Well, it's taken 5 episodes but finally some genuine personalities are beginning to emerge. Sure, we unfortunately already had Blayne, the overtanned troll doll with his sack o'catchphrases. And then there was the self-proclaimed (and proclaimed and proclaimed) Suede, who at 37 is the oldest living man still using Manic Panic. And there's Jerell who I'm sure would be striving for eccentricity if he knew what that word meant (right now he seems to think it means wearing an abundance of tacky accessories). Not to mention Kenley, with her infuriating giant hair flowers and Bettie Page bangs. But all of these people are calculated characters. They're over-processed personalities in a can. But this week we finally got our first taste of personalities made from scratch, genuine traits, unrehearsed quips, authentic cattiness, and boy does it make a difference.
Stella, with her New Yawk accent and constant biker references, has been a genuine character from the beginning. You can't fake assertions like, "This is for Ahmerica. This is serious." Or, "I like black. Black is cool." Joe is also starting to show signs of a personality, though his is a heady mixture of "nice-guy dad," "passive aggressive sewing crabbiness," "goatee guy," and "possible homophobe." (Though, in fairness, I think Joe meant "There's too much drama, cause there's too many drama queens." Not "There's too much drama, cause there's too many [insert word for gays]." Also, if you were a homophobe, why would you ever work in fashion?)
But chief amongst the emerging genuine characters is Korto–wry, cutting, distinctively smart Korto–who instantly became my favorite contestant so far this season with one simple criticism of Kenley's incessant cackling, "Why does she do that? Just, 'Ha Ha Ha.' Then you're done." Well put, Korto. My second favorite Kortoism was her critique of the other designers' vintage-inspired looks: "It's '08. I live in '08." A sentiment like that is so smooth and so pure--and it doesn't leave a strange, unpleasant, metallic aftertaste like when Blayne tries to get Tim to say "Holla at ya boy!" for the second week in a row.
Still, in this episode even Blayne displayed a truly genuine, unmanufactured character trait: ignorance. Apparently he's never heard of Sgt. Pepper's? But yet he's seen Across The Universe? Tim summed up the situation thusly: "Ugh, youth." But Blayne isn't 16, he's 23. In truth that's more, "Ugh, stupidity." Apparently Blayne lives in a cultural vacuum and is only just now discovering the outside world, which might explain why his design this week looked like something a secluded Belarusian teenager would have made a month after Communism fell in order to look more "western."
Which brings me to the challenge this week: design an outfit for the U.S. Olympic team to wear to the opening ceremony of the summer games and/or an outfit that will bring a tear to Apolo Ohno's heart. In other words: create some patriotic sportswear. Surprisingly, not one of the designers cut up an American flag to create some bellbottoms, hot pants, and halters, a la Dick--though Kelli's look was just as 70s. Really, only a few outfits telegraphed Team USA: Leanne's chic white short set with the red & blue collar looked very American--Grace Kelly to be more specific; Joe's sporty red, white, and blue skort and jacket literally said "USA;" and Korto's winning white wide-leg pants with light cropped leather vest and red and blue details cut a very clean, subtly patriotic silhouette.
But most of the other outfits looked as though they were representing other countries. Michael Kors said that Daniel's purplish blue, red-accented sheath was from the "Republic of Cocktail," which is spot-on. Kelli's red polka-dot blouse and navy a-line skirt was from a very small country, The Wardrobe Dept. Of 9 To 5. Stella's satiny capris and midriff-baring top were from the nation of Club Europa, while Suede's satiny circle skirt ensemble was from a place near there called Ballerina Barbie. Keith's misguided bubble skirt represented Hey Let's Make Everyone Look Fat, a country that shares a border with Unflattering Vintageland, the place Kenley was representing with her high-waisted blue plaid skirt and shiny white Peter Pan-collar blouse.
Terri, true to form, created an ensemble for The Peoples Republic Of Crazypants–a land where the people use striped fabric to bind their breasts so tightly it looks painful, but then they cover it up with a scarf knotted in such a way as to make it appear that their neck is vomiting red fabric. Still, that is a much better place to visit than What The Fuck?, the capital city of Tackyland, which is clearly the country Jarell was trying to represent with his totally overdone mish-mosh of an outfit. With that floppy hat, his poor model resembled one of the lesser known friends of Strawberry Shortcake. But Jennifer's chosen country, Meekville, was the worst of them all. How could she think that a gold striped skirt, paired with a prim black jeweled cardigan would fit the Team USA challenge? It's not sporty, and it doesn't even try to look American. She was the obvious choice to cut, and send back to Meekville, population 1.
--Jennifer was delusional about her own aesthetic right to the end: "I brought something different to Project Runway...with my surrealism." That word doesn't mean what you think it means, Jennifer.
--"There's a lot of bikers in this country who watch the Olympics." If you say so, Stella.
--Jerell wants to see Blayne in bronzer? Is that what he said? Why? He's already tan. Like the concept of restraint, I don't think Jerell has any idea what bronzer is.
--As of right now, I'm doing a "STELLLLLLAAAAAAAA!" watch: a countdown to the inevitable moment when someone on the show screams Stella's name in the style of A Streetcar Named Desire. It has to happen. The question is when and who will do it. I'm predicting Suede in episode 6.
--If the text polls are going to be this irritating ("a.) It's tanlicious b.) It's like leatha"), Bravo needs to institute a default choice of c.) Kill them all.
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