We don't know whether "Mom's" letter has taken the wind out of our sails and inspired us to be nicer, or whether our synapses have just up and quit, but Padma's Quickfire Challenge Outfit appears very nearly to have robbed us of the power of speech. All we can say is, it's Hall of Shame fugly.
We mentioned yesterday that in Mistress of Spices, Padma played "a woman who has grown up in America and adopted western [sic] ways," but we didn't think it was "western" in the John Wayne/Sergio Leone sense. On the other hand, thinking back on it (e.g., the Thanksgiving episode, the firehouse challenge), she does seem to have been working a whole frontier theme this season. She's definitely prospecting for prospects. Westward ho indeed.
In order to placate "Mom," we'll say that we really like her bracelet, and that the hair is looking good, if a little stringy at the ends. But oy, the rest of it. The jeans, combined with the bell-shaped abomination that is her "vest," give her that unfortunate "muffin top" that is the scourge of women everywhere. Only the anorexic look good in those jeans, and no one wants to look at the anorexic anyway.
As for that vest, it makes her look like she is hiding a Kleenex box on either side of her navel. Go ahead, pull out the Kleenex; there's another right behind it. And oy, the itty-bitty lapels, which manage to be both twee and sexually suggestive--never a good combination. Hilary Duff, anyone? And what is it made of? Cambric and chamois? Cheesecloth and felt? Even Ilan Hall's tartare on the plate seems to be blushing in the presence of such fuglitude. What a way to ring in the new year.
This is the sort of outfit that will prompt, and has prompted, many to ask: Who dresses her? Does she have a stylist? If so, will the stylist soon find himself at the bottom of the East River with one of Philip Bloch's newsboy caps in his mouth and a thin mustache drawn on with a Bobbi Brown eyebrow pencil?
Fortunately, button-eyed boy reporter Raggaydy Andy comes through with the answer in this morning's interview of the Padma:
THERE HAS BEEN SO MUCH DRAMA ABOUT YOUR CLOTHES THIS SEASON! DID YOU HAVE A STYLIST OR WHAT?No stylist. Fancy that. We never would have known.
No I don't have a stylist. Top Chef did have a costumer on the set who worked for all of us and would help us and pull clothes. We would look at what we were going to shoot and what I was going to wear. I change twice - for the quickfire - like at the fish market - and at judge's table.
Elimination Challenge Outfit
We don't have a lot to say about this outfit. The dress generally fits well, and the color is quite good for her. When she mentioned to Ted Allen that the Debi Mazar dinner party was sinful, he said, "So that's why you're wearing a red dress."
However, we're not crazy about the sleeves, which are neither tight enough to be sexy, nor loose and delicate enough to be feminine. They look like the sleeves of a teeshirt that has been worn once too often. And, Padma, would it kill you to wear a little jewelry? Your bosom, though stirring, looks a little unadorned. Perhaps some red taro chips? And we would suggest a tad more make-up, or at least a redder shade of lipstick.
Padma does come through with one fabulous idea, which we intend to appropriate tout de suite. It's a wonder no one has thought of it earlier. It's worthy of Diana Vreeland, e.g., Why don't you, when having glamour photographs taken, have a bald man on either side of you to serve as a reflector? The light is warmer than what you get from a conventional reflector, and picks up the highlights in your hair, and if you're lucky, one of the bald men will be straight.
Speaking of, the other thing that interested us was the position of Tom "Handsy" Colicchio's paw. Now, mind you, we're not implying anything untoward, but that paw on her right shoulder does seem awfully possessive, and Chef Colicchio has been very hands-on where Padma is concerned. We remember a number of challenges where the Colicchio arm has been around her shoulder or her waist (e.g., the Quickfire Challenge during the Thanksgiving episode). Given his general scary leather daddy-bear demeanor, it seems a little uncharacteristic. Just sayin'. (On the other hand, it's always the leather bears who have doilies at home, so go figure.)
It does lead us to something else we've been noticing and that was especially prominent during the last episode, namely, that Padma appears to work better with men. She has been much livelier and more energetic and appealing when the guest judges have been men (e.g., Raphael Lunetta), and she has done especially well with Ted Allen. They make a lovely couple, and he seems to bring out something playful and willowy in her that isn't there when Gail Simmons is around.
But are we overly sensitive, or was there something slightly awkward when the judges "sent" her to get the contestants for judges' table, and she says, "I'll be right back, gentlemen"? It struck us as more "Get us Beer Bong" than "Get us a beer," but still, there was something odd about it. We would have said, "You should go, Tom. You could use the exercise." But that's just us.