Saturday, April 2, 2016


Dom's look: Don't call her 'Tink.'
Once again, it was all about fairy tales Thursday night on Project Runway All Stars.

It was only last September when the regular Project Runway (as opposed to the various Lite and Unleaded versions they now show pretty continuously between seasons) featured a challenge inspired by the hit musical Finding Neverland—a challenge won by a designer riffing on CaptainHook!

So, Thursday night, the challenge for each designer was to take a "literary heroine" and design something modern and fashionable inspired by that character's persona and backstory. 

Character names were drawn out of a bag, with one given to each designer. And it quickly became apparent that all these literary characters were all fairy-tale protagonists.

Which is fine with me; I've been adulterating fairy tales for years! And I applaud any pop culture institution that keeps these eternal tales in the limelight.

Kini's Alice: party in the back.
But it was also just as apparent that all these characters were specifically the Disney version of fairy-tale heroines. How do I know? One of them was "Belle," which was never used as a proper name for the heroine in Beauty and the Beast until the Disney version.

(French versions called La Belle et la Bete, like the Jean Cocteau movie, don't count, since "belle" simply means "beauty" in French.)

As usual, designers responded to the challenge with varying degrees of success. My favorite was Dom Streater, who was given Tinker Bell, described as a punky, impish girl hanging out with a bunch of London street boys. Dom nailed it with patterns and attitude (above). 

I wouldn't wear it, but she totally got the challenge.

I also liked Kini Zamora's riff on Alice in Wonderland—decorous in front, with that demure white collar (wait, isn't that what's usually called a "Peter Pan collar?"), but a crazy touch of Wonderland absurdity in the back with that outrageous, pink-lined ruffle. (One judge called it a "dress mullet.") 

What I really love about it is the white ankle socks in black heels—so perfect for Alice! (A too literal rendition of the classic Tenniel illustrations with white stockings and black flats just wouldn't have had the same panache.)

Neither of these won, of course; I remain undefeated in my inability to think like a PR judge. The winner was Asha Daniel's take on Rapunzel. Not a bad design of itself, but she didn't glom onto the potential of the challenge with the same verve as the other two. 

Asha's look: Towering.
(Although her outfit's columnar shape does sort of look like the tower itself, especially from the back, with Rapunzels long blonde braid hanging down.)

Btw, the dress for Belle didn't really work; nor did designer Layana Aguilar's explanation that she designed it so Belle could wear it when she was whisked off to Argentina to watch a polo match. 

In embroidering this scenario, Layana once referred to Belle's "husband" taking her off on this jaunt. But I think (and I'd have to watch the replay to be sure) that the second time, Layana called him "Beast."

And if "Belle" and Beast (not the Prince he turns into, but Beast himself) jet-setting off to Argentina together as a couple is an acceptable concept, I may be onto something in my own upcoming novel—where Beast gets to be the hero in his own tale!

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