Friday, November 13, 2009

Make. It. Work.

We begin this recap with a shout out to the delightful Ms. Amy Poehler for her charmingly bad impersonation of Tim Gunn on "Parks and Recreation" last night. It was a pleasant little amuse bouche before the big show.

Heidi greets our designers and the blondes are very giggly and Irina just smiles her secret smile. They have a few months now to work on their collection of 12 looks with a budget of $9,000. Tim comes out to tell them that words can not adequately express his pride in them and then he and Heidi march off to do a little silhouette dance.

As the designers are packing up there is still a fair amount of tension between Althea and Irina. Althea will "forgive but not forget" Irina's accusations of inspiration stealing. For her part, Irina is convinced that Althea and Carol Hannah are completely "intimidated" by her greatness. Irina tells us that she knows they are worried that she's going to bring her "big guns" to Bryant Park but what they don't know is that she's "bringing a tank". Someone call Hillary Clinton.

Tim's first home visit is to Carol Hannah, who has moved from Charleston to Huntington, NY. Driving from the Carolina's to NY, she stopped by Duke University and got a night-time tour. She was way inspired by the architecture and that's the basis for her collection. She's pushing herself; while gowns are her strong suit and plenty of evening wear is in evidence, she's also doing a pant, some tops and generally trying to break out of her mold. It looks to be a terrific collection. There is one particularly fun piece: a little number with a sculpted tulle skirt that has the look of a wine stopper. I love it. Carol Hannah wraps it with a blingy belt and the Gunn says, "Oh, no" and he poo poos a capelet for one of the gowns as matronly but basically he has nothing ill to say about her collection.

They roll off for meet and greet with her family and Mom puts Tim in a dorky apron and sets him to makin' biscuits. Talk about good!

Carol Hannah tells us she was a gawky, geeky kid (and provides photographic evidence) but fashion has freed her. Huzzah, fashion! Her family is all very lovely and supportive and as Tim takes his leave he and Carol Hannah hold hands in the snow and he tells her that she has "worked up a great collection".

Next up is Irina in Manhattan. She has a very yippy little dog with the shockingly original name of "Princess". Irina tells Tim that she is very inspired by Coney Island and wants to celebrate all things NY in her collection. She has some notion of these "boyfriend T shirts" with all these Coney Island images that are going to be incorporated into all her looks. I'm not actually getting how this will work; especially when she is also showing Tim all sorts of hand knit garments and talking about how the collection is "all about elegance". It actually looks terribly samey-same to me, perhaps because everything is black and grey and it's hard to even distinguish shapes. Tim seems underwhelmed and suggest that she "bracket this in your head: it must not look forced".

Tim goes to meet her family at a restaurant. Turns out that Irina and her sister are the great white hope for her parents, who left the Republic of Georgia to give their girls a shot at something better. Mom just knows Irina is going to do something stupendous with her life (no pressure) but is supportive. (Tim throws in that win or lose, Irina is a winner. Irina grimaces. Losing isn't in her vocabulary). But more to the point, she has daddy issues. Pops doesn't take her fashion thing seriously. She wants to win to prove to him that she's not a flake.

Finally, Tim is off to Dayton, Ohio to see Althea. He's all "egads" at her funky warehouse elevator. Turns out that Althea's collection is inspired by sci-fi movies and "strong women". 'K. She's worked up what I consider a very swell coat but Tim thinks it's too long and matronly. He has some pleasant enough things to say about some of her other pieces but believes she needs to "recalibrate; don't lose sight of who you are. Edit! Edit! Edit!"

They go off to dinner with her family, friends and corn fed boyfriend. Her dad opines that they always knew she was destined to be in New York and not stay in Dayton. Nice.

10 Days 'Til Fashion Week

Tim calls Irina to inform her that the producers (and more importantly, their lawyers) have decided she can't use her Coney Island stuff because the images aren't hers. Talk about recalibrating. And what an interesting turn for Miss "Everyone is stealing my brilliant ideas". (Insert Bart Simpson "ha ha" here).

Althea and Irina arrive back in New York and have a fake 'hug hug' moment because Althea still hates Irina. Aaakwaaard. There are some uncomfortable attempts at chit chat but Althea isn't playing. She doesn't trust Irina as far as she can throw her. So they sit more or less silently, tapping their toes and waiting for Carol Hannah to come break the tension.

But, oh no! Carol Hannah isn't coming! She's veryvery sick with a stomach virus and veryvery contagious (swine flu?). What can this mean? Oh, wait! Heidi sent up champagne! Never mind. While both the girls express some sorrow on Carol Hannah's behalf, they both have a glimmer of what a competition between just 2 designers might look like.

Next day they go to their big blue work room ("It's a calming space," says Althea) and note that it's weird to see Carol Hannah's collection and no Carol Hannah. Meanwhile, it's still awkward between the two women and Irina appoints Althea the "designated talker" to warm things up. Doesn't really work. Then suddenly, who should poke in her little head but Carol Hannah. No hugs for fear of contagion. Althea and Irina ask after her health but both are just a smidge disappointed to see her. Meanwhile, the poor kid is worn out and we're all wondering how she'll manage these last hectic days of finishing a 12 piece collection when she feels and looks like crap.

Tim comes to make another little tour of the collections. He uses the "matronly" word again with Althea, who is starting down a wicked spiral of self-doubt. Tim holds up 2 pieces and asks, "Is this the same customer as this?". She needs more cohesion. Irina smirks. Maybe because of the "borderline Hillary Clinton" comment Tim makes in reference to one look or maybe because zut alors! Althea has some knits. Later there is some skritching between the 2 about this because apparently Irina owns knits. The old wound opens right back up.

Carol Hannah, on the other hand, doesn't need to kick out pieces so much embellish what she's got. (Can you say "strong collection"?)

Tim is concerned that Irina's collection is "black black black" and she assures him there is a good mix of materials which make it interesting. She is struggling mightily with her finale look and as she and Tim discuss it Althea has her turn to gloat because while she may have some work left to do it is nothing like the sewing that still awaits Irina. Irina appears to be imploding. Of course, I reserve my giddiness. After 6 years of producer manipulation, I know that this may well all be manufactured precisely to make me think she's imploding. (Except, seriously, nothing is grabbing me out of her collection. And then I remember the Mariah Carey butterfly "holiday" dress she did for Macy's and I'm thinking, maybe she really is losing it).

I nap through the model casting.

Proving once and for all that they are neither dead nor the same person, Nina and Michael Kors come, at the same time in the same room, to visit the designers and offer their pearls of wisdom.

MK: "Show what exemplifies you as a designer".

NG: "If you've seen it before - take it out".

MK: "Take us on a ride"

NG: "Think about color - an all black collection is difficult".

And finally, "Go with your gut".

Know what Irina's gut tells her after the "all black" advice? She's going to ignore Nina.

3 Days Until the Runway Show
The designers are anxious about fitting their models as that inevitably will lead to even more work. Tim tells them that their "muse look" (the one that will be worn by their PR model) is the one that will go back to the judges for the final inquisition.

Heidi comes in with Tim for a little "gather 'round". Uh oh. She doesn't have any champagne with her. This is bad. Tim says, "You have demonstrated an ability to handle pressure. You'll need to harness that now....we have one final surprise".


The designers have to create a 13th look that must be cohesive with the rest of the collection and as well executed. Oh, and the "muse" model will cast the model to wear it. Oh. And they get helpers....the last 3 eliminated designers.

Even as the designers try not to cry, they chose their helpers. Althea picks Logan, Irina takes Gordana so Carol Hannah gets Christopher. 30 minutes to sketch, $200 to spend at Mood.

Althea decides to bring in a structured jacket. Logan is Logan.

Gordana sees her role as providing moral support for Irina so is big on the strokes and the "that's great" and "go fight win" cheerleading. Carol Hannah is focused on "whimsy" and Christopher intones that he isn't there to make decisions for her (thank God). She decides to go for a's what she knows and she feels she's adequately pushed herself in other areas of the collection.

They go to Mood to spend their $200 and there's a doggie named "Swatch". Cuteness.

Back in the work room we get busy. Gordana is hemming and trimming and generally engaging in whatever sweat shoppery Irina throws at her. Both Carol Hannah and Althea are hopeful they will get their basics accomplished and have very little finishing left to do on the morrow. The fateful "next day" should be drama enough but we get one more twist. The episode ends with poor Carol Hannah's head in a toilet. She's still very sick. How will she rally in time? (Those of you familiar with the enchanting Beatrix Potter story of The Tailor of Gloucester knows what will happen. Mice will come in at night and finish the gown).

Big finale next week. Someone hold back Carol Hannah's hair. I'll make her some tea.



Blogger Anne opined...

When I started reading your recap I'd forgotten I turned off the TV at 25 til and went to bed so when I got to the napping during model casting part I was momentarily bewildered....I didn't see that, oh yeah, I went to bed....

I kinda expected another challenge for them especially since it was a two-part finale.

Not a fan of the black.

November 13, 2009 11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

Ba Ha Ha Ha

We all know Carol Hannah needs a little smoke and she aint gonna get it. Doomed. Should have picked Gordanna who is a worker bee not Logan who is fluffy.

Irina got lucky and got Gordanna but she has self distructed with the all black junk. Even after 2 warnings. Doomed

Althea stuck with Christopher has only one chance. That the others are; Doomed.



November 13, 2009 11:59 AM  
Blogger Cliff O'Neill opined...

Oh, sweetie. Something tells me you've never been to Dayton.

Oddly enough, throughout my life, in Miami, in D.C. and here in Columbus, I've had the odd circumstance of being friends with a surprising number of people from Dayton. To a man and to a woman, they have said they HAD to get out of there.

When I finally went there, I saw for myself. It's sad. On many levels. I can't blame Althea for getting the heck out of there (she's operating out of Brooklyn now).

Not that it's made her a better designer. But at least now she has a chance.

November 15, 2009 3:42 PM  

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