Saturday, November 21, 2009

Project Runway Season 6 Ep 13: Final Finale (Really This Time)

All images courtesy

Previously on Project Runway:  Part 1 of an unexpectedly 2-part finale saw Tim visit each of our three finalists in their natural environments to check out their finale collections.  There was the most awkward reunion ever between Althea and Irina, where you could almost see the producers gritting their teeth in the editing room  because they'd been hoping for a catfight.  CH arrived with the Martian Death Flu but did her best to carry on. The "surprise" challenge was a 13th look to be completed, with good ol' Christopher, Logan, and Gordana to assist.  We were left with a cliffhanger of CH's health taking a turn for the worse.  Ruh-roh!

Continuing the next morning, CH is still feeling as bad as she did the night before.  In the workroom, Logan comforts her, braving her cooties to give her a hug.  Irina is stressed like crazy, and Gordana is in brave-the-tornado mode, allowing that due to all the pressure, Irina is "not hundred-percent cool as she normally is."  (Gordana has an incredible gift for understatement, not just here, but I've noticed it throughout the season.  Is it cultural?  A language thing?  Just her personality?  Whatever it is, I salute her.) Althea is wearing a big slouchy hat indoors.  I'd roll my eyes at the wearing of a winter hat indoors, but CH is wearing arm warmers and Chris is bundled up too, so maybe it was actually cold in there.

CH has a mini-breakdown where she feels so terrible she doesn't know what to do.  "It wasn't supposed to be like this," she sobs, which might sound slightly precious coming from anyone else.  Even Meana Irina feels bad for CH.  Then there's this really bizarre, awkward transition where Althea suggests it's time for them all to get going to their hair & makeup consultations.  There's so much awkwardness in this finale!  I don't think we've ever had a finale with three contestants who had so little chemistry with each other onscreen.

Irina's got felt hats for her "armor inspired" looks - oooh, they're one of those runway-show accessories that I can't decide whether they're ugly or awesome, which I love.  It could go either way.  She wants a strong, dark, smoky eye.  Althea wants a look that is not a "clean glamor," but dirtier, almost smudged.  CH wants soft and pretty.  "Tell me about your collection," says Garnier Hair Guy to CH.  She unconfidently replies, "It's based on Gothic architecture and... fairy tales?"  "Oh," replies Garnier Hair Guy, hilariously.  We get lots of shots of Product Placement and then it's back to the workroom, where Gordana, Christopher, and Logan have been hard at work on finishing garments.  Fitting time!

Agh, fur!  My eyes!  Irina, seriously, I know I get all cranky with you about everything but you could be the nicest person ever who farts rainbows and daisies and I'd still say, PLEASE stop it with the fur.  Said fur is currently part of a hooded vest.  Althea's got some serious knits going on.  CH is super-happy with how well her models are fitting the clothes.

Time for Tim!  Irina's 13th look is really cool, a black dress with layered strips of fabric.  She shows Tim one of her felt helmet-hats with a chain that goes under the chin, and Tim warns her against making things look too costumey.  I have to disagree here; maybe it's a personal preference thing, but I like my runway shows with a heaping helping of drama.  Otherwise, it's just skinny chicks walking in clothes.

Althea's got a super-duper SciFi-shouldered top going on for her 13th look.  Tim expresses his concern that it's "too 80's."  Which it is, except has Althea even been alive long enough to realize that?  Then something weird happens: when Althea explains her makeup look: a smokey, smudgey eye, Tim points out that it's the same look he just heard from Irina.  The implication seems to be that yet again, Althea is copying Irina.  I don't know whether that's what Tim was actually implying, or if the Magic of Editing made it appear so, but Althea is visibly crushed, and when Tim asks her if she has any other concerns, for a moment she actually can't answer because she's trying not to cry.  I'm starting to feel almost as bad for her as for CH.  Tim kisses his hand and puts it on her hand as he leaves.  I don't know if that really makes up for making Althea cry, but what the hell, he's Tim.

(For those of you keeping track, Irina has now invented Giant Sweaters, Knitwear, and the Smokey Eye.)

CH is now feeling "okay-ish."  The blue she's using for her 13th look is a color she wanted to use more of in her collection.  The gown is a Rami-esque draped, one-shouldered affair.

Fast-forward: Next day!  CH is feeling better, or at least less horrible.  We have another whole day?  Seriously?  When do we get to see the clothes, already?  Well, we briefly see some clothes, on the muse models, as the designers choose which of their outfits to showcase.  Gordana pauses for a moment to get some coffee and Irina cracks the whip on her.  Pressure-cooker on high!

Running around, sewing, pinning, more running, suddenly it's 4:00, with one hour left in the day.  More fast forwarding as it's 4:50 and Tim comes in for their final gather-round, to tell them they have until 5:00 to finish working, and they all stand there like "Shut up already, we need to be working right now!"

Irina sees something that she can finish faster than Gordana and literally takes the work away from Gordana, telling her to go do some menial stuff instead.  Stressy!  There's no time and everyone's tempers are shortened.  Everyone's paranoid that they're going to forget something in the workroom.

With everything packed up for Bryant Park, the designers head home to attempt to sleep.  They're awakened just after 3 the next morning for Runway Day!  Finally, Runway Day!  I feel like I've been watching this episode for hours.  There's a funny moment where Irina opens the door so the three of them can exit the apartment, but the latch is still hooked, and all three burst into laughter.  Irina goes through the door first, followed by Althea, then CH.  Foreshadowing?

I always love the shots with the finalists walking along the runway in the empty Bryant Park, looking like kids at Disneyland.  Nice shoes, CH!  Soon, the backstage is filled with activity, as models arrive and are painted, pulled, slicked, and curled into their looks.  The seats start to fill up, and Heidi, Nina, and Kors arrive, looking fabulous together.  Hey, is that Gina Bellman in the audience?  Backstage, everyone is already running behind, and Tim is starting to stress out.  The dressers broke a zipper on Irina's dress.  That sucks.  One of CH's models is wearing something backwards.  This makes me giggle more than I feel it should.

We then see Tim angrier than we've ever seen him.  The background, not shown but told by Tim in an interview with the LA Times, is that there was a miscommunication amongst the Bryant Park staff about getting the models out of their clothes so the garments could be steamed.  He points out that they should be lining up right now, but they can't, because maybe 10% of the models are dressed, and we are shown him animatedly chiding each of the designers.  Althea interviews that if Tim's going hysterical, things must really be FUBAR.  Truer words rarely spoken.  The usually unflappable Tim is very highly flappable, trying to light a fire under people's arses and get the models dressed and in line.  His "I'm so aggravated" face is like the equivalent of someone else smashing a plate-glass window with a rock.  You don't piss off the Gunn, people!

Finally, models are wrested from the hair & makeup people ("They have to go right now, I don't even care anymore" says Irina, slightly desperately), and it's Time to Start the Show!

There's the creepiest TV Magic thing where they made it look like the designers were actually there and introducing their collections (as well as doing a walk-and-wave at the end).  I don't get it: we all know they weren't really there with the audience, and that people weren't really cheering.  Why the fakery? It's got that same rings-hollow thing that those digital simulated-voices have when you call 411.  *shudder*

Anyway, the collections themselves, I'll post about in more detail during the week.  In brief:

Althea shows first.  Her show opens with a sweater with ridiculously impractical uber-long sleeves, and continues through skinny dresses and harem pants, a blazer with a jacked-up back, some strong shoulders and tight pants, and mostly, models who can't walk.  Oh lookie, Jaslene!  Love her.  Althea's collection is all drab, color-wise: gray, gold, silver, black, with a little splash of green.  It's pretty much what I expected from her design-wise, but much better-executed than what she's produced previously in the season.  Not really anything exciting, though.

CH opens her show with an amazing draped dress in neutrals -- the length is a bit weird, too short to be cocktail, but the dress is too "dressy" to be casual.  We get a potscrubber skirt with a paper-bag waist, some beautifully detailed tops and dresses, a Viktor  Rolf-esque table decoration (I saw someone call it a "fluffy butt plug" and nearly died laughing), a disco housedress, and more models who can't walk.  The colors are muted, but very rich-looking.

Irina opens her show with immediate visual impact: an amorlike sleeveless bodysuit-like top over leggings and knee-high boots.  There's a lot of Jillian-ness in these pieces, I have to say.  What's disappointing is that almost everything is black, which makes it hard to see the detailing:  Christian Siriano had the same problem.  Some beautiful coats and leggings and collars, and I think the hats worked out OK in the end.  Why can't most of these models walk?

Backstage, we get initial feedback from attendees.  Hey there, Epperson!   Marc Bouwer thinks this is the strongest group of finalists PR has ever had.  I think Marc Bouwer may have smoked too many bowls before the show.  Cute Shirin has a cute piratey scarf on her cute head, and likes Althea's collection.  Ari Fish says -- whoa, what the fuck?  This chick is so cracked:  Moe Howard haircut with gigantic, thick false eyelashes.  Anyway, she likes Irina's collection.  So does Louise.  Nicolas and UA go with CH.

Finally, time for judging.  Wow, we've got some tired-looking, bored-sounding judges who completely fail to sound excited about any of these collections.  Heidi, Kors, and Nina are joined by Suzy Menkes, who has the best fucking Ed Grimley hair ever.

Irina's up first.  She explains her inspiration: the struggle to be a total bitch and still manage to sleep at night.  KIDDING!  It's about being able to be strong and survive in a big city like New York, but still be feminine.  Kors says what all of us were thinking, which is that this concept is so not new.  Menkes remarks that the show had good cohesion, with good flow.  Heidi thinks it looks really well-finished.  Nina compliments the plagiarized t-shirts, saying how great it is that Irina's giving them a glimpse of herself, that she's communicating.  Irina and Irony:  two peas in a pod!  However, there is some concern that despite Nina's advice about using so much black, Irina went ahead and kept color out anyway.  Nina gives this very funny "tsk tsk" look to Irina, who sort of smirks and looks contrite at the same time (a pretty remarkable feat).

None of the judges thought that CH had a cohesive collection.  They're right, sadly.  They loved the draping, the structured elements, the fact that CH works with difficult materials.  Heidi is surprised that the blue draped dress was whipped together for the 13th look.  But we all know that on PR, if your collection isn't cohesive, you're dead.

Althea wanted to give her input on The Talk of the Future.  Kors points out the plus point that Althea's collection contains lots of pieces that could be purchased on their own and mixed into a wardrobe.  Nina found it "refreshing" to see the little bits of color that Althea used.  Kors loved those harem pants, saying there are a million women who would love to own them, and that they were flattering.  Michael honey, is your contacts prescription current?  No one, but no one, looks good in those things.  (To Althea's credit, those pants were part of her 13th look.) Menkes wonders where knitwear fits into the futuristic theme.  Althea points out one element of one piece.  Hm.  Nina feels the collection tried to hit too many notes.

After the deliberation and lots of drawn-out drumbeats, CH is given the auf.  Really?  Althea scored higher?  We were surprised.  And the winner is... I bet you'll be completely shocked... Irina.

And so, the Worst Season of Runway draws to a close.  While Irina definitely did have the best, most cohesive collection, it's always a little painful to see a Big Ol' Meanie-pants win stuff.  Still, that's life, isn't it?  Season 7 begins in January, back in NYC where it belongs, with Kors and Nina promised to us in every episode!  Let's hope that this season was just a low point.

Throughout the week I'll post more extensively on the finale collections.  That's a lot of images, so I'll spread them out.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Project Runway Season 6 Ep 13: Finale Part 1

All images courtesy of

*Tires screeching*  Wait, part 1?  I was worried they wouldn't find enough dramaz to fill the hour with three short BP shows, and they're doing a 2-parter?  Oh, boy.

(They totally could have done it in an hour.  Just saying.)

Previously on Project Runway, we got a rushed, lawsuit-ridden bunch of challenges that resulted in the crappiest overall collection of garments we've ever had on PR.  The wackiest designers got auf'ed immediately, which I thought was great at the time but now realize was a mistake.  There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth from fans over the inconsistent judging, the lame challenges, heidi's larger role in the judging process, and the general lack of awesome.  On last week's episode, Gordana got auf'ed for one of the best dresses she made all season, Chris was finally sent home to hopefully go to school, and then there were three.

Tim and Heidi present the finale challenge: $9000 and an undetermined number of months (Heidi says "a few," and Tim says "a couple").  Then there's this:

Which made us here at Chez Boogie feel simultaneous amusement and embarrassment.

Tim first visits the lovely Carol Hannah in Huntington, NY, where we get images of A Very Special Tim Gunn Family Dinner.  For real, check this out:

and this:

and this:

There is so much cute gay love going on I can't stand it.  There was much squeeing and "awww"-ing during this portion of the program.  Tim in the apron!  Hee.

We get a peek at CH's inspiration:

Duke University's architecture, which she saw on her way up from South Carolina to New York, blew her away.  Tim's already a little worried, though, because she has a real tendency to froof things up and make things really complicated and heavy:  Favorite Tim comment: "What is that, and why?" to a "matronly" little capelet.  The colors are so heavy and dark that it's hard to see some of the excellent detailing she's doing.

After the above-referenced adorable dinner with CH's family, Tim's off to visit Irina, who lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  Tim is greeted by her dog, who is, of course, one of those little fucking poodles named, I'm not kidding, Princess.  Princess brings Tim a toy.  Awww.

Hilariously, the same woman who claims to have invented Giant Sweaters is using copyrighted fabric for her Coney Island-inspired collection:

About this, some fans have said "No big deal," but yes, it is a big deal.  As an artist with friends who sew, I'm very much aware of copyright issues, and it's so frustrating when someone who should know better breaks the law.  There's this excuse that "kids these days" think that if something's on the Internet, you can just use it, but that's not an excuse.  Irina should know better.  If she wasn't such a catty bitch, I'd feel bad that she has only 10 days to replace those fabrics.  But she is, so I don't.

We meet Irina's family - wow, she's the spitting image of her mother.  There's some stuff about her unsupportive, old-fashioned dad, but I don't even care because it's boring.  Let's move on to Althea, who's in Dayton, Ohio.  Tim ascends in The World's Scariest Elevator to her studio, where she shows him her SciFi-inspired sketches.  Tim says he's "intrigued," which, along with "not bored," is what he says when things are probably going to go fabulously pear-shaped:

I must confess having the same reaction when we were shown this:

And this:

Yikes.  Tim advises her not to lose sight of who she is, and "edit, edit, edit."  With that, it's off to meet Althea's family, friends, and boyfriend, who all seem really fun and down to earth, though he and Althea both nearly break their necks getting up the snowy/icy walkway and steps. (Tim sweetly worries about Althea falling, giving her his arm, though he's the one who'd probably break a leg if he fell!  Can you stand how gentlemanly this guy is?  Love.)

Time to see what these kids have come up with.  Irina and Althea arrive in NYC, where there's the most horrendously awkward and fakey-fake reunion with Irina:

I'm pretty certain they were in that hotel room for ages, not allowed by the producers to watch tv, read, use their phones, or do anything else except sit and talk to each other, when it was palpably obvious that both of them wanted to do nothing more than get the hell away from each other.  We all felt embarrassed for both of them.

Tim comes to tell them that CH hasn't arrived because she's got a terrible stomach bug and will be late.  When CH finally rolls her case into the workroom, the poor thing looks like hell; she feels terrible and has to somehow get through this grueling process.  Man, that poor girl.

Tim seems frustrated with Althea's collection, which is still somewhat disjointed.   He mentions the plethora of knits.  We are shown Irina making this face:

Classy!  Irina then openly accuses Althea of copying her knits again.  "You've got a great memory," she says.  OMFG I hate this bitch.

CH's focus is her favorite thing to do, evening wear.  Wow, there's so much heaviness, with mostly dark colors.  Irina's collection is very black and heavy too; some of her pieces remind me a lot of Jillian's military-influenced work.  Jesus H., she's got more fur.  Please stop it with the fur.  Oh, her "reasons to love New York" t-shirt design isn't original either.  Still classy!

After the model casting, which was covered more extensively (but not more interestingly) on MOTR, it's back to the workroom, where hey!  It's Nina and Kors!  Together, in the same room again!  They've come to give some advice to the finalists.  That's pretty awesome.  Kors advises on runway order, self-doubt, and having guts.  Nina tells the designers to take out anything that's been seen before.  Irina foolishly ignores Nina's advice not to have an all-black collection.  Okay, then.

We go through fittings, and work continues.  Here come Heidi and Tim!  The expected "wrench in the gears" challenge is presented: a 13th look to complete.  But they'll have help:

O, HAI!  Chris will be assisting CH, Althea will be assisted by Logan, and Irina will again use Gordana as her servant.  There's a budget of $250 for Mood (real Mood!) and 30 minutes to sketch.

Chris is his usual "aw shucks, I'm so nice" self, basically just being a sounding board for CH's thoughts.  She feels that she needs one more "wow" piece.  Gordana has true class: she's determined to help Irina be confident in her collection, and is ready to work hard.  Which is a wise thing to do in this situation: it's an opportunity to show yourself well.

How disappointing that they're at the real Mood, with its massive inventory, and everyone immediately reaches for the blacks and grays and beiges.  CH is running into some self-doubts.   I'm doubting whether any of these people can actually see color.  Oh wait, CH is getting blue.  It's a very muted blue, but at this point it's looking positively bright.  Aww, Mood has a little Boston Terrier named Swatch.  Cute.

Back at the hotel, CH gets stomach-sick all over again. The poor thing is barfing in the bathroom.  Althea holds a pack of ice to CH's neck.  Cliffhanger!

Next time: Season 6 will finally limp to a close (unless they trick us and stretch this shit into three parts, which actually wouldn't surprise me at this point).   Will CH make it to the tents?  She's still really sick.  Will Irina get all her garments finished?  Will the inefficiency of the designers' backstage prep make Tim "lose it?"  Tune in to find out and see the final collections.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Runway in Review: Irina Shabayeva

Okay, let's hang this shit up before the Finale tonight, shall we?

We didn't hear too much from Irina at first.  She talked about being inspired by her floofy little dog.  She made some pretty decent entries.  Mostly, she was in the background as the early-aufer dramas played out, with Mitchell TOGWIDA and Chicken Man and Q and Epperson, while Nicolas took the role of Bitchy Villain.

Then, almost out of nowhere, Irina became the hugest bitch on the planet.  If I recall correctly, it was the week before Nicolas was auf'ed, when suddenly he seemed kind of funny and cool so we knew he was doomed, that the producers pulled out some Jekyll & Hyde shit with Irina.  Rawr, she'll claw your face off to get what she wants!  Yawn.  She wasn't fun enough to be a good villainess.

There's no doubt that Irina is one of the season's strongest contenders.  Unfortunately, that gives her the honor of being one of the strongest contenders in the lamest-ever season of Project Runway.  Yeah.

Let's have a look back, shall we?

There was a bit of controversy amongst blog commenters about this first-challenge red carpet dress:

Some thought it was reminiscent of Laura Bennett, some thought it looked like lingerie, some liked the belt, some thought the belt was twee.  I'm not a fan of that particular kind of contrast between the two fabrics, but this was a good start for Princess.  It's got a sexy-not-slutty thing going on.

I didn't think as much of the look she put together for the maternity challenge:


The only thing I liked about this was the color.  The front rises up, the hem reminds me of those satin-edged waffled bedspreads, and that whatever-it-is stuck to the belt isn't helping anything.

The Worst Challenge, aka the Surfwear Challenge, saw Irina, in partnership with Cueball, created this outfit, which had a summer camp potholder thingy in the back:

Actually, the potholder wasn't as bad as it sounds, and overall this is a good look, casual and fun with an interesting (if not flattering to non-models) skirt.

Time to Make Your Model a Pretty Dress!

This got props from a lot of people, including the judges, but I'm sorry, I hated it.  I think it ages the model ten years.  The fabric is pretty barfy and there's another belt with a Garanimal on it.  If the goal was to make the model look chic, youthful, and fresh, this is a big fail.

Things got better for the Unconventional Materials challenge, where Irina took a chance on making a really time-consuming collar and cuffs for a trench coat, a brave choice:

Unfortunately,  with all the time it took to do the collar, cuffs, and hand details like trompe-l'oeil stitches, the bottom half of this garment was totally neglected.  It's absolutely brilliant from the waist up, though.  This look was Irina's first win, and though I still think Althea's was better, it's hard to begrudge her this one.

Up next, Irina's Film Noir look for the 6th challenge:

Ho-dress with a shower curtain?  We got em!

For the Macy's/INC challenge in ep 7, Irina managed to win with this dastardly dress:

Can I just ask, who the hell would this look good on?  It makes the model look like the side of a barn.  I do appreciate that it took a ton of work to make that pattern.

As her prize, Irina got to design a holiday dress for INC.  It was a little black dress with a big sparkly butterfly.  Yep.

For the Re-Fashion a Wedding Dress challenge, we got a mother-of-the-bride dress:

The judges loved this, and I was amazed that Kors didn't pull out the "M.O.B."  Irina's POV is becoming more apparent at this point, with this dress being an echo of her first dress.  It's a bit funny that Nicolas went on and on about lace, but Irina actually used more of it.

For the Mackie/Aguilera challenge, Irina gave us... an ice-skating stripper dress.


The 10th challenge saw Irina score another win with her Aspen-inspired look.

This would have been lovely, except for a triangular cutout in the back that looked like the model had been savaged by some other Aspen socialite's rabid little Shih-Tzu.  Not everyone loved the gigantic cowl, but the 80's girl in me finds it appealing.  The pants were really well-done.  Looking askance at that tied belt, though.  That'd be the fifth one she's done so far.

By this point in the season, the lack of color from the designers was becoming depressing.  I was wondering what happened to that beautiful blue that Irina used in the second challenge.  Everything since has been so... neutral.

Irina carried on the brown motif to make a companion to her Aspen look in the next episode:

The fabric she used in this dress was a beautiful color, much nicer than it comes across in the photo.  The dress suffered from awful construction.  It got praise from the judges, though.

Finally (Finally!), the last challenge, inspired by the Getty Museum:

I really think TLo summed it up best: "What is this "Fiddler on the Roof of Studio 54" bullshit?"  With a grandma hemline and her seventh tied belt, to boot!

It's almost time for the ep!  I'm sort of looking forward to seeing who takes it.  I think I know who it's going to be, based on seeing the final collections, but I'm always happy to be wrong.  About this, at least.