Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Project Runway Season 13 Decoy Collections - fade zu grau

Greetings, Project Runway Fans!

As you know, having slogged through thirteen seasons of Project Runway, finalists get to show their collections at Fashion Week.  Trouble is, they've never been able to time the last show of the season with Fashion Week and still be able to give designers enough time to produce a full, ten-look runway show.

So this leaves us with extra designers, better known as "decoy designers" so that the Fashion Week attendees don't know who had left the competition.  fäde su grau was still on the show when people attended the runway show.  

fäde zu grau is originally from Germany and currently lives in Coral Gables, Florida.  His name appears to be play on words "fade to grey" in German, although there is no umlaut in the German "fade."  He's a well-studied and experienced graphic artist who has also made forays into interior design and furniture design.

fäde graced us all season with his cheeky t-shirts.

One of my favorite looks from this season was the lovely dress that fäde made for the Heidi Goes to the Schmemmys challenge.

So you know he can go glamourous if he wants to.

He didn't want to.  At this point, he knew he was no longer in contention so, what the heck.  Just put out what you want people to see.  Play to your strengths.

Here's a sample of the show:

A subtle commentary on his experience? No, actually, it's one of his catch phrases.

I'm always looking for a new turn on the old suit. This is fantastic.

Love the shorts. The shirt is another one of his catch phrases.

The top is pieced together in an intricate pattern. The colors are rich and fantastic. It's a lovely work of art.

The jacket is lovely.The shorts and boots work well together.
He presented comfortable clothes with an edge. There was nothing fussy or too dressy. It was squarely in fäde's wheelhouse.

You can see the whole collection on Blogging Project Runway.

You can also visit fäde su grau's website to look at more of his designs.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Project Runway, Season 13, Runway Finale Part 1: vini, vidi, vesti.

Greetings, Project Runway Fans!

We're in the home stretch and this week, we're smelling the jet fuel.  The final four designers set off for Rome, Italy. What should have been a highlight of the season turned into an afterthought that was tacked on to an already action-packed episode.

Time for a cat nap!
So our four designers, plus a few decoys, as it turns out, got to go to Rome, Italy for some inspiration and a fabric shopping spree.

The tour was practically drive by.

"And on your left is the colosseum..."
Well, perhaps I'm exaggerating a bit.  Tim Gunn was giving a walking, guided tour to some of the highlights of the city.

After his Project Runway stint is over, Tim should look into running a travel tour operation. He's a font of knowledge about art and history.
It reminded me of my first trip to Rome when two sets of cousins took me on two sets of tours of Rome. Any Roman worth his sal knows the top sites: the Colosseum, the Forum, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, the Vatican...and they hit all of them. A visitor really needs time to explore the soul of the city, however. There are wonderful markets, shops...every church seems to have a hidden gem of art or architecture. Every neighborhood has it's own flavor. One afternoon, my cousins lead the way on a brisk march through the streets of Rome from their apartment near the Vatican to the Colosseum. They were arguing the entire time. It was hilarious. They're both athletes and I wanted to slow them down because we were walking down some back streets near the fashion district. We sped past the workshops of fledgeling designers. A shoe maker studio on one side.  Ateliers on the other. The garage doors were open and the views inside was tantalizing. Someday, I'll return and see Rome on my terms, without speeding relatives. I hope the designers get to do the same.

By the way, Lifetime has some extras from the Rome visit that you might want to see. 

The designers paid a visit to Salvatore Ferragamo.
Char said it best: "Italians do a lot with a little." She went on to describe the little plates of food at dinner and the little cups of espresso. It's so true. Good Italian food, like good Italian fashion and how they live in general is all about balancing the little flavors, colors, shapes and activities that make up life.

And speaking of Char.  I've got a theory.

 Tim "went there" in Italy, OVER DINNER. Gee, Tim, that's so American of you, to talk about uncomfortable topics at dinner. Italians save that talk for after dinner, over shots of grappa.

"How does it feel to be the ONLY FINALIST IN PROJECT RUNWAY HISTORY not to win a challenge?"

I would have spit out my pasta.

Later, Char turned the tables asked Tim why he gave her the save.  

"Your voice needs to be heard," Tim replied.

So here's my theory.

Season after season, Project Runway had been criticized for booting off designers of color. 
"Wait...I was the winner of Season 12. Remember?"
No, Dom. After 12-13 seasons, no one remembers. I'm convinced the judges and producers also forgot. Anyway, does one African-American winner make up for so many others being passed over?  The topic is hot. Observers are questioning whether the fashion industry was writing off people of color. Last year, a major designer showed his collection with all white models. And where are the African-American high fashion designers? I mean, not even Kanye West can catch a break!

So, no, one win by Dom Streater doesn't set this whole thing right. Just like one African-American guy in the White House can't undo centuries of racism in this country. It's not that simple. 

Enter the Tim Gunn Save. In his heartfelt desire to make sure that Charketa Glover's voice got to be heard, did he really do her any favors? To catapult her to the finals only to have her hopes dashed? Cast her on the pile with Korto Momolu and Emilo Sosa. Only thing... Momolu and Sosa actually won challenges! 

And if she wins, all the times Tim and the judges bent over backwards makes it look like a form of affirmative action--the sort your crazy, Fox News-watching uncle rails against at Thanksgiving dinner. It's the sort of break that seemed to elude designers of color in past seasons with a really fresh, different and modern voice, like Jerell Scott. 

I agree with Nina on Char. The reason why Char never won a challenge this season is because her runway entries never completely reflected her personal style. She often wore something way more interesting than the garment she showed on the runway. So if you're a judge and willing to be charitable about a designer's style voice, when you give them six weeks, $9,000 and an inspiring trip to Italy, you expect to see something fantastic. This is where her design vision should finally be revealed.

This week, during Tim's visit, we learned that Char's mom died when she was young and her father was in prison. She was raised by her grandmother. The family wasn't so pleased when she decided to abandon her career as a hairdresser and begin pursuing fashion design. She had a few high profile clients and then began her own clothing line in Detroit. The risk is finally paying off.

@chargrelscouture on Instagram
Behind the scenes, things are continuing to look up for Char. She dressed the BET Hip Hop Award trophy girls for the second time in a row. She also designs for artists like Keisha Cole. We'll see if she brings the fly style to the runway.

Tim visited Kini in Hawaii and revealed that he can't hula. It was an incredible Tim Gunn moment. His interactions with the families are always a highlight of the show, but as usual, in their efforts to jam pack each episode with moments, these were given the short shrift.

When the designers returned to New York, the judges asked for a preview of the final show so that they could critique it. They've done this a time or two in the past and when they have, the final collections improve immensely-- even though the designers have only a day or two left.


During Tim's visit, he said that Sean should show a cohesive collection that reflected his voice. Sean speaks "fringe" apparently, so fringe is peppered throughout. Of the four, Sean was the most inspired by the history of Rome, particularly the betrayal of Caesar, who was strangled by Brutus with a strand of fringe (a little-known fact!) The fringe sliced his neck clean open and rivulets of blood spilled down--the inspiration for the white dress with the red fringe. All of Roman history in one outfit! Oh, and a toga-dress! The judges received his preview quite well, so he got the least constructive of the critiques. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?


The judges told Char to lose the middle look and try to address the missing piece with more of her own, personal style. The middle look does look a bit out of place. Nina hated the placement of the sheer fabric...and let's face it...she's sick of the sheer. And get off her lawn, already! The look on the right features wild and garish fabric she bought in Rome for $100 a yard. Thing is, that crazy print really does reflect her style. So the judges are hoping to see more of that on the runway. They also wanted her to tweak the styling into something less severe. 


The hippy, bohemian love affair continues....

Look closely. You can almost see the graffiti and architecture that pepper the Roman streets Amanda claims to be her inspiration. Thing is, there are women in Rome who would dress like this. Cosmopolitan, urban Italians, more than anyone else, will dress their personal style. But unless Tim managed to take her to some exclusive night club or a dinner party with venture capitalists, I'm not seeing the Italian flair. This is "Amanda goes to Italy." The judges did have some constructive feedback.  Amanda had some jewelry made for the collection but only showed it on one piece in the preview. The judges loved the jewelry and the styling in general. They wanted her to try and lighten up the final collection. There are too many maxi dresses. She should show some more variety.


Kini proved he could show exquisitely made clothes but I always worried he would showcase his construction technique and nothing but that.

He completely fell into that trap. There's the coat everyone loved but didn't need to see again. There's the fussy skirt that almost scuttled his last competitive entry. There's the denim fringe that everyone loved as a trim now being used as a major detail. It all looks so fussy and overbearing.

And that's just what he sewed.

The Mary Kay make-up team conjured up some sort of denim-shaded, smokey eye that made the models look like they were appearing in one of those "stop domestic abuse" film-shoots. Kini also managed to find the most matronly purse on the Aldo accessory wall. Aldo probably doesn't even know it sells that purse. The list of judges' recommendations constitutes an overhaul. Kini sews fast and well but my constant critique of him this year is that he never uses the extra time remaining to address the details. Now, after six weeks and $9,000, I have questions about his design vision and (as Nina would say) taste level. If anyone has the chops to overhaul a collection, Kini does. Previews of next week's show, however, show that this critique broke down his spirit. We'll see if he manages to overcome.

This week, I'm going to be posting the collections of the "decoy" designers that showed at Fashion week. So do check back!  Until next week!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Project Runway Season 13, Episode 12: Wake Me When It's Over

Greetings, Project Runway fans!

Here we are on the cusp of Fashion Week in New York, five designers left. Usually three show on the runway, so conceivably, we could have had a double elimination this week. I would have been totally happy with a double elimination this week, but the judges producers saw fit to drag the drama out for one more episode.

I'm so over it.

This week, our designers hopped into expensive cars and drove around the lower east side of Manhattan to find inspiration. The last time I even attempted to drive around the lower east side of Manhattan, all I saw were construction cones and brake lights. Hardly inspiring.

Before I go much further, we all knew this was going to be a complex challenge. The "street look" would not be the only part of the challenge. There was going to be another twist. Our designers also had to re-do a losing look, with help from the designer of that look. One of those losing designers was Korina, who had just been eliminated the day before. What we see week-to-week is happening to designers day-to-day. Eliminated the day before in a poorly received critique from the judges. Korina's emotions were still quite raw.

Korina is over it, too.
I thought Korina was quite straightforward and honest. She addressed Tim even before the challenge began.

She didn't want to add to whatever drama or tension there already was in the challenge. I'm giving her a pass for her honesty and candor. Who the hell cares about her bad attitude? You try maintaining a good attitude on very little sleep and high stress of getting critiqued day in and day out. Then get back to me. Me? This week, I spent three days with 6th graders on a field trip and the only way I could get through it was to have a good cry every night. I also returned to my regular job at the end of the week and wanted to throttle people at least a handful of times.

What stops me from doing that? More years of professional experience than Korina has likely been alive. Or close to it. Youthful exuberance may be the straw that stirs the drink but maturity is the only thing that keeps a civilized society going. Let's applaud her youthful exuberance. Her maturity will get there soon enough.

Anyway, before we heap any further criticism on her, let's pay tribute to some of Project Runway's worst meltdowns.

"You ruined my f---in' laundry!" - Vincent Libretti

"I hate you Elena!" - Raul Osorio
"$%&#...$%&#....$%&#"- Sandro Masmanidi
I think we need to put Korina's meltdown into a little perspective. No cops needed to be called. No psychologist had to be brought in. It was just a simple matter of letting a designer go. Down a long hallway. Into another room and yet another room. Her exit reminded me of scene in This is Spinal Tap when the band tries to find its way to the stage in Cleveland. Thank you, Bunim-Murray for guaranteeing that any designer who doesn't play be your rules will be humiliated.


I think we've all been watching Project Runway long enough to know that when these two-part challenges come along, a designer will excel at one and not the other. That was certainly the case this week.


Sean was brilliantly inspired by a man in a clean, white caftan.
Seriously, how lower east side is that?

Sean's inspiration piece was equally as brilliant.

The cut-outs, slits, seaming, back flap...this is an updated shirt-dress if there ever was one.

The only quibble I have with it are the sleeves, which I think are too wide to be flattering. with just a little more time on his hands, this could have been absolute perfection. However....

Tim's dreaded Button Bag of Doom left him last, with Sandhya's look from the American Girl challenge. After fooling around with the ruffles for a bit, he decided to go full fringe. It had worked for him before.

Well....this time, not so much.

For starters, you could see that wonky zipper from the other end of the runway. Next, it was a shorts and long-sleeve top combination, perhaps the least versatile garment ever conceived.

She's going to Coachella. Nice try, Sean. We're not buying it. Oh, and the 1986 hair hurts my eyes. Just horrible. It's hard to believe the same guy designed both looks.

Still, that first look was more than enough to catapult him into Fashion Week.  


Kini can sew. His construction is impeccable. His combinations, however, leave a lot to be desired.

This was just too much. The trench didn't need to be paired up with such a fussy skirt. But had it just been the trench and, say, a simple black dress underneath, the judges might have wondered where the design was. This is a gorgeous trench, indeed.

Heidi looked fantastic in it.  But gorgeous trenches have been around for years. So Kini piled on. Had the competition been more fierce, this could have been his undoing. Lucky for him, he's far and away the best at construction, so his excesses were forgiven.

The re-do of Mitchell's red gown was where the design was.

Mitchell enjoyed working with Kini.

Wow wee, what a transformation.  It's hard to pull off a one-sleeved look in such a chic way, but Kini did it. The simple flap neckline was proportioned perfectly and provided a beautiful frame to the model's neckline.  Even the flared bottom with the wavy horsehair was a nice addition.  Instead of just dragging down the runway, the bottom flared out like a clamshell. Very sophisticated and a definite winner.


Amanda went to her blocking and piecing comfort zone this week.  I wasn't so convinced until it walked down the runway.

I think it's just a bit ridiculous for New York. The sides are way too voluminous. The model looks like a color-blocked penguin. Nina is right. Your head would turn if you saw someone dressed like this in New York--partly because you'd be convinced the person wearing it had to be a celebrity or model. No normal woman would wear this.

But this is a design competition, people! We don't have time to be normal. Save the normal for the other guy. Or for your re-do of the losing look.

fade's t-shirts are back!!!!
Amanda chose fade's losing look, but in the end, didn't do that much with it.

She added some leather and changed up the silhouette. It certainly wasn't enough to drag down her first look, so she's solidly in for Fashion Week.


Love you lots, Char, but had I been on the panel this week, I would have been begging and pleading for a double auf.  This was just too much of a missed opportunity.

This was the New York inspiration piece that Char worked on before all the Korina drama. In fact, she did the complex skirt first. There's no excuse here. Her original drawing did not have as many loops AND they were loopier. She even used fabric stabilizer to stiffen the fabric for the loops. Why did they end up flattened against each other? It looks like a growth rather than a fashion statement. There's one defiant loop sticking out next to the model's hand. 

That's it. A skirt with loops and a bustier top.

Char chose Korina's look for the volume of fabric it contained. She ended up using about a yard of it. She bunched it around the waist and hips--two places women want fabric bunched up--right? There were so many poor design choices that resulted in two mediocre looks. I'm disappointed she wasn't booted off.


Sad that she saved this "awesome mega hoodie" for this challenge.

Sadder still, that she didn't spend more time on it. No, she fell under the spell of some cool face fabric at Mood and spent more time designing the outfit underneath. The outfit underneath was quite clever on its own. I think she should have chosen one or the other...or...if you fall in love with face fabric, find a color palate for the hoodie that compliments it. Otherwise, you have a clever outfit with a ratty hoodie over it. That may be how most women in New York dress on a casual day, but that's not very chic and the judges are looking for chic.

Had Emily put the same attention to detail in the back of the hoodie as she did in the front, she would have been spared...maybe. I was comfortable with a double auf this week. I still don't know why the judges weren't.

What a wasted opportunity. You can go straight to any department store and buy this now. The funny thing is that Emily had originally envisioned one of her "dominatrix" strap designs for the top. That would have worked much better. Perhaps a long skirt also would have worked better as well. It's a shame. I think Emily is a very interesting and edgy designer. She just didn't give us a consistent vision this season.

The social networks exploded after this episode and poor Char was getting skewered. Had the judges been brutally honest and eliminated both Char and Emily, I think no one would have had an issue with the outcome.  Now, we have one designer who has been saved twice from elimination limping into the finals. We'll see how this works out.

Until next time!