Friday, April 23, 2010

PR: In which I was fully prepared to say "NO NO NO" and didn't have to.

First, from Tim's blog, I learned, "This is the last season in which Bryant Park will be center stage for New York Fashion Week. In spite of the fact that Bryant Park has been responsible for branding New York as "the Fashion Capital of the World," the New York City Parks Commissioner wants us OUT. His office maintains that Bryant Park is a public space, yet Fashion Week is an "invitation only" (i.e., private) event." Probably, most people knew this already, but I didn't, since I don't pay that much attention. Anyway, an interesting change, no? Evidently, Lincoln Center is the new site.

Now, throughout this whole show, I kept thinking "Don't let Emilio win." I am not usually like that; even when I don't care for a designer, and might feel less inclined to want him to win (like Siriano), I don't actively hate on him. This year was different. I'm just that done with him. I've liked some of his designs this season, but I'm just done with his arrogance. Even so, his collection was also my least favorite of the three, without the lenses of bias. And, unexpectedly, my favorite of the three was Mila. Let's see how it all shook out, shall we?

Top three looks:
Knit stripey dress--I love. I'd totally wear this. Very rocker chic but not in a scary way. It looks kind of cozy.
White tee with sweater--Some may call it plain, mundane, or boring, but the fact of the matter is I'd wear it. I love that sweater. It's very me.
Shiny dress--I know people disagree with me, but I really liked this dress on the runway. It's weird, but somehow the fishscalelike material really appeals to me. It's almost an updated flapper garment.
Bottom three looks:
"Round" coat--the first look out...I call it round because its silhouette is very round. I wasn't that interested in this garment, and it made me worry about the direction of her collection, temporarily.
Ripply blouson with short pants--The shorts were really not attractive to my eye. The blouson wasn't bad, actually, but it also wasn't that eye-catching.
Striped tunic with white tights--I don't hate this look; I didn't hate any looks, but the white tights here with the black boots really threw me off, and the tunic looked a touch sloppy.

General observations: I acknowledge that Mila didn't put out anything very surprising. You know what, though? I'm okay with that. Leggings aside, I actually liked the way she updated her style for this runway show, and her pieces were impeccable and wearable, with a wry edge to them. I had a hard time coming up with pieces I genuinely disliked in this collection, and ended up picking mostly ones that I was meh about. Her clothes looked comfortable, and I responded to this style as being the closest to my own, when I'm feeling a little badass. I congratulate Mila on finding some youth at last.

Seth Aaron
Top three looks:
Red dress with the leather trim--I was interested in the shape of the dress, but I hated the leggings. I'm pretty anti-leggings. I think I've mentioned that. But the dress was fun to look at.
Black and white striped dress--I loved the shape of this dress, and the party flavor. I would wear this immediately.
Yellow tartan dress/coat--This look was bold and surprising in a good way. I could never wear this color, but I liked the combination of a modern style with a tartan.
Bottom three looks:
Black "thorny" dress--To me, this looked like trash bags. In the upclose pictures, you can see that all those folds were lined in red tartan. But why? You couldn't see any of that. Up top, the bodice started doing something interesting, but I didn't care for it from the bust down.
Trench coat with tartan-striped leggings--Yuck. This was probably my least favorite look of SA's, and one of the least favorite overall. I can't bear those leggings. They kind of reminded me of Jeffrey Sebelia's taste.
Purple bunchy dress-- Another big miss. Love the color, hate the shape and the movement, or lack thereof.
General observations: I concurred with the judges that it was refreshing to see Seth Aaron reel it in without losing himself. Not all of his looks were tasteful, but they all had his distinctive stamp without being unwearable, as his clothes sometimes are. I think he proved to the judges that he can be realistic; at the same time, I hope he learned from and remembers Tim's advice from his home visit. Time to reflect is crucial. Seth Aaron sometimes doesn't give himself that time; he just churns work out. Sometimes that is great, and impulsiveness can help a designer, but other times it might prevent something bigger and more amazing from emerging. Impulse shouldn't stand in the way of evolution, and I think because Seth Aaron is so fast sometimes that happens with his work. He's won a lot of fans this season, though, so I bet he does well.

Top three looks:
Red dress--Obviously, I'm a sucker for a red dress. It was very forties, even with the shoulder treatment.
Blue wrap coat--I like the kimonoesque styling of the coat. It looked a little Target to me, but I'd wear it. There's nothing wrong with Target.
Red turtleneck with blue sleeves--I liked the simple color blocking here, and it was a wearable garment without pretension or distraction. Probably my favorite of Emilio's pieces.
Bottom three looks:
Pea green coat--This was the first thing out, and I just could not get behind it. I noticed that a lot of looks seemed as though they had rounded shoulder pads underneath, and I can't stand that. It was paired with a dress the shape of which I liked, but I really don't care for his selfmade print. It looks from afar like an oddly colored animal print, which looked tacky.
Hideous dress under the red coat-- The red coat was cute, but then the model took it off and there was that ugly print with a bizarre pea green leather bottom or whatever it was. The dress looked tawdry.
Dark brown-green skirt and jacket with the puffed sleeves--Kind of reminded me of the snake people. The red gloves looked like dish gloves.
General observations: The judges commented on Emilio's sudden commercialness--they clearly didn't remember all those really simply shaped dresses he made in the beginning. They also called his collection at one point the most sophisticated, and I almost choked. That is not the adjective I would have selected. I was also interested that Kors was so excited about the gold dress--gold lame'? Really? It wasn't ugly by any stretch, but to me it looked a bit like a sci-fi costume. In sum, I was not impressed with this collection, and would have been disappointed had Emilio been my favorite. Since he was not, I prayed for him to lose.

I don't know if anyone stuck around to watch the half hour designer/model sit-down. Recently, my sister commented that PR on Lifetime gears toward viewers who want "lots of dramatic staring, sniping, and breathless suspense." That was sort of the whole point of the extra half hour. It was a lot of sniping and "apologizing." The dramatic pause for a commerical before Maya's dramatic "real" reason she left the show--the very same reason she explained while she was on the show--was ridiculous. More realistically dramatic was Jay's personal comments about Cerri (bad teeth and thick legs), provoked by her personal dislike of his style. Her comments weren't nice, to be sure, but his were below the belt and childish. He did not do himself any favors.

Well, that's all from me. Another season down.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

PR: Home

It's true that I'm kind of a sucker for kids making up. I, for one, was happy to see Jay and Mila have a conversation and realize that, really, each is not as bad as the other thought. You get in pressure cookers sometimes, and you get on people's nerves, and you forget that your peers are human beings with feelings that deserve respect. It's good to remember and get rid of the negativity. Now if only Emilio could come down out of his little aerie and realize this also...
Speaking of Emilio, I read Tim's blog (eventually--my computer hates his blog's inability to load embedded videos), and I was pretty amazed at his overt animosity to Emilio. He can't stand the guy. Knowing the usual poise of Tim, to see cracks in the facade of this magnitude is really startling. He actually insists that the editing has been kind to him and Emilio. It makes me wonder how bad Emilio really is!
Moving on...I'm never that interested in the home visits. I watch them, but I don't especially find them illuminating. I confess I don't really have a lot of curiosity about the designers' lives. I could stand to see more critique of the fashions themselves; that being said, I was also surprised about how negative Tim was this year. Perhaps it's the editing, but he barely had any good things to say about anyone's collection. I didn't see any encouragement or positive reinforcement. Certainly there is need sometimes for exhortation, for upheaval, but at the same time, wouldn't you want to know what you were doing well, were you in the designers' shoes? It reminded me of my first workshop with Diane Wakoski, who is known as something of a bear in the classroom. My poem was dissected first, which meant it was the best of the day, but I also couldn't figure out why it was first, from what was said. I actually emailed her to ask her what the positives were, so I didn't destroy what was actually working. She thought I was challenging her authority, but really I just wanted to know, since I was a beginner! I kind of felt for the designers along the same lines.
Regarding Jay and Mila, I was ambivalent. I liked Jay's leather greaves and liked the silver top he made, which I would totally wear. I also liked the youth of his looks. However, I think Mila represents a perspective that is different from the other designers. I know people don't like her, but she seems really ready to put her design know-how to the test in making clothes as a business. I think that's why she ultimately got taken over Jay.
And, looking at their full collections side by side (if you'd care to do so), I think Mila was able to insert some young, punk edge to some of her looks, which shows a side of her we haven't seen yet. Interestingly, while her collection is mostly black and white, with some purple, Jay's is mostly gray, with some red, so the color argument is off the table for me. (Honestly, with all the black Siriano put together and won with, I don't know why they even care.)
Anyway, as I said several weeks ago, I do look foward to seeing the clothes on the runway, which often changes my mind about them, depending on the fluidity of the garments. We shall see!

Friday, April 09, 2010

PR: Circus Circus

Are you familiar with Xuxa? You should be--because most of the outfits put out on PR last night looked very much like what Xuxa would have worn during her kids' show here in the States in the 90s. Xuxa is a former Brazilian model-turned singer and kids' star. On her kids' shows, she's known for bright and wacky outfits, often including exaggerated coats. Thus, during the runway show last night, I was mightily distracted by thoughts that I was seeing repeats of things I'd seen in the early 90s as I was getting ready for school.

I also thought last night offered an interesting opportunity for psychological analysis. The designers were shown a variety of acts, yet four of them chose to fixate on the ringmaster. I couldn't help wondering if that was an expression of narcissism. They all chose the figure with a voice, the figure that controls everything. It seemed like they were all identifying themselves with that ringmaster. At the same time, it struck me as an uncreative choice: A dominant figure, with a fairly obvious choice of wardrobe, one that wouldn't require any effort to make into actual fashion, because everyone already wears coats. And yet, in my viewpoint most of them failed miserably.

Anthony: Anthony sure does love his flowy dresses, eh? Ordinarily I love a flowy dress, but I was disappointed in what Anthony turned out this week. I really didn't care for that sort of winged shoulder, and I spotted some hemming issues. The dress didn't look well made. I was excited that he chose something other than a coat to make, but I couldn't get behind such a floppy look. I was not surprised when Anthony was cut.
Emilio: How annoying. Emilio, one of the designers I now can't stand, put out the only outfit I actually liked this week. He took his inspiration and made a new creature out of it, which was the point of the challenge. I really liked that bodice on his dress and, for once, it wasn't too small. I did not care for the back of the look, which looked a bit like a circus tent bag, but I liked the shape and movement of the dress as a whole and he styled this model (the one who is usually overly made up) well. It was a look that was balanced. (Interestingly, Chris March hated this look with equal passion to my hatred of some others. Carol Hannah liked it. I can't get Tim's Take to work to tell you how he feels.)
Jay: I was glad that, for once, he was busted for making one standout piece and the rest just regular garments. Especially because, once again, he made pants in a shape I dislike. All in all I got more lion tamer than ringmaster out of this garment, and I thought the jacket too exaggerated. The placards were too big and it kind of reminded me of a dance costume for the Rockettes or the Nutcracker. Small fixes could have made this wearable (a darker color, less obvious placards and buttons), but I'm not sure I'd want to.
Mila: My mother and sister and I have been heard to lament each spring the arrival of lime green and hot pink as the only colors available in some clothing stores, and that's what I thought of when I saw this look. It takes skill to make a coat of this type, to be sure, but the look all together was hideous. Were those pink stretch pants? I want to like Mila, as the only female representative left, but even given the circus inspiration I couldn't get behind this.
Seth Aaron: SA committed one of my cardinal rules of fashion--in a wearable garment challenge, don't make things no woman ever would wear. My friends, I give you the impossible sleeves. A couple of designers have made sleeves like this before, and I HATE it. I mean, I literally detest it. It reminded me of the film Beetlejuice, when his arms stretch out to grab people. Seth Aaron has big ideas and usually impeccable creation skills, but when I see particularly the back of this look, which looks like a striped puffy parka somehow, my eyes want to scream. Too costumey by far.

In order to survive, Project Runway is going to have to come up with some way to ameliorate what seems to be the last-challenge blahs. In most previous seasons, they've had the same problem--the designers are so tired and so deprived of the outside world, they're pretty tapped out by the end and we end up getting either ridiculous or boring designs that speak well for nobody. Even giving the designers two days and 300 bucks for this challenge didn't help. When nearly everyone in every season is having the same problem, it's time to shake things up.

Friday, April 02, 2010

PR: Weirdest. Episode. Ever.

I allowed myself to watch (or semi-watch) Project Runway last night, since I was doing pretty well with essays, and I did a few short ones during commerical breaks. It's surprising that I got anything done, given the madness that ensued. It's like everything went crazy in one episode, and the producers just shrugged and said, "What else can we do to weird everyone out?"

First, I want to speak up in defense of Maya. I'm sure a lot of people will be down on her for abandoning her dream, giving up ("Quitters never win!" Thanks, Emilio.), not having enough self-confidence, whatever. Sure, many of us may have acted differently or made a different decision. But I think I know how she feels. I have been looking around at job listings lately, seeing what's out there, and I see lots of jobs that are interesting, and at which I might do very well, but for which I know I am completely unqualified without further training. This made me feel for her. Maya made a choice based on her growing knowledge of the industry that she learned she wasn't ready for. I can't fault her for that. She really could have gotten to Fashion Week. Maybe she wouldn't win, but she might have gotten all kinds of offers and accolades...and then what? If she wasn't ready, she might have had a meltdown and destroyed her career another way. I admire that she knows her limits, and refused to give in to pressure not to recognize them, even if she was one of my favorites. We all have to make our own way.

On another note, I have to pat myself on the back. I'm not that great at predicting what will happen in TV shows, but I totally knew the "red carpet client" was Heidi. Maybe that's not such a big deal, but the fact that I knew it last week during previews made me feel special when she popped in the door. For once, I got it right.

Here's something about the challenge, though--did anyone catch them actually saying which red carpet it was going to be? I didn't hear it, and I thought that would really change the challenge. Neither did anyone actually say which carpet they were designing for, which I thought was weird. That actually weirded me out more than many of the other blips. It was like we were missing a crucial anchor.

On to the fashion. I was disappointed that so few designers seemed to understand this challenge, or care about its parameters, though as I said, knowing what type of red carpet was meant might have been helpful. On the other hand, it made it easy to split up top and bottom designers:

Anthony: Anthony returns, and spins out a pretty nice dress. I liked the simplicity of it, and the drape, which, while it can look sloppy, was understated enough up top to be merely glamorous. That sort of drape is actually pretty popular, and coincidentally (since no one knew Jessica Alba would be on and be producing a co-win situation) in keeping with Jessica Alba's style. It wasn't, perhaps, chic enough for the Oscars, but it would be suitable for the Globes, I should think, or something similar.
Emilio: I used to like Emilio, and now I can't stand him. I didn't want to like his dress this week, but I have to admit it was well constructed. I think it might be a little dark for Heidi, but it was svelte, which is certainly appropriate. It also had the structure to be red carpet at a high level--you know those dresses are often built like wedding dresses, with a lot of hidden understructure. Emilio had the know-how to produce such a structure. This was my number 2 look this week. I preferred the winsomeness of Anthony's design.
Jay: Huh? Grammys maybe, or Kid's Choice awards. I thought it was awfully rich of the judges to comment on the shortness of Jonathan's design and not the tiny bust and shortness of Jay's. Whatever. It was too short and the bust was too tiny. The treatment of the textiles was pretty, but this is not a red carpet look. Also, Jay said he wanted to use color this time, and yet he chose gray and taupe and beige. It wasn't a bad dress, it just didn't seem to fit the challenge.
Jonathan: As much as I stick up for Jonathan, I have to say it--trainwreck. I didn't really like most elements of any of Jonathan's three dresses, and the main color of the final dress...that drab sort of dingy beige or whatever it is...was awful. It was pretty clear that he lost his way, that the confusion of responding to the judges got to him. I feel bad, because I think he has some good ideas, but he's very much in and out--sometimes bang on the money, sometimes trying to use Martian money. I'll miss him, though.
Mila: Another huh? moment. This looks like the kind of dress girls wore to the Winter Ball at my school, or even Homecoming--it's not as big a deal as prom, and all classes can go; you don't spend as much money on the dresses, they aren't as well constructed, and short, sportier ones are more popular. The textiles had potential, and it's a wearable dress, but not for a celebrity at a red carpet event. This was a bottom two look.
Seth Aaron: Someone on the web comments totally agreed with me--loved the back, hated the front. The back was nicely draped and pretty. The front looked bunchy and ill-fitting in the top. It didn't have a nice shape for the bust area. It's another wearable dress, more "expensive" than Mila's, but I still can't see it on the red carpet. Seth Aaron usually does a good job adapting his aesthetic to the task at hand, but it didn't work out this week. He didn't go far enough.

That's all this week. Next week, the final 4.