Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Project Runway All Stars: Designing for the Duchess (Episode 4.5)

'Allo Designers!

This week's installment takes us across the pond...but let's not get ahead of ourselves. We open with Alyssa introducing the Promotional Challenge of the Week, inspired by Paddington Bear.

I kinda loved how Michelle called out "Paddington Bear!" She's a clever one at getting camera time.

It's possible Paddington won't be terrible - it's got a cast full of Currently Popular British/Australian Talent. But the actual movie is neither here nor there for the purposes of today's work.

Allison here - I was kind of hoping there’d be a twist, like a hat to inspire the coat.

That would have been clever! 
Helen - she of the scissor tattoo - squeals at the sight of Paddington, confessing that she has a collection of Paddington back home. Books? Bears? Either way, it's charming and hilarious at the same time.

Another look at Alyssa's dress. If you stare long enough, you can see a 3D monkey.

Eeeek! You totally can! Now it can never be unseen. Honestly, though, I wish I could go back in time, find Alyssa and just tell her to sit down and put her feet up. She always sounds so breathless!

Anyway, Paddington Challenge = London! The designers are over the moon.

And over the ocean with rolling suitcases, ultimately arriving at Paddington Station.

Zanna meets them there to explain the challenge. I'm becoming increasingly irritated with her and her useless critiques.

Zanna introduces Sarah Ferguson, who explains that Paddington = coat, so this is an outerwear challenge. This is received with enthusiasm and excellent facial expressions.

I love this so much.

I love the graciousness they all had for Sarah Ferguson. Because I was sort of thinking she might have made this up to get a free coat.

Poor Sarah, she's had a rough few years. I'm pretty sure she was paid for the appearance. I really think the studio's marketing team came footed the bill for quite a lot of this.

The designers are given cameras and sketchbooks to use on a double-decker tourist bus. Did Paddington's Studio shell out for all of this? Because the whole production seemed better-padded than usual. Anywho, the selfies commenced with enthusiasm.

Gunnar was particularly adorable in his sight-seeing. He mentions how he's never been outside of the country, and how all of this is pretty awesome for a first time out. He's not wrong.

Benjamin spends a lot of time crowing about how he lived in London for ten years, how he's returned to the city to win, how it's all Meant to Be.

Also known as the prediction of doom. Nothing’s more dangerous than confidence on PR.

That is so true. The bus drives past where he used to work - and it's now a demolished hole in the ground. Hint: this is a foreshadowing of Things to Come.

Really, from the demo'd building it just gets worse for Benjamin, who prances around with a deep sense of entitlement.

Sonjia spied a bolt of grey wool from the window and immediately snagged it. But Benjamin decides that that wool is the only thing he could possibly use for his design, so he hounds her not-so-subtly and more than a little passive-aggressively. When she buys the wool and he has to use a plaid, he is displeased.

I tried three times to get you a clear shot of This Face. It was not to be.

But he tries to rally. This shot on the sofa reminded me of this scene from Pride & Prejudice. The designers take tea with the Duchess of York, and it's all very adorable and English. Sarah shares that her mother said "Everything is better with a cup of tea and a biscuit," and she's not wrong.

The designers return to the workroom, where Dmitry works feverishly, complaining bitterly about his crinkled neoprene and fretting over the sewing machine.

Zanna comes in and is mostly useless, per usual. How she tells everyone, with a straight face, that their garments much be finished to perfection - it's beyond me.

"It has to be impeccable," Zanna tells Michelle unconstructively.
"Yes, yes," Michelle answers.
"You know that," Zanna says in a severe lowered voice.
"I do," Michelle replies, her words full of subtext. No really, I do know how to finish a garment and you're annoying me and trying to intimidate me and it won't work.

When Danny saw this ensemble, he was horrified. I feel a certain pride that when he watches, he knows to anticipate something eccentric and unflattering on Alyssa. (I can, on occasion, converse intelligently about crane picks and other heavy transport topics, so it's a fair trade)

The judges: Isaac Mizrahi, greeting the designers with a cheerio.

Noted PR fan Debra Messing, former scarf victim, upcoming The Mysteries of Laura star.

I love Debra Messing so much! The Starter Wife was such a great show. Laura? Not so much.

And lauded British model Karen Elson. Alyssa gives no explanation for the whereabouts of Georgina Chapman. Has she left us forever? If so, it's STUPID for her last appearance to have been shared with Jersey Show cast members. I mean, I can understand the trauma, but is that the note you want to go out on? Do you want to give them that satisfaction?

But, really, would you go back after sharing a screen with Jersey Shore kids? I thought it was sad that Sarah Ferguson didn’t get to come judge, since she’s the one who will be wearing the coat. Shouldn’t she get a say? Or is it all, Just take what we give you, Fergie. You don’t like it? Have a biscuit.

Anyway: The runway:

(disclaimer: I don’t even own a coat, so my input will be silly and minimal. Siminal.)

Dmitry's coat, with its net overlay. It's an interesting effect, though it doesn't evoke buildings for me as much as craggy mountains.

It did not look comfortable to me...at all.
And, did they have to create what the models wore under the coat? Or did they just tell them to wear black...

I think they just told the models to wear black. I would have enjoyed being party to that conversation, though. 

Here's Benjamin. It was fine.

I wasn't a fan of the vinyl pockets, especially because I don't think my phone would fit into them securely, much less my phone and my car keys.

Yeah, those don’t look functional at all. Plus, there’d be no element of surprise when you take it out for the first time in, like, October, and find a forgotten $5.

Forgotten outwear money = best.

Sonjia's cocoon coat wasn't for me, but the wool really was lovely, and it looked especially cozy from the back.

Loved that one! That, I would buy and maybe even wear on the one cold day we have here.
Sometimes I'm astounded how much design goes into Jay's work and how little of an impact it makes. He's not learned to edit, as yet. I believe Helen when she says his pieces are well constructed, but they're often so cluttered that it becomes the sartorial version of white noise.

This had a bit of an 80’s vibe for me. Like Lisa Bonet would wear it on A Different World.

Gunnar's coat looked a.) like Chanel, and b.) as though it might fall apart. And no, I don't think the two are mutually exclusive.

Yep. Odd.

Samantha's design didn't translate well off the page, but did look cozy.

This is where I don’t know coats. Is this long enough to be a coat? Because it seemed more jacket-like to me.

Eh, cropped peacoats were a thing, but I really do like the length, myself.

I rather liked the color-blocking on Helen's coat.

I liked that it had color, period. That was fun!

Fabio's coat didn't photograph well at all. There was a lot going on, but my phone couldn't capture it.

Here's one shot of the plaid that turned out lighter -

Michelle's didn't photograph well either, but it was cool fabric. The styling...wasn't my thing. But the violently pink eye shadow did help the coat read young and not matronly.

I wasn't a fan of Justin's coat at all. It looked unfinished and unflattering...

And also cold.

Dispite my dislike of it, Justin manage to snag a spot in the top three, along with Fabio and Dmitry.

He was on a booty-roll...
Once the scarf bit came off, we saw the neck and I hate it even more. It just looks sloppy and haphazard, despite the attempt at tailoring. The judges called it flattering - I cackled when Debra said she liked the scarf. The shoulder alone looks terrible.

I mean, no. If it had a lapel of any kind, and didn't leave her hiney open to the elements, I might feel differently. Or not. I don't like the plaid. I think it looks bad over her torso.

Jay landed in the bottom with coat. Where Justin had no lapels, Jay had all of the lapels.

The judges gushed over Dmitry's coat. Isaac was mesmerized by the netting over neoprene. Alyssa nearly wept as she told him that she needed new words in order to communicate just how much she appreciated him and his designs.

He wasn't the least bit smug about it.  

He probably spent the rest of the evening designing new words.

Sam landed in the bathrobe with her oversided moto-jacket. And while I love a good moto-jacket and I love a cozy collar, I had to agree that the fabric wasn't working for her. It read bathrobe. I mean, it was cool fabric, but maybe better suited to a pencil skirt.

The judges also gushed over Fabio's coat, calling it new and original because apparently they've never seen a coat dress before. The pleats were lovely, but it wasn't a wow. Maybe the color worked against him, at least for TV viewers? Wool does absorb the light quite a lot.

The judges find Benjamin's coat too junior, and they don't love the pockets. I appreciate the idea with the vinyl - maybe if he'd placed it over the pockets, collar, and cuffs?

The pockets. They stare.

The results:

Fabio wins, and his coat will be worn by Sarah Ferguson. He's over the moon, and it really is a lovely coat - the pleats were very nice.

And Benjamin, is sent home in a sad twist of irony. Honestly, I would have sent Gunnar's coat home first, but I'm really not entirely sure what the judges are looking for exactly.

I was very surprised that Benjamin went home. Of the bottoms, I would have sent Samantha home.

Out of all of them, I would have sent Gunnar home.  But - nothing kills a PR career like confidence, so there you go.

What did you think of the episode? Who would you have sent home? And do you think we'll ever see hide, hair, or fringe of Georgina ever again?

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