Project Runway S11: Episode 2 – Spin Out

SPiN: Photo by Gray Matters Photography

SPiN: Photo by Gray Matters Photography

It seems the hottest spot in NYC these days is a ping-pong nightclub called SPiN. Susan Sarandon would like it to be hotter and thinks Project Runway on Lifetime will help. I think Susan Sarandon is a lot smarter than that. So I’m sticking with, she’s doing Heidi a favor by letting the designers come up with new outfits for the ball boys and servers.

Yes, ball boys. There will be lots of tee-hee about balls. When you start with a corporate slogan of “Balls are our Business” you’re pretty much expected to tee-hee about balls. And sticks. No, ping-pong does not require sticks, but the ball boys do, to net the escaping balls.

Are you with me so far? Let’s go back to the beginning…

The designers are still mulling over what they’ve learned from last week. Matthew regrets not helping Emily until the last minute. James decides he will be more greedy in taking care of himself, and not listen so much to others, because that’s why he ended up third-to-last. Hey, everyone has his way of getting through the day. Cindy needs to stop feeling like she’s been run over by a truck, which is what happens when you’re second-to-worst. Michelle lies through her teeth and assures her that she wouldn’t have been in the bottom if all sixteen looks had been included, instead of just her team. Again, I kinda liked Cindy’s dress, but given the hatred everyone in the Chairs that Count felt for it, Cindy would’ve been on the bottom if everyone in America had sent in an entry.

Heidi tells the designers only that this challenge will be a ball. Amanda: “Ball gown? Horrible. Athletic? Horrible.” That Amanda, she’s a cheerful gal. They head off to somewhere that turns out to be SPiN. Daniel: “Ping-pong? We just have guns in Texas.” Watch out, Susan, next they’ll be coming for your balls.

Each team must create five looks for: two female servers, two male servers, and a ball boy, all of whom will be young, attractive, and thin. Ok, that isn’t specified, but there’s no warning to make sure the outfits will work on different body types. Let’s face it, fat old farts aren’t going to be hired at SPiN, should they be so foolish as to apply. There’s probably a “must present athletic appearance” clause to get around legal nasties. A screen print guy will come in and add logos, slogans (“Balls are our Business” must be included on the ball boy uniform), in whatever size and location desired. The designers hang out making pests of themselves acting as servers and ball boys for a while so they’ll understand the requirements of the uniforms, since none of them could possibly have ever actually worked as a server before. Tu’s parents own a restaurant so he immediately drops a drink. Patricia gets herself fired. Benjamin has worked in high-end restaurants so he decides all on his own to play DT leader. The current uniform is a gray t-shirt, so pretty much anything is an improvement. They get $500 per team, and one day. Susan Sarandon, owner of the club, is guest judge. Tu: “She has big boobs.” I’m pretty sure that’s the designer talking, since, come on, they’re not all that big.

Winning Team (I told you, I’m NOT going to type the name ever again; hey, I put back links to the Lifetime images, don’t push me):

Layana and Daniel (Top Three) work together on a female server outfit. She’s open to criticism when she’s working with someone who knows more than she does and she can learn from them. Daniel doesn’t have any formal training, but he does have a quick way to drape pants and he’s happy to help “the weakest link.” During Tim’s consult, they show the skirt covered with a panel, aka skort, and Daniel’s got some asymmetry going on in the shirt. Tim suggests finding other opportunities to use the shape, and a lightbulb goes off over Daniel’s head: pockets. On the runway (after Heidi admires Daniel’s heart), the model looks like a server, and even acts like a server, taking out a pencil and pad of paper. It’s a nice server outfit; I like the lapels. Daniel did the vest (he watched a ping-pong ball bounce for the shape of the lapel), and Layana did the skort. Susan likes the combination of sexy and practical, which is hard to do; she appreciates that the vest says, “I’m here to serve you.” Zac likes the more formal aspect to the t-shirt and the asymmetry, though he’s not sure about the balance of the whole thing. Still, it works. Heidi likes that it’s sexy, but not overly so. Then she schools me on what it’s like to be one of the Beautiful People: “When you’re a girl, you don’t want the girl bringing drinks to have everything hanging out. You want to be the one with everything hanging out.” See, I was thinking of the server, who might not want to be serving drinks to drunken strangers with everything hanging out. We’re in agreement, just for different reasons. Nina likes the skort/apron thing, that they thought about a lot of details. Heidi asks: if your outfit wins, which one of you is the winner? Daniel does something incredible: he has immunity, so he passes the potential win to Layana. His reasoning doesn’t quite make sense (it isn’t like he’d be going home if she wins and he doesn’t) but it’s a nice thing to do.

Stanley (Top Three)tackles a male server uniform, and goes retro. Is that what retro looks like? Guy looks like a SEAL to me. It’s pretty simple: drop crotch black pants, black t-shirt. No, not a t-shirt; he didn’t want a t-shirt, so it’s a short-sleeve raglan sweatshirt. There’s something odd in the fit, to me. And I hate the orange belt sticking out. I’m ok with the drop crotch, though; the pants are fine. It just looks dark and military. But Nina thinks it’s edgy, fun, and cool, futuristic and retro at the same time, so what do I know. Susan thinks the guys would wear it; they weren’t too crazy about having “Balls are our Business” on their clothes, but here it’s on the back so it’s not so much in-your-face and, I gues, they’ll forget about it and not realize people are pointing at them and giggling as they walk away. Zac likes the pockets and the modern, angled construction, but he’s not a drop crotch fan. In fact, in chat he thinks it looks sloppy, though it’s fine if someone can pull it off.

Richard and Joseph (Top Three) seem to work together really well, doing what teammates must: listening to each other, bouncing ideas around, finding ways for minds to meet instead of ways to dominate. Though I know it’s ridiculous, Joseph’s glasses keep reminding me of John Lennon. He’s got a fun, cute, vintage business screenprinting cats onto old sweatshirts (or something like that), but Richard’s got more of a toned-down, masculine aesthetic, though he doesn’t do menswear. They work on the ball boy. Joseph suggests harem pants, which gets nixed. He’s into graphic patterns and interesting textures, and that gets incorporated. See, the ball boy needs a place to put his stick. After he’s netted an errant ball, he puts down his stick and suddenly doesn’t have it any more. So they figure out a harness that’ll let him put his stick down his back instead of leaving it laying around. Tim’s impressed with the cleverness. Yep. Then Joseph wants the pants more fitted (hey, wait, he wanted harem pants, what’s going on here?); Richard’s fine with that, he’ll go to leggings if Joseph wants, but no, they end up with ordinary black pants, again with boots. And pockets with “Balls are our business” printed on them. The color-blocked T-shirt has the logo in contrasting colors; it’s a real tour de graphics. Which is good, because otherwise it’s a t-shirt and pants. I think the pockets are a little too busy but it’s quite striking. Susan says they were going to have them carry back-mounted vaccuums a la Ghostbusters to chase after the balls; the nets were a compromise. And here the design is a back-mounted net. Zac likes the graphic break over the chest, unusual for men. Heidi likes the placement of everything. Who would get the win? They waffle: “It’s hard to say.” I think they’re right; it was an actual team effort. And it meshes with Stanley’s commando gear and the graphic shirt-and-vest. Susan murmured, “I love this” as it walked the runway (unless that was edited in from somewhere else, which is distinctly within the realm of possibility).

Amanda (safe) asks one of the male servers if he’d like something button-down. No. “Ok, just double-checking,” she says. Oh, come on, you were ready to make him an oxford. Instead, she makes a black tennis dress out of swimwear fabric for a female server. It’s short. Really short. Nicely made, though. I guess Waitresses to the Beautiful People don’t have to worry about getting goosed. One of the female servers told Benjamin to be sure things were long enough to cover important matters if they had to bend over; I guess Amanda didn’t hear that conversation.

Kate and Patricia (safe) collaborate on a female server uniform, and it’s kind of a nightmare. Patricia’s assignment is leggings, and she’s worried that if she’s called out, she won’t have much defense, since there’s not much to design. She’s right, too, even though Tim kind of pooh-poohs the concern, but you know it could happen. Me, I hate the top; I don’t understand how no one else said anything about it, tried to get Kate to do something different. The leather yoke is a good enough idea, but it just doesn’t work with the fabric, and the draping in back is ugly. The leatherwork on the hem is another good idea that just looks bad. I think Patricia has reason for concern, but everyone’s decided she’s got too much ego in the mix and she needs to shut up and do what needs to be done instead of trying to figure out how to do something better. I think she’s lucky they were the winning team.

The Losing Team:

Cindy and Benjamin (Bottom Three) are the poster children for what’s wrong with team challenges: for Top Chef fans, think Robin doing the dessert for MVolt’s team at Restaurant Wars. She’s pretty confident about her ability to make a jacket, but Benjamin’s breathing down her neck at Mood (where Swatch sleeps unawares). Cindy: “Why is he keeping such close tabs on me when James is picking the ugiest fabric in the store?” Cindy, the brown you picked isn’t anything to write home about. She’s desperately trying to get her POV out there, and Benjamin’s just as desperately trying to keep her from doing that. Her jacket is perfectly nice. Not for a waitress at the athletically-themed hottest club in NYC, but a well-made dishwater-colored version of the nondescript jacket everyone has in her closet. Benjamin makes the shorts, and they don’t fit right at all. Bottom Three. Susan thinks it looks sad. It’s catatonic, is what it is. Zac: “I think you achieved what you were trying to achieve but it’s not appropriate to the venue.” Nina calls it dated and catalog. Benjamin explains he spent so much time checking on everyone’s pieces, filling in gaps, he compromised himself as a designer. The problem with that being, the rest of the team just lost, too.

Matthew and Benjamin (Bottom Three) are working on a ball boy uniform. Matthew was in dance, and he has the heart of an artist, so making generic jeans isn’t really what he’s about, but that’s what he’s assigned because someone has to do them. Tim’s dubious about jeans. Michele pipes up, “We were joking around about a kilt…” and the energy picks up. Matthew’s excited; a kilt is more up his alley. Tim’s for it, too: an urban kilt. Michele likes that it’s rock and roll and edgy but wonders if Susan Sarandon would think it’s appropriate for her servers. But the idea has caught on, and a kilt it is. They add a sporran as place to store balls, and a tank. I confess, I love it. On the runway, Matthew starts talking about freeballing, and Susan maintains her composure: “My guys wouldn’t wear it, but it really is ballsy.” Zac thinks it has too many elements. Nina appreciates the provocation, but they’re supposed to be pitching a real client. Matthew: “I’m an artist, not a commercial designer.” Oh, Matthew, you had me, and then you lost me. Zac: “Fashion is art and commerce, not a fine art.” They need to pick their risks, and this was a design commission. Nobody says, “But Michele suggested it…” Or “Tim liked it!” It’s kind of overall grey, so it’s not the best thing, but I love that they actually did something instead of another pair of pants and a tee. In chat, Heidi finds the “crotchpiece” tasteless. This is nonsense. It’s not a crotchpiece, it’s a sporran. Actually, it’s a ball bag, but hey, it wasn’t Matthew who decided the company slogan would be “Balls are our business” and that ball boys would wear uniforms with that slogan on it. I’m not saying they should’ve won, but they deserved far more respect than they got. Even if Matthew actually did say he has the heart of an artist, and no one with the heart of an artist would say such a thing.

James (Bottom Three) goes off to a corner and works by himself on a male server uniform. See James work. He produces a really ugly purple shirt. “Shirt” is kind of misleading; it’s a maternity top, though he might’ve planned to turn the front pleat into button plackets. Cindy and Matthew disapprove. Benjamin doesn’t understand it. Tim says the shirt is a mess. Michele says the color scheme and proportions are off. The team says, scrap it. James: “I want to say, where’s your hope, let me fix it before you say scrap it.” He scraps it, abandoning all hope. He has hip hop pants, loose, knee length, no top. He doesn’t know what fabric he can use for his top. See James fret. I’m not sure where the fabric came from, but by runway time he has a color-blocked tank with a very sloppy collar half-tucked-in, half-out of these loose knee-length pants. He wants the consumer to remember the brand. Oh, they’ll remember it. Nina says the pants are a “disturbing” length, and that’s not a good kind of disturbing; he looks like a pool boy. That’s only because the model has longish blond hair. Susan doesn’t think he looks like a server. Heidi’s worried about a guy with furry armpits serving food in a sleeveless tank, and I have to say Heidi’s right about that. Zac thinks the top looks messy. The color blocking is fine, it’s even nice, and I don’t really have a problem with the pants, but now I’m worried about armpit hairs in my soup. In chat, Nina calls it “Surfer Dude” and would rather see the outrageous kilt. This is the second time he’s made something very simple, but very sloppy and not very attractive.

Michele (safe) notices the other team connects well, and manage to come together even though they have different points of view. In the overnight, she says she wants out of her team. Last week, I referred to Michele as Portlandia simply because she came from Portland, OR as opposed to my home town of Portland, Maine; I didn’t realize it was actually a thing in some circles, like with my buds Sarah and Paul from IJustReadAboutThat, that she’s a character from the TV show Portlandia. RealityCreator on TWoP even commented: “Maybe she’ll put a bird on it” which is pretty hilarious. She makes a dress in the same color as Cindy’s depressed jacket (and, by the way, Heidi’s dress); back in the 80s I had a dress exactly like that, in blue denim; it came in two washes, with short or long sleeves, from a catalog for about $20. My #1 Rule for Project Runway is: if I’d wear it, it’s a bad idea. It’s an especially bad idea since you can still buy it second-hand for $24. The collar’s also a mess, and there’s some oddball shirring or elastic around the armholes. She worked down my perfectly good dress. Even Michele thinks it’s a boring color, and it might not be a server dress.

Tu and Samantha (safe) make a female server uniform. Most of it – vest, skirt – is well-made and pretty good, but they lose me with the sheer-over-bra undershirt. Samantha wishes she were more covered as well. They’re reasonably happy, though. I’m crazy about the jacket Samantha’s wearing; she showed it at her casting session too.

Decisions, decisions:

Layana wins; she’s very excited since she can call her friends and tell them to check out the uniform she designed at SPiN. I’m surprised; I thought the ball boy had it. But I love that Daniel gave her the win. It was also a smart thing for him to do. He doesn’t need it, since he won the first week, and he’s building up good will that might come in handy later on.

Heidi points out that Benjamin had two pieces that failed; if he played a leadership role, he did not succeed, since the rest of the team was pretty bad as well. But both James and Cindy were up there last week. What to do, what to do? Kick James out, that’s what to do. He feels like he should’ve taken more control, which is exactly what he said about last week, and in both cases he was off by himself doing his thing, so I don’t know what he’s talking about.

Next Week:

Heidi’s Perfume Dress. The Heidi challenge already? Oh, I see… in time for Valentine’s Day. But just barely.

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5 responses to “Project Runway S11: Episode 2 – Spin Out

  1. I have not yet even read your post (we just watched the ep last night and incidentally, if you watch it a week late it’s only 60 minutes long, which is something of a treat in itself), but I had to get out three thoughts before even seeing what you wrote just to see if we’re on the same page.

    1) Susan Sarandon doesn’t know what a skort is? My 5 year old wears them. Come on! (Sarah shares my disbelief).

    2) There’s a hipster club where people play ping pong? Guess S.S. enjoyed the Olympics?

    3) PR, are you seriously trying to tell me that hot hipster guys in a club owned by S.S. would NOT wear kilts??? And you’re almost offended at the idea of it? A stupid, no doubt short-lived club in NYC own by an actor and your (no doubt super hot) boys wouldn’t wear a skirt? Bullshit, I say. They would love it–mildly transgressive bur they’d “have to” wear it for work. I am shocked by your prudishness PR.

    4) S.S., you came up with the stupid double entendre slogan–what did you expect, subtlety?

    Ahhh, I feel better.

  2. Now, having read… I’m glad we agree on the skirt/kilt and the slogan. Phew.

    We blew through that ep and the next ep pretty quickly because i still don’t care about most of the people and their stupid teams. Although I am now thinking it would be very cool to keep the teams the same and see if the crappy team gets whittled down to one person who sweeps the whole shebang!

    I do like Daniel although, yes his logic was faulty about immunity (it’s not for the rest of the show dude).

    I even find the team consult to be less than exciting in these eps although Tim tries, he really does.

    By the way, are you all snowed in up there?

    • Hiya – I didn’t give a second thought to the whole skort thing, but it raised a lot of ire on TwoP last week. I figured it was more of a dialect thing, like “zorries” vs “flip flops.”

      I don’t get hipsters. Every time I read a short story that someone describes as “hipster lit” I read another article defining hipsters, and I still can’t figure out who they are, except that they like something they call “irony” which seems to be a great simplification of an enormously complicated term (how ironic). So… hipsters play ping pong? Does that make ping pong ironic? However… while the clientele of SPiN may indeed love kilts, and wear kilts, I wonder if the employees come from the same socioeconomic stratum and share the aesthetic. But putting the kilt in the bottom was nonsense – it was exactly what PR should be doing. Which is why it’s hard to have much enthusiasm for the place.

      I think Tim gave up trying long ago. Now he’s just cashing the check. I’m very disappointed. At some point I may correlate the advice he gives to the bottom three. He loved the kilt, too. And Cindy going long in E1. Is Tim teeing them up? Or is he just out of touch with the judges?

      Portland set a new record of 29.something inches, besting the prior record of 27.something inches. That was 8am, and it’s still snowing, or maybe it’s just blowing, it’s hard to tell. I haven’t been out (and I’m not going out until Monday if then) but I took a quick peek out the front door – it’s a lot of snow. This is when being an urban apartment dweller pays off – someone else shovels the sidewalk, and I live in the “yellow zone” meaning it’s first to get cleaned up, not just plowed. I don’t have a car so I’m not one of the frantic searchers-for-a-place-to-store-the-car – that’s the big issue for most downtown people right now. One of my neighbors was trying to convince her German shepherd puppy to go out and take care of business, but he wasn’t having any of it. Smart dog. It’s still nasty out there. But as of about 20 minutes ago there wasn’t any melted snow in the elevator or lobby, so it looks like no one’s going out. All the wires are underground in the city, so I have electricity, cable, internet, phone, heat. I have hot coffee. I have a purring cat. Everything else is gravy.

      • Skort is like spork, a simple portmanteau that those of us with young kids know well (little girls want to wear skirts, parents don’t want their knickers showing–problem solved!).

        Hipsters are a fabrication, an easy straw man for people to hate. But basically they look for things that aren’t terribly cool and embrace them fully: mustaches, ping pong (I assume–I feel like the alt media played up ping pong at the Olympics). I have hipster tendencies because I like the offbeat, but I don’t ever embrace anything fully :) . I don’t know about socioeconomics of Spin, but there’s a hip bowling alley in NYC where the only people prettier than the patrons are the servers, so I assume given the pedigree of Spin, everyone who works there is pretty and wants to be an actor.

        You have totally sold me on Portland (ME, not OR). If your mayor is like the one in Portlandia, you could totally have a job on the PR board! (he says after shoveling a (frankly measly) six inches. But our first task this AM was to make sure the chickens could get out of their house–they do hate walking in snow!

        I wish our wires were underground, especially after the last couple storms. But we are fine here today. In fact tonight we’re going to Philly to celebrate Pie Day!

        • There’s a contestant on Top Chef with a sculpted waxed handlebar moustache (there were two, but the first didn’t make it past the audition cook-off) and everyone keeps referring to him as a hipster. He’s more of a Gool Ole Boy from Oklahoma though (serves everything with bacon).

          You’re right, NYC like LA is one of those places where every waiter is really an artist/actor/writer paying the rent until they get their Big Break. I can see the appeal of working at a place like Spin.

          What’s hilarious is that no one called out the black tennis dress or the bra-on-display as being inappropriate for women to wear, but everyone’s so concerned about preserving the delicate male sensibility.

          Portland is awesome. I lived in Boston for nearly 20 years, and in many ways it’s similar; for a tiny city, it does very well. There’s a lot of interest in the arts, and lots of free or low-cost stuff in the summer. Here’s hoping our library stays afloat until we get rid of our tea party governor (who snuck in while the sane people were off splitting their votes between the Democrat and the liberal Republican) because they’ve got some amazing stuff going on, too. When people refer to “Portland” I usually ask, “Which one?” because there is more than one. And we’re the best one. ;) But I don’t want it to catch on, because then all the hipsters will invade…

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