Friday, August 12, 2011

PR: Up High!

...also known as Project Awkward.

The Challenge:

I get what the PR producing team wanted to do--set forth a crazy, "What on Earth" kind of challenge, the kind where you can't help wondering how anyone could deal with such a bizarre set of parameters and produce anything fabulous. Often, as in the case of the women wrestlers (pic from Fashion Me Fabulous), you get some pretty sweet fashion. Other times, like this one, we get a serious misstep.

This was probably the awkwardest show in PR history, not just the first to have an outdoor runway. Stiltwalkers are known for their unexpected grace, their awe-inspiring freedom of movement, unbelievable walking with what should send them tumbling. But in addition to the costume drama on the runway, the movement itself, but...stilted. The ladies often ended up almost staggering, and looked uncomfortable, which ruined the effect of many of the garments in addition to the effect of the skill itself.

Thus, while this whole shebang could have ended up genius, I think that the risk was too much. There was too little chance for this to go right, and it really didn't.

As far as the ousting, I think Fallene's departure was inevitable. She had a crisis of confidence that was too great to surmount. ALL of the designers struggle with confidence at one point or another, but Fallene made the error of forgetting the skills she does have, and her little wink of humor, and not brazening through the more difficult moments (like the runway show). Just as she did last week, she put herself out the door, this time for keeps. I'm disappointed, because I like Fallene, and I hope that she finds her niche.

The fashion:

For fun, I've listed the current online score from Rate the Runway.

Josh and Julie (2.45)--There was a definite Mondo vibe with those pants, and I'm surprised the judges panned them as much as they did. I will admit they screamed, "I am a stiltwalker." I thought the jacket was cute on the bare-armed side, but I did note the whole thing was too costumey. If they'd stuck to the shape (but not the decor) of the bare-armed side with the other side and did a different fabric (less shiny) for the top, there would have been a more referential than literal matador feel, which would have been more relatable.

Bert and Viktor (1.63)--See below for my defense of damask. I defend the top in general, with reservations. The bottom, though, was a circus tent. Actually, there's a pretty trim pair of pants under that swoopdy stuff. Can you imagine a sleeker top, in perhaps a different color, with those pants, and perhaps a set of saucy panniers? I can. But this isn't Project Makover.

Bryce and Fallene (1.58)--Okay. You all know I love a tutu. What Bryce produced was not a tutu. It was a lump of tulle fastened together. Like last week's lump, it had no shape or viability as a graceful garment. It wasn't even a modern re-envisioning of a tutu. The tanktop, rightfully pointed out, looked like ballet warm-up clothes. Now, despite what I just said above, if we'd had a longer sweep of tulle, not lumped but draped, less obvious pants (obvious meaning they look like pants any stiltwalker could pick up at the local Tall shop), with a coy sweep of that burgundyish fabric folded in with the tulle skirt, we might have had something, particularly with that hat. We would have had a party frock, not a...whatever we have.

Becky and Kimberly (3.49)--Their collar got panned, but I liked the collar better than the sleeve. I think it gave the right life to the outfit, whereas the sleeve took it in an overly costumey direction. One or the other, not both. The pants were interesting, and impressive. Seaming them as Kimberly did was a smart move. The look gave me a Steampunk vibe, which I appreciated. Slap a gear watch on the girl, give her a cane, and she's ready to go. I actually like it even better now I look at it in the still pictures.

Olivier and Anya (2.69)--While I like subtle, this week was not the time for it. The garment did not read well on the runway at all, as the fabric choices were too muted. The skirt had a print with color, but in that quantity and outside, it looked muddy. Didn't they say they wanted to do something a little punk? I didn't see anything punk about this. It actually reminded me of an early-season Star Trek: TNG costume. I just had deja vu...I said something similar about April's outfit for Heidi's line.

Cecilia and Danielle (2.51)--My first thought was, "They made actual clothes." I actually liked the flow of the pants. In fact, I'm still trying to figure them out (see above re: how on Earth?). They worked out, perhaps miraculously. The color of the top I liked, but the shape--no. The shape was a little too something, or a little not quite something enough. No hairstyle would have taken away the high, folded and bejewelled collar and the tiny back.

Laura and Anthony Ryan (3.76)--I think, when it came out, we all knew this was going to be the best look. I'm a sucker for red, and Heidi was too this week. The look had good flow, and I loved the shoulder treatment, which took attention away from the length of the legs/stilts. They succeeded in distracting us from the extremity, which I think was kind of the point of the challenge. Their model rocked it, of course, which helps, but even with its flaws of fit this was still pretty clearly the most visually arresting (in a good way) ensemble. (Pic from

One final thought: I have noticed for ages that the judges are anti-anything that looks like damask. I know that it often is used for home furnishings, but I like damask, and refuse to budge on that point. I actually liked the top fabric of Bert and Viktor's garment, and I wish the judges would let go of their preconceptions about this. They let other fabrics slide without comment (did not Olivier's top last week look like it might be a rug?), and the same should be granted to damask.

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