Down and Out in Denver

PR Incredulity: Michael Costello

Posted in fashion, tv by Blake on October 16, 2010

Alastair and I watched PR at his place on Thursday night — whilst enjoying a little vino rosso and a pizza from Benny Blanco’s — and we were pretty shocked by the outcome.  Not shocked that April was eliminated, though if each outfit were judged on its own basis — as opposed to the designer’s entire history, which they always say they won’t do and then do anyway — it should have been Gretchen.  But it was April, and we were sad to see her go.  We had unexpectedly become fans of April.

Michael Costello's Creation

No, what shocked us was that Michael Costello won.  We were pretty much convinced throughout the episode that he would be going home, or at the very least that he would be in trouble with Nina and Michael Kors.  And not because the dress itself wasn’t pretty — it was — but because it was boring.  It wasn’t new in the slightest.  It has been done and seen before.  Michael’s dress was inspired by … get ready … a dress.  Need we say more?  Apparently we need.  If the point of this challenge was to be innovative and creative and bring something new to the runway, then on all three counts Michael failed.  But all that seemed to be forgotten by the judges because they thought that Michael had brought the “wow” factor to bear in his design.  It is a pretty dress and it did drape well, but if I understand draping at all (and I may not) it seems to me that innovative draping is a little more complicated than what Michael did here.  This dress just hangs, tent-like, straight down.  Is that so challenging?  (Maybe it is; it doesn’t look that challenging, however.)  Isn’t this just a big maxi dress with a high slit and a plunging back?

I don’t think that any of the other designers were doing their best on Thursday either.  It was all a little ho-hum.  But with the exception of Gretchen (“It doesn’t look downtown, or uptown.  It looks midtown.”  OUCH.) at least each of them designed something unique and something that was very much identifiable as being designed by Andy or April or Mondo.  Michael Costello, not so much. Maybe we misunderstood the challenge?  In any event, we’re down to four, with one left to be eliminated before they show in Lincoln Center. We’re becoming very curious…

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6 Responses

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  1. squadratomagico said, on October 16, 2010 at 11:57 am

    I’m on exactly the same page as you two: I was stunned that there was so much positive feedback on the “wow! factor” of this utterly bland dress. I’ve seen it a million times before. Indeed, Gretchen had on a black, string-halter dress in the workroom with an identical neckline: I thought for sure they would have a clip of her commenting that Michael was partially copying *the very dress she was wearing!*

    And the styling, IMO, said “meth-addict” more than “sexy-undone-bedhead.” What a hot mess! I cannot figure out what’s up with the judges’ interest in him and I, too, was certain he’d be booted for boring.

    I agree that Gretchen’s was the worst, but am not surprised she was allowed to stay. I was sorry to see April go, as I actually quite liked the asymmetrical top of her piece. It’s true that the skirt part had a bit of a pregnancy-type-bulge in the drape, but I would wear a shirt or jacket version of the structured top in a heartbeat. And while it’s true that she stays within a pretty narrow idiom, I believe that could be said of all five of the contestants. Even Mondo’s designs are beginning to seem a bit repetitive. The challenge did not bring out anyone’s best work.

    • Blake said, on October 16, 2010 at 12:28 pm

      Agreed all ’round. And I hadn’t even thought about how uncharacteristic it was for Gretchen to resist being a total bitch about Michael’s design! Granted, she did say that he was either an idiot savant or just an idiot, so she didn’t resist all that much.

      They were all pretty boring and predictable. And none of them were using the Piperlime accessory wall very thoughtfully!

  2. squadratomagico said, on October 16, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Interesting: I just mushed around on the Lifetime site a bit during lunch, and watched Tim Gunn’s exit interview with April. He tells her how exquisite he thought her dress was, and then expresses complete astonishment that Michael C- won. In his words, he was “out making Michael’s tombstone” after seeing his creation compared to the others.

    So, Tim, who (a) knows about construction; (b) saw the dress up close and personal; and (c) has really good judgement, also was flummoxed. What have they been putting in the judges’ tea?

    • Blake said, on October 16, 2010 at 2:34 pm

      VERY interesting. I’m going to go watch it right now. Other readers, go here:

      http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/project-runway/season-8/designers/april-johnston#video

      I do think that in this season — more than any I can remember — there is a total disjuncture between what we and the other designers get to see, and thus think, about Michael C and what the judges do. He does make pretty clothes from time to time but they don’t really seem to be original, and the judges don’t seem to care all that much. That last part, however, the lack of originality, they SHOULD see. They don’t need to know that he does things quickly (or without much skill in sewing, or so say the other designers) to see that they have already been done before.

  3. squadratomagico said, on October 16, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Blake, that link takes the viewer to a page with several April-related videos. Interested viewers should click on “under the Gunn;” the “carving his tombstone” comment comes around 1:55.

    • Blake said, on October 16, 2010 at 3:26 pm

      Indeed. Thanks, Squad. For some reason you can’t actually get a link to just that video in particular.


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