Friday, September 29, 2006

Project Runway: What the Elle?

Ugh! Finally! I get to blog about Project Runway again. I thought this day would never come and I would just burst from all the snarky things I would like to say about the designers.

No such luck!

Okay, on Previouslies: While I was sashaying around Italy, the designers were getting one nasty-ass surprise in the form of having to work with Angela and Vincent again! Black and white were the rules here, as well as using all the fabric the bought. Mercifully, Angela and Vincent are not able to hang on to their prodigal-esque return by showing total poop on the runway. Honestly, it was like all the dogs from the earlier challenge were brought back, fed chocolate and let loose on the runway. It was really that bad. Unfortunately, Kayne stunk up the joint too and was cut from the show. Laura wins a the judges remark that this is the first time she didn't design for herself. Uhhh, okaaaayyy.

Back to the present tense in the Atlas, and tense it is! Everyone is all keyed up about this being the final challenge, blah blah. Uli's confessionals seem to be the Greek chorus from this episode, as she insightfully explains to the camera that she is excited by being here, but she is anxious because she wants to make it to the final round. Jeffrey sums up every designer's point of view in a trite, overly simplified way and then says that he will win. Narcissistic much?

On the runway, Heidi blazes out in some peasanty top (uhh, based on what Jeffrey just said, I guess it's Uli's game to lose) for the model selection. For some reason there are 7 models because apparently Angela and Vincent's models get a second chance to be free from the crazy ass clutches of their designers.

So, Laura stays with Camilla, then Uli goes kamikaze stealth on Michael and snags Nazri! Michael looks as angry as Michael can ever look, which is really a sort-of "I should be so pissed that I rip your hair out and whoup your German ass but I'm far too nice to do so, so I will look shocked and mildly mock outraged." Then Michael chooses Angela's ex-model, who is so relieved to have a chance to wear something not covered in an avalanche of granny circles. Jeffrey stays with his model.

The most bizarre part is when Michael chooses Clarissa, Kayne's yappity-yap model does this "totally in shock and totally bitchy" face. I mean, come on! Did she really think that she did such a fabulous job and that she fit in remotely with Michael's aesthetic that he would pick her? On top of that, she NEVER. STOPS. TALKING. Don't think that character flaw escaped the other designers, chickie. Now go eat something.

So the designers trek all the way to Elle magazine headquarters where NinaGarcia gives them the challenge which is basically like, make something. Make something good. Oh, and come up with three words that sum you up.

Off to the Sweatshop they go!

Jeffrey is determined to make something not rock n' roll, but romantic and pretty to surprise the judges with his range and versatility. His sketch looks like what Marie Antoinette wore to the Petit Trianon when she played milkmaid.

Oh also, apparently it's Father's Day and Jeffrey gets a video of his son (?!?!?!?) toddling around but seems pretty uninterested in talking to his girlfriend. I think this was just an excuse to show off some features on this obviously sponsored cell phone.

Uli is making an Uli dress. She wants to pick a patterned fabric first.

Laura is making a Laura dress. Her creative side consists of, "Should I show the xiphoid process or not?"

Michael is lost in a sea of uncertainty. I have to say that I think he is right to be a little lost. I can imagine that it's very difficult to have had so many rules and then be thrust into a totally nebulous challenge with the direction of "wow us." Once again, Uli had already summed this up nicely in confessional, but she did it with an accent. Damn her and her European air!

Anyhoo, Michael settles on a gorgeous aubergine colored satin and decides to make an evening gown. I'm seeing shades of Kayne and it scares me.

Tim comes in to check out everyone's goodies and deliver a few of his own! First, they find out that they must complete the dresses early so they can take some product placement pictures with their Olympus cameras of their outfits to go along with their three words.

Tim appears concerned with everyone except Jeffrey. And I think he had good reason to be. Everyone's outfits are so whatever. But he also tells them that the winning look will be featured in Elle's First Look page!! The what, you say? Oh, right that picture I look at for about a millisecond before skipping to the beauty pages of Elle. Sure.

They all run off with their donated cameras to take some glamour shots. The best part of this whole sequence is Laura swearing at the elevator in the Atlas because it won't stay open for the picture.

The next day, they all get ready, and every shot is interspersed with people saying how THEY are fine, THEY loooove their dress, and everyone else sucks.

Up in Sweatshop central, there is much fitting of garments and writing of words. My main problem with people's "one-sheets" is that the words were often not the same type of word which made the flow awkward. Michael, I love you dearly, but "sexiness, sensuality, and sultry" don't work. Then again, I am in a profession where "impracticable" is a term of art. Maybe I should keep my inner grammar police silent.

Runway show!! The guest judge this week is the fashion writer from the Wall Street Journal. Ooh, maybe I'll start reading her instead of Robin Givhan of the Post. I bet she's bound by some kind of confidentiality agreement not to spoil endings for everyone.

On the runway, the judges blast Laura for doing the exact. same. thing. again. Michael gets reamed for showing too much skin and not doing sportswear, which is what he's good at. Jeffrey gets eviscerated for not doing something rock and roll and edgy, which is what he's good at. And Uli gets high praise for doing exactly what's she's good at.

Honestly, I think they needed to be a little meaner to Uli. I thought her dress was as similar to her other stuff as Laura's. (Well, maybe not THAT similar, as in, not a total carbon copy) It was just shorter.

So the bottom two end up being Michael and Jeffrey. At this point I have steeled myself for the fact that Michael will go home. I made peace with that and thought that he is so popular and so nice that he will get to design in the industry even without winning. I am prepared, also, for Jeffrey to be sent home, since there was that mean moment when Heidi said that they weren't committed to a final "three."

But then!!! They are both in!!! "Pysch!!!" say the judges!! There is jubilation all across Parsons as Tim comes down and looks truly, genuinely relieved and excited by the prospect of all of them being in Fashion Week.

Up next week! The Reunion Show! Where the producers liquor up the contestants and show them all the nasty things they said about the others on camera in hopes that they will scream at each other and someone will storm out. It's not a good reality show until someone can declare, "I don't need this! I'm outta here!," take off their mike and stomp out of the room while cameras scramble to follow them.

I love TV.

Who rocks the house? Tim's Take and BPR rock the house! And when they rock the house, they rock it all the way down.

P.S. As this PR season winds down, I grow wistful about my recaps and entertain the notion that someone, somewhere might actually want to read more. (I know, I'm totally self-indulgent.) My other junk food-esque reality TV obsessions include America's Next Top Model. The fashion's not as good, it lacks street cred of any kind, but man, is it funny! Please let me know if there is any interest in a recap series...

Friday, September 22, 2006

British Invasion

(right, because no one has ever used that title for a blog entry before)

Anyhoo, in the further SoHo-mall-ification of DC, today's DailyCandy alerted me to the opening of a new store in Georgetown!

While this is not really news in DC, where a scoop must involve someone having sex on the Capitol stairs, someone going to jail, or where the First Lady gets her hair cut, it's pretty exciting to me!

So, the new store is British chain Reiss, which is not as good as Topshop, you know, I'll take what I can get.

Having visited the branch in New York, I can tell you that Reiss is a positive addition to the Capitol City. The clothes are sophisticated and sleek. Appropriate for work, but they also incorporate a selective number of seasonal trends. The clothes aren't easily identifiable and lend themselves well to easy integration with existing wardrobe, so you won't have that moment where both you and a co-worker walk into the office wearing the window display from Ann Taylor Loft.

It's sort of like Ann Taylor meets Club Monaco for a tryst and they have love child who ends up growing up raised by Zara, going to Harvard and becomes the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Georgetown is a very incestuous place for clothes.

The merch is also priced low enough for a staffer (more for an LA than a staff assistant though...) but not so cheap that you know you will have that day where your clothes fall apart on the Metro.

I know where I'll be this weekend putting together my fall wardrobe...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Italian Job


I'm back!

I apologize for the severe dearth of posting, but when I got back from Italy, things got INSANE at work. Like Vincent from Project Runway insane. But worse, and with the maniacal laughter from Malan serving as my soundtrack.

So here is a quickie update on the shopping highlights of my trip to Italy.

First of all, I have to say I was a little disappointed. I'm going to blame what the French call "mondialisation" which for them really just means that Americans have the audacity to open McDonalds and Starbucks on their sacred soil, but for me implies a homogenization of goods around the world.

Gone are the days when no one could buy the same shirt that you bought in Europe here and you enjoyed supreme bragging rights. When I went to Zara in Rome, I was struck by the fact that not only was the exact same stuff available in the store in Georgetown, but the selection here was better. And, due to the fact that the Euro is currently spanking the dollar's ass up and down the Atlantic, everything was way more expensive than it would be here.

However, there were a few diamonds in the rough, so to speak.

One rainy afternoon in Rome, my boyfriend and I stumbled into La Gardenia Profumerie on the Via del Corso. It was kind of like a Sephora with a little Ulta thrown in (read: they had high end brands like Chanel and Givenchy, but also run of the mill stuff like Nivea and Garnier).

We spent far too much time in this store waiting for the rain to pass (yeah, right) and picked up a shower gel that smells like oranges and vanilla (my boyfriend originally wanted the cola scent for the novelty factor, but I quickly put the kybosh on that. I feel no need to smell like a soft drink if I'm not getting the caffeine pick-me-up).

I also picked out a lip gloss for me. Because I need another lip gloss like I need another black skirt. As in, I never need one ever again. As in, seriously, if you see me shopping for a lip gloss, please smack me upside the head. But this one was different! And it was a brand I've never seen before!!

Another great source for beauty products was Profumerie Limoni, which was attached to Oviesse, an Italian version of Target. They had a wide selection of makeup and beauty products at the best prices I saw during the whole trip.

I stopped into the famed Profumerie near Santa Maria Novella in Florence, but the whole church-y vibe and the hordes of Japanese tourists turned me off. Also, they didn't print prices on anything, and there was no way a language barrier was going to shame me into purchasing $50 soap. Honestly, I have no idea what anything cost there, I was just envisioning that happening and having to go back to the hotel and tell my boyfriend that I had squandered our gelato fund on scented soap. Not a pretty picture.

And, while I didn't buy a whole bunch of things, I did scope some things out.


Chanel nail polishes are available everywhere there and after the exchange rate, the prices work out to about the same here and there. You can still buy Vamp (it is peculiarly sold out everywhere I look here) where it goes by it's French moniker, Rouge Noir and you can also find the coveted Black Satin which is fetching record prices on Ebay.

Elnett hairspray is about half the price here as in the states, but honestly, I am far too lazy to actually spray my hair with anything.

Garnier has a new skin care line. It will be imported to the US by 2018. Also, Nivea's line in Europe is far more expansive than ours.

Shampoo and conditioner come in teensy tiny bottles.

Kerastase products were $2-3 dollars cheaper there, but they didn't carry the conditioner I was looking for, and by this point I was getting dirty looks for wanting to spend all my time in beauty shops.

Also, Italy has more lingerie stores than one can humanly imagine. You would think that these people never wore clothes! My favorite was Intimissimi which appeared with Starbucksian frequency along the streets of Rome and Florence.

All in all, even without the wild shopping dreams I had, the trip was wonderful...and has only given me an itch to go shopping here, where things now seem so inexpensive.

Now if only I could figure out a way copy the outfit that the girl on Via Condotti was wearing... somehow

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Project Runway: Couture du Jour

Wow, I don't know about you, but I'm still on a high from seeing Angela get the boot last week. It's like I snorted some fleurchons. Put those on the DEA Schedule 1 list ASAP.

But I digress!

Previouslies: the judges finally stopped dicking around and cut Angela. Oh, and there was some flight to Paris and Jeffrey likes to Bedazzle his crotch. But he won, so I guess the joke is on someone else.

(OK, honestly, I missed the first two minutes of this episode where C Mal gave them the challenge charge, but I gathered that it was to design a couture dress in two days and no shortcuts allowed!!)

I joined the party when every is talking about how much they looove Paris, and how inspiring it is and blah blah. Frankly, I love Paris, but I'm a little tired about hearing how it inspires so many people. We will call this group the Get Lost Generation.

So, Tim takes the Get Lost Generation gang up to Sacre Coeur cathedral so they can sketch. If you look carefully, you will notice that they are all out of breath because there are about a trillion steps to walk up. But they all recover and start sketching, and Vincent start in with the creepy "it turns me on" crap again. Is there anything that turns this dude off??? If so, let me know STAT. He also starts talking about how he is a natural at couture... I start to think I know who is going home soon.

After the sketching, Tim takes the designers to Tissus Reine, which is like Mood, but with attitude and not quite so close to Show World. Tim also tells them that they get 300 euro for this challenge!! Cha-ching! Bravo spares no expense on this challenge. No siree.

Back to the Sweatshop (oops, I should call it La Salle Chaude or something) for some hand that is!

Uli immediately starts draping her purply grey fabric and making these braid straps and you know she will be in for the next round.

Laura starts draping, and spouting off about how she is going to make a Belle de Jour dress. Hmmm, bored frigid upscale housewife looking for a change in her life, maybe Laura can identify. Start getting worried if she starts describing dreams where he husband flings mud all over her. Also, I guess we know she's not frigid based on her newly appeared bump!

Jeffrey chose an acid yellow madras and tartan plaid materials at the fabric store and starts working and blabbing about how he wants to be the first designer ever to win when he had immunity. I'm all, it's good to want things.

Kayne is making something very gold. Very very gold. And bless his little heart, he just loves it. Everyone else thinks it's crap.

Michael is talking about how he hasn't ever really sewn by hand, and he is very worried. He is working with a dark bluish purple fabric and ruching the bodice a lot. Everyone, including Michael, seems very worried about Michael.

Then there is Vincent. Apparently working under a greve against clothing, Vincent has stripped down to his wife-beater undershirt like Ryan Atwood from the OC. Unfortunately for Vincent, what works in Chino does not fly in France. He is also making some kind of sofa dress out of this gold fabric. Laura, ever the astute people person she is, comments how Vincent spends all of his time admiring himself, his work and forcing others to do the same. And then runs off mumbling things to himself. Yeeechhh.

The Paris models come in for their fittings and they are all off to the secret location of the C Mal party. And it turns out to be....the Seine! Weird! So secret! And they are on a Bateau Mouche!

Uhhhh, that's Boat of Flies. Have you ever been on one? There's a reason it's called that.

So C Mal gives them all feedback (which we later learn was all fakely positive, based on the comment cards that Heidi reads in NYC. That minx!).

Then Vincent pounces. He gets totally freaky creepy on her ass and you can tell that she is about to yell, au secours!, and scamper behind Tim any second.

Then, rapid fire, back to NY where the not-so-expats have to refit their dresses on the regular models. Apparently, models in America are fatter than the ones in France too.

Then the judges start in on the criticism. They love Uli, comme toujours, and feel that she has kept her design aesthetic but elevated it. Because her dress was almost exactly the same as her others, but it was much dressier. My favorite element was the braid straps in the back, but I didn't feel like she took any risks.

They loooove Jeffrey's homage to Galliano's Dior and old school Vivianne Westwood. I actually thought his was the best dress up there. I thought he was the only one who really took a risk and went out there the way that real couture does. Bear in mind that 90% of a couture collection is never meant to be worn, but is more for art's sake. I would have liked it if the dress wasn't cut up to the model's va-jay-jay in the front though. No need for that!

Kayne got the tacky award of the week with NinaGarcia giving him the kiss of death comment, "I don't know that the taste level is there." I love how she says "taste level" in the hushed voice, like when my grandmother tells me someone has "cancer" in a whisper. I thought it was a little over the top, but not as bad as everyone kept saying. I thought it would have looked better with a tutu skirt though! Tres Swan Lake goes Elton John.

Michael took his first beatdown of the season. I didn't think his dress was as awful as they made it sound, especially considering it was his first misstep of the entire competition. The bodice did look heavy in that Malan-pageant-dress way and didn't fit the model as well as it could have, but cut the kid some slack! He is still my choice for final three, if not winner of the competition.

Laura's dress took a wrong turn at Belle de Jour and ended up...back at Laura!! It looked like EVERY SINGLE OTHER DRESS SHE HAS EVER MADE. With a big poufy collar. And it didn't look that bad (on the model in Paris, it looked a little bedraggled in NY though) but that's because it's a pretty basic dress. Seriously though, she makes fun of Angela for the fleurs d'enfers, but et tu deep V-necked dress?

Then there is Vincent. First of all, there was so much glue on his dress that horses would be afraid to go near it. Second of all, it was horrid! It was a mishmash of the worst elements of other dresses from the show. It was huge, with a deep V-neck a la Laura, wingy sleeves from his pageant dress, the flower detail from Angela's everything, and the over the top gold lame of Kayne's couture dress. I think my boyfriend summed it up best when he wandered into the living room while Vincent's creation walked down the runway. "That sucks," he said, then turned to go back to the bedroom.

I was so relieved when they kicked him out I almost cried. I can stop being afraid of the bad man now. But, Vincent did get in his parting shot (pun intended) when he said that the whole experience, "Got him off."


But you don't have to take my word for it. Tim's Take and BPR.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Pack It Up, Pack It In

Sorry the posting has been pretty light lately, but get ready, because it's going to get worse before it gets better.

That's right, I'm going on vacation. To Italy.

(I'll gleefully listen to your hateful comments now)

I'm taking my own little recess next week and enjoying a week on the Continent. Unfortunately for me, I am a pretty awful packer, so that means I must start organizing myself about three weeks ago.

Due to the recent crackdown on all things liquid and essential by the TSA and my paralyzing fear of the airline losing my luggage, I am determined to pack smart this time.

(I am also traveling with my boyfriend who will have exactly zero patience to put off going to see the Catacombs to wait me to shop for basic clothing that I could have just packed from home if I didn't have my own bizarre fantasy about what we will be doing while we are there.)

Here are some of the things I am planning on to get me through the trip in style:

Kiehl's: This is a wonderous place. A place where they give out hermetically sealed sample packets of almost everything they carry. Reasons this is so awesome? These flat little packets take up exactly ZERO space in my luggage, are disposable, cannot spill all over anything, and are FREE!

And I want to send out some major props to the folks at the Georgetown store for not only giving me a bunch of samples of their new Olive Fruit Oil hair care line, but also for MAILING me samples of the Eye Alert cream. My love for you knows no bounds.

However, I want to ask people to please not to abuse this privilege. I always try to buy something when I go grubbing for samples, or ask for samples of things that I honestly think that I will buy if I like it.

Ziploc Bags: Actually, this is kind of a lie, because I bought the generic Target brand bags, but whatevs. I love these things. Especially the snack sized ones. I put everything in these. Even my traveling companion.

Tide-to-Go: If you happen to be traveling with someone who ends up with little souvenirs on his shirts post meals, this is the greatest thing on Earth. Also if you happen to be one of those people too. See also: Downy Wrinkle Remover Travel Size.

Ambien: 'Nuff said. Go flirt with a doctor to get your own.

BodyGlide: Blisters and cobblestone streets are a no-go.

Trish McEvoy Pretty Face Palette: Okay, I'm seriously trying to cut down on the number of beauty products that I'm bringing, both to spare my lumbar vertebrae and my boyfriend's patience. It also encourages me to buy stuff while I'm there.

Almay Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover Pads: Pre-soaked pads with great eye makeup remover to take off aforementioned Pretty Face makeup, sealed up in aforementioned generic Ziploc snack bag.

Rosebud Salve: Seriously, this is the most annoying TSA rule. Apparently, I can bring my corkscrew, my knitting needles, my safety razors, my non-realistic toy weapons, my transformer robots and my screwdrivers which are less than seven inches long, but my lip balm is a security threat. I get it, we live in a different age, blah blah blah, post-9/11, blah blah. I'll check it in my luggage, but jeez. My boyfriend is the one who is really going to freak out about this.

And, to be perfectly honest, I'm just assuming that my luggage will be lost and all of my careful planning will be for naught.

So...what replacement beauty products should I look for in the Italian pharmacies?