Friday, August 28, 2009

PR: Ep. 2, Baby on Board

Lifetime: Well, I'm pleased to say that Lifetime fixed the issue with the photos, so you can now see photos of the individual garments without rating them--and they've one-upped Bravo by giving you four pictures of each dress--well, three of the dress and one of the fabrics. Still sad that "Tim's Take" is still basically video of his critiques in the workroom, and that two of the other blogs are video-based. I read faster than I can watch a video. But the improvement of the picture situation gets my thumbs up.
The Challenge: A pregnancy challenge is a GREAT idea. I know from sisterly experience that maternity shopping is in itself a challenge, and that it is expensive. They have lots more cute clothes than they used to, but it is a lot of money to spend on a nine-month outfit.
And therein lies the problem. I just can't care that Rebecca Romijn has "trouble" finding chic maternity clothes. I know this was probably supposed to make me say, "Hey, she has troubles just like me!" but she doesn't. She can afford to have things custom made, and she can afford the cute things that are actually in the shops/websites...oh, and she's a model. I can't sympathize with her and I certainly can't pity her. I'm sure lots of people will disagree with me and that's fine, but I thought she made the actual idea of the challenge less fantastic for me.
I think this could have been a great opportunity to do a new take on the "everyday woman" challenge by giving regular pregnant ladies really chic outfits, to show that ANY pregnant lady can have lovely things and feel elegant.
Sermon over.
The Clothes:
This week, my two favorites and my two least favorites coincided with the judges. Not having been pregnant, I can't vouch for whether my feelings are right, but here's my rundown (and I actually took notes this week and watched the runway show twice):
Althea: I'm going to defend this outfit--The dress was glamorous and I'd wear it. The judges were right to call Althea out on the too-tiny top, which was impractical, BUT, I have also seen pregnant famous ladies wearing very low cut tops at Red Carpet events, and after all, we were dressing Romijn, not the everyday woman. Some small adjustments would have made that top just right. The dress would also need to be a little shorter, as someone pointed out in comments at Lifetime, because it was dangerously long, but if it was hemmed a bit differently, this dress would be suitable for a fancy do, which I respect. It could also be worn with low-heeled shoes (a lot of designers seemed to neglect this their styling--hello, swollen ankles and baby weight? I admit, RR was wearing high heels.).
Carol Hannah: CH is kind of in love with herself, no? I liked the little jacket with this dress, but I didn't care for the back of the dress, and I thought the swoop on the front was a little too accentuating. The placement of it bothered me, I guess. I can't really see RR wearing this outfit, which was my ultimate issue.
Christopher: Leggings? Really? Boring. I can get those anywhere. The top was a pretty color, and I liked the pleating, but the bubble silhouette is overdone and a bit of a copout, I thought. I didn't dislike the top, but doing a top with plain leggings troubled me.
Epperson: Go with me here: This was an interesting direction. I thought the volume of the jacket was too much--it was a little too much like a crumpled-paper project in the midsection. Personally, I would not wear a jumpsuit like this, but I could see where he was going for Rebecca Romijn, who might. I would have liked to see her in it actually, because that's how different it was from anything I'd envisioned myself. Ultimately, I think it was a little too strange, but I like the creativity of this outfit. I am a little bothered that we've heard practically nothing of Epperson at all. What does this mean?
Gordana: I was a little bored by this outfit, as I was with Christopher's. Again--leggings. Why? That's what you choose to show off your design skills? The little cardi was a nice color, but not out of the ordinary, and the top, while pretty, was also not that unusual. Thus, while the design overall was attractive, there was nothing special or striking about it to my eye.
Irina: I quite liked Irina's garment. Problems: The flowers at the front were not quite the right color, I think. The front of the dress (as someone pointed out in the Lifetime comments) should have been a bit longer...either that or the model's babybump was way out of whack. There were a couple of construction issues indicated by the photos that I didn't see on the runway. That being said, cute colors and cute design, just some sewing issues. I would totally wear this dress, though, and I think it was my third favorite look, designwise. It looked fresh and young, and I think that's how I might like to look if I were pregnant in the summer.
Johnny: I liked the side seam on Johnny's garment. The piping was a good idea in the design he chose. Overall, the design wasn't very eyecatching for me. I never did figure out the back...was the back loose in some way? Like a cape? I can't tell from the photos, either. Something got lost in translation.
Logan: Boring. Boring boring boring. This really looks like something you could buy in a store. In some ways, that could be good, because it's a realistic and wearable garment. However, with the challenge being a design for a celebrity and to wow the judges...I didn't see it. It's a safe, middle-of-the road garment. Nothing more. And LEGGINGS AGAIN.
Louise: Louise conflicts me. I wasn't super wowed by her garment, though I like that she was able to bring her aesthetic into the challenge, and still create something the celeb judge would like. I also love that she hand-dyed her lace. Sure, it's not that hard, but my positive feelings about designers slowing down and thinking about their fabrics is previously documented. And it was really beautifully dyed. I'm wondering if all her garments are going to have shoulder flowers, and hoping she's not going to get stuck. All that being said, I think her garment ranked round about number 4 for me.
Malvin: Oh, Malvin. Okay. On the mannequin, before we got all the black involved, I thought I saw some interesting and soft draping of a lush fabric, and I thought maybe we had a fall garment with potential. Then we got to the runway and I had to play the WTF? card. What I thought I saw was obviously not the intention. Let's go backward. I beautiful lush wrap from that ivory fabric paired with a fawn or gray draped shirt maybe, or a sleek dress? I can sort of see something in my mind. But those pants were awful, and the look didn't come together, and the execution was not appealing. However...
Mitchell: Mitchell, in my mind, is out this week. I don't know what else he'll do, and maybe he will come back in a big way, but I will always think he maybe shouldn't be there. His look was neither well executed nor well designed. Yes, the top and cardi were wearable (in fact, I quite liked the flow of the cardi), but let's face it: We're looking at really horrific shorts and a top two garments you could get at Target or somewhere similar. The whole thing looked sloppy and unkempt. Honestly, as soon as I saw it I thought it was something B. Spears might wear and get made fun of for, because it would make her look flighty. The idea was to provide clothes a pregnant lady couldn't buy that would flatter her. Malvin was at least trying to produce something creative. This was the bigger fashion crime for me.
Nicolas: This look, while not terrible or really boring, made me think these adjectives: untidy, overworked, vampy. The skirt was too short and too tight, and the severe color choices were not tempered by anything, as were Althea's. Ultimately, I didn't care for this as a maternity dress, and I'm not sure I'd like it as a regular dress, either. It wants a bit of softness somewhere.
Qristyl: Qristyl went a little earth mothery this week, and I respect her color choice for the top. The bottom--is that brown or black? I couldn't tell. I think it was too dark, either way, and it was kind of startling, and also made flaws with the bottom of the top part stand out. I'm all for flowy-drapey-wrappy, but the bottom of the dress bothered me.
Ra'Mon: I always love it when something said in the workroom is repeated verbatim by the judges. Everyone thought bowling bag with this dress. Colors? Super. Fit? Awful. Construction? Um. What happened, Ra'Mon? He was trying a chancey design, and it didn't work. I really wanted him to do well with these fabrics, and I didn't want him to be in the bottom three, but I look at the other designs and can't really find anything worse, aside from M & M. Thus, he kind of has to get that position by default. Hopefully that will be a wakeup and he'll get back on track next week. I think he has more experimenting to do.
Shirin: I love the colors of the dress and lining, and thought the flyaway coat was very chic. Admittedly, I wasn't sold on this design at first, and thought it mid-range, but the second time around in the runway show, I completely revised my estimation. It was a smart response to the challenge, and worked both for the judge and for any woman. I do hope she does some different skirt cuts, though, because the dress shape and draping of the top is FAR too similar to what she did the first week. I liked it better for this challenge, so I wasn't sorry she won, and the coat was a new element, but let's keep track of her, shall we? I will go right off her if I see this dress again.
Finally, I'd like to draw your attention to Andrae Gonzalo's blog, which I find carefully considered and tastefully written this week. His last segment explains why Ra'Mon and Malvin failed at the essential maternity portion of this challenge.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Return of Project Runway

You know you were waiting for it, my first PR blog! Spoilers probably will abound here, so if you didn't get to watch the premier, skip the blog for now.

First, let's talk about the All-Star Challenge.
I can only think of a few people I know who are more annoying than Santino, and I am thus pretty glad that I don't know him. I know he does it mostly for show, and I actually don't mind him at all in his vulnerable moments, but other than that, I know that, were I in his presence in a workroom, I would block out literally everything he said.
Now. I'm conflicted.
I love Daniel V. I always liked the polished work he did and, while his final collection was not my favorite, I always liked how generally classy he was.
I did not care for his collection last night. I understand he was doing something sporty, but, since I'm being honest, I wasn't really impressed with the garments he produced. The rivet thing in his main dress was kind of cool, and I liked the bold blue, but...the judges kept going on about how much Daniel V. learned, yadda yadda, which was interesting since he was one of their favorites back in the day. I don't know. I love how respectful he is of the learning process and of the judges' views. I just wasn't excited about the clothes, and I didn't like the direction he seems to be going in. Remember how exquisite his flower imitation outfit was? That's the Daniel V. I love.
I really liked Korto's black dress and red dress. She does tend to stick with a particular aesthetic, but the whole point of the challenge was to present a personal point of view, and I really don't think she had to "learn a lot" or change what she does in response to judges. She's pretty much a package that I already respect. I'd wear her clothing and love it. I adored what she did with those lava rocks. Being able to visualize and change a fabric always makes me excited.
I liked Uli's collection and thought it would rate higher. I was confused by that, especially with the wearability of her 4th look. I loved her chiffon ruffly dress, which I think would be a cute addition to my wardrobe. I didn't find her collection boring at all...I think Uli was hurt by others' expectations of her. She wanted to show growth in sophistication, and she did; she expanded her arsenal. Like Korto, I'd wear her clothing and love it.
Of the other garments, I liked Chris's coat (look 2, I think), Mychael's skirt, and Sweet P's green ruffly dress.
Jeffrey's collection looked a little lazy to me, and Santino's looked a little too much like something a cougar might wear (and I mean the woman, not the animal).
So, the shakedown of the 8 was off for me. I liked Korto and Uli the best, and as I watched the judging I was nervous, because it seemed like I was in for another season of the judges and me not matching at all, which is kind of unpleasant.

Now, let's move on to the Big Game.
And let me first say that Lifetime has some serious navigation problems with their PR pictures online; if you want to see the dresses, you have to rate them one by one. Terrible idea. At this point, there is also no Tim's Take...instead there are just extended videos of what he said, while the challenge was in progress. Also not what I want. In the portfolio section, the buttons don't work properly yet. They have a long way to go over there.
On to the clothes (and this is assuming Lifetime has the pictures synched up with the right names!):

I liked Althea's dress for a particular purpose. Go Ohio! It wasn't as sophisticated as Ra'mon's and some of the others, but it was pretty and appropriate for a younger star, like maybe Abigail Breslin in three or four years.
Ari. Oh dear. I don't have a problem with her not sketching, and in theory I don't have a problem with edgy gear. But her garment didn't even seem fitted properly. I think she's got some re-conceptualizting of herself to do.
What Carol Hannah wanted to do seemed unique, but the fit of the dress was kind of baggy, and I mean that literally--the bottom two tiers looked like bunchy bags, with not enough contrast in the shape. If that portion had been sleeker, with perhaps a bit of trim in lines or something, I think she would have had a contender.
Christopher irritates me, and I'll tell you why: He goes on and on about how he has no education in garments and he's entirely self-taught, etc. etc. But he doesn't know what smocking is, or what godets are. Seriously? I know that, and I don't have any garment education either, aside from what I have read in patterns. There's a broad line in this case between self-taught and ignorant, and I'm sorry to see that Christopher is applauding his ignorance. If you want to work in fashion, maybe you should actually educate yourself, or at least learn some terms. Now, I thought his dress was cute and entirely appropriate for the VMAs, but if he continues to stand there and say, basically, "huh huh huh, I totally won, and I don't know anything!" I'm going to be MAD. Open a book, dude. Get a sewing dictionary. Read it.
Epperson's garment conflicts me. On the one hand, it's kind of badass (though the shape at the bottom, where the trim is sewn on, could be better); on the other, I can't think what Red Carpet event it would fit for. It looked a little too boudoir noir for me. It would be really interesting to see that piece in a full collection, but for the challenge at hand I was a little baffled.
Gordana's structural elements were interesting; this is not a garment I would have selected to wear, though. Pretty color, kind of boring bottom. It felt unbalanced spatially.
Irina's dress rocked. I loved it. I know the nude color is a little daring, but the shape and movement of the dress were great. It felt pretty and I bet it would be really lovely on a red carpet. I gather Rami Kashou is an inspiration of hers, and you could really tell.
Johnny's dress had a Grammy feel to it. I didn't care for the skirt of the front, but I also didn't mind the scarlet. I thought a deeper wine color might be interesting. All the same, this was not one of my favorite garments, and I was surprised it was top 3.
I was interested in Logan's dress. It didn't blow my mind, but I thought it was pretty and fluid, and I would probably wear it. I think it has a fashionable Grammy possibility, or perhaps Golden Globes.
Louise--I want to like Louise's clothes a lot. I don't know how she'll do, but she has an interesting aesthetic. I didn't especially care for the bottom of the dress (gathered up on one side might have been interesting, though) but I liked her fabric choice, even though the color washed out. I have that problem sometimes, too.
Malvin--Um, see Shirin below, because I feel the exact same way about her garment as I do about Malvin's.
Like Tim, I was bemused by Mitchell's initial creation. I can't tell from the sketch, either. I have no idea what he's up to. I reserve judgment for the week.
I didn't care that much for Nicolas's dress...I didn't dislike it, I just wasn't interested. It was also wicked different from his sketch. I could, however, see Lohan wearing it.
Qristyl. Poor Qristyl. Good idea, bad result. I will be interested to see what she does with prints in the future, but this was not her day. It didn't look all that bad on TV, in motion, but from the still picture you see what the judges were talking about.
Ra'Mon--While I don't always match the judges in their favorites, I liked Ra'Mon's dress. It was a bit reminiscent of someone else's dress a while back, and I can't remember whose, but I liked the structural elements and the pleating, and it was very glamorous without being old. I think it was one of few that was Oscar-ready.
Shirin's silver dress was a little boring to me...the cut of the skirt didn't strike me as particularly red carpet.

Well, I think that's everyone! I was most interested in the garments of Irina and Ra'Mon. I am excited for the coming weeks of PR and wondering how it's going to fit into my Thursday life. Thursday has a lot of shows for me, as does Wednesday!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hats for the Lady

Sometimes, instead of indulging myself in looking at wedding gowns online, I look at hats. Fancy ones. Like, hats you'd wear to the races or to meet the Queen. For instance, from Victorian Trading Company:

Sometimes I wish we still wore fancy hats places, just so I could go shopping for millinery. Realistically, my head is a weird shape and I don't find many hats that look good on me, but wouldn't it be fun to go try hats on for a day? And then go have a cream tea in a local hotel restaurant?
Somehow, going to the fancy hat department in JC Penney just doesn't quite cover it.

And while we're on the subject of fashion, I don't usually go for this kind of style, but I wouldn't be embarrassed to get married in this, also VTC:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What's up? The sky. And rocks. Falling ones.

In our youth, each August, my sister and I would prepare for meteors. The Perseids look awesome where we live: There is little city light interference, we have a giant backyard, and our dock stretches a bit into the lake, and rests at a slant perfect for looking upward. We'd bundle up and put some serious mosquito spray on, grab a snack (for instance, a Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake bar) and head out into the dark. My sister being the astronomy expert, she'd point out where to look and why. Sometimes our Dad joined us, sometimes the cat. We'd talk or not talk, and count each meteor we saw, sometimes confirming them with each other--the bats swooping around were a little deceptive, as were the fireflies.
When it's clear, and the temperature is good, I sometimes find a quiet spot to look up when the Perseids peak. Last night was such an occasion. I went to one of the parking lots on campus and lay back across the hood of my car. I actually saw a meteor right when I got out, which surprised me. Number 4 was one of those that burn up right before your eyes. I also had the Great Blue Heron that hangs out on campus fly by about ten feet away! And lots of bats.
When I'd seen 5 meteors, I went in search of a darker spot. I drove around on 25 for a bit, went to the park, and then ended up right back where I'd started, one parking lot over, as being the darkest and safest place. By that time, there was lightning off to the east, so I had a combination show. The lightning was a bit distracting, though, so I prepared to go home, but then I thought, if I sit in my car and lie back, I might be able to see a few more, and sure enough, I did see a couple of good ones in my chosen swath of sky. The last one burned so brightly there was an after-streak.
Meteor-hunting is the ultimate game of "just one more, just one more" with the sky. Just like at the fireworks, when a particularly great meteor pops up, I say, "Good job, sky." I suppose meteor-hunting requires patience, but I actually think time passes quickly. I went out just before 11, and before I knew it midnight arrived. The solitude and the silent waiting of the expanse of sky quiets my heart and my head. I do miss skywatching with my sister, though, just one of those sisterly things that made summers great.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Space Cadet

So, it's my own fault, I know; I'm not really complaining here so much as explaining.
My apartment is hot. HOT. I took a cold shower and put my top sheet in the fridge for a half hour before I went to bed to help me be cool when I went to sleep, and I ran my (admittedly ineffectual) small fan. I shut out the light just before two. And waited. At 4, I got worried, having slept for no more than twenty minutes. At 5, I gave up and went to my other apartment, which has a more powerful fan and windows that are next to the couch on which I sacked out. I cooled down enough to need a covering, which is what it usually takes for me to sleep. I fell asleep probably around 6, and slept off and on until about 10, at which time the apartment had too much light in it and I went back to my bed, where I clocked in another forty minutes or so, off and on. All told, I couldn't have gotten more than 3 or 4 hours.
The worst part is, at 5 last night, I wasn't really sleepy at all. I was wide awake, despite finishing my soda twelve hours earlier, despite having a nice drink with dinner. That made me panic, which of course didn't help. I haven't had this kind of insomnia in quite a while, and I'd forgotten how dull it makes me.
Right now, I feel spacy. I'm awake, I'm thinking, I'm moving around, but my head is a little slow. I hope that tonight I make the call to move earlier if I can't sleep, and that I have enough energy to pull out the couch bed rather than just sacking out on the couch itself. I might do some rearranging of my sewing materials tonight to facilitate this. We're supposed to have a cooler night tonight, so I'm hoping that will solve the problem.

Monday, August 03, 2009

What I did on my summer vacation: Travel edition.

Last week I returned from a week of travel in Wisconsin, Crystal Valley, MI, and East Lansing, respectively. Here is a sampling of my trip highlights:


Meeting my nephew. Nichol is a strong baby, and pretty mellow at this point. He's starting to respond with smiles and my sister was training him to stick out his tongue. I was trying to see if he'd curl it, to no avail. Nichol is pretty comfortable so far with other people besides his mum holding him, so I got a few peaceful half hours with him tucked onto my shoulder. He did amazingly well when we went to the mall, only howling once when he was hungry and sleeping the rest of the time. He also favors "Va Pensiero," which I hummed whenever he fussed. (I made sure to pass this along to my Dad, who started the whole humming opera thing.)
Chasing Ruth. We had a nice walk in a big field and around the Fox City gardens, and some quality play time at home and out and about. My niece is two now, and full of energy. Sometimes when she came down the slide at the mall, she'd take a lap around the play area waving her hands in the air and dancing like a little sprite. She also chased a little boy with her stuffed frog. That's my girl. The mall is also where she got some brand new sneakers with princesses on the side and lights on the bottom. They're awesome. I forgot to mention that when I got to their house, and Ruth came down from her nap, she came right to me and didn't leave my side for at least an hour. Love!
Houseboat. The movie. I include this because for some reason Ruth was very engaged by this film. One night after she'd been playing outside I was watching it, and she sat still in my lap for ages drinking her milk and gazing at the screen. Later, she got down, puttered around for a bit, and then told me she wanted to go to sleep in her bed. "Nice baby," she said.
Sister giggles. It didn't take long--my sister and I had a giggle fit my first night during dinner, based on Ruth's new conversational trick. It's totally natural to repeat what a toddler says to be sure you understood, but she tricked us, as if the whole thing was our idea.
Ruth: "Baby go park. Go park? Baby p'ay in park. Baby go park."
Sarah: "Baby go park?"
Ruth: "Ok."
It was funny as is, but even funnier because we kept walking into her cleverly laid trap.
Family. My favorite time of the whole trip was a blissful hour or so when the Brewers won their baseball game, we had a delicious dinner, Sarah was playing with Ruth on the floor, and Dave was having "man time" with Nichol. It was so peaceful that I located their camcorder and took some footage (I think--I have little experience with camcorders). I mean, THAT'S living. A cozy, intelligent, warm family. It was beautiful, and I feel blessed.


That's right, I took the ferry again. The weather was supposed to be fine and clear, and the wave forecast was 0-1 feet. After much consultation with my Dad via phone, and considering that it was going to pour over the northern route to Michigan, I opted for the boat. I'm glad I did. I had a good trip, and I finished Stardust, which I'd borrowed from my sister. I also met a guy who is an athletic trainer grad student here at BGSU, who gently parked my car on the boat for me and left his info in the car in case I ever want free tickets. Coming into Ludington, I was standing next to a woman to whom it turns out I'm distantly related.


Ludington. My gran and I went up and had lunch at a little place in Ludington. Then we sat in the car and looked at the lake for a bit, chatting. I also took her to Meijer. We came back and both of us had a long nap--all that lake air. It was nice to be able to help my grandma out a little and get some time to catch up. I tried to ask her questions, more than I usually do, learning for instance about what sorts of foods they canned when she was little and which was her favorite in the middle of winter. Things like that.
Party. Some cousins were having a party for another cousin, and so we drove the mile or two to the giant house of Vince and (drat...can't remember his wife's name--and she's the one I'm related to). I knew only a couple of people at the party, and most of them were outside my age range one way or another. I walked about and chatted with a few people, though, and then I hung out with Patrick, Vince's son, who is 26 and was literally the only person my age there. He gave me a tour and we had a nice long conversation about our respective lives. After the party, Gran and I stopped by a little market owned by some neighbors. We also took a spin around the cemetery to visit the vast number of family members I have there.
Barn. The barn at the farm is for storage now, but it used to have animals in it and, in its somewhat dilapidated current state, it's always been fun to poke around in. No one's been in there for some months, except for some foxes, so I spent an hour clambering around. If my sister and I were playing archaeologists again, we would have been in heaven. It was full of various animal bones and not-bones, and feathers, and all kinds of things. I made a list.
Church. My grandmother's church is tiny, and in the summer it's even tinier. I guesstimate 3/4 of the attendees on Sunday were my family in one way or another!


I spent a night at home before I came back for a board meeting. I spent much of the day and evening regaling my parents with stories of Ruth and Nichol, and also of my grandmother. I basically gave them a report, and also showed them my pictures. There was much to say, but we took a break to watch the most confusing Miss Marple ever, after dinner. It was a nice visit, as short as it was, and I was glad to be able to convey good stories and information.