Project Runway Season 10 Episode 4: Women on the Go

I think I will miss you most of all

I think I will miss you most of all

[rant]

I read once, oh, on the internet or somewhere, that laughter, as a behaviour, is an evolution of a snarl. Think of wolves. If there is a weak member of the pack, an individual who no longer contributes to the whole, the rest will turn on them. They pull back their lips, to reveal their teeth, and make deep resonant sounds. I can see how this is like a laugh.
— Review of The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim by Jonathan Coe, on The Urban Misanthorpist

On the bottom rung of the ladder, you have the omega wolf. As the name implies, the omega wolf is the weakest and the least cared for in the pack. Bullied by other members, the omega wolf will receive the brunt of the aggression in the wolf world, particularly during inter-pack fighting . Sometimes, this antagonism climaxes to the point that the omega wolf will leave the pack and go it alone. Aside from being the pack’s punching bag, the omega wolf also instigates play among the wolves to ease tensions.
— “Wolf Pack Mentality” on How Stuff Works

Maybe that explains it.

Not Andrea’s running off in the middle of the night. No idea what that’s about – did she feel bad about her runway defense? Maybe she felt unfairly criticized or betrayed – I’m not sure she was either, it didn’t seem that way as televised, but who knows how she saw her role in the project, and thus how she saw her treatment at the hands of the judges and teammate. Or – hey, maybe she’s not a designer at all and she faked her way onto the show, and now realized she couldn’t keep up (hey, I have a devious mind). Either she didn’t unload on any of the other designers, including the contestant with whom she shared a room, afterwards, or nobody’s talking about that.

What they are talking about is her departure. Words like “cowardly.” “Immature.” It’s a “cutthroat” industry, a “shark – if you can’t handle it you shouldn’t be here.”

The wolf pack turns.

Michael Kors is possessed of a slightly higher level of discourse: “Fashion isn’t for sissies.”

So, Michael Kors, as someone who made a video for the “It Gets Better” project – is that really the message you want to send? The word you want to associate with someone who feels things intensely and sometimes fails to solve a problem in the best way? Think of it this way, Michael Kors – some people are just born that way.

Michael, just why are you so cutthroat anyway? Oh, so it’s not you who’s cutthroat, it’s “the industry?” Sort of like no politician admits to being crooked but they all admit politics is a nest of vipers? Why don’t you try to change it, if only in this small way: by having compassion for someone who isn’t as strong as you? Why don’t you speak out about bullying in your own back yard? On your own show?

Because that’s what this was – post hoc bullying. Beat ‘er up good, fellas (she left so she deserves it), so no one ever pulls this crap on Project Runway again. That’s what power is for, Lifetime. Taking down a 58-year-old woman whose crime was leaving a reality show unannounced.

She didn’t murder a child, for god’s sake. She didn’t even throw a cat or intimidate someone’s midwestern mother or make a sex tape (no, for that, you’d turn her into a star). She just left without explanation. Not good behavior. Boorish, even. But for heaven’s sake, stop piling on.

But she didn’t give you anything to work with, did she, no failure you could pin on her, so you control the narrative this way. Classy. Throw raw meat to the slavering wolf pack and tape them ripping apart the corpse then string it out for an extra half-hour. Just how did she harm you, Elena? Or you, Alicia or Ven or Buffi? I have to give credit to Christopher for at least having some ambivalence. And I give Tim a pass, because he’s usually supportive (Emilio being one glaring exception). He doesn’t suffer fools gladly, but he uses restraint rather than displaying his acerbic wit at the expense of others. All he says now is, “This is a challenging industry.” I think Tim tries, most of the time. At least in public. Then again, I’m biased.

What about Kooan? He didn’t get the same vituperation, because he made an announcement and said goodbye. He gave everyone closure for their little TV show. But he did the same thing, y’know? And y’know what else? I’m proud of him. “I understand the industry is tough, but I have to find my own way, that’s why I’m leaving,” “I know there’s another way, I have to find that,” and “I’m leaving because I want to do my fashion in my own way.” In spite of seeming to explain his departure, it’s really vague. My interpretation? He’s not gonna be the way everyone’s saying he has to be, a shark or a cutthroat, and he isn’t going to waste his time amongst those who are. Maybe he’ll never find a gentle, fun, kooky road to fashion. But I hope he does. I hope he creates one.

Yes, Kooan, you’re a funky little weird person. That’s why I enjoyed you, more than anyone, this season. I was nervous for you every week, worried this would be the week the judges decided the weirdness was too much, your style not suitable to the sponsors who want to make money off this show. I’m glad you did what you needed to do for yourself. And your hero yell of “Make It Work!” as you left the workroom for the last time was pure class, Kooan-style. And I’m really sad you left, because I enjoyed your presence.

Osamaru, sweetie. Make it work!

Congratulations, Project Runway. You’ve run off the “weak,” and now you’re just left with the sharks, created in your own image, and you all can shake your heads and murmur about how tough the fashion industry is like you have nothing to do with it.

[/end rant]

And what else happened on Project Runway last night? Oh, yeah, they made some clothes.

They meet Michael Kors at his “flagship store” (the military metaphor used in all business) where he delivers the challenge: with $150 and one day, make an outfit clearly in your aesthetic for the modern woman on the go, something stylish but easy and relaxed she can wear to a meeting, then take a flight somewhere and go to a cocktail party. Versatile is the word of the day. For Tim, the take-home is “no wrinkles.” Select textiles wisely. They do, I guess, because no one gets dinged for fabric the way Angela did for her Paris-bound silk-linen pants that became “a mess just standing on the runway.” But they don’t get a plane trip to try it out this time. This isn’t the old days; the budget’s a lot tighter now that everyone wants a cut of the pie.

Tim suggests they come up with a scenario: who is the woman, where will she be going? If anyone comes up with a French boarding schoolmistress I’m going to die laughing. I’m suddenly on an Angela kick (she, too, was a lost duck who had no idea she wasn’t as talented or skilled or “hip” as the others). They’re supposed to sketch in the MK store for 30 minutes, but what they really do is find places to hide and gossip about Andrea.

Enough. Clothes, and only clothes, from now on. They bring back Raul. No, that isn’t clothes, but it’s a necessary detail.

The guest judges are designer Rachel Roy and Hayden Panettiere, another actress I’ve never heard of,

The Best of the Bunch:

Dmitry:
This is the dress that caught my eye in the workroom from the start. He tells Tim it’s going to be a single-seam garment; either he changed his plan, or they didn’t notice it on the runway. Or maybe they don’t care. His direction is “easy woman, woman on the go.” I think someone needs to explain to him the American idiom “easy woman.” It’s a grey jersey dress with crossed bodice detail and an open back. This is the dress that caught my eye in the workroom from the start. Michael wishes it was in red, so the color would balance out the safeness of the cut; I think he has a good point. Heidi likes it, he did a great technical job, but she doesn’t feel like she has to have it, and it needs more sex appeal. Hayden wishes for extended shoulders (because she has wide shoulders… gee, nothing like solipsistic judging). Nina sees infinite possibilities. Rachel grants him excellent sewing skills, and he understood the assignment: it can go into night, and is tasteful. In the “little chat” Rachel wants to hire him for her sample room. That seems like a kind of insulting thing to say to a designer. Michael hopes he gets away from safety and he’ll knock it out of the park when he does.

Sonjia
Everyone seems to pronounce her name “Sahn-gee;” I’m not sure where the “a” went, but I keep thinking they’re saying “Sanjay” as in Sanjay Gupta (or, lord help us, the AI guy), and wondering what the hell he’s doing here. She’s working with grey jersey, too; she wants to beat Dimitry, presumably for that reason. And she does a great job – a grey jersey dress with asymmetrical tie neck and small side flounce that falls more like a cloth belt. It’s got a nice diagonal line, and I hadn’t noticed the peek-a-boo on the chest until Rachel mentioned it but it’s very nice. Rachel can tell she’s a designer who thought about it. Michael is glad she didn’t use black; she could dress it up with diamonds or down with riding boots. Nina likes the conservative sexiness; Heidi loves it, but in Little Chat, doesn’t think it’s a head turner. It’s a universal hit.

Christopher:
He wants to combine sophisticated and laid-back – Louis Vuitton in a dive bar. On walkthru, Tim hopes he tightens it up a little, then gives him a pep talk as he seems “ambivalent.” Maybe, but not about getting through the competition. He’s trying to give Buffi advice she doesn’t want, and again, he’s framing it like he did with Gunnar the first day: “Is that resort wear?” He’s the darling of the season, but there’s a mean streak in him, whether he realizes it or not. Sonjia gives him credit for being consistent if not innovative; Dmitry and Fabio are more positive. I liked the black turtleneck dress with an asymmetrical hem, and collarless black leather jacket better on the runway than in the picture. It’s very versatile, and that was the idea. But it’s also a black dress and a black jacket. I don’t see a whole lot that’s unique. He likes the balance of hard and soft, and tells his story of a woman with a husband and a 4-year-old and she’s going out to dinner with her husband after work… oh please. Heidi’s impressed with what he did with $150; wait, that isn’t real leather, is it? Hayden wants the jacket. Rachel credits him with achieving day to night, styling perfectly, and making it modern and relatable. Even Nina’s impressed: polished, easy, comfy, glamorous, sexy. Michael thinks he nailed the issue of dressing for the whole day. In chat, however, Nina’s dubious about his execution. Heidi thinks it has more sex appeal than Sonjia’s or Dmitry’s.

Can you say Meh?

Melissa
Even in the face of all the colors of Michael Kors, she’s going back to her first love: black. Layering is the word of the day, with four garments: hooded coat, tank, vest, pants, belt, and probably six other things. She knows it reads as a whole closet; that’s what it is. It reminds me of the things Irina designed for her Aspen look, except I liked Irina’s better, there was more contrast between the pieces. Still, it’s not bad.

Gunnar:
Tim’s advice: “Be cognizant of not overdesigning.” Don’t you just melt when Tim talks like that? Sonjia thinks the skirt looks like felt; I can sort of see that. But I like the skirt with contrasting tulip hem and ruched shell. Tulip must be on trend for fall. I especially like the shape of the open back (another trend?) – it’s like an upside-down tulip. Kinda. Sorta. If you want it bad enough.

Ven
He chooses cashmere and includes a decorative zipper along a meandering front seam that will disappear into a fold at the bodice. Tim is fascinated. It is pretty cool, as a concept. In reality, his gold one-shouldered dress looks funny. That’s all I can say, it looks funny. It’s got that same diagonal pleating, which I like, and the zipper sure is interesting. But there’s something odd about the finishing of the neckline; in the photo, it looks like a polyester bedsheet. It’s cashmere, it isn’t a sheet, but that’s what it folds like in the photo. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a dress with both a front and back structural zipper before (decorative ones, sure, on pockets and sleeves and such). Then again, I don’t get out much. It’s the first time he’s been “only safe” – we don’t hear anything from him this week, but I’m sure he’ll have something to say about it in the future.

Alicia: Grey cropped pants, tailored shirt. She’s ok with it when it comes down the runway. Tim warned her to watch her proportions; I guess she did, since she’s in the middle. I’m not sure I understand the collar or the ends of the sleeves, but the shirt is very nicely tailored otherwise. The pants – I would’ve called them “pedal pushers” – have a little extra room in the crotch for anything you might want to carry; not quite trouser-style, not quite fitted. I wish we’d heard her scenario, it might’ve made more sense. I like the elbow patches, but overall it looks like Sears, not Lord & Taylor.

Elena: During walkthru, she tells Tim her girl can wear either sneakers or high heels with this. Tim says he’s seen this coat before. I don’t know, the silhouette is much bigger, and there’s no ribbing. It looks a little less warrior and more “I lost 300 pounds and haven’t bought a new coat yet.”
When she sees her light grey coat over slim black pants, she says it looks like the London runway. Sure does, a 797, maybe. I’m not sure if the top is one piece with a zip-up inset, or if it’s a zipped shirt under a coat. The coat has terrific seaming – girl can sew – but it’s huge. I love oversized, but wearing that to a cocktail party, you’d knock over all the champagne glasses. Good thing I’m not in fashion.

Nathan:
Who? Nathan has been the Invisible Man this season. I had to scramble for names when I realized there were two bearded men. I think he’s the one who cries serious tears when Kooan leaves, but it might’ve been Fabio. Maybe he isn’t so invisible, maybe I’ve just been blending them into one person all this time? On the runway, he’s relieved that his swing-back vest over A-line sheath fits; I’m wondering what the X is over the model’s torso in the photo… Spanx? Is it that tight? It’s nice though, with some crochet trim around the neck. Not exciting enough for the Glamorazzi. But not bad; I like the cut of the vest.

The Runts of the Litter

Fabio: His girl is on a day off, but still wants to be classy. Tim loves his print but warns him about the length (as Christopher (or maybe it was Gunnar) says, “I can see her fishwhistle from here.” Fishwhistle??) and the proportions of the jacket. Fabio’s happy his model has a bit of an ass, but he’s made the dress a little tight. Elena thinks he’s not putting enough of himself into the work; I think that comment was filmed after the runway. On runway day, he’s wearing a turban. I guess he’s doing the Major Religions of the World, since last week he was a Black Hatter. Too bad timing was so painful this time. He’s got a thick rope “necklace” looped multiple times around his neck. I’ll admit, he’s more interesting than his garment, but still I like his B/W print dress and short black jacket; I’m surprised he was able to fix the length and fit problem, and I thought the print made it interesting. Michael is taken aback and disappointed: “You look amazing, you have ropes around your neck, and we want to see what you’re presenting on yourself in your clothes, there must be a way to incorporate your style into the woman.” Heidi thinks it all looks like it shrunk, and the jacket should be longer. Nina sees comfy but not glamour. Hey, since when is glamour a requirement this week? Are pedal-pushers glamorous this year? They want more from him.

Raul
Tim’s reintroduction: “Things happen for a reason, now we can move forward. I don’t want elimination process to be that we have fewer to choose from, so we’re bringing back Raul.” Apparently they don’t want the elimination process to be preserved enough to bring back Lantie. I’m not arguing with that. Presumably they’ll either not eliminate someone in the future, or turn a planned double into a single. Buffi is very happy for him; Alicia was upset that he as her partner last week was cut, but his construction skill isn’t the strongest so that’s why she was spared. Ven doesn’t think much of Raul: he has no point of view (Raul thinks he has too many ideas and he gets distracted into different directions), everything he makes is a mess, and he needs to go home again. Raul believes it isn’t really a second chance, it’s rectification of a mistake. His first rectification project doesn’t go so well, though; he plans a suit, and ends up with a long handkerchief-hem vest over turtleneck and pants. The pants come out way too small, so he uses leather inserts to hold them together. It’s… pretty bad. The lapels on the vest are super wide, the hem super long, the pants not good. Even Sonjia starts at it, he doesn’t have what it takes. Michael hated it at first, “vampira points,” a jacket on death watch, unbelted is an improvement but it’s very confused. Hayden thinks the crotch is weird, and in any case, she’s not a fan of both the top and bottom being baggy. Nina’s happy to see pants, but not these pants, and the jacket’s too long. In chat, they are wondering why they brought him back, but Rachel thinks he’ll be much stronger if he just steps back and edits and gains some confidence.

Buffi:
She’s thinking night life and a fun look, and she can’t stay away from the pink. Christopher tried to “help” her in his passive-aggressive way, but nope, she didn’t go for it. Then he catches her complaining about his “help” to Sonjia in the sewing room, and a couple of tiny sparks fly. She ends up with a sheer pink overtunic and a zebra print dress. I don’t actually hate the concept, but the pieces are too similar. It’d be fun if the tunic was less full, more of a scarf look, or just a short sleevey top, or the dress was more of a tank. But it looks like two dresses. She struggled with both jersey and chiffon since she doesn’t use them often. But it’s her aesthetic fer sure, and represents herself. They give her credit for that, all the way out the door. Hayden loves the color, but Heidi doesn’t; she thinks it looks inexpensive, and Rachel points out relying on a belt to make it work means you’ve been unsuccessful as a designer. Michael comes out with his bon mot of the week: there was a fire in the hairdressing salon, and the woman ran out with the smock on and threw a belt over it. Nina thinks she relies on shape to cover up for lack of technical skills. It’s memorable, but not for the right reasons. No busy modern woman wants something this sloppy and confusing.

The Showdown

Sonjia wins; good for her. And Hayden asks if she can wear it to some unnamed upcoming event, which provides an extra goose for the girl. That’s two wins now, isn’t it? [addendum: nope, only in my mind; it’s her first win]

And Buffi is out. In the lounge, waiting for Tim to deliver his parting line, she hides behind a couch: “Did Buffi already leave?” he asks. I wonder if he was playing along or if he figured anything could happen at this point. He notes it’ll be very quiet in the workroom; she’s been the Season 10 Hostess, and he’s proud of her for staying true to herself; it came down to a matter of taste. Hmmm. I don’t think he meant that as a slam, just that her taste wasn’t the same as the judge’s.

Next week: the Nina challenge. They work in two teams (uh oh) to create a line of professional women’s wear. And we’ll no doubt get Ven’s verdict on Sonjia’s win (I’m thinking it’ll be something like “It was a fine little dress but it wasn’t anywhere near the sophistication or skill level of mine”) and Christopher’s reaction to Buffi’s auf (“I tried to tell her…”).

Should be fun.

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6 responses to “Project Runway Season 10 Episode 4: Women on the Go

  1. Interesting insight into the treatment of the two designers who walked off this week. Laura Bennett had a similar take–from her point of view of actually having been there. I was rather surprised about Michael Kors’ remarks. Heidi has said similar things in seasons past when designers walked off. I give her a wide berth on insensitivity. But Kors really surprised me.
    I think he was channelling his early design experience. Before PR, he had had a few seasons where his shows completely bombed. He was declared “washed up.” The criticism was brutal. He’s talked about it to the designers before. I can only imagine that he put his thoughts into the context but the context ended up edited out.

    • Hi Suzq – because of your BPR work and knowledge of the industry in general, I’m giving a lot of credence to your comments on MK. You know a helluva lot more than I do about all this; I just see what’s on tv. It’s the same thing they do to the contestants – I have no doubt some of them were persistently prompted to come up with a good sound bite (“I bet you’re angry… look at the chaos she’s caused… doesn’t it just make you mad?) And some, I suspect it just came naturally. ;)

      Still, that doesn’t mean someone can’t speak up for changing things, instead of coming up with bon mots. A couple of examples:

      You watch the cooking shows, right? Top Chef? You’ve heard Eric Ripert say he’s gone from being the usual French hard-ass kitchen boss to demanding respect in the kitchen. Other chefs feel the same way. It’s still the people who are the loudest who create the image of the kitchen as a place where criticism and temper are necessary elements. But there is an alternative.

      Well into the 70s, doctors trained under horrific conditions: 72-hour shifts with only a quick nap here and there, constant belittlement at the hands of senior house staff, etc. We’ve all seen the TV shows. It was considered essential to medical education (and it was a point of pride amongst older docs – “when I was a med student…” I have a couple dozen books about this process). Then a patient in NY died, and suddenly it was possible to train doctor under more reasonable (though still grueling) conditions.

      What crossed my mind when I heard Tim referring to Andrea’s safety was not “was she kidnapped” but “are they concerned she killed herself?” Jumped off the Atlas roof, and with no ID on her is lying in a morgue somewhere? Did she go home and swallow the bottle of pills? And you know – you know it – the producers were one-eighth-hoping she did. They’d have to shut down production (probably…) but oh the publicity for season 11 – the TV show that drives people to suicide. A nice little “come to Jesus” meeting, to tell them, “Fashion isn’t for sissies.”

      I’m not even sure what they mean when they say “cutthroat” and “tough.” Brutal criticism over new collections from magazines, reviewers, celeb customers? That’s not unique to fashion – any artist, musician or writer (or blogger, or cab driver, or secretary, or…) has a whole collection of vicious pans, and it’s pretty common to see them published every once in a while. My impression is they’re talking about other designers talking dirt and gossip, undercutting them in business. Those are different things. But neither is inevitable.

      Change is possible. An alternative route is possible. But not if you stick to “Fashion isn’t for sissies.”

  2. I totally agree that it wasn’t even worth bringing Raul back. His look for this working woman challenge was terrible. I wouldn’t be caught dead walking into a business meeting at Dish wearing that! Buffi’s dismissal was unexpected but, like you mentioned, it set us up for an interesting episode tonight! Team challenges are drama-filled to begin with! I hope they put Gunner and Chris together; how funny would that be?! I can’t wait to find out! Thank goodness we upgraded our DVR to the Hopper just in time, which lets us watch or record up to six things, or else I would be stuck watching my son’s coveted Shark Week instead. Who do you guys vote to get eliminated next?

    • Hi bobbi – I could do with less drama, more design myself. I’d like to see more about how they approach each challenge and what the issues are (no time to do a suit, have a model with some physical attribute that isn’t what they’re used to) and how they cope with it. Who’s being snotty to whom gets old fast. If I wanted to watch people scream at each other, I’d turn in to the dancing moms thing, or housewives.

      I’m also not crazy about team challenges. The judges keep saying they have to work with people, but there’s none of the chain-of-command with a real job; you can’t hire the best person for your particular quirks, or fire someone who isn’t working out, and you can’t go work for someone else if it isn’t the right situation for you. It’s terrific when cross-pollination occurs, and that does happen sometimes, but it’s rare. Typically, one person takes over (like Ven did with Kenley’s dress) or there’s no cohesion at all, resulting in a mess (like some of the stiltwalker things.

      I’m guessing Raul will go next. He doesn’t seem to have many fans, and on a team challenge, he’s apt to get marginalized and blamed for everything that goes wrong, whether it’s his fault or not. But if he’s on the winning team, not sure, Fabio and Nathan seem to be bottom of the pack now, but who knows. I’m not crazy about Elena’s aesthetic, though she can sew up a storm and she has the ever-popular Point of View. It’s just not a Point of View that I care for. Melissa’s stuff bores me, but she seems to be on the Most Favored Designers list for some reason.

      We’ll see.

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