Sunday, August 14, 2011

Project Runway Season 9, Episode 3: Go Big Or Go Home!

Greetings, Project Runway fans!  This week's challenge is all about proportion.

What is proportion, anyway?  Philosophers and esthetes have defined it as "Golden Ratio."

In brief, if the ratio between the long segment and the whole line is equal to the ratio between the long segment and the short segment, the division is in proportion.

Yikes! math!  

Does that make sense?  No?  Imagine this turned on its side.

The blue line shows the golden ratio at the waistline.  This model is perfectly in proportion. That's why those of us who have shorter legs or longer torsos struggle with the length of jackets, the placement of belts and waistlines, etc....

Now imagine you took the model and lengthened her legs...put her on stilts.  You get the drift of this week's challenge: dress a model on stilts.

OK...I visit the chat rooms.  I read the blogs...the Internets have been abuzz with complaints about this challenge.  

"Worst challenge ever!"  

"Why would you ever need to dress a model on stilts?"
"This is Project Runway, not Project Circus."

Poppycock!  The whole idea of a design challenge is to push the designers with various materials, inspirations, treatments and customers so that we can see who is best at solving design problems.  So to me, there is nothing wrong with this challenge.

However, I do agree with the chattering classes that every designer failed this challenge.  And it has nothing to do with the materials they chose, famous designers they referenced or whether or not they could figure out the direction of the grain of the fabric.

Every designer failed to consider the golden ratio.   May the wrath of Pythagoras be upon them all!

"The arguments between teammates were not the only things blown out of proportion!"

Let's start the show.

Team LaurAnthony

(Laura Kathleen + Anthony Ryan Auld)


Perhaps the judges were taken by the drama of red chiffon in the wind.  Perhaps they fell in love with Laura and Anthony Ryan's cute southern drawls.  Whatever their reasons, this was the winning look.

Hideous hair and make-up aside, there is very little to the proportion of this dress.  Sure, there's a slit somewhere around where you would want to break up the line, but it's not much.  In fact, the dark and the cutoff at the natural waistline makes it look like a gargantuan red letter "i."  The top of the model fades away and you're left with this huge skirt.

Here's another thing to consider.  The judges and audience are looking up at the model.  There's a reason why sculptors of big statues give their subjects tiny feet and big heads.  From the street level perspective, the proportions will be correct.

Once again, Nina drama ended up on the Lifetime cutting room floor.  In this Internet age, however, their are no secrets.  Nina mentioned the Gucci dress Jennifer Lopez wore to the 2011 Met Gala.  But this dress looks to me more like the Gucci dress Selma Hayak wore to one of the premieres of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Yes, there are differences.  In the stilt dress, the shoulder interest is produced with fabric petals that are attached to illusion netting (or some sort of sheer fabric).  It's not a separate piece.  And the back is much more interesting than the Gucci dress/shrug combination.  Anyway, the producers decided that it wasn't important.

I know, Kenley.  If only your Alexander McQueen knock-off had been on stilts!

Moving on...

Team KimBecky

(Kimberly Goldson and Becky Ross)

This was my favorite look.  This also rated highly with the judges.  If only the top had been a little longer to meet that golden ratio....  If only the collar had been more exuberant.  I know, Nina thought the collar was tacky, but she could have been silenced with a proper explanation about proportion and how, from the bottom, the collar would look just fine.

At first, I thought they were taking a risk exposing the model's tattoo.  But when I saw the finished product, I agreed with Michael Kors, "It had to be done.  You have to see that tattoo."  They clearly drew inspiration from their model.

Where they went wrong with me was by making the legs so wide at the bottom.   Again, all you see is the big flare and everything above it tends to fade off.   Close, but not quite.

Team OlivAnya

(Olivier Green and Anya Ayoung-Chee)

Dubbed the "Dream Team" by Tim Gunn, each having previously won a challenge, they delivered a surprisingly subdued, risk-free outfit.

This would have been a stunning dress had it been for a regular woman, with a different print.  The top featured grey fabric that was intricately worked with printed fabric.  The one thing they had going for them was that up close, this print was pretty hideous.  From far away, it blended in very nicely.  But there was nothing tremendously remarkable about this dress, so they were safe.

Team Joshulia

(Joshua McKinley and Julia Tierney)

I'll leave it to others to describe the unique, forced partnership between the gay guy and the sporty, tomboy girl.  In the end, she was only able to tone down his exuberance just a bit, and the wrong bits at that.

You either love or hate this look.  I want to love it.  The pants are amazing.  I'm all for the bold print.  It looks as if he lined them in red on the inside!  Nice touch.  But the TOP IS WAY TOO SHORT.  Again, failure to abide by the golden ratio!   Also, the you can't see the intricate details of the top up that far.  Had I been Julia, I would have begged Josh to put away the Beadazzler, simplify the top and make it longer.  Let the drama come out in the shape, rather than the details.

There were a lot of criticisms about this looking like a circus.  Nothing in Tim's instructions to the designers said this had to be a red carpet look.  In fact, the designers were encouraged to be bold.

Next up, my favorite team....

Team Bertktor

(Bert Keetor and Viktor Luna)

Remember, Bert came here to relive the glory of his days at Halston.  He really hates the oddball challenges.  And Viktor wants to show the world his wondrous techniques.  

Of all the stilt walkers that day, this model had the most fun with her dress.  Look at her work that skirt!

Golden ratio, boys!  The top is too short!  

When there is such a simple design before them, the judges start to nitpick all sorts of silly things.  In this case, they focused on the velvet brocade.   Michael and Nina have been at this game for a long time, now, and they know that all fabric stores, including Mood, have an interior decorator section and an apparel section.  Any designer that wanders into the upholstery aisle does so at his or her own risk.  

You risk is that Michael Kors will deliver a one-liner and compare it to drapery, which happened.  What nobody could have predicted was that Kim Kardashian managed to deliver a proper coup-de-gras with this movie reference...

Team Dancelia

(Danielle Everine and Cecelia Motwani)

Interesting something conventional and structured, but in chiffon so that it flows nicely.  Again, the top is too short!  Golden ratio!  The sleeves are nice and dramatic....but

that hair!

That's not it....

There you go!

Are we finished yet?  


Team Brycelene

(Bryce Black + Fallene Wells)

"I'm a trained dancer, see?  this is my interpretive 'Black Swan' dance."
Poor Bryce.  He's a woud-be visionary stylista paired up with a self-trained designer who can't sew.  What to do?  What to do?

First of all, let's get the Golden ratio out of the way.  The pouf is too long, believe it or not.  If you're going to go long, make it a bit longer so that the shorter segment is on the bottom.  This makes her look like she has a huge tulle tumor in her midsection.

Second, crumpling up tulle and sewing seems like phoning it in, to me.  Most of that sewing is by hand, isn't it?  Why he didn't let Fallene do that while he did the top is beyond me.  Perhaps it was beyond Fallene too.

In the end, they took inspiration from their dancer/model and it came out all wrong.  As a result, we say good-bye to Fallene, the designer who is intimidated by the industrial sewing machine.  She says she's from Denver, but I suspect she's secretly from Utah!

So what have we learned this week, Project Runway, fans?  We learned a little math, didn't we?  But most of all, we learned that if you're a stilt walker, you really don't need a fancy designer for your outfit.  Just browse some of the many Burning Man photo albums out there on the web.

They're much more interesting.

See you next week when our designers attempt to dress Nina Garcia!

1 comment:

  1. On some level, I knew this. But thanks for making it clear. I learned something today!

    But ... but ... (sputtering) ... OFF-GRAIN!