How Jem-Totally-Outrageous was drag queen Project Runway? Yet in the guest-judge blog on PR's website, RuPaul notes: "The biggest misconception about drag queens is that they want to be women. It's more of a celebration of personal freedom, color, texture, and humor." This suggests that, as much as this is about big life, big color, big comedy, there is also to be a sense of the raised eyebrow challenge about the whole thing. A sense of the wry "wink-wink."
Now, I don't know if I could actually hang out with a drag queen. I'm not generally a "big" person (a person who seems to take up the room not in size but in personality/ego), and while I can get crazy or temporarily take on the bigness, I feel uncomfortable that way and with people who are that self-concious. I don't mean self-conscious in the traditional sense, but in the pure sense that this is all put on. Literally, a drag queen must be completely conscious of the put-on self and display it all. I can take it in small doses (like, say, temporarily being around typical "theater people" when I was in Evita), but at that level I couldn't manage it. It's not disgust or hatred, as I think some feel about drag queens, and it's really nothing to do with a man dressing like a woman (I think Dame Edna is hilarious). It's more I get the feeling I want to, depending on the persona, roll my eyes or cringe, or even just leave for a very, very quiet place, in response to the hugeness. It's just not that funny to me. I feel the same way about clowns, and often masks in general. As my mother might recount, when I was a kid I was always looking for what was inside the giant costume in the mall. Right, Mom?
I think some of the designers were the same, and we were able to see those who could adapt to that feeling and get past it, and those who couldn't. The results were awesome TV.
Blayne--Blah. And when I say Blah, I don't mean that it wasn't colorful, because it certainly was, but there wasn't really anything clever or unexpected about this look. It looked like a backup's costume from The Birdcage. It should look like it belongs to a headliner!
Daniel--I was so ready for Daniel to go this week, and I felt the judges made the right decision. There was nothing even remotely drag about his dress; in fact, from conception to fabric to execution I kept thinking, "I've seen that exact dress in a dance costume catalog before." It had no personality.
Jerell--I was actually surprised that Jerell got called out so badly this week. Granted, the proportion of his dress wasn't great. I was really impressed with the views I saw before the runway show, because I couldn't actually see the dress. The collar (minus the fringe) was clever and the whole thing seemed vibrant (Tim points out the color problem with the model's face, which I do understand). Yes, the dress was either too long or not long enough (imagine that collar with a long cutaway dress, which is what I thought he was doing when I first saw the top part). But I really thought Blayne would be in the bottom three instead of Jerell. Daniel V. had a good point in his blog, that the look didn't fit his model's personality, which I thought at the time and forgot about. It was "too loud" for what she projected. So maybe he did deserve to be in the bottom 3 on that challenge parameter.
Joe--Yes, Joe did a good job, and he actually fit that jumpsuit really well, which had to be difficult. Yes, Varla was delighted. But someone who commented on one of the blogs had it right on the money, in that if Varla hadn't helped Joe with that collar, this could have been a disaster. Joe, you got saved by your model this week. I am glad Joe is doing better, and he did what I mentioned above; while this was completely outside his comfort zone, he found a way to deal with it (in this case, pretending it was a Halloween costume).
Keith--I didn't think Keith's outfit was all that bad, but I could see what the judges were saying--especially seeing it in the still shot on the website. In motion, it looked fine; very Tina Turner. It had a punk element that I didn't find inappropriate, but it didn't really have a drag vibe to it, and I kept thinking that with a little more restraint in the top and with a smooth black skirt, you'd have an interesting club outfit (evidently, acc. to Tim, RuPaul said she/he would wear this dress).
Kenley--Kenley's outfit was safe this week. It looked nice and had body and a definite drag flavor about it. But it wasn't super-special, either. It suited her model's persona, but Kenley also suited her model's persona. I don't think she challenged herself this week, just wanting to make something beautiful. (Daniel V's blog is totally with me on this one, as he often is, in a creepy way.)
Korto--Korto also got saved a little this week by Chris' suggestion to make the skirt removable. The result was something a lot more effervescent and more classic, if that can be said about a drag dress. I also liked what she said about fitting full-figured people. She was very realistic about it and welcomed it, which was good to hear. I also think she did well in providing a fully realized vision, one that was conistent, which she has struggled with in the past. It wasn't my favorite garment, but it met the challenge.
Leanne--Leanne kind of picked herself up this week. She's still a little frumpy in the workroom (and I don't mind that, since I'm that way, too), but dolled herself up for runway things. Someone said something about Suede's dress being Jetsonish, but I thought Leanne's was more. Not that this is a bad thing. It was a lot like Kenley's situation in result--it met the challenge and had some structural elements to it, and it was styled well. It didn't feel like a winner, though. (Tim thought it should be in the top 3).
Stella--If Stella's model were a goth Scottish chick, I think this would have been perfect. I didn't really get an idea of what her drag queen's persona was. I think I need to watch the rerun and see how she introduces herself. I had a problem with the weird plaid flap in the front of the dress, how it hangs down below the lacing. Surely that could have been done better, like maybe hoist and gather the dress up higher with the lacing? And then have a valance effect with the plaid hanging down a bit? That flap was just sort of incomprehensible to me. I liked the back of the dress, though ultimately I didn't get a truly drag feel out of this look. It was almost too understated, which feels strange to say about Stella.
Suede--What a strange battle between Suede and Hedda Lettuce. I thought Suede's glove idea was cute, and it made the outfit more interesting. I didn't follow what the problems with the dress itself were, or what was fixed. On the whole, it was simply safe to me, it didn't stand out.
Terri--As I said, Terri got robbed. I know Joe's outfit was good and made sense, but Terri's look was practically monumental. Kabuki drag queen? Yes! You could see on her face that she felt she should have won, and while I would ordinarily be annoyed by that, she was totally right this time. What does she have to do to catch a break? Hang in there, Terri. You are doing a great job.
Daniel V. points out that the look was a bit too androgynous, which is an interesting point, but I really liked that it took drag in a different and less expected direction, which fit her client's needs. Femininity isn't just about big boobs and hips! And she was wearing a bustier anyway, for heaven's sake! Did it look more like a costume or a drag costume? That's a tough call, but as I said, I like the idea that a drag costume could go in a new direction. Tim says he and Terri had a fight about this look, and he doesn't like the "discordant" nature of the white with the red corset. I'm sorry, Tim--have you ever seen Kabuki makeup? I am totally on board with this outfit, and I will defend that position.
Finally, I like that these outfits are being auctioned off for charity. That's a great touch. Next week? Cars.