Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Fashion icon? Moi? Well, hardly.

(Here's the last known photograph of me looking fashionable, on the way to Second Grade, 1959.)

Nor do I sew, if I can possibly avoid it. Clothes tend to languish in my mending basket through one or two presidential administrations (or until they come back in style; whichever comes first) before I can be bothered to actually mend them. The sewing machine I used all through high school committed suicide decades ago, and I was never quite motivated enough to replace it. When I started making my Weird Sisters fabric art dolls, back in the '90s, I stitched everything by hand. (You can see one over there on my Profile icon: "Infinite Jester.")

So there's no explaining my addiction to Project Runway, but I just love it. I don't care that much about the drama, the divas, the winners and losers. I just love to see how the contestants rise (or don't) to the challenge, week after week. It's not like that art reality show they tried to workshop last year, "The Next Great Artist," or whatever it was; I was hooked on that one too, but that's because I wanted to dash out and try out all those challenges myself. (A classic book cover! A biographical painting! Who could resist?) With Project Runway, I don't have any fantasies that I personally would ever be any good at it; I just want to watch them make cool clothes.

As to this season (so far) I’m pleased to see that "elderly" (57!) Bert won right out of the gate on last Thursday's premiere. Take that, kiddies! He worked for Halston and Bill Blass back in the ‘70s, and it looks like he’s still got some serious garment-construction chops. The challenge was to design some kind of outfit out of whatever the contestant was sleeping in, plus one bed sheet, when Tim Gunn woke them up at 5 am to go to the workroom. I loved how Bert made the sheet into a sophisticated little dress with smart, but not too fussy tailoring details, incorporating a section of his checked boxers into half the bodice. (The skirt could have used a tad more material, but, hey, maybe he got short-sheeted.)

I also like Anya, from Trinidad, who’s only been sewing for 4 months, but she made her silk kimono into a cool bustier over palazzo pants she made from the sheet. What I didn’t get was that kid in the plaid jacket & bow tie (it’s like the first day of kindergarten; I don’t know all their names yet), who took a striped T shirt & shorts & made them into: a striped T-shirt & shorts. Not exactly a Ta-Da moment. All he did was re-dye the yellow/grey stripes (to make them even more boring) & put some weird detailing on the shoulder & on the front of the pants, not unlike some amoebic life form slowly creeping across the model's body. I thought it was almost the ugliest thing on the runway. The judges loved it. Which explains why I will never be a guest judge on PR.

Also, what does it mean that nine out of the 16 contestants chose to dye their white bedsheets some variation of June-Gloom grey for this challenge? They might as well be broadcasting in black-and-white, sheesh!

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