Thursday, February 23, 2012

PR All-Stars: O Say Can You Sew?

Hello, PR fans! I am beat tonight, and still have to do a bunch of reading, so I'm going to try to keep things short and sweet. (Ha. Like I could stop running my mouth--er, fingers.) Here's a little blogging party game you can play at home: Gordon is currently sitting in the living room with me. How many minutes do you think he'll make it before he gives up on watching the show and runs away?

We start in the hotel, and Austin bitchily says that Kara deserved to stay more than Jerell or Mila (but not to their faces, of course). Nothing much comes of it, and soon the contestants are off to their next destination: the U.N.! We see the classic view of the black slab building ringed by the world flags, and then cut to what I think is the U.N. Peace Garden. Angela greets them, standing by a table of six flags chosen from each of the six major world regions: Chile, Greece, India, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, and the Seychelles. Each designer must make a dress inspired by the colors of the flag, and the culture of the country.

Mondo chooses Jamaica; Michael chooses Greece and shouts "Opa!"; Mila picks Papua New Guinea because of the colors; Jerell picks India for its embellished ethnic flair; Austin picks the Seychelles and makes a dumb lispy joke I won't transcribe; and Kenley is left with Chile, but says she's happy with it.  Looks like the designers also get a binder with some information about their chosen country as well.

Mila says she'll be making a subtle nod to the Papuans' tribal dress, but keeping it runway. Michaels is designing a drapey one-shoulder toga-inspired dress. Austin is working with a lot of chiffon, and consulting with Kenley now that they're at Mood. Mila's all, "WTF?" since it's a competition. Austin gains a point in my estimation for describing Kenley's drive-by consult thusly: "Kenley flirts by and says, 'Yes, yes, yes!'" Heh. That's about right.  And in case any of you were wondering, Kenley has found a polka-dot fabric. I know, you're shocked.

Mondo tells us that he must walk the line between ignoring the challenge and getting too costumey. Mila is once again insisting on her design's modernity and expressiveness, which leads me to believe the editors are setting her up to be axed tonight. Her design is typical Mila: asymmetrical hem, black/red colorblocking.

Time for the dinner break--the designers are stuffing their faces, and Kenley says through a mouthful of food that if she didn't get Austin "out of his zone," he'd still be in the workroom. Jerell (I think) mutters, "He is still in there." Cut to Austin, staring at his fabrics and having doubts about choosing the flag that looks like a parade float. Will he make it? Not until after the commercial break...

Jerell seems to have a black sheer base for his dress, with white and gold trim. The designers flip a little bit because they think Michael's done already.  I must grudgingly admit that it's pretty--white pleated one-shoulder gown with silver trim that looks like a hammered metal belt, but used as a border at the neckline. Kenley says it's "very Marchesa," home of our esteemed judge Georgina--will that help or hurt at judging, I wonder?

Welcome, Joanna! In she pops to see what everyone's up to, and she starts with Mondo. He has nothing on his mannequin but some planning tape (whatever you call it), but describes his vision: a black jersey gown (sleeveless, I think) that looks plain in the front, but has colorblocked yellow and green chevrons going down the back like a fancy spinal column. (He doesn't say that last part.) Joanna asks him the question "that all designers hate: how do you wear a bra with that?" Great question, Joanna! Mondo smiles sheepishly and says, "You don't." Bad answer, Mondo! Joanna doesn't push him, though.

When Joanna gets to Jerell, she can see instantly that his inspiration is India, but tells him it looks like a national costume, not runway fashion. Jerell thinks that perhaps she just needs to hear his overall idea--but he doesn't tell us. Joanna seems unconvinced, but we don't get any further than that.

On to Michael--he tells Joanna that his mom's Greek, which is why he wanted this country. (For some reason I thought Michael was Roma? I've been reading the wrong message boards, I guess.) Joanna loves the simple, elegant fall of the front pleating, and then Michael spins the dress form around to show the back--which plunges to ass-cleavage levels. Joanna snips, "Another dress that you can't wear a bra with. You designers just like to torture us." But she's not too upset, because she knows that her magazine would never shoot a model who weighed enough to require a bra. However, she does warn Michael to make sure his look is ambitious enough for the judges.

On to Austin, who seems, for the moment, to have worked through his crisis of confidence. He also seems to have pared the dress colors back to blue, yellow and white.  He's doing a skirt with layered panels of chiffon in a sunburst fashion--Mondo pooh-poohs this in a talking head--and Joanna is happy to hear that Austin's model will be wearing a bra.

Mila is basically making a half-and-half dress. You know those performers in the subway who dress in a tux on one side and a ballgown on the other, so they look like a dancing couple? That's what this is. One half is a short, fitted LBD with a white belt, the other is a long, flowy red caftan. Joanna's only comment is that finally, she's seeing a dress with which a woman could wear underwear.  Um, yay?

Finally, Kenley. Her blouse is a white fabric with navy hearts on it (not polka dots, but close enough), and she shows Joanna the red-and-white striped fabric she plans for the bottom. Joanna doesn't think she's leaving her comfort zone, or that this will stand out enough. Mila thinks it's the same thing Kenley always does.  I think it looks like something a square dancer would wear on the 4th of July. But Kenley doesn't give a crap what any of us think, says Mondo (and he's right). "Why is she still here? Why is she still here?" he asks, crying to the mountaintop. Why, indeed, Mondo. Why, indeed.

The models come in for a fitting, but we don't see much of it. Everyone seems content. No one is weeping. At the end of the day, however, there is still much work to be done. As always.

NPRI (Non-PR Interlude)! Does the commercial for The Lorax look as bad to you as it does to me? It's an abomination! Creepy animation, obnoxious voice acting, and none of the quiet charm of the book. I hope the director is carried off by Sneetches.

The next morning, the designers are varying degrees of scared and confident. Jerell longs for a yard of elastic; Mondo thinks he might not finish; Mila knows her fit must be impeccable.  All of them say catty things about each others' designs: Michael hates Austin's, Mondo hates Michael's, Austin hates Jerell's. Jerell is psyched to have found a bindi-style headband on the accessory wall (run, don't walk to your nearest Neiman's, ladies!), but his model still looks costumey, I say.

As they head out to the runway, I give my initial ratings based on the glimpses we've seen: in the top, Mondo and Michael (I know, shocker). On the bottom, Austin and Jerell. Kenley's in the middle, and probably safe, but I never saw her skirt. My guess--Austin might actually go home for this. His dress isn't great.

Angela joins us for the runway show, and her hair and makeup are both overdone. Maybe she's going somewhere more exciting after? "As has been said, one day you're in, and the next you're out. And that's never been more true than on PR All-Stars." Um, really? Isn't it only exactly as true for All-Stars as it has been for every iteration of Project Runway? That line makes no sense. Go comb your hair, Angela.

The guest judge today is Secretary-General of the U.N., Ban-Ki Moon. ...No, of course not--but that would be awesome, wouldn't it? It's actually Catherine Malandrino. We've seen her on this show before, but she's here tonight because she's apparently best known for her take on the American flag. She is? OK.

Jerell goes first, and says of his model, "I can't believe how Indian she looks!" It's true--she's festooned like one of those decorated Indian trucks (which I learned about on The Amazing Race).

Anyway, she has a black-and-gold bustier with a short skirt also trimmed in gold (and red?); neckline and sleeves have sheer black fabric, and there's a white ribbon with gold edging running across the shoulders and down the sleeve. hung from one shoulder is a mass of draped green chiffon-ish fabrick, tucked into the bustier belt and flowing into a long overskirt. The line between "India" and "hot mess" has been sorely blurred here.

Kenley's up next, and her model's dress is primarily the heart-print fabric, but there's a diagonal swath of ruffled skirt done in the red and white stripes. The navy heart part is super-fitted, with a high neck and long sleeves, but the skirt just barely makes it past the model's butt. Also, when Kenley's model turns to walk back up the runway, you can see that the dress's collar is completely uneven in the back, like she set in the zipper wrong.

Oh, Austin. His model appears, and the dress looks both ordinary and a bit tacky. The line is nothing new--toga-ish gathers at both shoulders with a plunging V neck, flowy chiffon all the way to the floor--but the colors are aqua and canary yellow, and it just looks cheap. Even Austin admits that the draping's not great (he discovered in the workroom that the dress was a little too short), but insists that his model is gorgeous, like a "breath of sea air." I dunno, I'm smelling dead fish.

Mondo's turn--his model, from the front, is reminiscent of that navy dress Hilary Swank wore to the Oscars a few years ago. The black jersey is super-fitted, with long sleeves and only a small, high, V neck. (I think that was a mistake--he should have made it a crew neck.) As she approaches the end of the runway, you can see that the back is cutaway so much that it creeps round the side and gives a hint of naked ribs (eek!). But when she turns, the back really is striking. The dress is backless except for a broad stripe of those green and yellow chevrons with black edging--feels almost Mondrian.  Very striking.

Our next dress is Mila's (you knew Michael was going to close the show, didn't you?), and I have to say...I don't get it. It really does look like two dress halves sewn together. The LBD ditched the white belt somewhere along the way, and the red caftan seems to be a trifle more fitted, and has acquired yellow piping. I guess it's well-fitted, but I...don't understand.

Finally, Michael's goddess gown. The white fabric moves beautifully when the model walks, but Michael's added a big blue and white bow to the shoulder, and I think it's overpowering. The real problem, however, starts when she turns around. It's clear the dress is a little too loose on the sides/lower back, and even Michael admits that the gown is cut too low. Let's just say there's no way that model is wearing underwear. Georgina looks balefully at it as it goes back up the runway. Half-nekkid models are Not Cool, yo!

No need for tops and bottoms this week, as there are only six people left. It does make me realize that in my early rankings, I completely forgot about Mila! I'd say that probably means she's in the bottom, huh?

Kenley is the first to introduce her garment, and Georgina likes its youthful energy. Catherine also enjoys it (I think--her accent is strong) and Isaac also finds its spirit charming. However, he warns Kenley not to do another dress like it, because "you do it again and again." Jerell tells us that he loves India's unabashed ethnic fashion, and Angela loves his model's white stripe. Isaac likes the concept, but thinks it was sloppily done, which is a problem. Catherine loves the bustier dress, but feels it's obscured by the so-so draping; Georgina tells Jerell he needed to edit, because there's too much going on. From your lips, Georgina, but I don't think "editing" is in Jerell's vocabulary.

Oh, snap! Michael presents his dress, and Georgina says that she's on the fence, because "it's screaming beauty pageant to me." Mondo made that same point two or three times in earlier interviews, so I'm sure he's smirking right now.  Angela also hated the bow, and Isaac thinks it looks carelessly stuck on. (I think I'm 0 for 3 right now!)

Austin sounds kind of depressed and listless as he starts presenting his dress, like he expects them to hate it. Georgina says it's a pretty dress, and a pretty silhouette, but the colors aren't truly those of the flag. (Really? That seems petty, given that they were also told to be inspired by the culture, which in the Seychelles revolves around their crystal blue seas.) Isaac notes the sloppy finishing on the bodice, which Austin cops to. Georgina is hammering at the colors still, Catherine says nothing, and Angela damns it with faint praise: "It's not the worst dress I've seen on PR All Stars." Um, thanks?

On to Mondo--he wanted something slinky and sexy but also simple and relaxed, which was how the Jamaican people were described in his dossier. Catherine loves the dress, but finds the hair disturbing. She's right--I didn't mention it above, but the model is wearing fake dreads all bound up in a black head wrap. It's heavy and overpowering, and a little racially sketchy to boot. Isaac loved the jersey, but says his least favorite part was the green and yellow back. But that's the whole point of the dress! And if he hadn't included it, you'd have yelled at him for not using the colors in the flag! I reject you, Isaac.

Mila explains to the judges what the Papua New Guinea flag looks like, and Georgina likes how she could immediately tell the dress was Mila's. Isaac says it reads as Russian, Communist. Well, Mila in general tends to read that way, no? Angela doesn't like the disparity between the halves--Isaac agrees that it's disturbing to look at, but acknowledges that it's intentional. And now, away with you, designers!

I'm too tired to review judges' comments--you'll just have to be surprised at the reveal :).  When the designers come back, they aren't split into top and bottom. right away. Michael is called first, and told that he's safe. Off he goes. Then Mondo and Kenley are called out, obviously the top two. The winner is...Mondo! Yay! Good for him; I think it was definitely the best dress out there. Kenley, obviously, is the runner-up, and thus safe, but she got nailed for doing the same shape over and over.

Austin is quickly released from his torture in the bottom three, and told that he is safe. He survived on his past body of work, though. So it's down to Jerell and Mila--surely we finally have to get rid of Jerell and his taste issues, no? NO! I can't believe it--they kept him again and poor Mila has been axed. I mean, the two of them were pretty clearly the next two to go, but still, over Jerell? Come on. Anyway, Mila's down but not out, and hopes to show at this year's fashion week.

And that's the show! We seem to have moved into the reunion special right away, hosted by Isaac and Joanna. Oh, it's "After the Runway," Lifetime's ripoff of "Watch What Happens Live." That's beyond my recapping skills, I fear, and I still have a manuscript to read. Goodnight, PR diehards! Stay fashionable!

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