Saturday, January 27, 2007

celebrity judges

The only thing that was more painful than watching Tim Gunn have to constantly sell sponsor's products was watching Tim Gunn have to sell so-called celebrities.

Naturally Tim has the good manners to introduce the guests with enthusiasm, as I am sure Todd Oldham will. I just thought it was more than a little bizarre to watch Tim Gunn froth over the wondrous talents that the spawn of Trump and Hilton brought to the show, especially in the face of their total indifference, if not condescension.

Los Angeles will have its own distinctive type of the over-rich and under-talented who will treat Todd with that special Hollywood mixture of obliviousness and superiority. He will be adorable as always and make them feel right at home.

But here is what I'd hope Top Design producers will do do:

First, it would be nice if Bravo stopped calling the guest judges "celebrities" and stopped making the cast act excited about people who really aren't all that famous (with a few exceptions like Debra Messing or Parker Posey).

If the judges insist on referring to themselves as celebrities (as with the hilariously imperious Mrs. Kors), well that has its own entertainment value.

There was a big difference between the judges who were interested in fashion -- actresses and debutards,

"but how would I look in it??"

excuse me debutantes -- and the judges who were actually in the fashion industry, like Vera Wang and Catherine Malandrino and Fern Mallis (who was the best guest judge PR ever had). Did everyone's hearts go pitter pat when they had Parker Posey rather than Fern Mallis? I doubt it. Why not get someone who is not particularly famous but actually knows something about what they are judging?

Certainly, some of the celebrities are tied to relevant challenges -- like the skating outfit or pageant gown (and oh how delightful she has continued to be for us!). But I for one (perhaps the only one) would not mind seeing Top Design put a few knowledgeable architects and designers in the guest's seat.

I'm not holding my breath.

product placement

Sure, these shows run on advertising.
They are also cheap to produce.

I'm not talking about the commercials. I'm talking about all the product hawking in the show. It can get really tacky. Especially when they always have to use awkward titles for things like the "Macy's Accessory Wall" in Project Runway. Or that ridiculous contrivance with cotton as the official fabric of PR Season 1.

If Top Design is like Project Runway, Todd Oldham will, like Tim Gunn, become the super shill for the show. It is rather sad to watch them take the person with the most dignity and then give them the role that strips them of it.

Because there is so much advertising within the show there is a fair amount of continuity with the commercials. This is an advertiser's dream. Except that this can also backfire. By the end of Project Runway who could resist mocking the constant mention of that radical and new technique of creating the "smoky eye"? The effect of this campaign was that is made you think that super pro Collier Strong only knew how to do one boring technique that every junior high school girl already knew how to do.

The other problem with having too much continuity between commercials, product placement and host endorsement is that the show starts to seem like an infomercial thus making it less appealing and ultimately unwatchable.

Wait - - - what was I saying about product placement ? ?

Friday, January 26, 2007

peter shelton: trend watch

It would appear that Laura is not the only one with a keen eye for style in the Bennett-Shelton household.

Yesterday Gawker asked "What is up with White Converse?" regarding the fashion rage for Chuck Taylor All Stars in New York City.
(I'm a Jack Purcell gal myself. However I don't know how fashionable that makes me considering that the only other person I've seen wearing these particular shoes is a friend's four year old daughter. In my defense I got them for $12.)

At any rate, Fashionista replied to Gawker with their post "Explain White Converse" in which style experts weighed in on the white Converse All Star blitz.

We learn that these sneakers are a New York icon. (God love New York fashion editors. Yes, we out in the hinterlands have never heard of these things you call sneakers. We still wear wooden clogs.)

We also learn that Teen Vogue has styled them with skinny jeans, school uniforms, volume skirts, and prom dresses. I wonder if this sort of versatility makes them the kind of item that would become a fashion rage in the city. Does every New Yorker have these items in their wardrobe?

Ah, but it was this comment that offered some insight: they look even better when worn and aged.

I couldn't agree more.

Interior Design Magazine. LAURA BENNETT, PETER SHELTON, AND LEE MINDEL The Project Runway finalist with her husband, Peter Shelton, and Lee Mindel, partners of Shelton, Mindel & Associates. Photography: Paul Godwin.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


::surroundings:: magazine top design blog has a useful post today (Thursday January 25) outlining the differences between interior decorators and interior designers.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

before I go any further

let's review:
Those of you who were with me for my project runway blog will remember that before anyone starts to get their panties in a bunch I tell them to read "for the record" (listed on the right under the links list, and below.)

kih recommended reading re: reality tv
This list includes a few of my occasional forays into theories of popular culture and communication theory (although I never called them this because I didn't want to scare anyone) or research I think is relevant.

The point of all this is to make sure no one takes it too seriously. It's all in good fun.

Comments on the people on the show are not about the actual people in real life: all media personalities, including the judges, are fictional inventions in some way. This includes the various the personas people present on their blogs and myspace sites (ahem. see below re moi).

It's not really reality. It's just a tv show. The cast and situations are manipulated for the purposes of entertainment and -- mainly -- for selling us stuff.

In return, we manipulate -- or interpret -- or reinvent -- the cast and situations for our own amusement, speaking from the point of view of our own various invented personas.

In fact, I'm actually a wire fox terrier.

Monday, January 22, 2007

myspace amusements

The folks at blogging top design have helpfully put up links to the designers who have myspace pages. I have a tendency to find myspace pages ugly and irritating. Generally I don't get the point of them.

When I say things like that I realize that I'm old. Like when I look at boys who are wearing pants so that they are falling down off their butts and I think, WTF? Or when gauchos came back into fashion and I said, "No, not this time around. Once is enough."

That said, I am not very many years younger than Elizabeth. How many I am not going to say. I also went to high school not too far away from her. Yet when I went to her myspace page and that music starting playing I thought, is this a joke? It sounded like something that hippy teacher on Beavis and Butthead would play.

Nearly as scary was realization that my taste in music has more in common with the kid practically half my age who (aside from the jazz, naturally) apparently likes the Shins so much that he listed them twice.

It's interesting that the person with one of the most obnoxious Bravo bios has one of the more appealing myspace pages. It's a bit precious but he's young and the Corinne Bailey Rae sort of lets him get away with it: the widdle chipmunk, as the gayboys so inimitably call him.

Anyhoo -- what led me to soften my rather harsh view (based on the Bravo bio) was that his list of favorite movies included Junebug, Little Miss Sunshine, Gaslight, and *especially* the 1934 version of Imitation of Life. The 1956 version is fab but that 1934 film is much more obscure and totally mind blowing. The Good Girl and Clueless are also choices that would be in my list. I think Clueless is one of the best of the Jane Austen films.

But all my warm fuzziness is undone by this statement: "I would like to meet people who would rather be wanted for murder than not wanted at all." [i.e., fame is the most important value above all else: there is no point in meeting someone who is not wanted by others because that person has nothing to offer.] It's certainly characteristic of the kind of person who would want to be on a reality television show: it's all about celebrity narcissism. (And famous criminals are just narcissistic sociopaths.) No wonder he likes In Cold Blood. He also liked the film Capote but from this quote he appears to have missed its point.

Still, if it weren't for narcissists we wouldn't have reality television. Think of what we'd miss.