Thursday, November 15, 2007

Project Runway, 11/14/2007

It's back, friends and neighbors! It's only been one year since the season finale of Season Three, but it feels like eons, because Bravo decided to subject us dreck like Top Design and Shear Genius. The only bright spot we had in this Project Runway-less year was the thoroughly enjoyable third season of Top Chef.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Project Runway, I'll give you a quick rundown. Fifteen designers go to New York City to compete for a $100,000 cash prize, a spread in Elle magazine, and an opportunity to have their clothing line sold on Our hostess is supermodel Heidi Klum, who after three children still looks better than most models who've never had children. She's German, and her voice gives you the impression that she has a helium tank stashed beside her chair. You can get past the voice, though, mostly because you end up ignoring her accent by laughing so hard at the things that come out of her mouth.

The show has three judges, aside from Heidi. The two permanent judges are Micheal Kors, an American designer who gets a little more orange each season, and Nina Garcia, the Fashion Director of Elle magazine. She can be pretty mean, and often gives the designs looks that you can just tell she's thinking how it would look on her. Each episode also has a guest judge (this week's is Monique Lhuiller, a designer), normally someone involved in fashion, or a client for whom a look is being designed.

The designers have a mentor who is not involved with the judging, the wonderful Tim Gunn. Tim Gunn (who is one of those people who simply cannot be referred to as Tim. Personally, I would like to call him Uncle Tim, and we could walk around New York City arm-in-arm, making fun and pretending to be shocked by the terminally unfashionable. Ah, to dream....) is the former dean at The Parson New School for Design, and is now the Creative Director of Liz Claiborne. He wanders around the workroom assessing the designs of each contestant, and likes to spout incredibly long words while looking perplexed and sometimes physically ill as he bites down on his knuckles.

Each episode centers around the designers struggle to complete a challenge and send something winning down the runway. It's not as easy as it sounds: last season, contestants had to design a garment made out of recyclable materials. One girl literally made a dress out of manila folders and masking tape. Obviously, she went home. The judges select three they like and three they don't like, and basically stand the designers up on the runway and either lavish them with praise or tear their design apart. One is named the winner, and is usually awarded with immunity so that they cannot be voted out of the next challenge, and one is named "out" (as in "out of fashion") and sent home. The final three take a two month break to design a collection to be shown at Fashion Week in New York City.

The Major Players: Season Four introduces us first to Rami Kashou, who was born in Jerusalem but now has a studio in Los Angeles. One by one, we meet them as they are moved into the Gotham Apartments. Seven minutes in, we have a crier--Ricky Lizalde, who I keep wanting to call Ricky Lizard. Anyway, every season we have someone who likes to cry, mostly about what a "great opportunity" Project Runway is for them. The all-time great Project Runway crier is Season Two's Andrae--he literally babbled and cried on the runway for like forty minutes, much to the shock and chagrin of the other contestants and judges. Man, I do love this show! We also meet the yoga-ing, intuition-following, marionette-making Elisa. Within minutes of meeting her, I want to slap her. Chris March seems to be, forgive the pun, tailor-made for Project Runway. He's a costume designer, and is accustomed to making them with unconventional materials, such as salad ingredients. Our resident trash-talker is Christian Siriano, who interned at Vivien Westwood and Alexander McQueen, and he preens and prisses all over the workroom, hating on everything and everyone. Him, I don't want to slap. He's incredibly entertaining.

The Challenge: Heidi and Tim bring them to Bryant Park, where Simone Le Blanc "feels an immediate connection" with the place. (Uh-oh! Simone's not long for this show! Be on the watch for people who say they're going to "be here to the end" and "there's no way I can lose". These are clues, folks.) Tim tells them they will need to create a garment that best expresses who they are as a designer--with a tent. As the designers look on, flabberghasted, Tim tells that the tents are structured with $50,000 worth of material from Mood fabrics (a big fabric store in NYC--we'll be visiting here often.)

The Top Three: Rami Kashou, who designed this gorgeous gray goddess-like confection of a dress. I, like Michael Kors, could have done without the extra little flower-like brooch (known as a "fleurchon" to us Project Runway vets) on the shoulder, but otherwise it was perfect, and very advanced for a first outing of the season. I look forward to more designs from him. Christian Siriano, designed a very Westwood-esq fitted black and tan plaid jacket and untailored-tailored skirt. I'll give him points for innovation. Finally, we have Victoria Hong-- who really shouldn't remind me of Vera Wang as much as she does-- designed a black flapper-like dress the judges called "flirty" and "interesting". The winner? Rami.

The Bottom Three: Elisa Jiminez, the hippie who rubbed grass stains into silk chiffon, designed an electric blue something with more multi-colored something trailing behind it. Heidi said it looked like the poor model was "pooping fabric". Simone Le Blanc constructed (poorly) a yellow, gray, and silver babydoll with a bronze and black cinch-waist sleeveless jacket. Finally, is our crier Ricky Lizald, who designed a pretty but boring black babydoll. The construction was quite nice, though. Who got the Auf? Simone, of the crazy black eyebrows and ash-blonde hair.

Next week? Probably a group challenge. Let the hair-pulling and eye-scratching begin--and there's no telling what the women will do to one another.

No comments: