Wednesday, August 01, 2007

our night of fashion and gaiety: The Bad Boys of Project Runway

Local gay event organizer extraordinaire Marc Huestis has a fan in seven year-old Iris Uber Alles. One of the peak experiences of Iris's life occurred at age four, when she attended Huestis's "Sing Along Wizard of Oz" extravaganza dressed as Dorothy. She was called up on stage and fawned upon by drag queens, which is heady stuff for anyone, but especially a small, impressionable child.

This summer Huestis put together a gala called "The Bad Boys of Project Runway" to kick off a fashion-themed film festival. Project Runway stars Santino Rice and Jeffrey Sebelia judged a fashion show (local aspiring designers were charged with creating a dress inspired by a film).

I resisted the "Project Runway" experience for a long time, since I'm not much of a TV watcher and don't have cable, anyhow. But when Iris and I saw a couple of episodes with friends, we were hooked We ended up renting and buying the episodes (and in my case, obsessively reading the delicious Project Rungay blog). We loved Santino's sassy attitude in season two, and we loved to hate Jeffrey Sebelia in season three (we believe Laura! Sebelia cheated! Why do I say that? Michael and Laura were in a position to tell that the sewing on Jeffrey's final collection was different than what he'd been doing all season. Everyone forgets that the easy-going, politic Michael agreed with Laura. Finally, it's just unbelievable that he had no work left to do if he'd done it all himself. In every season, every finalist EXCEPT JEFFREY feverishly slaved up to the last minute to finish the collection. The amount of work the finalists must do is astonishing, and it strains credulity that only Jeffrey could finish so early and so effortlessly without help. Okay-- calming down now -- just had to get that off our collective chest. If you think that was a testy outburst, you should have heard the abuse our fortyish and seven year-old throats hurled at the television when Jeffrey won).

Anyhow, we were looking forward to "The Bad Boys of Project Runway" for months. Iris literally counted the days. (In general, July was a cultural peak for us: the last Harry Potter, the Simpsons movie, the Project Runway event. What have we got to live for now?). There was no way the event could have lived up to Iris's expectations, but it did okay. The best was a Tim Gunn look-alike MC, who had Gunn's voice down pat and who did an over-the-top dance. We most loved a dress inspired by the Clive Barker horror films, all red and black and elegant, but we were okay with the winner being an extravagant dress inspired by an Asian action film. (The winning designer was engagingly tongue-tied and adorable). In person, Santino was warm and friendly, kneeling on the front of the stage during a break to mingle with fans, while Sebelia pulled back and didn't make eye contact with the masses. I took Iris up to meet Santino, who shook her hand and encouraged her to follow her dreams and keep drawing. What a darling he is.

In general, we were most disappointed by the lack of sartorial effort by the fellow attendees. The audience was primarily gay men, gay men dressed in jeans and dull T-shirts (at least our host Marc Huestis's t-shirt was a Michael Kors one, which he cattily observed that he had bought at a garage sale). Iris Uber Alles was not only the youngest audience member but one of the most fabulous, in a dramatic red velvet cape-like gown. My friend Natasha was resplendent in fishnets over freshly-waxed legs (she managed to get her legs waxed with three children along for the appointment, bravo indeed my darling), and our dear Joyce had, as always, put on a fetching dress. (Your Drunken Housewife plucked her eyebrows for the occasion and broke out the sparkle gel for her hair as well as her new chandelier earrings, but stuck to her sensible pirate ballet flats for comfort in standing in line).

Gossipy highlights:

* Santino and Sebelia agree that Heidi Klum seems so sweet and bubbly on air, but in real life, nooo. There was some dark reference to a day on which the Project Runway contestants were made to face a wall and stand that way for some time, ostensibly for some Heidi-related reason. Evidently one should not make eye contact with Ms. Klum and should not inflict one's all-too-subhuman presence upon her.

* It makes Santino very happy to hear that people shout, "Santino wuz robbed!" at Nina Garcia. So if you ever run into the poised editrix, consider shouting at her (and then contact Santino via his myspace page to let him know you have avenged his honor).

* Most of the contestants swallow down their bile and obsequiously accept the bitingly vicious criticism given by the judges. Santino, however, got into a fight with Nina Garcia once. In person, Santino shared that this argument went on for NINETY MINUTES. My God, the stamina of that man, to stand on the runway under those bright television lights trading abuse with the sharp-tongued "Elle" editor for an hour and a half.

* Winning hasn't made Jeffrey Sebelia any warmer. He's not exactly gracious in victory, taking some time to diss Laura as an "uptown bitch" (he seems to feel that Laura should not have entered Project Runway because obviously she doesn't need to win as she already owns a massive Manhattan apartment. Honey, your bitter is showing!). Sebelia also took some time to criticize fellow designer Angela and her poor, shy, morbidly obese mother (whom Sebelia famously humiliated and reduced to tears). This went on and on, and my friend Joyce leaned over and said, "They are so misogynistic!"

* The $100,000 prize is a cruel joke, as no one can put together a fashion line for that kind of money.

* Sebelia has a "men's knitwear" line coming out soon, as well as his Cosa Nostra clothing line. (Men's knitwear???)

*Neither contestant had much love for judge/successful designer Michael Kors. They feel that his taste is far too stodgy and that the show needs a more cutting edge designer/judge, someone like Kors was in his youth.

We are so ready for Project Runway: Season Four AND more Marc Huestis events. Bring it on!


TLo said...

Thank you for your support, darling! Glad you like the blog!

hughman said...

as an avid fan of PR from the very first, its fun to see your responses to all the drama. i ADORED laura and her clothes. and her apartment.

i think michael kors is great and he's obviously successful at what he does.

"where's andre?"

the Drunken Housewife said...

We loved the "Where's Andre?" shtick so much, and of course Santino obliged in person.

I think Kors is the kindest judge, and I loved the show where his mother came. It was just adorable to see him out with his mom.

I entered a contest once where the prize was a custom dress by Laura. God, I would have loved to have won that.

hokgardner said...

If I had the bucks I'd have bought any of Laura's dresses from the finale in a heartbeat. It's great to hear that Santino is a nice guy. I really liked him on the show.

M said...

comments... I gots comments!

personally, I loathed Jeffrey. (did you know that he and Santino are friends, and Santino put him up to entering?!)

OTOH, I also loathed Laura. and I don't believe that Jeffrey cheated. the difference between him and Laura was that he is already a professional, who is used to working under the gun (no pun intended!) and making deadlines. Jeffrey already has a business and his own line.

Laura makes her own clothes. but she is not a professional designer, not really. she's a professional mom! (not that there is anything wrong with that.) she was definitely 50% less evil than Wendy Pepper, but still, Wendy at least has her backwater shop, while all Laura does is make her own schmattes - and her style is very one-note.

I actually wanted Michael to win, but when Tim went to visit and he had almost nothing done, I feared he was a goner. I hate to say it, but Jeffrey really did have the best collection. Laura's stuff was all '20s knockoffs, and Michael will probably go far, but his collection was all over the map, and just not up to his best work.

In the first season, I totally wanted Kara Saun to win, and I still think she could have (in spite of the loan of the shoes being disallowed) except that she didn't take the time to hem her dresses.

And, say what you will about Jeffrey, but consider this: sure, he's an egotistical jerk, but of ALL the PR contestants, he is the one who is really doing it.

The girl who won season 2 is designing for the Home Shopping Network. Way to go! And I loved Austin, and even Ulli. But the rosette chick, ugh. I know Jeffery was mean to her mom (but that show was a total setup, like getting the 16 year old models thinking they were actually brides!) it was unfair to the moms, and to the designers.

ANYway! I could say more,but MUST get to bed while the getting is good.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh, Project Runway. The only reality show I've ever been able to stomach. I, too, got totally hooked after some of our mutual friends started gushing about it.

Apparently the contestants on each season who came in second place are doing quite well. For instance, Kara Saun (second place on season 1) got all sorts of work. She didn't think that would have happened if she had won first, as she would have been more unapproachable.

I've been meaning to go check out Chloe's shop in Houston at some point when I'm down there for the weekend. I wasn't super crazy about her clothes, but just for curiosity's sake.

I thought Santino was confident and a good designer. It seemed like sometimes he crossed the line into arrogant, but that's what it takes to get ahead in business, eh?

Dunno if you saw this interesting article about Jeffrey Sebelia:
Yeah, I wouldn't pay that kind of money for punk-rock fashion either.

Honestly, though, the fashion aspect of the show is pretty moot for me. I could never, in a million years, fit into any of the clothes that were designed. As you know, it's a crime against standards of beauty to be bigger than a size 6 and think you should be allowed to wear "hot" or "sexy" clothing if you don't conform.

the Drunken Housewife said...

But season 2 winner Chloe Dao also had her own business and clothes she sold, and she was totally stressed out sewing like a maniac until the end. Chloe was the ultimate organized businessperson. (I read in the Wall St Journal that she has a fragrance coming out, BTW).

I think that in his business, Jeffrey was accustomed to sending things out to contractors. He actually told the audience that was how he met Santino: Santino was crashing at a warehouse sweatshop where Jeffrey used to contract out stuff, and Jeffrey met him when he was dropping off and picking up stuff. He was so used to that that I could see him doing that for the competition. He seems so amoral (don't forget, he's a former junkie... junkies become very amoral and practical in a sociopathic way).

the Drunken Housewife said...

Thanks for the link, 'Piph! I loved the article. I have to admit I totally adored the punk rock Victorian shirtdress pictured in that article. I would dearly love to have that. This is the first time I've felt that way about one of Sebelia's pieces, but I would be so ecstatic to own that dress.

Unknown said...


Hey this is Marc Huestis- producer of event. Thanks for the fun report & good to see u got fans 2.

FYI- Jeffrey is a sweetheart, as of course is Santino.

And glad to know I have a few young fans. As Laura say on PR you got to "young it up."

Thanks again!