Monday, August 28, 2017

Project Runway Recap - Season 16, Episode 2

I'm sad to say it's only week 2 and I'm already bored. Too many of the designers seem level-headed, except for those blasted twins, and that doesn't make for humorous recapping. There wasn't even any real moaning and groaning over a team challenge, no "I'm not here to make friends," bullshit. Just those effing twins. Gah. I hope they don't last long.

We start off seeing the designers in their Brooklyn hotel rooms, happy that they survived the first challenge. Suddenly they start to notice that hard hats and safety vests have appeared, along with notes from Heidi saying that they will be meeting Tim and a "special guest" somewhere for the next challenge. The hard hats don't exactly scream "Mood," and the designers pick up on that. I don't think they expected to be hauled off to Queens to wade around in trash though.

The exact location is Royal Waste Services in Jamaica, one of the largest recycling centers in New York. The designers turn up their noses at the place--literally--as it stinks. The Annoying Twins declare it "repugnant," which is a good word, one which I will probably use to describe them in the not too distant future.

Tim is there with Marie Claire editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider to present the first unconventional materials challenge. Can you imagine Anna Wintour putting a hard hat on her hair helmet and stomping around through piles of trash? She'd probably require a sedan chair, or more likely, appear as a disembodied head on a monitor somewhere. I appreciate that Fulenwider is a real person. She's so into the challenge, she's wearing a dark blue dress that was made from recycled materials. Four hundred plastic bottles, as Tim tells us. Impressive. The dress is attractive, but probably also sweaty.

The designers are told that this will not only be the first unconventional materials challenge, but also the first team challenge. Team One, who choose to call themselves, "Wabi Sabi," is comprised of Marguerite, Kentaro, Michael, Deyonte, and Kudzanai. The second team, "Ballin' on a Budget," includes Pink-haired John Lennon, Kenya, Ayana, Batani, and Brandon. Finally, Samantha, Sentell, Amy, and the Annoying Twins make up "Tsunami." They get 5 minutes to gather their trash without picking up rats and old food items, and head back to the workroom to design 5-look mini collections for new-to-them models.

It doesn't take long for AT Baldie to start an episode-long high-pitch whine about: 1) her first unconventional challenge; 2) her first team challenge; 3) her first time working with a plus-sized woman. Wah, wah, and wah. I am really hoping she's getting a loser edit and goes home, because one less twin will be an improvement in the cast. Rather than worry about her own garment, Baldie is wringing her hands and complaining that the rest of her team's looks are too "girly." Her somewhat less-whiny sister is thrown off by her twin's erratic behavior, and is questioning her own garment. Thankfully they're both on the same team so not everyone in the room has to deal with their Not-So-Wonder-Twin sniveling, but I can imagine everyone is fairly annoyed.

I tell ya, this existential drama shit is far less entertaining than the usual flamboyant bitchy queen drama.

While I'm hoping Baldie is getting a loser edit, Sentell goes off into another room for a "private" conversation with his new husband, whom he married just days before the competition started, or so that's how it sounded in the telling. With 2 or 3 days equaling a week in reality television land, they may have gotten married a year ago. Unfortunately, phone calls with tears usually = aufing, except in the case of Season 15 contestant Mah Jing who seemed to spend much of his time crying and/or on the phone with his family. I start to have a bad feeling about this Sentell situation, which becomes more intense when I see what he's putting together with his pile of green garbage bags.

Several of the designers are experiencing crises of confidence, especially after Tim's critique. Just about all of team Ballin' decides to redesign their looks, apart from Brandon. He's taken the initiative and transformed some sheet vinyl by painting it with a checkerboard print, which will be a unifying element for his team's looks. I started counting him out from the beginning, but this week he seems to be one of the smarter and cooler-headed designers in the bunch. What a difference a day (a week for you and me) makes!

The models come in for a fitting and we start to see pieces coming together. However, Baldie's model doesn't get to put anything on, because nothing is made. There's been more whining than designing going on.

Eventually everyone gets their shit together after a good night's sleep and the models are herded to the Avon Makeup Room and the Sad Hair Salon with No Sponsorship to get beautified before the runway show.

Anne Fulenwider and Maggie Q are guest judges. I find Team Wabi Sabi's looks to be the most cohesive and attractive, but the judges prefer Ballin' on a Budget's garments. Tsunami should have changed their name to "Shit Storm," because their stuff still looks like garbage. Sentell's especially looks like wadded-up pale green garbage bags that he hot glued together in five minutes. Zac said it looked like a "leprechaun went dumpster diving." The team planned their collection as "resort wear," but I don't think even in a dystopian Mad Max kinda world would this stuff ever pass for something to be worn to post-nuclear Miami or Monaco. Meanwhile, there are details like topstitching on Team Ballin' and real thought put into their looks.
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My favorite look on that team is Batani's, which is a real improvement over what she showed Tim when he came in his for his critique the day before. Ayana, however, had the judges gushing over her floor-length fringe. I felt it was too thick and it reminded me of tentacles, or maybe a car wash. However, the judges liked it enough to give it the win. And as the winning garment, Ayana's dress will be featured in a story in Marie Claire about sustainability.

It will be interesting to see how Ayana fares through the rest of the season. She's Muslim and designs "modest" clothing, meaning covered from neck to fingers and toes. I predict that by mid-season the judges will start complaining that she's "one-note" because all of her looks are floor-length skirts with long sleeves and turtlenecks. OR, she'll get special consideration and end up winning the whole thing because the show has never had a Muslim winner. Kinda like the way Ashley Nell Tipton won season 14. Was she the most talented designer that season? Not by a long shot. She was also pretty one note, putting out pastel full skirts and crop tops for just about every challenge, and for her finale show as well. But she was the first contestant who wanted to design for plus sized women, which made her different and, I suppose, special. Though as a plus-sized woman myself I wouldn't be caught dead in anything she put forth during her time on Project Runway. I am hoping that the producers aren't influencing the judging as much as it seems they are. Heidi is a producer, of course, but how much sway does she have? If it were solely up to her, likely the designer who made sparkly miniskirts all season would always be the winner.

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On to the losing team. Baldie tries to blame her model for her issues by calling her "curvy," but even the very slender Maggie Q insists that the model is of normal size. Anne Fulenwider says that the model is probably slimmer than she is. Though she caused a commotion throughout the challenge, Baldie did manage to pull together a complete look, with the help of the rest of the team, and especially of Sentell who immediately took credit for sewing the top. At that point that giant tour bus from the first episode drove in so the teammates could start throwing each other under it. It was expected and pretty sad, but the truth was no matter how annoying the Twins were, Sentell deserved to go home. If he had been on Chopped, the judges would have said he didn't transform the ingredients sufficiently. It still looked like garbage.

And he did. Or, at least he went to another apartment to be sequestered with the other losing designers until the end of filming. Not the honeymoon surprise he and his new hubby had hoped for.

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