Sunday, April 25, 2010

Emilio’s gown

After their three runway shows on Thursday night, Krishna asked me which Project Runway contestant I thought should win the seventh season & my immediate response was “either one of the guys.” I followed this with “I guess I have a slight preference for Emilio’s collection,” which felt to me more cohesive & less costumy than Seth Aaron’s more varied & colorful collection. As has happened several times before (think Mycheal Knight or Daniel Vosovic), strong competitors – in this case both Emilio Sosa & Mila Hermanovski – stepped back from their strengths when it came time to compose an entire collection. Some of Sosa’s pieces were tremendous – his gown (double click on the picture & look at it full size) was the best piece of the three runway shows. But his “signature” print, in which we get to read esosa hundreds of times as it evolves into a wandering stripe, got really old really fast. Mila’s collection was impeccable in construction & execution, but it was colorless (save for one set of dark purple leggings) and far too fastidious. I wished they’d picked Jay as the winner of the runway runoff instead – not because I thought he would have won, but because his designs would have been fun, and it would have been more interesting to test Seth Aaron’s collection against another that went for color, shape & drama.

What really persuaded me most about Emilio’s collection was not so much the clothing, but his models. Sosa, raised in Harlem with a Dominican background, consciously used as many models of color as he could, saying something like “I want my collection to look now, and now is multicultural.” Visually the contrast with virtually every previous runway show – not just this season’s – was profound.

The seventh season – there have now been 112 contestants (111 if you consider that one fellow who made the cast twice, only to be elminated each time) & at least 21 runway shows – was notable for having much stronger designers than the lamentable previous season shot in Los Angeles. But it was notable also for not having any really winning personalities once Anthony Williams – a tiny round Southern black variation on Truman Capote – got “auf’d.” Every time a judge – virtually the entire season – said anything nice about any other designer, Sosa would hang his head & look guilty, as tho it were a criticism of him that somebody else had done something even a little fabulous. He also tended to argue with Offical Mentor Tim Gunn constantly, even though he usually took some of Tim’s advice. Mila’s angst made her less effective a competitor than other “older” women (Wendy Pepper, Laura Bennett) have been in the past. Her best moment of the entire season – as a person, not a designer – was her détente conversation with Jay Nicholas Sario. You could see her lower her defenses & she suddenly looked almost 20 years younger – that was startling.

Sario himself deserves a comment. As the second San Francisco contestant (the first was Beach Blanket Bingo designer Chris March) to make it to a “final four” shootout to see who would present on the Runway, only to be eliminated there, he was the cattiest, most snide person conceivable, especially in the “reunion” wrap-up that took the place of a final Models of the Runway show, where he described one model – sitting not more than five feet away – as having “bad teeth & fat legs.” The excess of bad vibes on the wrap-up show – they hated Tim Gunn’s “trash talk,” and some got eliminated for taking his advice – was not a first for Runway, but it was a worst.