Saturday, September 17, 2016

Project Runway 15, Episode 1: Glitter On the Runway

Welcome back, Project Runway Fans!

It's so good to be back blogging Project Runway. Can you believe it's been fifteen seasons? Why just the other day, it seems as though I was finishing up a quilt while watching Season one. How time flies. 

"This really is my favorite first runway show ever!"
I don't know if I'd go that far, but I have to say that the designers seem to have good skills, the challenges look interesting and exciting and the season shows a lot of promise.

I'm all in!

Not much has changed since last year...Mary Kay makeup, Sally Beauty hair salon, Just Fab accessory wall. It's good to see Luis Casco return. Also nice that no one went out of business or filed Chapter 11....thanks Obama! 

The prize package is about the same last year's. The winner gets $25,000 in cash plus free lodging at Best Westerns around the world (I wonder where they're going this year...), a Lexus (I'm assuming a year's lease), a Brother sewing and embroidery studio, and a spread in Marie Claire. No Hewlett Packard in the mix. Thanks, Carly Fiorina!

The show continues its tradition of casting contestants diverse in age, race, nationality, and geography. One of the contestants defines herself as "half Mormon." I'm curious to find out what that means. The models,too, are more diverse than your average fashion runway and that's always a good thing. Project Runway models don't get paid. They take the gig for the exposure and the producers have always cast diverse models. The show really does launch some careers.

The inaugural challenge involved unconventional materials from the decorations at the launch party. Pillows, balloons, paper lanterns, backpacks, Mood bags, Polaroid pictures......really? The crew must have been enchanted by them last year....

Cue the mad dash scramble....

It's always tough to blog the first few challenges. There are too many designers to track. For those designers who leave early, you'd like to give them their moment in the sun. So I'll be using complete names and keeping the descriptions and storyline straightforward.

Alex Snyder

Alex immediately cast himself as the Obi Wan Kenobi to our fashion Jedi.

"These aren't the unconventional materials you're looking for."
"Use the force furry rug, Dexter."
For all the good advice he was bestowing on others, perhaps he should have spent a little more time focusing on his piece.

The colors are exuberant, which really jazzed Tim during the critique. Between the placements, the ruffled skirt and the delicate top, there are too many bold, competing ideas in this outfit. Alex's construction is impeccable, which is what saved him from getting called out while the herd was big.  

"I'm the mentor on this show, Alex. Why not just do you, ok?"
Kimber Richardson

I see placemats and a lampshade. None of these are very transformed. The dress is stiff, unflattering and uninspiring. What's with the white straps in the back? Not a great dress and I would have put it toward the bottom instead of the one that ended up almost eliminated.

Laurence Basse

Laurence ignored Tim's advice not to use the beads like beads. This is a big nothing of a dress--basically muslin with matchsticks applied to the sleeves and waist. She sweat bullets during the show and the initial announcement. She was likely too relieved to be safe that she doesn't remember anything else that happened after that.

On the plus side, the construction is good. That's about it.

Jenni Riccetti

Yes Jenni did three pieces. Yes she hand painted the backpack fabric. Yes, it fit well. Should I be impressed by her ability to sew feather boas together to create a shrug? Because I'm not sure that's really impressive. What's with the Teva sandals for what should have been a party outfit? This was always going to be safe. I could see that going in.   

Cornelius Ortiz

It's my blog and I'm going to say this was one of my favorite pieces. I love how he used the plates to create texture and movement. The flowers cascade down the back. I didn't think it was too derivative. Maybe,if it had one little issue, perhaps it was too expected. This would have been one of my top picks.

Linda Marcus

The skirt looked way better on the runway than it does in these pictures. The top doesn't really compliment the skirt enough. They look like two different outfits put together because both pieces are white.

Rik Villa

Up until now, there has only been one Rik on television...

I really miss Rik Mayall.... But now, we have a new Rik.

Polaroid pictures. All white. I liked the back more than the front. I can understand why it was safe, but it's not a bad look at all. 

Sarah Donofrio

There's way too much going on here. Too much fuss at the neckline. While the pop of color is appreciated, this looks like separates from two different outfits that were put together.

Nathalie JMag

Disco yeti? I dunno....I have to admit that I thought either she or Dexter would be in trouble when they both pulled out the yeti rugs. Shows you how wrong I was...

Mah-Jing Wong

Mah-Jing took a lot of guff for his collage dress. Yes, we've seen it before, but it ended up being the perfect strategy for sliding under the radar.

Tasha Henderson

Anyone who makes pants for an unconventional materials challenge deserves to come up before the judges if for no other reason than to hear their amazement that you managed to produce pants for the challenge. And Tasha upped the difficulty factor with a high waist, dropped crotch, and pegged legs. This could have been a disaster. The pants were amazing. The top...not so much. I would have loved to see her use the Mood bag in a different way for the top. The color, for me, was disjointed. The Tim/Heidi bag, made from the backs of their directors chairs, was a nice, whimsical touch.

And at this point, I must ask the question....WHY DIDN'T ANYONE USE THE PROJECT RUNWAY LOGO???? Hello? 

Brik Allen

The designer whose name sounds like an MST3K nickname for Dave Ryder from Space Mutiny also made pants and made his acquaintance with glitter. Lots of glitter.

The top is made and detailed with the bills of golf caps. The pants are muslin covered with glitter. Lots of glitter. So much glitter that it took him an entire day to glue the glitter on. After half of it fell off when the model tried the pants on, he enlisted her to glue more glitter back on the pants....which elicited this comment about glitter:

It just spreads.

There was nothing really wrong with this outfit that wasn't wrong with Tasha's, but the judges decided to list the grievances anyway--at the very least--to create the illusion that more than one designer was in trouble. The model's braids looked to "prairie girl." The pants were cut a hair too short. The pants didn't go with the top...blah, blah, blah.

You leave Brik McGlitterGlue alone! Kimber and Laurence wouldn't have been the least bit surprised to get the almost auf this week. Neither one of them made pants, either.

But let's go to the two highest scores before we go to the loser this week.

Roberti Parra

Roberti took the paper lanterns apart and began playing with their shapes. In many places, the lantern pieces were woven together with others.

"We've seen this before."
We have? If we have, who remembers? Come on. The last thing I need is a bunch of middle aged judges argue about whether we've seen something before.

Erin Robertson

In true Project Runway fashion, she started out with questionable materials and we never thought she'd finish. 

Gumballs, wigs...wait...wigs at a launch party? Who decorates with wigs?

It was audacious, fun, risky...all those things judges like. It was also neat and well constructed.

Ian Hargrove

I wonder if Ian could hear us yelling at our TVs...

"Don't argue with Tim!"
Tim's suggestion was to take this idea and go more over the top with it--more volume, more something. Ian insisted on being minimalist.

Minimalist? there's nothing minimalist about this dress. If he wanted to be minimalist, he should have taken one type of material and worked with that. Instead, this ended up looking like the model was wearing the notions rack at Mood.

If you're going to insist on using one motif, it has to be impeccably applied. This was sloppy and all over the place. I think Ian truly thought he was standing up for himself and his vision. In reality, he came off whiny and petulant. 

It didn't have to be this way. He could have leaned into Tim's critique to figure out how to translate his aesthetic into something the judges would like. 

Well, no matter how we feel about how Ian comported himself on the show, he is the first auf and in our tradition, we will give him the proper send off.

Ian is a native of Chicago and you can read more about him and his design philosophy here. And visit his website, Against all Odds, where you will find this luscious number....

Perfect for a blustery, Chicago day, no?  Best of luck to you, Ian.

Until next week, when I think we're going to have a "non-model woman" challenge, be well!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Project Runway Junior, Episode 3, Decades

Greetings, Project Runway JUNIOR Fans!

Let's cut to the chase right here and now. NO ONE IS ELIMINATED THIS CHALLENGE.

I've got a theory on this, which I will share at the end. For now, let's dive in.

The button bag means TEAMS!

Tim met the teams with Mimi Goodwin, representing Simplicity Patterns. 

Mimi G. is a blogger and pattern designer for a Simplicity collection that offers modern, streamlined outfits in a variety of sizes. They should do this for the regular designers, only team them up on a "real woman" challenge, since Mimi does a lot of plus sized patterns. She'd be an excellent judge!

The challenge was to pick one of the following decades: 1940's, 1950's, or 1960's and create a five-piece, updated collection. The winning look would be reproduced in a special, Project Runway Junior pattern for Simplicity.

Each time had time to deliberate before sending two members off to Mood for fabrics.

Sometimes the communication worked....
....and sometimes it didn't.

Team 1960's struggled the most. They hadn't discussed fabrics and colors and when Peytie and Samantha went to Mood, they aimless. They didn't even check to see if the colors matched or what type of fabric the designer wished to work with. It was a disaster.

And after they returned, nobody on 60's was satisfied with their fabrics. They went back to the "Mini Mood" twice for fabrics, starting from scratch each time.

I know how the team thing works. The worst look from the losing team gets sent home. However....the worst look this week clearly came from the winning team. The worst look from the losing team was a complete toss-up.

Team 1940's

Team 1940's was the winning team. They were more cohesive and the garments were better made, according to the judges. I thought both teams were neck and neck in both departments. What Team 40 had that Team 60 didn't was a "wow" moment. That was it.


Maya did a totally uninspired cropped top with a gathered skirt. What this heralded from the 1940's was beyond me.


This was a very innovative outfit, from top to bottom. Why it received no mention from the judges was beyond me. The challenge was to UPDATE a look from the 1940's, correct? I did hear the UPDATE word clearly mentioned. This one, to me, filled the brief completely and it would have been a winner for me. Simplicity could have given the sewer options with and without the back hole and both would have been fantastic. I WOULD HAVE BOUGHT THIS PATTERN. I need that top in my life.  Zachary, if you're out there, could you shoot me the pattern? kthnksbye.


Jax, you're cute and adorable and stuff, but that top was a disaster and that skirt wasn't much better. You would have been sent home had there been no benefits to being on a winning team.  Seriously, dude, you sewed that outfit up to the last minute?


Good lord, WHAT is that outfit doing in a competition like this? It seems that in every competition, one outfit walks away with the competition. This should have been that outfit.  Zach, if you're out there, THIS SHOULD HAVE WON. YOU WERE ROBBED.

Nothing says 1940's more than a peplum, so if you wanted to update a 1940's look, you'd pair it with a knock-out pant, wouldn't you? Who wouldn't want this for the holidays RIGHT NOW? I would. Zach, feel free to shoot me this pattern as well, please! kthnksbye!


"What I like about it is that it looks like a nightgown. It's so chic. You could wear it anywhere." 

OK, Kelly. WEAR IT SOMEWHERE. You could fit into that. I want to see Kelly Osbourne wear this dress somewhere and look chic.

Seriously. The ghost of Norma Desmond should come back and haunt the dreams of anyone who dares to wear this in public.  Where do I begin....

Let's start with the skirt. There were a number of Simplicity patterns to look at and I've made my share of 1940's patterns.  The style was not to gather the bodice, skirt AND the waistband. That's too busy. This garment needed s stronger, geometric line--wider gathers in the bodice, a clean waistband, and even gathers in the skirt. The long, bat-wing sleeves gapped the bodice open at the neckline. The dropped neckline was the only updated aspect to the garment. For me, that's where the garment completely failed. The one aspect that updated it was awkwardly constructed.

This was the winner, so Simplicity corrects all those problems AND offers a short look and a long look.

Despite all those mean things I said....congratulations, Bridget!

Team 1960's


It's a cute dress. Nothing tremendously inspiring nor is there anything tremendously up-to-date about this. Peytie was our reliable hippie girl and she phoned this one home! That's what you get for not asking questions of your team mates up front before you go to Mood!


Properly updated for today's style of color blocking....still kind of safe and not extremely flattering or innovative. A snooze.


Gosh, Sam, you nearly went home. I might have sent you home as I was not fond of the jacket AT ALL. Sorry. I thought the pockets were unflattering and made the model look frumpy. A "Channel-styled" jacket is really hard to pull off. This one flopped around the neckline and the 3/4 length sleeves added to the frump. You didn't finish the dress underneath... but who's fault was that? You and Peytie were sent to Mood and your Mood fabric survived the cut when the others' didn't. So you only had to scramble back to Mini Mood once. I'm not feeling as charitable as the judges!


Jax thought Matt's Babushka looked matronly. I thought the scarf was inspired. That was they only thing, however. Once again, Matt made another, tired cropped top and another pencil skirt. And no, it wasn't THAT well made. Why the white in the back? That just looks cheap to me. It also looks like it was sewn in one or two hours---which it probably was.

There's no color. No fun. That print that he used for the scarf should have been used in the outfit. And yes, that skirt walked in from 1952, only we heard that skirts were rising so we raised the hem. Anyway, where is she going with that bared belly and business skirt with a scarf on her head? I know where Matt should have been going....HOME, that's where! Only the judges were more charitable this week.


Color, fun, updated with an uneven hem, interesting neckline, unexpected plunge in the back....this dress had it all in surprising ways. I would also kill for this pattern and it would have been nice to see it in long and short versions. Maya continues to deliver.

Hopefully Peytie and Samantha learned a hard lesson. Sometimes, the challenge is not all about you! Sometimes, thinking only about yourself and not taking your teammates needs into consideration results in extra work for you!

What 1960's needed was more of the designers' personalities tossed in. That decade featured a lot of design trends: space age, mod, neo-Edwardian, flower power, and psychedelia, to name a few trends. All the needed to do was to look through the box of patterns. It was all there and Simplicity helped 1960's gals sew it all. Peytie could have made her flower girl. Samantha could have done her smart, mod business woman. Maybe one of the designers could have done an empire waisted gown. WHERE WAS THE JUMPSUIT?

And where was the elimination? My theory? Michelle Obama is on next week and the producers couldn't bear to eliminate them and have someone miss his or her chance for some screen time with the FLOTUS. 

The result was quite unsatisfying so as a result, we get a bloodbath next week. A Thursday night massacre, if you will. That will be exciting!

See you then!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Project Runway Junior: Episode 2: Workin' at the Car Wash

Greetings Project Runway Fans!

Welcome back.  This week's episode had me singing this song all week long...

Because it's time to take the limo to the car wash.
Thank you, Matt, for saying what needed to be said.
"Wax on...wax off."
"Designers, it's time for the unconventional materials challenge!"
The designers displayed a panoply of emotions.

Tim Gunn's tie displayed a panoply of colors.

"I hope I don't need to explain to you that 'unconventional materials' means want you to use them like conventional materials. This is not an avant garde challenge."
But Hannah really dropped the biggest hint of all.

"Look at me. I'm wearing another cropped top. Design a cropped top and you're getting a high score from me."
After the mad scramble for stuff, there was no visit to Mood. The designers did have a table full of notions, however.
Note the missing picture of the designer who lost the last challenge.
Let's see how everyone did.

Maya used a floor mat for the top and pinwheels for the skirt.
I'm still trying to figure out what pinwheels have to do with a car wash. Can someone explain this to me? Do you get a free pinwheel with every car wash now? Do they tie one to your antenna after the wax is finished?

This look kept her safe for the challenge. There's nothing here to set the world on fire. It would have been better had she had enough pinwheels to completely cover the muslin skirt or if she had had some interest in the top.

Zach used floor mats and other assorted flotsam and jetsam.

 It's a little too "Playboy Bunny." All that's missing is the little collar at the neck, ears and a bunny tail and she should be carrying a tray of drinks at the club. I realize the only brief was to make something that "looked like clothes" but you have to have some level of taste, I think.

This would have been elevated had Zach made more than just a bra out of the pieces that he used in the bodice. He could have given the whole top a more ombré effect. 

Victoria used floor mats and hose.
The fit on this dress is rather questionable. She needed a whole lot more darting and shaping. Wrapping a hose around fabric does not make a dress. Furthermore, you allowed the model's hair to cover up the most interesting part in the back.

Always pumped up for every challenge.
He's using fabric hose, which few people did. The colors were really nice.
The top is interesting. The shorts (yes, they're shorts) are clever. Still, it's two different pieces. I would have loved to see the shorts in the hose fabric as well. I'm impressed with the construction of the shorts. Here, a 15-year-old boy has managed to make a pair of shorts with unconventional materials that fit better than any shorts did in Season 14 with the adults. Drop the mic, Jax.

Why this look wasn't also rated high enough to go before the judges is beyond me. Look at that cropped top!

She used plastic flags and broken-up reflectors.
It's a big bowl of ok. She was also in the safe zone for this challenge. I would have liked to have seen something more interesting done with the skirt. Don't ask me exactly what, however. It seems as those she was really limited by the materials.

Peytie ain't just playing around...
"I see you're making some sort of cropped top."
"Just trying to keep Hannah happy!"

"The top and bottom look like they're from different outfits."
"I disagree. They're both made out of mops. Can't you see this?
"Someone has failed to inform Kelly that this show is not the 'Fashion Police.'"
I see both sides here. The outfit would have been more cohesive had both the skirt and top featured the fringe. The fit and the construction are spot on. Our surfer girl is quite the contender.

"I can make anything out of anything!"
The color put her off. The texture could have gone "full Muppet." The challenge for Samantha was do design something that made this look like a garment. I think she came close, but wouldn't have heaped as much praise on it as the designers did.
"I can't even see the seams!"
"Take a closer look at the back, Ava."
Just a little bit of shaping at the waistline and the same cut-away in the back as the front would have improved the dress. We all know, however, that only a cropped top could have catapulted this dress into contention to unseat the reflecto-boys.
Reflecto #1
The sun reflector dress was well fitted.
Oh the key chains! Let's gush over the key chains! Let's not and say we did. I'm all for the right not looking like the left...breaking the rules. But when the entire dress is over the top symmetrical, a red shoulder and a blue shoulder looks too much like a mistake. I would have preferred blended colors. From a construction standpoint, this was the better dress.

"Ha ha ha...not so fast..."
Reflecto #2 was an interesting mashup between the sun reflectors and the floor mats.
"Not just that, but it doesn't pull away at the top. He's working some gravity defying voodoo up in there."
When the construction exceeds expectations and the visual interest is high, it doesn't really matter that the top really belongs with another bottom, I guess. Normally, I'm peeved when the "best design" doesn't win, but the Reflectos were so close and it gave us the best non-verbal exchange of the season....any season for that matter.
Sheepish grin of a surprise win.
That's TV gold there, folks. TV gold.

"I made the cropped top for Hannah and I wanted to add tubing for the skirt."
The top is a hot mess. The tubes are even worse. They bound the model to the point where she could only waddle down the runway. Tim had the answer all along. Cut the tubes in half. Here's what Matt needed to do with the skirt: cut the tubes into 4-6" sections, THEN cut the tubes in half. Stab them several times to poke holes. Hand sew them through the holes--concave. They would have laid flatter and the skirt would have moved. All that still wouldn't have helped with the top.

I'm not 100% convinced that Matt shouldn't have been the one to go home and not Ysabel. I like the flare on the back of the skirt. Had she been able to incorporate some of the purple and red, she might have been able to make this more interesting. Kelly also pointed out that the top needed a pop of color as well, instead of the white cording from the flags. I liked the sponge top. She was the only designer to use the sponges. Had she used them for both pieces she might have been rewarded for all her pain and suffering (there would have been a lot) by staying for another challenge.
The outfit looks way better in this picture than it did on the runway, by the way. 
Still, it's sad to lose one of the designers and this picture says it all.

Have we ever seen such a genuine, heartfelt display of emotion on the runway before? Maybe we have, but I bet it was more from individual gratitude or individual disappointment and not the pain of losing the camaraderie of friends who share your passion after years of working and dreaming alone. There aren't other kids their age who have this design dream where they live. For the first time, they can pal around with people who get their inside jokes, have their same concerns, follow the same people, worry about the same things. It's hard to leave that. Forget about the competition.
Yes, Ysabel is 17 and about to have one of the best years of her life. She kicked it off with Project Runway and it can only get better from here. Wishing her all the best in the future!

Well, I'd say see you next week, but next week is that week where you eat a meal with your relatives and give thanks that you don't get together with them more often. Oh wait...that's only some of us! I'm very thankful for the readers that visit this blog each week. I'm also thankful for the creative folks behind Project Runway who decided to take a chance with the Juniors. It's a much-needed shot in the arm to a stale franchise and it's been a lot of fun so far.

See you in two weeks!