Sunday, March 4, 2012

PR All Stars: Your Name in Lights!

I'm back from sunny Florida, which was 90 degrees this weekend--alas, I didn't even have time to get in the hotel pool. But thanks to any Sleuthfest readers! You were gracious hosts.

Since my elite cadre of readers (hi, Mom!) have probably already watched & forgotten the show, I'm going to try to make this a quickie. (And we saw how well I did last week.) Anyway, the challenge this week is to make an avant-garde design incorporating lighting effects, for display on a blacklit (blacklighted? lit with blacklight?) runway. So basically, it'll be like a skinny Blue Man Group. Pharrell Williams will be the guest judge, and the winning designer's look will appear in a video.

Off they go to the lighting shop, which has all sorts of twisty, bendy light sticks in various colors and sizes. Michael's drawn to a string of white lights that look like mini-vanity lights, while Jerell likes magnetic LEDs and the fiber optic glowstrings you used to see at Spencer Gifts.  (I used to love Spencer Gifts! So much glow! I don't think I fully understood the raunchier elements of their stock.)  After some haggling, the designers bring their haul straight to Mood. (No light-up bow tie for Swatch? A missed opportunity.)

Michael bought pink taffeta for a coat, and also some stiff red felt, but he's nervous about working with that fabric. Mondo, wisely, is trying to test his fabric choices against the lights to see how the colors will work. Austin keeps talking about his "vision" for the challenge, which is a "Stardust" ballgown. He's getting so much coverage that I'm worried this is Austin's swan song. Jerell's picking out prints with bright white backgrounds, so the prints will pop under the blacklight. And that's it! Back to work.

At Parsons, the producers created a dark room so that the designers can check their glow work. OK, that's cool! Everyone starts pulling out their various light items to see them under the blacklight.  Jerell is doing something "exaggerated and tribal"--are you surprised? Austin is trying to evoke the midnight sky. Kenley is making plaid out of neon tape on black fabric. Mondo is staring into space; apparently his fabric is not speaking to him today. Ooh, Kenley whines, "Do you like my plaid, Mondo?" Mondo walks by without looking and says, "I'm not the right person to ask." Bitchy!

Michael has doubts about his pink coat, and decides he needs to do something different...but then we see him wheel the pink coat (or dress? can't tell from this angle) into the darkroom. Mondo says, "Michael's playing '7 Minutes in Heaven' himself." Heh.

Non-PR Interlude: Wally just casually sidled up and tried to help himself to my shrimp fried rice. But Mama don't play that. Now he's sulking under the coffee table.

We're back. Michael now has a completely different dress on his form--it's black, fitted, and he's adding stripes of neon tape. Seems awfully close to Kenley, and I don't even like her!  Isn't this the third week in a row where Michael has bailed on his first idea and just whipped up something that seems very close to the work of another designer? I hope they call him on this.

Critique time! Joanna has arrived, and I notice that she is clad all in black today. Someone was determined not to look goofy in the darkroom, I see.  She starts with Kenley and tells her, "I am...excited about Pharrell Williams being the guest judge." I have never heard anything sound more insincere than that sentence uttered in that accent. Anyway, Kenley shows off the beginnings of her plaid, which uses pink and yellow glow tape as well as white fabric that she's cut squares out of so it looks like a very fat criss-cross overlay.  Mondo is still in bitch mode, apparently, because in a talking head he says that he likes her plaid very much, but, "I's glow tape."

Jarell has nothing on his dress form yet except for a Lady Gaga-ish exaggerated peplum frame. Joanna seems optimistic, but doesn't have a ton to say. On to Austin--she seems to get his concept, but thinks it's not going to be edgy enough for Pharrell to put in a video. Austin acknowledges that his look is romantic, but points out that the look still needs to reflect his own aesthetic. Joanna tells him just to make sure that his look stands out, and Austin seems nonplussed. (As would I--you've just told him his look doesn't have the edgy feel of the rest of the room, Joanna, so it's already standing out, no?)

Joanna then pops her head into the darkroom to see Michael communing with his pink whatever-it-is. Looks like a dress to me, sleeveless with a deep V neck, but either the center seam's not done or he's designed it with a vertical peekaboo slit at belly height.  Ah--as he shows Joanna his look (there's a hat with a hole in it for a ponytail), we see that the pink is a sleeveless maxicoat over the little black dress with the glowtape. But his glowtape is curving, and so it's all wrinkled and bunchy. (And it turns out that the blacklight emphasizes every little wrinkle.)

Finally, she stops in to see Mondo, who is thinking of a little jacket, but really has nothing to show yet except a couple of panels. Joanna urges him to "bring his Mondo-like focus" to the challenge.  He does indeed seem to be shifting from "panicked" to "fashion laser." In a talking head, he revisits Kenley's design, which he thinks is cute, but is the same dress she always makes. (Since we saw Isaac warning Kenley about that in the previouslies, I assume it's going to come up again.)

Then there's a weird little aside right before the break: Austin takes a moment to Skype with his mom on camera, and she tells him that her house has gone into foreclosure.  She's still cheering him on, but he's crying at the idea that his mother is essentially homeless.  (I'm wondering why he couldn't help her out--this is his third Bravo show! He didn't send home any of that money?) We cut to commercial without resolution, and when we return, it's like it never happened. That did not feel like the right emotional note to hit there.

Kenley is weaving fairy lights in and out of her big structured white jacket-thing. Michael's dress has changed shape yet again, and now has exaggerated structure, shoulder loops, and "piping" in yellow tape. (It looks good, actually.) Mondo seems to still be flailing--it's a red, black and yellow fitted dress with a pronounced forward-poking bodice. Also, he's freaking out because his lights aren't working.

Heh. Michael's model looks like a ninja--his headdress covers her face, and she now has sleeves (well, arm coverings--long gloves?). Kenley's girl looks like Nicki Minaj. Austin's looks like Black Swan, but the lights don't work well--it's like he spiraled them around a Christmas tree. I thought he was going to stud the skirt with them! Bad call, Austin. I blame that distressing Skype call.

Time for the runway! First up is Mondo's look. Basically, his model looks like an extra from Tron. Short strapless dress, sweetheart neckline that juts out from the bust, and "Mississippi pearls" (that mini-vanity lighting) as piping on the sides. She also has a little hat with veil (eyescreen?) that looks like she has a glowing parrot on her head. As one does. It does have whimsy, but doesn't look all that challenging.

Jerell's look actually does read more "tribal" than I thought it would--the feathers and fiber optics look like the day-glow version of natural grasses. At the end of the runway, the model opens her mouth, and somehow it's glowing inside? I can't tell what that is. Her teeth? Did she have something in her mouth? The whole effect is a little Ke$ha, actually.

Kenley's plaid appears, and all the designers ooh and ahh. The dress is fabulous--the plaid stripes are beautiful, perfectly even, and they pop. The big white overcoat holds its structure, you see bits of pink fairy light, and the model has a pink neon Louise Brooks wig to top it off. The dress is definitely her same old A-line, though. But I like it.

Austin's "Starry Night" model is up next, and the cage skirt in black tulle holds its shape nicely. However, his lights are fluffy blue things (or nestled in tulle?) and begin at the model's chin, winding around her head and snaking down the dress in a way that isn't as appealing as it sounds. The overall effect is a little craft-y and amateur, but Austin loves it.

And dammit, I think Michael's look is pretty great, too.  He calls it "ninja turtle," and he's not wrong! The exaggerated samurai shoulders have blue blinking lights inside them, and the model's wearing a balaclava with a neon blue high ponytail poking out the top. The dress is "seamed" in yellow glowtape to emphasize the lines, including stripes down the front of her tall boots. I think there's an obi-style bow at the back. She looks pretty badass, but Isaac is squinting as though in distaste.

Judging! Kenley is first, and tells Isaac she was working hard to push herself this week. Pharrell says it's one of his favorites, but he wishes she'd incorporated the fairy lights more fully than just weaving them on the coat. Isaac thinks it's "divine." He agrees that she changed her shape (because the big white coat/top alters her look). Georgina and Angela also love it.

Mondo points out that he made overlays for his lights, so that the fabric stripes seem to glow (a cool effect, but not something you could appreciate on my screen). Georgina calls it "Tron-esque," which means I was right! I am obviously a fashion genius.  I kind of like the notion that the head of Marchesa went to see Tron. Isaac doesn't think the dress is avant-garde, although someone (Mondo? Pharrell?) says, "The boobs?" "The boobs are not avant-garde, do you think?" retorts Isaac. Apparently the boobs are reminiscent of Teletubbies? That's not explained for the non-Tubby fans among us.

Georgina loves the movement of Jerell's piece, but thinks it crosses the line from "avant-garde" to "tribal rave." They all like the fact that the model held one of the little lights in her mouth (which was what we saw at the end of the runway, mystery solved)--I'm glad I didn't know about that, because I would spent the runway show worried that she'd trip on one of her heels and choke to death. In general, they think Jerell had a good idea, but biffed it on the styling.

Austin explains his dress, and the judges get the idea quickly--they also like it more than I do, although Angela agrees with me that the lights could have been spread out over (and under) the skirt more. Isaac loves it, Georgina thinks it's romantic and enchanting, but wonders if it really pushed the challenge far enough. Even Pharrell likes it.

Michael's ninja look doesn't fare as well--Isaac loves the concept, but thinks it wasn't well-executed. The tape was sloppy, and he feels that the shoulder lights and belt, both of which blink, are too "noisy." (I assume he means busy, not actually loud.) He and Georgina both hate the bow at the back, because they feel it thickened the model's waist. Pharrell thinks it looks more Comicon than high fashion. (Wow, we're learning a lot this week--Georgina knows Tron and Pharrell knows Comicon!)

The designers are sent back to wait, and the judges confer--Austin/Kenley/Mondo are on top, Jerell/Michael on the bottom. Nothing comes up that we haven't heard already. When the designers come back, Mondo is quickly sent to safety. Then Pharrell tells Austin that he has won, and calls him a star! Aww, that's nice. I like the idea that he didn't have to be futuristic, even though I actually think that Kenley's design was better.

Angela tells Kenley that her design was "pretty incredible too" and sends her to safety. She doesn't look too disappointed to come in second. Time for Michael and Jerell to learn their final fate. And our eliminated designer is....Jerell! While I didn't hate this outfit, it's about time. He's way overstayed his welcome. Michael gets teary (as always) and scampers off the runway.

Jerell's more or less unfazed, saying that whatever happened, "I did Jerell." That you did, Jerell. That you did.

And that's the scoop! Just in time for me to watch The Amazing Race :). See you next week!

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