Sunday, February 19, 2012

Project Runway All-Stars Episode 7: Turn Back, O Man....

Greetings, Project Runway Fans!

Give my regards to Broadway.
Remember me to Harold Square.
Tell all the gang at 42nd street that I will soon be there.

And when I do finally get there,
it's really gonna break my heart,
to find out that Godspell's celebrating 40 years.
Boy am I one old fart!

Really?  The fuzzy headed Superman Jesus has been around for 40 years?  Godspell is a little slice of the 1970's when musical theater was all about love and wonderment and the dawning of the age of Aquarius and stuff.  Stephen Schwartz took the Gospel of Matthew and a little bit of Luke in order to create an allegory about how communities come together, form around a charismatic leader and carry on after his departure.

Kind of like Project Runway All-Stars carries on without Tim Gunn, no?

This week's challenge was to design an outfit for the character, Sonia.  She is a rich woman who slowly loses the vestiges of her wealth as she hears the parables of Jesus.  At one point, she breaks into song--"Turn Back, O Man"

Madonna played Sonia, once.

And we found out this week that another notable woman was in Godspell...

"I was actually in Godspell once."
Really?  Because I scoured the Internets and I couldn't find anything.  So we'll just have to use our imagination....

Forswear thy foolish ways, indeed!

Here's the thing.  For decades, Godspell has been staged and re-staged.  The original version costumed Jesus's apostles as clowns.  The clown makeup was an outward manifestation of their community.  Other productions have used special garments or other markings.  This musical has been cast as a group of homeless characters, disco dancers, space travelers, etc... Schwartz's own son recently did a production featuring people on cell phones, with green screen projections and large monitors.  So, basically, the costuming on this one needs to rely on discussion with and direction from Mr. Schwartz.  What we got was a brief explanation that this character was a rich woman who gets "dressed" on stage.  He used a sort of thrift store analogy.  Clearly, he was honing somewhat close to the original production, but definitely wanted to update it.  So this challenge took some observation, listening and sensitivity on the part of each designer.

I have just, one pet peeve this week.

Why did Sutton Foster sit on the judges' panel and not Stephen Schwartz?

In the real world, the producers and directors would have something to say about the costuming for the show.  So we're to believe that Stephen Schwartz left the decision about who would design Sonia's outfit to someone who wasn't even starring in the show?

I know she won a Tony, but come on...

Let's see how our contestants did this week.

We beseech thee, hear us!

Jerell Scott did not repeat his win this week.  His Sonia was sort of a weird, 1940's throwback, but it was enough to be safe.

It certainly looks urban, somewhat sophisticated and rich enough--all of Sonia's traits--but the skirt looks cheap.  The ornamentation seems like an afterthought.  It would have aged the actress beyond the other characters.  So unless this version of Godspell were set in the Retirement Home, this character would stick out.  I'm surprised this was called out as safe, quite frankly.

Michael Costello offered up a bright, cheery outfit.  The color was kind of harsh, but he made it work.

It's fun and flirty, but somehow, just not quite dramatic enough for such an iconic production as Godspell.  For one thing, the character "gets dressed" on stage and then loses her clothes as she accepts Jesus's teachings.  This is a finished outfit and I don't know how the top comes on and off without exposing the actress inappropriately.

Poor Kenley Collins.  She focused on the mismatched, thrift store nature of the outfit.

And yes, it was another impeccably made outfit, but the white fur lining and fascinator with the red and silver brocade made it look like something more suited to the Rockettes Christmas revue and not the 40th anniversary revival of Godspell.

Pulling pots of gold from the air...

Austin Starlet Scarlett came oh, so tantalizingly close.

I could totally visualize this in an updated production of Godspell.  It was urban, with a touch of sexiness.  Just like Sonia.  Can't you just see a young Madonna in this outfit?  The gathers, folds, deep vee neck and even the leggings are so contemporary.  I thought it was a sure winner...until.....

I saw the outfit that Mondo Guerra produced.

This is the sort of outfit that Jerell usually attempts to produce, but just quite can't.  As only Mondo can, he mixed four different prints together.  He used feathers to heighten the drama, but they weren't overdone.   The layers flowed beautifully.  You could instantly visualize the character dancing and flirting.  This outfit so immediately commanded the attention of everyone who saw it.

Georgina Chapman focused her dressmaker's eye on the unfinished, uneven hems and the tentative lengths.  Mondo couldn't quite decide on whether this was a midi or a maxi length.  But in the end, that was a minor quibble.  Mondo, the print master, stitched up another win.

Oh, dear Lord.....

Mila Hermanovski was never destined to win this challenge.  Her aesthetic is more streamlined, modern and architectural.  It's not the kind of thing you'd expect to see on a Broadway stage.

But Mila really sealed the deal when she picked this fabric.

It doesn't exactly "read" as a luxurious, rich fabric.

The chevron gold fabric in the top was interesting and very Mila, however, the blouson shape did nothing to flatter the model.   The white, fur coat was much, too much.  And the skirt that she created from the green and yellow fabric, while it was interesting, looked a little to mod.  Isaac was right to point out that it looked like the top and the skirt belonged to two different outfits.  Then again, pairing gold and yellow together is always very tricky.  I don't see how Mila could have made this outfit work without reworking the entire concept and substituting some of the elements. For one thing, the skit really doesn't lend itself to the sort of carefree dancing and moving around that Godspell is known for.

But the real disaster of the evening was Kara Janx.

"Oy gevalt!"
I know there's no Yiddish in Godspell, but maybe there should be.  In fact, Stephen Schwartz would likely welcome it.  What wasn't welcome was Kara's aesthetic.  Sure, she could do a rich woman's dress, but that woman was going to be streamlined and sophisticated.  She'd be the woman to walk into the theatre with her perfect Orchestra section seats--right in the middle--not to close, not too far away.  But that's not the woman on the stage.

The red skirt was Kara's undoing.  She tried a long skirt.  She tried a midi skirt.  In the end, she went with knee length but it just wasn't dramatic enough.  So she stuck a great, big bow in the front, which killed any sophistication it may have had.

The back wasn't much better.  It puckered and stretched in weird ways.

Again, how would Sonia have been able to dance, move and sing in this outfit?  It was just the wrong garment for the challenge all the way around.  So Kara was sent home.

Next week, our final six designers ("The most talented room in Project Runway history") wave the flag at the United Nations!  See you then!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Project Runway All-Stars Episode 6: Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall

Snowy, Flowy, Blowy,
Showery, Flowery, Bowery,
Hoppy, Croppy, Droppy,
Breezy, Sneezy, Freezy.
~ George Ellis, The Twelve Months

Greetings, Project Runway Fans!  We're down to eight contestants now.  Four seasons.  Hmmm.... time for a Face-Off challenge!

This week, four pairs of designers were given a season for inspiration and asked to make an outfit.  There may have been more to the challenge than that...perhaps they had to sew at least two seams standing on their head.  Maybe they had to hand sew some part of it blindfolded.  That would explain some of the ugly seaming on the runway this week.
Cynthia: So what do you think, Isaac?  Is it better to have a design contest show with professional sewers or not?
Isaac: I have to be honest.  I'm quite upset that my producers never found someone like Just Raymona.

Oh, there was drama.  Five challenges in, the designers are beginning to express their true opinions about each other.  Clearly, some of the designers were matched up with people they did not respect and certainly didn't want to lose to.

Let's see how our contestants did this week!

Showery, Flowery, Bowery....

Cheer up, girls!

Ahh, Springtime....when a young man's fancy turns and ruffles.

Talbots presents: the Austin Scarlett Collection.
Kara Janx took hers in a different direction.

"Springtime is when a girl needs an outfit that instantly goes from the yoga studio... the dog park"
Kara's outfit was very boring.  Matched up with anyone else, she would have been last.  But Austin's outfit was so shockingly suburban and commercial, that Kara ended up safe.  It wasn't that Austin's outfit was bad in any way.  Cynthia Rowley liked the pants, for instance.  It was that the judges, much like the voters in the Michigan, Minnesota and Missouri Republican primaries, wanted to send a strong message.

"Really Austin.  You can't keep dressing your model as if she were married to Mitt Romney."
Because of it, Austin was almost booted off.  He was spared this week because another great designer did far, far worse.

Hoppy, Croppy, Droppy...

"Summer dreams...ripped at the seams...but oh, oh, those summer dots!"

Kenley Collins just edged out Mondo Guerra with her baby blue romper with the mismatched dots.  Mondo's outfit was just a bit too sloppy for the judges tastes.  Moving on....

Snowy, Flowy, Blowy...

Jerell Scott is a lucky, lucky designer.  He got winter this week, which forced him to make a wearable outfit.

Michael Costello, on the other hand, was flummoxed by his fabric and had to abandon his first design.  He started to copy Jerell, but let's face it, no one can really copy Jerell.  Jerell's mind is on a completely different wavelength.

The top was asymmetrical with two button closures.  Underneath was a sweater tunic.

It appears as though Jerell made at least two garments, maybe three.  It was an interesting, layered look.

Michael's outfit was also quite well done.

The tunic underneath and the coat on top were impeccably made.  Yes, this model looked a bit older, but  certainly not matronly in any way.  Unfortunately, the one thing Isaac hates more than red and brown put together is a legging stretched over a pump.  Bad Michael!  How dare you stretch a legging over a pump!  That is the worst styling mistake ever!

Really?  That's all you could think to say?  Why not just say that Jerell's had slightly more complexity and be done with it?

Anyway, Jerell got the win this week, but in my opinion, Michael had the better constructed garment and Mila's was close behind.

Breezy, Sneezy, Freezy...

Mila Hermanovski vs. Rami Kashou.  I think we all can figure out where this is going.

Mila continued her departure from black and white.

And while she struggled a bit with the cape, she managed to pull off an impeccable garment.

Why the long face?
Perhaps she got a look at Rami's outfit.  Isaac did and had some strong opinions.

"FUGLY!"'s not enough that the color is really ugly and that the fabric is really shiny and flimsy...

It's the stitching.  The exposed seam cut the model up and added nothing to the design.

It's a shame, really.

The jacket seemed so promising.  But in the end, the draping was just too much and the colors were weird.

It was sad to see Rami depart.  Millions of viewers will miss those biceps.

Until next week!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Project Runway All-Stars Episode 5: Shirtless in Central Park

Greetings, Project Runway fans!   This was a fun episode, wasn't it?

Thank you Frederick Law Olmsted for giving the greatest city in the world the best back yard in the world.  Central Park is truly glorious.  It's even more glorious since last spring when NYC declared the park smoke free!

"Designers, please find a muse to inspire your next outfit.  Here's the All-Star twist: you have to use the clothes your muse is wearing in 50% of your outfit.  Here's $50 for you to use as a bribe."
 There were so many elements to this challenge.   And either there was a furious question session with the producers or the designers really started thinking out of the box for this challenge.

"Listen, toots, you're not fabulous enough to be my muse, but I can't find striped jersey to save my life at Mood.  I swear they hide it.  So I know you paid $20 for that top at H&M.  I'll give you $15.  Deal?"
"Hi sexy white guy!  My name is Anthony and I'm a designer.  I'd like to hook my friend, Austin, up with a date but in the meantime, can I buy your shorts for $30?  If you had any idea what a zipper AND denim cost at Mood, you'd know what a deal this is!"
And some designers probably didn't have to pay their marks for their clothes, because they were more than willing to be exhibitionists for the camera.

"I love your accent.  Could you just say, 'delicious' one more time and I'll take my shirt off for you."
Frankly, there was more male anatomy this week than at a Chippendales performance.   Lifetime Networks: where Rob Lowe and John Stamos take turns playing killers and where men strip nightly.

So let's see how our designers did this week.

Safe Ladies- Kara, Mila and Kenley

Kara Janx must have been inspired by the Central Park strip tease show because her look this week was quite solid.

It was a three-piece look with an interesting top and well-fitted pants that Kenley may or may not have helped her with.  For a change, it fit well and was quite fashionable.

Mila Hermanovski's look was very typical--black and white, geometric, featuring leggings.  In this case, the leggings featured the workmanship that Mila is definitely known for.  

Kenley Collins took her muse's outfit

and turned it into something truly fabulous.

So cute.  So wearable.  Flattering.  Solid.  One of Kenley's best.

Guys on top--Rami, Austin, Mondo

Rami Kashou was inspired by menswear.

Because we didn't see him interact with his muse, we really don't know what material he used.  I would have loved to have seen the negotiations over this guy's jacket.  In any case, Rami made a strong outfit that really showcased his skills.

OK, the hat was dumb and the blouse fabric was really weird.  Wait, he paid good money for that fabric...

Or maybe she just offered it up to him in exchange for a nice, white t-shirt.  It would have been an improvement.

But the shorts were amazing.

How cute is that?  The clever thing he did to both the ruffled shirt and the shorts was to use that black and white fabric detail as trim.  It's the first thing you see, not the ugly fabric, unless you're Georgina Chapman, who saw it instantly.  In any case, it was good enough to keep him in the running for another week.

Austin Scarlett was inspired.

From the two-toned hair down to her holey hose and cool shoes, Austin was smitten.

Those studs...those nails...

Austin translated all of it into a fabulous outfit that made everyone forget he's known for his elegant gowns.

Austin made this!
Super cute, really edgy.  

And he almost pulled off a win...but

Mondo Guerra was really, really inspired.

You see, a good print is like gasoline for Mondo's engine.

And that's a print worth haggling over.

Mondo: Could I have your jacket as well?
Muse: Only if you give me your fabulous t-shirt!
Well, at least that's what I would have told him!

What resulted was a gorgeous jacket with an asymmetric closure.

And a cute bra top that picked up the chevron pattern in the skirt.

Mondo let the pattern do the talking and simply made a technically amazing jacket to compliment it.  The judges loved the keyhole back, but I thought it was a bit tacky. Mondo won this week, deservedly so.  Although it was very close between Mondo and Austin.

And somewhere in NYC is a woman who's thinking she should have gotten way more for her jacket.

Jerell, Michael and Anthony

What can I say about Jerell Scott that I haven't said already.  What do you think, Joanna?

I see, we agree.  Joanna very diplomatically tries to have a rational conversation with him about the proportions of his outfit, the jewelry and the "depth" of his patterns...whatever... This is why I'm not the "mentor."  I'd be screaming, "WTF????  Jerell, people think you're INSANE!"  But executive editors for Marie Claire Magazine just don't do things like that. You delegate reality to underlings.  She's got a runway show to get together.  Breaking someone down to the point where they walk off does not make good television.  So just stroke the chicken so that the eggs are laid.

This gives me a great opportunity to give kudos to Sean Avery, formerly of the New York Rangers and a bunch of other teams because he has a nasty attitude.


That drew a penalty!

He took a summer off to intern at Vogue.  He dates supermodels.  He worked with a clothing company to design a show for New York Fashion Week.  In his spare time, he plays hockey.  He once spent several months in anger management therapy, but I think Jerell Scott would like to send him back for a redo.


Sean got off the line of the night when he described Jerell's outfit as "Lady Ga Ga and Gwen Stefani Meet Burning Man on Acid."

Spot on.

Speaking of chickens and eggs, according to Michael Costello, "Chickens started laying eggs and Jesus came back" when he saw his muse.

She's very cute, Michael, but what you should have been doing was looking at her clothes. 

"You realize, Michael, that Gordana got sent home two challenges ago for the same kind of outfit."
Yikes!  It was a make-it-work moment for Michael if there ever was one.  Well....

Uh oh.....

Well....the challenge was to make an outfit inspired by your muse, using the clothes he or she was wearing.  He did that.  But where oh, where is a woman supposed to wear this outfit when there are egg-laying chickens to feed and Jesus is knocking at the door?

And if you're lounging by the pool, why do you need a belt?  It's a very confusing outfit.

But the one who laid the biggest egg was the one who couldn't follow the rules of the challenge.

In Anthony Williams' defense, he was not aware of his weakness at the time.

This woman is wearing Anthony's kryptonite.
He didn't realize he was powerless against prints, until he encountered one in the wilds of Central Park Union Square.  Like anything that's bad for someone, he was drawn to it.  He usually "lets the fabric speak" but this one spoke a language he could not understand.

Oh, he knew he was in trouble from the get-go, which was why he started stripping all of the denizens in his vicinity of Union Square.

"I got clothes from Stan, and Justin, and David, and Joachim, and Jamal...."
If he had been smart, he would have changed his muse to someone not wearing prints, but he wasn't and he didn't.  So Maeve, the print-wearing siren, continued to haunt him.

Where's the print?

Oh, it's on the HANDBAG?  AWWW....Anthony!  How could you?  

I had flashbacks to Season 3, when Angela Keslar stuffed the extra fabric into her handbag so that she didn't have any leftovers in the Black and White challenge.  Handbags can be a bane.

If he had just used the print as the top, he would have been in by a hair.  That's how bad Michael's outfit was.   However, because he didn't use the print, the judges were allowed to pile on.  That origami on the front of the pants is not flattering, nor is the flap on the left leg.   The pants are too short (or too long, depending on the look you were trying to go for.)

Anyway, Anthony is gone on a technicality.  

Next week, we have a "face-off" challenge.  We've been waiting for the drama and I think that six episodes in, even old-timers will lose their cool.

See you next week!