Friday, October 13, 2017

Project Runway Recap - Season 16, Episode 9

If you remember correctly, good people, last week's episode didn't quite end on a high note. In fact, it didn't seem to end at all. We had a winner, but no one was yet going home.

Except Harvey Weinstein.

But his wife, Georgina Chapman, won't be around when he gets there. WTF is wrong with Hollywood? How could Weinstein's behavior have been an open secret for so long without anything being done about it? How was the old "casting couch" trope allowed to be a reality well into the 21st century? Seth MacFarlane joked about the situation back in 2013, at the Academy Awards best actress nominations presentation. “Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.” It was a joke that was no joke, but people still laughed for a good beat or two. Sexual harassment is serious fucking shit, people. In my workplace, an institute of higher learning, all employees must have sexual harassment prevention training and we are quizzed on it annually. Why is it still ok that individuals who are already powerful, who can make or break people's careers and indeed even their lives, can get away with doing such terrible and demeaning things to other human beings? I have to wonder if Weinstein ever harassed Heidi Klum. If so, will she come forward? Or has her own power corrupted her into silence? I can only assume they had a close working relationship from their Project Runway connection. Perhaps she was one of the lucky ones, and perhaps she knew nothing.

Personally, I think anyone not a victim who knew anything about the Weinstein situation and neither said nor did anything is complicit and should be held accountable, at least in a karmic way.
</end of this week's rant>

Back to the show.

After Heidi declared Last Annoying Twin Standing, aka Hairy (also occasionally called "Claire" for some reason), as the winner of last week's challenge, Michael walked off the stage. He doesn't think the competition is fair and squeals to Tim that every garment that the Annoying Twins produced was copied from something they already owned and wore. Though I disliked the twins, I don't think Michael's accusation was quite fair. Their garments from the very first challenge, for example--Hairy's layered tulle dress, and Baldie's unflattering baggy shorts and crop top with weird flowy streamers--didn't look like anything the two of them wore on the show. Ditto for the ugly plastic outfits they made for the unconventional challenge in episode two. The Twins themselves wore sweatshirts, skinny pants (usually leggings), leather jackets, and other "street wear" type things. Except for the black and navy lace top that Baldie wore during episode six, which we only saw the one time. In that episode, it was obvious that there were similarities between the Twins' own clothes and the garments they were producing for the runway. Hairy's design for that challenge involved a sweatshirt; Baldie's was a mashup between the blouses that she and her model wore, and an exact copy of her model's pants.

Meanwhile, back on the runway, the judges are nonplussed. "This has never happened before," states Heidi. She asks Hairy if Michael is upset with her win; Hairy has no idea. Margarita says, mysteriously, "none of us wants to point fingers," just before everyone starts pointing fingers. She then runs backstage to check on Michael, who has just dropped his bombshell on Tim. Margarita tells Tim that Hairy measured her clothes. Tim says, "everyone has a tape measure at their workstation," and "if you want, you can measure the garment you are wearing in the room." He seems confused, for good reason. He's been presented with two issues: 1) copying; 2) measuring. Neither of them seem to be actual problems, if one judges with only the scant amount of information Tim has at hand.

Back on the runway set, Heidi asks for enlightenment. Batani helpfully tell the judges that Hairy had ripped off Margarita's design from the earlier challenge. She then added that Hairy measures her clothing. Hairy, who is standing there openmouthed, admits to taking a pair of her own pants, measuring them, and using those measurements as reference to make the pants she created for this challenge. The judges agreed that was fine.

Backstage, Michael finally tells Tim that Hairy has a tape measure in her room, to which Tim replies that they will "look into it" before sending Michael back to the runway. Once there, he apologizes for his behavior but says he couldn't stand there for a win he felt was unjustified. Yolanda Hadid then asks Michael if he is an exalted highfalutin judge like herself, or merely a participant--a designer knave whose sole purpose in life is to produce the clothes that her daughters wear as rich, sought-after, models.

The judges still don't understand what is really going on. Hairy seems completely clueless, or is at least pretending to be. Michael then declares he can tell the judges the exact reference Hairy used for each garment she made. She defends herself with "nuh uh!" Because for one thing, he can't, and for another, it's no crime to use other garments as reference. The judges agree. They tell the designers to focus on their own work and not that of others. In other words, to mind their own beeswax.

Back to Tim, who is still standing around backstage looking somewhat befuddled. He looks at the camera and tells us that Hairy's copying of Margarita's dress is a non-issue, but if she indeed has a tape measure in her room, that is against the rules and there will be consequences.

Meanwhile, Heidi reiterates that Hairy is the winner of the challenge and the $25K and can leave the runway, along with Kenya, Kentaro, and Margarita, who are safe. Margarita is embarrassed about how they (meaning she and Michael) handled the situation. If they thought one or both of the Twins were cheating, then they should have said something to that effect to Tim or one of the producers two or three or four or five episodes ago. In the same way that people who knew about Harvey Weinstein's deplorable behavior toward women should have said something.

Perhaps they should have taken a knee instead. But that's another argument for another time.

Back in the green room, Claire feels the whole thing was a personal attack. The Good and Evil challenge is brought up. Michael and Margarita claim that the tank-style top she made for her dress was based on something one of the Twins was wearing that day. And that she measured it. At home. She cops to taking four measurements from a tank back at the apartment. She doesn't seem to realize that having the tape measure outside of the workroom is against the rules. Tim steps in and asks if it's true that she has contraband (which also includes pens and paper). Hairy confesses that she is in possession of the forbidden instrument and that she had used it on a tank and the crotch of a pair of pants. Tim then rescinds her win and sends her packing. He doesn't say, "we'll miss you," and he definitely doesn't use his Tim Gunn Save™.

There's now no winner for the challenge, but Dixie still wants to put one of the computer generated designs into production. They choose Brandon's, and he seems inordinately excited to have his doodles on the side of a paper cup. There's no word on anyone receiving the cash prize.

Wow. It only took fifteen minutes of this episode to resolve this challenge, and a much longer time for me to write about it. I guess the producers have had to pad it out because now that the Annoying Twins are gone, the show is boring. The remaining designers are all too nice and get along too well. There's no drama at all for the remaining 75 minutes. Which begs the question: why do the episodes need to be 90 minutes long if there's not 90 minutes worth of content? I seem to remember hour-long episodes being just fine.

We next see the designers going back out onto the runway set, which is choked with toys and little girls playing with hideous dolls and their hideous accessories. Tim gets the rugrats' attention and they march out onto the runway with him, each holding a colorful troll-like creature in their hands. These ugly bits of plastic are called Shopkins, a name that brings to mind small, nebbishy, Jewish men. The original Shopkins are tiny toys from Australia named after grocery store items. The Shopkins these kids are playing with are larger, from the "Shoppies" line. ("Shoppies" sounds like street slang for people who practice the art of shoplifting. Don't these companies have R&D?) The dolls allegedly hail from different parts of the world and have ridiculous monikers like Spaghetti Sue and her friends Pia Pasta and Maria Meatballs from Italy, and Bubbleisha, from China. (China?) There are also several characters that are inanimate objects, like Luigi Lasagna and Peppa Ronnie Pizza.

Hold on. I gotta go vomit.

Anyhoo... Kotomi Nanjo, an employee of the manufacturer of these unfortunate technicolor gewgaws, is there to help Tim present this week's overly complicated challenge. The designers are to create an avant-garde look inspired by the little girls' favorite Shopkins. Ok, so that seems a little more straightforward than other challenges this season. But they can't just pick up a doll and get inspired by it, no, they have to consult with the kiddos who have drawn pictures and have funny stories and blah blah blah. The winner of the challenge will get a bonus of $5K and have their design turned into a special exclusive Shopkins doll. If that's not exciting, I don't know what is.

Oh yeah, most things.

Tim pairs up the kids with the designers. Somehow the African American kids get the African American designers, the one Asian kid gets the one Asian designer, and the Caucasian designers get white kids. It's hard to tell with Margarita's kid; she could have Spanish roots, or her family could be from one of the many other nations bordering the Mediterranean. Michael's kid seems pretty darn white though. Tim had the button bag in hand, but that only gives him the order in which the designers are chosen. Incidentally, the kids themselves are not playing with racially-matched dolls. Yes, I notice these things.

The designers and kiddos consult for 30 minutes, which would have killed me. Ugh. All that pink plastic. And all those enthusiastic children. Michael's kid is into disco, so he decides he'll make a disco ball. However, he has to be careful not to reference an actual disco ball, lest he have to accuse himself of cheating. Brandon's girl is obsessed with chocolate and she wants him to grind up chocolate and smear it into the dress, and then pour chocolate over it. Brandon's not into that at all, which surprises me. Considering that a few of his garments this season were blotched with what looked like baby poop stains, his kid's suggestions should be right up his alley. Over on the other side of the room, Amy taps into her inner child and plays happily with her kid, not really paying much attention to the fact that she should be thinking and sketching. A portent of doom if I ever saw one.

After consulting, the designers head to Mood with $300 to spend. They should probably brush their teeth too, after sugar-fest they just experienced.

Now that both Annoying Twins are out of the picture, the workroom is calm and quiet. And boring. I think I fell asleep for a few minutes because my notes on Tim's critique are pretty vague. He tells Batani to lose the fishing pole she has sticking out of the colorful mounds of fabric she's calling a dress. He tells Ayana that she's got a lot of stuff going on and she should lose this fabric and consider that one carefully, etc. Once Tim leaves, Ayana starts making a cage out of chicken wire. Wonder what he would have said had he seen that?

Michael's sequinned fabric is pretty unforgiving so he needs to watch every detail. Amy's outfit is great from the hips up but otherwise yuck. And Brandon's is....well, Brandon doesn't really have much done. And it's green, not baby poop brown, which is nice change from the usual. For him, switching colors like that is somewhat avant garde in itself, but there's not much garment there otherwise. Tim makes some suggestions to him, pronounces himself excited about what is generally going on in the workroom, and beats a hasty retreat.

The models come in for a fitting. Michael has made a sheer bodysuit thing, and I'm not sure how that's fitting into the design because while sparkly, there are no sequins on it. Batani's model is unsure about the pile of fabric she is being made to wear. It shows off her back fat, which some people might consider unflattering. Brandon's model has nothing at all to put on, so she sits in the green room to play Candy Crush for a while until he's cobbled together some pieces.

There doesn't really seem to be all that much workroom time in this episode, probably because of all the wasted time at the beginning. In a flash, it's the next morning and Tim is telling the designers they have one hour (only one hour? isn't it normally two?) to send their models to the Rainbow Brite makeup studio and the Strawberry Shortcake hair salon. I don't recall any mention of the JC Penney Accessories Wall, but I may have blacked out momentarily. [Edited to add: My lovely and talented  husband, who managed to stay awake through the entire episode, says Tim suggested that it's important to use the JCPAW very thoughtfully for this challenge.]

The guest judges this week are Kate Upton's boobs. There is no way to unsee those things. She's got 'em, so she's flaunting them in a super low-cut dress that looks a bit dangerous.

The judges were impressed enough with the show this week to choose four top looks and only two bottoms. Kenya and Kentaro are safe, which I had figured, as they got the least amount of camera time this week.

Ayana's dress is called a "show-stopper." Unfortunately, by my clock, there's still about 30 minutes left in the program, so that's not at all true. Zac calls it "surrealist Bo Peep," (I think it looked like a giant baby bassinet.) They love the color, the volume, the giant bow. It is a fun look, and if you think about it, it fit Ayana's "modest" aesthetic pretty well as only Liris' neck and her lower legs was showing. It was a "different side of Ayana" that we hadn't seen before.

Michael revealed that his was meant to emulate a "melting disco ball." The judges felt it was well-made and imaginative. Zac called it a "futuristic tin man." I think it looked like a boa constrictor had crawled into his garment just before his model did and it had wrapped itself around her body.

Brandon's is roundly praised as being "really cool." I don't think it was any more "avant-garde" than anything else he had made during the course of the competition. It had layers, appeared to be made from cotton (though it was probably a more expensive material) and sported a shit ton of those weird strips of cloth that he likes to put on everything. I thought it looked like a pile of folded napkins tangled with an apron left behind by Craft Services.

Batani's looks like a pile of scraps. She had left a bit of black stretch skirt un-embellished, and that looked like a mistake to the judges. To me, too. It appeared to be falling apart, unfinished, not polished. Zac said he wrote down "laundry day." I'm guessing he meant a pile of dirty laundry and not the one clean thing left to wear, but it works either way if the only clean thing was a duvet cover.

Amy's coat thingy is a bit baffling. Her usual streamlined aesthetic isn't visible, and the overall design isn't risky enough. Zac felt it was "sad and depressing." Nobody mentions that it looks nothing like something inspired by a line of saccharine pink and purple kids' toys.

Heidi loved Margarita's look. She thought it was "beyond stunning" and "like a cloud." Like Batani's look, Margarita's was a big pile of fabric, but it was more thoughtfully assembled.

While the judges were taking a closer look at the garments, Zac noted that they were getting close to fashion week and perhaps should start really cutting back on the designers. That prompted the elimination of two people this week. Batani's elimination was obvious, but it was also Amy's time to go. She had made some great garments this season, though was only safe every week. I think it was unfair for her to go home for her first mistake. I mean, it wasn't awful, just not good. But the judges were feeling rather cut-throat, I guess, after the whole debacle with Hairy Twin.

Disco Ball Michael got the win. Can't wait to see the hideous toy that results!

Next week: ZZZzzzzzZZzzzzzz! Oh wait - it's an unconventional materials challenge. Could be fun, but probably not.

Posted by theminx on Because of past content theft, I am forced to add this statement to the end of my posts: If you're reading this post anywhere other than the Opalescent blog, (also then this content has been stolen. Please do not support this thief!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Love Pumpkin Spice?

Now lovers of pumpkin spice can show off their affection for the autumnal favorite with cute t-shirts, dresses, and other items like mugs, tote bags, and duvet covers. These items are 100% designed by me, and available through a company called RedBubble.

Find "Basic" items here.

Find "Pumpkin Time" items here.

Posted by theminx on Because of past content theft, I am forced to add this statement to the end of my posts: If you're reading this post anywhere other than the Opalescent blog, (also then this content has been stolen. Please do not support this thief!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Project Runway Recap - Season 16, Episode 8

I know you've all been on tenterhooks since last week, awaiting this recap with bated breath, and assorted other old-fashioned phrases expressing a sensation of anticipation. Or not. Perhaps you have forgotten that the fate of the Annoying Twins was completely in their own hands. They ended up in the bottom three, but as the judges could not tell which of them was responsible for the more egregious bits of their garments, they would be forced to battle each other in a fierce hour-long hairy-head-to-bald-head contest, with the winner saying a fond farewell to her loser sister. Rather than subject viewers to an extended episode last week, the conflict was to take place at the start of this week's episode. So when we join the show, we see Heidi--still seated with the other judges--banishing Hairy and Baldie to the workroom where they are to use the fabric there to create a look, one of which needed to be at least passable. And no helping each other!

Hairy tells us this is a "tiresome" situation, but she sets immediately to work, grabbing some blue fabric and scissors and draping a dress. Baldie just cries, her hot pink mouth opening and closing like that of a cartoon fish, tears streaming down her cheeks but not budging her industrial-strength mascara. She demands to see Tim, who steps into the workroom. Baldie concedes the competition to her sister, who is still working furiously, demonstrating that she deserves to remain.

There is still quite a bit of time left in their hour, but the Annoying Twins and Tim go out to the runway to find the judges and give them the news.

Tim seems somewhat choked up, guest judge Asia Kate sheds some actual tears, and Zac looks affected at the news that Baldie has volunteered to leave. Heidi simply says, "huzzah!" and Nina nods. It is done.

Meanwhile, the other designers are still sitting on those damn couches in the green room, wondering what the hell is going on and why it's taking even longer this week to make a decision.

The next day, the designers all troop into the workroom and take their places near dress forms that seem somewhat smaller than usual. Tim enters with Teresa Bossong, Brand Building Leader for Dixie, the company behind all of those annoying commercials for sturdy, environmentally unsound, coffee cups. They are there to present this week's overly-complicated challenge of many elements. The first element is important: the designers will be creating looks for "women on the go," which I assume means no housecoats and jammies. The second element of the challenge is relatively unimportant: these women are friends and relatives of Project Runway crew members (photographers, directors, producers, etc.). Third, this will also be a custom print challenge. Fourth, the winning design will be printed on a Dixie To Go cup, and the designer will get a $25,000 award. That last thing is the most important point of all, wouldn't you agree?

The designers are pre-matched with their client models, all of whom want a look for a different occasion, like a wedding or day-to-night or just to wear to feel beautiful. They get to brainstorm design ideas for 30 minutes, get 20 minutes to finalize their custom print, and finally take a trip to Mood for $150 of supplemental fabrics. That seems like a pretty big budget, doesn't it? This is a coveted two-day challenge, so there's plenty of time to get things right. Or, not, as the case may be. There are always issues.

Though this is a custom print challenge, Last Twin Standing's client model hates prints. This means Hairy has to think a bit to satisfy both the challenge and her client. Can she do this without consulting with her sister every 45 seconds? She has decided to use the print on one pant leg, making the other black. As for the top, she starts draping a blouse that to Margarita looks exactly like the top of her winning shirt dress from last week. It has an asymmetrical slash across the bodice, a high collarless neckline, and ruching on the sides. Margarita starts telling everyone who will listen and some who will not that Hairy is stealing her design.

When the fabrics come in the next morning, there are mixed emotions all around. Kentaro likes his bold hot pink and red stripe, but the material is stiff. He decides to use it to make a jacket for his client, who wants a look to wear to an Indian wedding. Michael is happy with his fabric, which is mostly white and decorated with a small motif of orange triangles and other shapes. Margarita, who has already gotten herself in a tizzy over Hairy's design, hates her own fabric. Hates that it looks tribal, that the colors are weird. She grabs a bottle of turquoise dye and re-colors her hot pink fabric to a more florid hot pink and aqua job that looks like the exterior of a Miami nightclub. Still, she seems happier with it.

Actually, the fabric looks almost exactly like the print on the cushions of a piece of rattan furniture my parents had in the 80s. I wish I had a photo of it to share with you, but you'll have to trust me on that.

When Tim comes in for his critique, he advises Kentaro that his look is too simple and not inventive enough. Batani's client, who is a breast cancer survivor, wants something colorful. Tim thinks the light denim dress Batani has made appears to be a "gray shroud," which is probably the most opposite of colorful that one can get. Luckily, there's some purple fabric, too, which is an improvement. Kenya's textile is a soft pink fabric with a pattern of stylized fireflies. Her customer is a 60-year-old first-time grandmother who doesn't feel like and certainly doesn't want to look like a granny. Kenya has created separates with peplums on both the top and skirt, but Tim doesn't think the upper one is such a great idea, and that it doesn't seem integrated.

After considering Hairy's design for a few moments, Tim tells her he's seen it before. We see Margarita in the background, waiting for a moment when she can jump forward and shout, "a-HA!" Tim continues that he's seen the look from Hairy before. Margarita is absolutely fuming.

Some time later, when Hairy is asking her for advice, Margarita ignores her before reluctantly giving a few thoughts on sleeves. It's completely childish behavior on Margarita's part.

At no time during the two days does Margarita suggest that Hairy is working on something that seems derivative of the winning look from last week. Meanwhile, Hairy has decided to change things on her own, moving the keyhole from a diagonal position to one at the center of the shirt, and adding similar slashes near the sleeves. At this point, especially in the solid black fabric she has chosen for the garment, it really doesn't look like Margarita's at all.

While Margarita is fuming, she keeps repinning and recutting her own fabric incorrectly. She ruins all of the gray she had planned on using for her dress and has to resort to using a not-quite-matching hot pink. She's embarrassed that she's created such a "Barney" looking outfit. I'd be more embarrassed about stewing over something that's not really my business rather than concentrating on winning $25,000.

Still, she fumes, and talks behind Hairy's back in Spanish with her buddy Michael. Now it seems that she thinks Hairy has a pair of pants hidden somewhere that she's using as the pattern for the ones she's creating. Which sure sounds like cheating to me. But if that is the case, why doesn't Margarita say something to anyone involved with the production?

The next morning, Tim comes in to tell the designers to send their models to the Kindergartners with Fingerpaints Beauty Lounge and the Oh Fuck It! Hair Studio and to use the JC Penney accessories wall "carefully."

This week's guest judges are Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Yolanda Hadid, mom to models Gigi and Bella, and Sophia Stallone, 21-year-old model daughter of Sylvester Stallone. Heidi comes out onto the runway and asks the assembled designers how the work went. Margarita suggests she had a bad time this week, and Heidi says it's a good thing she had immunity and can't be eliminated no matter how shitty her garment looks. And oh by the way, it's the last immunity, so she should really thank her lucky stars.

Hairy, Batani, Kentaro, Kenya, Michael, and Margarita are pulled out of the lineup as the top and bottom looks. Once the critique starts, however, it's hard to tell who's on top or bottom, as everyone gets criticized.

Batani's the print queen, but where is her print? It came out with a much larger spacing than she had intended, so she cut her tie-dye motifs out of the original fabric and combined them into strips on her garment, which, to the judges, seemed like an afterthought. Heidi thought the outfit looked like something one would wear to Coachella, hippy-dippy. My guess is that Batani's definitely on the bottom.

Zac was disappointed in Michael's outfit. The design, which was made to look like a Native American blanket, was ambitious, but he clearly didn't take his client's proportions into consideration. She was rather short and round, and those pants would work better on someone much taller. Not that pants made to look like a heavy wool blanket could possibly look flattering on any human. (Bottom.)

Kenya's top peplum was unflattering, yet the judges thought the top was otherwise beautiful, elegant, and classy, with exceptional detailing. The skirt was too tight, and the flounce at the bottom was a bit much. Still, can't decide if this look is on the top or on the bottom.

Kentaro's look was called "sublime." Zac was simply blown away. Heidi, on the other hand, thought the model appeared to be drowning in fabric. Nina disagreed, calling it 360° elegance. Kentaro said he was feeling like a new designer, after giving up his extensive use of black. Nina felt proud that she's seen Kentaro growing right there in front of her. They just love Kentaro, so I'm guessing this look was definitely on the top.

Heidi thinks Hairy's look is perfect, both chic and modern. The use of her giant black and white print is effective in the pants. Nina isn't blown away, and Zac thinks she's more creative than that. Yet, if Heidi likes it, it's on the top. Maybe.

Finally, the judges tell Margarita that her dress and jacket aren't quite working together. Zac likes the print though. Margarita tells them she was distracted in the workroom, but when pressed for information by Heidi, she says she doesn't want to talk about it or throw anyone under the bus. At this point, I'm pretty sure Heidi knows exactly what was going on in the workroom. I think that after Margarita indicated before the runway show that she had issues during the challenge, Heidi sent out some feelers to the crew to find out what had gone down. (Bottom?)

Why else would they give Hairy the win? Even after the judges took a closer look at the winning and losing looks, only Heidi was enthusiastic about Hairy's shirt and pants. It really seemed that Kentaro was going to be the winner, or maybe even Kenya, since her client seemed so very happy, despite the unflattering boobskirt.

Once Hairy is declared the winner, all eyes are on Margarita, though she doesn't get a chance to react. Michael steals her thunder by storming off the runway. He tells someone backstage that he's there to play fair, but this win lacked fairness. Tim heads backstage to see what's going on.

And the episode ends, just like that. We don't see who is eliminated this week, if anyone. If Michael leaves the premises, than he'll be the designer that is out. We can speculate that in next week's show he reveals something about Hairy cheating. Think back to all of the Dixie To Go commercials we've seen over the past 7 weeks. Doesn't the black and white cup used in every one of them look just like Hairy's design? Why would they want another very similar design? Will they take the win away from her?

Stay tuned....

Posted by theminx on Because of past content theft, I am forced to add this statement to the end of my posts: If you're reading this post anywhere other than the Opalescent blog, (also then this content has been stolen. Please do not support this thief!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Project Runway Recap - Season 16, Episode 7

Hello again! I guess if you're still hanging in with me through Week 6, my recaps must not suck too much, eh? or they do, and you're just a glutton for punishment. Either way, welcome back! If you're joining us here for the first time, I have been a sporadic recapper of Project Runway over the years. If you check out the "recaps" link over at the top right of the page, you'll find links to recaps of past episodes from this season, plus the random other seasons (and shows) I've covered.

This season, the producers seem to be making a real attempt at creating challenges that are far from the "make a pretty dress" challenges of yore. There was one whole season some years back when that was the theme pretty much every week. Snoozapalooza. Not only are the challenges more thematically diverse this season, their introductions are on the overly complicated side. Take this week's, for example. The designers meet Tim in the men's department at JC Penney where he's standing near some dummies mannequins male models and barrels containing bolts of fabric.

Also Monica Dalton. Monica holds the exalted position of Design Director of Contemporary Brands at JC Penney. That's at least a step or two up from my high school best friend's position of Assistant Manager of Apparel at K-Mart (note it wasn't called "fashion") back in the 80s. Some of the designers are a bit nervous about being in the men's department. Many have never created menswear before, but I have no doubt that the noxious fumes wafting over from the men's fragrance department are adding to their growing sense of despair. Have you ever noticed that most commercial men's fragrances lean so heavily on pine-y and wood-y notes that they seem better suited for disinfecting floors or cleaning toilets? I guess the idea is that men need to smell like lumberjacks or some shit like that. And we women (and other men) are supposed to suck it up and pretend we think they smell good. But they don't. While I'm on the subject....Men, if you ever notice that people cough or gag when you walk by, it's because you're emanating a miasma of bad department store cologne. If you're going to insist on buying that garbage, please spray it, as Tim might say, judiciously. Better yet, don't use it at all.

But as usual, I digress. Where was I? Oh yeah, designers in Penney's men's department. Brandon is rubbing his hands together and laughing maniacally (inside his head, we don't see this) because he is a menswear designer. Everyone else (except Michael, who also does menswear) is worried. There is a collective sigh of relief (and a WTF from Brandon) when the challenge is announced. They will not be making menswear. However, they will be using it as inspiration for stylish Fall womenswear. It is pumpkin spice season, after all. Now here's where things start to get complicated. JC Penney has supplied fabric for the challenge, which is arranged near the male models who are wearing said fabrics. Each of the five models is holding two cards, each bearing the name of one of the designers.

Model one reveals cards with the names Kenya and Kentaro; the next model's cards read "Brandon" and "Annoying Bald Twin." Model three has Ayana's and Batani's cards. Four and Five have cards with the names Amy and Hairy and Margarita and Michael, respectively. These designers must work with the fabrics associated with their particular model. But wait, there's more! We're not finished with the complications quite yet: This is also a team challenge. However, though the designers appear to be paired up, they are not yet in their teams. The button bag appears. Each designer must choose a partner who is working with completely different fabrics, in other words, not the person they are currently standing with. As winner of the last challenge, Kentaro chooses first, and you get one guess as to who that might be. (Brother Brandon, duh.) Amy picks Kenya. Hairy picks Baldie (duh again).

Margarita gets Batani, and Michael is with Ayana. One member of each team gets to go to the workroom, and the other goes to Mood with $100 to spend on notions and supplemental fabrics.

It's Swatch's tenth birthday, coincidentally. The store mascot is seen wearing a crown, looking like he gives very few fucks. I swear he's the most easy-going Boston Terrier I've ever seen. The ones I've encountered were all hyper maniacs.

Speaking of hyper maniacs, the workroom is fairly quiet because the more hyper-maniacal of the twins, Baldie, is busy knocking things over at Mood. Meanwhile, Hairy is getting started on a pair of jeans. She's got to get some work done before her sister comes in and takes up all of her time with her extreme neediness.

At the beginning of the episode, we saw Hairy musing about her place in the universe after ending up in the bottom three two challenges in a row. I'm not sure why she's so confused; she's just not that good. Take a look at her portfolio on the Lifetime site. (Baldie's, too.) It all looks rather trashy/twee, and not particularly original. They are garments for backup dancers, and "street" wear. (I am beginning to think that is code for designers who aren't particularly imaginative.) Sure, they made stuff for Katy Perry, but she's known for wearing over-the-top costumes, not for an actual fashion sense. I had to wonder if the Annoying Twins working as a bonafide team could produce at least one cohesive design (dreamed up by Baldie and constructed by Hairy) or if they would simply make two haphazard sweatshirts and call it a day.

Not only were the Twins going to lean heavily on each other, a few of the other designers were going to take advantage of their partnerships. Batani was going to need Margarita's assistance for her garment, as "tailored and menswear-inspired" are not necessarily in her wheelhouse. Surprisingly Amy, too, was going to do some leaning on her partner, as she had only ever been safe in the past and Kenya had been on top more than once (but also on the bottom).

For a while, we see the teams working genuinely as teams, bouncing ideas off each other and seemingly not resenting the fact that it's a team challenge. Kentaro and Brandon especially are in a good place. They have a similar style and a clear affection for each other. The Twins, however, start squabbling pretty early on, with Baldie accusing Hairy of "abandoning" her when she merely wanted to quietly work on her own piece.

When Tim comes in for his critique, Team Annoying needs serious help. They are having issues with the fabrics and each other and the fact that they have a model--Liris--that isn't skinny. Tim is not pleased with what he sees thus far and suggests the drape-y thing they're working on for Liris should become a tunic. It's as if he has no faith that they can do anything more complicated than that.

His feedback for Kentaro and Brandon, whom he called "the Dream Team," was a bit more general. The Brothers were making pieces in the baby-colored buffalo plaid, but also several items in Kentaro's favorite color, black. (And none in Brandon's favorite color, diarrhea brown.) Tim suggests they lose some of the black, and his input doesn't make them happy. Meanwhile, I'm just confused, because it seems like they're making a lot of pieces. A lot.

Tim thinks Ayana's shirt dress looks like a hospital gown. It does, really, because it has no sleeves yet and the fabric is atrocious. But the sideways collar and button placket is cute and novel. Similarly askew are elements of Margarita's look, which is also a shirtdress. She wants to make a working button placket, but Tim suggests that might be a bit time-consuming. She's been helping Batani with many elements of her coat dress, which was taking time away from her own fabrication.

Once Tim leaves, the teamwork seems to fall apart. Kenya is working on a pleated top that they might not even use, and Amy is worried that there are other, more important, things that are being ignored. The models come in and Liris confesses to the mirror that she is nervous about working with the Annoying Twins, as she should be. Baldie is busy looking for other ideas and asks Kentaro if she can steal his black legwarmer idea from week 3. The whole time, the twins are sniping at each other. I want to see them rolling around on the floor in a catfight, but they haven't quite gotten to that point yet. Yet.

The next day, Tim comes into the workroom to ask the designers to send their models to the Hello Kitty Sparkle City makeup studio and the Play-Doh Fuzzy Pumper hair salon, and to "have a blast" with the JC Penney accessories wall. Because this is the JC Penney challenge, after all.

This week's guest judge is Asia Kate Dillon, a person of the pansexual persuasion who prefers to use the plural pronoun "they" when referring to...err...."themself." Lovely pansexual personages of the world, please just invent a new pronoun. You might be attracted to multiple genders, but you are still just one person. Unless, of course, you have multiple personality syndrome. Then of course it's ok. (Don't want to piss them off, in case one personality is an axe murderer.) As a writer, I get a little tired of people giving different meanings to words that already have meanings. Life is confusing enough. If you need a new word to describe something, by all means please make up a new one. It's easier for everyone, and you don't have to get all pissed off when people make the honest mistake of using words to mean what they have meant for years and years.

Wby am I so preachy? Because I am old and cranky, that's why. You'll get to this point eventually, too.

The runway show is ok. I'm not blown away by anything, but I think Margarita's dress is pretty cute. Michael and Ayana are safe, but everyone else is either in the top or the bottom.

Brandon and Kentaro are on the top, no surprise there. Their looks are cohesive and definitely part of the same collection. They wisely shared their fabrics and used them in similar ways. Zac thinks their looks are "Penneys ready," which I think might be an insult. They are also "cheeky" and "cool."

Batani and Margarita are also on top, mostly because of Margarita's super cute dress. They (as in all of the judges, not just Asia) love its asymmetry, and think it's sophisticated and polished. Batani's is nice, but not anything we haven't seen before.

It's no surprise that the Annoying Twins are on the bottom. They've (as in the Twins, not Asia) dressed poor lovely Liris in an inside-out sweatshirt, the same sort of thing Baldie was wearing for part of day one in the workroom. (She actually had a few wardrobe changes for unknown reasons.) It has a tie on one side of the hem, but if you didn't notice it, you might think the wearer got part of her dress stuck in the waistband of her panties after a trip to the potty. And what happened to Liris' right boob? It looks flat. The other look is a pair of faded wash jeans with a horrible baggy ass and a two-tone t-shirt, belted with a pair of mis-matched, disembodied, sleeves. The judges jump all over the Twins, saying they are "big time disappointed, " and "the world doesn't need this." Nina is also bored, and you know what that means.

Kenya and Amy are also on the bottom. Their looks are well made, but dated. That's what the judges say, but I'm not sure in what era the denim pantsuit with floppy clown collar might have been fashionable. (That collar just screams, "my boobs are droopy!") The other outfit, separates that look like a dress (what they told Tim in the workroom - it looked like separates to me), was pretty blah. Asia thought both teammates' designs looked like flight attendant uniforms from the 70s, which was a funny comment but not quite right. The neck tie on the dress was probably what gave her that impression. The suit was just "costume" and the poor models were styled to look much older than they were. Nina was also bored by these looks. But after 15 1/2 seasons, she's probably bored by almost everything she sees coming down the runway.

The judges asked both top and bottom designers who should be the winner or loser, if their team was the winning or losing team. With a two-person team, one might wonder why both can't get the win. However, this challenge had a special prize in that the winning design would be sold at JC Penney. Another company taking advantage of free design labor, yet the designers seemed thrilled. I don't really see the point of asking who should be loser or winner, throwing someone under the bus or appointing them bus driver. It's painful to watch and definitely more painful for the designers to contemplate. Everybody wants to win, and nobody wants to go home. And the judges are capable of making the decision themselves.

In the end, Margarita gets the win. Here's her winning dress at JC Penney. Not quite the same. Cheap nicely priced though. Kenya and Amy are safe. Their designs might have been bad, but there's no argument that they were well-made. The Annoying Twins, on the other hand, made crap. Baldie was willing to take the fall, but as the judges couldn't really tell who was responsible for what in the piles of poo they sent down the runway, they couldn't decide who to auf. I don't see why they couldn't just send both of them home, but I'm sure the producers wanted to keep the drama factor alive. Instead, the judges decided to torture the Twins, which I'm all for, as long as I don't have to watch. But I will. Next week's episode will start off with a head-to-head 1-hour battle between Hairy and Baldie, with the loser going home. Let's hope they don't waste too much time on that nonsense, or make the episode 2 hours long to accommodate the twinly drama. Ugh.

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