Monday, January 23, 2006

Well Said...

BPR readers are simply brilliant. Honestly. Here's a letter I received this morning:


I love your blog, but had to take time out to ask you something. Why is there so little comment so far on Jay as a Judge for next week? I think his presence will have a tremendous impact.

Here is my “take” for Week 8: I must begin with Jay’s evolution. It can be argued that Jay was the only designer of PR1 to truly evolve on camera. Initially, I had a strong distaste for Jay and his too-far-left leaning ideas as expressed in his distinctly different clothes that would appeal to too narrow an audience. By the conclusion of the 30 Van Dam challenge, I had written him off as simply too mean and nasty to ever win anything. Then I watched, amazed, as he constructed his Chrysler Building dress. (Oh if only Mel Brooks or the costume designers for the most recent version of The Producers had consulted Jay, how much more lovely the Keep it Gay number in the film may have been!) By the time Jay delivered his “I’ve found my inner competitor” speech last season, I was thoroughly hooked and, teary-eyed, I knew he would win. We all watched and admired Jay’s winning display of shock, pride and heel-clicking enthusiasm on the runway. Then we watched it fade.

Jay has seemingly never held back any belief or comment in any situation. His behavior demonstrates that he possesses little in the way of political correctness, propriety or manners. To hear Santino’s bravado about eating judges will be as nothing to Jay who will consume several designers this Wednesday, at least one of them with nothing more than a withering glance or maybe a dismissive gesture or quite probably even just a wordless sound indicating unbridled boredom. It may be that in his past Jay was too harshly judged or too hurt to ever allow himself to drop the bitterness and rage that he seems to carry at the center of his very being which prevents him from dissembling, even when a little dissembling might work in his favor. Only he knows for sure. During the judging this week, Michael Kors may sling another arrow that will miss its mark but Jay will calmly express his outrageous opinions that will slam dead-center into the hearts of those such as Nick, Daniel, Chloe and Andre. Jay will also slaughter either Kara or Zulema (or anyone else he may perceive with a weak design) with just a few words, then leave their carcass untouched as such easy marks won’t interest him. No, Jay will focus his criticism on the destruction of the PR2 designer whom he views as a threat to his own work, and he will verbally feast upon that animal. The producers will love it.

And that will make all the difference.

I’d love to know if you agree.


I think AMG has made me really interested in what Jay will say and do!

What do the rest of you think?


Anonymous said...

I totally disagree with AMG's characterization of Jay, and think it's mostly borne out of conflating Jay's one-on-one barbs (in response to questions from a producer looking for good copy) with his actual behavior while interacting with the other designers and models. This is clearly a guy who doesn't like conflict, doesn't like to be the one in a crowd on the extreme side when it comes to opinions...the only times I can think of that he got really mad at someone else, it was in defense of another person - when he lit into Wendy after she'd drawn Kara Saun into the argument she wanted, and at Vanessa when she smeared Wendy by accusing her of defacing the photo herself.

Having said that, Jay's fully aware of his role in this special judge position, so I'm quite sure he's going to work the quotables overtime - but I bet you anything that he'll follow up his sharpest barb with a comment that softens the blow or tries to make a connection ('do you see what I'm saying', 'you know what I mean?' he says those sorts of looking-for-middle-ground things fairly often)

Anonymous said...

Good points AMG! The model thing seems to be overshadowing poor Jay. I agree that having Jay as a judge will make things interesting this week, but I doubt he will have the power over the contestants that he thinks he should. He was in their position not too long ago and I doubt most of them will hold him in such high regard.

It's true he'll probably pick on the stronger designers such as Santino and Nick who will make him feel threatened.

One thing that is bothering me, though is people's perception of Kara being a weak competitor. I've seen her as a consistently strong designer, and though she's never won, her designs have almost always been strong contenders - just not "in your face" enough to win. Is it the breakdown during the Banana Republic that's making people see her as weak? This impression will likely fade just as it did for Andrae.

Anonymous said...

Well, I for one haven't commented on Jay's appearance because I really don't think he deserves to be a judge. I suppose he will add some spice to the show, and that's what it's all about we now know. I didn't like Jay in the beginning last year and by the end, I was really ambivalent about him. In any case, it's not like he has made a big name for himself in the design world so for him to be presented as a judge it just a little bit too ridiculous for me. At least with Nickie & Sasha they were picking something for themselves so I could see them as part of the panel.

AJ said...

ellen, to answer your question on Kara, I've just never found any of her designs that strong or all the good to be frank. I had to go to the website just now to remember any of the early work she's done, becuase to me, it's forgettable and not nearly as good as certain others.

I thought her Barbie outfit was downright ugly, and the only saving grace for her BR challenge was Zulema.

I don't think she's a bad designer by any means, I just don't think she's up to par with the likes of Nick, Daniel, Santino etc...

As for Jay...I think we'll see what goes on in this weeks show...I still think that they are to make an outfit inspired by something from last season, hence his presence and Santino's uncanny resemblance to Austin's Grammy dress last year.

Let's wait and see...

LauraK said...

Every week I think "Oh this week will be really good, it's the Banana Republic Challenge" or "Oh this week will be good - skating costumes are really challenging." This week, I'm thinking "Oh this week will be good, we get the model walk-off AND Jay as a guest judge." Maybe my expectations are too high, but I hope I'm not disappointed. I just want to see some really beautiful, original designs.

Moi ;) said...

Jay is so good at Catty. He may not like to get into a conflict, but as a judge he's not really in that position. So I expect to see him fling a few goodies and hey, aren't the ratings what it's all about? @@

Anonymous said...

just a passing word in Jay's defence. I agree with much that has already been said but would like to refresh people's memories concerning PR1 Fashion week: when KaraSaun, Wendy and he returned to NY to finetune/tweak their collections there was bitterness and extremely hostile vibes between KaraSaun and Wendy that could have impacted them all and impeded their creativity. Jay, perhaps uncharacteristically, at least attempted to play peacemaker. He understood that a tranquil environment was essential to the process of putting the final touches to their work. He even seemed to warm up to Wendy, maybe something like pity but I definitely remember them laughing together. KaraSaun was doing her "80s Power-Bi#ch" thing, and was acting quite obnoxious, I thought, while Wendy seemed to be at least trying to create a harmonious vibe.


PS: has anyone looked at KaraSaun's or Austin's collections shown on their websites? I found KaraSaun's pretty amazing and rather cutting edge, very professional presentation (and her site as well); Austin's to my surprise and dismay looked a little flat. It didn't seem to have that glamourous brilliant romantic 30/40/50s flair that he came up with over and over during PR1. I wonder if his loss, which he must attribute to "that" dream dreass, has scared him off that kind of design vision. If Santino is indeed copying it, it is the most sweet, generous homage to Austin--and perhaps will inspire him to return to his "roots"!!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first comment about Jay's characterization, which seems to be coming out of left field here. Since when is Jay mean to people face-to-face? I tend to find Jay's comments, even his more stinging commentary from the one-on-one sessions, to be more honest than anything else. He doesn't hold anything back, but he also doesn't seem to be actively looking to insult people (unlike certain other contestants on the show). I, for one, can't wait to see what he's got to say.

Anonymous said...

I did look at Kara Saun's website and agree, her designs are great!! She was the winner last year, imo. I know she is going to do well.

Joanne said...

I am confused about why anyone would think that Jay is jealous of the contestants on PR this season. He won last season! I do think that he seems to be somewhat disenchanted with the show and what happened after he won, but I hardly think that would mean that he would take it out on this season's participants. I cannot believe the way that Santino and Andrae have talked to the judges this season. They act as if they don't need to be on the show, which to me begs the question: WHY ARE YOU ON IT? I am so looking forward to Jay's appearance. He, Kara, Austin, and Wendy were all judges in order for these people to GET on the show, why shouldn't he be a judge on the runway? When that Victoria's Secret model was?

LauraK said...

Just checking in to say thanks to everyone for this lively discussion!

Divine Calm said...

I do think that Jay has a heart and a great understanding of people. His comments will be dead-on and perhaps hard to take, but we will all nod our heads in agreement.

geekygirrl said...

One of the sacred rituals in all the design professions is the critique. It happens on many levels: the informal discussion with your peers as you're working, a more formal discussion with a critic (as when Tim drops by - although he is rather limited in what he can say to the PR designers) or a very formal setting such as before a panel of invited judges.

In the "real world" outside of school or reality TV shows, the critics are clients, buyers, or people who will critique you in print. Its harsh to learn about the deficiencies of your design by reading about it in the Arts and Leisure section of the New York Times.

The whole point of critiques is to get the designer to have these critical conversations within themselves, so that they become objective judges of their own work. As such, the critique is always about the work, not the designer, and it is always about what the designer did, not what he/she didn't do or should have done.

I have found that the PR judges who are professionals in the field are very good critics. Although we don't know what happened in the 90 minutes of lingerie discussion with Santino, I'm willing to bet they stuck to skewering the design, not the designer. Santino obviously took it personally, which is odd because he has said some things which lead me to believe that he can look objectively at his designs, and he is stretching for something that he hasn't quite figured out to achieve. Lupe, on the other hand, didn't seem to be that good at looking at her designs critically.

But, I digress. What I want to say is that it will be interesting to see how good a critic Jay is. Will he focus on the design, or the designer? Will the designers take his remarks personally? Will they be able to objectively disagree with what he says? Will they be allowed to voice their defense to what he says? Will all this end up on the editing room floor? I will be watching with interest.

Anonymous said...

I was a bit put off by last years contestants being judges in the first place anyway. To me, it just says, they can't designers who've already proven themselves to do it. But, whatever. This show is really about entertainment anyway.

eric3000 said...

I loved Jay and his clothes last season and think it is very appropriate to have him on as a judge this time but I have to aggree that he can be very insecure and insulting. I know this is old news but did people see he appearance on Kathy Griffin's reality show? She was telling him what a big fan she is and he was (possibly unintentionally) insulting her and then he got really defensive for no reason and basically told all her friends to go F*** themselves. I was a little stunned, thinking, "what's his problem?"

fashionasart said...


What a beautifully written, clear, elegant discription of the Critique in its various manifestations.

Of course, you're delineating the "ideal" scenario here. I've written the following elsewhere on this blog, but critics/judges/panels are people first. And as such they arrive with a whole trainload of biases, personal hangups, blindspots (insensitivities), etc., many/most of which they will not even be aware of themselves. In judging you have to transcend all that as best you can and look at the work at hand with pure and impersonal eyes (a slightly theoretical state) and seek out the unique voice and distinctive flavour of the artist, the essense of his/her individuallity, why the object has to exist in its present form, or exist at all for that matter. (We've all probably crossed paths with art that falls into this later category/dustbin no doubt.) But however obsesssively we as judges scrub ouselves of our biases, etc., in the end it all, I'm afraid, will come down to personal taste, which we will probably defiine simply as Taste.

I'm wondering if the best critics, though highly knowledgeable in their respective fields, of course, are drawn from those who are NOT direct competitors/do not create original work in the genre themselves?
For example, Nina vs Kors. It seems to me that he tries too hard to be witty/bi##hy/clever (for the camera?); whereas Nina seems fixed, fixated even, on the process itself (critiqueing) and stays on the mission like a lasar. Naturally, she's doing this everyday at Elle.

As far as Jay, I don't know what to expect. I think his remarks will be very targeted, as they should be--but I'm unsure what their tone will be, or his body language, or what emotions they'll be masking underneath. I hope that, having endured the process himself, he'll dish it out seasoned with at least a spoonful of kindness.

You know, I've reviewed for a local paper (mostly theater, never art)
and I also ran a playwright's workshop for a number of years--and I never once that I can remember tried to be witty for wit's sake or witheringly criitical.
These are people's lives/dreams/imaginations/souls that you're "handling". There's a profound responsibility that goes along with this job. You can fertilize talent as easily as you can crush it in its first flowering. But you also have a responsibility to the art/craft. If the talent isn't there, you can't fake it. That's where Heidi (and Tim) come into play at PR: they humanize the process. Heidi's refreshing, affectionate kiss at their final exit reestabllshes their worth and integrity as human beings. They've failed the test, recovered and are moving on to the next phase of their lives.
In this respect it's interesting to observe that while there has been an abundance of passion and hysterics and meltdowns, all of the designers have exited, surprisingly, with a kind of poise and calmness.

That's my eleven cents worth :o)

geekygirrl said...

As usual, you have a great perspective on things and bring interesting experiences to the table. I have to disagree with you, though, that in the end successsful design comes down to taste. I think design has to be judged on much more than "does this appeal to me?" Perhaps that is the difference between art and design, where art is more of a personal conversation between the artist and the viewer, while design has to have the functional component.

"Functional" sounds so dull, but to me it is one of the most exciting things about design. You have to solve the problem, and the sucess of that can be judged subjectively. Solve a problem with ingenuity and flair and you mark yourself as a good designer.

Anyway, I've written this post about at least 4 times, but thrown it away each time because it gets too involved and these discussions are much more interesting as a conversation than a homily - preferably over a pitcher of beer!

fashionasart said...


Yeh, bring on the pitcher of beer!!!!

Thanks for the input. As someone who's outside of the fashion world, some of my ideas are probably skewed. Of course, the design has to "work" (that was especially critical in the Sasha Cohen challenge).

A note on tonight's episode:
I thought there were two REALLY EXQUISITE designs, and one runnerup: Daniel and Andrae, with Chloe a somewhat distant third.
My question is: who could be comfortable actually wearing Daniel's design over the course of an evening?
I'd have to examine the design closer but it seems like it would be about as comfortable as wearing a neckbrace. And how could you eat in it? (Of course, legend has it that models don't eat, but real people do.) It really falls into the category of Objet d'Art and is, of course, unapologetically Haute Couture. In other words, it really doesn't have to "work", or does it? By contrast, I have none of the same reservations about Andrae's design. It is simply luscious--and probably the most flawless garment that's been designed so far this season.
I think Nina and MKors were (Unfairly) looking at the individual designers' whole body of work so far in making their decisions, and anticipating (prematurely, I'd say) Fashion Week.

Tara auf next episode;
Santino, the following;
Nick, after that.
Final Three: Chloe, Andrae. Daniel.
Probable winner: Daniel.