Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Project Runway: "Transformation"

Illustration for article titled Project Runway: "Transformation"
Illustration for article titled Project Runway: "Transformation"

Hope y'all don't mind if I crash your party over here. Amelie invited me — really, she did. Where is she? Uh, I think she said something about needing to help a friend move …? Anyway, as long as I'm here, let me bend your ear with my thoughts about PR.

Just so we're all on the same page at the start, I'll say that I think this season has been subpar, although the episodes still usually manage to be entertaining. The level of innovation or design sense among the contestants either isn't as high, or isn't as interesting to me as in previous seasons. Without some notion that there might be a genius — or at least a madman — cutting and sewing somewhere in the workroom, there's not as much suspense to the competition. As much as I was sick of Rami's drapes last year, at least you could see a really fantastic eye there, a sense of balance and shape. Aside from the obvious schtick of some of the eliminated folks — you know, "leathuh" — where's the vision?

I do have a horse in this race, though — Korto, who's from Little Rock, just half an hour down the road from where I sit. As you know if you've been following the press releases, all six of the designers still left on the show did Fashion Week collections. So it's not giving anything away to say that Korto got to Bryant Park. Go Korto!

This week's challenge is a head-to-toe makeover for recent college graduates, to get them tricked out for the working world. What is with today's recent college graduates and their hair? Two out of the six of the kids have streaky hair. I'm hoping that a little time in the L'Oréal Paris makeup room and TRESemmé hair salon will fix that.

As we begin, Kenley professes continued astonishment that the judges didn't like her Red Queen outfit last week, and promises to "be true to myself." How does anyone go on a reality competition and not know that you have to listen to the judges to win? And just what Kenley needs to challenge her: a client who "likes everything I like." (Not to mention a client who wears that little vintage belt-brooch-thingy every time we see her, with three different outfits.) When Tim suggests that she might not want to let the tulle underskirt show, she responds that she never really listens to anything Tim says. For us it was last week; for you, Kenley, it was two days ago! How have you forgotten so quickly?

From the first sketches, it's clear that innovation isn't going to be front and center here. The problem with challenges like this is that the clients' tastes are almost guaranteed to be on the conservative side. In one sense you could say that's not the designer's fault, but tragedy ensues when the designers take their ambitions down to subterranean levels.

Suede seems to have lucked out with the most confident, attractive girl, Avital. (But she doesn't want her horrible split ends to be cut because her boyfriend wants her hair long. I remember being her.) Avital also walks the runway with the most verve, but she's not on board with the bizarre Prince-esque jacket Suede foisted on her. She never wanted it, and when she hit the runway she shucked it immediately.

On the runway, it was apparent from moment one that Joe's garment may have been one of the single most unflattering items ever to appear on the show. Korto was trying to tell her client to take off the jacket as she left the runway, and we get a little glimpse behind the scenes when an alternate walk — where she did unbutton the jacket — illustrates the judges' deliberations. Separates were the downfall of most designers except Korto; only Kenley didn't do a jacket or sweater, although she did include a vest that clearly was not designed to be removed.

My taste isn't always the same as the judges. I tend to be overly impressed by garments with lots of flow and long, exuberant silhouettes, and sometimes that isn't what ends up in the winner's circle. But there couldn't have been much doubt in anyone's mind that Joe would be going home tonight. Suede's dress, at least, was well done, and much as we're all sick of Kenley's Betsey Johnson fantasias, at least the style suited her client perfectly. Now that we don't have Blayne's bizarre Ocean Pacific aesthetic and Stella's biker sleaze to kick around anymore, I'm not sure what I can do but hope that my girl Korto finds something a little more exhilerating and distinctive to take to Bryant Park.

Grade: B-

Stray observations:

- Mood Fabrics has a mascot named Swatch. Cuuuuuute!

- As they start their designs, the designers talk about their first jobs. Jerell's first job was at McDonald's eating "all kinds of Big 'n' Tasty's."

- Lee Ann got the "head of lettuce" in this challenge, according to Jerell — meaning the mother who doesn't like anything. Suede has to sell his client on a dress when she wants pants, because "that's just more Suede."

- Kenley: "Do most girls have an assortment of pocket squares?"

- Joe thinks that a navy blazer is just the thing to set his outfit off. In the history of women's wear, has a navy blazer ever set anything off?

- At the runway show, why does Jerell dress as a wood sprite?