Sunday, October 2, 2016

Project Runway Season 15 Episode 2: An Army of Women

Greetings, Project Runway fans! Three weeks in and I'm already playing catch-up. This doesn't bode well for the season.

Excuse the crappy pics this week. I had to snap shots from the TV because the show pics at weren't very revealing of the challenge. Our designers were paraded to somewhere in Brooklyn for that stunning view of the east side of Manhattan, with the UN building in the background....when all of a sudden...
Women started walking in from everywhere. An "army of women," as one designer put it. It was like one of Donald Trump's nightmares....dozens of ordinary, everyday women.
For a minute, I think most viewers thought there will be some sort of conjured up lottery for the designers to choose models from these women. That would have been a wild twist--just the second show of the season and...boom...a non-model challenge!

But no. They were just props. 

It was the Just Fab challenge. Just Fab sponsors the accessory wall and the challenge was to design an outfit that any woman of any size could wear. It would be sold on the Just Fab website.
On the bright side, we ended up back at Mood. So while it wasn't a "real woman" challenge, it did involve "real fabric." 
And the real "Swatch." Which is always good. '

Let's look at the designs the judges passed on this week.

Cornelius Ortiz

For the challenge, it's always a risk to make multiple pieces when the client wants just one thing to sell. These are separates.The top has interesting shapes and the print is used well. The skirt is simply basic. The strength of this outfit is the combination of two seemingly disparate looks. Offered separately, most women would not pair them together. Few would choose those shoes. So Cornelius was always going to be safe, in a challenge like this.

Rik Villa

It is a fresh take on a shirtdress, but once you expose the midriff, you remove the outfit from a wide range of buyers. Age-wise, it skews young. It would be hard for a fuller figured woman to wear this comfortably.

Roberti Parra
There's nothing special here in terms of separates. The three pieces go together because Roberti put them together. The strength of the top is the fabric, not necessarily. 

Mah-Jing Wong

The front of the top is pouchy around the bust. In the back, it's uneven and the way it bubbles around the butt is awkward. 

Sarah Donofrio

I'm pretty sure Just Fab already has these two pieces. I seriously thought she was going to be called up for more critique this week for that very reason.

Tasha Henderson

Again, the exposed midriff excludes a lot of women from this look. It's a shame that she didn't pull this look out for a challenge that required a very strong point of view.

Nathalia JMag

The shoes and the leggings give off an athletic vibe. In that context, the oversized jacket looks a little like a robe that a prize fighter wears to the ring. I'm not sure if that was what Nathalia was going for. It's too early to know what anyone is going for. Way too over-the-top for Just Fab.

Dexter Simmons
From the front, there's some potential, but there's way too much volume in the sleeves and the back is shapeless and bunchy. the color is strange. The zipper is completely impractical. Is this supposed to be outerwear? the styling with the boots gives me that impression. I think it would have been more successful, just a little shorter, paired with a simple sheath dress. Whatever his intention, I he needed a bit more time to work on a silhouette. I'm a little surprised this was completely safe.

Alex Snyder
The judges were split on this. Heidi loved the bow. Zac didn't understand it. I'm with Zac. The sheer blouse with the bow paired with those pants doesn't quite work for me. There's nothing wrong with pairing a dressy top with casual pants, but again, this outfit is contrived. If these separates were sold on Just Fab, women would probably not put these two pieces together. And the bare midriff....sorry to belabor a point...but some of that army of women had muffin tops. And stretch marks.

Jenni Riccetti
There is nothing I should like about this outfit. A dropped crotch? Bath mat material for the jacket? A cropped top? I'm convinced that I'd look ridiculous in this outfit. And you probably would to.
So why did the judges love it so much? Why do I love it so much? Everything fits the model so well. The colors are delicious.
It looks great standing still. Then again, when the model walks away, I'm sorry...dropped crotch pants just don't walk well. Sorry, M.J. Hammer

Erin Richardson
That modern miracle fabric brought to us by DuPont laboratories in the 1930's...a favorite of divers, a protector of laptops everywhere. It's what Erin chose for her dress for the masses. For Just Fab.


And everyone loved it. It was, indeed, cartoon cute. Oh, it had TABS TO CINCH IN THE WAIST! It was RUNWAY READY. Hello? Remember the army of women? I dunno. I just don't see this as a practical, everyday dress. Even a special occasion dress. Not sure I'd want to wear a dress all day that could begin to disintegrate upon contact with oils, acids...even hydrogen peroxide. If this had won, I rather doubt that Just Fab would have manufactured it with neoprene fabric.

Really, Erin knew she had immunity. She just wanted to get the attention of the judges again. Look at me! I can design a cute dress made out of neoprene!

Teacher's pet. Everyone is starting to hate her. :)

Laurence Basse
The winner.
Because our army of women needs a jumpsuit. In olive drab green. I'm not sure this was the outfit for a wide range of women...but it did fit the brief in so many ways:
  - One piece that could be produced;
  - An outfit that could be sized up;
  - Versatile for a number of different activities. I'm ok with it.
The orange stripe down the back is cute. I'm not that keen on the back pockets--although Nina loved them. Other pet peeves...I would have preferred longer sleeves and the high collar looks a little....Soviet?

On the other hand, my oldest son was wondering if Laurence was available to work on my son's Fallout costume for Halloween.

Brik Allen
"All of America is saying, 'Step it up, Brik!'"
All of Tim's "make it work" pep talks just couldn't coax greatness out of this poor guy. This is what we got...

I can't put my finger on what the problem is here. He can sew. So that's not it. Is it a lack of imagination? Insufficient time? Not sure. The biggest problem with this were those pants. The jacket was promising. Paired up with something a little more stylish than those pants, he would have at least been safe.

Kimber Richardson
"I can't make the fabrics do what I want!"
It wasn't the worst thing.

Those pants were killer. She had the right idea with the top, but she had the wrong fabric and she needed just a bit more length in the back and a wee bit of shaping. All these things take time, which she didn't have because she had to manufacture the textile on the top. With a little more time to design and the right fabric, this could have been a killer look. So much potential.

Linda Marcus

Zac was right. That knit fabric was awful. I have a vintage dress dummy that is covered in that material. It's stretchy and every bump and bulge shows through. That's ok for dress dummies. Not ok for our army of women.
And it's a shame because I love a good, knit dress. Linda continued to make bad fabric choices. That's not a garbage bag the model is carrying. It's a jacket.

Her instincts were right. Who wouldn't love a kimono jacket and a sheath dress. I was all over that until I saw the fabric--a stiff, sheer, taffeta-like fabric. And the raw edges....

But take a look at what Lisa is wearing....
That's the look she was going for. If only she had chosen better fabric. 

Anyway, Linda has been designing handbags for years. Perhaps she'll now branch out into apparel. Visit her website, Linda Marcus Designs.

Bear with me while I catch up on the episodes! Later!

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!