Saturday, July 28, 2012

Project Runway Season 10, Episode 2: Sugar Rush

Greetings, Project Runway Fans!

So many questions this few answers....

(1) What the heck was Elena wearing to the challenge introduction this week?

A half-burkha?  A hijab?  Some Ukrainian headgear to protect your brain from residual radiation from Chernobyl?

(2) Your dad is one of the richest people in the world and you could start any business you want and you choose a candy store?
That's Ralph Lauren's daughter getting a free plug on Project Runway.  She was this week's guest judge.  I shouldn't cast dispersions...she's been in business since 2001 and has locations in NYC, East Hampton and Houston.  If I started a candy company, I'd be lucky to get a location in a warehouse district in southwest Baltimore and it wouldn't be featured in any films or TV shows at all.

Sometimes, your best move in business is to be related to someone very famous.

And finally....
(3) What are you still doing here?

This week's challenge was a candy store challenge.  The contestants had 30 minutes to shop, way too much money to spend and one day to sew glue the outfit.  This is a throwback to Season 4's "Eye Candy" challenge.  In Season 4, the designers only had 5 minutes to choose their materials....and designers were body checking each other for candy, pillows and eventually, the posters that hung on the wall.  The store was stripped within minutes.

This season, designers had 30 luxurious minutes to peruse the different candies, helpfully displayed in rainbow colors.  They could muse over whether to pick twizzlers or rock candy.  What about the gummi animals?  Whole strips of gum and candy?  Sheets of candy buttons!  And yes, there were t-shirts, umbrellas and boots...because every candy store sells umbrellas and boots, right?

There's always the endless debate over whether or not to use the fabric materials or to devote yourself to only non-fabric ones.  Most designers will build a muslin base and tack materials on top of that.  Some ambitious designers will try and use just the found materials themselves.  In the end, it doesn't matter.  After eight years of Project Runway one decided pattern has emerged: if your garment is poorly constructed, you better have made an effort in the spirit of the competition, otherwise, you are out.

The judges will give you a pass for using fabric found in the store, provided that the outfit is impeccable, visually arresting and fun.

Right, Chris March?

So let's see how this season's designers did.

Christopher won the last challenge and had immunity for this one.  This was a solidly safe contribution of glued-on jelly beans, licorice.  The garment that resulted was not innovative or visually memorable in any way.


She used sheet licorice and round, black candies for this edgy outfit.  The silver accents were twisty ties.  the fit was not the most flattering and it's a look we've all seen before.  It keeps her safe for another week.


This season's "Mr. Chill" attempted to evoke a "modern Jackie O."  He decorated his garment with smashed candy--an approach that paid off for most designers.
Again, the look is a bit standard and the his design does not do anything to distract the eye from the fact that all that crushed candy adds volume.

I have to give her points for successfully managing to translate her vision with candy.  The candy stayed on, the silhouette was interesting and she used the candy as both surface decoration and in strings. I question whether her design vision has much mass appeal and whether this really deserved to be completely and totally safe.  At some point, she's going to have a face the judges and unless she shows some flexibility and versatility, it's not going to be pretty.


Kooan started off with an interesting twizzler technique.

But then he kept going...
and he didn't stop going.
And no, he didn't fix the ends.
Perhaps the judges were exhausted from picking on him last week.  Kooan could use some serious editing.


What the heck.  The candy weighs a damn ton.  Don't fight it.  Embrace the weight and cleverly design your outfit so that it's easy-on, easy-off.  Not a winner, but not an unpleasant entry at all.

Raul's outfit looked like one of those cute little outfits you'd find at the chi-chi boutique on the boardwalk....right down to the little flowers at the bottom.  He used striped gum sheets.  It didn't look like candy at all.  I thought it was one of the better outfits this week....from the front.

From the back, it looked more like he simply ran out of the materials he used on the front.  It's a different dress from the front and the back.  So he was safe.


Andrea saw the candy drops on the paper and thought she hit designer gold.  Just sew them up into a simple apron....done and done!

Tim: "It looks sort of simple."
Andrea: "Have you been paying attention?  I'm going to attach all sorts of crap to the back."
Tim: "I'm dubious."
Andrea: "Seriously. Look at the disaster on Lantie's dress form.  I'm so safe this week, it isn't even funny."
Well, that's how the conversation should have gone.  Here's the dress.

Does everything Andrea designs have to have an in-your-face, artistic visual statement?  Moving on....

She tried...she really, really tried.  Here's an example of someone who tried to embrace the materials, carefully weaving twizzlers for the bodice...but ultimately running out of time and having to simply embellish a fabric skirt.  She wanted the dress to move and I don't think she ever intended to cover every square inch of the skirt, so she was pretty close to her vision.

Unfortunately, her vision gave Nina an ice-cream headache, there were a few too many accessories, the bodice was bunchy and the skirt was a mess.  It had Heidi mumbling something incoherent about "taste issues."  Buffi, next challenge, the bull's eye is right on you.


Note that the judges went on and on and on about how Buffi and later, Lantie, used too much fabric and not enough candy.  Remember Chris March?  You can use as much fabric as you like as long as your final look is impeccable, as this was.  The candy strings moved beautifully.  I think Dmitry could have come closer to winning this challenge had he not been so obsessed with whether the model would fit into the garment after the candy was applied.  He could have strung some candy at the neckline and a bit on the bodice for greater effect.  He played it safe, however.


The piña colada is a delightful mixture of rum, coconut and pineapple as well as a earworm by Rupert Holmes that will take permanent residence in your brain.  Elena is now sick of the smell of piña colada and if Andrea were really cruel, she'd download the Rupert Holmes song on her iPhone and play it for Elena every morning.  It will make her thankful that English is not her native language.

She produced a garment that was faithful to her vision.  But the twizzlers began to fall off, exposing the fabric underneath and completely ruining the illusion that this was anything but a dress made out of laptop cover foam and twizzlers.

Michael Kors labeled it "Mad Max Rigatoni" but I didn't think it was the most egregious outfit to walk the runway.  However, Elena is presenting herself to be very inflexible.  "I only work in monotones" is not a way to ingratiate yourself with the judges.  The upshot is that most designers saw the candy challenge as an opportunity to have a bit of fun with design.  Elena wandered through Ms. Lauren's store looking for materials with which to construct her warrior princess outfit.


Peplum.  It's such a fine line between a lovely embellishment and a dowdy apron.
It's a cute dress and a well-executed pattern...then you get to the peplum that sticks straight out and sits too high on the waist.  The candy was too stiff for the job.  Gunnar's extremely annoying demeanor aside, it was a disappointment that he didn't manage to perfectly execute his original vision.


If you're going to take umbrellas, cut them up, slap candy on them and stuff your model's feet into cut-up rain boots....well...things better look better than this.  Lantie identified herself as an embellisher of fabric, so this was completely expected.  But after one challenge and two looks, she solidified herself as someone with no sense of taste or style.  This outfit made Nina and Heidi take turns being queasy.  It made Dylan Lauren laugh.  It made Michael Kors call her a decorator.

In the words of Top Design's Jonathan Adler, "See you later, decorator."


This was my personal favorite, once again.
She shape was flattering and innovative.  The colors visually slimmed the model down, not that she needed it.

The back was as good as the front.
Dylan Lauren was pleased that she used multiple colors and many kinds of candy.  It would have been my win for the week, but short, shiny and tight won the day.


Ven won four medals once.

No, not for anything silly like swimming.  He won his medals......for fashion!  He graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology and won all four medals for which students are eligible.

I'm sure he was also the most beloved among his fellow students, too.

His inspiration was to take the licorice twizzlers and use them like the lead in stained glass, filling the voids with crushed candy.  It was a perfect technique.

Without a doubt, this was a gorgeous dress.  It was flattering to the model and perfectly executed.
You could argue, however, that it had no soul.  Not one ounce of fun...and wasn't fun the whole point of this challenge?  Ven is perfect in every way and he knows it.  But will his come-down be a challenge that demands some whimsey and personality?  We'll see.

Next week, the designers team up.  See you then! 


  1. Correct on the "no fun" Ven problem, pretty as that was. (Incidentally, I think you have a stray sentence halfway into the post.)

  2. I wanted Sonjia for the win as well or at the very least given a tie and immunity with Ven. Dmitry should have been top three instead of Gunnar, and I'd also have had Andrea in the bottom three in place of Elena. However, I'm totally on board with the auf and would probably have dumped Lantie in week 1.

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  4. Got it, Cliff. Thanks!

    I'm flummoxed why Gunnar's garment scored so high. It must have looked fabulous live.

  5. Great analysis, suzq! Yeah, I'm totally with you about Ven. His technique is flawless, but his concepts leave me bored.

  6. If Dmitry had just used some black licorice to cover the straps of the dress, it would've been an absolute Top 3 entry (though I think it should've been anyway).

    And THANK YOU for the 'Top Design' reference. Glad I'm not the only one who watched :-)

  7. I loved Sonjia's and Dmitry's outfits, but honestly thought Ven deserved this win... until he said he still should have won the previous challenge. STFU and be gracious about losing.

    Gunnar's look wasn't impressive to me - and it was falling apart on the runway! Definitely not top 3 for me. I would have put Dmitry in the top 3 even though he didn't go overkill with candy.

    Am I the only one getting a Laura Bennet feel from Dmitry? Not personality wise, but in design? His outfit this week made me think of her Finale silver dress with chartreuse (sp?) beading around the belt.

    I enjoyed the Top Design reference as well. :)