Episode 6: Snoozefest
We’re winding down now, folks. Tonight’s episode marks number six for the “Project Runway” season, and it reduces the cast to the top 10. With it looking like we’re about to lose two heads next week, get ready for things to get interesting. But wait … that’s next week. This week, the breakout star of “Project Runway” was Zoe Glassner, editor from Marie Claire, for reworking the term “snorefest” so that I imagine it has the potential to be this season’s adoptable catchphrase du jour. Remember how WAY too many of you minced around after Season 4, labeling various fashion indignities “hot tranny messes”? Well, “snoozefest” could be the new “hot tranny mess.” So, avanti!
Oh lemmings, the herd has left for the coast. But seriously, I think this episode was the equivalent of that moment in a horror film where someone starts a conversation about which color to paint the den, right before the walls are splattered with the blood of a severed jugular. But there’s no gore this week — in fact, Horror, as a movie genre, was conspicuously absent, even though the designers got face time with Collier Strong, and a trip to the outside of a soundstage. Curious.
Strangely devoid of that signature “Project Runway” twist, this was a pretty straightforward challenge: Go make a movie costume for an invented female character, from one of the movie genres that we’ve identified on these cards. In the end, the designer who creates the outfit that looks the most hastily constructed goes home.
I really wanted the other shoe to drop on this challenge. I kept waiting for Faye Dunaway to come into the workroom brandishing a wire hanger, or for Meryl Streep to stop by and school them on the origins of “Cerulean Blue.” But there was no other shoe. In fact, there were many things that just didn’t quite add up on this episode. How did Althea escape the chopping block this week? Her Film Noir sportswear ensemble with the bell sleeves had hardly any Lauren Bacall, 1946, and way too much Bebe, Fall ’97. Irina, how do you hear “Film Noir” and think “poly-organza hooded cape!”? And then there’s sweet Christopher Straub, miraculously scoring again, maintaining the longest streak of sleeveless garments in “Project Runway” history. (See designs from episode three and six for evidence.) And this for a Victorian ensemble??!!!
By the way, for the record, I’d like to go down as the first to identify this David’s Bridal “static electricity” tucking technique as fashion’s H1N1 virus for this time period. I swear, in 10 years, we will look back at those wedding pictures and think Why did we ever think that was attractive?. But I digress. If we focus on all of these red herrings, we’re bound to miss the true culprit lurking in the shadows. Wait. I know — let’s split up and look for the killer!
If I pull back and look at the bigger picture, there is a subtle pattern forming that is quite telling when it comes to this episode, and it has to do with sportswear. Yes, classic American sportswear is again the “Keyser Söze” of “Project Runway.” I’ve said it before: What makes American fashion great is our approach to sportswear. There is nothing that we can do about dress design — the French have been doing it for hundreds of years longer than we have — but Americans invented sportswear. We still have the best knack for staying comfortable but looking pulled together, and full of complex, sophisticated textures. None of that is possible in a single garment. It has to be done with layers. It is this simple truth that stands as evidence of our influence upon global fashion, and it’s also what will most likely determine the winner of “Project Runway.”
Knowing this, it all starts to come into focus, doesn’t it? Hmmm. Althea: Underwhelming costume, but she created an outfit with three layered sportswear pieces. Epperson: In the top two, and maybe “robbed,” because his layered, tough-town, homestead woman truly evoked the Western era and told a story. But look closely — it was all done with layers. Even Chris Straub, I suspect, escaped the guillotine this week because he presented a layered ensemble. All the Action-Adventure outfits? Sportswear. Most chilling this week, in terms of sportswear, are the bottom three. C’est dommage, ça, because Louise, Ra’mon and particularly Gordana presented some rather impressive dressmaking skills this week. If you look back on Ra’mon’s offerings in the competition, you’ll see that when in distress, he makes a dress. And I believe this is the real reason that he went home.
Essentially, the judges have seen what he has to say as a designer, and it’s not sportswear. As we get closer to Bryant Park, and closer to nominating a new voice in American design, don’t be surprised if it’s a sportswear designer. To experience any sort of success, the winner of “Project Runway” needs to start a line that isn’t solely aimed at the three confirmed events that American women require gowns for (Prom, Wedding and Coffin). Every successful American designer has found a way to get women to buy their clothes for something other than these three occasions.
That being said, look out, Nicolas Putvinski! It’s clear that you have been given immunity this week so that you can sit back and rattle off bitchilicious sound bites for those confessionals. Right now, sir, you’re walking down a dark hallway, and if you don’t turn around quick and make a jacket or some layered ensemble, you are going to come face to face with a guy holding a chainsaw and wearing a hockey mask. Wake up! Soylent Green is American sportswear! And, in this game, if you “snoozefest,” you lose fast.