Monday, November 9, 2009

Runway in Review: Althea Harper

It's that time, kittens!  We await the Bryant Park finals with somewhat of a yawn this year, as this has been one boring crapfest of a season.  Sure, the producers tease us with the promise of sniping and bitchery amongst the three female finalists, but you and I know that it's likely edited-together nothingness.  It's all about the clothes, darlings.

Speaking of clothes, I remember so few of the hastily-assembled Runway outfits this year, for good or bad, that I thought it would be a good refresher to do a rundown of our finalists' work thus far.  Let's start at the beginning of the alphabet, with Althea.

The first episode asked our designers to create a Red Carpet look:

This was a decent first showing for Althea, who dragged out the much-hated "Old-Hollywood glamor" line to describe her inspiration.  I still think the bodice looks like there's wadded-up tissues on there, but this is nice enough.

The second challenge was Maternity Wear:

I really liked this chic little number, though it was a harbinger of Bust-Fitting Troubles to come.

Episode 3 gave us the completely nonsensical Surfwear-Inspired challenge:

I'm sorry, did someone say "surfwear?"  This was the "avant garde" portion of our episode, to boot.  Because zippers and asymmetrical flouncy skirts are tres nouvelle.  I actually liked this look - in 1987.

On to Epsiode 4: Make Your Model an Eye-Catching Outfit for an Industry Party:

Ah, it's the big sister of the Diaper Pants: The Diaper Skirt!  Does anyone even wear paper-bag waists in real life?  Why?  This outfit won this challenge, but I hated it then, and I still hate it.  This was also the ep during which it became apparent that Tanisha really, really needed a bra.

For the 5th challenge, Unconventional Materials!  Newspaper garments:

This is my favorite thing Althea's done on the show, hands down.  I love the pattern she created with the images in the paper, and it's beautifully constructed.

Halfway there:  Challenge #6, the movie challenge, saw Althea create look for film noir:

Probably my second- or third-favorite thing she's done.  I liked the line of the skirt, not as crazy about the big floofy blouse.

The 7th challenge was the Macy's/INC "Make Something Blue" challenge:

Ack!  Hoochie-short skirt and a weirdly-proportioned, ill-fitting jacket with big peplum.   And here begins the long succession of "it's another f*cking tank top."

Next, we had the "Make a Divorcee Something Pretty Out of Her Old Wedding Dress" for the 8th challenge:

Hideous, People of Wal-Mart Chic.  The client sold the hell out of this on the runway, bless her.

Let's move on, to the Mackie Challenge in episode 9:

Much better.  Not terribly surprising or spectacular, but a good entry.  This is the outfit that used the zipper collar that Althea later accused Logan of copying.  You couldn't even see it on the runway, though, so none of us would have noticed.

Nearly there, nearly there.  Episode 10 was inspired by a location, St. Tropez in this case:

Yucky, yucky, yucky.  These are total vag-flasher shorts, though I love the color.  The blouse looked cheaply-made, and we've got another low-cut tank top.

In episode 11, Althea won the Compliment Your Winning Design with this shit-tastic look of diaper pants and a Snuggie with mutant bust darts and Tanisha's puppies leaping all over the place:

The above is one of the dozens of reasons I don't understand season 6 at all.

(Jeez I feel mean.  But come on, that is ugly right there.)

Mercifully, we've arrived at the last challenge: Get Inspired by the Getty Center and Knock Our Socks Off:

Looking over this collection, I don't even know if I want to get into how fucked up it is that this collection of work gets someone in the Top 3 of Project Runway.  Althea seems really cool and she does have a recognizable point of view, but I just am not feeling it.  There's no vibrancy, little innovation, little solid craftsmanship.  Lots of similar details, similar silhouettes, and similar colors.   It's pretty depressing, actually.   It will be interesting to see whether Althea's work improves with the less-insane time restraints of the Finals and a decent amount of money.  I'm really hoping we don't see 12 tank tops with high ribbon belts and hoochie-fishtail skirts.

I still love that newspaper dress, though!

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