Get Thee Behind Me, Laura
You have to admire the PRAS producers' stick-to-it-iveness. They decided on the "Laura Kathleen is a classist C" narrative, and that is the narrative, period...footage, shmootage. But if you're watching the show for the design, 1) [pat pat] that's cute, and 2) just put a brick on your FF button right now.
Should you boot "Made In The USA Today" without watching it? Let's run the numbers.
The ChallengeMuch is made of the "first-ever interactive" nature of the challenge, in which fans of the show tweeted "inspiring pictures" at the show, and the designers each choose one. The winner gets a feature in USA Today's style section.
Cool idea in theory, and could have really gotten interesting if the designers had had to pair with the photographers to execute the inspiration. In practice, it's just photo-picking, and it's hard to think of a vaguer brief than "every picture tells a story" besides, perhaps, "go make some clothes" or "...gabardine!"
Primarily it's a vehicle for Laura Kathleen to get picked last while other designers interview that she's "offended everyone in one way or another." It may go without saying that she is not shown doing this.
Sewing-Room DramaOMFG skip to the nth degree. Laura Kathleen is history's greatest monster. She is also history's greatest ninja, because to hear Kayne et al. tell it, she talks about her family's money every goddamn minute she's awake without pausing for breath, and yet despite the constant companionship of cameras, we never see or hear it.
And we don't want to in the first place! Nobody cares! Show us the series of horrendous errors that led to Althea's cooch-sling pantaloons, because it is a show about design!
...No. Interviews about Laura Kathleen. Interviews with Laura Kathleen about everyone cliquing her over. Footage of Joshua comforting Laura Kathleen.
Other not-quite-worth it highlights from the sewing room include Andrae using the area under his worktable while doing impressions, and Uli comparing him to Golem, which isn't that amusing, but at least you see some sewing during it; Emilio tone-deafly headlining his dress "Sophie's Choice"; and the usually incisive Joanna Coles failing to question Ivy's Delia's-catalog bullcrap about how we don't "realize" that a caterpillar can turn into something "as beautiful as a butterfly." Find us an 18-month-old who doesn't know that and we will give you one thousand American dollars. (We won't. You can't.) Shut up, Ivy.
Casanova quote du jour: "Kayne made this Parisian prostitute with a chicken in the head." (The actual garment is a little on the "did someone order a pizza" side but, for Kayne, quite restrained.)
JudgingJoining the regulars are Charlotte Ronson and teenaged "Style Rookie" blogger Tavi Gevinson. Gevinson's a bit full of herself, and the "body con" phrasing is a non-starter, but she's wearing rad red saddle shoes and her critique is thoughtful overall.
Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman show to great effect why we prefer them to the Famous Original Runway judges: they actually explain things instead of going for a cheap laugh (and not getting it). Mizrahi has an educational bit about Althea picking the wrong khaki, and how you just can't know how a khaki is going to play until you get it outside the fabric store, try it, and "fail with it."
And Ambassador Chapman scores herself a set of diplomatic plates by noting that "there's a ton of whimsy" in Andrae's outfit. That's…a point of view.
Alas, the judges also adore Emilio's Warhol-Factory-pillow dress because, Mizrahi says, "he's in a different place from the zeitgeist." The zeitgeist is in favor of flattering and attractive garments, so this is correct, technically. But it's hard to follow the rationale for…
Kid-Glove Handling Of Obvious FavoritesThe "Occupy Andrae" protest folds the tents at last, and that's the right outcome. Althea's garment is worse on the merits, but she can pull it together on fit (and explain herself to the judges without a mime performance). Andrae can't.
However. We like Anthony Ryan; he's a good designer; his win is indefensible. Chapman does clock him for not taking risks with the color story, but the bright blue/black combo looks dated, the fit work around the bosom is disastrous, and the straps and low-cut back the judges praise seem forced as well as unflattering. Laura Kathleen's garment is the clear winner on creativity and elegance, but that's not the storyline this season, apparently.