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This was probably the single most difficult Project Runway episode I've ever watched. It wasn't just Jeffrey's appalling behavior (more on that below), but it brought out some serious issues about fashion, who it's aimed for and why the rest of us are basically screwed because we don't fit the "standard." Don't get me wrong; I love this show and this isn't about to turn into a "bash everyone" post -- but a lot of what was said made me very unhappy.

We start off with Jeffrey whining about the fact Alison is gone and Angela is still here. Yes, I understand Alison was his friend, but his constant mantra of "why are other people succeeding when I think they suck" is getting rather tired. If he didn't spend a large amount of energy trashing other people, I might feel a little more sympathetic. But that fact he doesn't just say, "But I was better than they were," but "They produced crap and don't deserve to be here" is just pretty damn petty and annoying.

Heidi comes trotting out with the bag to give the remaining designers their challenges. This time, they're to design an outfit for an "every day woman" and she calls out the models. The moment the first silhouette flashes up behind the scrim at the head of the catwalk, you know it's not our usual girls. No, the show has fallen prey to the "let's bring on the family" trick the other reality shows do and the models for this challenge are the designers' mothers and sisters. Let's say that the line up is a diverse one, but none of these women are as skinny as the models that have been used as a regular part of the show.

Note: Before we go any further, let me put something out on the table. Some of the women on the runway are extremely heavy. Others have arthritis and various other difficulties that come with time and age and so they don't move as well as they might once have. Because of the nature of this challenge, I'm going to be talking a lot about size and the difficulties dressing women of size sometimes entails. None of this is meant to be critical of the women on that runway or general. I've dressed women who aren't "standard" sizes and I've women who've looked hot and sexy no matter their physical shapes. I've also seen women who look like frumps no matter their size.

Angela is thrilled to see her mother and Robert is rather surprised that his sister was flown all the way from England for this. He wonders if she knows what humiliation lies in store for her. Jeffrey's mom looks surprisingly suburban. I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't necessarily this.

After the designers calm down, Heidi gives them the rules of the road: they can't design for their own relative, so she will draw names and let them pick.

  • Michael chooses Teresa, Robert's sister. Teresa is the most slender of the models

  • Laura chooses Pam, Jeffrey's mom (partially because it amuses her, I think). Pam is also not heavy.

  • Vincent chooses Heidi, Uli's mom. Heidi doesn't speak much English it appears and is also not heavy.

  • Angela chooses Lorraine, Laura's mom. Lorraine is not heavy, but she's got a few pounds.

  • Kayne chooses Pamela, Michael's mom. Pamela is on the round side -- but Kayne says he chose her because he liked the rhinestones on her shoes and the fact she wore bright colors.

  • Uli choose Judy, Kayne's mom. Judy is on the round side.

  • Robert choose Patricia, Vincent's sister. Patricia is, to be blunt, quite heavy.

  • This leaves Jeffrey with Darlene, Angela's mother. Darlene is heavy (though not as heavy as Patricia) and does not move well, apparently due to arthritis. Jeffrey is convinced this happened because "God is drunk". Um, I would say it might be a runaway karma bike, but that's just me.

Notice the pattern to the picks -- the skinnier models go first. The first designers chosen pick the models with the body type they're most familiar with, leaving the other designers to deal with the other body types.

The usual models are not auf'd and we do not see them at all this week. This means there will be two models to go next week.

Everyone heads off to the workroom where I can't help but be struck by the resemblance to Open House Night at school. The designers are showing off their work stations to their mothers, some of them probably wishing they'd straightened up a little before they went down for the runway show. (To be fair, the cleaning fairs have clearly come in and tidied up the debris.) Tim arrives and tells them that everyone is invited to a party being hosted by this episode's guest judge. We amble over to Tavern on the Green, where designers and family are greeted by the very orange Michael Kors -- and his mother, the equally orange Joan Kors. Aside from apparently going to the same tanning salon, there is also a very decided family resemblance. Michael admits that his mother gives him lots of advice on his designs, usually starting with "Are you crazy?"

They settle down to a meal -- the pictures come out. Since Kayne had told everyone that he was a fat and funny kind, Judy has decided to very kindly supply pictures to prove it. Think Bobby on King of the Hill. It's clear mother and son love each other, but Mom also gets a kick out of embarrassing Kayne somewhat. Pamela has brought a picture of Michael, who was definitely one of those cute kids with a smile to light up the room. Not to be outdone, Pam has pictures of Jeffrey in school, which manage to crack Michael Kors up because Jeffrey's wearing a jacket and tie and has fairly short blond hair. I will say this for MK -- it looks like he made a definite effort to be polite and spend time with each of the family members.

Turns out Lorraine sewed for Laura when she was young, something which thrills Michael Kors. A comment is made about her having five kids and she says, "With number six on the way." Turns out that she learned she was pregnant after filming started (so she's only known a couple of weeks) and her mother did not know. Laura admits it was stupid just blurting it out, because now everyone but her husband knows. Since the filming was finished by the end of June, I doubt the pregnancy is going to have any effect on the competition -- I could make jokes about her sometimes acting a bit hormonal, but, frankly, Jeffrey and Vincent act more hormonal than Laura.

Tim gets to play party pooper and shoo everyone back to the workroom. There they learn that the designers will have 30 minutes to confer with their clients and one day to complete their look. Part of the challenge is that the client is happy with her look. As the conferring begins, it's easy to see that some client designer relationships are going to be easier than others. Kayne and Pamela get along because they both like bright colors and sparklies, while Laura and Pam talk about the fact Pam and her husband just came back from a cruise, so that forms the basis for her design.

In marked contrast, Jeffrey and Darlene are not hitting it off well. Darlene seems somewhat timid about speaking her mind, a situation which isn't helped when she suggests that she would like a fitted jacket and Jeffrey says flat out he doesn't have time for that and he's not going to make something if he doesn't have time to do it right. He also doesn't really offer an alternative and seems pretty set on doing what he decides is right. He also is clearly unhappy with whose mother he's paired with. Elsewhere in the room, Robert seems to be getting along with Patricia, but I'm not certain how much communication is happening. With Vincent, Heidi doesn't speak a lot of English so he makes happy noises, she smiles and nods and they're both happy.

Off to mood where the designers start buying fabric. Robert is going for red and black which Patricia said were her favorite colors, while Uli goes for the prints again. Jeffrey looks for dark blue and dark green, but says he doesn't like the selection of dark greens, so he goes for periwinkle. Back in the workroom, both Robert and Jeffrey complain about not knowing how to design for a large size woman. Uli and Kayne both say something about it not being what they usually do, but they're both working. Robert and Jeffrey seem to be floundering. In the episode's funniest confessional, Vincent talks about the importance of delivering flattering fashion to real women and this is something important for designers to realize. It's funny because Vincent has consistently had a problem delivering flattering fashion period. He at least understands the concept intellectually, something Robert and Jeffrey seem to be having a problem with.

The work grinds on and the model moms/sisters are sent in late in the afternoon. Lorraine really isn't comfortable with what Angela is doing because she doesn't think Angela gets the type of look she asked for. I mean, there's fringe. No rosettes so far, but there is fringe. Heidi seems happy with what Vincent is doing, which makes Vincent happy. Tim also comes in and starts checking in with the designers. He happens upon Darlene at Jeffrey's station while Jeffrey's away and asks her the simplest of questions: Are you happy with the color? After some hemming and hawing, Darlene admits that no, she isn't and she feels it looks matronly.

Jeffrey returns and seems a bit miffed that Tim started without him. Tim brings up that Darlene is apparently not happy with the color. Now the ugliness begins. I am not going to go through what happens in detail, but Jeffrey decides that because Darlene is expressing unhappiness, this is a sign that she and Angela are conspiring to screw him over in the challenge. Because he has decided this, Darlene becomes the enemy and nothing she can do is write in his eyes anymore. He takes the stance that there's nothing wrong with his choices but that she needs to let go of her insecurities. He doesn't want her around, doesn't want her opinion and is going to do the garment for the judges, who cares what she thinks. He is, in a word, Jeffrey in all his asshole glory.

Darlene gets upset and Angela takes time from her work to try to comfort her Mom. The other moms, including Jeffrey's ending sitting with her as well. Darlene says that there is "so much hate in this place" which is sad because I think she's right. Pam temporizes a little, naturally taking her son's side, though she's clearly trying to comfort Darlene and make her feel better -- and she ends up crying. So, we have Darlene, Angela and Pam crying because of Jeffrey. Great job, guy.

I can understand Angela's reaction. In her place, I might have well gone straight for his balls with a pair of pinking shears because you do not treat my mother that way. This is assuming, of course, that my mother didn't beat me to the shears. At the very least, I would have gone to the producers and told them that I signed up for this and what was going on between me and another contestant was part of the package, but if they laid into my mother, who did not sign up for this, something needed to be done. Jeffrey calling Darlene a bitch was way over the line.

This goes on and on. Jeffrey keeps spouting paranoid delusions that Angela and her mother are out to get him and the two of them keep arguing. It's ugly, unpleasant, and not a high point of the show -- and we see far too much of this.

The next day (yes, it takes up that much of the show), Tim tells the designers they will have and hour and a half to do final fitting, makeup and hair. Generally, the women seem pleased, and if not pleased, not completely horrified. Patricia, in particular, tells Robert that she likes the outfit he's made. Angela tells Darlene that when the judges ask her what she thinks on the runway, she needs to just tell them and not let Jeffrey bully her.

Not surprisingly, the women love hair and makeup. Kayne's mother is funny because she says she firmly intends to work the runway and maybe embarrass Kayne a little. Despite all the angst going on, she's clearly determined to enjoy this. Good for her.

Down to the runway for the show. The Heidi is wearing a black dress from a loosely pleated fabric that she wears off one shoulder. Irony? I had a dress damn close to that in the late '70s (out of Quiana, of course), back in the days when I was young enough and had the figure to wear such things. She introduces the judges -- Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and Joan Kors. One will be in, one will be out, so let's go.

Laura (Model: Pam, Jeffrey's mother) -- Laura has a very classic style sense, but it doesn't work to her advantage here. Her theme was based off the fact Pam and her husband had just returned from a cruise, so Laura designed "cruise wear," a skirt and blouse ensemble one might wear to dinner. The tailoring is beautiful and the blouse is gorgeous in and of itself (I would definitely buy it), but the no-waistband skirt with double fly front is a bit too high for Pam, making her look slightly truncated up top. I'm short-waisted and I can tell you this is something you want to avoid because it makes your bosom look bigger (I wear my waistbands below the waist but above the hipbone to compensate). It's an attractive outfit, but it is not, in anyway, a standout outfit.

Uli (Model: Judy, Kayne's mother) -- It's clear Judy expressed a desire to look attractive and perhaps a bit flashy on the runway. She's Kayne's mother; are we surprised? Of all the mother's, she's clearly the one that's the most determined to "work it" as she walks, though clearly she doesn't walk as well as she used to. Excess weight does affect gait and there's what looks to be a slight stiffness in addition to the roll to her walk. But she when she comes out, you can tell she feels good because she knows she looks good. Uli's worked this very carefully; long, straight pants that don't fit too close to emphasize what length Judy has and a v-neck top which breaks up the line of her bosom, but not so low that she's showing huge amounts of cleavage. Over that, Uli has put a poncho of a semi-transparent print, cut so that the lines along the border run top to bottom, further emphasizing length while diminishing the breadth. Note that she did not use the border along the bottom, which means there's nothing that is a clear demarcation between top and bottom and the semi-transparent nature of the fabric obscures her actual outline somewhat while not shouting, "Look! Look! We're doing everything we can to not make her look fat!" Standing there, she looks comfortable with who she is and that does a lot to sell a garment.

Vincent (Model: Heidi, Uli's mother) -- If I wanted to be snide, I'd say this partnership worked well because Heidi apparently didn't speak much English, so maybe she didn't actually understand what Vincent was saying, just that he laughed, smiled and was enthusiastic. Snides aside, if I see Jeffrey abusing Darlene and my designer is smiling and being friendly, I would feel better about that. The big surprise is that this is wearable. What's more, it is actually wearable for a woman who isn't built like a model and isn't twenty. Uli's mother is tall and attractive and this isn't really as much of a stretch as one might think. The browns are flattering to her skin tones, though I find the color a bit retro. The skirt is a modest knee-length, but she walks down the runway with a big smile on her face that helps sell the presentation. Yes, I could see this in a department store, and while I wouldn't buy it, other women would.

Kayne (Model: Pamela, Michael's mother) -- Successfully designing for any woman entails making her feel comfortable and that she's well-dressed for the time and event that she's attending. For someone like Judy -- or most of the other women who modeled in this show, that's going to be a very different environment than what Michael Kors designs for or the crowd Elle caters to. Frankly, I like the top Kayne made and think it would very appropriate at any number of social occasions. With the drape being separate, Judy could easily use a different scarf if she wanted to or wear the drape with another top. No, I don't think it was too "matchy-matchy"; currently, the conventional wisdom among designers seems to be that is something that should be reserved only for weddings, but I notice a number of every day people don't have that problem when they're out shopping. It is also a very modest top without being frumpy and given some of the other things we've seen Kayne design, I would imagine that fit in with what she requested. Having said that, I will agree that the pants were too short, cutting her off visually and negating the sliming effect of the top. You'll notice in the picture that's from the knees up that the pants look fine because you can't see that they're cropped. That was the single biggest issue I had with the outfit, which otherwise worked.

Angela (Model: Lorraine, Laura's mother) -- ::Sigh:: I'd thought Angela had learned something after winning the Macy's challenge, but apparently we also need to add fringe to the list of banned substances for her. Lorraine said something about Audrey Hepburn, that she wanted something simple and classic. So she gets a black tunic with capri pants and fringe. It looks...odd, and more suited for someone in their late teens or early twenties than a woman in her sixties. (No, she doesn't give her age, but Angela admits to forty-two.) Just because you're that age doesn't been you're supposed to dress in knee-highs, bad polyester and sensible shoes, but you also shouldn't look like you're trying to look about twenty-five years younger at least. To make matters worse, instead of drawing from the Macy's Accessories Wall (a bright hanging necklace might have made it better), Angela pairs the outfit with one of her own purses, which is purple with -- you guessed it -- rosettes. If there hadn't been more obvious disasters, this would have been a definite candidate for the chopping block.

Robert (Model: Patricia, Vincent's sister) -- Sad to say, Robert was way out of his league here. Patricia is, to be blunt, large, and given what she was wearing when she arrived, most of her wardrobe is probably loose fitting. When your "standard" size is a 26 or larger, there aren't that many options available that are affordable. Lane Bryant, for example, only carries up to size 28, which is bust 54, waist 48, hips, 56. I know women who are larger than that.. The sad irony about putting a large woman into a mu-mu and then dropping a non-fitted top over it is that it actually emphasizes her girth. To help de-emphasize her size, clothing should be strategically fitted. For one thing, fitted clothing gives you a neater, cleaner line, which always makes the wearer look better. What Robert produced is not bad and it wasn't ugly, but it also had no originality to it and no spark that set it apart. (The fact that Patricia later said it reminded her of a favorite dress she had when a child did not help Robert's case, I fear.) Robert floundered and even admitted while he was working that he was omitting details he'd planned.

Michael (Model: Teresa, Robert's sister) -- Once again, Michael carefully thinks through what he's doing. His reversible dress for Teresa is not spectacular on the runway, but that he listened to what she said, understood she was a business consultant who sometimes found herself going from the office to drinks shows his skill at creating an outfit that's appropriate to the woman he's working with. The outer dress is black, with just a hint of the black and white print at collar and cuffs and in the belt, and is stylish enough to go into almost any work situation. Also, while Teresa is the most slender of the lot, she's not a model's shape, but Michael fit the dress so it flatters her figure. If you notice, she doesn't have much of a waist, but he makes her look fashionable. I understand why Michael went for her -- she's close to the size he's been working with, so he's not stepping out of his parameters, something which is good strategic thinking in this type of competition. Closer to the body type you've been working with, the fewer adjustments you have to do. Having said that, I would have loved to see Michael do an outfit for Darlene or Patricia because you know thought would have gone into it and he would have exerted all his energy to make certain his model looked good walking down that runway.

Jeffrey (Model: Darlene, Angela's mother) -- In his podcast (which I haven't listened to yet), Tim apparently describes this dress as a "fashion bitchslap." It's really hard to find better words than that. The only thought and effort that went into this outfit was malicious, making her look like some horrid frump -- she looked heavier in this than in her own clothes. Darlene had expressed the desire to not show skin, which Jeffrey leaped upon as "issues" he had contempt for. He didn't need to accommodate her, she needed to change. Jeffrey made a big deal this episode about having been an addict and an alcoholic, suicidal and living on the streets, but that he's now in recovery. Clearly, Jeffrey still has an addiction he's made no effort to kick and actually revels in: making himself feel better by belittling the people around him. It's very sad and speaks very badly of him.

Once the runway is done, Michael, Kayne, Vincent, Uli, and Robert are on the chopping block first. The judges start with Michael first, saying they find his work a little plain. Michael explains about Teresa being a business consultant and the dress being completely reversible so she can go from office to social. Great shot of Nina Garcia just kind of blinking as the amount of thought that went into this outfit sinks in. The judges are also happy with Uli, that her outfit elongates Judy's figure and drapes well on her. Michael Kors sounds a little skeptical when he asks Judy if she would wear this outfit, but she answers quite enthusiastically that she would wear it out to dinner. Kayne is the first to get some criticism -- MK makes the matchy-matchy comment and says he would have liked to see a bit more skin. Great reaction shot from Michael who clearly doesn't care for that idea. Since Uli's mom Heidi doesn't speak much English, our Heidi asks her in German if she likes the dress and translates that yes, she loves it. The judges like it. Personally, I think they were thrilled not to see a basket on her head. While Patricia says she likes Robert's design, the judges are not so flattering, decrying his lack of creativity.

Next up is Angela, Laura and Jeffrey. Angela is told her outfit looks more like Stevie Knicks than Audrey Hepburn and that it's wildly age inappropriate. Angela looks like she's just been hit in the head with a 2x4. Pam may like Laura's outfit, but for once, Laura's style doesn't thrill the judges. They pick at the fit and the line, though they all agree it's tailored beautifully. Then comes Jeffrey. Darlene says she feels matronly, while Jeffrey prattles on about her issues and insecurities and admits that he didn't care what she wanted in the end result. Michael Kors calls the outfit "confused." Michael is being kind. Angela is asked her opinion and she rips the outfit apart, say she's embarrassed to see her mother wearing it. Please note that Jeffrey sounds much calmer than Angela, who starts getting indignant and shrill. Now, I feel she has a right to be indignant and shrill in this situation, but it doesn't help because that behavior always turns the judges off.

After consultation, Michael is told that because he has immunity, he is in. Laura is also in. They then announce that the winner is Vincent. The cry of "WHAT?" ripped through my house, causing the cats to scatter. See my comments on the judges and some biases I feel they're exhibiting at the end of this post.

Uli is in and Kayne is in, which leaves Jeffrey, Robert, and Angela standing on the runway. After a painful moment, Angela is told she's in, but it's clear she heard the message. (Whether she listens to it is another matter.) Jeffrey is told that his outfit failed because he did not take the client into account (no, no points were deducted for clearly wanting to make his client feel ugly and uncomfortable). Robert is told that his outfit was boring, something that has happened before. Robert is out.

This one is clearly hard for everyone; Robert was well-liked and his presence is going to be missed. Kayne, not surprisingly, seems especially struck because the band's breaking up, but Jeffrey is also crying. He tells his mother that not everyone there is good, but Robert is one of the good ones. Pam comforts him, but also shushes him as well.

Robert expresses no bitterness. He says he learned what his limitations were and that there will never be another experience like it. I think a lot of us have seen this coming, but it's still sad to see him pack his gear and turn out the light.

The judges and size bias: There is a definite size bias in the fashion industry -- they focus on the ideal as skinny little models with boyish figures that in no way represents the majority of us. This is their ideal, what everyone should be. If they consider someone such as Alexandra (Alison's model) a "plus size", what do they see when a woman such as Darlene or Vincent's sister Patricia comes down the runway? I'm afraid the answer is a quivering mass of blubber that shouldn't be that size. This challenge had numerous problems: the models are not all the same size or body type or anything similar. Also, it's a bit disingenuous to see Michael Kors and Nina Garcia criticize the handling of garments for larger sized women when neither of them do anything that caters to that crowd.

Fashion's a big business, but it's a business that we all have to deal with in one way or another and its focus is to get us to spend a great deal of money on stuff that isn't necessarily the best we can get, but it's "okay" and doesn't look "that bad." The only way the "every day woman", a woman who isn't a model, can be assured of having clothes that makes her look her best is to make her own or have a designer custom fit and tailor for her, something few us have the time or money to do. Also, it's no guarantee, given what we've seen here. No, this challenge made me very unhappy because it sent me a clear message that because I'm short and heavier than I would like to be (but lighter than I was), fashion isn't being designed for me. It's being designed for women I can never possibly be. That made me angry and I don't watch this show to be angry.

Next week, they design for a jetsetter -- but after work has begun, Tim announces a twist. Also, according to the preview I saw, Jeffrey doesn't let the incident with Angela's mother drop.


Aug. 26th, 2006 12:54 am (UTC)
I love that Kathy Najimy took Bravo to task after what Heidi said about Alison's model last week and how she looked "plus-sized".
Aug. 26th, 2006 06:52 am (UTC)
Really? Where was that? I'd like to see it; that plus-size comment irritated me, too.
Aug. 26th, 2006 12:15 pm (UTC)
I'll give you the link where I found it; it shows the sources at the bottom, one of which is bravotv.com...

Aug. 27th, 2006 02:29 pm (UTC)
Heidi, Tim and Nina were on "Larry King Live" Friday night. They were supposed to be the entire hour, but he had to devote half an hour to the Jon Bennett case (during which we learned precisely nothing), so the PR portion was reduced to half an hour, of which Larry King took calls only during the last minute. The only call was about the "plus sized" comments and Kathy Najimy's email. Tim stepped in and said he shouldn't have called Alexandra zaftig because she isn't, though he said she was larger than their other 0-sized models and he just didn't think. He started to say it was an issue -- but King then cut him off, so we don't know what else he was going to say.

I think it's good the controversy has been raised, because the show is getting a great deal of attention, so people are talking about it. If the controversy had been raised initially over this episode, it would have been more easily dismissed by a lot of people because of the size of the women. But to have someone whom is clearly not heavy -- at a time when some stores are talking about re-sizing their clothes so women think they're wearing a smaller size -- be termed "plus-size" seems to have hit a lot of nerves. Especially when the perception is that the choice was made between Vincent's monstrosity and Alison's work primarily because of the size.
Aug. 26th, 2006 12:55 am (UTC)
I really, really enjoyed reading this post. I haven't seen the show at all, not once, and I haven't read any posts about it, but the stuff before your cut tag interested me, so I clicked, and I'm glad I did. You did a fastastic job talking about the episode, the competitors, and the clothes. Thanks for entertaining me! :-)
Aug. 27th, 2006 02:30 pm (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it. I've loved the show since its first season and it's usually a wonderful hour.
Aug. 26th, 2006 01:13 am (UTC)
Excellent post.

I kind of wish that they had not done everyday clothes for an everyday woman. How about cocktail dresses or evening dresses.

Also I agree with you that there appeared to be a huge bias where flattering = looks thin. This might have even been ok if all the models were the same size but I'm thinking that they ranged from a size 6 to about a size 26? It's not really fair to do that esp when some of the designers could not use their dress forms. I almost get the feeling that anybody above a size 6 *is* plus size to these people - especially after last weeks episode with Alison's model.

I dunno. I really did not like this episode.

Aug. 26th, 2006 01:15 am (UTC)
Great commentary--very well thought-out. I'm still at the stage of sputtering over what an ass Jeffrey was, but I was sure Uli didn't win because her model was large-ish.
Aug. 26th, 2006 01:15 am (UTC)
BTW - here is the exit interview with Robert Best

Aug. 26th, 2006 01:18 am (UTC)
This was a really hard episode to watch, and I feel absolutely horrible for Darlene. I think Bravo's going to hear about this one for a while, because many people are having very strong reactions to it. I agree with a comment I read elsewhere -- that this debacle means the PR will never, ever attempt to do a "plus-size" challenge again, which is a shame. The fact that some of the designers clearly looked and acted uncomfortable dealing heavier women can't have been easy for these moms and sisters.

I'm disappointed that Michael immediately chose the thinnest model, not only because he could probably design something fantastic for one of the heavier women, but because he had immunity! This would have been a great chance for him to take a challenge and run with it.

I was rooting for Uli to win this one. The semi-transparent top over the fitted inner pieces isn't terribly original as far as plus-size clothing goes, but it was a wonderful look on Judy, and I loved that she used a pattern instead of a solid. Given the biases of the judges, I can't help but wonder if Judy's figure played a subconscious decision in awarding the challenge to Vincent. I wish I didn't think that, but....
Aug. 26th, 2006 01:18 am (UTC)
i read your last review about the trash episode and had to go look at it... and then i watched other episodes, and now i'm hooked! Great commentaries... thank you :)
Aug. 26th, 2006 01:44 am (UTC)
I don't watch the show, but I really enjoyed this recap. I had just recently seen some really cute plus-sized clothes on Oprah, all of which seemed to come from Fashion Bug Plus, but fashionable clothes (much less affordable fashionable clothes) for very plus-sized women seem to be difficult to find. I've gained some serious weight in the last five years due to some health problems, and you wouldn't believe the crappy stuff I'm reduced to wearing most days because it was what fit. I'm definitely dressing more like my elderly mother, and it has everything to do with my weight and what's available to me, NOT my age.

IMO, a truly talented designer should be able to look at ANY body type and come up with something that looks good for that person. In looking at the plus-size outfits on this episode, Jeffrey's looks like something I could buy at Walmart already and would wear for my work as a librarian. Not exactly a fashion endorsement, believe me. Robert's dress is definitely too bland and drapey. I haven't seen the full body shot of Kayne's outfit, but I know what you mean about crop pants. I do think that the scarf for the outfit is a little too big, tending to emphasize the width of the model's body in my eye. I think if it had been a 3/4 that size, it would have worked better by letting more of the top show and giving a horizonal line that would break up that huge expanse of swished color there is now. Uli'd outfit, from what I can see in the small photos on the page, looks kind of cute, if maybe just a teeny bit busy. That may be an illusion caused by the small size of the photo, though.

Thanks for sharing the review and the thoughtful commentary.
Aug. 26th, 2006 01:56 am (UTC)
This episode would have been less painful if they'd let the designers create an outfit for their own mother or sister. Then, the obvious affection they had for the women in their lives would have short-circuited any whining or maliciousness. Also, they'd be familiar with their relative's body-type and tastes, and that would have led to better outfits.

Of course, it would have been much less dramatic, and drama is really the point of this show. I'd have liked watching it better, though. I get enough drama from HBO.
Aug. 26th, 2006 02:06 am (UTC)
Great analysis and I totally agree. I remember being devastated when I couldn't find a dress that looked good on me for my high school graduation. I was around 118 lbs, size 9 but because I was short waisted and busty there was nothing that looked good on me. There's something wrong with that. Needless to say, almost 30 years and many, many more pounds later it hasn't really gotten easier. Wouldn't there be an awful lot of money in making clothes that most of the normal women in the world would want to buy?
Aug. 26th, 2006 03:24 am (UTC)
Uli's outfit was brilliant - she really thought about the lines of the look, creating a silhouette, rather than a tent. The vertical trim seems like such a no-brainer, honestly, but it reminds me of one of my mostest pet peeves when clothes shopping. Everyone who knows ANYTHING about clothing knows that vertical lines are slimming, and horizontal stripes make you look wide, and yet any clothes with stripes (other than pinstriped suits) have horizontal stripes. Now, vertical stripes all over would go wonky on a sweater or even a skirt (because women - at least those of us who aren't models - have curves that break up the vertical line) - but vertical ACCENTS rock, and are truly so very very hard to fine. I like skirts, a lot - but so many skirts have horizonal accents or tiers, which make EVERYONE look heavier. WHY?!? Why is it so easy to find clothes with horizonal stripes, and so hard to find vertical ones? Aaaaargh!!!

So, long story short, go Uli!

I'd be interested to hear what you think after you listen to the podcast. TG talks a lot about the ways Jeffrey made Darlene uncomfortable, and even suggests that Darlene was a real trouper for agreeing to wear the garment at all - which suggests that NOT wearing it was a possiblility that came up. I would have loved that, if he had been called out for making an outfit Darlene was too embarrassed to wear. Of course, he would have been sure she was trying to sabotage him in that case (because he sure as hell was out to sabotage her). sigh. He's such a sick twisted hateful prick. Why is he still there?

Thanks for another thoughtful recap. I always look forward to your posts!
Aug. 26th, 2006 03:38 am (UTC)
As much as I liked Michael's dress (it's definitely one I would buy for myself), I too would've loved to see him design for Darlene or Patricia. I'm sure he would've done a great job. Uli really ought to have won, because she showed how to make an outfit flattering and stylish for a woman with a non-model figure - and yes, it does seem like the judges' bias kept them from giving her the prize.

On the podcast, Tim called Jeffrey's dress a monstrosity...
Aug. 26th, 2006 04:41 am (UTC)

Excellent recap, as always, and very astute points about the fashion industry and poor attention to plus size women (which are pretty much the majority in this country).

I was surprised Vincent won--it didn't look like the dress fit. I liked the style but it puckered weirdly. Ulli should have won. Her outfit was gorgeous. I liked Kayne's top much more than the judge's, too, but the pants didn't work.
Aug. 26th, 2006 06:32 am (UTC)
I loved Uli's outfit, and I was disappointed that she didn't win. I was surprised by a lot of the designers reactions to their models. I've worked with a large number of costume designers, and I'm always interested in their reaction to me. I have a very large bust, but am much smaller in the waist. Some of the designers really go to town and have fun with the fact that I actually have a shape and curves and create truly beautiful outfits, where others just get hung up on trying to fit something for my boobs. I've ended up in more than one EXTREMELY unflattering oversized dress. The majority of America is not a size 0, or even a size 2 or 4. I would think that as designers, they would enjoy the opportunity to work with different shapes.
Aug. 26th, 2006 06:49 am (UTC)
Unfortunately, I missed this episode, so have been frantically looking for PR re-runs to catch up. I finally caught a re-run this afternoon, but had to leave before it was finished. Consequently, I really 3 appreciate your commentaries - this one particularly!!

Thank you!!

From what I saw, Jeffrey was way out of line, and should've been taken to the woodshed, and Uli should've won.

ITA: back in my late teens, I was a runway model (for a very short time) for pre-teen clothes. I was a size 8, which THEN was considered "normal". Today, "normal" is a 6. Remember, too, that today's women's sizes are not the same, in terms of proportions and inches, as the sizes back in the late 60s.

Anyway, today I'm a size 16 --- and have beaucoup de problems finding clothes in the mall and in clothing stores. My solutions? I purchase almost exclusively through the Internet in a a very few stores: Orvis, LLBean, JJill, Soft Solutions, Chico, Coldwater Creek, Chicos. I find these companies acknowledge the "everyday woman", and make clothes that make her feel and look her best. As for Macy's, Nieman-Marcus, etc: Let them continue to cater to the Size 6/below crowd. and, you know, eventually those gals will feel the call of the increasing size, as well. And when that happens, they'll head to the same shops that I buy from.... :-)

Aug. 26th, 2006 06:51 am (UTC)
Also - Monterrey Bey, Nordstroms, and Norman Thompson also make very nice clothes for the everyday woman, IMO.
Aug. 26th, 2006 07:25 am (UTC)
I have to agree with the general comments about clothing and the non-models among us. I have, sadly, put on yet more weight recently, so that I'm hovering between the regular and plus sizes (or "women's" sizes as most stores call them now). On top of this, I'm extremely short; most petite-length pants are at least a couple inches too long for me. In addition to the general problems of finding clothing that I like (I'm unfortunately picky, on top of all this), there are very few things I could wear that are even remotely fitted, because the curves and hems tend to fall in all the wrong places. Silhouettes that look like they'd be wonderful become just ridiculous when I actually put them on. There are reasons I tend to wear jeans and t-shirts the vast majority of the time and that I own very few formal outfits. It's also depressing to watch commercials and whatnot on TV and hearing them talk about how we have to get rid of "Size __" clothing and back down to the size we want, when "size __" is what I would desperately like to get back down to.

I watch very little reality TV, so the whole "family" thing was pretty new to me, and I thought it was a lot of fun, especially the picnic. A couple of the moms seemed really likeable (Judy in particular). It was really too bad that the Darlene-Jeffrey situation turned so ugly. Also, I'd certainly have liked to see much less bitching about the plus-sized models and/or everyone having a similar-sized model.

The podcast was hilarious; Tim made it very clear that he did *not* like Vincent's outfit and really, really wanted Uli to win. Also, he completely ripped Jeffrey, which I thought was appropriate. Actually, as I've scanned through other websites, I've been noticing a *lot* of comments from people who love Jeffrey and thought he was great. I find that deeply disturbing.

I don't know whether to recommend that you watch the bonus videos or avoid them. In one, Jeffrey refers to this (not sure if he means working with Darlene or designing for her) as the biggest challenge of his life -- specifically counting kicking heroin as something easier. At another point, Robert says Jeff's dress looks like it belongs on the crew of the Spaceship Enterprise, and Jeffrey says that Darlene *is* the Spaceship Enterprise. Worse, Robert and Kayne find this absolutely hilarious.

Sorry for the rambling; I shouldn't try to reply to these this late at night.
Aug. 26th, 2006 07:47 am (UTC)
Being short, whether you're skinny or not, is really a pitfall for finding good clothes nowadays, with so many stores dropping petite lines. Long sleeves, pant hems, and jacket lengths are all wrong in the "normal" sizes.

I'm not average at all...I'm tiny...but I used to be able to find fitted clothes. But now, even 0s and 2s are actually much fuller than a lot of people would expect, just in the past 10 years. And proportions are starting to get really weird, where every manufacturer thinks that a woman's hips are drastically larger than her bust measurement. I really lament that my grandmother is gone, now. She was fabulous at altering and sewing clothes for all of us.

So, yeah...the fashion industry is discouraging to just about all of us. Great review of the show.
Aug. 26th, 2006 10:59 am (UTC)
Lovely discussion, Caro. [applauds]

And as Gwynne says, I'd buy Michael's dress. (But I wouldn't use the belt. ;-))
Aug. 26th, 2006 12:54 pm (UTC)
great recap! this is one of the first eps that i missed, and now i'm sort of glad i missed it. jeffrey is a total dick, and i'm sure he's playing up that image to get more air time. he's the kind of guy to do anything for coverage, even negative coverage (though i did think he should've won the trash challenge). what a shame that michael didn't try for something more of a challenge with the immunity--i agree with you wholeheartedly on that one.

thanks, and i look forward to reading more recaps!
Aug. 26th, 2006 08:28 pm (UTC)
Your comments on sizes made me think of going to see The Devil Wears Prada with my mom, and their comments that a 6 was "fat." In the movie, it was meant to point out how insane the fashion industry is, and it worked. I only caught the last half of this one, and so I missed the Jeffrey/Darlene stuff. I think I'm glad that I did.

I have always struggled to find clothing that fits and looks good. While I am thin, by anyone's standards, I have a very...shall we say "athletic" figure, which means that it's hard to find stuff that fits on top. Plus, while many of the fashions flatter tall, thin women, they don't do much for me, since I'm short. And the clothing that's "in" right now is even worse, IMHO.

I wish the fashion industry would realize that the large majority of women in this country aren't size 0, or 5'10" or taller. That some of us are thin and some are not. That some of us are short, and more of us are average height. I don't think that it's ever going to change, though.
Aug. 27th, 2006 02:20 am (UTC)
i really liked your comments and i agree completly about the size issue. and it made me sad when vincent won with a dress more closely designed for the "models," and at least on camera this was never acknowleged in any way.

i'm not sure why they didn't let them design for thier own mothers / sisters.
Aug. 29th, 2006 03:28 pm (UTC)
You know, I'm not sorry to see Robert go. Do I think Vincent is a total prick? YES. Definitely. But both of these two infuriated me so much, and Robert was just as insensitive to size issues. Thinking that calling Angela's mom "the Starship Enterprise" was one of the funniest things from the entire competition? The hell? And then his slam at the end about how there are people who want to design for plus sizes, but that doesn't interest him; he wants to go back to making party dresses.

Because fat chicks, you see, don't need party dresses. They just stay home and pig out on ice cream.


The only thing that I'm really glad about is that it's raised such a stink. Good. And Kathy Najimy RAWKS.


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