January 10, 2008


I've never been to a prom [Originally in reference to a promenade concert at Presentation Week at Yale University ]. There's no sad story hidden here, I was simply raised in a promless culture. Do I feel I missed out on something important? Not really. Do I feel that at the age of 17 I would have asked for a plunging neckline? For lace and gold and jewels? Not really. Would I have used the words "I kind of like" quite as often? Hopefully not. Of the dresses presented, would I have chosen a blue baby doll with an odd-fitting top, bedazzled with plastic jewels, like a dog collar? Certainly not.

The task was to design prom dresses for a bunch of 17-year old girls from a New Jersey high school. Some of the clients seemed sweet and self-conscious, some were more on the bratty and self-delusional side. All wanted to look and feel glamorous. So far, so good.

The results weren't really spectacular, and to my endless surprise Victorya won with a dress in super hero blue (to borrow from Tim Gunn) with a bedazzled bib. Nina found the dress terrific - perhaps she was thinking of the original meaning of the word? [causing terror, from Latin "terrere" = to frighten].

Kevin was out with an unflattering, unhemmed Marilyn-Monroe-inspired creation in "cheap" read that made his client look bustier than you want to look at 17. Or at any other time in your life. Oh Kevin, why didn't you listen to Tim, who advised you that "the hem has to be exquisite"!

For once, the judges also found some of the dresses too sophisticated [from "sophistes" = to become wise or learned]. Sweet Pea's dress, which looked nice, if not particular fashion-forward, was praised as pretty and gorgeous, but also as "a litte [too] sophisticated" for a 17-year old.

Rami was hit even harder. Not only did they present the designer selection in such a way that it looked as if he had been chosen last, the judges also criticized his draped cocktail dress in moss green as "too sophisticated" for the client, which was just a polite way of saying that it looked old-fashioned. But to make sure, they said that as well. There seemed nothing wrong with the dress per se (after all, it was the kind of dress that won rave reviews in episode one), but it did look a little gloomy on a 17-year old. It was odd when Rami brushed off the criticism with the remark that that's what he does: design sophisticated dresses for sophisticated women (read: not blingy dresses for teenagers). His candy-wrapper dress, which won him immunity last week, certainly didn't look like that.

Chris showed them how to use green -- make it bright apple green and make it glamorous, but he was sent off as "safe" and his dress wasn't discussed at all. The same went for Kit's hip dirndl, also in electric blue and a lot less tackier than Victorya's winning design, and for Jillian's updated Arielle gown in light turquoise. Sometimes you just don't understand what catches the judges' attention. When Heidi asked those three to step forward, I for sure thought that they were the top group. Not so.

Well, nobody would have assumed that Ricky's design was in the top group. He swore that "the girl inside him" would wear his sad pillowy creation (but then, he's always at the verge of tears anyway), but Nina stopped him short with the remark that the ruching [from the French word for bee-hive and applied in allusion to the platis of a straw hive] looked sloppy [related to the Old English word for mudhole]. Ruching? The dress looked like a rectangular marshmallow.

Christian was justly concerned that his design would look tacky [of obscure origin]. Tickety-tack, to be precise. That's Santino-like whickety-whack plus Daniel-Franco style lace. And it did. Add to that unflattering and ill-fitting, and you know all you need to know. Tim Gunn was not impressed with his attitude and introduced a new workroom mantra: Dont' give up! Rally! [from Old French relier/ Latin religare = bind together; a related verb is rely, which originally meant something like "gather" or "assemble"]

Christian, I'd really like to rally for you, now that Elisa has left (if only because you have a spark that many of the other designers lack, at least on camera), but with such a poufy mess that you don't even like yourself, you're making it really hard! For next week, you owe us some serious fierceness, young man.

ETA: Bravo needs to take better care of "Tim's Take". I bet he didn't write Chacon a son gout. It's like spelling everyone with an i in the middle. The French word for everyone is chacun, people, and it doesn't hurt to aim at getting the diacritic marks (accents) right either. If in doubt, look it up. That's what dictionaries are for!

No comments: