Project Runway Season Five – “Episode Four”

“Summer Olympics Wear”

August 6th, 2008

So…didja hear that the Olympics are coming up? Because I dare say that NBC wants us to know that the Olympics are coming up.

In a grasp at corporate synergy, something they won’t be able to do once the show jumps to Lifetime in the fall, it’s Olympic fever at Project Runway. While this may be thematically strong, it’s a bit of a challenge to take people used to high glamour or cocktail dresses and tasking them with creating something more akin to athletics.

And this group is no different than many others who have failed to grasp tasks that ask them to meld fashion with other interests – when Daniel has never even seen an opening ceremony in his life, is it any surprise that his garment has no relation to it?

In the end, a few designers are up to the challenge, but seeing these people so fully fail at things isn’t quite as entertaining as sometimes the show thinks it is.

Now, while Tim listed off a few big name designers who are in charge of Olympic wear of the past, for the most part this is not a bastion of high fashion as far as my personal opinion goes. There’s a lot of repetition, and the real connection between all items is an emphasis on practicality and national representation: it needs to make sense for athletes to be wearing it, and it needs to immediately identify them as from a particular country. I thought that this could have been more clearly outlined at the start of the competition, as it seems that some people certainly did not get the memo.

And, maybe it’s just me, but sending them through a museum for inspiration seemed like a poor strategy. Of the three finalists for the night’s best outfit, only one seemed to draw any inspiration from the past. The task at hand was abstract for some designers as it was, but when they’re trying to deal with “Think about the past,” “Be Modern!,” “Be Yourself,” and “Be Olympic,” they are bound to go off the rails at some point. For the most part that balance of design aesthetics is something that takes a lot of time to manage, and it’s clear that some people can’t do it.

Daniel, of course, is the best example: only 25, he clearly gets easily frazzled and, for some reason, allows Kenley to make a decision that nearly doomed him. The fact of the matter is that he had no knowledge of the subject, but rather than trying and failing to expand outside his element he just decided not to try. With so many people left, and with a challenge win and a winning aesthetic behind him, he could have gone for a collossal failure of an idea (See: Jerell’s misguided Titanic costume) and still easily survived. But to just not even really have an idea, to even attempt to balance his influences, just comes across as pompous (Which he kind of is).

That balance was struck better elsewhere: look at someone like Kelli, Stella or Blayne. Here’s three designers with unique aesthetics who all put very simple but well-executed designs down the runway. Kelli even admitted that hers made no attempt at being Sportswear, but it was echoed her own style; same goes for Stella. Blayne and Leanne, meanwhile, seemed like the best of the rest with more modern-skewing outfits that nicely stood out amongst a lot of attempts at being retro.

And in the end, Nina had it right if a bit simply stated: Jennifer doesn’t know how to step outside of her own balance, that being nothing but matronly (but somehow “girly”) outfits. It was boring, it had no red on it (inexplicably, too), and wasn’t even an Olympics outfit. That she went home was an inevitability – it’s got to make Emily pissed that she went home last week considering how Jennifer completely wasted the opportunity put before her. She’s not a bad designed, but Jennifer just wasn’t cut out for the sheer diversity that the show throws at you during a short period of time.

This wasn’t quite to the level of last season’s menswear challenge in terms of completely throwing everyone off their game, but it was apparent that this was a tough point for at least a few designers. It wasn’t hard from a technical perspective, as far as we could see, but the three leading designs were all those that nicely balanced all of the various influences. Joe’s screamed athleticism, Terri’s screamed chic sportswear, and Korto’s screamed modern olympian; everyone else just didn’t have as much focus, and they have to hope that future challenges (like Brooke Shields’ arrival next week) prove more fruitful for their own aesthetic balance.

Cultural Observations

  • Myles thinks Suede only referred to himself in the third person once all episode, which is a new record – I am worried, though, that Blayne is angling to become even more infuriating with his various ridiculous character traits from his tanning to his inexplicable lack of knowledge of The Beatles beyond Across the Universe.
  • Kenley and Daniel’s relationship is humorous to me, and I do wonder whether it could have been that showmance I heard about – that being said, though, next week’s runway laughing fit just looks like a mess, so Kenley and her laugh do need to be held in check a little bit.
  • We get our first workroom drama over…someone rethreading a machine and not respecting the space around them? That’s not very dramatic, and I question just how much Joe needed to make a scene out of it in that particular moment (In other words, are we not seeing some part of this equation?)
  • Apolo Ohno was so worthless a guest judge that I forgot to talk about him.

1 Comment

Filed under Project Runway

One response to “Project Runway Season Five – “Episode Four”

  1. i’m relieved jennifer got the boot simply because even with a back-to-back interview with leanne early in the episode i still couldn’t tell them apart

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