It’s an intermission weekend, that brief period just before the onslaught of new fall-TV content. So let’s talk fall fashion. The return of plaid! Or, H&M is doing a line of clothing based on the work of William Morris, which makes a change from allowing some hack actor to design stuff.
You get the impression from reading about fashion that many experts expressing strong opinions don’t actually have a clue about how clothes are constructed, sewn together and actually finished as wearable items. Project Runway did, at one point, take seriously the creation of clothes. Then it became a soap opera.
Stitched (Sunday, Slice, 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.) is a fun and charming competitive fashion-creation series. “Skilled fashion designers match wits and stitches in an epic fashion throw-down,” says Corus, which made the thing. But it isn’t epic at all. It’s small-scale and looks like it was made on a tiny budget. That’s what makes it rather charming.
Each self-enclosed episode has four competitors who face off in challenges that are increasingly difficult. One is eliminated after each challenge until two battle and the winner gets $10,000. Yep, 10 grand. This is not going to make anyone a millionaire. Again, that’s what adds to the appeal. Its unpretentious, a little silly and it involves some real skill.
There’s a touch of drama in the cattiness that can erupt between the clothes makers. Mind you, it’s the boasting, catty ones who tend to fail when it comes to using a sewing machine, a needle and thread or wielding scissors. And then there is the judging panel, which includes style expert Joe Zee and ELLE Canada’s editor-in-chief, Vanessa Craft. The latter plays the Arlene Dickinson role, coolly haughty and secretly enthusiastic. There are revolving judges, too, usually successful designers who can be brutally frank about a contestant’s lack of basic skills.
The series started last week and the first episode is repeated Sunday at 8 p.m. (the new episode is at 9 p.m.). It features Molly O’Brien, an 18-year-old who was also on Project Runway: Junior and has had her own clothing line for several years. Interestingly, she’s the least outgoing but the most skilled. Another youngster claims to have had his designs worn by social-media celebrities: “Kylie Jenner wore my denim jacket. It. Was. Amazing.” After the first task is completed he looks at Molly’s creation and sneers, “I see Molly’s thing and I think I could have walked into the mall and bought that for, like, $12.99.” That, however, is not the point. Strong tailoring is the point.
The contestants vary in age, from 18 to early 60s and come from across Canada and the United States. Often with competitive reality shows, it’s big personalities who are chosen to amp up the drama. So far, Stitched is mostly about attempted fabulous concoctions and basic everyday, wearable garments. There is the usual fashion-gibberish talk every now and then from one of the judges: “It feels very city, it feels very now.” But in an age of contrived Instagram fashion and the fast-fashion of countless stores, it’s a relief and a pleasure to see something about the basics of creating what is worn.
Also airing this weekend: Gone (Sunday, Bravo, 9 p.m. ET) is a fairly standard police procedural, and the twist is that this one is about abduction cases. An international co-production, it’s bland stuff, as such productions are. The gist is that Kit (Kick) Lannigan (played with some eat-the-scenery energy by Leven Rambin), a child-abduction survivor, is recruited by FBI agent Frank Novak (Chris Noth, of Law & order, Sex and the City) for a special task force dedicated to solving missing-persons cases. Noth is as solid as ever but unspectacular, and one suspects the main audience for Gone is Chris Noth fans.