Project Runway All Stars: When Pigs Cry

Our Project Runway All Stars designed for "megacelebrity" (and plush puppet) Miss Piggy last night:

the judges pose for a photo, including Miss Piggy
Nothing weird about this promo photo at all. Why do you ask?

Because there are three of us Project Runway lovers, and because we're assuming you watched the show too, instead of straight recaps for this series we're picking and choosing the parts we want to talk about most each week. First though, the episode stats:

The Challenge: Design an outfit for Miss Piggy to wear to the premiere of The Muppets. Except don't actually make it to fit Miss Piggy, make it to fit a fashion model instead (more on that in a minute).

The Winner: Michael, with a gift-wrapped-looking black cocktail dress.

The Loser: Gordana, whose pink frock proved too nightgownesque for Mlle. Cochon.

And now, our highlights/lowlights/predictions. Be sure to chime in in the comments with some of your own!

In which I am Statler and Waldorf rolled into one boring old heckler:
As I mentioned last week when we were shown the preview for this episode, my main issue with this challenge is that every single contestant went literally whole hog into it, with raves about how exciting it was to design for noted fashionista Miss Piggy.

And I'll say it again: REALLY?

Listen, I have no problem with Muppets. Muppets fucking rule, and Miss Piggy is unquestionably the queen of all of them. But I am not being some kind of speciesist crank when I plead for some sense here. MISS PIGGY IS NOT REAL. And it is massively disconcerting when grown adults talk about a plush pig, no matter how sassy, as though she is actually a living entity with ideas and opinions. Gordana, stop talking about how you want to show off Miss Piggy's fabulous legs. Kara, do not ask if you can "sex up" Miss Piggy. Austin, stop nattering on about how you and she are kindred spirits. And Joanna? I was at least expecting Joanna to use her clipped pronouncements to nudge some sense into the designers, but she, too, went full-on into the delusion, challenging Gordana's pink nightie by saying "I don't think comfort, when you're dressing a mega-celebrity like Miss Piggy, should really matter." That's right, Joanna. Are we going to talk next about Miss Piggy's foundation garments? Her Muppet-sized Spanx? What? I just couldn't help wondering what, say, Jay McCarroll or Santino Rice would have done in this episode, because I'm pretty sure "Pander to a puppet" would not have been at the top of the list.

Plenty of Project Runway episodes have turned on a gimmick. In fact, many of them are almost all gimmick. But generally, the gimmick doesn't render the entire process of creating a garment moot. This episode's gimmick did exactly that. Its most obvious analogue was the Barbie challenge in season 2: In that one, you might recall, the designers each made an outfit for their model, but were also tasked with making a scaled-down version of that outfit for a My Scene Barbie. That gimmick made sense, and was as good a forum for designer problem-solving as it was for unadulterated product placement.

This one, not so much. For one thing, the challenge missed a brilliant opportunity to take the designers out of their comfort zones. As we've seen in past seasons of PR, nothing offers a reality check like an assignment that involves designing for someone bigger than size 2. (These are often shorthanded, rather unfairly, as the "real women" challenges.) I found major cognitive dissonance in the idea that the designers were encouraged to talk about and interact with Miss Piggy as though she were real, yet when actually designing dresses were not tasked with taking her particular proportions into account. Which is it, show? If Miss Piggy is real, where are the pig-shaped dress forms? If she's not real, why is Joanna telling the designers to take her ears into account when designing headbands and hats?

Trying to have it both ways made the final results far less interesting than they might have been. It also made the judging seem like a sham, since it's hard to know whose opinions were coming out of Piggy's plush snout. It almost seems unfair that Gordana was sent home on this fake challenge. (Though I'm going to be wildly relativist here and say that I would have had no problem if Kenley had lost—that dress was boring, uninspired, and nowhere near as much of a slam-dunk as she fancied it. Also, anything that causes the judges to ponder a porcine nip-slip has to go.)

Assorted thoughts:
I knew Michael's dress was the winner as soon as his model turned around. This show loves it some exposed zipper detail. But I agree that it deserved the win—the fabric was gorgeous and unusual, and it looked great on his model. Oh, wait, we're not supposed to be judging that, though, right? I'm still confused.

But holy crap, did Anthony actually make the best dress on that runway? I'm pretty sure he did. It was girly, it was whimsical—it was a perfect cocktail dress. What it wasn't was goofy and over-the-top enough for Miss Piggy. Way to dial it back at exactly the wrong time, Anthony.

I loved Mondo's slightly underminer-y reference to Miss Piggy's age in discussing his design. Mondo, did you just call Miss Piggy old?

Prediction for next week's biggest breakdown:
Kara Janx. She's always a little on the edge, and now that she's in league with a mean girl who is almost guaranteed to turn on her, there will be tears.

- Andi

Miss Piggy judging looks on the runwayMila probably plays a lot of solitaire:
Let's just cut to the chase: Mila basically designed a dress that looked like everything she's ever designed EVER and completely deserved to go home (while well-constructed, a streamlined little B&W number is not like a free-for-all in a candy shop... which is apparently what the judges were looking for). However, props to her for giving everyone the stink eye throughout this whole episode. Calling out Kenley and Kara for desperately (and distractingly) baiting the other designers for approval? Great. These designers are ALL STARS and should be self-confident enough to make it work without a buddy. One of the reasons why these episodes haven't felt like the real deal to me could be because they read more like a reunion of memorable personalities and less like a competition (maybe there's not enough frantic music and intercut shots of the workroom clock?). Mila's stoney, no-nonsense demeanor is beginning to feel like a breath of lonely, I-go-my-own-way fresh air. Additionally, she seemed to be giving the whole challenge one giant eye roll, which would normally be frustrating but in this case it was reassuring to know that someone populating the All Star universe also thought this whole Miss Piggy business was weird (taking Miss Piggy as an inspiration point for a design is believable, but I agree with Andi that acting as if she is a real client with specific body issues and tastes was over the top). For these reasons, Mila earns the gold star for curmudgeonry, which is a funny quality to value in an episode featuring so much pink fabric!

Fake Out! (Le Freak, C'est Chic)
Is it just me, or does Project Runway seem to be peppering its episodes with more red herrings than usual? From last week's red fabric showdown in Mood to this week's accessory wall blowout, these "conflicts" used to end up being juicy and outcome-relevant but are now just asides. For instance, I completely expected the judges to call Kara out on how much her gloves did not go with her outfit, since their capture was achieved through whining across the workroom. These ultimately pointless snippets are throwing my whole top three/bottom three radar out of whack! Though, given the critiques the judges were dishing out this episode, there was no way I could have picked up on who was in and who was out. What on earth did they want the designers to do for Miss Piggy? Austin's design was not "classy enough," but Mila's and Gordana's were too pretty (to a "whispering" degree)? And somehow Michael's and Rami's were the best of both worlds? I don't get it.

Assorted thoughts:
Is it weird for anyone else with my TV-viewing schedule to go from watching Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger on Parks & Rec to seeing ads for Rob Lowe as Drew Peterson in the upcoming Lifetime movie? It's a jolt to have him expounding on the virtues of vitamins and jumping jacks one minute and then muttering "I'm untouchable, bitch" the next. I like my Rob Lowes to come in only two forms. One is as a peppy city manager, and the other one is not as a mustachioed creeper (for the record, it's as Sam Seaborn).

Prediction for next week's biggest breakdown:
Based on the crybaby reputation of some of the designers, this can go one of two ways: Michael or Kara. Since the challenge is to create a dress in six hours, and Michael seems to have nimble fingers that would make a shoemaking elf jealous, I'm betting that the pressure is too much for Kara to handle.

- Annalee

"She reminds me of myself!"
Of all of the Miss Piggy worshippers we saw last night, Kenley was the most devoted. When asked about Our Lady of the Swine, Kenley said, "She reminds me of myself!" Hm... An overblown ego (remember Kenley's certainty that she'd win last night's challenge, aforementioned "porcine nip-slip" be damned)? Check. A penchant for pink? Check. A short temper that causes one to lash out at one's boyfriend, sometimes in unexpected and cat-hurling ways? Check. A tendency toward temper tantrums and pouting? Check. An affinity for girly outfits and accessories? Check. A disregard for the cares and concerns of others? Check. Kenley may have been wrong about the winningness of her giraffe-printed nipplepalooza dress, but she was right about one thing: She and Miss Piggy are two pink peas in a pod.

Whose side are you on?
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I miss the harsh criticism of Heidi, Michael, and Nina. The All Star judges, including last night's guest Eric Daman, are in no way decisive enough for this show. Even after they critiqued the six winning and losing looks on the runway I HAD NO IDEA WHO WAS IN THE TOP AND WHO WAS IN THE BOTTOM. And I was taking notes!

Here's a note for you, All Star judges: If you don't like something, just say so! Instead, they had this to say about the losing looks:

"I think your dress is really beautiful, but something in the way it's constructed just isn't catching my eye." (Angela on Austin's be-bowed corset dress)

"You made a really pretty cocktail dress but then you dressed it up with the gloves…" (Georgina on Gordana's pink nightie)

"You have such great linearity but you could have gone for it with color on this challenge." (Eric on Mila's '60s snoozefest)

Pretty? Beautiful? Great linearity? How were we to know that these looks were your least favorite? Where is the patented Project Runway shock and disgust? Where are the real critiques? This is All Stars—stop sugarcoating things and tell us why these designs don't cut it. She may be a stuffed animal, but Miss Piggy was the best judge out there last night, if only because she knows what she likes (and what she doesn't).

Assorted thoughts:
Is it just me, or is this season playing out like a version of And Then There Were None for the older ladies? First Elisa was eliminated, then Sweet P, and now Gordana—Mila had better watch her back, because the women over 40 aren't faring well so far.

Prediction for next week's biggest breakdown:
Looks like the Kara Janx vote is unanimous. She's close to the edge already, and this six-hour von Furstenberg challenge is likely to push her over it. Speaking of von Furstenberg, has anyone else been looking forward to seeing her on Project Runway ever since Tim Gunn revealed that she once tipsily dragged him to a late-night diner to get hot dogs?

- Kelsey

Previously: Mondo Mondo Mondo!, A Pa-poom Moment?

Bitch Media publishes the award-winning quarterly magazine, Bitch:Feminist Response to Pop Culture. Pitch in to support feminist media: Subscribe today

Subscribe to Bitch


Comments

4 comments have been made. Post a comment.

It's part of being able to use the Muppets...

I heard an interview with Jason Segel on NPR...i think...about the recently released Muppet movie, and he was talking about regulations you have to follow to be able to use the Muppets. One of the cardinal rules is that Muppets consider themselves to be humans, and thus must not be referred to as puppets. It strikes me that's why everyone on Project Runway engaged in treating Miss Piggy as if she were real - if you want to have the Muppets on your show, it's part of the deal.

A great metaphor!

Indeed Miss Piggy is NOT real, and I think that fact made this one of the best episodes of PR EVER. Fashion isn't real, either. It's fantasy and imagination and entertainment, and just because we love it doesn't make it *real*. The whole concept of dressing a celebrity who was actually created to be a satire of celebrity kind of blew my mind.

Some of the comments made on the show about the realities of dressing a celebrity would never have been made if there was a real celeb with a public relations assistant in the wings -- "Wait a minute -- does that imply that my client needs spanx?"

Did Rami think he was meant to be dressing Minnie Mouse as the Lady of Spain?

I would have LOVED to see what's-his-name from the last series (him with the annoying hair and constantly mutating accent) try to dress La Piggy. He didn't even want his female models to have breasts, let alone corkscrew tails!

Fabulous

I personally LOVED this episode. I mean, Miss Piggy. That's all I need really. After all, several real established fashion houses have used her as inspiration and model for their designs. I just wished the designers had taken more risks. There was something so lackluster about what they made. I hated Kenley's dress (okay, okay, I hate Kenley's dress every week. My future prediction for Kenley's dresses? I will hate them).
And yes, I do find it strange to jump from Chris Traeger to Drew Peterson. Every time I see that ad my brain just goes, "But wait! No! Chris Traeger would never murder someone! And if he did he certainly wouldn't look so mean about it..."

You are right Miss Piggy isn't real.

But neither is Liz Lemon and there is a whole post about her actions a few inches above this one. Stephen Colbert (as seen on TV) is a character and he is (maybe) running for president and even testified in front of congress in character. Look back at some of the old ventriloquist dummies of the past. If you have a character that becomes bigger than life it often takes on life. Miss piggy still does wear clothes, and although I am not particularly interested in watching PR design for her, I don't have any problem with it just because she is a character and not a person. (also see elmo, Elvira, Pee Wee Herman, R2D2, Triumph, Siri, Rin Tin Tin, Mr. Ed)