It was the “real people” challenge on last night’s Project Runway and you know what that means… One of the designers had to pitch a fit as though forced to make a dress for an elephant instead of a perfectly lovely working mom (although now we’d kinda like to see the designers make elephant dresses too. How cute would that be?).
I don’t know—the trunk area looks cheap to me.
The challenge: Create a new look for an everyday woman whose friend thinks she needs a makeover. Also she gets a hair makeover.
Guest judge: Alice Temperley
The winner: Fabio and his too-cute-for-words client.
The auf’d: Nathan. Nooo! It should’ve been Ven.
The Jerk Store called. They’re running out of Ven!
Every season, you guys.
Every season there’s a challenge that makes me yell through my magical cable pipeline to the Parsons workroom, “HAVE YOU PEOPLE NEVER SEEN AN EPISODE OF THIS SHOW???” And every season, it’s the same challenge—the so-called “Real Woman” challenge, which, I’m not even going to get into why they need to stop calling it that, because you already know. I will commence calling it the Non-Model challenge. And, though Annalee has more below on just how solidly Ven blew away the challenge’s past complainers with his dick behavior, let’s remember that the last contestant to make his Non-Model cry was Jeffery Sebelia, winner of Season 3. And it was a fellow contestant’s mother. So really, Ven was just trying to get a lock on Fashion Week.
(As Tim Gunn might say: “NOT.” Oh, Tim. I want Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey to reunite for one more Wayne’s World just so you can say that in its proper context.)
This Non-Model challenge was a little weird, though. The initial fakeout, in which Heidi introduced a bunch of people who, as Elena noted, “Look like they have nothing to do with any kind of fashion,” and then revealed that—ta da!—these folks had actually nominated a whole other set of folks for makeovers, seemed a little pointless. It would have been more of a shock if, for instance, the designers’ models had initially been presented and then revealed that THEY had nominated Non-Model friends for makeovers. Maybe the producers thought of that. Maybe the models don’t have any Non-Model friends. In any case, it didn’t have the hoped-for pizzazz.
And it got a little confusing, subsequently, when the chyrons identified the “friends” and the “clients.” How much of a say were the friends getting? Given that a big part of the project-placement parameters for the makeover involved L’Oreal’s Johnny Lavoy working with each client on a hair-and-makeup transformation (again, this really fell short in the pizzazz department), it was unclear exactly what the role of the nominating friend was meant to be, and how much their opinions would end up being considered in the final judging.
Prediction for next week:
Dmitry will either get the win he’s been so anxious for, or realize that making the same dress over and over is not necessarily the best way to get that win, and then enlist his brother the professional hockey player to go Tonya Harding on one or more of the other designers.
The Gunn Show:
While the Non-Model challenge always brings out the ass in a select few contestants (hey, Olivier, gotten over your fear of hips yet?), it’s also the challenge that reminds us of what a treasure Tim is—humane, compassionate, awesome. His exchange with Ven, in which he pulled mock-horrified faces at Ven’s outraged description of how HUGE and ALSO OLD his client was (faces which were clearly lost on Ven), was priceless. And, in saying goodbye to poor Nathan, he of the “non-hooker mesh” illusion sleeves, Tim made sure to say that he was sorry the season was losing someone with “profound qualities of character.” (Extra classiness points for not pointing and gesticulating at Ven while saying this.)
He’s a gem.
Dear my neighbors, Please blame my shouting at the TV on this guy.
Ven! VEN!!!!!!!!!!! Holy Lord & Taylor accessories wall, where do we even begin with this guy? To anyone with eyes and/or ears, it is obvious but nonetheless necessary to state that Ven is the fatphobic WORST and that everyone on ProjRun knows it. With every belittling comment made about his client, with every whiny complaint about his “unlucky” circumstances, and with every “Oh no, this belt is too small for you, let me get another. Oh, that’s too small too…” all the other designers were ready to throw literal daggers at Ven’s dumb face. Way to problematize a non-problem, dude! It’s not like you were dealing with the classic “I’m a client who wants everything that’s in poor taste” (sad to see you go, Nathan). And no one had the misfortune of a demanding diva. Ven managed to a take a woman who had an easy objective—stylish clothing that is comfortable and work appropriate—and make her feel undeserving of his time, ashamed of her body, and hideous without his help. To read this Q&A with Ven from Lifetime’s site, you would think that this challenge would be a (likely Ven shaming) cakewalk: “I don’t think I have weaknesses as a designer. I know how to handle situations and I’m always learning something new.”
All throughout Ven’s moping about having the largest client in the workroom, I couldn’t help but think, “Um, aren’t you the largest designer in the workroom?” Not that any designer’s size should be part of the show, but the discrepancy between Ven’s fat-shaming of his client and his confidence in himself was confusing. One likelihood is that Ven has internalized shame about his own size and projects it on others. However, what I think is even more of a possibility is that Ven harbors a double standard regarding the importance of looks for men and women. As a man, his value is derived from his talents (has he told you about his fashion school awards yet?). As a woman, his client’s value is derived from her looks. And as a client who isn’t a 20-something professional model, her values barely register on Ven’s radar.
Does Ven just not get how mean and unreasonable he’s being, or does he not care? Since he comes from the Kardashian school of monotonic speech, it’s hard to say. In the end, it’s probably a mix of both, and it ultimately doesn’t matter. While I appreciate that the judges acknowledged Ven’s generally piss-poor behavior by faking a double elimination and leaving him last on the stage, I also wish they would have considered the challenge. Nathan, Ven, and Sonjia all had failing designs in some sense. However, Nathan and Sonjia had pleased clients, despite the judge’s opinions. It was heartbreaking to see Nathan exit while talking about how much he enjoys empowering people through fashion, because we all know that had he been assigned Ven’s model, she at least would have left the show feeling beautiful and deserving.
Unprovoked outbursts be damned, I love Elena and I don’t understand why! Blame her constant shifting between no bangs and blunt bangs, barely any makeup and GIANT false eyelashes—she is comedy gold. And in a week where cruelty was king, it became obvious that Elena’s supposed mean streak is just a manifestation of her own nerves and high standards. We could all use a little of her lady armor ways!
Predictions for next week:
All I was able to understand about next week’s challenge (in between flashes of Ven-fueled hate rage) was that the contestants are designing something to be mass produced. That and all of the ladies seem to be imploding? And Ven is continuing a villainous-streak with his “Men are usually stronger designers” soundbite. My prediction? That I will continue to yell at my TV.
This is what a satisfied client looks like. Cute!
Learning to like you…
If the cloud of Ven’s douche-y behavior had a silver lining last night, it was that it gave some of the other designers a chance to be utterly likable. Not only were Elena, Gunnar, Nathan, and the gang completely disgusted with Ven’s nastiness, we got to see them interact with their clients in heartwarming ways.
At the start of this season, I liked Sonjia and that was about it (still love you, Sonj!). Fabio seemed like a freegan bore, Gunnar was too whiny, Dmitry was a complete sourpuss, and Elena was just plain mean. (Yes, I was too quick to judge. Give me a break; it’s reality television!) Who knew that by episode six my notes would be filled with lines like, “Fabio and his boyfriend Jason are so cute! And the cat!” and “I am seriously SO into Gunnar right now! I want to watch a talk show that’s just him and a bunch of sweet older ladies all being nice to each other.” And I do! (Note: Annalee suggested the show be called Cute Ass Dress. Are you listening, Lifetime?) And Dmitry has turned his frown upside down in a big way. I love him now!
Not sure what’s happening here, but it’s the BEST.
Ven, the shittier you get the cooler everyone else gets. Keep it up, I guess?
Predictions for next week:
Based on that “men are stronger designers” comment, my prediction is that I throw something at the TV. Better lock my valuables up now in anticipation of my Ven rage.