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Project Runway Season 14: Twisting and Branding

After last week’s horrific debacle of a team challenge, we’re all hoping this season of ProjRun will pick itself up, dust itself off and pull it together. Apparently to that, they send the designers to Long Island. Well, it’s a start. What are we doing on Long Island? Fittingly, the Product Displaying Make Up People branded challenge. Yes, the day when MaryKay gets everyone to say the brand name MaryKay over and over again, so that Long Island girls will consider themselves fashion forward for helping their pyramid scheming housewife friends make a sale or two of their Timewise Moisturizer.

The challenge brought forward by these less than creative (but solidly successful) Make Up brand is one that is less than creative, but sounds like it should be solidly successful. Take something that everyone agrees works in fashion, and “put your own spin on it,” which somehow ties back to being inspired by New York City. Hey, it could be much worse–they could have to be inspired by the otherwise bland and standard make up palettes. Also, we’re finally going to Mood! The designers have $250 to spend, and no clue how much anything is per yard. Swatch licks himself, unimpressed with any of it.

Swatch's opinion on this season
Swatch’s opinion on this season

Of course it’s a one day challenge, so there’s discussion of whether than means they have to cram all their design work into six hours or nine hours while still making time to be in an extended MaryKay commercial and Tim’s all important walk through.

We’ll skip the former and go straight to the latter, since I may not be allergic to Tim, but I am definitely allergic to recapping commercial interruptions in the middle of my program.

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  • Candice: Her pleated jacket is interesting, especially knowing she’s also bought vegan leather. Oh right, she has immunity, so it doesn’t matter.
  • Lindsey: She claims to be contemplating everything. The pieces on her dummy look like they belong on Joan Holloway in Mad Men Season 1.
  • Gabrielle: She’s refused to do a stitch of work until Tim approves her design, which seems like poor time management. Tim doesn’t actually say one way or the other, which she takes as approval.
  • Swapnil: His little black dress is more like a little black shower pouf. Tim tells him not to add anything else.
  • Amanda: She had a meltdown because the judges have already marked her to go home early. Tim tells her to put last week behind her and move forward.
  • Edmond: He’s making two outfits because he doesn’t know what he wants to send down the runway. Tim tells him to do the jumpsuit.
  • Kelly: “I want it to be fun. I like fun.” Tim thinks her fun is compelling. I think I’d give it a pass.
  • Jake: Sequins and jersey numbers Tim tells him he’ll need to argue it out with Nina.
  • Joseph: “Mood has a scuba section? Who knew?” In 14 seasons, I’ve never heard anyone mention it either. Now I have.
  • Blake: He has imaginary clothes on his dummy, because who can time manage when they can’t tell time? Tim declares himself baffled.

With that, Tim wanders out the door, leaving us to only speculate what he said to Merline, Ashley and Laurie. Laurie tells her model not to have opinions or ask questions. Human clothes hangers are not allowed curiosity. Blake wonders if the judges like sideboob. His model clearly hates him, because she claims they love sideboob. Spoiler Alert: No One loves sideboob.

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Day of Runway, and Gabrielle has a freak out because she doesn’t know how to thread a serger. (ProTip: you tie the new colors to the old colors and pull and that’s how you never have to thread it.) Blake is making stressed noises so that he will get camera time for being both weird and a moron, before he starts screaming for a medic because he got a drop of blood on his dress. At the Name Dropping Hair Salon, they look bummed out it’s not their turn to have their brand mentioned every five minutes.

Let’s go down to the runway, shall we?

Continue reading Project Runway Season 14: Twisting and Branding

Project Runway Season 14: Cruise Control

I still hold in my heart a lot of love for Project Runway. But there’s something that, I have to admit, bugs the crap out of me. And, unlike most things I complain about when it comes to this show, this is not a “Lifetime ProjRun” vs “Bravo ProjRun” issue. This is a baked into the text issue, if you will. And it’s the team challenges.

I bring this up because once Tim Gunn finishes presenting a 45 second commercial for Celebrity Cruises, he presents the seven suitcases with exotic locations that have their fabrics (so we’re not going to Mood this week either) and will be the inspiration for today’s challenge. Seven suitcases, when there are fourteen designers can only mean one thing: the button bag and a team challenge.ship

To wit:

  • Amanda&Gabrielle: South of France
  • Ashley&Candice: Venice
  • Lindsey&Jake: Hong Kong
  • Laurie&Swapnil: India
  • Kelly&Blake: Greek Isles
  • Edmond&Hanmiao: Carribean
  • Marline&Joe: St Petersburg

Now, on other shows I cover, like, let’s say, Face Off, team challenges are the norm. In fact, it took that show four episodes before we even got to an individual challenge. And when it comes to teams, there is no negativity. There is no making hay of dramatics and “this could be a disaster!” interviews. Because the truth is, when it comes to design work, in the real world, everything is a “team challenge.” You’re never working alone. This is the reality of the creative arts–to work alone is such a rarity that to insist you are incapable of playing nice suggests that perhaps you have chosen the wrong profession. And having experienced this now for several seasons, when I come back to Project Runway and their incredibly nasty vibe that comes with team challenges, not only do I dread these episodes, but my overall reaction is that I am watching a group of people who have no right to consider themselves professional designers, let alone think they should be worthy of a career in fashion.

Clearly, I am in the minority. The production doesn’t just enjoy playing up the ugly control freaks, they revel in it. I mean, the official title of the episode is “Shut Up and Sew.” Can you get any nastier?  Well, you can, as we see some designers talking down to their partners and then wonder cluelessly why their team project isn’t going well. Perhaps we should send them all home–yes you too Edmond. Immunity revoked, get the fuck off my screen. And take Lindsey and Joseph with you. What do you think, Tim?

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  • Ashley&Candice: They want to make a cape. I suppose Superheroes need vacation outfits too. Tim suggests a caplet.
  • Edmund&Hanmiao: “How is this day to evening?” Oh, we forgot that was the point of the challenge because control freaking.
  • Merline&Joseph: The production already enjoys making Merline the butt of jokes, so they love Joseph’s snotty reaction to her.
  • Laurie&Swapnil: Tim calls Laurie’s fabric “the secret sauce.”
  • Kelly&Blake: No drama? Tim shrugs.
  • Amanda&Gabrielle: No drama? Tim wanders off.
  • Lindsey&Jake: What’s their outfit? Who cares, when Lindsey gets to indulge in her worst instincts?

Tim removes himself from the situation to go roll in a pile of money from Celebrity Cruises, or whatever he does between appearances. The models come and go. Then it’s another twelve excruciating minutes of awful behavior from people who I suppose think that they’re winning because they’re monopolizing camera time. Whatever gets you through the day kids.

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You know it’s a bad sign when you actually look forward to the Name Dropping Hair Salon and the Product Displaying Make Up People on Runway day, because it’s a moment of relief from the otherwise awfulness of the episode.

Goddess bless the fast forward button. Let’s see how badly the judges call this.

Continue reading Project Runway Season 14: Cruise Control

Project Runway Season 14: Hallmark Hall of Fame

A round of HEIDI MAIL! sends our latest batch of Project Runway hopefuls to the ultimate destination in branded cards and invitations. Our featured brand this week is a name so familiar that it has its own moments, traditions, holidays it made up in order to sell more cards, and even a TV channel. (Which unlike some channels we could mention, is actually still owned by the company that launched it, and not a subsidiary of Viacom, Universal or Disney.) Despite this lack of synergistic energy, it has still agreed to allow its logo on this week’s program, and have both the contestants and Tim Gunn shill for it. (Really, Hallmark as Alice in Wonderland? No.) In exchange for this 30 second commercial, the store’s entire inventory is now the materials for an Unconventional Challenge. I’m sure someone thought this was an even trade-off. Perhaps the franchise gets to write it off as a loss?

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After the five-minute whirlwind of ransacking the store for every card that has any sort of embellishment on it–and a lot of envelope grabbing to ensure coverage of all the relevant areas when walking the runway–it’s back to the lab for this one day challenge. (Tim keeps harping on that, like last week’s one day challenge, or next week’s one day challenge will somehow magically be longer.) Once he’s gone, everyone starts bartering their cards with each other for what they really want.

Then it’s scissors, saws, wires, muslin, contestants burning themselves with hot glue guns, and a completely unnecessary dash of racism from one of last week’s bottom dwellers. That last one was ugly, and the editing of the kid’s obnoxious declaration of how adorable he is only upped the unnecessary factor. Let’s move on to Tim’s Walkthrough.

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  • Ashley: She has immunity from last week, so it doesn’t matter what she’s making, or that Tim compares it to the Tin Woodman.
  • Swapnil: “Ombre of polka dots.” “Alice on Acid.” (His words, not Tim’s.) NEXT.
  • Blake: Our new racist friend has nothing on the dummy but his limited imagination. Tim tells him to attempt sophistication.
  • Merline: “How is your model getting in and out of that?” asks Tim. I assume she’s going to glue the girl into it.
  • Lindsey: Our resident “I make real clothes, not craft projects” contestant–there’s always one every season–all but says she has no idea what she’s doing. Tim says that’s exciting.
  • Jake: Tim calls his attempt to make his own fabric out of cards roof repair work. At least she won’t leak?
  • Edmond: He’s going branded and bridal. If Hallmark sends a guest judge, they will love it.
  • Candice: She’s using the foil from the insides of the envelopes. Tim tells her to own it. She high fives him.
  • Hanmiao: The kind description of this is that she’s going meta conceptual avant garde. (Yes, she’s just sticking the envelopes onto the muslin wholesale.) Tim says to glue gun the living daylights out of it.
  • Kelly: She has a crumpled up construction paper Native American skirt from a second grader’s Thanksgiving day pageant.
  • David: It’s very 80s. Tim says Re-conceive.
  • Gabrielle: It looks like Valentine’s Day when through the shredder.
  • Laurie: Tim tells her gently she actually has to cover the muslin with card bits for it to count.
  • Joseph: Nothing on the dummy but muslin. Tim calls his idea “Very Kate Spade.”
  • Amanda: Tim calls her textile concept beautiful, but insists her skirt is too ambitious. She has a meltdown.

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No time for meltdowns! No Amanda meltdowns, no calling your husband meltdowns! Here come the models. Everyone decides that it’s not a challenge until Ashley cries, so she obliges. Then they all burn their fingers collectively on the glue guns before going home to hope that when they wake up their disasters will magically look better.

Day of runway, none of the disasters have gotten any better. So Tim tells them to own what they’re doing, because that’s all they can do at this point. Let’s skip the commercials for the Hair and Make Up companies and head to the runway and see what resulted from all this insanity.

Continue reading Project Runway Season 14: Hallmark Hall of Fame

Project Runway Season 14: Style Sprint

Gather round my fashionista wannabes. It’s time once again for lifetime’s ever slowly dying on the vine shadow of its former self, Project Runway. Our contestants are walking with purpose through the New York City streets to Madison Square Garden to meet with Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum (never forget, they are the real stars of the show) for our first challenge. We’ve got everyone from the Contestant Who Tried out for Years and Years before the show finally ran out of people more talented than him, to the “I Don’t Work Well With Others” walking cliché. And there all here to stand on a basketball court. How terrible can it be? It can be bad enough that you shouldn’t have worn heels. Mood has been convinced to lay out what look to be rather terribly cheap bolts of fabric around the seats of the arena for the poor contestants to run at and grab in a three-minute mad dash. (Have you ever run up bleacher steps? Trust me, this is going to suck for them.) They’re only allowed four swaths each. Heidi screams at them to make it more stressful, because you know they needed that.

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Back in the workroom we have designers laughing uncomfortably at each other’s jokes and at least one rude comment that just because a contestant is Indian, he can do magic. (He gently informs the speaker he has left his wand at home.) Back in the workroom, for the first time, Tim makes a big deal over tools and kits, and those who didn’t bring their kits. I’m a little thrown by this–in fourteen years, we’ve never had discussion of this (though we did have that time a contestant brought pattern books.) Is this the first year ProjRun has not provided tools? Or is this just the first year where the contestants failed to bring their kits? At least one misunderstood,  and thought that he thought he wasn’t allowed to bring anything. Tim scolds them who didn’t bring tools, but does not do anything to solve the problem before leaving to let the contestants to it.

While all the contestants weep over their back story drama and Merline gets the most annoying contestant edit, let’s fast forward. Tim’s critiques are what matters.

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  • Duncan: The ginger from New Zealand has a coral drape that looks like a Greek toga. Tim responds positively.
  • Ashley: The purple haired girl already burst into tears once, and has two half skirts box pleated for Tim to approve Tim deftly notes what she likes better and makes approving noises about those choices.
  • Lindsey, Laurie, Blake, Gabriel, Joseph are all montaged through with bad critiques. Only Candice gets approving noises.
  • Edmond: His black and yellow mini dress does not strike me as “fashion rebel chic.” Tim calls it a basic dress and not well done.
  • Merline: I don’t care about her dress, I just want her to stop calling the fabric “muslim.” So does Tim.
  • Kelly: Tim points out that none of her pattern lines match up. That’s not how she fantasized that would go.
  • David gets told everyone should be nervous.
  • Swapnil says he doesn’t like making clothes in a rush. Wrong show buddy. Tim snaps “The whole season is going to be a rush!”
  • Jake: “Where is the innovation?!” Tim clearly forgot to have his happy pills today.
  • Amanda: “Forced and contrived.” Someone bring this man his coffee.
  • Hanmiao: Tim sneers “It droops!” She wilts.

Tim is very disappointed in the room, and scolds that they need to take the lumps of coals up their asses out. It’s Tough Love. After all, this *is* the way the show is going to be. Two day challenges are no longer a thing. Everyone has to be able to work fast and clean, and more importantly, be able to sell the outfits as somehow high fashion, on a production that long ago lost whatever interest it had in producing such moments in favor of contestant who are unstable and cry on cue.pr14-ep1-episode10

Day of runway, and Tim arrives to name check this year’s sponsors, including the Accessory Wall, which is sponsored by a brand you’ve never heard of called Just Fab. The Product Displaying Make Up people are still MaryKay. Amusingly, the Name Dropping Hair Salon now matches them in middle-to-lowbrow name recognition, and run by the Sally Beauty Studio.

Let’s see how terrible the results are.

Continue reading Project Runway Season 14: Style Sprint

Project Runway: Cast for Season 14 Revealed

While no one was paying attention due to the run up of entertainment news ahead of San Diego Comic Con, Lifetime quietly dropped the cast for the newest season of Project Runway.

There are 16 designers, which is a horrifying large amount in this day and age of reality shows where 14 seems to be pushing the upper limits. It’s extra frightening for Project Runway this year, since the show is starting off later on the summer calender than usual–instead of debuting the third week of July, this year the show won’t begin for another two weeks–August 6th. And with New York Fashion Week, I’m sorry Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week starting right on time as it always does, on September 10th, , that means we will at best have gotten rid of six of them, guaranteeing a full Top Ten showing at the tents. (Not that the show will actually acknowledge this, mired as they are in a pre-internet mindset, as if this was still 2004 when they first aired.)

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Some other things that were confirmed–Nina Garcia and Zac Posen will both be returning as regular judges (and hopefully continue to show up for work every week like they did last year.) Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn will of course return–as we learned with Under The Gunn the show can’t legally call itself Project Runway unless they’re both in it. And Tim will once again have his Tim Gunn Save to use at some point in the competition. let’s hope this year he puts it to smarter use than his last choice.

But enough snarking on last season! That is the past and this is the future! Let’s look at our new crop of designers.

Continue reading Project Runway: Cast for Season 14 Revealed

Project Runway Season 14 Gets Start Date, New Spin Off

Lifetime would really love to make Project Runway a year round show. Unfortunately, it’s not always been successful in its attempts to build a year round schedule of Project Runway related programming. The only successful spin-off of the series so far has Project Runway: All Stars, which should really be known as “Project Runway: Second Chances.” Though the judges panel is different, and it took a couple of tries to find a host, it’s the only one to at least successfully replicate the formula.

So it’s not surprising that Lifetime announced yesterday that in addition to yet another brand new spin-off attempt, PR:AS is being renewed for the 2015/2016 season. Along with this announcement came the debut date of Project Runway proper. The show is starting even later than usual this season.

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Usually the show starts in the back half of July, giving the show six or seven weeks until NYFW to whittle down the contestant batch in order to only have to lie to viewers about the contestants walking nine or ten collections,  six or seven of which are dummy collections and at least one or two which are thoroughly embarrassing for all involved.  This year, the début date has been pushed back to the first week of August, which is a little alarming. either the number of contestants has been reduced (we can hope) the show plans a couple of double eliminations early, or the show’s live runway will drag on for 12-13 collections and really try the audience’s patience.

Continue reading Project Runway Season 14 Gets Start Date, New Spin Off