October 20, 2006

"A reality show with fashion integrity."

Robin Givhan approves of Jeffrey Sebelia's "Project Runway" victory. He won because his collection was the best, and even though he was not the fan favorite -- that was clearly Michael Knight -- and in fact he was nasty enough that he -- notoriously -- made someone's mother cry -- and refused to apologize for it:
Sebelia stood out because he sent fashion -- something personal and challenging -- down the runway....

It has been hard to like Sebelia over the course of the last few months. The usual reality show editing and his own acid tongue conspired to portray him as insufferable and self-absorbed. Like his fellow contestants, he complained about his competitors. But Sebelia continued to malign his nemesis, Angela Keslar, long after she had been eliminated. He defended his condescending rudeness to Keslar's mother -- who had the misfortune of being Sebelia's "client" for one of the challenges -- by saying he was being honest and she was being difficult....

Sebelia was a splendid reality show star, and it may be that he survived several eliminations because of the sick pleasure the audience took in his appalling behavior. He could have been sent home after he dressed Keslar's mother in about five yards of pure, dark purple "ugly." The frumpy, asymmetrical frock led Kors to describe it as Comme des Garcons goes to Amish country. Sebelia could also have been sent packing when he created a black and white cocktail dress that looked like he'd been given a budget of 10 bucks and still managed to come back with change. Bennett and the other finalists had even accused him of outsourcing his sewing. At the beginning of Wednesday's show, he had to produce proof that he had not cheated, or face disqualification an hour before his debut at New York fashion week.

Sebelia was kept on because he provided more than just wicked entertainment. He was talented and creative. And more than any other contestant, he was a fashion designer and not just a guy trying to make nice clothes.
Yeah. And don't forget that I was a Jeffrey supporter from pretty early on. I want to retrace my reaction to Jeffrey.

Episode 1:
That guy with the writing tattoo'd all over his neck? I'm fed up to here with looking at his neck! Why would you go and mess up your whole neck like that? How can his judgment about anything be trusted?
The episode about making clothes from trash:
And Michael wins again! Cool! Jeffrey comes in second and -- like an idiot -- he expresses his jealousy: Michael won for a "diabetic" outfit. No flavor.

August 19th: I'm still hung up on the neck tattoo.

My reaction
to the episode where Jeffrey makes Angela's mom cry:
In the original consultation with Jeffrey -- who only had her as a model because he got last choice (no choice) -- Angela's mom told him two colors she liked. Shopping, he decided he needed a better color match and went with light blue, which upset her rather bizarrely. He dealt with it badly, and both the mom and Angela exploited his emotional weakness by acting all emotional, in a much warmer way, which made him look monstrous... just by chance. I love when Angela and her mom are behind the screen and Angela is all you have a right to say you're not happy.

Meanwhile, all the other designers displayed a nice bond with their models -- though Robert's distaste for his large-sized model showed when she wasn't around. So Jeffrey, you were outplayed. And you should see how much you were helped by your own mom, who -- by being nicely normal -- humanized you.

On reading an Entertainment Weekly article about why the show is so great (one reason being "The judges reward actual talent...."):
As the guy with the tattoo on his neck, Jeffrey Sebelia, puts it ''We're not eating cow's balls or having to survive in the jungle with one book of matches and a bottle of water.'' Exactly! Yeah, there's no career in "cow" ball eating. Aw, leave our darling tattoo boy alone! It's not that it's hard to tell a cow from a bull, but it's funny to act like you don't give a damn.
Suddenly, he became "our darling tattoo boy" to me. I've got to admit that the "mom" episode seems to have turned me toward him!

From the black-and-white challenge:
It was kind of surprising that the tattoo boy, Jeffrey, finished in the bottom two, though not the slightest bit suprising that he survived. The judges swing back and forth with him. They either like their rock and roll boy, or they wonder why he is always the rock and roll boy. Well, I like him, and I even liked his goofy cocktail dress with plastic leg casings. So what if we keep getting Gwen Stefani?
So there's my emotional arc.


Joan said...

I can't believe anyone gave Jeffrey a pass for the Mom challenge. Angela's mother said she liked "deep, rich colors" -- she did say green and purple, but she gave those as examples. There is a world of difference between a rich emerald or amethyst and navy blue offset with powder blue. Jeffrey didn't listen to his client, and only survived that challenge because Robert listened to his client too closely.

I do think that a lot of what we saw of Jeffrey was very carefully edited to present him as an uber-jerk. The bonus video footage of him showed him to be a much more decent guy. I still detest his design aesthetic, though. Very few of his clothes are wearable by regular people, everything seems derived from stuff 80's rock stars wore. And I think his view of the female form is bizarre.

dklittl said...

Joan, it was obvious to me that Angela was deliberately setting up Jeffrey for a fall with her mother's help. Jeffrey definitely played into it and acted a bit like an ass, but I believe under the circumstances having someone's mom railroad you is a tough position. Angela might have well told everyone that Osama endorses him.

That episode I believe turned Jeffrey into a bit of the underdog with Laura's cheating charge uping the ante. Personally, I was rooting for Michael throughout the competition, but Jeffrey slowely but surely grew on me because of the nastiness of his competitors.

Rick Lee said...

I was definitely rooting against Jeffrey early on. I never, ever got used to looking at those tattoos. The man was a walking cartoon. Going into the finale, I thought it was a foregone conclusion that Michael would win, but by the end of the runway show I chose Jeffrey as the deserving winner. I was surprised that he actually won.

I thought he got a slightly bad rap on the "Mom" show. He could have been nicer, sure... but he was trying to design a good dress, (he's the designer, not the mom) and the lady broke down crying because she didn't like the color? Get a grip lady. She could have kept her mouth shut and worn it, but she made a federal case out of it. It sure looked like it COULD have been sabotage.