Saturday, March 10, 2012

Project Runway All-Stars Episode 10: No, No, Nanette!*

Greetings Project Runway Fans!

This week, we found out that Nanette Lepore is a real person, learned why designer clothes cost so much, and we confirmed that Bunim-Murray editors are hell-bent on making everyone on this show look like a mental patient.

Let's take each in order.

There she is: Nanette Lepore!
Nanette Lepore designs dresses and separates in a very classic style.  Here's one of the dresses from her summer collection, retail $488.

Why does it cost so much?

Well, for one thing, all of Nanette's clothes are made in New York City, where people are paid enough money so that they can live in a postage stamp-sized apartment in Queens, buy food and pay for their commute on the subway.  Second, the fabrics have some natural fiber content to them.  The cost of silk, cotton, linen and wool have been skyrocketing, due to all sorts of factors.  Polyester and rayon are still pretty inexpensive, comparatively.  And third, you pay for the design.  However, most people aren't willing to pay that much for the design, so it behooves you to waste as little of the fabric and the labor as possible.

Enter the challenge:

Make a dress that fits in with the Nanette Lepore summer portfolio.  She will appraise the value of the design, calculate how much labor it will take and how much material you will need.  Then, you have a budget left over to purchase the material.  The dress will sell on the website and proceeds will go to Save the Garment Center, an organization dedicated to promoting and educating consumers about clothing made in America.  According to them, if Americans spent just 1% more on goods made in America, they would create 200,000 jobs.

So the next time you see expensive designer duds, check the label to see if you're buying something made in the USA.

All the calculations about labor and fabric came in the person of Kelly the Koster.

 She's kind of like Rosie the Riveter, only Kelly's got a pencil and a calculator and she's not afraid to use them.
She is the operator of her pocket calculator...
I hung on her every word.  Big sleeves eat up labor and fabric.  Skirts just one seam eat up fabric and leave lots of waste.  A little trim work goes a long way to making a desirable garment.  Fifteen minutes with Kelly "the Koster" Keough was like a semester at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

The designers also got to use Nanette's fabrics.  Each designer had issues and quirks that tripped them up.  Let's see how they did.

Austin Scarlett

Austin decided to do a coat.  

After picking out a taffeta, he had enough budget to use 4 yards of fabric ($16.24/yard by my calculations.)  Unfortunately, he picked taffeta.  I just got through cutting and piecing a gown in silk taffeta and if I never see taffeta again, it will be too soon.  The stuff is thin.  It bunches up easily when you sew it--there is no leeway with needle size or thread tension at all when sewing taffeta.  And you better get that seam right the first time.  Ripping seams in taffeta is the fastest way to shred it up.  It's heartbreak from stem to stern.  But the worst part about it is that it is wrinkly.  You have to press out every piece and every seam as you go.  Of course you should do that with all your sewing, but with taffeta, you cannot short cut that process.  You also have to let it hang out to get the right drape.

But this isn't Austin's first rodeo with taffeta.

Still, that hem is is a hot mess.

It wasn't as bad when the model (cheer up, darlin'!) untied the belt and swung it around.  The judges were a bit confused about it until he explained that the garment was a coat.  Oh, then, they could forgive the wonky hem and all the wrinkles.  Well, Nanette couldn't, but the rest of them did.

Michael Costello

Michael just pissed me off this week.  First off, he designed another caftan.  Like the world needs another caftan.  Second, all the drama about his fabric ($16/yard.)  He thought it was 60" wide and it turned out to be only 47" wide.

"Oh crap.  Why didn't I pay attention when they were cutting the fabric to see how wide it was?"
Joanna brought Nanette into the workroom with her for her consultation rounds and I suspect he managed to piss them off, too.

Joanna: "Once again, Michael.  How are women supposed to wear a brar with this oufit."
Nanette: "That's right. All my clients wear  We'll need hook and eye closures"
"Kelly wouldn't let me have any extra money for notions.  I'll have to put my hand here to show you where you could put a hook and eye."

So out came the caftan.  Nice way to cover up the plunging neckline with a necklace.  And the back?

Just sweep all the hair to the back to cover that up...

Aha!  Isaac wants to see the back!'re so busted....

Yikes!  Strap across the top...plunging back.  I thought he was off for sure.  Not in the history of the Nanette Lepore line have they ever run a caftan.  We all knew this was never going to win, but for some reason, the magical draping and gathering lulled everyone into keeping him in the competition.  My booted foot was ready to give him the heave ho...but the heave and ho were saved for...

Kenley Collins

She started off right on track to make a dress that Nanette herself could have designed.

How cute is that keyhole detail?  And the piping down the front and on the sleeves....I was getting my checkbook ready to buy that dress...and then....

"I must have that print....that $20/yard print...."
The first blow came from Kelly the Koster, who informed her that she only had enough budget left to get 1/2 yard of the piping fabric.  The second blow came as she laid out the fabric, only to discover that her keyhole would have been about the same size as one of the peacock feather "eyes."  Too busy.

The third blow came when Joanne and Nanette walked in.

Joanna: "Now that's a dress you can wear a 'brar' with."
Nanette: "But I was expecting a sheath dress with a keyhole front, not a poorly gathered, drapey dress!"
Kenley: "But it's made with your beautiful print.  You'll love it."
Nanette: "Keyhole!"

So why not sweep the models' hair over the dress and maybe Nanette will forget all about that keyhole.  No, no, Nanette can't forget a detail like that!

In fact, she's going to notice every flaw, like the mis-matched seams and wonky hem.  And Georgina Chapman will pile on and the producers will come out with torches and pitchforks and show you the door.  Right before the final show.  I think Kenley's arrogance got the best of her.  Again, I disagree with the outcome here.  For me, the path of lazy, least resistance should trump arrogance, but I'm not on the Bunim-Murray staff.

So buh-bye, Kenley.  We'll miss you!

Mondo Guerra

Mondo managed to piss me off, too, this week.  You see, even though he can't draw, I can understand what he was trying to communicate.  The editing this week, made him seem like he was a on the verge of a bi-polar crash.  They strung together every "woe is me" comment and complaint to the point where it made it hard to believe Mondo could sew two pieces of fabric together at all.

Let's take a look at his drawing for a minute.

Yes, my 8-year old can draw a whole lot better...but what's this we see here?  Third row down, very clearly, MONDO DREW A DRAWSTRING THROUGH A FABRIC PANEL.

Mondo's design was a dream for Kelly the Koster.  Strips of fabric?  Aw hell, buy the cheapest ones.  In fact, we'll give you all the bolt ends from the back room.  Here's the remnant pile.  The fabric total came to $15.77.   They'd make a fortune off this outfit....however....

Where's the drawstring
in the middle?
The dress was shapeless.  Still, the idea of it and the print combination, was masterful.  The gathering at the bottom with the vertical stripes made it look like fringe.  Clever.

Mondo was the winner here.  Was there ever any doubt?  However, why didn't Nanette pay closer attention to his drawing.  They re-worked the outfit for sale and...

There's a waist...

Perhaps it allows for a smooth front finish, whereas the draw string would have gathered everything up...but I think a self-fabric belt would have been a little less abrupt.

Still, for $298, you can help raise some money for a good cause....and keep a lot of American sewers in business.

So our final runway collection will be delivered by Austin, Michael and Mondo.  No girls.

See you next week for the finals!

*You youngsters are  probably wondering where the title came from.  No, No, Nanette was a Broadway musical from the 1920's that featured "Tea For Two" and "I Want to Be Happy."


  1. I'm sorry but Mondo's win last week was a "hot mess!" NO WAY would I wear a dress with panels whose colors and/or patterns DID NOT GO TOGETHER. It would have worked a little better IF there were horizontal piping of the preceding panel until it reached the bottom of the dress. In short, sorry Mondo, there is NO WAY I'd buy it. Taffeta and/or wrinkled, I'd rather have Austin's coat than this monstrosity!!!

  2. I actually think Austin's coat needed a lot more work to bring it to sale and the price point/proceeds would not have been as great. While Mondo's style certainly isn't for everyone (I, for one, am not interested) it is a masterful solution to the interesting problem of how to produce something quick, economical and eye-catching for a fund raiser. It sold out, so that says something right there.

    As for me, I would have bought the dress Kenley originally designed in a hot minute.

    1. I was reading some of your old posts, and I can tell you exactly why they didn't pick his coat: it's far too close to her Ferry Boat Coat, which I own. It's a poorly executed variant on it, basically.

  3. nice idea.. thanks for sharing..