Thursday, February 2, 2012

PR All Stars: Whose Muse is Whose?

The designers are exposed to daylight, which doesn’t seem to agree with all of them. Austin, naturally, is sporting a straw boater. I’m amazed he’s not clad in a white flannel suit to go with it.  Must have left his punting pole by the Thames. Anyway, they’ve been trotted out to Central Park for some fresh air and panhandling—though in this case, they don’t need money, they need a muse, chosen from among the various people in the park.  And of course, that’s not enough—they have to convince their muse to give the designers their clothing! I don’t really like this challenge—it stretches the designers’ skills, but I always become preoccupied with how sad I’d be if one of my favorite outfits was chopped up into something I didn’t like.

Anthony tells us in a talking head that although he’s often dinged for his big personality, that will be the quality that puts him ahead in this challenge.  He’s right—I would die if I had to approach strangers and convince them to give me their outfits.  “Excuse me, ma’am, would you mind…oh, never mind, I’m sure you don’t want to. Sorry to bother you.” And then I would auf myself and save Heidi the time. (Sorry, Angela, you don’t have a good catchphrase, so I’m casting Heidi in this scenario.)

Ha! Angela throws them a bone by saying that the budget is $150, and the designers are allowed to use any portion of that to convince their muse to cough up the threads. Of course, then they’ll have that much less for Mood, so there’s some calculation at work.  Rami observes that they’ll have a difficult time in New York, because “we know that New Yorkers don’t take that shit very well.” Heh.

OK, I feel dumb. I thought they were all in Central Park, but then the designers are released to find their muse and half of them wind up at Union Square. Man, I am losing the tiny New York cred I managed to scrape together! Montage of muse-hunting. Mila finds a guy, Anthony finds a woman working at the greenmarket, Rami seems to be having bad luck. Montage of freaked-out New Yorkers refusing to part with their clothes. Montage of all the designers finding muses (sometimes more than one—Anthony, for example, approaches a guy and shrieks, “Hello, hot white guy! I need the shorts right off your back!” Hot White Guy obliges, and there is much squeeing among the designers as he whips off his pants to reveal bikini briefs underneath. Anthony is crowing about his victory, but Austin says, “Well I got his number.” Good for you, Austin! The designers snap pictures of their chosen muses, exchange plain white t-shirts for the fun clothes, and we’re off!

Cut to Mood, where many of the designers are having money issues. Kara, in particular, is $3 short and the music playing suggests that she may have to cut out a kidney and leave it on the counter.  However, she’s saved when Michael, Anthony and Kenley (I think) each chip in a dollar. Hooray! No illegal organ sales must take place!

Back at the workroom, the designers settle down at their various tables. Mila tells us that it’s challenging to cut a men’s jean down to a model’s size 2. Jerell and Anthony are talking about stuff and emphasize that the rules say that 50% of the outfit must be from the muse-clothing. Think this’ll come up later? Michael is moping because he’s not feeling inspired—I hope this isn’t to set up another Michael win. I grow bored with him. Mondo does too, apparently, because he claims that the pressure of two wins in a row is getting to Michael. I think that might be wishful thinking, but I guess we’re meant to read this as an ongoing Michael/Mondo rivalry.

Next day! Anthony is less clear about his vision, while Michael is more so. Gotta be about time for Joanna to visit, no? Lo and behold, here she is! Joanna starts with Mondo, whom she says has “great street style” and says that she thinks this could be his challenge (and points out that he hasn’t won one yet). Jerell is next, and his outfit looks insane. Anthony calls it “Coming to America,” and he’s not wrong—there’s a sort of Michael Jackson-y shoulder piece with epaulets, a striped bikini top, and then maybe two skirts in very different fabrics? Have no clue what’s going on there…it looks like my laundry pile. (Er, not that I own a shoulder piece with epaulets.)

Austin is also rocking an epaulet, in a gray and black military-style jacket. His muse was a little goth girl who had some cute stuff on. Joanna is cautiously optimistic. She’s less so about Anthony, who seems to have grabbed tons of disparate pieces and lacks a coherent vision yet. Michael’s very subdued as he shows off his mannequin, which seems to have lace shoulders (but big lace, sort of macramĂ©) and a gauzy beige babydoll bodice.  But then I’m baffled, because now I’m looking at a completely different bodice in a salmon color. I don’t get it.  Jerell is convinced that he’s finally going to be in the top, but Austin thinks the look is “tasteless.” Which muse will win?

Two hours to go! More work montage—quick glimpses of Kenley, Kara, Mila, Mondo. All are confident. Anthony is struggling because the crazy print blouse he got from Greenmarket Lady winds up looking kooky or frumpy against everything he tried. Will he pull it out? Hmm, lots of underboob in Jerell’s look. Michael’s outfit is not at all what he showed Joanna—it’s a…romper? bathing suit? Leotard? Strapless sweetheart bodice attached to something that’s shorter than a booty short. I have no idea what item of clothing that’s supposed to be, or where one wears it. Maybe she’ll get a sarong, too?

Then…scandale! Michael comes over to Mila in the sewing room and whispers that Kenley has just finished Kara’s pants for her.  Michael, you little shit-stirrer! Notice that he doesn’t say anything to Kenley or Kara himself…just wants to spread the gossip. Mila’s pissed, but doesn’t get up. Michael stops by Mondo’s table and whispers coyly, “Did you want me to finish this for you?” Mondo just laughs.  Rrowr, Michael!  I assume this will come back and become a big fight on the runway.

Non-PR interlude: Breaking Dawn is coming out on DVD soon, and the commercial just makes me angry all over again about how bad that movie was.  I definitely wasn't drunk enough for that viewing. Though part of me is tempted to get really wasted and then live-tweet Part II.

Runway time! Our judges return, and the guest today is Sean Avery, a hockey player who famously interned at Vogue. I'm not convinced he will have much to add to the discussion, but hey, maybe he'll surprise me. Without further ado, we begin.

Michael is first up, and his outfit is described as "lace top, knit shorts." Model looks cute, but it still looks like a bathing suit. Her butt is barely contained, and I'm not sure that's street-legal. Austin's model is next, and looks cute but kind of costumey. The outfit is gray and black with gold accents, and the military jacket is paired with a stiff flared skirt.  Judges will either love it or think it's too gimmicky.

Kara's model is wearing high-waisted navy pants (that seem to fit great--thanks to Kenley?) and a one-shoulder top with a floral design. There's also a jacket, but I'm not clear on whether that's part of the muse clothing or not. The proportions of pant to bustier feel a little off to me. Mila's model looks...just like Mila! Seriously, I think she's worn this outfit on the show--skinny gray jeans with black colorblocking, a gray and white striped slouchy tee, and a black long vest. Model looks sloppy-cool, but I don't know that this will be considered "fashion forward."

Jerell's model comes out, and he thinks she looks amazing, but I think she looks like the love child of Bai Ling and Lady Gaga. Still don't get it. Rami, of whom we saw nothing in the workroom, did a cute beige short with pattered hem, a sleeveless blouse with a foldy, drapey ruffle down the front, and a sleeveless vest over that. Model looks very cute in a kind of Paula Abdul-in-the-80s way.  Kenley's model is next, and looks cute in a striped, cap-sleeved cheongsam with splashes of red and yellow fabric on it. I honestly have no clue how she got that whole dress out of the striped top she took from her muse--wonder if she bought matching fabric at Mood?

Anthony's turn--and where's the crazy Greenmarket Lady print? Reduced to a tiny clutch the model is holding. I don't know where any of these clothes came from, but his model is wearing a jumpsuit that has a black top with a plunging V-neck, and red pants with a folded origamish detail at the waist/hip. She's also wearing a red turban. I think Anthony's going to have a hell of a time explaining how this outfit was "inspired" by his muse.

Mondo's model comes out, and she has the hair of Carol Kane. Her top is a jacket made out of jeans, but it doesn't look like a jean jacket. Model opens it as she walks the runway to reveal a striped bikini top that matches the high-waisted shorts she's wearing. It's cute, edgy, but I don't love the styling, which reads more "kooky" than "street" to me. But then, my own styling tends to read "I give up," so I shouldn't talk.

And that's the lot of them! Right away we line up the designers and pull out our "safe" crew--in this case, it happens to be all three of the remaining women.  So Kara, Kenley and Mila celebrate girl power and skedaddle backstage. I don't think any of them were robbed--all three outfits were OK, but not remarkable.  So of our remaining six, who are the top and who are the bottom? 

We begin with Rami, who was inspired by menswear, and the judges all love his outfit. Not a lot to discuss, it seems. Michael's next, and Georgiana tells him, "If my daughter ever went out on the street in shorts that short, she would be put straight back through the front door." Good for you, Georgina! Those things are obscene. Angela thought it was a swimsuit, in fact. Isaac has issues with the fit of the bodice, and even the hockey player is uncomfortable with how bare she is.

Jerell? Ooh, Isaac is baffled and says the model looks like someone from "The Lion King." Here is where I tell you that I almost made a Lion King joke above, but then feared it was too hacky. The hockey player says that he wrote down, "Lady Gaga and Gwen Stefani at Burning Man on acid." Hmm...he's not that far off, actually. Guess he learned something at Vogue. Georgina loves some of the elements individually, but not together, and Isaac finds that the huge expanse of exposed stomach (from collarbone to hipbones, really) is "the opposite of sexy." Wah-wah....

Mondo's turn! He tells us that his muse was a woman named Grace, who contributed her dress, and his jacket is made of jeans from "a guy named Pedro." Heh. Thanks, Grace and Pedro! The judges love the look, and think the detailing on the jacket is terrific (there's a cutout on the back at the shoulder blades). Angela loves the model's hair, so what do I know? Georgina thinks the shorts are super-flattering, and Hockey says he could picture a lot of girls wearing it.

Anthony's outfit is well-received, though the judges do ask how much of his look was muse clothing. He tells us that everything from the waist-up, plus the bag, was from the street, but I don't think we saw him collecting it. The judges all love the look, but the judges aren't convinced that he really responded to the challenge because it's such a departure from Greenmarket Lady's look.

Georgina loves the proportions of Austin's outfit, but Hockey thinks the left shoulder details are a bit overdone. Isaac confuses me because he says the details are out of control, but that it's fabulous. So...yay?

Time for judging--and somehow, although Rami's look got nothing but compliments, now they're bitching about the model's fedora, which Hockey says "felt too forced." Oh, lighten up, dude, I thought it was cute. Though now that I think about it, that's why I was thinking Paula Abdul. Austin's look is charming and girly. Mondo has a great eye, but his looks don't offer a lot of ways for the wearer to make it her own. Is that a thing the designer is supposed to be worrying about?

Jerell's model was too naked and crazy-looking; Michael fell down in construction; Anthony was lazy because he didn't really use enough street fabric or represent his muse. He better not go home instead of Jerell!

Non-PR interlude: I struck up a conversation with a classmate at Zumba, and we discovered we both lived in Astoria.  We took the train home together, and had a nice chat--I told her I was an editor, and it turns out she's trying to write a children's book (aren't they all).  It was funny, though--when she suggested we ride back together, I had a sudden moment of "Eek! What if we only have two minutes of conversation and it's all awkward, or what if she expects us to do this every week and I don't like her?" I think I need to lighten up and get over myself.

Results! Rami is declared safe and sent back--poor Rami! I think he's been overlooked a couple of times now, but he always does good work. And the winner of the challenge is...Mondo! Well, not too surprising, as the editing seemed to be pulling for him, but it was a good look. And Austin is sent back to safety with compliments for his work. 

And now for the losers...Jerell is declared safe? WTF? How on earth did that monstrosity get through? Anthony has a look like he knows they're booting him. They are! And Michael starts weeping, which I find a little drama queen-y. It's not about you, Michael! Anthony is gracious in defeat. Maybe Austin will give him Hot White Guy's phone number as a consolation prize. It's clear that the other designers love him, as there are clasped hands and lots of hugs for Anthony as he goes.

And we're done! Whew--this one felt speedy tonight. See you all next week!

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