Thursday, February 09, 2006

Recap of Episode #10 "Makeover."

Our sincerest thanks go out to Don/Fashionasart for creating this fabulous recap. In record time, too. Enjoy!

I don’t do blow-by-blow. (Some will no doubt find a pun there.) Instead I’d like to try something that’s qualitatively different from previous recaps. I’ll include some familiar ingredients, but with more of an overview. and accompanying character (or personality) sketches that should stimulate some passionate discussion here, especially since many of the posters are fiercely partisan. I should say up front that I have never been a dedicated Nick fan nor a Santino basher, though I am well aware of the talents of the one and the flaws of the other. On balance, as designers, I would have to assign them pretty close overall scores. They were, in other words, each other’s PRIMARY competition—sharing that 30s/40s/50s Hollywood, slightly hyperbolic, slightly fetishized fashion bias, and it was always probably unlikely that both would make it to Fashion Week. (I had predicted that either
Nick or Kara would be out this episode, and without Santino’s substantial, if overbearing input, it very well might have been Kara.)

With Andrae gone, I knew it was going to get ugly and personal, and it has. He was Santino’s ‘whipping boy”, which good-natured Andrae accepted with exceptional grace, even a touch of bemusement. Nick and Dan by day two, had, probably inevitably, teamed up against Santino, with Chloe and Kara watching from the grandstand as (somewhat) innocent bystanders. Meanwhile Santinno, minus Andrae, began doing a one-man show, comprised of bad, repetitive, even repulsive comedy bits—for the most part
without any audience, which only drove him to greater heights/depths of perversity. Unquestionably the quotable bon mot from this episode was ”you can’t polish a turd”—but I don’t think that anyone out there is rushing to put it on a tee shirt.

Except for Santino (who is always clear, if not blunt) and the emerging but still slightly nebulous, subterranean resistance of Nick, the subliminal crosscurrents in the workroom, which I think were the real ”star”, or protagonist of this episode, are difficult to put ones finger on or to articulate clearly: We were sloshing, along with the designers, though a fetid emotional swamp in which tension, frustration and physical exhaustion (in Emmett’s recent interview he said that they
were constantly deprived of sleep) played equal, competing and continuously shifting roles. The competition has gradually worn their protective armour thin and is now eating into sensitive layers of skin underneath.

Thank God, there is only this one last challenge left. (Man, did Santino ever light up when he heard they have to design a gown), and then six plus months vacation. They’ll need it!!!

In this existential drama, we witnessed all of the designers melting down, even our beloved Daniel, with Nick melting the least, ironically as it turned out. His confidence was racing sadly to a deadend.

”AND THEN THERE WERE FIVE.” (I don’t know who says this offscreen. Daniel, I think.)



LauraK said...

The episode began with a sweet tribute/glance over the shoulder at Andrae: Chloe called him “a great designer” and was surprised that he was gone: Santino felt “sad” and called Andrae “the glue that held the four of us (35D) together”. Then Heidi gave them their assignment to create “a look for a very demanding client, one of your fellow designers” and called it “a head-to-toe makeover”. (Tim later called
it “reinventing the look of the other.) Strange, because Daniel’s design for Chloe did just that. It was a total, rather startling reimagining of Chloe’s core persona, and ALL the judges hated it!!! Go figure.

Daniel, of course, kept Rebecca, his good luck model, and had some sweet parting words for Danyelle: “I send her to go to do much better things.” Danyelle, wiping away a tear, is the only model who has shown vulnerability , the only one to emerge as a fully-clothed human being this season. Her final remarks, that she would miss the “wonderful people I got attached to” struck me as both genuine and touching. Then Heidi pulled names:
Santino remakes Kara
Kara remakes Santino
Nick remakes Dan
Chloe remakes Nick
Daniel remakes Chloe
This involves a radical shift for Chloe and Kara, having to design and construct garments for men.

Next they consult on the designs: in this aspect it was the team episode deja vu, and that always spells trouble, make that DRAMA101. What I found most interesting was that Nick, Santino and Kara gave very generous hints/suggestions, to wit:
SANTINO—“cleaner cut, preppy, All-American”—and he suggested trimming his facial hair

NICK—“Eurotrash”—elegant in an conspicuously expensive, trendy, flashy way. And he also somewhat micromanaged the cut of his vest, whereas Chloe was clueless.

KARA—“funkier, more adventurous version of myself” In other words, they should have gotten some points for partially codesigning their outfits. This input especially helped Chloe and Kara.

DANIEL, by contrast, TOLD Chloe what look he was going for: ”fun-loving party girl, expensive but still young and flirty”—with s&m/hooker overtones (JMO) Ironically, later on the runway he was told “you’ve made her look twenty years older”.

Off to Mood with $200 each, one of their larger budgets, and 45 minutes to shop. They then proceeded to construct their garments, with Santino spending an inordinate amount of his alloted time “mentoring” Kara and critically cuting himself short of enough time to work on his own rather complicated design, which eventually came down the runway, like Shakespeare’s Richard the 3rd, “half made up.” (Which in turn, ironically, has alienated him from all the other designers. More to come next episode.) This maneuver, stealing time from his own project to help Kara, together with his general mismanagement of time, is most strange: because if she failed, that would assure him his place in the Final Four. Whether the culprit is his perfectionism or his being a control freak his behavior was counterproductive, if not potentially suicidal.

I’ll now jump to the judging, after detouring for a few relevant quotes/comments:

”Nick is giving me the silent treatment”—tension is building. Nick has stopped interacting with Santino to preserve his focusHe starts his “coprophilia riff”:

”You can’t polish a turd”

Reference to “eating his sh*t as a child; reference to bowel habits; “We started with five turdy designers and we polished them” (No one is paying attention to him.)Previously all this creative tension would have been channeled into his hilarious TIMPRESSIONS

”Growing up in Missouri....a lot of people thought I was a weird kid” Big surprise!!!

He starts to feel that Daniel and Nick are teaming up against him—“beyond competitive spirit....jealousy” and had turned him into "the enemy". Probably true. Bad guy Santino is helping Kara and thus spoiling his own chances (for the minute we won’t look at who, where or why) while the Blog sweethearts are sending out destructive MegaDeathRays in Santino’s direction. Ok, I exaggerate—just to awaken
some people and make the point that none of these guys are lily white or charcoal black. They’re all mixtures of many different (often hidden) emotions, motivations and goals.

Finally, provoked and coldshouldered by his roommates, we get : “I’m here to be in the Final Three!” “I’ m never going to give up!”, slyly and strategically intercut by the editors. He might even have been speaking alone to the camera but the editing makes it sound confrontational, egomaniacal and almost unforgivably arrogant. Granted, Santino is a difficult blend of excruciating honesty and in-your-face
lack of civility and manners.

Playing the peacemaker (before the runway): “You have to take him (Santino) with a grain of salt.”
”Horribly uncomfortable in this ***thing*** (?!!!), it was glued to every part of my body” (Now who’s exaggerating) and “I should have said something” (tearily, after the runway)Santino did, after all, singlehandedly assure Kara of going to Fashion
Week, if only as a decoy or, as I like to call it, a faux contestant

Stayed pretty much under the radar as usual (maybe that’s the way to win or stay focused at least). Nothing memorable out of her mouth except the oft-oft-oft repeated mantra: “I’ve never designed menswear before”
Ok, Chloe, we get it. But just remember that you’re not a virgin anymore. (She did look hot in those shiny black chandeliery earrings though.)

Nick goes out in a blaze of Nickisms.
”Santino is making me crazy”, delivered with Bette Davis eyes and an inimitable tongue-dance on the word “crazy”. He begins the challenge a bit overconfident, shall we say: “I’ve done menswear.” Then he is first on the sewing machine, intimidating all the others. ”I’m fast. You need to catch up.” What did that quaint old colonial gentleman say: Haste makes waste.
More Santino bashing: “Most egotistical man I ever met.” “He’s rude,
even when he’s joking.” Then a “stab” at diplomacy and peacemaking: “Yes, it’s a competition but it doesn’t help to create tension.” I thought that competitions
were famous for tension and that adrenalin rush. He’s got a point though.
Tim expresses concern about his garment: “I’m worried about feminine overtones”. There are no pockets, the cut and the fabric are reminiscent of woman’s fashion, even though Nick”s “done menswear”.
”I was 98% done. Nothing I could do but Have Dan butch it up on the runway” Maybe I missed it. Did Daniel “do” butch on the runway??
And finally: “I look like a Senior Flight Attendant on British Airways.” (Yo, I’m booking British Airways for my next flight to Europe.) Then he did a quickie upper class Brit impression. Verrrrrrry cute!!!

But the creme de la creme is definitely “Santino was backstage telling her (Kara) she couldn’t move, it would fall apart.” Decidedly comical and decidedly tragic. Santino was in panic mode and using every resource at his disposal, and then some, to survive, And d*mn it, he did survive. I’m sure there are crises backstage every day at fashion shows.

A slightly different Daniel this episode—bi*chier, edgier, cockier, ”coasting” (?).
”The jumpsuit design for Kara was ridiculous”. (Later the judges preferred it over his own design.)
”He’s (Santino) talented but very arrogant and obnoxious.” (The previous episode he was egging Santino on to do Timpressions.)
”Lucky me!”(in reference to his immunity saving him from a probable Auf, delivered very sarcastic, certainly not his usual charming/winning style)
“You can’t be right all the time” (in response to criticism from the judges) Notice the inference or assumption that he is usually “right”, as in perfect, best, etc.

Now the facts: Andrae was a VERY close second in the Inspiration challenge; and both Chloe and Kara were in the running for the Garden Party challenge. With other judges the final results might have been different. Not to say that Daniel isn’t spectacularly talentedand will probably have a brilliant career in Fashion whether he wins PR or not.

Capsulizing, the tension between Santino and Nick finally came to a boil during this episode, and all of the designers, in one way or another, got caught in the crossfire. Chloe alone seemed tp remain relatively uninvolved, as usual remaining grounded, focused on the project and immune to the rounds of sarcasm laced with venom careening across the workroom.

After consulting individually with a specialist from L’Oreal Paris they
moved on to the runway:
Santino really worked his outfit. Again he gave Kara a leg up. Kara, by necessity, walked and looked like a zombie, which fought against the “funkier image” that she and Santino were theoretically aiming for. But at least nothing came loose or fell off., in which case Santino would probably have been automatically aufed.
Daniel did what he could for a pretty lame outfit. He looked like a very androgynous European aristocrat who might walked straight out of Mann’s Death in Venice.
Chloe looked stiff and laced in, certainly not ready to party. Leather or faux-leather, certainly isn’t supple or sensuous. Nick looked ***hot*** and was generously supportive of Chloe by volunteering that he would wear the outfit.He clearly looked like a winner and was.

MKors, PR’s resident Simon, continued to come up with his trademark zingers:
Daniel”s leather outfit was “80s, bitchy Knot’s Landing” Nick’s was “a women’s wear fabric, very mushy, a Golden Girl jacket that you’d wear with a belt”, “looks like what Friar Tuck wears with leggings” (may not have some of these quotes word-for-word. They whiz by.)

Nina, by contrast, sticks to traditional , fashion world nomenclature that is, for the most part, emotionally neutral, professional and far less aggressive, insulting or pejorative. Also, of course, far less quotable..
The guest judge, Freddie Liba (or Lieba) actually liked Santino’s jumpsuit and may have persuaded the others to consider it more favorably after one or two dismissive remarks, and may have saved him. (Wendy recherche.)

Kara: they all liked Santino’s transformation: “She brought out the softer, less serious side of Santino” And the priceless: “Santino on vacation”.
Daniel: Kors didn’t like “the finishing”” Heidi and the others vehemently objected to his concept. “I really hate what he did to Chloe” “aged Chloe 20 years””Maybe he was coasting”. (But we know he wasn’t. He was going for yet another win.) Heidi warned him that he was fortunate (immunity) or he might have been out.

Santino: ”It was falling apart” “He doesn’t think about a woman”, the usual
refrains. It’s true, he spent a lot of time finetuning/coaching/mentoring Kara
but nevertheless, his garment was literally held together by “spit and a prayer”. If Kara had spoken up before the judges as she did finally, belatedly, in the Green Room. Santino would most definitely have been aufed then and there. Period. So she is indirectly responsible for his remaining in the competition, as he is for her.

Nick: The judges unanimously hated Nick’s design. “He picked the wrong fabric.” “You see every ripple in the seams.” “Every choice you made - from fabric to execution—was wrong.. Your ambition got the best of you.” (Heidi)
However devoted you may be to Nick,you HAVE to admit that he made a calamitous series of inopportune choices, with little or no redeeming value.

Chloe: Almost as unanimously, they adored Chloe’s outfit, and it was stunning.
”You did an impeccable job. Nick looks smashing from head to toe.” (Heidi)

Kara and Daniel got a pass, Chloe quite deservedly the win, and Nick and Santino were left alone on the runway for the final, long long awaited showdown. It was almost like High Noon. They have both been there a couple of times, but I don’t remember them ever being there together before. Both of their work was critiqued, and then the inevitable. Nick was aufed, said his final farewells (none with
Santino, that we saw on camera at least) and some sweet departing comments for the camera, in which he very emotionally spoke of/directly to his parents.

So Nick, one of the “favorites, as promised, is auf but he leaves troubled currents of anger, bitterness and resentment toward Santino behind in his wake, which could be the kiss of death (remember Zulema after her”raid” on the model pool) or more likely, will fire his creative imagination to new and unparalleled heights in the next and final episode before Fashion week. (I know it’s confusing, the dates
are all convoluted). His giddy, bliss-glazed face when he discovers who the gown they’re designing is for is permanently glued into my cerebellum, along with so many of dear Andrae’s delicious expressions.

STAY TUNED. THE SAGA CONTINUES. And now that Daniel has stumbled there is promise of a real and fair race to the Finish Line. I for one think that Santino is destined for the Final Three. But his next design will have to be absolutely exceptional and the execution flawless.

AJ said...

Really well done Don! You are so eloquent and easy to read...I dig;)

Anonymous said...

by the way, my guess on the final challenge....and i think many probably thought the same thing despite the fake celebrity guessing that the dress design next week is for none other than Wendy P.


Anonymous said...

this was a good recap-fair and honest. my guess on the person that they are designing for next week is Heidi

LauraK said...

Maybe Debra Messing is the one they design for.

AJ said...

I was thinking Debra Messing too!

Anonymous said...

Don, this recap is wonderful. It's brilliant. I love the different format -- the character sketches and the analysis as well as your eagle eye for interpersonal details. This was a delight to read and you can consider me a full-on Don fan. Perfect!

Tbone said...

Outstanding work Dr. Don! Just the dose of medicine I needed on this gloomy day...

LauraK said...

Wendy! Wendy would be great!

Matthew said...

""You can’t be right all the time" (in response to criticism from the judges) Notice the inference or assumption that he is usually "right", as in perfect, best, etc."

Actually, I think Daniel was saying that about the judges, not himself. In other words, he was saying that he believed them to be right previously (especially when it came to awarding him the win), but that he thought their comments for this challenge were wrong, hence him telling them, "You can’t be right all the time."

A little cocky? Yeah. A little arrogant? Sure. But said with much more reserve and refinement than Santino would have given. Lingerie episode, anyone?

Sam said...

Of course, Wendy Pepper! That would be great. When I saw Kara and Jay last night I thought "where's Wendy?" the three from last year's fashion week meet the three from this year's fashion week. It makes perfect sense.

Anonymous said...

How do I get the rest of the original recap in the comments section? I have read everyone's interesting comments but can't finish the original article.

LauraK said...

The first comment is actually the rest of the recap - I know it appears like a comment from me - sorry - I just don't know a faster, more efficient way to do this.

Anonymous said...

People are upset over Nick being off mostly because he was shafted with the model change and we all wanted to see him reunite with tarah in the final episode. I felt bad for him too. But, personally, I was sick of him mentioning paris hilton in every damn challenge.

nsa said...

I know Nick's design left something to be desired, but I'm so sad that he's gone. Without Nick and Andrae, the show has lost some of it's spark for me.