December 14, 2007

polyester makes me all verklemmt

Finally! A Project Runway challenge that required some creativity -- the clients this week were women who had lost a lot of weight (between 40 and 170 pounds) and the challenge was to turn their favorite pre-weight loss outfit (among them a shiny polyester wedding dress, a canary blazer, and a green velvet evening gown) into something that would be suitable for their everyday life and that, of course, would express the point of view of the designers.

The results were...shall we say "mixed"? If you were looking forward to metamorphosis of the poufy wedding gown into a sleek cocktail dress, you were in for a disappointment.

Sorry, Steven, but if you "just don't do polyester satin", you don't belong on this show. It's a little verklemmt*. What would PR be without great garments made of not-so-great materials, such as corn husks, coffee filters, or recycled paper? And what's up with the glue and the prayer that Steven relied on for holding his black-and-white nightmare together? Don't we know it's all about construction and execution? Gillian was confident that she would get away with a well-made dress that wasn't in line with the terms of the challenge -- as long as it was, well, a well-made dress. And not only did she get away with it, she even got into the top three. Unfair? Sure. Unexpected? Hell, no. This is Project Runway, the show where you can end up in the top three of the dog challenge without making an outfit for a dog.

Talking about unfair: This was also the episode in which Jack left the show because of a "staff infection" (hilarious misspelling on Bravo's website, at least as of Wednesday evening, it's "staph infection", of course, derived from the bacterium staphylococcus), which in his case (he's HIV positive) required treatment in a hospital.

I know my opinion will not be very popular, because Chris, who was brought back as a replacement, is such a popular guy, but I found it beyond tasteless that the producers didn't seem to waste an hour between saying goodbye to the sick guy and bringing back the happy-go-lucky guy. The King is dead. Long live the King. Also, if you want to do something tasteless, just go ahead and do it, don't try to justify it with crummy logic such as "We wanted to keep the level of competition high". That level doesn't exactly increase if you replace someone who has made it to round four with someone who didn't.

Chris was allowed to work through the night and ruined an acceptable outfit by tying a red bow around it (#5 in Blogging Project Runway's collage). A seasonal tribute?

Michael Kors felt reminded of "Shirley McLaine when she played a hooker with a heart of gold" and all judges considered the dress costumey** and "very cliché"***.

As sad as this was, it led to one of the best quotes of the season so far: Tim Gunn confessed that he himself had made more bad decisions at three o'clock in the morning than he could list. It makes you wonder if they also involved red sashes.

Sadly, Elisa (#2) disappointed with an inappropriate layered look that didn't exactly highlight the "increased sexuality" of her client that she had intuited****. What annoyed me more, however, was the judges pointing out the shortcomings of the design in front of the client. It's difficult not to feel dowdy if somebody tells you that you look dowdy in the dress you're wearing.

"Resident wunderkind******" (Tim Gunn) Christian won the challenge with another one of his tailored jackets (#1), only this time it fit the terms of the challenge, and his client, who had very specific ideas about what she would wear, also liked it. How fierce was that? And to add to the fierceness, Tim's Take is back (albeit with the unfortunate "staff" typo, for which I hope he is not responsible). Let's hope this means PR is back on track again. We want to hear more about Tim Gunn's bad decisions!

*You'll recognize that this is a Tim Gunnism. It's a German adjective, meaning "uptight".

**The root, "costume", is related to custom. Originally, costume related to the guise or habit used in artistic representations.

***Note that it is used as an adjective here ("so cliché"), similar to "fun" in "This is so fun!". The origin of the word is quite interesting. It's the participle of the French verb clicher, a variant of cliquer, "to click", as applied "by die-sinkers to the striking of melted lead in order to obtain a proof or cast" (Oxford English Dictionary). It then became the name for a metal stereotype block used for printing and from there it was extended to more figurative meanings.

****Don't you just love English for its backformations? A backformation is when you start out with a complex word and chop off a morpheme instead of adding one to create a new word (intuition -->intuit, emotion -->emote) The new word is shorter than the original word, which seems to be a reversal of the expected pattern (bake --> baker, happy --> happiness).

******German for "wonder child", used for exceptionally gifted children, especially in the arts. In German, the plural is "Wunderkinder", in English it is, quite simply, "wunderkinds".

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