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Philadelphia museum showing glass bongs as high art. The museum’s directors say that this exhibit is less about potheads and more about allowing an underground community of artists to showcase their work without fear of being stigmatized or prosecuted.
I recently took advantage of a rare opportunity of seeing the clothes that were made on Project Runway in person. The clothes that were created on the American Girl episode are currently on a short tour of the American Girl Place stores across the United States and they came to the one in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia.
It also gave me a chance to finally try riding the new Silver Line Metro, which was recently opened a couple of months ago. This new line has a stop that’s right at the Tyson’s Corner Mall itself, which I think is great because I’ve long hated driving there due to the horrendously clogged traffic on the major highways getting there, the poorly laid out parking lot, and the crazy drivers battling each other for those parking slots.
The clothes were only displayed for two days in the middle of the week (October 1 and 2 fell on a Wednesday and Thursday this year), which I thought was strange considering that American Girl’s core customers are girls between the ages 8-12 and this exhibit fell at a time when children were attending school during the day and having to deal with homework at night. From an adult’s point of view, the timing was great because the store was less crowded than it usually is on the weekends (especially Fridays and Saturdays). As a result I could leisurely view the clothes on display and even take photos of them without dealing with crowds of kids.
Basically when one gets off at the Tyson’s Corner Metro Station, one reaches the mall by crossing a pedestrian bridge over Route 123 then one arrives at this really pleasant looking plaza outside the mall entrance, which includes paved walking paths and couches placed outside for people to sit on.
The next few photos look like I got some close ups of the local wild birds. In reality they are some life-sized bird statues that look incredibly real.
The plaza has giant-sized boards where people can play checkers and chess using large playing pieces. There is a ping pong table that people can use. There is even an outdoor playground for young children that is located next to the Shake Shack.
When one enters the mall, this Tesla car dealership is the first store one sees. (I find it strange to see a car dealership inside a shopping mall because I’ve long adjusted to car dealerships being these large parking facilities that are separate from shopping malls.) Tesla is among the first electric cars that have gone on sale in the U.S.
I saw this store that had these freaky looking clothes. I couldn’t tell whether they were the latest in trendy teen clothes or Halloween costumes.
There were people who tried out the video game “Just Dance” that was playing on the X-Box Kinect that was placed outside the Microsoft Store.
The main reason why I went to Tyson’s Corner on a Wednesday night was to visit the American Girl Place, where I could see the dolls model their latest BeForever outfits and accessories.
In the center of the store was this display featuring the 1970’s historical Julie Albright doll sitting next to her bed with the beaded curtains.
Julie is sitting in a doll-sized egg chair. I remember seeing egg chairs from my childhood (probably either on television or in a store catalog) even though my family never owned one.
The original egg chair had stereo speakers built in so people could listen to their favorite tunes while resting in the chair. The American Girl version also have speakers built in so owners can plug in their favorite MP3 media players.
I love the miniature food that’s available as part of Julie’s accessories, especially the miniature Jiffy Pop popcorn pan. I used to love it whenever my parents popped Jiffy Pop popcorn because when the popcorn popped, the aluminum foil top would expand into a giant ball, which I thought was incredibly awesome. The only downside is that only half the kernels would pop, leaving plenty of unpopped kernels. (Sometimes if we were lucky, we would get 75% of the popped kernels. But I remember that was pretty rare.)
I thought that the tiny stuffed monkey displayed on Julie’s bed was incredibly cute.
The next two photos show the main reason why I made the special effort to go to the American Girl Place on a Wednesday night.
Seven of the eight outfits that were created on that Project Runway American Girl episode were on display.
Curiously the one outfit that was not on display was that notorious pink onesie mess that caused Sandhya to come in last place and be cut from the show. It was supposed to be based on the Caroline Abbott doll but there was literally no connection between that awful outfit and the doll who’s supposed to represent the War of 1812. Basically the only way anyone can see Sandhya’s losing fashion disaster is online. (By the way, the Project Runway stills showing the young models wearing the clothes came from online screenshots. I’m only posting them here to show the comparisons between what the outfit looked like on the mannequins in the store when I was there and what they looked like when worn by the models on that show.)
Not only did the poor young model had to wear that thing on the runway while humiliating herself in the process, the outfit was plunged so low at the top that if the top hem had been any lower, one would’ve seen the girl’s prepubescent breasts. (And that’s not to mention that long buttoned slit in the back rear end that the wearer would have to undo every time she needed to go to the bathroom since the outfit is a onesie that’s similar to what babies wear.) Basically that outfit was a pedophile’s dream come true. I think there was a reason why American Girl didn’t include that outfit as part of the American Girl Place tour.**
The next lowest ranking outfit was on display. It was what Emily designed based on the Rebecca Rubin doll. That one was also a mess but it’s still nowhere near as awful as the one that Sandhya did.
The judges were hard on Emily because she sells a children’s clothing line on Etsy so this competition should’ve been a slam-dunk for her. Instead she did this outfit where, if viewed from the side, it made the young model look pregnant.
After viewing the outfit in real life I found that the top looked very cute. But that skirt in that ugly olive color with layers of bulky tulle was another matter—it was a total disaster.
I think that replacing that skirt with a different one in a prettier color (like purple, which would match both the top and the Rebecca doll’s Meet outfit) and without the tulle (which is something that a young girl would not normally wear unless she was going to be a flower girl in a wedding or celebrating her First Communion) would be a major improvement and could even be attractive to young girls and their parents.
Sean did an outfit based on the Julie Albright doll that also landed him among the bottom ranked contestants. The outfit was a jumpsuit that would’ve been more appropriate for a toddler than an elementary school student.
The only redeeming part of that outfit was the very cute jeans jacket, which Sean totally screws up by creating this messed up peace sign that’s missing one of the lines.
Good grief! The peace sign is the one sign that’s incredibly easy to remember and replicate and Sean totally screws it up! I was glad when Heidi Klum schooled Sean for that major error during the critique phase of the competition.
Viewing the outfit in person I found the fabric to be incredibly cute. Had the fabric been used for the top only and it was paired with pants in the same fabric as the jacket, it would’ve worked really well.
I tried to get a shot of the infamous messed-up peace sign but the clothes were displayed very close to the wall and the area was roped off so people couldn’t get too close to the clothes. This next shot was the best I could do.
Alexander did this outfit based on the Kit Kittredge doll. My only problem with that outfit is that the model was way too young to wear such a skin-tight sexy outfit.
Viewing it in person, I found the outfit to be really cute. I think it would’ve been perfect for a young woman between 18-30. It was just inappropriate for an elementary school-age girl.
Viewing this outfit in person gave me a chance to actually see some of the work that went into making it. The next photo shows a detail of the stitches surrounding the armhole. I had to keep in mind that the designers had less than 24 hours to create their outfits so it was interesting to see the attention to detail despite the intense time-crunch of the competition.
Amanda designed this outfit based on the Addy Walker doll. I thought that this one was among the better outfits that came out of that episode.
The outfit looked just as cute in real life as on television.
The one detail I saw that I didn’t realize while watching the TV screen was that the jacket also had different fabric on the inside, which was pretty cool. I wouldn’t be surprised if that jacket had been constructed as a reversible jacket.
Char did this really cool and funky outfit based on the historical Native American doll, Kaya’aton’my. It reminded me of something that Cher used to wear back on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour in the 1970’s yet it was still cute and appropriate for young girls.
That outfit was even cuter in real life than on television. If someone ever makes an adult-sized outfit like that, I would be very tempted to buy it for myself.
Another outfit I really liked was the one that Korina did based on the Josefina Montoya doll.
I found the outfit to be just as cute in real life. I loved the layered squares on the skirt, which reminded me of one of Mondrian’s canvases.
Last, but not least, is the winning outfit that Kini designed based on the Samantha Parkington doll. Not only is that outfit very beautiful but the young model totally rocked that look on the runway.
The outfit looked just as lovely in real life as on television. Kini definitely deserved to win this challenge because I loved this outfit. This was another outfit that I would consider buying for myself if someone ever makes a version for adults.
After I left the American Girl Place, I ate dinner at Wasabi once again. (I just can’t get enough of seeing food being delivered on a conveyor belt. Fortunately the food is excellent because the conveyor belt could’ve been a tacky gimmick had it served McDonald’s-level fast food.) After dinner I decided to leave the mall but I had to go to the bathroom first before I decided to board the Metro. I saw this really cool looking kids’ play area that was put up by National Geographic.
I also liked the atrium-like roof on the top level of the mall. I found it very attractive.
By the time I decided to head home it was nighttime. There were still plenty of people on that plaza who were doing things like playing with the oversized game pieces and hanging around on the outdoor couches.
I came across this mourning dove that is yet another one of those lifelike bird statues that are placed along the plaza.
The last photo shows the new Tyson’s Corner Metro Station and the pedestrian bridge over Route 123 that links the station to the mall.
The Project Runway clothes are currently touring the United States so for more information on future stops and dates, click here.
**UPDATE (October 16, 2014): I was watching last week’s episode of Project Runway (I can’t always watch new episodes on Thursday nights because I’m usually attending weekly meetings for people who are separated or divorced) when I saw what happened to Sandhya’s losing design. This challenge involved taking the losing designs that led to previous designers being cut from the show and incorporating it into a new design. Sean was assigned Sandhya’s mess of an outfit to redeem it into a more fashion-forward outfit for adults that’s supposed to be based on what the remaining designers saw on a tour of the streets of New York City. So this explains why Sandhya’s outfit wasn’t part of the American Girl/Project Runway tour. Sean’s redemption of that outfit earned him a spot among the finalists of that show who would be showing their outfits during New York’s Fashion Week.
Here is the original outfit as designed by Sandhya.
And here is what Sean did with that outfit.
While I’m still not really that crazy about that outfit (mainly because of all that Pepto Bismol pink), Sean did an excellent job with his redesign. Had the outfit been in a more flattering color (like purple or blue), it would’ve been a really awesome one. But I have to admit that Sean did a great job with what he was given in that episode.
UPDATE (November 1, 2014): Not only did Sean do a great job with reforming Sandhya’s losing design but he ended being the winner of this season of Project Runway.
I recently attended the Silver Spring Maker Faire. I attended it last year when it was known as the Silver Spring Mini-Maker Faire but, due to the fact that this event is bigger than it was last year, it is now known as a regular Maker Faire.
I arrived early because I had a meeting scheduled with other people starting at 2 p.m. so I couldn’t stay for the whole day. It was just as well because this event was just as crowded as last year so I basically made do with just taking pictures with my smartphone camera.
I arrived when it first started, just in time for the Hoover Uprights band in the next photo to play its set. One of my friends from my Unitarian Universalist congregation was in that band.
Here are the rest of the photos from that event. There were tons of kids doing the hands-on exhibits, which was why it was hard to get close to many of the booths.
There was this big area called the Cardboard Playground where people were invited to make things from cardboard while a giant cardboard robot oversaw everything.
Makerspace 125 (formerly known as Club 125) had a booth at this event, which was well received.
A high point of this event was the display of the new Tesla electric cars.
I even shot a short video of some of the more interesting parts of the Maker Faire, including a frisbee-tossing robot, a demonstration of a tiny flying drone, a toy car, and a toy car race on an electronic track.
Like I wrote earlier, I couldn’t stay the whole day due to a meeting that I promised I would attend. On my way to my car I took this overhead photo of the entire event while I was on the pedestrian bridge between the City Place Mall and the parking garage where my car was located. Even from up high you can see how crowded the area was.
Ironically, despite my effort to make the meeting on time, I was still late because I encountered an unexpected traffic backup due to geese!