Crafty Manolo » Disco Infernal

Disco Infernal

By Twistie

There’s nothing better for perking up a sick Twistie than a good dose of fashion hijinks.

Of course if you want to know more, you’ll have to follow the cut.


Last week the designers broke off into teams to illustrate attitudes with fantastic (or frightening) fashions. Anthony Ryan won with an adorable top and skinny pants, Uli got robbed by not even making it into the top three with the best look on the runway, Suede confused the challenge for the non-traditional materials one and nearly got auffed for composing a dress of bra cups and napkins. Andrae teetered even closer to the edge with an outfit that made all the judges scratch their heads in confusion. But it was Peach who not only didn’t know how to make a little black dress, but also blamed her team and her materials for how it turned out was the one sent home.

Who will get the axe tonight?

This week we get the ball rolling right away when the designers show up at the Nine West showroom. Yes, it’s the Nine West product placement challenge! Let’s get that right out of the way, shall we? Yes, we shall.

To introduce the challenge, we have Chief Creative Officer of the Jones Group, Stefani Greenfield. The challenge is to use shoes from a Nine West line devoted to (shudder) the glories of disco as inspiration to make a fabulous evening look. The look must be inspired by and an update of disco fashion.

Wendy Pepper is immediately thrilled. She’s old enough to remember disco, but unlike me does not feel scarred by the experience. She feels very sure she’s got an edge by being so much older than the other designers. What she doesn’t understand is that Kayne was probably conceived at a Donna Summer concert because disco is in his very veins. His idea of haute couture is Disco Elvis winning the Miss America pageant. I’m betting most of the others have some vague notion of what disco might entail or what a seventies might have been… but my guess is that most of them don’t have that much of a real clue. You kind of had to be there.

So they have to pick the shoes, which will be worn with the outfit they inspire on the runway. The prize this week is that the winning design will be used in a Nine West ad campaign around their Seventies Brights collection. Keep this in mind, designers. You want to showcase the shoe.

Since he won last week, Anthony Ryan gets to choose first. His little colorblind self heads straight for an all-black shoe. It’s sort of a roman sandal on a very high cork wedge. The cork is splattered with black. I swear once the platform is added in, that heel has got to be a seven incher. I’m getting nosebleeds just looking at these shoes.

Anthony Ryan chooses Ivy to go next because she picked him in the last challenge. She picks the glittery gold peep toe sandal and interviews about how she’s going to work harder on embellishment. That’s a good tactic for her, because the cut of her clothes tells absolutely no story, but if she adds enough distracting elements, she just might keep the judges from noticing that for a while.

Ivy picks Casanova to go next, since he’s her minion. He chooses a restrained (for this collection) silver sandal with a tiny platform. Casanova picks Emilio, who takes a silver cork wedge sandal. Althea is next up and she snags a black sandal composed of a bajillion tiny straps on a silver platform heel. Uli gleefully snatches up the sunshine yellow wedges. Kayne is all about the orange platform sandals with the non-wedge cork heels. Joshua takes the turquoise platform cork wedge. Suede’s pick is a bright red cork heeled sandal where the cork is painted red, too. Wendy Pepper is relieved not to be picked last and siezes on the black and white peep toe with the ankle strap. Make a long haired dalmation fur shortie coat and a dress with a hankie hem, and we’ve got disco Cruella DeVille. But I’m guessing that isn’t what she’s going to make. Wendy picks Laura who assumes she was left alone this long because all the other designers are so threatened by her innate talent. You just keep telling yourself that, dear. She grabs up the super strappy beige shoe with the cork heel, leaving Andrae with the purple and orange splotchy snakeskin cork heeled platform.  But I do have faith in Andrae… when he gets his head together. When he doesn’t, it’s painful like last week. When he does get it together, he can work miracles. I pray for a miracle… but I don’t hold my breath.

The designers get half an hour to sketch before they head out to MOOD with a budget of $200. There will be one day to work.

Andrae is making me cry. He still wants to prove that a sheer jacket is a great idea for evening wear. My advice: DON’T DO IT THE WEEK AFTER YOU ALMOST GOT AUFFED FOR DOING IT! Of course, he doesn’t listen to me. Uli notes that since she grew up behind the Iron Curtain, her disco might not be the same as everyone else’s disco. Casanova is working with a simple dress that will have a ‘spider web’ on the back.

Once at MOOD, Andrae sounds less like he’s foaming at the mouth when he says that since the judges dinged him so hard for a look that needed explanation last week, he’s looking for fabrics ‘with a lot of vocabulary.’ Ivy is getting forest green chiffon to make a jumpsuit because that will be ‘elegant.’ Wendy wants to work with leather for pants, a ‘punchy print’ for the blouse, and a silver chain. Wendy, when you look for a punchy print, that means you’re looking for one that grabs attention, not one that looks ready to assault all comers.

Workroom. Uli looks around at Althea’s lurid fuchsia, Joshua’s turquoise, Ivy’s forest green, Andrae’s palate of oranges and purples, Emilio’s chartreuse… and quickly realizes that making an all white dress is either going to set her apart in a good way or a really bad way. I would tend to agree with that.

Kayne swathes himself in pale copper sequins and asks if he can make a jacket for himself out of the leftover fabric. Laura tells him no, because she’s going to do that with her leftover fabric. Well okay, then, if you’ve got some sort of patent on the concept. Althea interviews that Laura can sometimes be annoying and she’d rather align herself with the ‘real designers’ like Uli and Emilio because she’s on their level. Her ego’s intact, certainly. Ivy thinks the three best designers in the room are Uli, Anthony Ryan, and herself.

Kayne has dug himself into a tiny trench with his fabric choice. He’s got a pale gold striped glittery material for his pants, and he wants to make them with the stripes forming chevrons… but somehow he forgot – or just didn’t know – that matching up those chevrons was going to take a lot more fabric. I could have told him that, and I don’t sew. Now he’s nervous that he won’t manage to make the chevrons neat and that will get him booted.

There is an unholy alliance bubbling up between Suede and Wendy Pepper. That is a sentence I never in my life expected to type, but it’s true. As he snips a stray thread from the crotch of a pair of pants draped on the mannequin, Wendy asks him if that’s as close as he’s getting to ‘that part of the anatomy’. The ‘female’ in that sentence is silent. Suede says he’s ‘been there, honey,’ and she doubles over with laughter. Well, as long as she’s amused.

Laura reacts to the idea that Suede and Wendy are making friends by saying that alliances can be helpful “but I’m on my own. I’m out for myself.” I’ll take reality show contestant cliches for $400, Alex.

Joanna Coles and her really awesome jacket with a peplum taken to eleven arrive to do the critique. Seriously, I want to snatch that jacket right off my TV screen. Even the sandy color would be fantastic on me. But then Joanna Coles would probably shank me, and so I allow her to have her jacket. Still, if she turns her back, maybe I can make off with it and blame it all on Ivy. That would be fun.

Right off the bat, Joanna tells Kayne to get his chevrons lined up better. He assures her this is just basted, thus far and he’ll get it neater in the final construction. Uli’s dress is looking weirdly heavy with all the white sequins and bands of white on white trim. It’s a surprise from Uli who can make wool and leather look light as feathers. Joanna asks what’s seventies about it. Uli says the sequins and the shape. Joanna says that must be from the two years in the seventies she spent asleep. Ouch. I don’t believe Joanna Coles ever truly sleeps. My guess is that she’s always got at least one eye open.

Joanna has even worse words for Joshua. She tells him the point of the challenge is to be ‘show stopping’ not to ‘stop the show.’ In other words, don’t count on the color to do all the exciting for you. Add some design. Then she tells Laura “Just the word ‘blazer’ makes me shrivel up a little.”

Joanna asks Ivy what the ‘amazing’ part of her design is because so far this little forest green chiffon dress with the pale gold yoke is looking like a pretty basic day dress. Ivy says that since the prize is to do the shoe ad, she has to show off the shoe and have her outfit take a backseat to that. Joanna asks if that means Ivy is answering the prize rather than the challenge. And I want to know when that jumpsuit became a calf-length dress with unfortunate little shorts underneath.

In talking with Andrae, Joanna tells him she thinks one of his fabrics is more for scrubbing dishes than wearing down the runway. She also assures him that she’s used to go to discos a lot, and guess what she didn’t wear? That’s right! A jacket!

Suede is confused by Joanna’s critique that his outfit reminds her of ‘white man’s overbite.’ I must admit, that was a new one on me, too. All the same, I quickly deduce that it’s not a compliment. Nor is her comment that Althea’s dress is ‘girly’, nor is her pronouncement to Wendy Pepper that her look is ‘Halloweeny.’ In particular, she advises dumping the huge button thing she’s sewn to the pants that Joanna tries to compare to a spoon rest, except that she apparently doesn’t know the name of the item. Still the description gets it across to Wendy. And then she pricelessly tells Emilio that she thinks of the seventies as ‘the decade that taste forgot.’ She is far from alone in this belief.

There’s concern about bulk on Anthony Ryan’s design. When Casanova says he wants his girl to be comfortable, Joanna seizes on that word like a starving man might wolf down a slice of good bread. She’s delighted to see someone care about clients being comfortable when they go out for a night of dancing.

And with that, Joanna Coles and her beautiful jacket that should be mine are gone.

Soon the models arrive. In fact, Emilio’s is already wearing a dress that would be right at home in a disco in 1978. I’m serious about that. Uli’s dress now has masses of fringe on it, too. I’m not liking it. Everybody hates on each others’ designs. Althea thinks Ivy’s dress isn’t flattering to a woman. Joshua develops a queasy tum looking at Wendy’s pants. Uli describes Suede’s tight draped evening gown as ‘a gold refrigerator.’

As time is up for the day, Kayne drags everyone into the lounge for an ‘impromptu’ disco dance. Proof that this is not spontaneous is provided in the form of a disco ball on the ceiling. Like that’s normally there.

As soon as Joshua hits the dance floor, Wendy Pepper is right there undulating against him. I really could have lived a long time without seeing that.

Back at the hotel, there’s a note from Carolyn telling the designers that she was on a photoshoot with one of her favorite designers and he has a message for them all. Just turn on the TV. On the screen, there is darkness and broody music. A rasping breath is heard. It’s… it’s… not actually Darth Vader, but his yet more Evil Twin Karl Lagerfeld. As Lagerfeld intones random cliches (work hard, have fun, take your work seriously, blah, blah, blah, platitudecakes), various of the designers wibble and actually burst into tears. There’s a champagne toast to Karl Lagerfeld not wiping them all out with his laser eyes (What? You didn’t know that’s what the ever-present shades are for? They’re shielding so he doesn’t take us all out until he’s good and ready and stomping on Tokyo), and everyone goes to bed.

Runway day. Designers arrive in the work room to finish up their garments and prep their models. People are still cutting out pattern pieces, and Andrae is engaged in a life or death struggle with purple organza. I keep mentally screaming at him to ditch the damn jacket and not go there. Alas, he still isn’t hearing me. Can I hire Santino to come yell at him? I can’t think of a lot of uses for Santino Rice in my life (In fact, the only other one I can come up with is to have him do his infamous Tim Gunn impression now and again), but I think it’s so crazy it just might work.

Suede pricelessly interviews that right now he’s not sure Andrae knows what Andrae is doing.

Models arrive. This week it’s Kayne who product places the Laura Mercier make up room. Models have their faces and hair primped.

As most of the room is dressing their models, Ivy realizes she still hasn’t put the embellishment on her dress, and if that isn’t there, she’s hosed. She races around frantically looking for help. Casanova, of course, being ready to go with his look and used to working for Ivy, offers. Her model also helps out.

And we’re off!

On the runway, Carolyn recaps the challenge and introduces this week’s guest judge,  the Creative Director of Nine West Handbags, Rafe Totengo. I guess the head shoe designer begged off.

Again, I’m sticking with top and bottom and some commentary about why I think the judges borrowed the infamous judging crack pipe from Michael and Nina.

On the top we have Uli, Ivy, and Casanova. On the bottom, Wendy, Andrae, and Kayne.

Who do I think should have been on top and bottom? My picks for the bottom would have been Wendy, Althea, and – bizarrely enough – Ulil, with a possible side of Anthony Ryan, whose dress showed no tiny hint of the disco era. Wendy’s outfit looked like a punk streetwalker. Althea had one of the most bizarre outfits I’ve ever seen in fuchsia bondage straps that dangled pointlessly like plastic streamers in the back from a dress that combined the worst elements of fashion of the eighties and nineties. Uli… with the fringe and the sequins and the straps of beading and the overkill managed to make something that looked so heavy, overdone, and oddly dowdy that I couldn’t believe it was her. My other alternate for the bottom three would have been Poison Ivy. She did have a very seventies silhouette, yes, and the colors were good, but even in the seventies we put a belt over those ugly little casings at the waist of our blouson tops and dresses. And those nasty little shorts, just no. I can actually accept that Andrae is on the bottom again, but purely because of that ghastly little organza jacket. Take that off, and I would put it in the top three, because it’s seventies without being slavishly so and he styled that girl like she walked out of Vogue for 1974, only with a darker lip that reads more now.

For the top, I would have chosen Emilio’s spectacular float of a gown in chartreuse and hot pink. It was minimalist, but had a real disco feel, and the fact there was a slit up to the knees in the front would make it possible to use the gown as a backdrop for the shoes. I actually agree with picking Casanova, even though the dress reads a lot more eighties than seventies to me. His little dress left plenty of room to show off the shoes, it was fun, and it did look like you could dance the night away without exposing or impaling yourself on anything. And I actually really loved Joshua’s outfit. He hit a seventies mark without looking slavish, and it was beautifully constructed. The one downside? The pants are long enough – and need to be to make the look attractive – that they partly cover the shoes and thus don’t work for the ad.  But I do have to give him points for matching his turquoises so perfectly. As I said, if Andrae had had the good sense to leave off the stupid jacket, I would have picked him for top three. In fact, I would probably have pegged it for the winning look, because once that damn jacket was gone, what was left had the spirit of the seventies with the polish of a modern look in colors that actually made the most of those hideous shoes and a length that left the shoes entirely visible. But he did make the jacket and he did send his model down the runway in it, so no cookies for Andrae.

Also? The skirt was too tight to dance in, I have to admit.

But the judges chose quite differently than I would have, and that’s that. Amusingly enough to me, they dinged Kayne, the one who most perfectly captured seventies disco wear of anyone on that runway, for being too modern. Honeys, I was there. I saw the photos of Studio 54 (What? I lived on the west coast and was too young to drink, but I did have a subscription to Vogue and I read all the stories about what was going on). Kayne’s outfit is exactly the sort of thing you saw all the time on that dance floor. I told you that boy had to be conceived at a Donna Summer concert.

Anyway. The judges critique, the designers are herded off so they can confab, and then they’re herded back on again.

Long story short, the winner is


Okay, I hated the dress, and I would not have put it in the running for the win at all, but at least I do love Uli and want her to do well. It’s just a pity she didn’t get the win last week for that fabulous dress that had a hell of a lot more to do with disco than this stiff, over-embellished number.

On the other end of the scale, the kick to the rear goes to

Wendy Pepper.

Do I think her punk streetwalker outfit was the worst on the runway?  I would have picked Althea’s for that dishonor. That said, Althea wasn’t up for the auffing, and Wendy was. Out of the three up for the loss… yeah, I would have picked Wendy, too. And no, that’s not just because I dislike her. She has done some damn good clothes along the way, and I’ve been willing to give them the kudos they deserved. This outfit? Was not one of those. I frankly won’t miss her, but wish her no harm.

And hey, she’s a hell of a lot better versed in using make up than she was ten years ago!

Farewell, Wendy Pepper! May you find personal growth in the next ten years… preferably not on my TV screen.

Next week on Project Runway… I have no idea what’s happening because we just got the same clip of season highlights we got last week.

Still, join me for all the fun, laughter, tears, and drug-induced decisions!

One Response to “Disco Infernal”

  1. Sarah R Says:

    It was obvious that Wendy was going to get the boot when she got up on the runway and proclaimed she’d added the chains to the pants just because it was something her 13-year-old daughter would do. I can’t imagine any set of judges being happy that the only reference-point for an item’s inclusion on an outfit was the taste level of a 13-year-old girl.

    I was glad to see Wendy go- mostly because even in season 1, the majority of her outfits were terrible and the only reason she made it as far as she did was because of the crack pipe the judges/producers were smoking. Yes, she had some good outfits, but most of her clothing is poorly done and badly conceived, so I can’t see her making that big of an impact despite her claims to the contrary. The whole Wendy Pepper/Suede thing was creeping me out, too. That was just… well, I don’t think I’ll go there.

    This week’s episode had another unintended effect on me- For whatever reason, Karl Lagerfeld made a cameo appearance in my dreams last night. He was drunk, carrying two gasoline containers, and running into walls before some very cute Frenchman came and picked him up in a Beamer. I felt like my subconscious had been invaded by the Crypt Keeper. I hope he doesn’t make any more ‘appearances’ on Project Runway. I don’t think I could handle the horror.

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