Friday Night: The Fashion Show
As Jon, Robert and I head into the ballroom for the evening’s dinner and fashion show, I am thinking to myself how happy I am to be there. Two terrific classes taught by two excellent teachers, and a well-planned market with a good range of vendors. It’s a complicated affair, and I have to admire the hard work that went into getting it off the ground.
We join a large table of festive ladies right next to the runway. I will admit to being one who enjoys a good fashion show, and I’m looking forward to this. I also hear from Jon that the door prizes can be quite nice.
Dinner is interesting. We are served salmon. I usually do not eat fish because it often makes me sick. But I’m so famished I shovel in a few forkfuls and demolish the fettucine. I eat one of the haricots verts, and it tastes like a Clover bamboo US 4. Bon appetit.
Everyone is finishing up dessert (individual factory-made custard tarts the size of silver dollars) when Rick Mondragon takes the stage. I know it’s him without being told. He is, and I do not say this without years of experience to back me up, the gayest man I have ever seen.
We are talking Liberace gay. Richard Simmons gay. Rex Reed impersonating Bette Davis while simultaneously having sex with Paul Lynde, baking a soufflé, and redecorating the bathroom gay.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
No, seriously. I’m not the world’s butchest man, myself, and camp humor can be a riot. Alas, Mr. Mondragon is not funny. And a big queen who is not funny has an Annoyance Factor rating somewhere between a telemarketing call on your wedding night and a wasp in your underwear.
After some welcoming remarks and a couple prizes, he gives a shout out to some woman named Maggie. I have never heard of her before, but Jon has shown me some of her designs at the market. (They weren’t to my taste, but I could see them being deeply popular with women who live in Palm Springs, carry raffia totes, and describe themselves as "sprightly.")
A shout out is fine, but Maggie is then invited to take the stage to tell us all about her new love. It would seem that she is getting married to some fellow who makes her knees weak, and moving to Spain. She gets that far before becoming fahrklempt and handing the microphone back to Rick. She doesn’t say anything about knitting. Or yarn. As she sits down again at her table and starts winding wool, I cannot for the life of me understand what has just happened.
But it is time for the show.
Things get off to a rocky start. Whoever has been hired to run the audio is having a bad day. Or is possibly drunk, or tripping. When the lights go down, there is no music. Rick calls for music. There is a long pause. Then the music starts. Then stops. It will continue to do so haphazardly throughout the evening. Songs will repeat (how hard is it to come up with an hour of different disco songs?) or occasionally fade out completely in the middle of a model’s walk on the runway, leaving her stranded.
The balance with the microphones is also off, meaning that sometimes you can’t quite make out what Rick and his co-host, someone named Susan, are saying.
Given Rick’s announcing skills, this is perhaps a good thing. Unfortunately, we do hear at full volume and clarity his extremely inappropriate and unprofessional remarks about the sole male model. At one point, he goes beyond mere leering to say that Casey or Chip or whatever his name was “…has to get home soon, his parents don’t trust me around him at night.”
Great, Rick. That’s just what we need. A gay man in a room full of Midwesterners reinforcing the negative stereotype of gay men as predators who can’t control themselves. I am embarrassed and angry.
The pieces on display are a mixed bag and there are far too many. The show seems to go on for hours. Edited down by half, it would be an appropriate length, but would still have far to many schmattehs.
We are subjected to an entire segment devoted to ponchos. So many that they sometimes have to come down the runway in groups of three.
Now, it’s my guess that the poncho must have risen to popularity partly because it is by definition a simple garment. However, that simplicity means you can only do so much with it. The designers, having realized this, apparently have decided that the only direction in which they can take it is “uglier and uglier.”
The nadir is reached when the “Mermaid Poncho” is thrown in our faces. Where the name came from, I don’t know. Perhaps, like the Little Mermaid, it is supposed to look like something wretched and bedraggled that washed up on a beach. If so, hats off to the designer for succeeding with flying colors.
I begin to notice a pattern. There are only two designers whose works consistently draw actual, as opposed to merely polite, applause. They are Sally Melville and Barry Klein. Sally Melville’s men’s sweaters are almost all wonderful, the only exception being an odd pullover which is described as having “shirt-tail styling.” Unfortunately, it makes at least four people at our table ask, “Hey, what’s up with the ass-flap?”
I also notice that:
- Very few of the women’s garments in the show would fit the average woman sitting in the audience. Given that so few supermodels knit their own clothes, I think this stinks. Know thy audience. The designer who gives instructions for plus sizes (or hell, even average sizes) stands to make a mint.
- 80% of the pieces in the show would not be worth the time, effort, and money because they will fall completely out of fashion within one season.
My final summation is that obviously those responsible for Stitches, while eminently capable of getting great teachers and putting together a fun market, don’t have a fucking clue about putting on a proper fashion show. If this is they best they can do, they should either not do it again, or hire somebody who knows how to do it.
And Rick Mondragon should keep his mouth shut. His clothes make enough noise on their own. I now understand why the stuff in Knitter’s looks like it does.
To be continued.
(Sorry this is taking so long, y'all. I wrote most of it Sunday night, and I'm posting it when five minute lulls in my work allows.)