TUTTLE MODE | @TuttleMode

by James Tuttle

Gentle reader,

Since we already have the smallpox vaccine and Oxyclean, it was only a matter of time before those Nobel Prize winners at Lifetime figured out the world also needed Project Runway All Stars, so they pulled together some of the more interesting and controversial contestants from past seasons of Project Runway and upped the ante.  That’s right, just when you thought it was safe to change the channel, there’s another bunch of people who really, really, really want to be on TV!

If everyone looked like this, we wouldn’t need clothes: Caio Cesar by Stewart Shining

I started out rather excited to see which whack jobs they pulled together for this thing but after they were all in one room it was only a matter of minutes before their once-familiar mannerisms returned to annoy me.  Michael Costello may be Scott’s mom’s favorite because he’s from Palm Springs, but he really went overboard with the moist eyes and cloying humility when his bitchy, hissy self was shining right through.  Then Austin Scarlett from the first season showed up and I actually thought that he could be a very handsome guy with his new mustache if he could just lay off the foundation.  And whoever told him that opening his eyes so wide that he constantly looks like he just snorted a big, fat line of crystal meth was not doing him any favors.

Austin shows how Eisenhower-era hair and makeup isn't just for gals.

Then there was Sweet P acting like a cute little girl even though she’s about sixty, and Elisa being a loopy hippie chick, like she could sit on the floor “Indian-style” and start snapping her fingers at any moment.  Rami, on the other hand, is quite cool and very talented but what aggravates me about him is how he teeters on the brink of hunky hotness but just can’t push himself over.

In case we were starting to get too comfortable with these old faces, there’s a completely new panel of judges.  Isaac Mizrahi takes Michael Kors’ spot as the nebbishy queeny one, and some trick from Marchesa sits in for Nina Garcia.  Taking over hosting duties for the lovely Heidi Klum is model Angela Lindvall, who has always seemed like she really should have a Scandinavian accent even though she’s from Oklahoma.

I worked with Angela once when she was already, in just her first couple of seasons, the face of Chanel.  We all went out to dinner with Mario Testino at Indochine, which was short lived in L.A., and she and a couple of the other girls came in looking so baked I was surprised they could find their chairs.

Mondo on PRAS: The worse they dress, the better they design. Ugh.

She and I have both matured a bit since then, but she was so stiff on her first few minutes of Project Runway All Stars—looking like a cross between that girl from Revenge without the scheming inner monologue and a Stepford Wife—that maybe she should have smoked a bowl.

The next day, though, she was relaxed and beautiful at the 99-Cent Store Challenge and that was a welcome contrast to the 99-Cent Store itself because it was neither relaxed nor beautiful.  In this challenge, the designers got $100 and twenty minutes or so to run around and snatch up the materials for their garments.  I was immediately impressed by this because I couldn’t spend $100 at a 99-Cent Store if you gave me all day because there is nothing in there I want other than some lime-scented dish soap.

Rami's winning look.

In the end, almost-hunky Rami crafted a stunning skirt suit out of black-and-white tartan plastic shopping bags and won the day.  It was beautiful on the runway but you’d kill yourself and, most likely, the people seated either side of you if you had to deal with those huge stiff lapels at a luncheon.  At the other end, Elisha rightly got the boot for sending out an interesting but ultimately disjointed look that featured greeting card poetry written on the shower-curtain wings.  Where would you wear shit like that, anyway?

Elisa's losing look.

It was a brilliant idea to do Project Runway with returning contestants but a different host, mentor and judges, rather like a Project Runway in the Twilight Zone, and I’ll definitely be tuning in next week.  They might want to rethink the prizes, though.  Along with $100,000 cash and some other things, part of the haul is having a line carried in select Neiman-Marcus stores, but I don’t know why you’d want that unless you like your stuff being sold by mean old ladies wearing orange lipstick.

Well, anyway, in marked contrast to the Spring 2012 collections, which I nearly accused of stripping away women’s right to vote, there were some resort collections that flew in the face of that Eisenhower-era ladylike trend.  You can still be right on trend without looking like you’re going to a 1959 charity luncheon because there are also to be found big, colorful, flowing maxi dresses, crisp go-go frocks and even a groovy Seventies vibe that is powerful but still feminine.

Lanvin resort looks.

With happy Alber Elbaz at the helm, Lanvin continues to bring a sense of humor to fashion that I feel is very refreshing in this self-serious business.  His 2012 Resort line is inspired by such diverse personalities as Madame Grès, Liz Taylor and African tribal women but he pulls it all together with style and, in the case of the daywear, incredible functionality.  The big, chunky necklaces with shells and raffia tied the line together and made the evening looks very cool.

Rachel Zoe Resort looks.

Rachel Zoe may be known more for her reality television show and her silly catchphrases (“I die!”) but her ready-to-wear line has been a hit from its first season.  Here is where you’re going to find those useful-but-chic maxi-skirts, a Zoe signature that is now slit all the way up over the thigh, and some slouchy looks that will ward away the sun but keep you looking quite cool.  As much as I love so many of the pieces, they really need to stop styling the models to look like Zoe because that’s just creepy.  And stop trying to make jumpsuits happen, Rachel.  It’s not going to happen.

Emilio Pucci Resort looks.

Over at Emilio Pucci, Resort is also fresh this season and, though they have some of those “ladylike” influences, it’s an entirely different game.  In fact, the boyish suits are all about “Marianne Faithfull in the Mick Jagger era,” according to designer Peter Dundas, who (breaking news!) has just signed a contract for another five years.  Many of those jackets and pants, but also long caftans and long skirts, make new use of Pucci’s legendary psychedelic prints that are updated to a faded Ikat in blues or pinks.  And here’s even bigger news:  I have it on good authority from a fashion world insider that Jennifer Lopez will wear a Pucci gown to Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony and Blake Lively is down with Pucci for the Oscars.  Also expect to see so many Pucci looks at the Cannes Festival that it’s likely to be a field day for “Who Wore it Better?”

You heard it here first!

Much love,

xxJames