Michael's design is "amateur," Gordana says she feels confident but it sure does look like a nightgown on the model. Michael sneers that you could walk into a department store right now and pick up that dress. Mondo is in a slough of despond, and thinks his dress looks heavy and overwrought. Mila thinks Kara and Kenley have become co-dependent. I think that has the potential to be a seriously toxic combination, but so far it seems to be keeping them quiet. And no tears from Kara this week!

Non-PR Interlude: I'm determined to do more regular pleasure reading this year.  Between work reading and my love of wayyyy too much TV, reading for fun often falls by the wayside until vacations roll around. Any recommendations for me? I'm thinking about P.D. James' Death Comes to Pemberley, because I'm a sucker for all things Jane Austen. (Heh--I misremembered that title as The Road to Pemberley, and it turns out there actually is such a book. It's an anthology of Austen-related stories by romance writers.)

Eat-sleep-mingle time! I like seeing this footage. The designers are wiped and giddy, and Anthony starts babbling about something he learned from Oprah. It's cute--they all seem to enjoy each other, and there's less of the ganging up that seems pervasive during some of the regular seasons.

Back the next day at the workroom, and everyone's scrambling. Austin is so behind that HIS SHIRT IS UNTUCKED. I know, madness. Michael doesn't care for Austin's outfit, and me thinks someone is stinging from his second place finish last week. Kara is looking for her accessories and can't find them...and now we see why we had to watch the Kara/Mondo spat from yesterday. Austin has taken all her accessories for himself! (Basically, there are only so many items on the accessory wall that are Pig-worthy.) Kara whines a bit and Austin whines back that there was no tag on them, but it looks as though they compromised--Kara got the pink gloves, Austin kept the studded shoes. (I find myself wondering why the models couldn't just trade off gloves & shoes during the show.) And then there's some more grousing because now Kara wants other shoes that Austin has? I dunno. Bored now.

Kenley's crowing about her dress, which she feels sure is the challenge winner. "I'm confident. I'm always confident!" Happily, her confidence seems undiminished by history. April smiles smugly in talking head form and observes, "It's a princess-seam dress in giraffe print...just like all her other princess-seam dresses...but in giraffe print." Ooh, snap. Maybe April and Anthony can be the new Statler & Waldorf?

Brief hair & makeup montage (Michael's model has some crazy hairpiece that looks a little like the Princess Bea wedding hat made out of hair), and then it's runway time! Austin (who is dressed as a gay caballero) sends us off: "It's time to put on makeup/It's time to light the lights/It's time to get things started/For Miss Piggy's dress tonight." OK, Austin, you win, you're the superfan! Miss Piggy is your spirit animal!

Non-PR Interlude: I had a terrible cold this weekend, and forgot to take my Zicam, so I was stuck with Cold-Eze (which work, but mean you have to taste the nasty zinc for hours after). My taste buds are still messed up. Of course, that might also be from the Mucinex cough syrup I bought. Please learn from my mistake and NEVER try is truly the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted. I know cough syrup's not supposed to taste good, but usually it's just medicinal, and then you deal. But this...first of all, it's blue. You feel like you're drinking Ti-D-Bowl. Then, you pick up the cap (a dose is 20 ml, which is a lot!) and realize that it smells like the fakest blueberry flavoring OVER the medicine smell. At this point my tongue tried to beat a hasty retreat, but I screwed my courage to the sticking place and knocked it back. Yeeeeaaaggggh. I'm shuddering at the very memory. Please, save yourselves.

Time for runway! And at long last, Mademoiselle La Cochonne is with us! (That French is so bad as to be an international incident.) But we have no Isaac this week--instead, we get Eric Damon, costume designer for "Gossip Girl." Fair enough--those clothes are crazy. Miss Piggy tells us, "Kissy kissy, everyone!" and I notice that they're shooting her so as to eliminate the puppeteer from frame altogether. (I wonder if there's a big angry dude behind her thinking, "Dammit, the Elmo guy got his big break, what about me?")

It's time to start the show! First up is Michael. His dress is shimmery in a red/gold/black painterly sort of print, short, exposed zipper, with a big bow thing on one boob. (Her hairstyle evoked a similar shape.) Kind of looks like wrapping paper? I'm not feeling it.  Next is April, who went back to basic black this week. The collar neck of the dress has black spiky feathers coming off it, and there's a triangular piece at the neckline in a gray and black polka dot. The skirt is swishy but short, almost French maid-ish.

Jerell's dress, which we've barely seen all night, has a two-level hem, is red with a small black polka dot pattern, black lace shoulders and a big beady thing in the middle. Looks kind of saloon-girl to me. I'm concerned about Jerell's taste level. Kara's model looks about twelve years old when she comes out, but it's a jailbait 12--the dress looks like woven leather, almost, but might be just a brown and black houndstooth? There's pink piping and a high midriff cutout, and the model got her pink gloves.

At last, Kenley's pink giraffe comes down the runway. It's cute and springy, but it really is a pretty simple silhouette, except that the strapless neckline is cut into a narrow, deep U that drops to below the model's boobs. (Neckline looks unevenly cut, if you ask me.) The model has a HUGE pouf of pink tulle on her head. Kenley is delighted...almost as delighted as Anthony is about his dress! "Wow, what a beautiful dress," he says of his own creation. The model's dress is black with sheer black stripes, and an explosion of blue/purple/black feathers crawling up the bodice and down the skirt. I'm making it sound worse than it is, but I don't think it's great. Oh, when the camera finally pulls back, we get a look at the skirt, though, which is very cute. Multilevels and multilayers, so that the different sheer stripes play off each other and give it a sort of waffly look.

Rami's dress makes me smile, it must be said.  It's the sort of dress that would say "cheap floozy" in a romantic comedy--white fabric with hot pink and orange polka dots, in sort of a mermaid cut with ruffles at the knee and a kind of capelet ruffle effect over the shoulders. But to be honest, I could totally see Miss Piggy in it. Not sure which way the judges will go.  This is a huge contrast to the next look, which is Mila's. I think this dress is adorable, but I don't know if it's enough look for Piggy, actually. It's a mod shift with a hint of A-line, and the sheer (or pale gray?) detail at the hem is echoed in striped sleeves. I could imagine a young woman wearing this, but not really our Muppet client.

Gordana's turn. Weirdly, I think both she and Joanna are right--it does look much more finished than it did in the work room, and the hem has nice shape and structure to it...and yet it does still kind of look like a babydoll nightie. The styling's a little weak, too--just some pearl elbow-length gloves.

Oh, lord, Austin has designed something I don't know how to describe. It's a fitted sleeveless dress in gray and fuchsia with a sweetheart neckline, and two big pink bows on either hip. The bodice has windowpane seaming so it sort of looks like you gift-wrapped a skyscraper. Austin thinks he did great, but I don't get this one. We cut to Piggy taking a last look and shaking her head. Spoiler alert?

Mondo's turn--cute basic shape--cap sleeves, zigzag hemline that's thigh-high. The fabric still looks crinkly or plastic or something, but the color's cute, and the neckline is high to compensate for all that leg. He's put his model in what I thought was a straw hat, but in fact is an enormous, unmoving bouffant hairdo. (With matching side bow.) Mondo has no doubt that he's going to be in the top 3. I am not so sure.

And that's it! Our callouts are Austin, Rami, Gordana, Kenley, Mila and Michael.  They are our top and bottom for this week, so Mondo, Jerell, April, Anthony and Kara are safe.  We start with Austin, who explains that he chose gray and pink as "classic Piggy." Georgiana begins, and compliments his construction, but thinks he chose the wrong pink--and she's right. He went with a deeper raspberry color that she finds is "not reading as very happy." Also, the hip bows don't look like the same tone as the raspberry. Eric hates the bows because they accentuate the hips, which Piggy probably won't want. Miss Piggy doesn't like the bows either.

Rami is next, and tells the judges that the bright cheery fabric called to him, and he wanted the organza flounces because Piggy is so animated. Angela begins, "This could be a difficult dress for the average woman to wear..." as Piggy interrupts, "Yeah, but I'm not average!" in her gravelly lower register. Georgina loves the playful quality, and takes minor issue with some matching issues at the seam. Eric praises it as well as "Parisian Hog Couture," and then likes the joke so much he repeats it. Methinks someone missed a cue. Piggy gives him the side eye and says, "That was a dig, wasn't it. BE CAREFUL." She then tells Rami, "This is the most garish, outlandish think I have ever seen...I LOVE IT!"

Gordana's turn: she wanted a dress that evoked the happiness Piggy has brought to Gordana's own children. Angela says it's very pretty, but too understated. Georgina didn't love the glove styling, although she understands that Gordana picked them because they're a signature Piggy piece. Miss Piggy just "doesn't know if it's moi."

Michael's up now, and man, I still don't like this dress. Georgiana feels that Michael went in a different direction, but it still works. Angela found it a little dark for Miss Piggy, but Piggy herself says she loved it and thinks it looks like a "present for Kermie." Eh.

Mila tried to go "Hollywood It Girl," but Angela can't see the "flamboyant" coming through. Georgina, more helpfully, points out that for a red-carpet dress, color is better because it photographs better. Eric loves the graphic, linear quality of the dress, but is also sad that Mila didn't seize the opportunity to play with color. I'm sure Mila's thinking, "What are they talking about? I covered the whole spectrum from black to gunmetal!" Miss Piggy loves the retro reference but says it "does not SCREAM Miss Piggy. It whispers it."

Kenley is brimming with excitement over her dress, which she wanted to demand attention. (That it does.) Georgina begins by telling Kenley she's achieved that goal, but there are construction concerns. Turns out the judges thought the bodice was taped down, but it actually just looks that way because Kenley used upholstery fabric. Eric likes the whimsy, loves the tulle hat and then makes a misstep by referring to Piggy's ears, so they can do another bit. Piggy likes it too, I guess, but doesn't talk about the dress.

Judging. Poor Austin's dress is deemed "not classy," but the bows are the killing detail. Mila's dress was "a mod Wednesday Addams," but that's not Miss Piggy. Gordana's dress was the wrong shade of pink as well--too grey (it's sort of a dusty rose)--and won't flatter Piggy's curves. (I think Gordana might be going home for this one.)  Kenley's design was cute, but the construction was iffy. Rami's was fun, brash and perfect for the client, though the dress might be awful in another context. Michael's dress looked good, but his styling failed him by being too severe and edgy. [Then there's another staged bit so Eric can get karate-chopped by Piggy, which it turns out doesn't work so well when you're all seated in director's chairs.]

Results! Kenley is immediately called out as safe, and dismissed. Rami and Michael are our top two, and the winner is...Michael! Noooo! I think that was the wrong call. He asks Miss Piggy if she needs a date to the premiere, and amusingly, she responds politely, but as though he's a bit of a creeper. Rami is sent backstage with compliments. Austin looks miserable to be in the bottom, but is quickly sent to safety as well. His caballero hat droops in shame. So we're down to Mila and Gordana. Mila is safe, and Gordana is out. [From the other room, Gordon shouts, "Sorry, you couldn't dress a Muppet!"] It's too bad, because I like Gordana, but I have to say her eye didn't seem quite dialed in this season. Best of luck to you, lady!

Next week we get to go back to real people! Diane von Furstenburg and Miranda Kerr. Until then, my fellow PR fans, let your inner Muppet guide you! (And if you're not sure which one you's a quiz:

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