Before I begin my epic feminist rant about how Ven represents everything wrong with our culture, let’s have a toast out there for the women, “real” or otherwise. Because after this episode’s travesty, I need a fucking cocktail.
The Challenge: It’s makeover time! Your “real woman” (imbue as much sarcasm into those quotation marks as you’d like) client’s BFF brought her here for a fabulous head-to-toe makeover, and your job is to make her dreams come true.
Those of you with personality disorders so severe, I have trouble believing you are not a robot in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Project Runway crossover episode: you will be paired with bigger clients because the producers want to watch you squirm. You can call that unfair producer manipulation (I won’t link to the disgusting things Ven tweeted during this episode, because he certainly doesn’t deserve another follower, but he continued to disparage his client and womankind in general, and then claimed he’d been “set up.”), the rest of us call it reality television. And dear readers, you know better than anyone that I’m the first to call out producers on their bullshit antics. But no one made Ven say those disturbing, backwards, offensive things about his client and women in general. Let’s move forward and return to Ven at the bottom of the post, where he belongs.
Guest Judge: Alice Temperley of Temperley London, who was beautiful and hilarious and had never heard the term “hoochie mama” before. Welcome to Wonderland, Alice!
Alicia was extraordinarily proud of herself for turning out a pink cocktail dress (considering she doesn’t do pink, or cocktail dresses, or dresses). However, she managed to ignore the fact that this was incredibly poorly executed. The proportions are all wrong, the cut-outs in the front are uneven, and the seam in the back is a puckered mess. The cut-outs in the back are even worse, and I can’t imagine where her client is going dressed like this. Alicia, do what you do best. I am so badly wanting a menswear challenge or any challenge where Alicia can turn out some insanely awesome pants again. But she’s not going to last long if she keeps making outfits like this.
We barely saw the jacket that Christopher spent eight hours on, so it’s a little difficult to judge his look this week. The dress is certainly simplistic, but still flattering and relatively chic. The color and fabric are great on her, but the draping of the bustline is a little wonky. (Though I bet that would have been concealed by the jacket Christopher so desperately wanted his client to wear.)
This looked like a cheaper version of everything Dmitry has already made, but the judges still semi-fawned over it to tease him into thinking he could win this challenge. (Poor Dmitry – it was beyond clear from the start that Fabio had this one in the bag.) The color was great and it looked very dramatic on the runway, but that exposed zipper with the little slit at the bottom reads as cheap and trashy to me.
Unimpressive and kind of ordinary, but there was nothing I hated about this look. However, I do need to point out that although Elena restrained herself, the outfit does appear to have shoulderpads. I swear, I’m going to scream if I see one more shoulder-padded outfit from her. And I feel like I’ve been saying that for weeks already.
Allow me to go on a legal tangent, dear readers. I’m currently studying attorney-client relationships and particularly, how to interview clients for the first time. So my brain is full of narrative theory (bear with me, this has a point), and the importance of listening to the client’s story as a whole, rather than treating them like a machine to extract facts from. I’m not going to pretend that designer-client relationships and attorney-client relationships are identical, but when Fabio interviewed his client, I was stunned: he did everything I’m learning how to do now. He saw his client not as a set of measurements with certain color or style preferences, not as a combination of different facts; he saw her as a person with a story, and used her narrative to give her a look that was truly perfect for her (well, save for the orange belt).
I don’t remember what was said word-for-word, but the client expressed something about fearing very feminine looks because they are somehow weak or not empowering. And I think that by making this dress for her, Fabio taught her that femininity can be strong and empowering, that not all dresses are created equal, that she can rock a feminine silhouette with a fantastic deco-architectural textile and look confident and beautiful.
I know this is paragraphs more on Fabio than I’ve ever said before, but he had one quote during the episode that struck me as particularly beautiful. All the designers were pretty appalled by Ven’s disgusting behavior, but it was Fabio who said, “After what Ven said about his customer, I don’t think he’s sophisticated, refined, or elegant.” Those were the words most commonly thrown around about Ven’s aesthetic; Fabio brilliantly pointed out that no matter how pretty your clothes are, if you can’t treat your client like a human being, and if you’re too high on your own bullshit to make clothes for an average-sized woman, you aren’t worth shit.
For all Gunnar’s obnoxiousness, the boy is impeccable with his clientele. He is so clearly grateful just to have a woman who wants to be dressed by him that he treats it like it’s as much of an exciting experience for him as it his for his client. It was incredibly heartwarming, especially when this badass diva strutted down that runway with so much personality, I thought she was going to walk right out of the TV and use my living room as her own personal catwalk. On television, the puckering, crooked seams were much more hidden, and the back wasn’t so clearly a mess, so I thought it was excellent during the runway show. Now that I see the flaws, I’m less impressed, but he worked so well with his client that he deserved his spot in the top.
Well, Melissa, now you know: teach your client exactly how to model the scarf on the runway so it doesn’t hide the dress, or don’t let her wear the scarf at all. Because I have virtually no idea what’s going on with this dress, and I don’t think the judges did either.
A rule: if it looks even remotely like something Snooki or J-Woww would wear, scrap the whole thing and start over. Nathan, if you couldn’t see that this was going to be both hideously unflattering and incredibly trashy, then you probably deserved a spot in the bottom. But even this trash couldn’t compete with the garbage flowing from Ven’s mouth about his client, so I’d have gone for a double-elimination and nixed them both.
On behalf of short girls everywhere: why, Sonjia? Why? What made you think anything about any of these proportions was a good idea? The judges were spot-on with their commentary: I believe Alice Temperley talked about wanting to yank that knot down to BELOW her tits, where it’s actually supposed to be, and I just couldn’t agree more. Sonjia made her beautiful client look shorter and wider, and made something incredibly simplistic and cheap-looking to boot. Time to get your groove back, Sonjia, before it’s too late!
Ven took every opportunity to remind his client, his fellow designers, the audience, and the judges that his model was “plus-sized” and therefore impossible to dress. (Hardly true; as Tim Gunn tweeted, “A Size 14 is just on the cusp of plus size. And a motivated designer can make a Size 28 look fabulous. Think of the opera divas!” Preach, Tim!) He literally laughed – laughed – when he told Tim her dress size. He repeatedly mocked her “before” picture, he repeatedly lamented – to her face – that she had no choice but to wear the belt he chose, since she was too large for all the belts on the accessories wall. (Also horseshit; as Season 2 winner Chloe Dao tweeted, “stop whining and do your job, make a damn belt for her instead keeping telling she was too big for a size 2 belt.”)
Not only did he treat his client like a set of measurements, he considered literally nothing else about her. He took one look at her size and immediately wrote her off as impossible to dress; he never bothered to find out that she was an incredibly hard-working, devoted mother with a best friend who only wanted to treat her to an amazing Project Runway makeover experience. Instead, he spent her magical makeover day blaming her for being too fat to dress.
I don’t know what unfeeling robot planet you come from, Ven, but here on earth, not all women look like models. It astounds me that you cannot understand this, since you certainly don’t look like any male models I’ve ever seen. But I suppose men, being creatures of unmatched skill and talent, are too busy doing manly things like draping pink silk chiffon delicately over emaciated teenage girls to have to subject themselves to the beyond oppressive, unhealthy, dangerous, deadly standards of beauty that women suffer with every damn day. I hope you never work another day in this industry, Ven; you, with your FIT education and your strong construction skills, you are nothing, and you will remain nothing, until you understand that women are not your mannequins. You have failed as a designer; you have failed us, by being not talented enough to dress anything but a mannequin. And we will NOT accept your disrespect simply because we don’t fit into the six-foot, 110-pound box you arbitrarily believe we should all fit into.
In short, Ven, don’t fuck with a feminist fashion blogger who’s nine months shy of a law degree.
Judges’ Top 3: Fabio, Gunnar, Dmitry
Diva’s Top 3: Fabio, Dmitry, Gunnar
Judges’ Bottom 3: Sonjia, Ven, Nathan
Diva’s Bottom 3: Sonjia, Nathan, Ven