Runway Jury: Tailors of Seven Cities



YOU KNOW THE fine print during the end credits of a reality show? You really should hit pause on the DVR to read it. It states that the producers have a say in who stays and who goes, in addition to a contestant’s demonstrated abilities. Whomever makes the best looks during a challenge may not necessarily be the winner; and whomever makes the worst looks may not necessarily be auf’d. So it really isn’t just about talent and who made the best and worst pieces for each challenge, but about who will make better television if they stay.

Aha! That explains Christopher Straub. Yes, yes, he’s a little prince. Seems so sensitive, so truly ruffled when the judges chastise his latest train wreck garment as it stumbles down the runway. (Admittedly, I think his costume challenge was right on target.) But even he’s confiding in us from the other side of the teavee that things have been going downhill.

The picnic table dress he made with Rodney Epperson was a disaster. Drrty shorts that made Christina Aguilera want to bundle up. And the criticisms foisted on the lad have been so pointed, so severe, we really do wonder how he’s stayed in the game this long. Is it that he’s the only contestant on the show we the viewers may find less boring, less bitchy, tolerable?

Maybe I’m being a little mean. I did love the fact that Dame Michael Kors is now at the crossover point between George Hamilton and La Toya Jackson on the complexion color wheel.

Neena was back!

So isn’t Garnier a sponsor? Then explain her tragic root growth to me.

Explain it.

The remaining seven designers are summoned to the palace of Dame Kors for a trial to please the queen.

He gives them a task: Design pieces informed by different places on the globe.

Um. What?

If I seem out of sorts, it’s because, well, I have no idea where this season is going. “It’s as though each challenge were picked out of a hat,” I typed on my computer as last night’s show began. The challenge to start us off is to make clothes based on locales where Michael Kors can get the best tan. He picks them out of … a hat. Oh, for crying out loud.

Here’s the shakedown:
» Carol Hannah — Palm Beach
» Nicolas — Greece
» Logan — Hollywood
» Althea — St. Tropez
» Irina — Aspen
» Gordana — New York
» Christopher — Santa Fe

Each of the designers says in one way or another that the competition is getting stiffer because all of the remaining contenders are so talented and that none have chinks in their armor. Tell me, quickly, scissor monkeys, what is Althea’s aesthetic? What differentiates a Nicolas design from a Gordana Huffington? This season, the kids all blend together in the sickly maw that is Lifetime’s programming. This is the network that manages to churn out the same three movies with the same six has-been actresses for what feels like infinity.

We are ten weeks in, and there is still no designer who stands out. There is no one to root for. Will someone add some spice to this tapioca, because Papa Bear TG is phoning it in with that adorable fireside smile.

Enter Milla Jovovich. Why hello, there, beautiful! She’s sassy and has a working knowledge of fashion because she was a model for a time. She’s got spunk, too, but with a teeny bit of Linda Evangelista regalness to her.

LET’S START THE SHOW
Irina’s look comes from Aspen. Not just Aspen, it would seem, but that winter in Aspen when “Working Girl” was popular. Do you remember the last time a long, faux fur vest with massive shoulders was relevant? When this look made its way down the runway, all I could hear was Carly Simon music. There’s monochromatic, and then there’s matchy-matchy. Irina’s outfit — head to toe camel and brown — was a tad too much of the latter. Thank the lord for the cutout in the back of the cowl sweater (which, because the model’s skin was tan, also blended in with the hue of the garment).

Christopher was inspired by Santa Fe. Dame Kors likes this town for inspiration why? I suppose pueblos, with their washed-out colors and odd proportions could be turned into garment silhouettes. Hmm. Chris constructs an itsy bitsy gathered mini skirt that basically forms a triangle whose hypotenuse will show off his model’s Pythagorean theorem if she sits down. The top is basically boxy tucked into a belt that the judges — Milla especially — seem to like. It reminds her of 1983. Let’s see. Nope. Not a time we want to revisit.

Althea gets Saint Tropez. Lucky bitch. Isn’t that most designers’ go-to destination to dress for? She decides to go with formal shorts. Bleh, but it makes sense. They’re metallic and short. Fine. She also gives us a white shirt and a chiffon cover-up. Somewhere in a Contempo Casual, the late night stock crew just recreated this look out of the sales rack.

Carol Hannah is more adorable than ever this episode. Her Palm Beach-inspired look is also the only other sunshiney moment on the runway. Her dress is Uli, Uli pretty. ImpeccUli proportioned, it’s got fantastic drape and movement and the print is Uli. It’s a maxi dress to the max, folks, but the detail work in the twisted straps across the back is knotty and nice. Uli! (Also, doesn’t Lauren Conrad make those?)

Dame Kors said it best when he stated that it looked like Nicolas
designed for the movie “Grease” and not the country Greece. Oh, baby this thing was fug. He made a shirt constructed out of bandages. Mummy chic? Why didn’t he just take a page out of Rami’s playbook and go Grecian with draping and silken flowiness? Hell, pout a bottle of Grecian formula on the thing, something, anything to cover up those skinny gray suiting pants with white piping. He admits that he’s never been to Greece. Nicky, dear, “Mamma Mia” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” are definitely both in your movie collection, and ya know it. Here’s a tip for you, though: Greece is warm.

I’m starting to get Gordana Huffington. She makes the same figure skating costume, but gussies it up and styles it to within an inch of its life each time out. Guess what: I dig. Am I right? She’s got something, and at very least, a seriously lucrative career with the Capades. I love the gray color of her garment. It’s a sartorial approximation of New York, and from some angles, I can see how the curved accents on the body of the dress could make it resemble the Chrysler building. She also makes a crystal necklace that is appropriately glitzy. Is it Park Avenue? Nah, but it could be parked there for a little while before anyone thought to send it back to the rink.

Hooray for Hollywood! Logan is tasked with recreating the essence of La La Land. So many possibilities. Take it to the golden age of cinema. Show us Lauren, Bacall, Garbo, Hayworth … Lohan? Oh for the love. He actually tells us that he wants to evoke LiLo and Mary Kate Olsen (MaKO?). Stoppit, Logan. Just. Stoppit. Again, this is a case of creating clothes rather than fashion: White skinny jeans, a colorful top and a black vest. The vest has some design detail or other, but it fades to black.

The judges seem less enthused this week during their sewing circle. Kors and Neena Gah-seeya rock their heads back and forth and roll their eyes, Heidi smirks a little, Milla tries to breathe life into the proceedings. They bring the kitty cats back out and elect Irina prom queen again. She bats her eyes and gives her little wave. Evs.

It comes down to Nicolas and Christopher on the firing line. Deciding whose designs are worse this episode is like differentiating a burp from a fart. They send Nicolas home. He’s a priss, but he’s not as awful a designer as Christopher, plain and simple. Heidi said the little prince’s garment was “unwearable.” So what gives? It’s that Logan is just so unlikable. Enter the producers.

Exit the viewers. Read the fine print, kids: Fix this show.

Written by Express contributor Christopher Correa
Photo courtesy Lifetime

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The Manolo · October 22, 2009