Monday, June 12, 2006

I'm ready for my closeup, Stacy and Clinton

Whenever I feel the need to better connect with my feminine side, I tune in to The Learning Channel's What Not to Wear.

A garden-variety makeover show on steroids, hilarously conceived with a heaping helping of snarky attitude, What Not to Wear chronicles the adventures of fashionistas Stacy London and Clinton Kelly as they boldly go forth to rescue America from sartorial faux pas, one citizen at a time.

Friends and family members nominate their hellishly attired loved ones for the show's ministrations, supported by unflattering hidden camera footage. Stacy and Clinton then descend on the poor unfortunate armed with a camera crew, hair and makeup artists, and a Visa card worth $5,000 for the Fashion Victim (as I like to call the episode's participant) to buy herself a new wardrobe, using fashion pointers from the two "style gurus."

Stacy — who reminds me of Fran Drescher, only without the extreme Brooklynese — usually plays the bad cop, verbally (and sometimes literally) ripping to shreds the motley garb the Fashion Victim has been wearing prior to being selected to appear on the show. The not-so-ambiguously gay Clinton more often takes the kinder, gentler tack, but manages to toss in a fusillade of barbs on his own. Both hosts derive an uncanny amount of glee from pitching all of the Fashion Victim's old clothing into steel garbage cans before sending her off to shop in some of Manhattan's toniest boutiques.

Once the Fashion Victim has repopulated her closet, charming English hairstylist Nick Arrojo and brassy makeup artist Carmindy (no surname, please, though it's Bowyer if you can't live without knowing) complete the makeover by giving her a fresh new 'do and face. The now-recovering Fashion Victim then returns home to thrill her friends and family with her striking new appearance.

The best episodes of What Not to Wear involve the guests who really don't see anything wrong with how they present themselves, and are appalled by the suggestions proffered by Clinton and Stacy. On a recent show, for example, a woman with dingy, stringy, waist-length hair adamantly refused to allow Nick to so much as breathe on her prized tresses, shaggy and split-ended though they were. But the majority of Fashion Victims appear genuinely grateful for the help, at least by the time the sarcasm, ridicule, and verbal abuse have given way to smiles and compliments.

My only fear is that What Not to Wear might start taking on the male of the species. If I ever see Stacy and Clinton rummaging through my closet, I am so out of here.

I understand that What Not to Wear is actually an American spinoff of a popular BBC series. Personally, I think the English version ought to be called What Not to Eat. How did those people build a worldwide cultural empire, while sustaining themselves with such horrible food?


1 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Anonymous Tom Galloway offered these pearls of wisdom...

Given the amount of (much tastier than you can find in the US, yes, even in Silicon Valley with its own large population of such) Indian food in Britain, one could argue that the whole point of their empire was conquer somewhere that could provide them with tastier vittles.

6:30 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home