« Robert Frost’s “War Thoughts at Home” | Main | Cyberspatial incohesion »

YoYos and Passion

On Wednesday, 27 September in the Baker Center Ballroom, Angela Keslar, who presently lives in Amesville, Ohio, gave a talk about her involvement with Passion Works Studio and Project Runway.

Angela Keslar presenting in Baker Center Ballroom, Athens, Ohio, on 27 September 2006
Angela Keslar in Baker Center Ballroom, Athens, Ohio
Photo courtesy of Lindsey Burrows and Speakeasy1
To my close friends, I have made no secret that Laura Bennett is my favorite for the simple reason that with the first show I cathected to her poise, carriage, and manner of expression. One friend finds her “controlling” and I don’t disagree, but I also don’t find that characteristic off-putting. Some might observe that having five children (a sixth on the way) has aged Laura prematurely, but, if so, the effect has only emphasized her elegance and beauty. I also am impressed by Michael Knight’s intelligence regarding matters of design. Of the others, I only had strong feelings regarding the cheater Keith Michael (note the lack of an unrestrictive comma!) and Angela.2

Angela, for an unpinnable reason, annoyed me to no end. I think (and I am guessing here) it had to do with the streaks of irrationality and emotionality that seemed present in ”A Designer’s Best Friend” (episode 3) where she tramped up her model and made, as Tim Gunn writes, a skirt “embellished with florets -- lots and lots of florets.” Maybe these florets (which Angela called ”rosettes” on the show) is what attracted my ire. They to me resemble the proud flesh of a suppurating wound. I don’t know, it’s irrational but the personality the show presented was to me very unappealing. From what I saw on the TV, I would not have wanted to be anywhere near Angela. When I learned that she was a smoker, too, my first full impression of her was complete. She was my enemy.3

However, my friend’s description of Angela’s presentation deepened and changed my opinion of Angela.4 Angela is a very articulate yet down-to-earth person. For example, offshow, Angela refers to the florets/rosettes as ”yoyos.” Angela is a bit nutty, but I found the self-ironizing and evocative name Angela had chosen for her sartorial tic endearing. That Angela chose to call them rosettes onshow also reveals an awareness of social context that is not apparent in the episodes overall, and I appreciated that the Angela I got to know through Project Runway is at best a distortion of the person who is Angela Keslar. Also, the hype and glamour of Project Runway—a show about fashion no less—seems not to have egotized Angela. On the contrary, Angela has a very good sense about the way in which only a slice of her personality and the personalities of the other designers could be presented even across episodes.

Angela Keslar’s tie of rosettes
Tie of Rosettes
I began wondering if Angela was under an NDA but, hey, this is a blog and anything could be true. First, it turns out that Keith is not the only lying, cheating, fashion plate-consulting dawg on the show. Jeffrey Sebelia also looked at Keith’s books. The matter was brought to the attention of the producers and the producers were going to overlook this breach of designing ethics until Katherine Gerdes, in a fit of ire after having been auf’ed, threatened to go public. The producers decided they couldn’t risk the damage to the show’s reputation and, to keep Katherine quiet, disciplined only Keith even though both he and Jeffrey had consulted the designer’s references. Furthermore, the scenes where Kayne Gillaspie talks with Michael and the other designers were all shot after the fact. The narrative presented in ”Reap what you Sew’ (episode 4) is a televisual fabrication. Bastards.

The other issue Angela broached is something that is up front in small print: the judges do not have autonomy in deciding the winner of the contest. The winner is decided as a joint decision between the judges and the producers of the show. This means, of course, that outcomes are rigged. In several IM conversations with a friend, I refused to believe that the heart and soul of Project Runway had been pithed. I argued, ”It just couldn’t be.” I was wrong.

Thanks to corporate sponsorship, my world is a sadder place. end of article

1Lindsey Burrows of Speakeasy magazine has also written up Angela Keslar’s presentation.
2 OK, I have to admit it. I hated the hell out of Vincent.
3 I never said I was fair.
4 Somewhat.



However, my friend’s description of Angela’s presentation deepened and changed my opinion of Angela. Angela is a very articulate yet down-to-earth person. For example, offshow, Angela refers to the florets/rosettes as ”yoyos.”

Knowing you, and reading what you say just after this, I realize you are being genuine. I, on the otherhand, would have written that with nothing but sarcasm. Rather, Angela never really irked me proper, but besides the team design she did with Michael and Laura and her Audrey Hepburn "update" (of which you were not a fan), I never really understood how she got very far with the "yo-yos". I mean, let's be honest: that "Tie of Rosettes" looks like some nightmarish thing your 7-year-old gives you for Father's Day and of course you have to wear because, well, it's from your kid. (I was that kid once, btw. I gave my step-dad one of these.)

Don't get me wrong, though. I do appreciate she refers to her signature touches as yo-yos; silliness is like my favorite pastime. And for that, she will always rank higher in my mind than, say, Jeffrey (especially in light of that whole pattern-book nastiness) -- even if he was right about the sewing machine, he's still an ass.

I'm not going to say anything about the judges. Wait, I just did. : )

(Who won that season anyway? If you're reading this and you know, email me; don't spoil it!)