Recap: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S1 E14 "Suited for Success"
Five reasons we need fashion police.
Rainbow Dash: What? Rarity: Aren't you going to tell me to change something, too? Rainbow Dash: No, I just want my dress to be cool. Rarity: Do you not like the color? Rainbow Dash: The color's fine; just make it look cooler. Rarity: Do you not like the shape? Rainbow Dash: The shape's fine, just make the whole thing, you know, cooler. [pause]It needs to be about 20% cooler. Rarity: *Head Desk*
Written by Charlotte Fullerton
Rarity's hard at work on a personal project: a dress for the Grand Galloping Gala. When Twilight shows up to have a loose button sewn back onto an old dress of hers, Rarity gets the inspiration to design a set of customized dresses for the entire mane cast. She also decides to throw a little local fashion show to drum up business for the shop.Her friends are initially grateful and excited... too excited, as it turns out, for when they see the dresses Rarity's made for them, they're not quite satisfied with them. Rarity graciously puts her original work aside in favor of the dresses her friends really want, even though their tacky, overly-critical, or vague suggestions result in ridiculous creations that strain her artistic sensibilities. To make matters worse, Spike informs Rarity that the famous fashion critic Hoity Toity will be coming in from Canterlot to attend the fashion show.Needless to say, the show is a disaster, and Hoity Toity's scathing criticism of the redone dresses leaves Rarity utterly humiliated, driving her to lock herself in her room for days to wallow in "whatever it is ponies are supposed to wallow in." Feeling guilty, Rarity's friends manage to cook up a scheme to cheer her up: first, they put Fluttershy's knowledge of sewing to use putting the finishing touches on Rarity's Gala dress, then trick her out of her room long enough to show it to her.
Fluttershy: Uh-oh, she doesn't like it... Rarity: No, I don't like it...I love it!!
The second, and more important, part is convincing Hoity Toity to take in a private showing of Rarity's original dresses...and proceeding to knock his horseshoes off with a spectacular fashion show. Hoity Toity is impressed enough that he offers to showcase Rarity's designs at his Best of the Best Boutique in Canterlot... then proceeds to place a rush order for six dozen dresses.In the end, Rarity has learned that you can't please everypony, and her friends have learned not to look a gift horse (or a horse's gift) in the mouth.
Tropes present in this episode (YMMV tropes can be found here):
Twilight Sparkle: They sure are...um...something. Pinkie Pie: I love something! Something is my favorite. Fluttershy: It's... nice.
Rarity does the same regarding the redesigns, which she's privately declared the ugliest things she's ever made; she has to resort to claiming that she's happy that her friends are happy with them.
Dark Reprise: The second version of "Art of The Dress" serves as a 'Stressed Reprise' for lack of a better term. Even the lines that are repeated are sung in such a stressed and strained tone of voice as to change the meaning entirely.
Didn't Think This Through: After going under the spotlight, the ponies start to realize some of their design ideas aren't quite as elegant as they thought.
Rainbow Dash: Do you think we overdid it?
(Applejack makes a quick glance at her dress, consisting of mega-sized boots and ten gallon hat)
Rarity: Leave me alone! I vant to be alone! I want to wallow in...whatever it is that ponies are supposed to wallow in! Do ponies wallow in pity? Oh listen to me; I don't even know what I'm supposed to wallow in. I'M SO PATHETIIIIIIIC!!!
Later, when contemplating exile, she is stymied over what to pack.
FiM is noteworthy for making an episode about a fashion show into a parody of the fashion industry (also seen in "Green Isn't Your Color"), instead of having it look like a bunch of children playing dress-up.
The first fashion show in this episode is a blatant parody. The amateurish dresses essentially designed by Rarity's friends may be ridiculous, but they look familiar enough in context of the stereotypical image of a fashion show.
In the second show, Rarity gets to show her real designs to Hoity Toity at her boutique. Some effort is put into making it quite watchable without the earlier irony, with Rarity providing magical special effects to introduce each pony and her outfit.
Foreshadowing: When Rainbow Dash crashes into the Boutique at the start of the episode, a few bolts of cloth come unraveled and drape across Dash, making her look like she'd fit in at a toga party. This inspires Rarity to exclaim "I-DEA!" and envision the design of what would ultimately become Rainbow Dash's Romanesque Gala dress.
Girly Bruiser: This episode highlights this trope. The Mane Cast can defeat Eldritch Abominations, save the world, and still have girly interests like the 'ideal dress'.
Hair Decorations: Each one of the dresses includes some sort of Nice Hat, hair clip, or crown. The reject dresses have their own hair decs, but they're not so cute.
Heroic BSOD: The failure of the fashion show causes Rarity to lock herself in her room for days and consider running away in exile.
Hidden Depths: Fluttershy turns out to have a "freaky knowledge of sewing", as demonstrated when Rarity browbeats her into giving a critique of the dress Rarity designed:
Fluttershy: All right, since you really want to know, [deep breath] the armscye's tight, the middy collar doesn't go with the shawl lapel, the hems are clearly machine stitched, the pleats are uneven, the fabric looks like toile, you used a backstitch here when it clearly called for a topstitch or maybe a traditional blanket stitch, and the overall design is reminiscent of prêt-à-porter and not true French haute couture. Rarity:[gasp] Fluttershy: But...uh...you know...um...whatever you want to do is fine... Rarity:[Stunned Silence]
Retroactively justified; Rarity's accent is shown to be an affectation later in the series.
Parental Bonus: Rarity goes through a lot of the woes of the customer-service person.
Pimped-Out Dress: The dresses Rarity makes, and "The Art of the Dress" is basically "Pimped Out Dress: the song".
Plewds: Rarity emits these (flying sweat drops from the head) when noticing Opalescence stranded in a tree.
Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Averted. When Rarity suggests the fashion show, tomboy Rainbow Dash is just as excited about doing it as Twilight and Applejack. Applejack asks for something "not too frou-frou-y" but is just as insistent on her 'ideal dress' as the others.
The lyrics of "The Art of the Dress" refers to parts of the body that are critical in proper dress design. Or more specifically, proper anatomical parts of a pony body that would be important for a pony's dress.
Making sure it fits forelock and crest Don't forget some magic in the dress. Even though it rides high on the flank Rainbow won't look like a tank! ...
Piece by piece, snip by snip Croup, dock, haunch, shoulders, hip.
Fluttershy's "freaky knowledge" is not just random nonsense but are appropriate terms of art for the fashion industry.
Hoity Toity says "brava" instead of "bravo" when talking to Rarity. He, and by extension the writers, seem to know their Italian.
In-universe, Twilight demands the star patterns on her dress be accurate constellation maps.
Take That: The majority of conflict in the episode stems from too many people providing input into design and creation who are not creators. It might very well be a satire of the entire studio production process. Did you catch that, producers? Sure, we'll introduce more characters with marketable accessories if you like, but just remember that creative works turn out the best when they're driven by the actual creators!
Applejack: So...all you have to do is make a different, stunning, original, amazing outfit for [counts] one-two-three-four-five plus yourself...SIX ponies, lickety split? Rarity:[confident laugh] Ohohoho Applejack...you make it sound like as if it's going to be hard.
To her credit, the first five dresses weren't hard for her. It was when they started making changes to the dresses that everything fell apart.
Twitchy Eye: Rarity gets this after learning Hoity Toity will be attending the fashion show... then gets it again when Hoity Toity makes a big, demanding order.