Saturday, July 28, 2012

Project Runway, Season 10 E2: Pour Some Sugar on Me

In case you didn't realize, Project Runway is currently celebrating its tenth season. They haven't really been mentioning it, so I can understand why that fact may have alluded you.

Oh, who are we kidding? They are doing everything short of flash a big neon sign in the corner of the screen for an hour and a half to remind us that THIS IS THE TENTH SEASON OF THIS SHOW! And, to be honest, I think the fact that the show has made it this long is wonderful. Despite all the shortcomings, Project Runway is a fun, creative show that is leagues ahead of most in the reality category.

That being said, if they are going to tout the 10th season as huge accomplishment every episode, wouldn't it be cool if they did more than hang photos of past winners in the workroom at Parsons? Perhaps every week could been a retooling or a twist on one of the classic challenges from the show's history? Bring back the winner of that challenge, really play up the nostalgia of the occasion?

Of course, this week's challenge essentially did that without once acknowledging it, and that, my friends, led to some serious issues. So before someone burns themselves with glue again, let's break "Candy Couture" down...

Hot on the heels of their Times Square challenge, Tim and the designers skipped down Third Avenue to Dylan's Candy Bar and met Dylan Lauren herself. With a budget of $250—but a 50% discount at the store, so really $500—and one day in the workroom, the designers had to create a look using the candy from the store. Now, lest you think that $500 worth of candy could feed a small country, just remember that this is New York City we're talking about, so a single jelly bean probably costs around $17.95. The actually parameters of the challenge were never really made clear. Were the judges looking for something wearable? Avant garde? Glamorous? No one really knew, but seeing as this was the unconventional materials challenge, it's a pretty safe bet to avoid actual fabric at all costs. That's a given.

Now, all you old school Project Runway fans may remember a similar challenge back in the Bravo days of Season 4 when the designers raided the Hershey's store in Times Square. Remember that fabulous Twizzler dress Jillian made (and didn't win with)?! Well, if you weren't around back in those days, or your memory isn't what it used to be, it's really a shame that the show made no mention of that. Dylan's Candy Bar even had the Season 4 dresses on display in their windows a few years ago! Like I said before, the show should be using this season to celebrate its history, not pretend like it didn't happen. Project Runway History:
Of course, you know by now that they made no reference to Project Runway history, superlative or otherwise, though it is worth mentioning that Heidi and Tim mentioned at least 30 times that the unconventional materials challenge is one of their FAVORITE challenges. My guess is because it produces the most train wrecks, but that could just be me.

In the Workroom:
  • Gunnar continues to be a banshee creature, and Christopher refers to him as his "evil twin." We all see where this is going right? The challenge in four weeks is going to be designing the dresses for their wedding.
  • Buffi the Candy Slayer smashes things and sings in Dylan's and continues to annoy everyone but me because I adore her.
  • Tim gives Andrea and her wretched candy dot apron some much needed tough love and she wisely course corrects, though not entirely successfully.
  • Lantie starts over, whines about the challenge and I continue to wonder what she is doing on the show.
  • Elena burns herself with a hot glue gun and screams and cries about it, even though pretty much everyone on the planet has done that at one point or another. "Why are you wearing hootchie shorts to work?!" inquires Christopher.
  • Kooan, struggling mightily, returns to Parsons in the morning to find his cotton candy shriveled and sad. Could this turn into a serendipitous moment of creative brilliance, a la Austin Scarlett and the Case of the Shriveled Corn Husks in Season 1? Well... not quite.

The Judges:
Dylan Lauren joined the panel this week, and her only basis of critique was "how many different types of candy did you use?" Girlfriend was out to peddle her wares! Don't you think this would've been a perfect opportunity to have Heidi's adorable children on the show as special guest judges?! "Designers, my kinder think your candy looks gross and tastes bad because you used too much glue. I'm sorry, you're all out. Leave the leftover candy."

The best part of the judging this week was Nina... mama was on fire! When it came to critiquing the Bottom Three, it looked like she was doing everything in her power to not leap on the runway and just bitch slap them. Either that or she was concentrating so hard in an attempt to crush their souls with her mind. I wouldn't put it past her.

Top Three:
  • Gunnar - I understand what the judges said about him using the licorice in a clever way and creating his own print; I'll admit that the checkboard pattern was very cool and an interesting way to add interest without adding a ton of different colors. The stiff peplum and the muslin showing underneath it, however, were enough for me to count it out of the running for Top Three.
  • Sonjia - Now this is what a candy challenge is all about! She took a wide assortment of candies to create unique textures and shapes while still creating a gorgeous, colorful garment. The gummy sharks were an inspired choice, and I love that she arranged them to look like they were swimming around the top of the bodice instead of just lining them up perfectly. The hat was perhaps a step too far, but this was my choice for the win for sure.
  • Ven - Not far behind Sonjia's look was this stunning dress from Ven. I loved the stained glass-inspired graphic qualities of the dress, and the soft pastel colors were an inspired choice to bring a sense of sophistication to a garment covered in rock candy.

Bottom Three:
  • Buffi - I still love her, but this was a mess. The idea behind the woven top was cool, but it was way too long and the whole thing started collapsing under its own weight. And don't even get me started on that craft project skirt. I'll just let Nina wrap things up: " a pink explosion of messiness!"
  • Elena - Okay. Take a look at Jillian's Twizzler dress from Season 4, then look again at Elena's lesser version. The dress was bulky, unflattering and way too monochromatic for a challenge about candy! She used the same silhouette as last week, but rendered it to look like bad pre-school noodle art. Nina, take it away: "It's a candy challenge, for God's sake!"
  • Lantie - Oh My Lantie. Let's play two negatives and a positive, okay? She used fabric in an unconventional materials challenge without even attempting to manipulate it, and on top of that it didn't even look properly made! But the booties were cool. Nina, have anything to add? "At least it's not atrocious." Ouch.

Honorable Mention:
I adored Dmitry's fun cocktail dress! His idea to add movement with the gum ball beads was absolutely brilliant; his garment looked like it was made from actual beads instead of candy. I would've had him in the Top Three instead of Gunnar by far.

Dishonorable Mention:
I give her credit for attempting to course correct after her scathing critique from Tim, but Andrea's candy-dot apron was still a mess on the runway. It looked like a rainy day craft project, and the bustle just looked like four yards of fabric bunched up and tacked on to the model's butt. Yikes.

And the winner is:
Ven, who certainly deserved it, but not as much as Sonjia who truly embraced the joy and creativity of the challenge. Still, Ven probably deserved that win last week, so I guess what goes around comes around eventually.

Auf Wiedersehen to:
Lantie, who didn't stand a chance. You never defend an ugly garment by complaining about time constraints on the runway. Ever.

So a second episode with a lot of ups and downs, but I am keeping my timid optimism about this season. If designers like Ven, Sonjia, Christopher, Dmitry and, yes, even crazy cartoon Kooan continue on, we should be in for some great runway shows.

What did you think of this week's episode? Who had your favorite look and who do you think should've been sent packing? Sound off in the comments!

[Image Source: Lifetime]
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