Best Dressed

Best Dressed

Fern Mallis reacts to the drama she didn't see while the show was shooting. This week was all about cliques — what clique were you in? How did you dress in high school?
I was voted “Best Dressed” in my high school … which is an “honor” and a “label” that has followed me for my whole career.  I was not really in a clique. I was always a good student, had many friends, and mostly was with a more creative group of students. I wasn’t the “cheerleader” type, and it wasn’t a time for a druggie group … and I wasn’t the smart nerdy one either.

But with that said, I honestly barely remember my high school days. Which were the biggest hits and misses to you?
I actually wish more of our comments would be included in the show … because I know we all liked James-Paul’s “Preppy” take on his design, and I was very fond of Lidia’s “Nerd.”

I think they were the two strongest looks of this challenge, but the audience did not select them.

Both of those had some humor, and an attitude, and a real look. I was not too keen on Merlin’s “Mean” pink -- or Haven’s “Skater” outfit, and they were not my top choices.

The two bottom looks were however the biggest misses to me … for the reasons expressed on the show.

It’s important to remember that we have to select the winner from the two choices the audience likes. Only a handful in the audience are “professionals,”  so we are having to find the talent and the winner who the “people” who are the “customers” like best. What do you think of Johnny’s attitude?
His attitude is very frustrating, but I think it is his defense. When I see his comments during the various sessions that I am not otherwise privy to, it makes me nuts, but I do honestly believe he has talent ... and I guess we have been forgiving him … and it is probably making the audience upset with us. I sometimes think “he knows not what he is saying.” Many people have already said to me, “How could you have kept him?" when he says, "Fine — send me home.”

However, as someone who has watched designers grow and evolve, and has tried to understand their potential, I believe at this point, and so do the other judges, that there still is a spark, an idea, a talent and potential that Johnny has … and we want to see more from him.

Let’s wait and see… Do you think Angel’s look was “offensive?” Kelly seemed to think so.
I don’t think it was “offensive” in the natural sense of that word, but it offended Kelly as she is so close to the b-girl music scene and understands how important an influence that has been on our entire society and culture … and even her own career. For Angel to just cop out with her “Indiana” background was wrong. She should have gotten a better sense of what her challenge was from pulling info and advice from her colleagues, and I think she just got stuck … and had not been at the top of her game for a few weeks.

And as we stated, of all the themes, hip- hop music girl was really a no-brainer, and should have been the most fun and easiest to pull off … and we know Angel was capable of doing better. It came down to whether it’s a bigger crime to not care or not — what’s your take on that?
I don’t think the issue is about caring or not caring. I think everyone who signed up for this show cares much more than they want to admit.  No one wants to lose, and yet that’s the nature of this exercise. We are not judging on their conversations or their personalities, which in fact you and I hear at exactly the same time — when the show airs. Everyone has their own defensive mechanism for protecting themselves, and we see that played out in the elimination challenges.

Also sometimes caring too much gets in the way and can lead a designer down a very private path that also doesn’t work. You didn’t see it, but after watching the show, there was a big fight between Reco and some of the other designers. Were you aware of his attitude? What do you think about what happened?
I have not been aware of his attitude until I’ve been watching the show … and we’ve already taped the episodesm and I again only show up for the “fashion show” segment and the elimination judging. Which I am glad about, because if I was aware of all the fights and attitudes I’d probably have a hard time keeping it separate from my opinion on the clothes and the successful understanding of the challenge they are presented with.

Ultimately, they are all stressed out, and have a great deal to accomplish in a short period of time, surrounded by their peers, and they are all being judged, all want the prize, so of course there is going to be friction, and most viewers seem to like seeing that part of the show and process. I would rather we spend more time commenting on their work and giving more advice and counsel to help them all be better designers. They’ll work out their battles … and may the best man or woman win!

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