Jul 28, 2011

Runway Recap: S9, Casting Special - "Road to the Runway"

Previously on Project Runway:

Gretchen won. If you're like me, you immediately went
out afterwards for a stiff drink, said "let us never speak of this atrocity again" and blocked it from your memory. But it was real. It happened. Tim Gunn cameoed in everything, including HIMYM, SATC2 and, best of all, Gossip Girl. Which led to him publicly calling out Our Raccoon-Eyed Lady of FauxEdginess, Taylor Momsen, as being the absolute worst. Leading to the show's excellent decision to have Jenny Humphrey stay in the Hudson FOREVER. For some reason, Lifetime decided that what people like most about Heidi Klum are her mad comic skillz and gave her a show entitled "Kids Are Saying Some Funny Shit, Guys. Look, We Can't Air Mother May I Sleep With Danger on a 24/7 Loop, okay? Here's a Timeslot Filler. Watch. Or Don't. Whatever." I may have the title wrong. I chose the "don't" option. Amy Poehler displayed her mad comic skillz by doing the most uncanny impression of Christian Siriano.

Moving on, you hot tranny messes -

Now on Project Runway:
Tim welcomes us to the "glimpse of the journey" that is the casting special. A girl with hipster glasses and a fab red-beaded necklace tells us that she's (a) from Michigan and (b) was raised in a Fundamentalist Christian Cult. Like those are two different things. It's gonna be hard to top Mondo's backstory/obstacle to overcome for the 'Triumph Over My Personal Struggle Through Design' Edit, but, damn, that's a good one. A dude bemoans Idaho. Who knew this show hid such an anti-Midwest sentiment?

Mr Gunn sums up the contestants in the following categories: divas, drama queens, shrinking violets (of which he laughs that there are "some, but not many") and "people who just live on the edge all the time." Which cuts to a hot guy taking of his shirt for some reason.

They're Gunn's categories, so rather than a plot point by point recap, let's take a look at the designers, my first impressions and labels that apply. There's still the actual premiere to watch and recap as well, after all. Plus, HOLY SHIT, there are TWENTY DESIGNERS at the start of this season. Linked names go to their Official Bios on the Lifetime Site.

[Which, oh yay, the Main Designer Page spoils all the Eliminations from the Premiere. FUCK. I'll have to pretend to not have seen anything.]

Becky Ross: Aforementioned Cult Girl. From Portlandia. Hence the Hipster Glasses. Which means she's a shrinking violet/faux wallflower who loudly proclaims how edgy she is. She wants to design for "real bodies" which is code for "I'm in this for the fatties."

David Chum: The clip example for "Diva." (Him proclaiming "I hate those people.") Arlington/Boston, MA. His last name provides ample opportunity for me to make shark jokes.

Cecilia Motwani: "Drama Queen" (Clip of her announcing her intent to kill some woman. Or women. It's hard to tell with the accent.) 34, Woodside, NY. Tim later reinforces that we can count on her for "drama." Her philosophy is "the world is a war, you must do anything to survive" and malaprops that one has to "lick butts" to get ahead rather than "kiss ass." Honey, just ask Brandon Routh how he landed the Superman Returns role. (allegedly.) Zanna Roberts, the woman from Marie Claire who is not Nina Garcia, says that Cecilia's strength (read: abrasiveness) "scared me to a maybe." Cecilia hates women with high-pitched voices, so we have that in common. That, and the licking ass. But only if you buy me dinner first.

Viktor Luna: Clip for "lives on the edge all the time". Somehow this is demonstrated by wearing a blazer with THREE POLO PONIES - take that, Ralph Lauren! I'll show you who's preppy! - and lisping "I can't help it to be fiiiiieeeercesh." Geez. 30, from NYC. Mild points granted for being Viktor with a K, which was my fake rock star alias. He's a fashion photographer turned designer.

Anthony Ryan Auld: Hot shirtless dude. His label isn't one of Tim's, he's eye-candy. I don't care about his design aesthetic, I care about his abs. More please. He's 28 and from Baton Rouge. He's two types of colorblind, which should pose some interesting challenges. And a testicular cancer survivor. Show me the abs again to distract me from your one-balledness.

Julie Tierney: Zanna Roberts labels her "our resident sarcastic." Bitch, that's my job. GET OUT. 35, Grand Junction, CO. I hate her designs. Seth Aaron says it's "raw and organic" and "cool trucker hillbilly." No, it's unflattering, puffy and has lots of random Southwesterny patterns. To quote a great play, "We fucked the Indians for this?" Julie dislikes "pretty pretty princesses, which leads to our intro to....

Laura Kathleen: Initially used as for the "but not many" counterexample of a shrinking violet as she proclaims that the show has never had anyone as "glammy" as her. That's her word. "Glammy." 26, St Louis. She says "boudoir"a lot in her webpage video & talks about how she would be besties with Marilyn & loves TRHOWherever. (This show is on Lifetime now! No need to suck up to Bravo!) UGH. Look, between the Megan Fox tattoo, Lohan's photoshoot imitations and Mariah's daughter, can we stop re-appropriating Miss Monroe for our own purposes? She's not an icon to imitate. She was a sad, damaged woman who had lots of problems. Also, Laura Kathleen is one of those "first name as surname" people, which I dislike. Laura shows up wearing a gold-sequined dress and carries a tiny dog. Yeah. She claims to be seeing a therapist for being "too competitive" and breaks out the "I'm real" cliche. More ugh. Alas, "annoying sorority sister" is not one of Tim's labels.

Anya Ayong-Chee: 29, from Trinidad. Winner of Miss Trinidad & Trabago. And learned competition from Miss Universe. I can't focus on her because the shots of Trinidad look so freaking gorgeous and travel-brochure-y. She "designs for the Caribbean woman" and a laidback lifestyle. Her tragic backstory is her brother dying in a car wreck when she was 9. My best label guess is either diva or drama queen. Come on, once a pageant girl...

Bryce Black: Tim's intro is all about how they have contestants who have overcome extraordinary obstacles and how that gives them the strength to compete on the show. On the heels of Mondo's secret HIV, fatal car crashes and cults, I'm expecting major tragique circumstances. The reveal? Bryce is a GAY MORMON. Yeah, that's not a tragic backstory, that's the plot of half of the movies on LOGO. He's from Portlandia and has hipster glasses as well and seems nice enough. Seth Aaron gives him props for his tailoring and finishing skills.

Rafael Cox: From Hotlanta. He has Bieber hair, a pornstache and a weird pubey chin-beard. And is wearing a full tux. And a wool cap. In HOTLANTA. In what appears to be Summer. That's nuts. I can't take you seriously as a designer if you can't manage your own hair, much less if you want to wrap yourself in nonbreathable wool from head to toe in the middle of Humidity Central, USA. Does a lot of hip-hop/R&B stuff, very structured designs. I dig his looks, but hate his hair. In case you were wondering what his experience of being Gay and Southern was like - SPOILER ALERT - it sucks and he was ostracized. I know, I'm as surprised as you are.

Bert Keeler: 57, Los Angeles. Used to be in fashion - Parsons '77 alum, worked for Halston and Bill Blass - then everyone around him started dying of AIDS (including his partner, looking gorgeous in old pictures) and Bert became an alcoholic to cope. Sober now for three years and looking to unretire from the fashion game. See, Bryce, *that's* how you do a tragic gay backstory. Zanna is all "oh noes, 70s!" but then says he is "on-trend" enough to play with the younger designers of the now.

(Interestingly enough, all the gay designers were grouped after the "extraordinary struggle" bit by Tim. "It Gets Better," Project Runway! Well, I'm assuming Anthony Ryan Auld is gay. Though a Southern Accent and a Gay One are sometimes confusingly similar. Not that being gay in a not-gay friendly isn't hard, it's just other stuff is too.)

Okay, "self-taught designers." Babble by Tim about being open to criticism. Which means I should be extra-bitchy on these designers, because they have to learn to take the heat.

Kimberly Goldson: 35, White Plains, MD on the chryon, Washington, DC according to her. I love how people always upgrade their cities. Originally from Brooklyn. Her voice annoys me at first and she sometimes looks like a dead-ringer for newly-skinny Jennifer Hudson. Her designs are simple glitz, but with bold colors and well-crafted - or, in Seth Aaron's assessment, "finished" and "polished," especially for a self-taught designer. Kimberly has designs for Heidi to show off her gams. Smart move. Then Kimberly starts talking about how her mom died (breast cancer when Kim was 17) and how she's her design inspiration because mom was always sewing and...yeah, I'm gonna cry. (In case you didn't know, my mom passed in December. Not from a breast cancer relapse, something else. Moving on...)

Gunnar Deatherage: 21, Louisville, KY. I hope he gets eliminated in the first episode, because I'm going to lose it if I have to keep typing "Gunnar Deatherage." It doesn't even look like a real name. It looks like a Norwegian Death Metal Band. Gram taught him to sew. Another weird Bieber hair. His brown evening gown was "the must-have dress of Derby." Please, everyone knows the Derby is all about the hats. Another "I'm gay and Southern and that was hard." Geez, where's MY reality show? FWIW, I sense diva and a drama queen.

Danielle Everene: Minneapolis, home of Prince. And Danielle's dog, Francis. Also taught by Grandma to sew. Really into suits lately and her last collection was menswear for women and the sketches look amazing. Could be very Dietrich-y, which is always a good thing. Big into sheers lately as well. She's about "empowerment through, often times, androgyny." Reminds Seth Aaron of Amelia Earhart. If Heidi aufs her by having her plane crash land in the Bermuda Triangle, that'd be an interesting elimination.

[Shark-bait David from above is another one of the self-taught designers. And a fulltime waiter. In sum: Diva, waiter, delicious to sharks. Zanna calls him "eloquent about fashion."]

Next, according to Tim - Designers who "took a chance in their audition and the judges who loved them." Seth Aaron and Zanna Roberts are all "why on earth would people audition with menswear - there's only been one menswear challenge!" but Zanna says the exquisite tailoring that menswear requires is an asset.

Joshua McKinley: 25, from NYC. He designs for women by day, but men at night! Eh. That's not nearly contrasty enough to be interesting - now, long-haul truck driver by day, womenswear designer by night, that's a story. The panel immediately dismisses his clothes on the rack in favor of looking at the womenswear sketches in his portfolio. This show is sexist. Josh says that "if you ask most of my friends, they'd say my mouth is the thing that gets me in trouble." Sounds like Josh picked up something at the wrong glory holes on his trucking route. Another dead mom. He takes off his shirt and I realize that he, not Mr Auld, was the cute dude from earlier. Eh, I stand by Mister Auld's cuteness. Josh describes a garment as "business in the front, party in the back." There's another joke to be made about rest stop/gas station bathroom sex.

Joshua Christensen: 29, from LA. Menswear with an interest in womenswear. Earns points by bringing in a cute male model. Another Mormon. Seth Aaron says he's "likable" and his clothes are "crisp." Joshua's faith drives him to be a better person and he hopes to find the right girl one day. Yeah, um, my 'dar says Bryce ain't the only gay Mormon on the show.

Olivier Green: 22, NYC. Has weird-colored hair but an amazing British (?) accent. Zanna was won over by the androgyny of his suits and is also confused as to the origins of his accent.

Now - "at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Apparently, Seth Aaron auditioned four times before getting on. He looks INSANELY WEIRD as a blonde in the early videos.

Fallene Wells: 29, Denver. Fallene? That's a real name now? Auditioned last year. Designed a dress for the Grammys. She doesn't say which one, which leads me to suspect it got Fashion Policed. Was told that she was "lacking sophistication" - and now her stuff is totally more mature! Fallene says an outfit was inspired by The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - thus confirming that there was at least one person in America who actually saw that movie.

Serena da Conceicao: From New York. Just like Miss Van Der Woodsen! Auditioned ten years ago, which, holy shit, this show has been on that long? I'm old! S claims that she's "not afraid of failure, I'm afraid of success." Her clothes incorporate a lingerie aesthetic - just like Miss VDW always showing off her Breast Assets! And then Serena reveals that she works for the House of Dereon, specifically the Miss Tina line, and I flashback to all of the horrendous outfits Mrs Knowles has inflicted upon us and I know Serena sucks donkey balls as a designer.

Amanda Perna: Cecilia's high-voiced nemesis. 26, in NYC. From Florida. Auditioned twice. Again, was too "immature." Zanna and Seth Aaron really like the dress she's wearing and I see an abomination. It's two different dresses - boring gray and electric lime - sewn into one down the middle. Zanna says neon is "relevant." Sometimes I think I'm not high enough to get high fashion.

Then, before the final commercial break, Tim says "twenty designers in less than five minutes" and says they're doing a recap of the Road to the Runway Show. FUCK YOU, TIM GUNN, I typed this for nothing?