Friday, October 08, 2010

PR: Heidi's Line of Boredom

I've been on the edge with Project Runway before. I've also said before that I'm seriously reconsidering watching the show anymore. Friends, last night I was so far down that line that I completely muted the judging and wished I'd muted the whole show.
Here's my problem: I kept asking myself, "Why do I bother?" The show was over and I thought, this last hour and a half has been a complete waste of my time. There was no redeeming feature here that made me want to tune in next week. Not one. How can something that was once my favorite show so lose its fun that it has turned into a waste?

The Challenge:
Congratulations, designers: You get to design something that will help me make more money and boost my own drab collection. That is Heidi's challenge this week.
I couldn't agree more with Mondo, who commented that the collection is dull. Activewear can be a lot of things, and it is often offered in gray and black. But it doesn't have to be, nor do the pieces involved have to be boring, which is unfortunately what they are--boring and expensive. (Looking at the collection, there are really only two pieces I'm interested in--one of them is Andy's, and one of them is black, which I already have a lot of, and it's not interesting enough to make me want it for 98 bucks). Thus, I truly think Project Runway missed the boat with this one. This is not good TV or good design.
Then, in the midst of it, Heidi calls for two more looks, and offers the designers "help" in the form of past contestants. This is one of PR's favorite tricks, and not only is it not fun, but it is completely ridiculous to treat it as anything other than drama-mongering. The result was, essentially, bullying from start to finish. And if you know anything about me at all, you know that I abhor bullying.
I also think that Heidi has a queer idea of constructive criticism--telling a designer that maybe a little Yorkie could fit his head through your top is not constructive criticism--it is a wounding insult.
I've noticed this in the past, and it's a function, I think, of fetishizing the judges' commentary. That's right--I'm taking this to a Marxist place. Have not the comments become a commodity? The judges try to be as pithy and wounding as possible to create sound bytes that can be edited and marketed. The mishmash resulting from this editing is hurtful, not helpful. Your best evidence? The fact that they're always laughing at each other's speeches. That is the opposite of constructive criticism. The comments have little to do with ideas anymore, but with dollars for the show. That is the very definition of reification--turning the abstract into a commodity through the process of fetishization. Fashion is already fetishized in many ways, but when even the interaction between supposed mentors/role models and designers crosses that line, the outlook for the show is dark indeed--at least for the original fans that made it succeed.

The Clothes:
I can sympathize with the designers; they must have been wondering if the producers had finally lost it. Even so, they are designers--surely they can do something fresh, right? Sadly, no--and my job is not to provide constructive criticism.

Andy--Andy won. Yet I totally disagreed with the judges' comments that these looks were exciting. The dress is kind of cute, but as soon as they left the runway I instantly forgot the other two. The hoodie, at a second look, appealed to me (but not for the 158 dollars it is retailing for at Amazon), but even that seemed kind of drab. I think Andy won for his fabrication (ie. using the sheer with the stretch), not for the actual pieces.
April--The big cape piece looked a bit like a space princess's workout wear. Her little jacket was cute, but the dress with it was so slouchy and bleak. The black shorts look was once again much too something out of an early episode of Star Trek TNG, on shore leave. These looks were not for the present world and planet.
Christopher--My heart sank for Christopher as soon as the looks came out (or would have, if I cared this week). That gray top looked like a bag, as did his dress (though I liked the pink in it). I actually liked the flutter-sleeved hoodie as a piece, but agreed that the look as collected made no sense. I really didn't enjoy the pants, though I can see how other women would. But just looking at that first gray bag, you knew things would go ill, and indeed, Christopher was auf'd.
Gretchen--Girl sure loves long, slouchy coats. I actually liked the ruched skirt idea; that could have really worked to bring something fresh to Heidi's collection. But there was WAY too much going on with the looks as collected. The crop top look was totally 80s gym. The leggings/biker shorts were unflattering and really didn't go with anything in their respective looks. Gretchen failed to simplify.
Michael C--The first look to come out looked interesting at first; then I realized it was the model, who was working it. In the second, those pumpkin pants--I can't even begin. They are awful. That look all together was incomprehensible and ill-coordinating. The sleeves on the camel dress thing that followed were also perplexing--tight to the sides, and unattractive with that elastic or whatever it was. Utterly distracting from a dress that might have worked better as a sleeveless garment.
Mondo--Oh, these caftans. Don't get me wrong, I love a caftan, but I don't want to see one on a runway, and one of Mondo's tops was essentially this shapeless. The first top to come out, the grey with pink, I think was reminiscent of Mondo enough to be interesting. I didn't really care for the drape of the long seemed kind of unfitted in a bad way. I also agreed with Kors that the pants were kind of a throwaway (but then, so are most of Heidi's things).

So--disappointing challenge, disappointing results, disappointing behavior. I wish I wasn't feeling so negative about it all, but it really is becoming a poor use of my time to watch a show that frustrates me so, a show I'm not enjoying nor learning from. In the coming weeks, I really need to ask myself why I'm still watching, and figure out if it's still worth the investment.

(edited to add: I just read Carol Hannah's blog, and laughed out loud when she said, "See you next week! I hear they’re going to have the designers make Snuggies and Slankets!" Obviously the past designers are not enthusiastic about this nonsense either.)


Cloud of Secrets said...

To tell you the truth, half (perhaps more than half) of the reason I watch it is because it's fun to see what you think, and to swap thoughts. Then another quarter of it is because I like Tim and it's fun to watch the guest judges in live action for better or for worse; and the last quarter is to have general conversation fodder with others.

Perhaps we can agree to skip the next season. Or even the rest of this season. See if we feel the lack.

I've only seen about 25 minutes of this week's episode so far, and I've seen an ad for Heidi's line in the November issue of Lucky that came yesterday. Ugh. Yep, drab, boring, and she seems really comically pushy about that dang grey sweatshirt fabric. It's like she's realizing she's made a poor aesthetic choice that the designers don't want to work with, and she's covering up her second thoughts.

It's kind of funny, hearing the designers' thinly-veiled insults and lefthanded compliments so far about the collection.

Still...that's life. If you want to eat and have heat and electricity, you may be designing under a bigger, better, or at least more famous designer or corporation for a while. You may not be able to indulge your own creativity for big cash right away. *Someone* has to design athletic wear, sneakers, uniforms, backpacks, inexpensive basics...

Abs said...

Do you think you can keep yourself from watching it? I'm not sure I can. If they keep up the timeline they've used all this season, it might be possible just to watch the runway show, which is really the only part I'm into right now anyway. I do want to see the final collections walk the runway so I can see movement.
I know what you mean about talking about the show, though. That does bring a dimension of interest and socialization. I do actually enjoy writing my little notes for the blog, trying to articulate my reactions to a look. I also like that Ruth likes to watch it, but with all the angst lately, the show has made itself a poor choice for family viewing.
I totally agree that someone has to design activewear. I was thinking about that during the show. But even doing a Google search for "activewear" the pictures that come up are so much more interesting (and less expensive) than Heidi's line. It's like no one around her has guts enough to be bluntly honest. Do we really need a bag made out of sweatshirt material?
Kind of like George Lucas with the additions he made to the original Star Wars. You know, George, the pit of the Sarlacc doesn't really need a head. You think it makes the pit more realistic and threatening (acc. to wikipedia). Actually, that makes it less scary because you're killed faster, and it's all CGI, so it looks fake. Fail.

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