Saturday, March 10, 2012

Project Runway All-Stars Episode 9: It's Electric!

Greetings, Project Runway fans!

We're getting down to the final handful of designers.  This week's challenge was one of my favorites of the season thus far.  I think the results drew out the each designer's personality quite...vividly.

The challenge was to construct a garment using florescent paints, tapes, LED and fiber optic lights.  The judge, performer-producer-fashion personality, Pharrell Williams, promised to use the winning design in one of his upcoming projects.

I'm not all that impressed with Pharrell's fashion lines, which are rather casual.  And as a judge, he was ok. I would have preferred to see someone more dynamic like one of the designers from Cutecircuit.

The folks at Cutecircuit created Katy Perry's light-up dress that she wore to the Met Ball a few years ago.

And they've done some of her light-up stage wear.

The designers were given $300 to spend at the Barbazon Light Shop and another $100 at Mood plus two days to sew.  There were a lot of subtle elements to the challenge.  Apparently, battery operated, portable lights don't come cheap.  Their reliability is in question as well.  And the question of whether to sew, glue or just stick on was on everyone's mind.  Let's see how our designers did.

Mondo Guerra

Mondo stayed true to his streamlined silhouette and use of color, but just petered out on the execution.  He sewed his lights into fabric channels, which caused the fabric to glow from underneath.  This was ingenious and impeccably sewn.  Unfortunately, the design element was just not over-the-top enough for the judges.

She looks like a juke box.

And the back was down right boring.

Michael Costello

Michael struggled with this challenge, coming up with 27 different designs before he settled on one.  Unfortunately, that was his undoing.  Had he just stuck with one thing, he would have found the time to carefully think through his execution, proportion and overall design.

Instead, he sent out a hastily constructed art project.

You can't see the blinking lights under the shoulder pads.  They were pretty tacky.  And that shoulder shape added nothing interesting to the overall design.

But in the end, what did him in was the hastily wrapped tape on the arms that looked like an afterthought.  And the back....

was lackluster and the bow on the belt was a disaster.

Jerell Scott

Regular readers of this blog know that I have not been a big fan of Jerell this season.  I would have given him the boot several episodes ago.  So seeing him lose this challenge was not a surprise or a disappointment....however....if it had been me, I think I would have given Michael the (taped up) boot this week.

Jerell, unlike the others, designed his outfit around the lights--in his case, fiber optic lights-- and he embraced the organic shape that resulted.

It looks like one of those phosphorescent aquatic creatures that lives deep in the bottom of the ocean.

But the end result was too safe...something I never thought I'd say about Jerell.

I would have liked to see the same exuberant treatment at the skirt used on the neckline  We didn't need the glasses or the light in the mouth.  The shoes were tacky.  A pair of simple, white shoes would have sufficed.   I didn't buy the whole "why put a black skirt on the bottom" thing.  The judges were just grasping.  Yes, it looked better with black tights, but I think just a few simple tweaks could have kept him in the running.

Kenley Collins

Kenley has a very strong aesthetic.  At first, I was concerned that this challenge would sink her. She appeared to throw off the lights and gravitate toward black light effects.

And I'm still recovering from her Mickey Mouse dress from the avant garde project from her regular season.

 When you say "AVANT GARDE" Kenley says, "PLAID!"  However, she used strong shapes to construct a stunning outfit that, this time, was flattering and well-proportioned.

Yes, you can totally see Nikki Minaj in this outfit.  Lady Gaga could wear it without a top underneath.  It's thoroughly modern, yet so of the moment.  I think she should have won, even though the judges dismissed the little "fairy lights" sprinkled throughout.

Austin Scarlett

Austin won this week's challenge.  He had a strong, romantic vision of what he wanted to produce.

He wanted to craft a universe of stars around his model, so that it would look like she was floating in space with the stars.  He was one of the only designers to take the lights beyond the plane of the body.  I think his outfit could have been more over-the-top as well, but perhaps, the budget was a little too tight for this challenge.

Angela Lindell, often criticized for not quite living up to Heidi Klum standards, offered, I think, one of the best critiques of this outfit.  She said that she wanted to see the lights throughout the skirt, not just in strips.  She wanted to see them scattered underneath the tulle, as well.

Scroll up and take another look at Kenley's outfit.  Under black light, it is far more visually stunning than Austin's.  And I think the same critique that the judges leveled at Jerell applies here.  The black skirt simply gets lost under the black light.  Without billions of lights sprinkled throughout the skirt, she just looks like a ballerina who got tangled in Christmas lights.   What could have popped this outfit on a bare-bones budget would have been the simple addition of some WHITE TULLE as a lining under the skirt.  You would have seen the pop of white under the black layers, giving Angela the depth she wanted to see.  It would have given the skirt a lot more 3-D interest.

All-in-all, I think on this challenge, the budget and the time crunch really squelched the creativity.  I was left wondering what someone like Chris March would have done with this challenge.

I'm slowly catching up to all the shows.  The next episode where our final four take on the business of fashion, is coming soon!

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