12 October 2013

PR12E13 Pride Goeth Before…What Again?

I’m really beginning to question the editing abilities of the Project Runway people. Oh, I’m not talking about the “editing” that the designers need to do in order to not present a train wreck on the runway (free mixed metaphor there). I’m talking about the people who cut together the show, and their uncanny ability to show us how it will turn out by what they show us along the way. Lest I join them in this defect, I will just move on and share what I saw and what it provoked in me.

This is the episode where the remaining designers go off to design their collections and Tim gets to travel around the country visiting them and their loved ones for a check-in partway through. Heidi sends them off with $9,000, six weeks to work and ten looks to create for a Spring Collection. Oh, and the first twist…one of the looks has to be made of unconventional materials! Flash forward four weeks to the Tim Across America tour…
First stop: Philadelphia PA to see Dom (and yes, we are reminded that she has her guaranteed spot already). Tim looks on in horror as someone eats macaroni and cheese, trying to make pleasant comments about it, and we find out that Dom has been working on her collection by day and hostessing in the restaurant by night. We also find out that when she got home she vegged out and watched movies, including Blade Runner, which became the inspiration for her “Retro Futurism” collection. She has very little actually done, and has been experimenting with prints that she has not yet approved for production. Tim comes down on the side of using all knits to produce the prints (versus other fabric types) and Dom is ready to get busy. Job well done, Tim.

All the way over to Los Angeles CA to visit our other designer with an assured spot, Bradon. He goes on about flowers emerging from the snow and trots out a bunch of scary floral prints that Helen later refers to as his having gone “the old lady route”. I’m not sure I disagree with her, for just this once. Tim says no such thing, though, and cheerfully goes to the beach with Bradon and his fiancé, albeit still dressed in a jacket and tie. I think Tim had enough of the costume action this season (remember the camo suit and the referee outfit?) and he will not be pushed into changing his style any more! Moving on…

He finds Alexandria looking a little rested in San Mateo CA. She tells us she is going “Edgy” “Strong” and “Modern” and proceeds to give Tim a look at the THIRTY pieces she has completed. Yes, 30. She will be making some decisions later, she assures us. She takes Tim to her Camp Couture to meet the kids. It seems the kids have helped her to weave phone books together for the unconventional materials look (someone needs to tell Alexandria that there is nothing unconventional about using child labour in fashion!), but that isn’t even the best part. They have made “ugly dolls” representing all of the people on PR this season…we mostly see the long-eliminated ones, but they also show the Tim doll, which he loves. I have to say I kind of enjoyed that, too.

Back across the country to Union City NJ to visit Helen. We get to see the print she has made from the photograph of an eye. We later find out this is her boyfriend’s eye. All in aid of her interpretation of “clairvoyant”. Okay… She shows us some capes and cape dresses, including some very red stuff, and then shows us that her unconventional material is shower mats. She takes Tim to her parents’ very lovely home and we see her oddly blond boyfriend. I’m not trying to be mean, but I never pictured that the overly tattooed goth-ish woman would have a boyfriend that blond! Let it go, Ken…

Last stop on the Tim Tour, Raleigh NC to visit Justin and his family. Around the lunch table, where some of them toast with champagne (or sparkling wine…perish the thought) and others must be recovering alcoholics because they are drinking something else from chunkier glasses, Justin shares that his sister would probably never wear anything he made…but he hopes she will change her mind eventually. Justin shows us just how clever Tim was with his official “save” of the season, as his collection is based on sound waves and reflect a progression in his life from being deaf to having the chaos of a cochlear implant to reaching a peaceful state again. Inspired.

I just have to take a moment to share my own impressions of deaf politics and the cochlear implant. There is considerable resistance to this device in the deaf community, as it is seen as an attack on their culture and an affirmation by others that they are “broken”. The politics of this are very much like LGBT politics, where there are those in our society who think we are broken and need fixing, too, and our communities include a broad range of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, with an identity issue in common. The cochlear implant is also not without risks, as it involves giving up any residual hearing a person might have to substitute a device that translates sound into something that we hearing people would probably not recognize as sound. Justin shares with us that immediately after his operation he was frightened and angry about what the device had brought into his life. But he’s moved on from that and found peace.

So back to what he has been working on…some lovely sound-wave inspired prints and — crazy innovator — some 3D printed elements for many of his looks! His unconventional materials look is an amazing gown made of suspended test tubes (they looked plastic and pointy to me, not glass) that almost look like a crazy exotic fur. I’m thrilled that he has the gumption to select this as one of the three looks he shows the judges for the design-off with the other two contestants on the edge.

The Tim Tour takes a week, and then they have one more week before going back to the Refinery Hotel in NYC for — as we are reminded time and againMercedes Benz Fashion Week. As an aside, I would note that Heidi makes a point of calling it New York Fashion Week while everyone else bows to the corporate sponsor. Then again, PR is giving away a Lexus, not a Mercedes, so maybe Heidi is getting a dig in!

They get to the workroom and start slowly unwrapping their outfits, each with an eye out for what the others are revealing of their work. You know this is coming: the snark!
  • Helen on Bradon: the “old lady route” comment I gave you in a sneak preview
  • Bradon on Alexandria: she has so many garments she’s going to have trouble mixing, matching and styling
  • Bradon and Helen on Justin: he has a “problem” with construction (note to PR editors: we know he’s going to do well with all these bitchy comments!)
  • Alexandria on Helen: looks elementary, like student sewing. “She seems confident, but I think it’s a front.”
  • Helen on Alexandria: “It’s a spring collection. Taupe? Taupe is not a spring colour.”
  • Tim joins in on the Helen critique with respect to the “tails” she has on many outfits and shows us how they could be joined to make them look “diapery” like Gandhi
Props to Alexandria, though, as she has real admiration for Justin and supposes that his deafness makes him see the world in a different and interesting way. I feel like I’m warming to her! And with only an episode and a half left…

When Tim come into the workroom, there was a gasp and Tim had to explain that he had had an altercation with some subway stairs, a trip to the emergency room and three stitches! Maybe that’s why he got a little verklempt at the end his visit, prompting Justin also to dissolve into tears after he left. Get a hold of yourselves people! It’s just a TV show!

Oh, and one more commercial sponsor twist before we get to the showdown between Alexandria, Helen and Justin: the lady from Tide comes in to announce that all of the designers who are moving on to MBFW will have another outfit to make from a washable material that Tide pods has developed in the interest of “washable fashion”. I’m sure they will have several minutes to complete that look next time.

Runway showdown time! But first a little vocabulary showcase starring Helen, who shares that the three looks she will show the judges will give an illusion of what her collection is all about. An illusion? *sigh*

Heidi starts the show by telling us that not all of them will be able to show at NYFW. This is our first indication that someone will be eliminated. Tension up, start the show!

Justin is first. The judges actually gasp at his unconventional materials gown, and they react well to his looks…or at least everything but the hair, which Heidi and Zac both hate. Nina loves the clothes and says she is “not that disturbed” by the hair. Looking good for Justin!

Alexandria is next, and again Heidi loves them and Zac notes the lux quality and the most professional execution we have seen from her all season. Nina goes sour on this one, suggesting that the clothes look like “anything” and not really runway quality. Nina asks about the colours in the rest of the collection and Alexandria affirms that the black, white, grey and taupe in her three outfits are pretty much what is in the rest of the collection. Nina is so displeased, that things are looking a little tense for Alexandria. No tears, though.

Helen’s is a bit of a disaster. She explains that the print is from a photo of her boyfriend’s eye, but she trips over her tongue as she perceives that not one of the three judges is liking her looks. Nina even calls the wacky braids around the neck thing she did to her models “creepy” and “like they’re being hung”. The only nice thing is that Zac says her boyfriend must have nice eyes…he either likes the print or just wants to gaze into her boyfriend’s eyes. Helen on the edge! But still no tears, for a change.

They have a close-up look at the outfits and say a few more things I didn’t bother to note (gasp!) and then they call the three back out for the sentencing uh, judging. Heidi again repeats that not all of them can move on to NYFW (take that, Mercedes Benz!).

Justin is clearly the winner of this runway-off and is pronounced in. That doesn’t keep him from crying. Alexandria is also pronounced in, with an admonition to remember that she is not going to a showroom, but to the runway.

And that means that Helen, dear, confident and condescending Helen, is out. But out with a “bright future” of course. Conclusion next week, unless they manage to surprise us all with a two-part finale!

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