Project Runway: YEEHAW! Kiss My Grits, Miss Scarlett!

Posted on September 13, 2013

Look, before our southern kittens get upset with all the stupid New Yorkers on display last night, let’s just say this: the world of fashion (and the world of reality TV, for that matter) speaks in shorthand. About pretty much everything. If you’ve ever read the show notes provided before a runway show, it often reads like that magazine editor scene from Absolutely Fabulous: “Faces! Eyes, lips, nostrils!  This is all off the top of my head. Skin is in! ‘Moist’ is my word du jour.  …  I see sun, sand, water, beach…” It’s an industry that shorthands a pencil skirt and blouse as “sexy secretary,” decades after the phrase stopped having any real-life meaning. It’s an industry that defines “urban” as “what people in New York wear,” and “New York style” as all-black clothing.

Our point is this: try not to get too worked up over the broadness and vagueness of the phrase “modern southern woman” or the rather laughable attempts to define it as a cross between the Grand Ol’ Opry, Blanche Deveraux, and Steel Magnolias. It was a dumb design brief to begin with because, despite the attempts by everyone involved to work Belk’s tagline into the episode, you really can’t define something so incredibly broad without lapsing into some sort of stereotyping. Of course women in the southern part of the U.S. dress pretty much in the same range of styles that most American woman dress; from corporate to princess to boho to preppy to rockabilly and all the countless variations in between. Sure, every region has commonalities particular to that region, and we can look to things like weather patterns and cultural influences particular to each region to make some style definitions, but for the most part, we’re all shopping from the same stores in America.

Now, why so many of the designers defaulted to plaid completely eludes us. If you’re going to attempt to impose a style on such a huge region as “the South,” then we’d think you’d default to something like a pretty, southern belle-esque floral; something that can go from church to country club; that sort of thing. Don’t get us wrong; that’s still a stereotype, but at least it’s rooted in a recognizably southern image. All those plaids looked more like Depression-era Dustbowl dresses rather than anything identifiably southern.

One final note before we break down the dresses: this was one of the most arbitrary things we think we’ve ever seen on the show. We don’t mind the idea of sending bad work back to the workroom. In fact, we kind of like it. But the choice to place these three in the bottom didn’t seem to really have anything to do with their entries. We simply find it impossible to believe that the judges thought their three dresses were the worst. “It looks like something you’d see in a mall.” “It’s not fashion-forward”. We’re sorry, but there is no way to take any of those critiques seriously when we’re talking about a dress for a mid-range regional department store. It was laughable.

And as happy as we are for Dom, we don’t think it’s quite fair of the competition to give her the same reward as the person who won it outright. If you need to scrap your first dress completely and make an entirely new one, is it really fair to the person who nailed it in one try to give you the same prize?

 

Bradon

 But congrats to Bradon anyway. It’s a pretty plaid and we like the top half, but that skirt’s kind of a mess, in our eyes.  There is nothing identifiably “southern” about the design, but as we said, there’s no good way to define the term.

 

Dom

Congrats also to Dom. This was the very best dress on the runway last night. We understand why Prince Vlad of Botoxylvania liked it so much he bought it on the spot, but it really was kind of unfair to Bradon, who didn’t seem too thrilled by the outcome.

For the record, we loved this dress. She shouldn’t have made a gown, but this, with a knee-length skirt and the right styling could’ve been killer. We think the judges only pretended to hate it.

 

Jeremy

And it’s Auf Wiedersehen to Blanche Deveraux’s favorite couturier, Jeremy, the bitchiest gay daddy you ever did see. This was not great, no doubt about it, but this would also sell like crazy in an average department store just like Belk. We can see not awarding the win to something so pedestrian, but we simply don’t buy that anyone in that judges’ panel – especially Prince Vlad – thought this was a bad design for a department store.

This actually was a really cute little piece to whip up at the last second. Not impressive in any way, but cute and a modern. We wonder if he’d been allowed to stay if he’d have learned a lesson from this.

 

Ken

To our eyes, this was the most problematic of the arbitrarily decided bottom-3 looks. A basic gown like this probably would sell in a department store, but this was really heavy-looking and it looked slightly overworked. Still, it was a masterpiece compared to what he turned it into:

That’s just plain tacky-ass shit.

 

 

Kate

 Good god, this was ugly to our eyes. But they claimed to love it, the little crack-smokers.

 

 

Justin

 Blandy Blanderson strikes again.

 

 

Alexander

We have NO IDEA why this got praised at all, except as a way to ensure the bottom 3 that we got.

 

 

Helen

Pretty, but old-fashioned. And it looks like bathroom wallpaper.

 

 

Alexandria

Should’ve sent this one home. It’s not only bad; it’s borderline offensively bad. We get that as someone who’s not American she might not be tuned into the culture, but L’il Abner was just about the worst way to go.

 

 

 

[Photo Credit: Barbara Nitke for Lifetime – Stills: tomandlorenzo.com]

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