Thursday, October 27, 2011

Project Runway Season 9, Extra: The Also-Rans

Greetings, Project Runway Fans!  I know, the finale is tomorrow.  And I'm going to miss the ending because I'll be off to a Thriller dance rehearsal.

What?  You don't know how to do the Thriller dance?  You should learn.  It's fun and very good exercise.

This is going to be a short post.  You can see all the Fashion Week collections walk here. You'll have to look close to see which designer is which.  You can also see all nine collections by picture at Blogging Project Runway.

As I alluded to in one of my earlier blog posts, nine designers showed the collections at Fashion Week.  Four of them were finalists, the others, the decoys, had smaller budgets, but still ran ten looks.  Ever since the first season, Project Runway has been running decoy collections at Fashion Week.  Only recently, have they run the majority of the contestants.  If you get past the first four challenges, you're doing a show at Fashion Week, which is not too shabby.

I could get all bitter about the lack of integrity in the competition, but why should I?  We're in the midst of a horrible economic recession--one that has hit the fashion industry as hard as any other.  Kudos to Lifetime, the Weinstein Company and Bunim-Murray for continuing to run a huge show at Fashion Week.  If a runner up or decoy gets some opportunities from this, all the better.

Here's the thing, though.  The sneak peek was saw last week was full of "meh."  Aside from Viktor, I just don't think the best designers are being showcased in the finals this year.  Ever since the first season, Project Runway has been all over the map regarding its finalists and those who should have shown.  I think many of us would have swapped out Santino Rice for Kara Janx, for instance.

Joshua McKinney has been brilliant and disastrous in equal parts.  The jacket in his mini-collection was the single most incredible garment he's run all season.  In fact, it could possibly be my most favorite look from this seaosn.  However, unlike Jeffrey Sebelia, Josh's brilliance involves reining in his ideas, not necessarily letting them loose. 

Kimberly Goldson is a lot like Mychael Knight, both of whom were able to mold their skills to fit each Project Runway challenge.  But during the challenges, neither were ever really able to show their point of view.  When we got to see Mychael Knight's final show, we were all a bit disappointed in the execution.  Kimberly's mini-show had the same level of disappointment.  Her fabric choices were poor.  Her designs were not that well executed and it lacked cohesion.

Which leaves us with Anja.  The fix has been in since Episode 1 and frankly, I'm just not seeing it.  Her limited sewing skills prevent her from sharing the fullness of her design ideas.  Perhaps "Launch My Line" would have been the better show for her.  What we've seen: tucked silhouettes, deep necklines, print juxtopositions...reveals nothing tremendously innovative, design-wise.  Technically, she was a disaster.  A good portion of the cost of a garment, not to mention its usefulness to the wearer, lies in its closures and fastenings.  She practically sewed every garment she ever made onto the model. 
I wanted to isolate two designers who I wish could have been given slots for the final show.  Had the running been between Laura, Bert and Viktor, I think it would have been an excellent show and extremely hard to judge. 

Modern day warrior- Laura Kathleen Planck

This article sums up the struggles Laura went through in pulling a collection together from cloth and disappointment.  Perhaps failure really is the greatest muse because these designs are distinctive, innovating and breathtakingly beautiful. 

She led her collection with this dress.  It featured brass plating that she designed in conjunction with a St. Louis area jeweler. 

Sportswear, featuring more distinctive jewelery.

These are a few of the looks.  The pictures tell part of the story.  Folks who were there tell me that the audience response was very positive. 

  Less is more - Bert Keeter

Bert is an old-hand at the fashion business.  If you have one shot to get someone's attention, make it memorable and don't muck it up with a lot of silliness.  His collection showcased his design skills in a show that let the garments do the talking.

Frankly, you could end the show right there.  This has Bert written all over it.  But it's also smartly designed and very flattering.

But wait...Bert can do chic sportswear, too.  This looks fresh and modern and could have walked on any number of runways at Fashion Week.

Neither Bert nor Laura delivered perfect shows.  Then again, really, many of the designers fell short.  But in terms of design, some of their looks were far more stunning than those of some of the finalists.

I also wanted to mention Anthony Ryan Auld and Olivier Green.  Both presented very ambitious collections that pushed the design envelope.  Both, however, struggled with fit and construction issues.   I think with more experience and guidance, these are also designers to watch.

As Malan Breton, Nick Verreos, Rami Kashou, Austin Scarlett, Mila Hermanovski, Kara Janx and Chris March can tell you... just being on the show is the opportunity of a lifetime.  Make the most of it.

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