Project Runway: "Hard Wear"
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Project Runway: "Hard Wear"

"Everyone's is just trying to work with these materials that aren't really made to create clothing with." Precisely, Emilio. Welcome to the real Project Runway. Isn't it wonderful?

Finally. After scores of lackluster, ho-hum, thoroughly taupe episodes on Lifetime, someone must have lent Bunim-Murray Productions Seasons 1 & 2 of Project Runway on DVD. The producers minds must have been blown.

Producer #1: You won't believe some of the challenges the old Project Runway did. They were crazy.

Producer #2: Crazier than "Make a red dress that is also an ad for Campbell's Soup"? 

Producer #1: If you can believe it, yeah. They did some really outside-the-box stuff. They called it using "unconventional materials"

Producer #2: You mean like, "Make a dress"? Or, I know, "Make a dress using only blue fabric"?

I'm sure it only took the producers a few hours before they came up with their very own unconventional, totally "outside the box" challenge: Make an unconventional look using materials found at a hardware store. And then, because the producers finally picked up on Project Runway's tradition of challenges that are actually challenging, they added another item to the brief: Create a matching accessory to go along with the look. Could the designers do it? Would they cave under the pressure? What weird things would they somehow shape into garments? Would Emilio macrame his washers into something resembling clothing before time runs out? What rough craft project, its hour come round at last, would appear on that runway? It was all so deliciously riveting to watch unfold. It was like the Project Runways of yore. 

And now to the alternately hideous and inspired garments. First, the inspired. Amy used different colored sandpaper to create a kicky little dress with a fan bodice. Like some of the hideous designers, Jonathan made his dress out of copper, but he had the wherewithal to cut it into manageable strips instead of just beating it into the shape of an armored corset. The result was a graphically interesting little cocktail dress. But Amy and Jonathan weren't in the top three. Instead, Mila, Maya, and Jay were. Mila used shiny, black and white paint trays to make a mod cocktail dress. Personally, I thought it looked a little like a chess board had exploded all over an armadillo, but her use of materials was pretty genius, and her cuff bracelet was cute. Maya used metal screening to make a surprisingly non-metal-looking gray sheath, some black wire to make a cool jacket cage, and several keys and chains to make what Lucky magazine calls a "statement necklace." Overall, her look was very striking and the materials she used were challenging. Clearly Bangs The Younger should have won, but she didn't. Jay, who made "leather" pants and a turquoise striped balloon top out of garbage bags, did. True, Jay's woven "leather" belt was impressive, and his outfit didn't look like it was made out of garbage bags, but it wasn't "an unconventional look" (unless "ugly" is "unconventional" now) and, sorry, garbage bags are a cop out.  Everyone knows that.

But on to the hideous: Three of the designers used mostly copper sheets for their materials. Coincidentally, three of the designers made variations on Tin Man costumes—Seth Aaron, who made a pointy oil can of a dress; Ben, who made a crumpled up copper tube; and Jesse aka Swing Heil who made a "Robot dressed up like a Hershey's Kiss" costume. Anthony said that all of their designs were torture and he was right. Each of their designs looked like wearable devices, rather than clothes. The judges deemed Swing Heil's Tin Man to be the most egregious, and so he was in the bottom three. 

Then there was Emilio. Poor, silly Emilio who thought he could somehow cover 6-feet of runway model with a small bucket of washers and a spool or two of cord. His vision was a Valley Of The Dolls: 2009 pink and silver sheath. What he ended up with was a skimpy bikini made from hot pink string and washers. Still, even though he barely made any clothes, Emilio's very Barbarella styling of his model almost worked. Sure, it was a total cheesefest, but that was kind of the point. In any case his unconventional-materials bikini was much, much better than Wendy Pepper's LifeSavers and licorice number from Season 1. But obviously he was guaranteed a spot in the bottom two.

Rounding out the baddies was Anthony, who somehow made a sad lavender prom dress out of metal mesh. It was truly a feat of dullness, but it wasn't the worst of the bottom three. Swing Heil's "Robot dressed up like a Hershey's Kiss" costume was, and so he was sent home where he could paint copper sheets silver for some reason till his heart's content.  

Stray Observations:

--The lesson that all future contestants of Project Runway should learn from this season: Make pants. The judges like pants. You'll probably win.

--There really should be more thoughts that begin with, "I'm just a guy who went to a community college in Hawaii..."

--"It's obvious you struggled with unconventional materials." Well, yeah, Heidi. That's the idea isn't it?

--"So we're going to Michael Kors store in SoHo. It's really exciting. He's got a beautiful store." How many times do you think they told Mila, "That's good, but maybe you could say it with some feeling? Like you're excited?" before they just gave up?

--"Ladies and gentlemen, straight off of the periodic table, it's...copper!" Jonathan is clearly challenging Anthony for the title of Quipmaster.

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