Sunday, August 17, 2014

Project Runway Season 13, Episode 4: Suited for Battle

Meanwhile, back at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Headquarters, we join the monthly marketing meeting already in progress....

Greetings, Project Runway Fans!  This week's challenge was the long-awaited Red Robin challenge.  The weekly chat room folks  at Blogging Project Runway were wondering what sort of challenge we could possibly get from a company that is already awarding "the opportunity to design a fashion accessory for all servers" as part of this year's prize package.

It was a triumph of marketing over fashion.  First, they trotted out Jerrod, the guy with the "fake VP Title".

That's Jerrod on the left.
Then, they set up the challenge project placement opportunity.  Guys in vintage suits came out holding burgers.  Great display.  It's a good thing I ate dinner before watching the show, right?

Designers were to make a "red carpet outfit" inspired by the suit, using the material from the suit as the main fabric.  But there was a "suitable twist!"

What happened to the burgers?  Marketing assured me there would be close ups of the burgers.  Patteye will NOT be pleased!  Heads will roll!!!!
Sandhya, the winner of last week's challenge (again) got to have producers whisper in her ear who gets which suit (note, you only see her from the side...) pick for everyone!  Now those conspiratorial, paranoid designers hate her even more!  Drama!

Designs were fueled by "bottomless fries" which I assume are fries not wearing any pants, and a cocktail.  I would have insisted on a cocktail.
I love repurpose challenges.  They go back to the roots.  Think about it.  Many designers get their start repurposing cast-away clothes.  The producers allowed them to supplement with fabric from Mood.  Most of them would have been better off just sticking to the suit fabric.  

I'm going to start off with my personal fave of the week.  


No, it wasn't the best design.  Yes, he has some taste issues, but nothing near those of his competitors.  He reminds me of someone.

Remember Joshua McKinney?
Joshua wasn't afraid to use color or unconventional materials like plastic inserts.  He thought out-of-the-box and teetered dangerously on the precipice of good taste.  It brought a creative tension and sense of playful fun to his designs.  Mitchell has that playful sense.  Every week I expect him to disappoint and he really hasn't delivered a clunker yet.  What could trip someone up more than polyester, fake denim?

When life gives you fake, polyester denim, cover it with plastic.
Listen, he was given absolutely craptastic fabric.  There was no redeeming that fabric. He had to disguise it enough to get past the judges.  It made Heidi smile.  For all we know, this is her favorite outfit and she wants one in every color of fake, polyester denim.  He was safe this week by taking a very calculated risk.  So I tip my hat to Mitchell this week.


Listen, we're only four weeks in and there are too many designers right now to care about.  Sam is fading into the background, despite her....scoops.

Listen, your scoops might bring all the boys to your yard, but I'm really starting to forget who you are.

Best tattoo, however.  If I didn't think I'd look ridiculous with one, I'd get one similar to that.  
Wake me when she designs something interesting.  I know she got a black suit, however, simply using the suit without some interesting visual element is a sure-fire way to ensure that when she finally gets a critique, it will be "we can't tell your point-of-view."


Four weeks in and fäde is fading into the background.  His aesthetic is very sophisticated and subtle...perhaps too subtle for the judges.  I can totally see Kerry Washington in this look.  Up to now, however, the winning designs have been the most attention-getting. fäde has yet to put anything provocative on the runway.  How long will his low-key style keep him in the game?  Sometimes contestants like this break late (Leanne Marshall) and sometimes, they trip up (Epperson).


Emily had the iconic, red plaid suit.  You could hear Alexander McQueen screaming from the great beyond.  He was probably not screaming out about high-waisted, dropped crotch pants.  Now, we all know that Heidi loves a dropped crotch pant...not that she would ever wear one, of course.  But the idea is "cool," as Heidi would say.  

But we also know that Nina Garcia hates dropped crotches with a passion that burns like a plasmic miamsa.  So Nina would cancel out Heidi, which leaves her at the mercy of the other judges, which is why she was firmly ensconced in "safe" this week.


Too much origami up top, too much slit on the bottom.


This was a solid effort from Korina this week and one of my favorite designs.  The skirt was too low and the slit was too high.  I think the skirt could have used some balancing black detailing.  All the interest was in the top.  


The other designers just need to shut up.  Sandhya picked the worst suit for herself before she assigned the producers picks picked suits out for the other designers.  She was on the right track with "pop art" but she never really succeeded in delivering it.  Using the yellow and purple suit as "patches" with other colors was very inspired.  She should have embraced that more and not combined it with the top.  This would have been better served with simpler and fewer design elements.

Each of these next three designers failed to overcome a roadblock.


Sean was assigned the gold, corduroy suit and sunk into a deep depression.  Inspired, no doubt, by the bottomless fries at Red Robin, he decided to turn the corduroy around and work with the reverse.  That problem solved, he set about using it as strips with shear fabric insets.

And that's when all the trouble started.  

When Tim came around to see the design, every sloppy seam puckered and strained.  As they looked at both sides, Tim suggested using the raw edges.  Thing is, they were a bit too raw and the flesh colors made the model look like a mummy.  


What a disaster of an outfit.  why the detached sleeves and organza pantlets hanging down from the cropped pants?  I don't even know what to call some of this stuff.  The outfit didn't need it and neither did Kristine.


But the worst outfit without question belongs to Hernan.  He hated his white suit with brown, velvet lapels so much, he bought a bronze metallic vinyl that looked just like it, but shinier.

He complained about the fragile, difficult polyester from the vintage suit.  So what did he get to compliment it?  Bronze metallic vinyl.

And after all the whining and complaining, we are left with a simple dress with a bad collar and weird graphic elements.  

Adios, Hernan.  


The skirt is too long, too poorly constructed and the top is poorly constructed.   This is just the producers judges giving Alex and "worst to first" moment and they said as much about three or four times.  


Kini had this in the bag....but....despite finishing an hour before everyone else and giving his outfit another critical look, he finished and took a break.  Look at the seaming along the bottom.  

Yes, the judges kept saying the "tailoring was good" but their heart wasn't in it.  The closer they got, the more uneven and puckered it looked.

The idea was good, but the execution, maybe not so good.  When Nina tossed out the "I've seen this before" that was the kiss of death.

I really believe some poor construction here cost Kini the win.

"Look into the fringe!  You are getting very sleepy...your eyelids are getting heavy....when I count to three you will regain consciousness with a sense of well being and a desire to declare me the winner of this challenge..."
"Fringe! wins!"
"Heh, heh, with my Jenny Haskins Fringe Maker and those lessons I took at the Hypnosis Institute, those judges are putty in my hands AND I WILL RULE PROJECT RUNWAY!!!  BWAAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!"
See you next week and join us in the Blogging Project Runway chatroom next Thursday night starting around 8:30!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Project Runway Season 13, Episode 3: Back to the Future

Greetings, Project Runway fans!

FINALLY!  We've been looking forward to this challenge.

No, seriously.

"Exactly!  We at Marie Claire have been doing a lot of research about the future.  This year, the magazine celebrates its 20th year.  If magazines are still around in 20 years, we'll be selling them to old people."

"What are these 'magazines' of which you speak?"
The task for our designers this week was to create a design for 20 years into the future inspired by 20 years ago in their past.  To drive that point home, the producers hung pictures of the designers from 20 years ago.

Emily won the best picture from 20 years ago.  

Twenty years ago, Emily was Foxy Brown.
I was really disappointed that none of them embraced the real potential for this challenge.  Since many of the designers were in diapers and onesies twenty years ago, they could legitimately design them for an aging population that will need them twenty years from now.  But no.  Instead, there was talk of designing for the "Marie Claire woman" because we know that she regenerates herself like a time lord.

The real Marie Claire woman.
The designers weren't pleased about the one-day time limit, but that was offset by a $200 budget and a trip to Mood.


Even though Amanda used the "color of the future," also known as black, the judges weren't happy with her outfit.  We don't know if they were messing with her or not. There really isn't much futuristic design here, but I don't think it warranted an admonition from Heidi that she was lucky to have immunity this week.


I would have poked my bony finger at Samantha.  She threw every "futuristic" cliche at this outfit: muffler neckline, leather vest, black fabric... I don't know about the circle skirt except to say that the hem was very uneven.

It does get the award for Best Use of the Aldo Accessory Wall with backpack, boots and a necklace.  


Dear Korina, I want to like you but you are making it so difficult.  First of all, what's going on with the waistband and crotch of those pants?  Second, the Dorothy Zbornak 20 years ago.  The origami top is a mess.  I just note that in an action-packed runway with designers ripping off jackets and parts of dresses left and right, this jacket stayed on.  What were you trying to hide?


Hernan's dress started off as a little black dress.  The model unsnapped two pieces from the bodice that fell to either side creating a "gown."  It's a clever idea that could use about two more weeks of work to perfect.  The pieces that fell became a two-part train instead of a neat, manageable skirt.  How this goes from "day to evening" is beyond me.


More action-packed frock removing....this time it was Kini's cape because we all know the future will be about capes, skinny jeans and poet tops with holes cut out of the shoulders. In black, of course.

Kini, once again, proved the old Project Runway adage that making three pieces only counts when each of them fits the challenge.


I really want to hate this guy, don't you?

His was an idea ripped from today's headlines: global climate change, rising seas, cities threatened with inundation.  His original design featured a ridiculous bubble skirt.  You can count on one hand how many designers have won a Project Runway challenge with a bubble skirt and you'd still have fingers left over.  Tim advised against it and he followed Tim's direction.  The result was ok.

It was a shame he didn't make it to judging because I wanted to hear his rationale for styling it with a purse and high heels.  But as sportswear, it is sophisticated, indeed. Modern?  Not sure.  But a solid contribution from Mitchell this week.


It's an interesting design, but very safe.  The slashes and exposures are right off today's runway.  There's nothing innovative or futuristic here.


fäde has an interesting point of view with print and design.  While it's a fresh take on sportswear, I'm not seeing anything modernistic or innovative.


Alexander intended to do a more complex, jacket-like overlay of leather to go on top of the blanket fabric he chose.  His inspiration was the afghan he had when he was a kid. I'm not sure his planned design would have been received any better than this one.  One last minute thing he could have done was to hem the bottom of the dress in leather.  It would have made the leather look like less of an afterthought and the dress would have looked neater and more tailored.  Still, nothing modern about the dress.


The break-away "Ewok hood" made Zac Posen gasp.

Underneath was a jumpsuit.  

Nina was right.  There are jumpsuits now and there's nothing special or innovative about this one.  You know what would be modern?  Design a jumpsuit that a woman doesn't have to take off from the top just to go to the bathroom.  That would be innovative.  I hope that by 2034, someone has invented that.


Kristine has been flying completely under the radar until this week.  Luckily, she didn't let Tim talk her out of the sleeve treatment.  Smartly, she used a fabric for the jacket that didn't need finishing when you cut it.  

The dress underneath was interesting as well.  Is it modern?  It's more avant garde than anything.  Very cute, though.


"In the future, everyone will want less clutter."  This was Sean's mantra.  Thing is, if you want less clutter, why make an outfit with two pieces? Of course there will be jackets in the future, but if your premise is that people will have less stuff, a two-piece outfit doesn't support your premise.  Then you go in and throw in a hat.  

The hat is too floppy for such a tailored dress.  The jacket and dress are too wrinkled. Again with the black, which made her look more like a bedraggled mortician. Here's where doing more than one piece paid off for Sean.  They hated both pieces, but at least he put some effort into the challenge.


Which isn't to say that Angela did not put effort into the challenge.  She was after my own heart when she wanted to do a take on a modern suit.  I would die for a modern take on a suit.  Suits, as they currently are constructed, are quite uncomfortable.  I happen to have a female boss who has eschewed tailored suit jackets completely.  If you see her in a jacket, it will be knit and soft.  She runs around from meeting to meeting and wants to be comfortable.

So for modern styling, Angela went for a single lapel.  Still, no problem with that.  The treatment on the back of the jacket was very nice as well.  However...

The soft pink looked juvenile.  The skirt was too short and the she did some sort of puckered detail on the sides that looked hideous.


Angela could have totally saved herself this week.


Imagine it rendered in a steel grey with a sheath version of the top and skirt underneath. That would be a totally different take on the suit and would have wowed the judges.

Her biggest problem is not her lack of talent or ideas.  It's that she exudes insecurity-- about her design, about how much time she has left, about how to construct a garment and lastly, about how to sell herself and the garment.  


I'm not on the Sandhya bandwagon.

This was a total cliché of what "modern" looks like.  Oh, space age materials, space suits, robotic clothes.  All of these have promise for the future.  But will we really be wearing clothes like this or just think we will?

Oh look!  Someone predicted the underwire bra back in the 1930's!

The funniest line from the judges was "Maybe we'll be wearing oxygen tanks!"  Still, Marie Claire was doing a spread and the winning dress needed to be "editorial," a definition that Nina Garcia totally made up to describe what editors are looking for in a dress for a spread--visually stunning.

You know what that means.  There will be no dresses in magazine spreads, not now or in the future, that are the color of the future: black.

So if you're playing at home: if you wish to win a magazine spread challenge, don't produce your outfit in black.

See you next week in the blog or join the gang for real-time chatroom fun on Blogging Project Runway at 8:30 pm EDT.