August 16, 2006

waist management

this week's project runway episode was supposed to teach us something about waste management. however, it turned out to be a lesson on a different kind of /weist/*

who was safe, who was out, who was in the top three? let's play this game in three steps, based purely on linguistic evidence:

  1. do you recognize which comments are comments about the same dress?

  2. who made which comment?

  3. based on these comments, which dress should end up in which category (safe / out/ top)?

  • A. it was really noisy
  • B. costumy.
  • C. it's ugly-beautiful.
  • D. incredible garment. it's stunning.
  • E. hot and glamorous
  • F. an elegant joke.
  • G. looks like a straitjacket.
  • H. magic. absolutely stunning.
  • I. bizarr and artsy. it turns me on.
  • J. preposterous! a big disaster!
  • K. this was art!
  • L. she looks like a paper brioche.
  • M. an atrocious mistake
  • O. frankenstein!
  • P. she looks like fat minnie mouse.

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here's the answer to question 1:
do you recognize which comments are comments about the same dress?


  • A. it was really noisy
  • B. costumy.
  • C. it's ugly-beautiful./D. incredible garment. it's stunning.
  • E. hot and glamorous
  • F. an elegant joke /G. looks like a straitjacket.
  • H. magic. absolutely stunning.
  • I. bizarr and artsy. it turns me on. /J. preposterous! a big disaster!
  • K. this was art!/ L. she looks like a paper brioche. / P. she looks like fat minnie mouse.
  • M. an atrocious mistake /O. frankenstein


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and here's the answer to question 2:
who made which comment?


  • A. it was really noisy. (Tim about Robert's dress)
  • B. costumy. (Tim about Angela's dress)
  • C. it's ugly-beautiful. (Michael Kors about Jeffrey's dress.)
  • D. incredible garment. it's stunning. (Tim about Jeffrey's dress)
  • E. hot and glamorous (the judges about Michael's dress)
  • F. an elegant joke. (Laura about Laura's dress)
  • G. looks like a straitjacket.** (Robert about Laura's dress)
  • H. magic. absolutely stunning. (Tim about Uli's dress)
  • I. bizarr and artsy. it turns me on. (Vincent about Vincent's dress)
  • J. preposterous! a big disaster! (Tim about Vincent's dress)
  • K. this was art! (Tim about Alison's dress)
  • L. she looks like a paper brioche. (Michael Kors about Alison's dress)
  • M. an atrocious mistake (Kayne about Kayne's dress)
  • O. frankenstein! (Nina Garcia about Kayne's dress)
  • P. she looks like fat minnie mouse. (Heidi about Alison's dress)

finally, here's the answer to question 3:
based on these comments,
which dress is likely to end up in which category (safe / out/ top)?



based on the linguistic evidence, one would think that uli would be in the top group. she was, but, alas, the judges didn't realize it. so she was only "safe". instead, the judges praised laura's dress for its beauty and minimalism. why is it that the female designers tend to design clothes that look like what they are wearing themselves? just think about it -- angela's preference for bubble skirts, laura's addiction to plunging necklines, uli's easy-looking flowy dresses... anyway, made out of a bag for those packaging peanuts, laura's dress was a stark contrast to jeffrey's garment, a deconstructed, painted, aggressive-looking dress made of newspaper pages, with a "genius" (rachel zoe, dispensible celebrity judge) trompe l'oeil*** belt. overall, "hot and glamorous" trumps "ugly-beautiful", and so michael was declared the winner of the challenge.

judging from the linguistic evidence, one would think that kayne or vincent would have been voted off. it's better to look like "minnie mouse" than to look like "frankenstein", no? and "big disaster" sounds just a tad less promising than "this was art", or so one would think. between kayne and vincent, kayne had the advantage of at least recognizing that his creation was hideous (plus he had already shown some talent on the show), while the only redeeming quality vincent seems to have is ....er....let me think about this a little.

however, and here's the real surprise, neither vincent nor kayne was "out". after a lot of talking about innovation and originality and wearability and flow of material, it all came down to the following question, asked by heidi klum:

"Would I rather look like a fat Minnie Mouse,
or would I want to look slim and long?”


so, in the end this was really about waist management. didn't they tell you that, alison? if only you were a male designer, you might have been forgiven for being "so careless with the female form".

i need a vacation. see you all back in two weeks.


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* two homonyms are two words that sound alike (and often are also spelled alike) but that do not share a common root and are actually two distinct words, such as "bark" (the sound produced by a dog) and "bark" (the layer around a tree). in this case, waste and waist are really just homophones -- they sound alike, but they are not spelled alike. "waste" goes back to the latin word "vastus" (waste, desert, unoccupied), while "waist", according to the OED, is of germanic/scandinavian origin. the OED specifically notes that the spelling "waist" - with an "i" in the middle -- was rare until it was introduced by samuel johnson in his famous 1755 dictionary.

** another homonym pair: "straight" and "strait" -- the latter is of romance origin and means something like "close" or "narrow", the former is of germanic origin and is related to "stretch" (the "gh" was pronounced in old english, just as in "night" or "knight", hence the spelling). a straitjacket is a tight jacket, not one that keeps you upright, or straight.

*** on the bravo website (tim's take), somebody didn't make the effort of looking up how to spell
trompe l'oeil correctly. the word is from french, and it's literal meaning is "deceive the eye". jeff's dress had a cool painted belt, not a real fabric or leather belt.


2 comments:

ThePRGayBoys said...

Very cool. LOVED the quizz. : - )

riddiculus said...

thanks! i was so thrown off by the incongruity of the judgments that i had to write them down. it's rather rare that tim disagrees so ...vocally with the judges, and it's also rare that the design that is recognized by everyone, including the person who designed it, as a total failure is not the one that is out.