Thursday, November 29, 2007

Project Runway: Ouch. Just, ouch.

Last night on Project Runway, the designers were faced with a challenge that was a long time coming. A challenge I had repeatedly called for. A challenge whose absence thus far was becoming bizarre. And last night on Project Runway, I realized why the producers waited until the fourth season to bust it out. Namely, because it was awful, resulting in literally the worst garments that had ever made their way down the PR runway. Who knew making menswear would be so hard?

Because yes, the challenge is to design an outfit for a man. And not just any man: Tiki Barber, whom Project Runway repeatedly reminds us is a football legend. Yeah, a legend in his own mind, maybe. Anyway, he's now a correspondent for the Today Show, and is looking for an outfit to wear on-air. Preferably something cobbled together in two days by designers with little-to-no menswear experience, with a budget of $150. Because that's how Tiki rolls. Also, he's got a big neck, a skinny waist, and a big butt. Just in case you were wondering.

At first, I was all, "This challenge ROCKS!" High level of difficulty + short amount of time + overambitious designers on their second challenge = great entertainment, right? WRONG. Project Runway is about the clothes first, and the drama second, and this challenge did NOT lead to good clothes. I place the fault half with the difficult challenge, and half with the overreaching designers. Almost universally, our contestants bemoan their lack of menswear experience, and then decide to do extremely tailored three- and four-piece outfits. And that, my friends, is a recipe for disaster. And not so much the "Andrae crying on the runway" variety as the "possibly sending semi-nude models out on the runway" variety.

The most confident designers include Kevin, who has some menswear experience, Christian, who says he's a fast sewer, and Kit, who thinks her experience as a TV stylist will enable her to create something that will work well on camera. The least confident are Sweet P, who is completely lost when it comes to menswear, Cameron, who needs a lot of construction advice from Jack, and Ricky, who has bit off waaay more than he can chew. Jack, it should be noted, cuts up his shorts and allows a couple other designers (and himself) to trace patterns based off of them, which Rami is a bit catty about, though Tim had basically allowed it. Oh, I should also point out that this episode revealed Jack's HIV-positive status, quietly and tastefully.

When the hot male models come in to be measured, the predictable swooning frenzy ensues, followed by some potentially gratuitous crotch-measuring. Tim comes along to critique, with Ginny Barber, Tiki's wife, in tow. She's generally positive (while Tim is generally concerned about time), though she thinks Carmen's outfit is too casual, and her jacket looks very "Member's Only." OUCH. Not only does Carmen lack the fabric to redesign, she lacks the time. At this point, the smart designers, also short on time, begin to scale back their designs, cutting out pieces such as vests and ties. Ricky? Not so much. At the end of the second night, Steven sums the mood up best, calling it "Titanic-like." You know, right before the ship sank. And given the runway results (spoiler alert!), I'd have to agree.

In the morning, Sweet P, Ricky, and Carmen have the most left to do. As in, they're in serious danger of sending semi-naked models down the runway. I've been watching this show since the first episode of the first season, and this is the least finished I've seen any designs. Ricky actually has his model sewing buttons, and is forced to pin the suit jacket together. Sweet P's shirt doesn't fit her model at all, and Carmen, well...Carmen didn't do enough crotch-measuring, it seems. Let's just say, if I were her model (and a dude), I'd be pretty insulted. She also completely lacks a shirt, and ends up draping some fabric around his neck like a damn scarf, and putting the ill-fitted jacket over it. Jesus. This is a fucking train wreck.

Jillian's up first on the runway, and her outfit, while really not to my taste, isn't innately offensive, and she's managed to finish four pieces. Carmen's up next, and it's completely ridiculous. The dude's wearing no shirt, the jacket is way too short, and the pants aren't even close to fitting, but she's perched a little plaid cap jauntily on his head, like that's going to distract from her disaster of an outfit. Christian's outfit is, like Jillian's, not to my taste, but is at least finished and inoffensive.

I thought Kit's outfit was a bit boring, until I found out that the blazer was made of fleece, which just made it seem weird. However, I'd still put it head and shoulders above what we've seen so far. Rami's outfit is pretty great, actually, but too casual for this challenge. Too bad, since the jacket especially was very well-made. Sweet P's outfit has decent pants, I guess, but a totally messed-up shirt, and a tie made for an NBA player, not an NFL player.

Steven was probably smart to do a sweater over a button-down, rather than a tailored jacket, which made his outfit work pretty well for me. However, his model has some sort of silken scarf tied around his neck, for flair, perhaps, which throws the whole look off. Though the white jacket could have been a bit Miami Vice, Victorya pulls off a pretty good outfit, considering the limitations. For the self-proclaimed straight guy of the group, Kevin made a very...lavender outfit. I didn't like the vest-over-tucked-in-shirt look, but it seems well-made overall, and the tie and matching pocket handkerchief were a nice touch.

Chris's outfit has an oddly-cut jacket and lacked color, but isn't too terrible in general. Jack's outfit is very over-striped, and only two pieces, but looks tailored and well-fitted. Ricky's outfit, though boring, actually looks good, believe it or not. However, the illusion kind of falls apart when you realize that it is very visibly held together by safety pins. Elisa fell into the too-casual trap, and it looks like she tried to claw her way out of it with a completely absurd vest. (Yes, I'm anti-vest. Wanna fight about it?)

Keep in mind here that I'm being very kind with my descriptions, because the disastrousness of the worst looks can't be appropriately expressed if I'm as critical as I usually am about the rest of the outfits. Just imagine a very low bar, with several outfits somehow managing to limbo under that ugly, ill-fitted baseline. Seriously? Worst. Ever. No wonder this show never does menswear. Jillian, Christian, Rami, Steven, Victorya, Chris, and Elisa are all safe.

Kit gets praise for the look of her outfit and her smart fabric choices. The judges find her outfit versatile and unique. Jack's outfit gets props for its fit, its simplicity, and the fact that it's actually finished. Heidi points out that it's better to have two finished pieces than three awful ones, though Michael thinks by playing it safe the outfit lacked a third piece that would have given it a twist. Though Tiki doesn't wear a lot of vests, he likes the tie on Kevin's outfit. The judges aren't into the purple, though they say the look would definitely make a statement.

Sweet P get criticized for her disaster of a shirt collar and the terrible tie proportions, though she gets a few props for style. Ricky totally gets called out on his safety-pinned jacket, with Tiki saying that there's no way he could wear something that sloppy on the air, and that it looked like a five-year-old made it. Ricky also gets criticized for his boring color choices. Carmen gets slammed the most for her unfitted pants, too-short (and unfinished) jacket, and total lack of shirt. Basically, the judges think it's unacceptable. Heidi sums up the worst of the pack with an extremely cutting, "I guess they all thought that they were better than they really are." SNAP!

Kevin and Kit are in, but Jack gets the win. Hmm...I would've gone with Kit. Jack played it too safe, and Kit did more. That said, I guess Jack's looked better. I bet if the judges got to choose, rather than Tiki, they would've chosen Kit. Sweet P also makes the cut. Carmen and Ricky both get a tongue-lashing, but Carmen ends up getting auf'd, and fair enough, dude. That shit was AWFUL. She's bummed, but accepts it. And wow, I have to say, I can't believe that Nick was cut from the second season after making Daniel a suit that was a bit too puckered around the seams, given the menswear results this crew came up with. Just sayin'.


David Dust said...

Click here for DavidDust's recap of last night's episode. Your's is much better, however.

Colleen said...

Did anyone else notice that Tiki was revelling in dissing the outfits with the phrase, I couldnt wear that on air, that would look horrible on air, thats not conservative enough for on air. Even a lot of his phrases were, that would look great on television.

Ok, we get it, good for you, youre a tv star. :P *pat*

Liz said...

Ha, so true!