Friday, October 21, 2011

Will TV’s Sexiest Woman Get Her Way This Season?

Nina Garcia Judging on Project Runway

      Nina Garcia, Fashion Editor for Marie Claire, and Project Runway judge since episode one, is intelligent, trilingual, perfectly dressed, and gorgeous.  Her taste is impeccable and she has always pushed for the best designer each season.  Her contretemps with Santino over lingerie on the second season was his
death knell to win, but he didn’t know it.  She loved Jeffrey’s work before I did but, by the end, it was obvious that he was an original.  What happened to him?  He doesn’t seem to have been picked up as a designer or as a Bravo/Lifetime personality and I don’t know why.  He seemed to be wrestling with demons while he was on the show and that he had outwitted them, but maybe he lost the war.  His use of zippers was startling at the time and it’s influenced all the succeeding designers as well as American design in general.   Nina also was charmed by Christian Siriano and forgave him the trespass of that awful brown prom dress for the extravagance of his haute couture.  He’s also gone the whole way with this launch, which was both totally deserved in terms of his talent and also because of his circumstances.  When Tim Gunn visited him during the final collection construction process, Christian was practically living in a closet with a small window and almost underneath his garments that already looked extraordinary.

      Project Runway moved from Bravo to Lifetime amid drama, lawsuits, and lotsa money in 2009.  The winners weren’t as personally memorable as they had been in the past, but the clothes looked great though monochromatic.  Nina’s influence could be felt in the selection of the winners because they remained haute until last year and then came . . . Gretchen.  There’s always a villain on these reality TV competition shows (hey Richard Hatch, thanks for establishing that cliché from the very start), but Gretchen was the most disingenuous, self-deluded contestant perhaps ever in this TV genre.  The zenith/nadir episode was when Gretchen decided to play chief during a team competition and persuaded talented, reasonable (and some less so) designers to dress a group of models to look like stewardesses from 1982 on an airline that you knew probably had a lot of unreported crashes because it was behind the Iron Curtain and when the judges were horrified by the final result, she proceeded to throw the rest of the team under that proverbial bus – a convoy in this case – and they let her!  And she won the whole shebang even though Mondo was a far superior designer.  Yes, his aesthetic owed a lot to Yves Saint Laurent circa 1968, but Gretchen just copied Ralph Lauren from 1973.  Those two fashion poles are the main influences of high fashion for the past three or four years and will be the imprimaturs for off the rack looks for about the next five years.  I know that Nina wanted Mondo to win, but – and here’s where it gets tricky – it’s Heidi Klum’s show (she is the executive producer) and she wanted Gretchen and here’s why:

Nina, Michael Kors, and Heidi Klum at MBFW
      (During the Runway shows, here’s the imaginary stream of consciousness)
Michael Kors (top American designer and CFDA lifetime winner):  Mmm, do those details work?  Could I hire this person?  Could I take those details that don’t work and make them work with some adjustments?  What could she/he bring to the industry?  
Nina Garcia (Sexiest woman on TV):  How will this design photograph?  Will it move fashion to the next step and will it sell in six to eighteen months?  Will this be remembered five years from now?
Guest Judge (another top designer or not/Hollywood has been or TV starlet or industry professional and you never can guess which of these stereotypes will be most entertaining and intelligent):  Are they as good as me?  Do I measure up?  Does anyone remember who I am?  Am I relevant?  Can I borrow something for my next red carpet appearance if I get invited to one?
Heidi Klum (former top model, sadistic exec. producer and host):  Can I wear that?
(And that’s all Heidi is thinking).  

      Heidi could and would wear Gretchen’s clothes (she said so repeatedly) and that’s why she won and loyal fans of the show were either mystified, outraged, or reconsidered their loyalty.  This season it’s all about Anya – a lovely person, able team administrator, and a designer with an original eye, but she has not sewn for long, and Viktor – a superb tailor, wild in his taste range, and confident.  Both Josh and Kimberly have a lot of talent and they know how to cut and sew beautifully, but their taste and confidence wavers all over the place.  I don’t think that Josh or Kimberly will win, but I’m fine with either Anya or Viktor.  Just as long as Nina gets her way on this one because she knows why this is important and because she is a connoisseur – that’s her mindset.

      Fashion has become so vital because it is an art form requiring mastery of drawing and sculpting with the craft of cutting and sewing.  And, above all, it is sensual in terms of material and it is kinetic.  These are literally moving works of art that need to emotionally connect with viewers that hope to buy them and wear them.  It is both rarefied and populist and the contestants move forward because of talent, skill, and tons of effort.  It is a meritocracy unlike the bipartisan infighting of the dreary Survivor that ends up in a diabolical democratic process that rewards mediocrity until the biggest creep wins.  That’s the big difference and the reason Gretchen was so unpopular.  She was the biggest creep (and a couple of creeps had made it through in the past without finally winning), but not the most talented.  Again, please let Nina’s opinion have final sway!

I wonder if Nina would like my coat?

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