Friday, March 18, 2016

Project Runway All Stars - If It Ain't Baroque, Don't Fix it, Or, Am I Getting My Period?

This week, the designers are 20 miles away from downtown Manhattan in lovely Lyndhurst, NJ, where they must endure the camp and spectacle of Medieval Times. They are clustered on the arena field when Alyssa arrives on horseback, flanked by knights, squires, and the like. She's wearing what appears to be the Medieval equivalent of a mother-of-the-bride dress, in cobalt blue and gold lace. It's tacky as hell, but is probably Marchesa.

She tells the designers that "the Medieval Period is having a real renaissance in pop culture, with books, TV, movies, and fashion all drawing on its themes." Wait. Let that sink in. Medieval Period having a "renaissance." And therein lies the theme of this episode, Twisted History, or as they call it in Texas text books, "history."

Back to pop culture. The Medieval Period, or "Dark Ages," as it was once called, was a thousand-year span of history (c. 500 AD - c. 1500 AD) known for fun things like barbarians, the Crusades, and the Black Death. (I presume Alyssa is referring to the popularity of Game of Thrones, which of course is set in a fantasy world, and not historical Earth in the Middle Ages.) She continues, "This led into the Baroque movement," which, technically it did, being as it preceded about 100 years. (The Baroque Period lasted from about c. 1600 - c. 1725.) In any case, the designers are tasked with "creating a couture-inspired gown that celebrates the ornate detailing and fantasy of Baroque fashion."

In other words, the whole premise of this show has nothing to do with Medieval Times, or even the Medieval Period. But the designers have to sketch their Baroque-inspired designs there in the arena, while watching Medieval knights jousting and shit. Meanwhile, we don't even know if they are shown examples of actual baroque clothing. (Plunging necklines, wide lace collars, dropped shoulders, tight-fitting bodices, padded hips, flowing skirts, and voluminous sleeves gathered at the wrist or elbow were characteristics of the era.) The images shown on screen to viewers at home were more typical of Renaissance fashion, like the garments worn by King Henry VIII or Queen Elizabeth I. [Edited to add: the designers DID get a dossier of images. We cannot, however, presume any were historically accurate.]

Today, when we hear the word "baroque," we generally think of something that is very embellished, and this is more consistent with the music of the Baroque Period than of the fashion, In any case, the modern understanding of the word is perhaps what the designers were actually supposed to take into account, rather than anything truly historical.

Kini finds the jousting and shit "inspiring." (Why?) Ken wants to create a gown for a powerful woman, "such as Queen Elizabeth." But which one? The current, modern day Queen Elizabeth, or Queen Elizabeth I, whose era was at the end of that mystery century between the Medieval and the Baroque Periods (aka, the Renaissance). What he's sketching wouldn't work for either Queen (or any other in history).

Once sketching is over, the designers head back to Manhattan and Mood, where they have a $300 budget to spend on lace and other fashionable gee gaws. Sam wants fabric that looks like the Sistine Chapel, and by that, I assume he means the chapel's ceiling, famously painted by Michelangelo between 1508 - 1512, which of course is the early Renaissance Period. The Chapel itself was built in around 1470, at the end of the Medieval Period. In any case, he doesn't find it. What he does find is some very expensive white and black lace, and he buys a lot of it.

Back at the workroom, Kini, once again, is casting aspersions on Sam's integrity. In fact, Sam is being cast as a real villain this season, thanks to the magic of editing. But he's what - a 25-year-old kid who wants to win a competition? He's no different than anyone else going for the same prize. He's not nice, sure, but he's no villain. Kini, and everyone else, just needs to let it go. It doesn't help matters much when Dom suggests that Sam cut flowers out of his lace and applique them to his gown for modesty, rather than lining it with muslin. He'd be stupid to ignore her, but we see eyebrows go up around the room (whether they actually did or the producers just want us to believe that) and hear suggestions made that if he's on top, he won't cop to the judges that it was actually Dom's idea.

The next day--they get two days for this challenge--Mitchell opines that Ken's fabric looks like tree bark. "That's shade, bitch," is Ken's reply. When assured that it was not shade, he admitted, "it's expensive tree bark, like the kind in Marie Antoinette's garden." (I probably don't need to tell you that Marie Antoinette lived from 1755 - 1793, not in the Baroque Period.)

Zanna time. Looking slightly bedraggled this week, Zanna announces that she's going to be "all up in your business," during her critiques. And she pretty much deflates every ego in the place with some much-needed negative criticism. Kini needs to modernize, because his look is perfect for a Medieval costume party, Valerie needs a "wow factor," Dom needs to be "more baroque' (whatever that actually means), Asha's is costume-y. Etc. When she leaves, the vibe in the workroom is "fear."

Soon enough it's time for "hah" (as the voiceover in the Schwartzkopf commercials pronounces it) and makeup. Ken tells the makeup artist that he wants a "strong Victorian look." The Victorian period started in 1837, when Queen Victoria ascended to the throne, and ended with her death in 1901. Makeup in the Victorian era was subtle, with plucked eyebrows, rice powder or talc to cover freckles and blotches on the skin, a bit of eye liner, lip pomade (which may or may not be tinted), and perhaps a smear of beet juice on the cheeks. They were also fond of dropping citrus juice, or poisonous belladonna, into their eyes for a luminous look.

As the designers get their models ready for the runway, it's clear that Mitchell has bitten off more than he can chew. He spent a lot of time on the bodice, and it's rather interesting, even if it does remind me of C3PO. The zipper on the back of his gown has broken and he does an awkward patch job to hide it. Also, he's not finished working on his greaves, which he's talked about incessantly but we've not seen. Greaves are shin armor, popular in ancient Greece and Rome and in Medieval Europe until about the ninth century, which was quite a bit of time before the Baroque Period. I feel that it's pretty clear at this point that he's going home.

Apart from Isaac, in his usual all-black ensemble, the judges all look a bit nuts. Alyssa is wearing a pretty strapless black lace dress that looks like it wants to slide off her boobs. The lovely Mrs Weinstein is wearing one of her Marchesa creations with frayed black lace. Special guest judge, model Coco Rocha, is wearing an absolutely hideous pantsuit. And Mrs Weinstein's business partner Keren Craig is wearing a dress suitable for a Madame in mourning.

The Marchesa gals tell the designers that they're offering a special prize to the winner - they will partner with him or her to create a look for their cheap line, Marchesa Notte.

Let's start the show!

Kini's looks unwieldy, and also entirely too much like the upside-down umbrella dress he won the wet runway challenge with in his season, only in red. Emily's skirt appears to be a dry cleaning bag over a garbage bag. They are both safe, as are Dom and Asha. I think Dom's look is an absolute knock-out. Why she's not winning every week is beyond me.

Ken, Sam, and Valerie are on the top. Layana, Alexander, and Mitchell are on the bottom.

While Isaac doesn't like Ken's gown, the other judges find it to be austere and elegant. Sam's is "not very Baroque" (whatever that means), but is "light and fresh," and looks expensive. Alyssa thinks she's seen it before. Valerie's walks well and is "modern" and shows great craftsmanship.

 Ken's looks like it weighs a ton.

Sam's looks like a bunch of lace fabric to me. There's something very unfinished about it, and I hate the bit of lace peeking out beyond the trim on her shoulders.

Pretty, but boring.

According to Isaac, Layana's gown looks like a factory-made dress trying to be couture, which seems a bit harsh. It's just ugly. (I am not fond of yellow.) There were too many ideas, and brown was a truly awful choice for a secondary color. I think the patchwork makes it look a bit country, and there's also something kinda matador about the whole look.

Also, what on earth is Layana wearing?  It's very Madonna-esqe.

Mitchell's dress was also "not baroque" (which Georgina pronounces as "ba-rock," as if she were on first-name basis with the President). Alyssa finds Mitchell's bottom unsettling. The bottom of his dress. And those boots are just awful. He's also dinged for the awkward zipper covering.

Alexander's dress is proclaimed "very Breakfast at Tiffany's" and a bit costume-y. Nobody likes the pearl embellishment, which Isaac calls "seed pearls." Um, they're about 1000 x bigger than a seed pearl, which is why it's so awful. I recall someone remarking that it was "not the right period." Huh? As if anything in this episode, from Medieval Times to the winning look, was from the "right period."

So we don't really get couture or Baroque in this episode, and even that whole conceit is tossed aside when Ken is proclaimed the winner for his artful interpretation of a tree in Marie Antoinette's garden.

Mitchell, of course, is out.

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


Blog Widget by LinkWithin