Project Runway: Godspell

Because this show wasn't theatrical enough already.

Project Runway gave the contestants an interesting challenge this week, particularly because of the judges' constant critique that their garments shouldn't look like costumes: they asked the designers to create a costume.

The designers are assigned the task of creating a costume for a character in the 2011 revival of Steven Schwartz's Godspell. The instructions are very non-specific. An actress comes onstage, and she's probably in her mid-thirties. The designers are told that her character is "rich," "bitchy" and "eccentric." No more, no less. A rich, eccentric, thirty-something bitch? She could run the gamut from Björk to Auntie Mame.

Nevertheless, the designers get to work, using a lot of lame fabrics, fake fur and shiny things.

The ubiquitous top three contestants of Austin, Michael and Mondo are called up again. Austin makes a Marie Antoinette-inspired, silver brocade dress that makes his model look really insane in a pretty interesting way. Michael made a lime green skirt and a pink floral top that wouldn't have read rich on the Broadway stage. Mondo pulled out an act of theatrical brilliance with a peacock-printed silk dress and a brocade smoking jacket with molted shoulders. Björk  and Auntie Mame would have liked his outfit, and he wins. He certainly deserves this one.

On the bottom are the three remaining ladies: Mila, Kara and Kenley. Kara makes a drab red skirt with a faux fur shrug and a huge silver bow. She hasn't been at the same league as the rest of the designers the entire season--and almost always on the bottom, so it's hard to understand how she lasted longer than Rami. Kenley's costume is the most interesting thing she's made all season--a loudly-printed coat paired with another loudly-printed skirt. She puts too many feathers on it and a polka-dotted shirt underneath, but if she'd tweeked it, she could have finally veered out of her banal vintage aesthetic. Mila's look was weird, and she really seems like she would understand a weird, eccentric woman. She makes a abominable snowman jacket with a '70's-disco printed lime skirt. The judges said her look was like a streetwalker's.

Mila probably should have been eliminated, but Kara's pretty terrible look was the best she made all season. The judges make a good decision and eliminate her instead. Mila is much more interesting.

Are you watching Project Runway? Who do you think will make it through to the end?

Project Runway All-Stars: Episode 5

Ah-ha! A villain.

Project Runway finally got its villain this week, and it’s not Kara as I expected. The villain of All-Stars is…wait for it...Jerell! This week he proved to be snarky and bitchy, and pitted against the hapless and helpless Michael Costello, a pretty excellent villain. Thanks for livening up this way-too-happy season, Lifetime.

This week’s challenge pairs off designers, but they were competing against each other, rather than with each other. Each contestant picks a purse randomly, and inside is one of the four seasons. The designers must create an outfit of American sportswear that a woman would wear in the spring, summer, fall or winter. The winners of the pair competition would be in the top four, and the losers in the bottom four.

Rami is paired against Mila for the fall. Rami makes a bright blue jacket, a braided belt, with a pretty ugly lime green turtleneck to wear underneath. Mila makes a tan cape with leather accents, a pair of jeans, and a red turtleneck. The judges aren’t overly impressed with Mila’s look, but she still takes the season.

Kenley is paired against Mondo for the summertime. Kenley makes a polka-dotted shorts jumper with a bow-tie neckline. It’s cute, but it looks like every other Minnie Mouse-inspired she’s made so far. I preferred Mondo’s polka-dotted, oversized silk shirt and tweed shorts, but the judges didn’t. He’s on the bottom between the two.

Austin is paired against Kara for the spring. Austin makes a truly awful floral printed top topped with a pink sweater cardigan with some sort of sprouted-flower trim. His pants are nice, but overall, the look likes it belongs on the unfortunately-fat chick in some World War II period movie. Kara makes a breezy pair of white pants, a fuchsia top and a slouchy, grey sweater on top. Mizrahi doesn’t like her color palette, but she beats Austin by a mile.

Finally, Michael is paired against Jerell for the winter. As I mentioned earlier, Michael copied Jerell’s sweater-coat concept, so they sent almost identical models down the runway in grey sweater-coats, black leggings and black shoes. Jerell’s is better, and he’s rewarded for his originality with a win.

Michael’s look is good, and Mondo is going to win the whole thing, so they are soon relieved of their bottom four statuses. The lights beat down on Austin and Rami—two great designers—until the judges decide to send Rami home. It’s a shame that he’s gone and Kara and Kenley are still there, but hey, that’s Project Runway.

Project Runway: All-Stars

Stealing the clothes right off of New Yorkers' backs.

Project Runway is still missing Tim Gunn and an interesting villain, but this week, the designers had an intriguing challenge.

New Yorkers are known for the care—and money—they put into their wardrobes, but the designers had to ask these city folk for the clothes right off of their backs. The designers are given $100, two days and sent out to the streets of New York to buy clothes from fashionable muses. They could buy fabric from Mood with the rest of their money, but the outfits they designed must be at least 50% street wear.

A number of the contestants had trouble with this challenge because they are apparently “shy.” Unbelievable, of course, but it would be intimidating for most to go up to a stranger and ask for his jean shorts. Most of the people on the street are game, though—probably because the camera is trained on them—and hand over their clothes for much less than they probably paid in stores. Ah, the lure of the camera.

At Mood, Kara runs out of money and begs $3 off of her fellow designers, and they hand over their meager leftovers willingly. Yawn. I want to see somebody call her out for cheating.

The guest judge this week is Sean Avery, a hockey player and fashionista who grunts more than actually speaks (making his Vogue internship that much more incredible), but is handsome and dresses well.

In the top are Austin (again) for a punk-inspired number with a leather skirt and a grey blazer with hard rock detailing. It’s very impressive that he can pull off such an edgy look with such class, but he doesn’t win. Also in the top is Rami, who makes shorts, a ruffle top and a menswear-inspired vest and Mondo, who pairs a short, striped skirt and a matching bikini top with a cool jean jacket. Since Mondo’s known for his street wear style, he needs to win and does.

On the bottom are Michael, Jerrell and Anthony. Michael makes a really terrible short-short shorted jumpsuit with a squishy top that is impossible to distinguish from a swimsuit. Jerrell makes a schizophrenic ensemble with a striped bikini top, an orange, African-print shrug and a tie-dyed skirt. Anthony makes a cute sleeveless jumpsuit with fuchsia pants that is really cute, but he is sent home because the judges wanted to admonish him for slacking on the 50% street wear rule. Jerrell and Michael’s looks were much worse, but living inside the lines is apparently more important to Lifetime.

We’ll miss sassy-mouthed Anthony.

Project Runway All-Stars: Episode 4

Get your inspiration from cantaloupe and cayenne chocolate.

This week on Project Runway, the challenge takes a complete-360 away from last week's Miss Piggy challenge, but still allows everyone to make pretty dresses. Boring! Make them design with fruit rinds, or trash or car parts or something--this is All-Stars! On this week’s challenge, the designers have to design outfits based on gelato flavors. The contestants can choose their own flavor, which range from Madagascar vanilla to kiwi.

The twist on this week’s challenge is that the designers will only have six hours to design their looks and ready their models for the runway. Anthony comments that the challenge is really more about being a good seamstress than being a good designer. And he seems to be right—designers are hot gluing their dresses together (a big Tim Gunn no-no from last season) and leaving their dresses’ edges unfinished.

The guest judges for this round are Diane von Furstenberg, the lady who makes wrap dresses, and Miranda, the lady who is an Australian supermodel. Miranda Kerr will wear the winner’s dress to an undisclosed “industry event,” which sounds sketch. Regardless, the designers leap around with excitement.

On top this week are Michael (again), Mondo and Mila. Based on his grapefruit gelata flavor, Michael makes a fitted, muumuu-like dress in a color that looks like raw pork. Mondo make a really cool orange and green kaftan inspired by his cantaloupe flavor. Mila makes a red, white and pink dress based on her milk-and-sour cherries flavor. Her dress looked good, but her gelato flavor sounds even better. In the end, Michael wins again—Mondo was definitely robbed of a win.

On the bottom are Kara (again), April and Anthony. Kara made a really hideous, pregnancy-inspired white, chocolate brown and red dress inspired by her chocolate and cayenne flavor. She should have been sent home, but for some reason she was spared. Anthony makes a origami-ish green dress inspired by green tea, while April make a less-hideous-than-Kara’s blueberry dress that was way too short. For this mistake, she is sent home, and we are all embarrassed for our lives because we learn she is only 22.

All and all, they need to ramp up the drama this season. Every designer is allowed to make a dress every week, and they all do. Tim Gunn’s replacement should be harsher on the contestants because viewers are never going to love her anyway because she’s not Tim Gunn. C’mon, Lifetime producers, let’s stop all this designer love--where’s our constructed villain?





Grunge Style

According to Elle, grunge is in. I live in Seattle, where the evolution of grunge began. Elle is a worldwide known fashion publication, so one could safely assume they’re on trend.

Elle suggests a silk dress by Dolce & Gabbana (to view Elle’s grunge picks, click here), but with the 1,675 dollar price tag; this isn’t exactly inspiring for your typical fashionista struck by hard times in our current downed economy. Additionally, the dress is only available at select boutiques and stores.

For some cheaper inspiration, check out this flattering ditsy florals dress: Journee’s V-Neck Floral Print Dress. This cotton and rayon dress is available at Target online and in stores. The price is a very reasonable $39.99. This dress is a gray color with a v-neck pullover style in a loose comfortable fit that hits above the knee.

For another reasonably priced grunge style dress, check out Roxy’s Hazy Surf Print Dress, available for $49.50 at lulu’s here. The dress is black featuring various colored flowers in a lovely motif. It has an unconventional criss crossing styling in the back. It features chiffon fabric in a polyester spandex blend.

Any of these dresses would pair nicely with some Dr. Martens boots. Right now, the Dr. Martens online shoe store is featuring select winter styles up to 60% off. These tall dark brown ones, part of the company’s modern classics comfort collection, fit the bill nicely. They are regularly 150 bucks, now only $75.00. They are made of a soft leather material so there is no need to break them in, they should fit comfortably right out of the box.


Project Runway All-Stars: Episode 3

Miss Piggy needs a new dress.

This week, Project Runway initiated an unusual challenge: designing a dress for an inanimate object. The object is, however, life-like, or rather, pig-like. The designers are assigned to design a dress for beloved Muppet, Miss Piggy, for her to wear to promote her movie, The Muppets.

Amazingly, none of the designers seem to find the assignment beneath them. They all love Miss Piggy, and decide that their young relatives will be so pleased that they made the fashionista porcine look good. Most of the designers seem to approach the challenge like they’re making a cocktail dress again. Kenley makes the same dress she always does, a sleeveless, fitted bodice with a short, full skirt. They fit the dresses for their models, not for a tiny Muppet, which is unfortunate because Miss Piggy’s miniature proportions would have given them a greater challenge.

At the judging, the top designers were Kenley (gag) who made a pink-and-white giraffe-print dress with a giant, tulle hat that Miss Piggy said she could use to wash her pots and pans after she’d worn it. Also on top are Rami for a frilly, polka-dotted dress that should have won because it’s perfect for the pig, and Michael for a brocade, sleeveless dress with a present bow hat and front piece that does win.

In the bottom, last week’s winner Austin Scarlett has taken a turn for the worst. His grey and fuchsia boned dress with two huge bows at the hips is called out for being too unwearable for a pig or lady with Miss Piggy’s curves. Also on the bottom are Jordana, who makes a pink chiffon nightgown with two spacey silver bands that wrap on the arms, and Mia, who makes a really cool black-and-silver striped, Mod dress that looks like Miss Piggy only could have worn it in Muppets from Space. Jordana is sent home, and she deserves it.

The problem with this season seems to be that all the contestants are too damn likeable. There’s no producer-created villain—as of yet; I have a feeling that Kara may claim the role later in the season—and this week they were sure to demonstrate how much fun the designers have hanging out with each other after the challenges are over. I felt kind of sad these past two weeks with Sweet P’s and Jordana’s departures, which is fine sometimes, but sometimes I want to see some vindication for reality TV villainy. Give it to me, Lifetime!



Hot Rod Heels

Prada's newest line of shoes takes inspiration from classic American cars


These glinting hot rods won't make you go any faster than your own two feet can carry you--in fact, in my case, they'd slow me right down and possibly trip me over--but they'll certainly give your onlookers the sensation that they've been blown past by hot chrome and a revving engine. Prada's new spring collection features a whole slew of heels all inspired by classic American cars, from the shiny details to the bold colors and decals.
I have to say, I think the little tail light-inspired tweaks are my favorite. Embedded on the backs of a number of these shoes, they almost look like little lipstick cases. I'm a little unsure on those shoes with flame detailing. Fiery graphics against a sleek back background may be a classic look for an old car, but translated to embellishments on the most elegant of shoes, the stiletto, they come off a little awkward. They almost look more like wings on the sandals of a Greek god than flames on the back of your grandfather's prized vehicle. 
Still, I appreciate the mix of gendered aesthetics that's going on here. Prada's doing some interesting work by taking the traditionally masculine imagery of the hot rod car and translating it to the traditionally feminine form of the stiletto heel. It makes the viewer question the essence of each item. Both are expensive luxury possessions meant to display wealth to same-sex competitors and opposite-sex potential mates. Both are oddly sexualized through several layers of meaning: the heel in a more obvious manner by lengthening a woman's legs and attributing a sense of delicacy to her form, the car in a more metaphorical sense by implying a man's virility and strength through sheer mechanical power. The two displays of social rhetoric orbit each other in these shoes as their aesthetic bubbles up in a striking middle ground between two historically gendered realms.
Social commentary aside, though, these heels mostly just look awesome. There's no way I would be able to walk in any of them. Not ever. Manly detailing aside, they'd still be huge spikes under my heels and that's one thing I just can't add to my proprioception under any circumstances. I can take maybe three inch heels at best. But for those who have mastered the stilt-walk (and for those who find themselves able to afford the latest Prada footwear), these guys will be out in the world fairly soon. 

Project Runway All-Stars: Episode 2

Assignment: make haute couture dresses.

Project Runway: All Stars was back for another week of missing Tim Gunn, being glad to see the exceptional designs and watching the weird, Heidi Klum-clone who hosts the whole thing. Plus, of course, seeing what outfit-reminiscent-of-boyhood Mondo Guerra would wear (this week it was shorts and knee socks. Weirdest part? He lives in Denver.).

This week, their challenge brings in Badgley and Mischka, two fancy fashion designers, to introduce the designers’ challenge: a night at the opera. They have one day and $350 to design a haute couture gown appropriate for no night of the opera I’ve ever seen. A night at the opera in the mid-1950’s perhaps, but nowadays, people mostly just wear slacks.

Regardless, the designers think little about opera, and think more about red carpet. Austin Scarlett is the master of haute couture gowns, so he feels pressure to win this one. With his painted-on eyebrows, mascara, manicured moustache and pathos, he is completely adorable. We want him to win.

At the runway show, it isn’t hard to pick out the tops and the bottoms. At the top is Scarlett, with his beautiful gold lame and black tulle gown. It has a modesty that the judges aren’t used to seeing, and they tell him so. Also in the top is Anthony, for a tired white Grecian goddess gown with a cut-to-midriff slit that would make any old society lady swoon. Michael Costello also makes it into the top with a jersey, body-skimming dress with a bejeweled-and-feather collar. It’s nice, but certainly not appropriate for the opera.

On the bottom are Sweet P, Kara and April. Sweet P makes a high-waisted babydoll dress with a vintage-flowered bottom and poorly constructed peach top. It looks inspired by a pregnant woman in summer, and even though everybody loves her, she deserves to be sent home for it. Kara picks an unfortunate, 1950’s-white-and-flower print, but the dress is too boring to discard Kara for it. April makes a dress that would have been cool in another context and if she’d had enough time—a red and hand-dyed black silk “corpse bride” gown. Kenley should have been on the bottom over April for her Pepto Bismal-pink chiffon puffy prom dress. It was an old-fashioned eye sore.

In the end, Austin preserves his haute couture legacy, and Sweet P is sent home. Have you been tuning in to Project Runway: All Stars?





Project Runway All-Stars: Episode 1

Where is Tim Gunn?!

The new season of Project Runway started on Thursday and Tim Gunn is missing. I know that’s enough to keep some of you from watching at all, but get this—Heidi Klum isn’t the host of this All-Star season, either. With no Klum or Gunn and two new judges replacing Nina Garcia and Michael Kors, will this season be a flop?

I don’t think so. The new Project Runway All-Stars season is packed with returning contestants from the first eight seasons of the show, so it seems as though having Klum, Garcia and Kors judge again with preconceived conceptions of the designers would be entirely unfair. Their replacements, designers Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman, seem well-qualified to fill their shoes. It will be refreshing to get a few new jargon-less phrases and different design perspectives after eight seasons of the same (and Nina Garcia preference for neutrals).

That’s not to say that Angela Lindvall, host and supermodel, wasn’t picked because she looks more like Heidi Klum than anyone else. Plus, she speaks almost identically to the way Klum does, sans Austrian accent, of course. Gunn’s replacement, Joanna Coles, the editor of Marie Claire, seems capable and articulate, but I have a feeling viewers will spite her because we love Tim Gunn so much.

I do applaud Project Runway for switching it up. After so many seasons of formulaic sameness, it’s nice to see something new. The prize this season is also different than it has been, and includes a boutique with the winning designer’s clothes in it, $100,000, a set of industrial sewing equipment and a yearlong stint as guest editor of Marie Claire magazine.

As the episode begins, we are re-introduced to the designers’ styles with a fashion show including pieces of their recent work. It’s all pretty and well-designed—not indicative of anything that we’ll see through the rest of speed-racer season.

Lindvall announces that their first challenge is one that designers hate: the Dollar Store challenge. The designers are given $100 and let loose in a dollar store where they’re expected to collect materials to create a look that was reminiscent of the one they showed at the first fashion show. Most of the designers go for fabric-based materials like scarves and towels—something they should know is a no-no after all of these seasons.

In the end, Rami Kashou wins the first challenge for his polished and well-made “tweed” look made from laundry bags and tinsel. Weirdo Elisa Jimenez, who seems content to be remembered for licking her garments, was sent home first for a top-and-booty-shorts look with doodled-on angel wings. Sweet P’s terrycloth dress was work, but she has more potential and is better liked, so she was given a second chance.

Levi's ID's Your Curves

Tired of hitting the mall or big box store to try on 30 pairs of jeans, only to find none of them fit properly? Some are too big in the waist, some won’t fit over your hips, some are too short and some swim around your ankles. Some even gape in the back showing off the color of undies you chose to wear today. What’s a discouraged girl to do?

Levi’s offers a solution with their new jean system: curve ID. Taking this quiz will allow their system to find a perfect fit for you based on your body type, guaranteed. There are four different fits, these are: slight, demi, bold and supreme.

The slight fit is for those who have very few curves and sport a more boyish figure. If you’re the type of woman who is constantly having to battle keeping her jeans from sliding down her butt all day (even with a belt) this fit is for you.

The demi curve is for females who have slight curves with slightly noticeable definition between the hips and the waist. Sometimes you may struggle with the waist of jeans being too tight giving you a muffin top.

Bold curve is for those of us women who have a larger butt than average. When I say average, I’m referring to the standard sizing for jeans, where it is assumed the standard butt is perfectly rounded. Therefore, it fits perfectly into your standard jeans for your average woman.

Not all women have a perfectly rounded butt, some are apple shaped and some hang down a little lower than others. These are not bad things. These are merely attributes that set you apart from the next woman. Supreme curve is for women who have very defined curves, where their waist is much smaller than their waist and hips. Embrace your body and curves!