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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