Friday, October 16, 2009

Blogging Project Runway: Diamonds (on the Crotch) Are a Girl's Best Friend.

So here I am to dissect last night's episode of Project Runway. Said episode I think, broke new records of "fabulosity" and was exactly what little gay boys growing up in Topeka, KS (or little girls in Mexico City who think and feel like little gay boys) dream of when they fantasize about growing up and becoming designers.
My grandma was a dancer. No, not a stuck-up ballerina in tutus. She was a mambo and cha-cha and showgirl type dancer in Mexico City in the 1940's and 50's. She danced with all the stars of the golden age of Mexican movies and even on tour with Josephine Baker. I used to just LOVE to go into her stuff and try on her old costumes of sequins and leopard and stuff when I was a little girl.
When people would ask me what was it that I wanted to be when I grew up, I always used to pick the profession that would allow me to wear the largest amount of sequins possible. So my answer would be mambo dancer or mermaid.
Later on and through many years of reading fashion magazines, studying fashion and art and through life experience, my taste and design aesthetic have broadened and expanded and I have developed an appreciation for much subtler sartorial statements, but God help me if I don't still swoon at a beautiful, intricately beaded piece of stagewear with feathers, rhinestones and pulling all the stops.
My mom kind of favors both Cher and Sophia Loren. We used to watch the Sonny and Cher show in Mexico City at my Grandma Eve's house when we started getting cable TV from the US in the mid '70's.
And we positively gasped when we saw the amazing Bob Mackie costumes Cher wore.
When I saw the Bob Mackie Barbies, I almost died and went to heaven. Bob Mackie also (along with Robert Best who is a GREAT guy) is one of the best fashion illustrators in the industry. I worship his sketching skills. There was a guy in my class that could sketch almost as good as Bob Mackie. I was always green with envy.
I am going to be extremely candid here. Just like with the Drag Queen and Diane Von Furstenberg challenges in past seasons, I think ALL of the designers and ALL of the creations missed the mark and were a missed opportunity to show the world their skills, and let their creativity run wild. NONE of the looks had the element of fierceness, imagination, fantasy and excitement that I look for in an unforgettable costume.
Some were less bad than others but NONE told me a story. None made me catch my breath like Cher's Half-Breed costume or Madonna's Equestrian or Disco Inferno looks from her "Confessions Tour" did or her Jean Paul Gaultier finery from the Blonde Ambition tour. Even the costumes from Britney's "Circus" tour (done I think by the Blondes, David and Phillip, and Chris March) knocked my socks off. But last night? None of that. All I could think about was Christ, I wish Chris March would have been there for this challenge. He would have SCHOOLED these people.
And Christina Aguilera as fashion ICON???? PUHLEASE!!!!Audrey Hepburn is a fashion icon. Cher is a fashion Icon. Madonna is a fashion icon. Katherine Hepburn is a fashion icon. Christina Aguilera is singer. One that can wail but that is that. She is actually known among other things for her LACK of taste and having to resort to vulgarity, so there you have it.
Bob Mackie was a great judge. I think he was disappointed too at how mundane and unimaginative the looks were.
But let's take a look, shall we?


In my opinion this look was the best of the bunch as far as WOW factor. It still did not "say" anything and it still was NOT stagewear. This is a slightly over the top, red carpet look but as far as ideas and construction and over all presentation, this one was somewhat impressive, flattering and pleasing.

Carol Hannah:

This was the winning look. It was well-constructed, I will give her that. It would have made a fairly great red carpet look for the Oscars or something. But as far as stagewear, it said nothing at all. The detailing was lovely, but I agree with Nina ( I actually missed her, she is much better than the past guest judges) that black does not read well onstage. But I think in the case of this challenge they were going for "who sucked it up less" , not who actually did the best job, because I really do not think any of them understands what exactly it is that stagewear is.


Although he was the only one ( along with Logan) to use the right train of thought towards creating stagewear (i.e: communicating an idea, feeling or concept through the garment) the execution was pretty, like they sometimes say, student work. It looked like what strippers wear when they go solicit table dances in between sets or what a streetwalker might think of as glamorous (which in a way makes it VERY Christina Aguilera... I want to get dirrrty!). Like Bob Mackie said, he has to be able to do a better corset. Which is not easy mind me. And impossible to do in two days.


My, my... she must be thanking her stars she had immunity for this challenge. It was not that she cannot sew, or design or she slacked off. On the contrary. But sequined fabric (like cheap lame) unravels and self-destructs like a mother and is almost impossible to work with. To me the only way to do a beaded garment is the old-fashioned Broderies Lesage kind-of-way. They are the ones that do the beading for the Haute Couture houses like Chanel and Valentino. And that is applying the beads to the fabric one by one by hand. My Grandma taught me and I have done the coolest garments that way including a jacket with the cover of Sting's "Soul Cages" album in the back and a black lace bra that I beaded in black and gold sequins. But in the time frame they have for the show such a thing is impossible. It takes at least 3 months to do a hand-beaded gown.


A beaded baby-doll negligee. A well made one. Next...


At least this look conveyed a concept: "Wilma Flinstone at House of Babes Gentleman's Club after Fred gets laid off". But I think he should have re-thought his punk concept a little bit further and then known how to infuse it with enough pizazz for the stage. Think Pat Benatar in the Love is a Battlefield video:

or Patty Smyth from Scandal in the Warrior one:

Now, THOSE are stagewear punk looks. Watch and learn...He had the hair and make-up right though...


It was well-made and he did a lovely job with the feathers. But yet again what was the concept? What was the idea he was trying to convey with the dress? Which of Christina's song does this dress portray? NONE. It reads: "Oksana Baiul's costume from when she skated to Swan Lake". That's all.


Like Tim said, this looked like a student project. It was suprising because usually Shirin has distinguished herself for great construction skills and good taste and an ability to come up with good ideas under pressure. Not all designers have the ability to think conceptually or have the imagination required for costuming and stagewear. I think that is what happened to Shirin. The time constraints of the show really do not help and sadly she was eliminated.

One of the things that this episode showed me was that this batch of designers is not as creative and seasoned as some from past seasons even when faced with great challenge because Robert Best, Austin Scarlett, Kara Saun, Malan Breton, Jeffrey Sebellia, Nick Verreos, Jay McCarroll, Kayne, Christian Siriano or Chris March would have knocked this challenge out of the park.

And that quote " You just add diamonds to the crotch and you are done" is going down as one of the best in the history of the show. I have done exactly that. To go with that beaded bra I did, I added gold and black sequins and a star in diamante strass to a bikini bottom. And I took to the streets in those two pieces plus a gold sequined bolero jacket, a long pony tail hairpiece, fishnet stockings and 4 inch jeweled ankle boots one Halloween night many years ago in Dallas (Cedar Springs and Oak Lawn, of course!) dressed up as a "Justify My Love" era plus size Madonna. And my people loved me!

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