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"It Turns Me On"

"It Turns Me On"


So says Vincent. For the last time. Well, at least until the reunion show.

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House of Dereon? Are you jiving me, Foxy Cleopatra?

With each passing week I get closer and closer to the Lindsay Lohan interview in the September Elle, and the anticipation is about to make me explode, but until that sweet, sweet moment arrives, I have to speak my mind about House of Dereon, the clothing label birthed in the collective couture-bereft minds of Beyonce and Tina Knowles. I saw a few examples of the hideous crap they've designed on an episode of Oprah not so long ago. They made the other two Destiny's Children model for them. It was a great episode. And now there's an ad for it in the pages of Elle. Next Elle's going to be taking ads for breast enlargement pills, I suppose. Maybe some creams to melt the fat from your thighs?

Thank goodness for the nice article about how Nicolas Ghesquiere has done such cool stuff with the revered French label Balenciaga, and then the one about those rad Rodarte women. There's a picture of Miranda July in the "icicle shift" I wrote about a few weeks back, just proving that I was right. That dress destroys everything in its path. It's on page 382, just so you know.

OK, on to the show: We're still in Paris, and the flags are at half-mast because Jubilee Jumbles has lost Angela, its spiritual leader. Maybe she can get a job designing terrible shit for House of Dereon.

Now, check back to the first paragraph, where I intentionally misused the word "couture." Everyone misuses the word. They think it just means "clothes." And that ain't right. Because it has a very specific meaning, one that has nothing to do with the ready-to-wear business or anything you're probably wearing right now, no matter how awesome you look today. Couture is what happens when you are a sultan's wife and you go in for half a dozen fittings for a gown that costs $40,000. And you're the only one who gets to have it. That's couture.

So this week's challenge? Create a couture gown. Oh yes, and they only have two days. This means, of course, that no couture will be created. But first, they've had a long-ass flight and Tim Gunn wants to check into his hotel room--so does everyone else, of course, but screw their needs, all I care about here is what will it take to make Tim Gunn happy?--and then they're all going out to dinner.

Cut to some place called Hotel Lutetia. All the guys are in ONE ROOM. All of them. Together. In one hotel room. Little twin beds. Fucking cheap Bravo. I guess all the youth hostels were booked and the location scouts didn't want to fight le homeless for their cardboard boxes.

Shots of them all walking around, milling about the Louvre, hanging outside where that pyramid is, the one where they've got the Da Vinci code hidden. Did you see that piece-of-shit movie? Turns out Amelie is, like, the great-great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Jesus. You always knew Amelie was magic and now you know why. Laura Glamour Mom is so happy to be in France. "We went to a French restaurant," she says. Or, as they call them in France, restaurants. She continues on to say that anyone can be sent home at any time because the people who're left are "the best talent in the group." And Corky's here too.

They all get on the metro to go shopping. Some hot French guy is cruising Jeffrey Christ, asking him if he's a musician. "I'm a designer," says Jeffrey. "Clothes." Rebuffed, the hot French guy looks for American booty calls elsewhere. Then they arrive at Sacre Coeur and they have 30 minutes to sketch. "I trained in couture dressmaking," says Corky, who was clearly the Gomer Pyle of that training facility. "It just turns me on." He is nothing if not insistent about sharing with all of America, and now also all of France, all the many different things that turn him on. They go to Reine, the Mood of Paris, and they have 300 euros to spend, which Tim Gunn explains is about 375 U.S. dollars. Bravo must get a really good exchange rate. When I was there this summer it was closer to $500. I ate a lot of those ham sandwiches that cost two euros a pop. Breathing a cubic liter of air costs five euros. It's pretty expensive over there. Anyway, Jeffrey goes for an insane plaid fabric that reminds me a lot of what Alexander McQueen is getting down with for fall '06. Why not? If you're going to be a total copier, then it's always good to copy someone who's doing it up right. Tim Gunn leaves them in the workroom and says "Make it work" in French.

What will the designers do?

Uli, Heidi's German Pet, vows to shy "avay" from crazy prints and "cuh-lahhs."

Laura references Belle de Jour. She wants to take "prim and proper" and then "vamp it up." She says this in preggers profile. And if anything says vamp to me, it's someone whose every move for nine solid months is an advertisement for unprotected sex.

Michael Knight With No Talking Car is talking about curvy shapes, simplicity on bottom and details on top. Always thinking, that one.

Kayne The Flaming Lisp says he wants to make a dress for one of his favorite pageant girls. Uh-oh. Laura pops in to advise him against this because Laura knows what's best for everyone. Kayne assures her that he knows what he's doing. I don't know how well that worked on her, but I don't buy it for a second. Laura, in interview, says it's pageant-looking. Jeffrey describes it as "prom gown."

So far, everyone seems so freaked out by the difficulty of the challenge, and the impossibly short amount of time to finish, that they have no time for interpersonal uglitude. Corky, in interview, states definitively that his gown Will. Be. Couture. Laura, in interview, decides to let everyone know the obvious: "Vincent is a legend in his own mind," she says. "He spends a lot of time working on his pattern on the mannequin, stepping back, admiring his work, asking us other designers over for what he calls an opinion, but really he just wants us to come admire his work." Cut to her yawning as she looks at his pattern.

Day 2 of the challenge:

The guys wake up in their dumb little hotel room with the twin beds. Jeffrey is shaving his neck tattoo. Michael is in the background also getting ready. Corky is complaining about the electric shaver noise. Uh, dude, it's morning. You have genius couture-making to do. Get le ass out of bed and get to le work. Couture doesn't sleep!

Tim Gunn inspection time back at the workroom:

Tim Gunn gives Michael a concerned-face look. That's new and different.

Tim Gunn tells Laura her detailing must be "exuberant." And whether it turns out that way or not, I'm in love with the fact that she's wearing a white button-down shirt tied in a knot just above her fetal protuberance. Dust it with some glitter next time, too. If you're gonna show it off, show it off.

Tim Gunn says to Kayne, "I want to say this to you in the spirit of someone who wants you only to succeed. This is not working for me. Seeing all this boning underneath, it's not pretty. It worries me." The dress in question is gold and covered in flowery flowers on top of flowery flowers. It's like Angela entered his dreams and whispered, "Les fleurs, Junior Samples, les fleurs," and he forgot that she got kicked off for that. Much like for Angela, more is just more for Kayne.

It's later. Jeffrey talks about the absurdity of the challenge. "You have two days to make an atom bomb. Yeah!" Laura worries for Kayne, hoping that he doesn't get "his head handed to him on a 'ree-dee-culous' plate tomorrow." Jeffrey, later in interview, says, "Laura is confused about what a couture gown is. She only has one thing that she knows how to do." Corky talks shit about Michael's poorly made garment: "It's very visible." And Corky might just be right. Looking at Michael trying to hand-stitch the amazing amount of ruching he's got in mind is freaking me out for him. He's not going to win this challenge. There's no way they're kicking him off, but he's not winning.

Day 3, couture party day:

Kayne is last to wake up. "Oh, God, shoot me in the face," he says, still obviously dreaming of that barn scene from Spokes. They all head back to Parsons, with three hours to work before a big party to "celebrate" their couture gowns. Cut to Laura with a sign on her table that reads, "Caution: Fleurchamps making in progress." Have I been spelling it incorrectly all this time? Dang Internet dictionary.

Tim Gunn gets on Corky's case for gluing stuff together at the last minute. And Corky's response is, "I don't have time to make a couture garment here. It's impossible." This may be the most reasonable sentence to leave his mouth since this season began. Because, seriously, it is impossible for one person to make a genuine couture garment in two days. It's beyond silly and everyone here knows it. So glue away, man. Who cares? Your dress is ugly anyway. It's not like stitching's going to change the fact that it looks like a couch in a dentist office. Then Tim Gunn hustles them all out of the workroom, models still being fit into their dresses. They're off to the party, which turns out to be on a boat on the Seine. As they arrive some kid begins throwing eggs at them from a balcony. One of them splatters all over Michael's gown. Somebody make this kid a guest judge. If there's a language barrier, he can let les oeufs speak for themselves.

Catherine Malandrino shows up and the champagne flows. And finally, straight from the mouth of Jeffrey H. Christ himself, comes an explanation of the neck tattoo for Catherine Malandrino. As viewers get their first-ever clear close-up, he explains that it's his son's name and that underneath, in Italian, are the words "The love of my life." Malandrino inspects Jeffrey's gown. It's really McQueen-ish, but whatever. I dig it a lot. Screaming yellow tartan moving in five directions at once. Malandrino calls it "audacious." That's French for "You win, mon ami."

CM is not so down with Laura's dress because it covers the arm. They like arms in France. Nude arms. Arms that are cold for the sake of beauty. That neck ruffle, though, is pretty cool. Big and extravagant. That's the kind of shit I'm down with. It looks like one of those neck cones they send dogs home in from the veterinarian.

CM digs Kayne's asymmetrical back lace-up stuff. And I must say, now that it's done, the whole thing doesn't look so shitty after all. Tacky and eye-gouging, yes, but true to Kayne's vision. Cut to Kayne in black beret and pencil mustache in interview, looking stupid. He might as well smear a jar of Grey Poupon all over his face too.

CM is reserved about Michael's gown. That's because it's fucked up all over on the top. He meant it to be the version of Malan's brown log that actually looked good, and it ended up like the Mart de Wal. Michael knows this and says it on-camera, in interview. I love how he just admits when he fucks up.

CM says of Corky's Crazy-Glued piece of shit that it's been a long time since she's seen an evening gown with shoulder pads. It reminds her of the '80s. Well, whadaya know, that's when Corky stopped making dresses and entered his 20-year nap. When he woke up, the first thing he asked was, "Hey, what's Keith Haring doing? Oh yeah? Wow, that's sad. Well, what about Willi Smith? Oh, him too? Hmmm. How about Versace? No, not that skank, the brother. Oh. Gee." Now Corky starts hitting on CM. This kind of creep-show butt-kissing/sexual harassment is AWESOME! Get moving, Austin Powers! Keep embarrassing yourself by praising her hair, her dress, her shoes. Tell her she's stacked while you're at it! Tell her there's something you'd like to get straight between the two of you. This boat ride's about to end and you've got mere moments to seal the deal with an internationally recognized female designer. If you close your eyes and squint just right, you can pretend she's Monica Bellucci.

The models walk up and down the boat in the gowns, but all we learn from this is what we already knew. Jeffrey's is "audacious." The rest are either mistakes, inept, or too safe. "Bravo," says CM. "Bravo is right," adds Tim Gunn, a company man on the move. They all stay on the boat, drinking champagne and enjoying Paris at night. Look, more shots of the Eiffel Tower. Did I mention I was there too, recently? I was, quite possibly, the first tourist ever to go there.

Commercial time: There's still time to vote for the Fan Favorite designer, who'll be crowned with that title on the reunion show in October. Heidi, who's been absent from this entire episode so far, is still very excited and says, "Ha HA!" It never gets old for me.

And then AUUUGGGGHHH!!! Commercial for the DVD of United 93. I had to see that movie in the line of film criticky duty and, yes, it's an artful achievement in filmmaking. And no, I never never never never never want to see it again. P.S., marketers, it's not crass at all that you've included the line "Let's roll" front and center in the TV spot. So you can feel proud of yourselves for that. Way to ruin my one hour a week of not paying attention to all the horrors in this world, Bravo.

We're back in New York:

Models come in, get fit, are sent to hair and makeup. The garments have to be refitted to the new models. Laura's dramatic, vertical collar got crushed on the flight home. Now it looks kind of droopy and poopy.

And here's Heidi in a short black dress that Seal is going to slide her right out of the second he sees her fine ass in it. The judges are here: Kors, Nina, and Richard Tyler, the Leonard Cohen of fashion, who should have requested softer lighting.

The models walk. Kayne's looks simultaneously better and worse than ever, swooping out to cover the whole room, drowning everyone in a big bucket of tacky but shiny. Laura's collar is having a horrible, no good, very bad day, leaving nothing to look at but the long black column of dress it's attached to. Corky's is, if this is possible, even uglier in America than it was in Paris--naturally, he's out-of-his-mind ecstatic with it--and we can see the nod to Angela he's placed on the butt, a big dumb flower. Michael says he's "sweating like a ho in church," and he's got good reason to do so. His dress is busted up.

The judges chat, say nothing of any real interest, tally the scores, and make the models and designers come back for the cut.

Jeffrey wins for the second time in a row, deserving it for the first. He may act like a dick, and his clothes may be derivative, but he just ran a big circle around everyone in this room.

Kayne's in, even though they all called him tacky. He's not long for this show.

Uli's in. They're all happy she didn't print them to death.

Michael's in by the skin of his jacked-up teeth.

And when it comes down to Laura and Corky, I take a deep breath. Surely they won't drag his stay out one more week just because his pompous lunacy is fun to watch, right? Please, oh please, oh please, fashion deities who live on a cloud of organza somewhere, hear my cry. Make it be--oh good, Laura's in. Corky is gone. They've finally put him out of my misery.

This means that next week Laura and Jeffrey are going to butt heads about something. Kayne's too nice, Michael stays out of drama, and everyone's terrified of Uli. All I know is that it better be more interesting than this episode was. I like watching them make clothes as much as the next guy. But I also want know...human interest. OK, fighting. I want fighting.

It turns me on.

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"It Turns Me On"

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Dave White