In the last ten weeks, 'The Fashion Show' found its footing sooner than I expected. Will it stumble on the final Runway between Reco, Daniella, Anna and James Paul?
I have high hopes that it won't. Daniella has high hopes of her own, stating that despite being only 22, she has no doubt that she has what it takes to win. Anna correctly counts herself as the dark horse of the competition, but says she feels prepared. Reco admits that he always knew his greatest competition was Daniella and they would make it all the way. James Paul shows them how one of his skirts turns into a veil and explains how he tried to simplify his point of view. I do not think that word means what he thinks it means.
The mood while the designers fit their models is so congenial that I almost expect one of the designers (Daniella) to offer Reco one of their skinnier models when none of his fit into his wedding gown. Instead, he lets it out, but still ends up sewing a model into the dress when the zipper breaks backstage. The only other backstage crisis is Daniella not liking the "cat make up", insisting she wanted "soft robotic" eyes. God help the make up artist who had to interpret what the heck that meant.
Anna's collection was inspired by Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights. Which is sort of prophetic, because her collection is as wildly disjointed as the scene depicted in the painting. Most of the pieces are soft and have interesting movement, if not necessarily flowing or elegant manner. However, the variation of color and print, pleats and structure, homages to her time on the show and metallic glimmer all combine to make the whole seem more contrived than it really is. As Glenda Bailey suggests, she's lost the plot.
Reco tells us he researched the Aztecs for his inspiration and that is clear. The repeating pyramids, vibrant turquoise, gold and red mixed which shimmering and mysterious black with touches of leather for texture absolutely reflects that. The first coat, in a to-die-for lapis lazuli with black shimmering belt and collar with an understand yellow gold accent at the waist is gorgeous. At the same time, for a designer who has shown several times over that he understands fit and construction, there are some shocking gaffs. Like the feathered dress that obscures the model's shape or the model who cannot walk in the wedding dress to such a degree that he has to carry her offstage.
Daniella earlier explained that her design was based on medieval armor and the idea of a second skin but on the runway says the strength and edginess of the women in her family were her inspiration. Either way, her collection is exciting and elements of armor, femininity, modernity, and androgyny are clearly represented. There is also a surprising and sublime feeling of organic evolution to it all. The pieces all just make sense together. Her fit, on the other hand, is not exactly impeccable. She clearly still struggles with pants. As an aside, I am blown away by the fact that she wrote the music for her portion of the show.
James Paul was inspired by the idea of indigenous people wearing western clothing in a manner that was effective and added function to their lives – like the skirt-to-veil combo. As always, the feel of his work is far removed from what the other designers do and he has an unmistakable point of view. It's subdued and somber in palette and form, but there is also a very keen intellect in what he creates. At the same time, it is about as far from simple as clothing can get – leading the judges to mention that it would all need to come with an instruction manual on how to wear it. Not that it's not wearable, but it's hard to see if it's versatile at all.
The judges have equal good and bad to say about all the collections. The best moment though, is how they say no woman would ever want to wear Reco's feathered dress, which was unflattering and would make someone look like they were part of a carwash. A commentary that comes just moments after Teresa from 'The Real Housewives of New Jersey' gushed that she loved and wanted that dress. A paragon of taste and elegance, she isn't. They all agree that Anna's work is sellable, while James Paul struggles with hanger appeal. Reco's is beautiful in shape, but didn't deliver intricacy or practical design while Daniella's work is modern but focuses on frighteningly thin proportions.
Despite the judges back and forth, I remained confident that Daniella and Reco were in the top spots and it was just a matter of Anna or James Paul going home. When James Paul was told he was safe, I was ready to wish Anna well. Imagine my surprise when Reco was the one let go! Yet, I was not as surprised as Reco himself, who was gracious on the stage but commented that his dismissal was bullsh*t.
Do you agree with Reco? My favorite collections were Daniella and Reco, followed by James Paul. Who's collection did you like best? Do you trust America to vote for the right designer and not for the most popular? Do you plan on voting?