Sunday, July 22, 2012

Project Runway, Season 10, Back to (Times) Square One

Welcome back, designers.  We've missed you.

Greetings, Project Runway Fans!  I've missed you.  Yes, I promised to blog after Project Runway All-Stars, but the summer has been so busy.  I never got any of my sewing projects finished, so I know that personally, I have no business being on Project Runway.  But that doesn't mean I can't be a critic.

This blog finds me up at 2 am with a bout of some intestinal nastiness, the details of which I will spare you.  I'm snacking on some delicious ice chips right now and have to say that it's the best stuff I've eaten in a long time.

Many of us long-time fans of Project Runway approached this season with great trepidation.  I was very disappointed in the outcomes of the last two regular seasons.  Mondo was robbed the win in Season 8 and Viktor Luna was robbed in Season 9.  The regular judges took turns being missing from the panel in Season 8, which lead to some inconsistent judging.  Last season, the challenges were frantic and incoherent.  So were many of the outfits, as well.  So let's cautiously tiptoe through this season together.  I'd invite you to hold my hand, but I don't want you to catch whatever it is that I've got.

Um...don't toast that 10th Anniversary just yet.
I would like to make one thing clear from the start: THIS IS NOT PROJECT RUNWAY'S TENTH ANNIVERSARY.  THIS IS THE TENTH SEASON.   Season 1 aired December 1, 2004.  The word "anniversary" is peppered all over the Lifetime site.  Perhaps they don't know what "anniversary" means.  If this show should make it to 2014, will they remember they've been on for 10 years?  What will they call that achievement?

I always bemoan the first few episodes of Project Runway as I attempt to wade through all the designers. This year's "Road to the Runway" show helped me sort everyone out a bit however, the first challenge was a complete overload.  Each designer had to bring to Parsons a piece that demonstrated their point of view.  Once at Parsons, Tim informed them that they were to produce a companion piece and both pieces would walk the runway.  This means that with 16 designers, I have 32 looks to critique.  That's way too much.

"So last season I was kicked off right away.  That's not going to happen this year.  I'm going to stay and be a big jerk about it and everyone will remember me!
That's all you need to know about Gunnar.

"Oh crap.  They warned me about the sewing..."
That's all you need to know about Beatrice.

And then...there's Kooan.

Kooan's style is zany and crazy and comes from the streets of Harajuku in Tokyo.  Will it translate in the US?  With Nina?  What do you think?

So how do you celebrate a tenth AnniSeasonerversary?  With THE BIGGEST RUNWAY SHOW IN PROJECT RUNWAY HISTORY.  Times Square, baby!

I've been to Times Square and my first impression of the place was that it was actually a lot smaller than it looks on TV.  But it is an amazing backdrop and they can cram thousands of folks into the space.

Let's start the show.  It's a marathon post, so you may want to grab a bag of snacks.  Me, I have my ice chips.

Alicia Hardesty

Her style is lesbian, tomboy street chic.  The first look was a stylish take on a hoodie and the second look was an easy pair of separates.  The cut of the pant is not flattering on anyone but a very trim woman.  But kudos to her for some unusual cuts and designs.  These were not ordinary separates.

Andrea Katz

Self described as a "crazy old cat lady, Andrea considers herself as much an artist as a designer.

It was a risk showing something this audacious in the first show

but she was playing to the cheap seats, like any native New Yorker with "brass balls" would.  Considering the other looks that walked that night, there were no worries she would not advance to the next round.

Beatrice Guapo

Condolences to the 15 straight guys out there who watch the show.  I heard from a few of you Thursday night how upset you were that the cutest gal on the show got kicked off.  She described herself as a knitwear designer, but admitted that she doesn't sew very well.  The garment she made ahead of time took weeks for her to sew.  She was doomed from the start.

I thought you should at least see the dress she made ahead of time without the "ugly Aztec cape" as Michael Kors put it.  

The cape added nothing and the second outfit was very poorly constructed.  I don't think they were the worst looks to walk, but they were pretty close.  It was just a matter of time before Bea would have been out of the competition.  Sorry Bea.  Sorry guys.  I would have kept her for another week, but that's just me.

Buffi Jashamal

She was born in London, she's half Australian and half Indian, and grew up in Dubai.  She's exotic, but very inspired by the club scene and frankly, anything tacky.  The designers don't know who the guest judge is going to be, usually.  Had she known that Patricia Fields, stylist and designer for Sex in the City was going to be there, she might have stepped it up a bit.

In all sincerity...who puts a belt on the front of a top

and not in the back?  What does that accomplish?  What design problem does that solve?  It seemed to be like a gimmick without a purpose.  The other dress was a complete throwaway.

She was safe this week.  We'll have plenty of opportunities to question her taste level in the weeks to come.

Dmitry Sholokhov

Dmitry, born in Moscow, left the girly world of modeling for the manly world of ballroom dancing and fashion design.  He has amazing talent when he has all time time in the world, evidenced by the dress above.

When he's in a hurry, he can still make it interesting, but the proportions seem a little off to me.  In any case, he's very talented and should be one to watch.

Elena Slivnyak

Elena was born in the Ukraine and grew up very poor.  Her style is futuristic, very reminiscent of Irina Shabayeva from Season 6 with more of an avant garde edge.

We are clearly in the post-Alexander McQueen era.  Designers are not afraid to push the envelopes of proportion and body shape.  But McQueen was not on a reality show where designers were pressed for time and resources in unusual ways.  He was also an impeccable tailor who studied for years.  You can clearly see Elena's vision and talent but what's missing is the fit and proportion--which often falls by the wayside when you have one day or less to construct a garment.  She's one to watch as well.

Fabio Costa

He's this season's "Mr. Chill" in the tradition of Jerell Scott (S. 5) and Epperson (S. 6).  

He brought a black dress that had an asymmetrical sleeve treatment and cut but it just didn't show up well on the runway.  The studio designed hints at his design aesthetic, but seems a bit disjointed.

Nathan Paul

Oh, Miss Model, don't look so disgusted.  It's not that bad a dress.
Oh, I see. You wish you were wearing this one.
I know what you're thinking....he does nothing but drape.  Give the guy a's just the first challenge.  Although I suspect you're right.
Melissa Fleis

She's kind of goth.  Loves to work in black...which is usually the kiss of death on this show, eventually.  The jacket is well constructed, but the fit is just a little loose.  The asymmetrical dress (walking away) fits well.  She's got skills, but will we see them for the black fabric?

Raul Osorio

His pre-made piece was a suit which was fairly well tailored and featured a lacy blouse underneath.  He's got an obsession with lace.  While the combination of formal and frilly provided contrast, it was not the best designed suit/blouse combination I ever saw.  Furthermore, the bow in the front evokes  the standard professional suit blouse cliché. 

This dress is evidence that Raul's lace fetich has the potential to undo him.  The machine kept rejecting the fabric, but he refused to take the hint.  He did pair down the silhouette, thank goodness.  The more streamlined shape kept this from being a total disaster.

Sonjia Williams

Sonjia produced the one look in the entire show that I crave.

Seeing the jacket from the front...I want it....

but from behind, it's even more spectacular.  Love it.  I even love the gathered, drape pants.

This was her in-studio produced look.  I appreciate how it ties in with the other look but I just can't get past how the patterned fabric just looks stuffed in there.  She has some clever ideas and I hope we get to see a lot of them.

Gunnar Deatherage

He can sew.  He can design.  I'm seeing a lot of Josh McKinley here.  

Making a three-piece ensemble in-studio was a gutsy move.  He pulled it off, despite the struggles he had with the fabric.  If he minds his fabric choices and doesn't manage to alienate everyone else, he might redeem himself from when he was kicked off during the first challenge last season.

Ven Budhu

Ven has skills, that's for sure.

The look on the left was the one he produced pre-show.   He took every tool in his tool kit and laid it out there for the judges.  So why didn't he win?  I would have loved to see some more critique here, which I suspect was edited out.  The judges had to have commented about how much volume his pants suit added to the model's body.  As dramatic as the rose bodice was, it probably should have been the only exuberant thing, rather than have full pleated pants, plus a flowing jacket.  The pleated dress is well done, but it is not very well fitted.  It puckers in some areas and bunches in others.  The model loses her shape a bit here too.

Christopher Pala

Clearly, this did not impress the judges.

Here's where it dawned on me that had this challenge only been about the in-studio produced garment, Chris would have been in the bottom.  Speaking of bottoms.... That is one bunched up zipper.  How do you make a dress that is too small around the waist for that model?

So in a way, this challenge was a PROJECT RUNWAY FIRST in that the judges got a mini preview of what this designer could do if they sent him or her home for a few weeks and a decent budget to produce a Fashion Week show.  To that end....

This dress was produced using strips of fabric over a sheer fabric underlay.  The dress itself flowed but each little strip caught the wind as well.  The effect was completely ethereal.  The shape and design echoed the 1930's but not faithfully.   A thirties bodice wouldn't be that cut out around the sides and that slit would  have been scandalous.   Nevertheless, the bias fabric flow was there and it was Chris for the win.

I know what you're thinking.  Who would have won this challenge had the in-studio produced pieces been weighted more?  That's a good one.  I can't tell you.  All I know is it wouldn't have been any of the next designers.  Yes, there are more.  You might want to take a potty break and come back.  

Kooan Kosuke

Welcome back.  And now, a special edition of The Kooan Show!
"Hello, I am Kooan and I am here to entertain you...with fashion!"

This Japanese street style known as "Decora" involves lots of bright colors and way too many accessories.  It is one of the many street styles you can see in the Japanese style magazine, FRUiTS.  This is legitimate stuff going on right now with one of the biggest clothes-buying, fashion obsessed populations around.  So I found it a bit culturally insulting that Nina kept asking if this was a joke.  Did she ask if Madonna was a joke?  Does she consider Gwen Stefani a joke?  Both of these ladies are heavily influenced by street style.  Heck, Patricia Fields was sitting there.  She more than anyone should have recognized where this came from.  I was quite disappointed in that aspect of their judging.  Still....

this was shapeless and pointless.  Not exactly "teletubbie" as Michael Kors observed, but 

even the Harajuku girls would laugh at a mylar sailor collar.  He's not going to make it to the end, but he's this year's Ping.  You might not think he's serious, but in some cultures, fashion isn't serious business.

Lantie Foster

I saved my worst for last.  Lantie elicited one of the funniest judging moments this week.

"So, do all your clothes have bibs?"
"Bibs? What bibs?"
Lantie is all about decoration and embellishment.  The white dress was the one she brought to Parsons and IT WASN'T EVEN DESIGNED BY HER.  It was a vintage dress that was....redone.  The crafters at Etsy call this "upscaled" but I see very little upscaled here.  She added a snake skin belt to the white dress and made a snake skin bib embellishment to her cream dress.  She also put black tulle on top of the cream make it more...embellished.  Her model looks 10 times heavier than she is and that's before the sister wife hairstyle.

Lantie, you're delightfully ditsy and you remind me of Chelsea Handler, but I think your days on this show are numbered.

Whew.  That's it.  I'm done.  The show ran so long that they didn't even have time to preview what was happening next week.  I guess we'll all have to tune in to find out.  Until then....


  1. This was not the first time the designers had to bring/send something from home. Season 2 opened with the potential sewtestants bringing garments made from unbleached muslin and $50 worth of whatever--including dye, notions, etc.—sent to them by the PR folks. Two designers were eliminated more or less before the competition officially began, and Santino won that first round.

  2. Wow - thanks for this recap suzq!

  3. I'm already so over Gunnar and his antics. He needs to just sush.

    And I'm glad you pointed out that fabulous coat Sonjia made... it was gorgeous!

  4. Love reading the recaps you produce, but I have to point out that Gunnar's three pieces were the ones he brought, not the outfit he made in house. Otherwise, wonderful recap and great thoughts. Thanks for making me laugh and enjoy PR again.

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