Monday, September 17, 2012

Project Runway 10 Episode 9: And Now a Word from our Sponsors....

Greetings Project Runway Fans!

I'll be late with this week's and next week's posts.  Life doesn't stop for Project Runway, but I'll do my level best to try and cover each episode...eventually.

According to the Project Runway producers, this week's challenge was the MUCH ANTICIPATED HEWLETT-PACKARD-INTEL, ULTRABOOK TOUCHPAD DESIGN-YOUR-TEXTILE CHALLENGE.

Worth the I right?
So special was this challenge, that Tim needed help announcing it.

"Say 'Hello' to my little friend..."
Mondo!!!  OMG...Mondo!!!! He actually won the Hewlett-Packard-Intel, Ultrabook  Touchpad Thingy, Create-Your-Own Textile Design challenge during his season.  Then, he went on to actually win Project Runway All-Stars. 

If you recall, Mondo's design featured plus signs and he used the opportunity to divulge his HIV+ status to the Project Runway audience.

It was also a strong graphic, to boot.

Tim could have just as easily delivered the brief this week.  Why was Mondo there, exactly?

Oh yeah.  Mondo designed a carry bag for the HP-Intel, Touchpad, Ultrabook Thingy.
Tim announced that the designers were to base their patterns on their cultural heritage. Delivering the dossiers on the designers' cultural heritage (on the HP-ITUT) were emissaries from each designer's past....

Of course, not everyone has a mama, so we got to meet Ven's sister

"So good to see you!  Can't wait to see the 'Real Woman' challenge episode!"
and Fabio's boyfriend.
Kiss and cry...
We heard heartwarming tales of Elena's happy childhood in the Ukraine.

"I remember how poor we were...and we had nothing.  Everything looked like 1952.  And everything made ticking sounds because of Chernobyl."
"Those were the happiest days of my life."

Then, we met Gunnar's mom.

"Mom, when I win, I'm totally getting you that boob job you've always wanted."
She looks like she has a great sense of humor.

Based on the cultural dossiers, the designers created their own patterns for the fabric they would use in the challenge.

Quiz Time!

How well do you know your Project Runway designers?  Identify which Project Runway designer did which outfit.

Let's find out....but first, a word from one of our sponsors.

"There are some days when a woman just doesn't have that 'fresh feeling'....."
" can I put this diplomatically?  Your design is sort of....menstrual."

"For those times, you need 'always Infinity,' the luckiest sponsor of Project Runway."
Tim, don't spend your kickback from Proctor and Gamble all in one place....
Now back to our regularly scheduled program.


This week, Mrs. Slivnyak must have brought her daughter's medication because after her cry, she was all "happy happy, joy joy" through the aisle of Mood.

Even her childlike print was happy.  Do you see "Elena was here!" inscribed over the onion dome churches?

Her design, however, started out looking like surgery scrubs and ended up looking like a beautician's smock.

The judges could rouse neither love nor hate for this outfit.  She was safe.


Fabio, as per usual, saw way more in his design than the rest of us did.  He'd be an interesting subject for a Rorshach Test.

"It's about human copulation...the essence of life itself...the tension between male and female..."
No, Fabio, it looks like two scribbled frogs fighting over winged crickets to me.

Fabio used his fabric to produce a vest this week, evoking neither outrage nor plaudits from the judges. 

The vest looks better in the back than it does in the front.  Those palazzo pants overpower the vest.  This is a pretty weak look to me and would have been a candidate for an auf.  Frankly, I'd like to go back and quiz the judges to see if they even noticed this outfit went down the runway.


Our raggedy man came really close to getting the boot this week.  Let's see where all the trouble started.

First, he drew a complete blank about his cultural heritage.  Chris, apparently, spontaneously appeared one night to a childless couple in Massapequa, NY.  FBI agents downloaded someone else's childhood onto the HP-Intel, Ultrabook Touchpad Thingy that was delivered to Chris by an operative for the CIA posing as his "mother figure."

Why else would he be so stuck on coming up with some sort of graphic motif that evokes his cultural heritage.   The good people of Massapequa, NY are appalled that he considered his childhood home to be a cultural wasteland.

Anyway, his "mother figure" fed him some story about a grandma and ladybugs and he came up with a fabric pattern that caused him to become indecisive and tentative.

"Hmm...Wilma or Betty?  Which one to choose?"

Betty it is!  I was especially amused at how he thought that the judges would like the exposed zipper in the back.

"You covered up your design in chiffon."
"This needed to go to another level.  Perhaps a level with sleeves, since you know how to make them.  If I knew how to make sleeves, I'd put them on everything, which would take it to another level."
Yes, they added Anya Ayoung-Chee to the judging panel, for some reason.

I was rather bored by his outfit and so were the judges...but there were axes to grind coming up.  Chris would have been my other candidate for an auf this week.


Melissa was inspired by her Polish heritage and the deep roots of her family tree.

The effect was curiously tropical in feel.  Luckily, she showcased the print with a smart and sophisticated dress.  It was a delightful counterpoint to her usual black, urban comfort zone.

"I really think you could have taken this over the top...perhaps with some sleeves, since you know how to make those, too."
Who invited Anya to be judge?

I'd like to include this dress in my fantasy Project Runway closet.  It was one of my favorite looks of the night.  She was comfortably safe this week.

And now we come to the part where Project Runway attempts to answer that age-old question: which is better, an impeccable pair of pants or a clever jacket?


Don't be sad, girlfriend.  Your amazing jackets ousted a couple of good designers from their number one perch.  It was simply your turn this week.

The print was subtly tribal while being cleverly geometric and modern.

She also put red, white and blue in the print, along with the black, but chose to emphasize the black with a beautifully flattering top that cowled in the back.  This kept the outfit from becoming too costumey. 

My fantasy closet does not need a pair of pants with that much white in it, but I'd be willing to wear one of those uncomfortable, backless bras just to accomodate that top.  There was no question she was safe, but she seemed disappointed not to get the top spot.

Other commentators have mentioned that Sonjia appeared to copy Mondo's winning entry in the same challenge.  Let's examine the evidence....
Nah....not so much.  Yes, she did pants, but Mondo's pants are a tighter cut and he featured his signature print mix AND added a jacket.  Three pieces....winning look.



Dmitry made separates.
Dmitry's pattern was rich and geometric, while evoking the graphic traditions of his homeland, Belarus. 

Look closely and you'll see the contrasting piping in the front, which mimicked some of the pattern, and the cutout in the back, which did the same.  It was a clever trick of the eye and elevated what could have been an ordinary suit into something special.  With better materials and more tinkering time, he could have vaulted this into couture. 

I was not fond of the wrap distracted from the blouse and jacket combination and looked a bit sloppy.

"You covered your pattern up with a jacket."
Mondo managed to get this comment in every single time Dmitry's outfit was discussed.  It was as if it were a personal affront to him that a given designer didn't showcase the pattern. 

Whatever, dude.  The rest of the judges liked it and Dmitry finally won a challenge.


I smell a rat.

I don't think anything Ven did this week was particularly egregious.  It just doesn't add up.  Since when is Tim Gunn an expert on menstrual cycles?  For that matter, when has following Tim Gunn's advice ever worked out for Ven?  Tim told him to abandon the petal skirt last week and the judges wondered where Ven had run off.  You'd think Ven would be more suspicious of advice from Mr. Gunn.

After getting bloodied by his critique, Ven reverted right back to his Ven-acular...

A rose by any other name does not belong with hibiscus flowers.

"I would have liked to see the flowers incorporated into your design."

Heidi: "Tim, didn't you tell Ven not to use the origami this week?"
Tim: "Oh, I told him a lot of things...none of which he took to heart."
"Actually, the flowers were incorporated...but they were folded into fans and looked like dirty maxi pads."

OK, producers.  You've had your fun at Ven's expense...managing to humiliate him not just before a nation-wide audience of plus-size, menstruating women, but in front of his sister.  I hope you're happy with your pound of flesh.  Can we move on? a design statement, the problem with the first dress was that the folding made the flowers look like peppermint candies.  Technically, the effect was lazy and beneath his ability.  I would have challenged him to do something more sculptural that evoked the hibiscus, specifically--gather it in the middle and give it three dimensions.  Ven's such a crazy smart sewing genius, he'd be able to do it, right?  It was not the worst outfit up there, but probably was the worst fabric pattern because he had designed it to use as a sculptural element and ended up using it as a pattern.


Gunnar's perceived cleverness got the best of him this week.  Let's think back to his testimonial after Mondo's introduction of the challenge.  He recalled how Mondo used his HIV positive status--something deeply personal--to draw out a winning pattern.  So Gunnar went deeply personal--to his history of being bullied as a child--to draw out his pattern.

The trouble was that he forgot Mondo's caution not to be too literal.

Up close, there's something ghastly about this image, which so literally portrays his feelings of being trapped and attacked as a child.

But prints have a different feel from further away. 

Take "Thimbles" from "Little Miss Sew."

Up close, you see thimbles.  Farther away, it's just a vaguely textured grey.  But Gunnar's pattern had too much white space to blend into a vague texture.

The jacket was nicely tailored, despite what the judges said.  Perhaps in person, the juxtaposition of such a literal, disturbing image on a smartly tailored jacket was too much of a visual stretch.

This sort of subversive design can be cleverly done, but it can also be quite provocative.

This is tremendously disturbing and if you are comfortable surrounding yourself with objects of satire, this would be more appropriate for home decorating than for apparel.

Still, in the end, Project Runway is about the garment and I just didn't think Gunnar's garment was the worst one up there.   What's worse?  A lazy designer who plays it safe (Fabio,) a designer who falls short of his technical skills (Ven,) a designer who completely missed the point of the challenge (Chris,) or a designer who takes a risk and fell flat (Gunnar)?

I would have aufed Chris this week, not Gunnar.

Oh well....see you two weeks....when I finally get around to next week's challenge!

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