“Claim to Fame”
February 3rd, 2009
Early in the season’s second episode, Jessica observes that something is beginning to change around these parts: after the first week where everyone was concerned about staying, they enter into one of two modes. They either, like Jessica and a few others, switch from survival mode to awesome mode, or they switch into a mode where all they have is personality-driven drivel. It’s a sad existence for those few, and it is not very surprising that they are amongst those who are almost out the door by episode’s end.
They might be designing a dress for Elisha Cuthbert, but considering that her requests are for a dress for a “night on the town” it’s not like this makes her very special. Instead, it’s a test of the designers’ ability to design a simple dress in a way that isn’t too ugly, and that isn’t too much for them to handle. It isn’t surprising, really, that it is the people who spend more time feuding and ranting during the conception phase are those who can’t put together a dress to save their lives in the end.
But in the end Jessica is right: we don’t get much of a sense of any major design emergences here, instead focusing more on personalities. And considering that they’re dressing a celebrity, I guess it makes sense to focus on some of the people only concerned about trying to become one through the world of reality television.
First and foremost, let’s discuss the things that I enjoyed about the episode, primarily the emergence of one personality. Jessica was kind of sitting back in the first episode, but she was out for the kill here: she went a bit too far with some of the lingo eventually, but this feels like someone who is actually quirky as opposed to someone who is trying too hard. Yes, she can be a bit precocious at points, but when she name-drops Popular Mechanics for Kids I was officially a fan. That’s the kind of thing that could seem lame, but was just so perfectly in tune with my own pop cultural background (for those who don’t know, Cuthbert co-hosted the show, and for my generation it was our first introduction to her and, amongst others, Jay Baruchel).
Whereas, in terms of designers, the real standout movement is Christie, who bounces back from last week’s thunderbolt strap monstrousity with a very simple dress that with some advice form Brian remains very restrained and intelligent. She clearly has some emotional issues to deal with, some things that she needs to deal with in terms of confidence and the like, but she showed that she isn’t just a cliched designer with no sense of editing. That’s the kind of improvement that you need to see in a show like this, and that we so often don’t get a chance to see.
But in terms of other designers, it felt like there was more of a trend towards those who are falling apart a little. Margarita and Brandon, in particular, emerge in some sort of feud that never felt like it was about designs: even as Genevieve and Kim seemed to egg it on, it was a battle fought over two designs that weren’t good to begin with and that, eventually, would land them in the bottom two. It’s the type of battle that only distracts from the task at hand: if they had just done as Christie had, worried about themselves, they still might have been able to work with their stretchy fabric or not make their dress ridiculously too short.
But they’re both here to have a bit of attitude, Brandon especially: he was almost insufferable through the entire episode, playing it up for Cuthbert and giving me the impresson that his design skill is ultimately secondary to his quite fallible design logic (see: the dress that’s too short). I thought Kim was right on when she described him flitting about, unable to stay focused: it was clear that he can’t even sit still, so how should we expect him to design something interesting for Elisha Cuthbert.
In terms of this week’s guest, I don’t know if I buy Iman’s late-episode claim that designing for Elisha Cuthbert should have driven a designed like Adejoke to be more careful with her design. It isn’t that I believe she didn’t design an ugly dress (she did), but rather that Cuthbert wasn’t asking for a dress for a specific event it seemed like it was a false escalation of the challenge. Yes, Adejoke designed something awful, and yes it wasn’t required, but this idea that Cuthbert’s presence should make it that much more important wasn’t really matched by the calibre of dressmaking we saw. Cuthbert was, as ever, quite charming, and I enjoyed that she was brutally honest with her judging, but ultimately it didn’t make the challenge feel special.
There’s not much to talk about in terms of the fashion itself: Jason wins the challenge off of lowered expectations from last week’s “Wilma Flinstone Bedspread,” narrowly defeating Sunny’s simple and subtle teal dress. Meanwhile, the show oddly brings out four dresses they don’t like: Adejoke’s so they can attack her for making something ugly in her immunity week, Jeff so that Elisha can talk about how sad it looks (my favourite critique from the judges this week), Brandon because it is entirely inappropriate and looks like a figure skating outfit, and eventual bootee Margarita who simply picked the wrong fabric and ended fitting the dress in a horrible fashion with a zany slit in the front.
The rest were pretty unremarkable: Kim squeaks by despite not having a dress five minutes before the Runway, Jessica’s number never quite approaches awesome but is enough to get her through, Genevieve seems a bit too satisfied with her design, and Baylor is actually allowed to speak at the end of the episode to describe how he used the colour red to stand out from everyone else. At this point, Baylor is being sold as some sort of sewing savant: he clearly isn’t much of a personality if he wasn’t even given a talking head, but Sunny was complimenting his intense sewing technique, and his dress seemed to be well made.
In the end, sending Margarita home is frustrating: Brandon is far more obnoxious, and I find that he has showed less potential in the end. However, at this point, we’re picking off the people who are in over their heads one by one: something tells me that Brandon doesn’t have the “amazing” design in time to make it all work.
- I was really hoping that Kim would get called out on the Runway (the show set up her, Margarita and Brandon, and then psyched us out when he dress was fine), if only so her punishment could be Cuthbert sending a cougar after her.
- Adejoke might have done something very smart here: if she had done something safe and boring, she would have shuffled back into the pack. Instead, now the designers expect something special to bounce back, and she’ll have more of a story. If she pulls out something great, she’ll be that much more memorable for them.
- Apparently someone got a new rig for Christmas, because the cameras have this weird habit of sliding through the work room and the sewing room down the aisles. It’s kind of distracting when the rest of the camerawork is much more handheld, and I’m not sure why they’re bothering.
- Jason must be the walking contradiction: a designer who has no fashion sense. Between the ugly tank top followed by the tuxedo shirt with the bowtie glued/attached haphazardly to the shoulder, I just don’t get it.
- I love that Cuthbert didn’t even promise to wear the design out on the town or anything: is her social life that sad, or was she just not happy enough with any of the designs?
- Next week: team competition! In the meantime, you can relive tonight’s episode (if you’re in Canada) once it goes up at Global’s website. If you’re outside the country, well, patience is a virtue, and good things will likely come to those who wait and know where they’re looking.