Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Project Rundown?
October 23, 2009

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There’s been a lot of smack-talking all over the internets about the dismal turn taken by this season’s Project Runway, its first at a new home over at Lifetime. Every week, on blog show wrap-ups and countless comments in response (my current fave – a wry poster who called the show “deeply adequate”), folks say the contestants aren’t as talented as past seasons, that Nina and Michael have been absent way too much and they blame it on changing the locale to LA, the move to Lifetime, the weather, the phases of the moon . . .who knows?

It’s not rocket science, people. The show is tired. T-I-R-E-D. The challenges are tired. The monotony is tired. Tim’s tired. Heidi’s tired. And a bit grouchy. The contestants are always tired. And a lot whiney. And guest judge Milla Jovovich hit the bull’s-eye last night, saying the runway results looked like they were from, “Project I-don’t-mind-it.” Zing!

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You look at the designers and think, “Is this the best they could do?” The drama, or lack of it, seems right out of high school (and not in a good Glee way), revolving around two cliched tropes of adolescence, mean girls and a dreamy guy. They’ve tried to make Irina (center, above) wear the bitch crown because she has frequently expressed a dim view of her rivals while single-mindedly racking up three wins so far. But last night when the group was all sitting around the “dorm” having drinks, she seemed to fit right in and nobody had their claws out

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Then there’s Logan, the hipster Seattle stud, who except for the impermeable Irina seems to have everybody crushin’ on him – on both sides of the camera. Lifetime’s producers dutifully indulge their Television for Women imperative by showing him shirtless or in a tank top at least once an episode. And of course he’s straight, to boot, making him a fantasy object for lots of the women viewers (and many of the men). But the dirty little secret is he’s not a very good designer and you can’t be blamed for perversely anticipating if this is the week he’ll be auf-ed.

As for the rest, the ladies were so alike that the only reason they are starting to register is because there are so few of them left. Except for Gordana, a generation older, who trembles, dithers, apologizes and complains, always weary. Even Heidi’s fed up, because she gives her a little scolding every week.  The two other men, as of last night, were tied in a race for the bottom  – weepy Christopher and creepy Nicolas. Both way missed the mark. Nicolas lost. Did anyone notice?

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Trending: The Lady-stache!
September 29, 2009

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Is it just me or are the ladies having a mustache moment? Saturday I was idly shopping in a candy shop in Long Beach, during a break in shooting, and turned the corner and came across a girly pink set of mustaches, one for every day of the week.  Since I was headed to a party that night and it was the birthday girl’s favorite color, I surrendered (to) the pink.  Well my little novelty was quite a hit eparty_2069_26288700and the other girlguests kind of looked envious. Who knew? ‘Course I only had to think back for a minute to remember comedienne/provocateur Sarah Silverman’s appearance at the Emmy’s recently, and her moment of hirsuit hilarity while Justin Timberlake read her name as a nominee for best comedy lead actress. Poking around Sarah’s website, I found she has a stash of ‘staches – she rocks her fake facial hair in a series of candids taken on-set to hysterically plaintive effect and seems to have made it her itchy identifier.  I’m not a gamblin’ man, but I bet if there’s anyone it’s Ms. Silverman who can make the (hairy) lip stick.

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Off – and Farther Off – the Runway
September 21, 2009

Courtesy of the hilarious Tom & Lorenzo of Project Rungay blog fame, I thought these pictures of some of the Emmy gowns from yesterday next to shots from their original showing on the runway give a hint at what their stylists, both rightly or wrongly, might have been thinking.

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Project Red Carpet
September 21, 2009

For me, the Emmy 2009 fashion parade was a lot like Project Runway – there were a lot of looks that yelled “Safe!” Let’s also note in passing there were still a lot of girls dressing way too old for their age and red lipstick plus bright California sunshine never works.

Herewith, my favorites:

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1328672223_12394849588I honestly thought there’d be a few more short dresses, especially after talking to people for my LA Times piece Sunday. Maybe some ladies chickened out in the end. And I’ve skipped over the red-carpet low points – those girls know who they are and why rub it in? They have to live with those pictures forever. One last thought – though black is synonymous with high chic, there wasn’t one killer black dress on the red carpet last night.

Boobies Prize?
September 14, 2009

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Count me in with people saying that Project Runway feels kind of dull this season. In the show’s move to Lifetime Television for Women from Bravo Television for Gays and the Women Who Love Them, we have too many look-alike contestants, too many substitute judges (last week’s episode without Nina Garcia and Michael Kors – c’mon!), and not enough design-room drama, which TV critic Richard Dawson hilariously nailed in his wrap-up. It’s not just the move to LA, though the show seems curiously flat without the oxygen-deprived hustle and bustle of New York. Last-week’s challenge supposedly turned the tables by asking the models to dictate to the designers what they wanted to wear and create a look for an industry party that would get them noticed. A few of the designers threw a little shade on each other and then . . . the fashion show started. Really, that was it. Compare that to the family-feuding episode a few seasons back when sisters and moms gave the design orders and tears flowed, threats were made and dark-star contestant Jeffrey of the frightening neck tattoo went after somebody’s mom.  Maybe it was just a dream I had.

Anyway, when the judging unfolded so did an interesting (to me, at least) fashion and cultural history teachable moment. Dreadlocks daddy Epperson was called out by Heidi Klum because his applique-lashed jersey dress didn’t hoist up the model’s modestly-sized bosom sufficiently to Heidi’s admittedly Victoria’s Secret- based definition of “Angel” perky. It dawned on me that the 50-year-old designer came of age in the freewheeling bra-less ’70s when a breast was just a breast, in its natural and un-underwired state, unfettered under poor-boy T-shirts by day and brassy disco acetate by night. It was a time long ago and far away – before the aggressive uplift of  lacy boob-booster bras and unyielding conical surgical implants made perfectly-rounded bosoms the norm they are today.

suitOf course my theory got all shot to hell a few minutes later in the same episode because the winning designer Althea’s model projected a much more generous anatomical expanse that didn’t seem to be catching much of the benefit of any of the Secret’s silky uplifiting support either. Curiously, Heidi and the other judges said not a word.  They were too busy raving about the cute little suit jacket, maybe, to notice she was, as the song says, busting out all over. Not to mention the further figure-distorting effect of the high-waisted mini. Well she wanted to get noticed at the party, right? And we all know that whether in Los Angeles or New York, that would be no problem.

Don’t Mess With the Zoe-han
August 28, 2009

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We can’t let the week go by without mentioning the second-season premiere of The Rachel Zoe Project, can we? In this episode, our heroine has to style all five of her top clients for one event, the Golden Globes of last January. Naughty-children assistants Brad and Taylor (formerly at odds but now besties, apparently) stage an insurrection by moving their desks down from the attic (er, “loft”). A lost Dior Haute Couture gown refuses to be found.  A shortage of dresses threatens – because of the recent economic unpleasantness, designers are not sending out things willy-nilly if there’s no guaranteed red-carpet payoff.  There might not be enough one-of-a-kind vintage baubles fit for all the ladies. Rachel’s hubby/biz partner pouts because Rachel won’t be able to have dinner until 10 p.m. at the earliest.  And somewhere, paint is drying.

I kid, I kid … and for fashion insiders, the cliffhanger of  whether  Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld will let Rachel detach the sleeve from a couture gown for Cameron Diaz to wear, possibly altering it forever, must qualify as some sort of drama (in the end Karl assents, Cameron glows, and Rachel gets a treasured mash note from the designer). But the problem, as in many so-called reality shows, is that once again the real dramatics are happening offstage.  She has five major clients, yet the show blithely frames her task as presenting one perfect dress to each of them – as though things were really that simple in Tinseltown. (which, by the way, my dictionary defines as “Hollywood or the superficially glamorous world it represents” – ha!)

As any stylist out here knows deep in their overworked bones, an actress (and often their publicist, spouse, best friend and/or kids) will need to see an array of gowns and usually has lots of dithering and second thoughts – and they often go back and forth right up until they get in the limo. There’s a cliffhanger for ya. Obviously Rachel’s big-name clients – Hathaway, Diaz, Moore, Mendes and Messing – weren’t gonna let the cameras in on their dress fittings, where everything is really hashed out. But there wasn’t even a hint of any worry about whether the actresses would embrace Rachel’s favorites. Not that the women didn’t end up looking great – I especially liked Eva Mendes who rocked in the once-MIA white Dior and bold jewels (always a Zoe hallmark.)

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It made me wonder if Bravo filmed the prep scenes after the Globes, backtracking when everyone knew what choices the actresses made. Or maybe there was other equally riveting footage that revolved around discarded dresses.  Only your editing room knows for sure.

Mad Men – and Women
August 18, 2009

Mad Men premiered Sunday night and I loved the episode. But I have to question some of the costuming choices of the series, especially now that we are well into the sixties – 1963, to be exact.  Let’s start with the men, which is the series’ strong suit (as it were). Jon Hamm’s Don Draper is so perfectly turned out that I rarely notice what he is wearing, his clothes are so at one with the character.  Sexually confused art director Sal is more appropriately a bit of a show-off, in florid styles that just barely fit his beefier frame and gild-the-lily accessories – pinky rings, vests, flashier ties. Newly-promoted account head Ken wears his suits as easily as his sunny disposition while his counterpart, tortured Pete, is correspondingly costumed as all-wound-up in his dark woolen armor.

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Where I often part company with the show is with the women, whose clothes largely seem stuck in the fifties. I know everyone doesn’t replace a wardrobe all at once, and especially in those days when clothing purchases were meant for the long haul, but on the other hand we’re talking about an ad agency in New York City, albeit a second-string one, but with some pretty major accounts. As someone who was roughly the age of Don’s children at the time, I have a pretty good memories of the shift dresses and two-piece suits my non-working young mother wore in those days – and we were far from New York.

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I get it -the costumes telegraph that Joan’s a vamp and Peggy’s still hiding behind her girlish exterior (the jury’s out on Don’s wife Betty, right now she’s pregnant; in previous seasons she struck me as a looking like a perfect Hitchcock’s blonde heroine of the fifties with her full skirts and side-parted hair).  But the early sixties were a sea change in women’s fashion  and the youth and freshness of young Jackie Kennedy’s simple sheaths and easy suits completely banished the image of the corseted post-war silhouette.

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In retrospect, nothing in fashion ever seemed that unforced and innocent again and then it all came crashing down – in 1963.