This episode had more twist and turns than a telenovella or the Bodies Exhibition itself. (This exhibit was the single thing that made me give up social smoking forever.) With Calvin being removed from his house and placed in to Nami, and Cesar deciding to jump ship to help save Emerald after Mike’s meltdown, all I can say is, “Let the games begin!” And this is only the second episode!
Fashion Show #1: House of Emerald Syx becomes House of Emerald
This house, filled with its histrionics, could at least agree on one thing, and that was “losing sucks.” Oh, and dropping the Syx from its house name, as Calvin had suggested on the first episode (though Isaac gets the credit for motivating the name change). During my first consult with the newly named H.O.E, I learned that Jeffrey was crowned head designer, though to me it really seemed as if Cindy was truly in charge of the house’s direction. The house chose red to represent the flood of blood though the body, and they wanted to focus on the ribcage and collarbone (which only Jeffrey truly did successfully, with his sophisticated off-the-shoulder number and its unique ribcage detailing). Golnessa felt strongly about using a pulsating heart as the background, and she chose to focus on the back on the body, especially the spine. H.O.E. wanted to opened the show by projecting a quote from the Bodies Exhibit on the screen as the audience was being seated: “Our bodies are the only things we carry. From the moment that we are born, till the moment we die.”
Based on those references, I decided to make their fashion show feel as if you were traveling through the human body on the rear projection/LED screens, starting with a spinning, rotating heart that morphed out of the graphic quote, to create an art exhibition feel. I pieced together a video of a pool of blood (ode to Dexter) that flowed up and down the rear projection screen. Though slightly gruesome, it was poetically beautiful, and worked with the house's blood reference. As for the runway, I loved the idea of the spinal cord and vertebra as a graphic element to elongate the lean, narrow catwalk, which I flanked in black plexiglass, to exaggerate the point. The TV director made a joke to me about spine reference and the models and clothes traveling through the body and coming out the other end…you get the point.
This frustrated house (note about the veiled faces: three out numbers two when it comes to voting) created a non-cohesive collection that was a bit Mother-of-the-Bride in parts, which would have been fine if that was the mood they were looking to achieve, but it wasn’t. Calvin’s outfit was a crowd pleaser, causing applause during the fashion show, plus it fit the challenge (good for him!), which may have saved from elimination this week. I think Tamara and Cindy, whose dresses had similarities, were in danger. Luckily for H.O.E., Mike on Nami had a melt down and saved them all.
Fashion Show #2: Nami’s Meltdown
Nami started the consult with hair and makeup direction for the models. Cesar told me that they used my head, which is BALD, as the reference for the models hair! This means the hair of the models would be super slicked down, as opposed to those weird bald caps you see during Halloween. The makeup was to have a modern alien, ethereal glow as opposed to a powdery, dry, bone-like feel. The one thing the house was sure on was that they wanted was NO RED in the set or light, which pleased me, as I used red so strongly for them in the Iman challenge the week before. For Nami’s show, I created a dueling runway (which put a sparkle in Bravo exec Lara Spott’s eye and a mischievous grin on Left Right Productions’ Ken Druckerman’s face). The runway referenced a “flowing through” the body effect--after all the body is all about a machine that has constant flow. As for the rear production and LED screens, the house wanted a hospital staging. However, I created a montage of X-rays, MRIs, and CAT scans to set a mood that was Andy Warhol meets Alexander McQueen. The effect was a surreal oddity that highlighted the house's examination of the inner workings of the body, from muscle tissue (Cesar’s dress) to the vagina (David’s inspiration, of course). I used a clinical blue beam as lighting inspiration, and had Michael Stiller, the lighting director, illuminate the surrounding area of the stage space like a grouping of cells.
It's funny how things can change so quickly. During my first consult with Nami (I have second consults with each house before the actual fashion show happens), Mike and Cesar were both clearly the voice of the team (though at odds which each other at times). I asked the rest of the house why they were not speaking up, and they stated that Cesar and Mike had strong opinions and could explain their vision well. I asked “what if Cesar and Mike are not here next week then what would happen?” Well, now we shall see. Poor Mike. I don’t know what was scarier to him: sending a bad dress down the runway against Cesar’s well-thought out piece, or getting the wrath of Iman during eliminations. I would put my money on the latter.
Congratulations to this house (especially Cesar and Dominique) for making chic, well thought out Zandra Rhodes-inspired dresses that were all worthy of the win.