PR: Top Bitch and Bottom Bitch

Posted on September 02, 2011

Dear Last Night’s Judging Panel,

Are you kidding us?

Are you fucking kidding us?

What’s avant garde about a skirt made out of a theater backdrop and a top made out of tissue paper carnations?

And how is it that this color combination had you all praising this look for being forward thinking, but when Fallene used the exact same colors, she was told they didn’t look modern?

We’ll tell you why: the producers found what they clearly think is a goldmine of a character and they’re flogging him like there’s no tomorrow. He is going to continue to get wildly overpraised, become increasingly obnoxious about it, and then get his knees cut off by the judges when the producers figure they’ve gotten everything they need out of him.

Bitchy? Cynical? You betcha. But we have good reason. We’ve been obsessively cataloging every entry that ever walked down that shitty little runway for over 5 years now and we can say with no small amount of authority…

This would have been laughed off the runway in earlier, less manipulative seasons, when design work was the focus of the show and not clashing personalities.

Here’s what we don’t get. The painting has a somewhat disturbing energy to it but Josh ignored it by taking the more obvious, literal aspects of the painting and merely replicating them in dress form. The actual tone of the painting, embodied in the wild energy and disturbing, unblinking eye, is nowhere to be found on the dress.

Instead, he replaced it with cheap sentiment that had nothing to do with the original piece. We have no doubt that Josh mourns his mother and that the loss of her is very painful for him; just like we have no doubt that he cynically chose to superimpose this story onto his work this week as a sympathy-gathering ploy. Call us bitches if you want, but that’s how we see it.

Sure, interpret the painting however you like and if it made Josh think of his late mother, then incorporating that into the piece is perfectly acceptable, if not encouraged.

But the lameass way he did it altered the tone completely. Or at the very least, he superimposed something on top of it that simply didn’t go with the rest of it.

And can we just say that making a dress inspired by a painting out of fabric that you painted is kind of lame?

We had no problem with the construction or concept behind the top. It was well done and vibrantly interesting. We just hated that skirt with a passion and we think the silhouette and proportions on the look are too clumsy and awkward to be considered avant garde.

And the Cyndi Lauper styling was stupid.

To be fair to Bert (before we start ripping this) this look probably came closest to fulfilling the request for an avant garde look.

As he noted, one of the most common components of avant garde fashion is challenging ideas about body and proportions. He came into this project with that stated goal in mind and you have to admit, he absolutely succeeded.

Don’t get us wrong: this piece looks like a clown costume because he chose his colors badly and he really didn’t bring much in the way of sophistication to the look.

The tacked-on puffy pieces look like the decor of an ’80s Chuck E. Cheese’s or roller skating rink.

And the shoved-in tulle is sloppy and half-assed. And also way too ’80s.

Plus, he was way too literal about it.

We think the judges – with the exception of Heidi, whose cheerleading for Bert is getting a little silly – treated this exactly right. They could see that he came into this with an intellectual approach, which is an excellent way to approach an avant garde piece. There has to be some thinking behind it. It can’t just be “Brushstrokes!” or “My mom died and I’m sad.” A designer should really think about what they want to do and how they want to challenge conventions when attempting to be avant garde.

This essentially looks like an avant garde piece from 25 years ago, unfortunately. Very much in the ’80s mold of crazy fashion.

It landed him on the bottom and he absolutely deserved to be there, but the judges treated him with some respect because they knew he was the only one who knew what he was supposed to do and did it. It’s 25-year-old avant garde, but at least it would have been considered avant garde at some point in history, unlike almost every single other entry this week.

It does tend to sum up Bert to a T: technically proficient with a quarter-century of knowledge and training behind it, but unfortunately not remotely modern in any way.


[Photo Credit: Barbara Nitke/ – Screencaps:]

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