Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Project Runway: At the Office

Welcome back design fans! I'm so excited to premiere PR 5.5, better known as Project Puget Sound.

Sure, there's no Heidi, no Kors and Tim Gunn is a talking bobblehead. ("Fab. U. Lous!") but ding dong, have we got fun.

Since this not your usual Project Runway, the twists begin immediately upon meeting our designers. By day they are federal employees with serious federal employee jobs. But they have dreams, big dreams, dreams of unleashing their inner designer and some day showing at Bryant Park. Because this is season 5.5, there are only 3 designers so I already know them all by name: they are MAB, a sassy diva from Michigan; The Neighbor, a classy dame with the heart of a hippie chick and Lorraine, a blogger turned fed with more imagination than talent.

The designers choose their models and are given their first challenge: create a look that expresses their POV. A Bluefly accessory wall is made available and no one is allowed to spend more than $20 at whatever equivalent of Mood she might find.

Lorraine begins working on her ensemble the first night after collecting random bits from the house storeroom. The Neighbor "is thinking" about what she wants to do. That's the line MAB uses as well, as her model languishes on MAB's desktop for a whole frakking week. Who are these people? Have they no drive? No passion? Lorraine begins to feel smug about her chances but when The Spouse does his own little Walk Around on Day 3 he cautions her "not to do too much...less is more". (Lorraine does have a tendency to embellish).

The day of the runway finally arrives and our designers arrive at work with the models hidden in paper bags. Forget that whole "the real designers share a workroom and see each other's designs" thing...these women are tough. Tough, and without an ounce of trust for the others.

Judges are chosen. Except the when the time comes, the only one who's around is The Top Dog's Secretary. So some other judges are chosen right there in the hall. Press Guru has never watched Project Runway a day in her life but she's intrigued by the models, who are now out of their bags, and agrees to join the panel. Ken walks out of his office and the designers say, "Hey, Ken. Do you want to..." to which he replies "NO!" and keeps walking. Shane doesn't get off so easy. Cute Admin, who has watched PR, is roped in and the panel is rounded off by Jan, or as she will henceforth be known, Faux Nina. Faux Nina is quite familiar with the show and possesses an uncanny ability to channel the spirit of Nina Garcia.

First to walk is Kaitlin, Lorraine's model. The dress is flirty and feminine, with a nod in the direction of another (undefined) era. Her use of corrugated cardboard for the bodice was, I thought, a stroke of genius.

Jessica, MAB's model, then sashayed down the catwalk, doffing her beribboned hat to all things Halloween. "She's a diva witch," declared MAB. (She also sported some very kicky suede boots).

Finally, The Neighbor's model, Ashley, took her turn in what The Neighbor declared to be classic elegance but read to me as "Crap, it's Sunday night and I haven't done anything to my frakking doll yet".

Each designer is asked to talk about her design. Lorraine says that her look represents her POV, which is feminine, a little retro and employs found objects and sustainable fabrics. MAB describes her look as sassy, sexy and a little diva, adding that she loves Halloween so wanted to represent that as well. The Neighbor notes that her model is wearing the same scarf that she wears on her ID badge and that her design represents classic elegance. She has accessorized by skewing her model with sewing pins creating some ethnic looking earrings and sandals. There is also a nod toward Rome in the St. Francis medal employed as a bracelet.

Then Faux Nina starts in. "MAB, is your point of view that all women are witches and should dress like sluts?" (Ouch!) Taken aback, MAB defends her look, saying that it is fun day-to-evening look that demonstrates her love of Halloween. "Can we see it without the hat and broom?" asks Press Guru. MAB removes the accessories and PG says, "That's cute. I could see that for an evening out".

There's a lot of subtle oohing and aahing over Lorraine's design so MAB and The Neighbor, clearly fearing a landslide, suggest that Faux Nina should weigh in. "Well," she says (in that imperious way Nina has perfected), "It looks very unfinished to me. What is going on with the hem?" Lorraine explains that there is a tulle underskirt peeking out. PG, however, exclaims that she loves the look, loves the tulle and adores the bodice.

Looking at The Neighbor's outfit Faux Nina says, "I'm troubled by the length. It should have been either longer or shorter but that length is just disturbing".

The judges ask the designers to leave the runway. Which they do, proceeding to laugh their butts off at how perfect Faux Jan is for the task. Then Shane calls them back. The designers hold hands as they approach the runway, but MAB tosses both The Neighbor and Lorraine aside as soon as they reach the runway. (Cold).

Cute Admin asks each designer in turn why they deserve to be in the competition. The Neighbor says something about being elegant and visionary and I don't know what all because, frankly, who's going to take seriously a woman who sticks pins in a model and calls it accessorizing? MAB begins her defense by reminding the judges that she has 30 years of experience and should be taken more seriously than those (with a withering look at Lorraine) who are new to the force. Lorraine, who is obviously way more emotional than the other designers, begins to cry, saying that "I've wanted this all my life" and "if I have no future at the VA then my only other career path is designing for cardboard dolls".

In a dramatic move, the judges ask for more time to deliberate. And then comes a surprise decision: Top Dog's Secretary announces that they are all winners and so there will be another challenge. Because we work for the VA and Veterans Day is coming up, the designers must create a look that represents our mission and the honor we have for vets. They'll see us on the runway in a week.

As the designers and models leave Lorraine pushes Tim Gunn's button one more time. "Make it work", he appropriately declares.

Group photo courtesy of Shane. Model portraits by MAB.



Anonymous Anonymous opined...

I'm looking forward to next week's competition and seeing what our talented group of designers can come up with. I'm looking for less "drama and tears" and a little more maturity that is focused on the job at hand - creating a truly unique ensemble that will honor and recognize our nation's veterans. In the end, the tears and trembling lips can only get you so far - it's your talent and creativity that will make you the winner!!! Good luck!!

Top Dog's Secretary (TDS)

October 29, 2008 9:26 AM  
Blogger sageweb opined...

Well the designers are already way better than last season, so we are off to a great start. I love that Lorraine started to cry...such drama!

October 29, 2008 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

You've got to be shitting me.

October 29, 2008 2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

Ba Ha Ha Ha (Note no w)

Yay. A good laugh. Thank you humbly. Anything to get through the next week.



October 29, 2008 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Syd opined...

I've never watched Project Runway, but I always enjoy your recaps. Go figure. I do, however, love the idea of Project Puget Sound, and I wish all the designers the best of luck with the next challenge!

October 29, 2008 2:47 PM  
Blogger Sling opined...

I just don't know who to root for yet.
All the designs seem fresh,and inspired,and the 'meeeoowwww' factor between the contestants is totally delicious!
..Guido is available as an alternate judge btw..

October 29, 2008 2:49 PM  
Anonymous Tim Gunn opined...

This worries me.

October 29, 2008 3:03 PM  
Blogger TWISI opined...

who said there is Government Waste? I think that is a fine use of tax dollars, after all each office needs a good fashion show from time to time!

CUTE IDEA! I may have to "borrow" it.

October 29, 2008 3:26 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

TDS, less drama? With this group?

Sage, word up. Also, none of the designers refer to themselves in the 3rd person. (Except, of course, when writing the recap).

JP, nope.

You're so welcome, Anonyba.

And all the designers thank you, Syd.

"the meeeoooow factor is delicious"...hello, Sling? I think you have been holding out on us. Closet Project Runway watcher.

October 29, 2008 7:17 PM  
Blogger Sling opined...

Long time reader..First time Project Puget Sound stalker..

October 29, 2008 7:30 PM  
Blogger Citymouse opined...

Lorraine--- it is time for a vacation!

October 29, 2008 8:45 PM  
Anonymous TDS opined...

Have a good day.

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