Sunday, November 25, 2012

Project Runway All-Stars, Season Deux, Episode 4: A Picture in a Newspaper Full of Pictures

Greetings, Project Runway All-Stars Fans...all six of you left.

This week was not the most exciting episode I've ever watched.  In fact, I think I fell asleep during judging even though I was in the Chat Room!

This week was the FIRST LARGEST INTERACTIVE CHALLENGE IN PROJECT RUNWAY HISTORY.   USA Today asked Project Runway fans to tweet pictures into the show.  Designers got to choose the pictures as inspiration for their piece.   Extra special prize: the winning look will be featured in the newspaper.

Or as someone in the Chatroom said, "Your picture will be run in a newspaper full of pictures.

I have three thoughts about this.

1. These inspiration challenges never bode well and this episode was no different.

2. No one sent in a picture of poo, or if you did, it was edited out or the designers chose not to use it.

3. This wasn't a very interactive challenge.  The folks who tweeted the pictures didn't get to attend the show or anything...or maybe I slept through the part where Carolyn explained what the picture tweeters got for all their trouble.

Oh, I have a fourth thought.... I'm surprised that somehow, this didn't turn into a promotion for one of those picture services that make it easy to post on Twitter.  Or maybe I slept through that part, too.

And now for this week's edition of "What is Carolyn Murphy wearing?"

Clearly, she chose this picture...

Well done, Carolyn!

Before we dive in to the garments, let's have a word about our judges.

The judge to the left of Isaac is 16-year-old Tavi Gevinson, aka, "The Style Rookie."  Now let's just ignore the fact that just the other day, I wore a dress to work that was older than she is.  Of course, I ripped those huge 90's shoulder pads out before I did...  She was not a bad judge.  She zeroed in on the strengths and weaknesses of each garment without once opining on whether or not she would wear it.  To that end, she was one of the best judges so far this season.  As for her outfit...I had no idea that Holly Hobbie was in style.  But then, I'm not a globe-trotting, 16-year-old fashion blogger, either, so what do I know?


"I chose this beautiful picture of the sun above the clouds because it reminds me of the flowy dresses I like to make."

Yeah...that's an Uli dress.  I guess it evokes clouds and stuff.  It's pretty expected fare from Uli, so it really didn't catch the judges' eyes.....NEXT....


"Really, nothing says 'Kayne' like a picture of tacky, vintage jewelry..."

So Kayne designed a dress for a woman who would wear such tacky, vintage jewelry.  Frankly, I'm not seeing one bit of the picture in this dress.  I also can't recall why he inserted the lace in the back.  I want to rip it out.


"I chose this picture because this dude looks way cooler than me."
Well, Caz-a-no-va, anyone with a stylist, a rack of designer clothes and professional lighting can look pretty cool.  The fact that you look cool on a fashion competition show after days with little THAT'S amazing.

This is another, completely wearable and chic out from Casanova.   Pants!  Separates!  I wanted nothing to do with him during his season, but in All-Stars, he is consistently churning out good stuff.  Nothing earth shattering enough to catch the judges attention, however and it's yet another outfit with a keyhole back, but I'm liking what I'm seeing.

Laura Kathleen

"It's a picture of water dropping into a dirty pond.  I win automatically!"

Well, maybe not.  And she worked so hard on dying the fabric too.  I just expected to see some representation of the concentric circles that make the picture so dynamic.  This dress simply looks like the model walked through the pond after the picture was taken.  It's not the most flattering dress, either.  Fortunately for for Laura Kathleen, there were more egregious examples this week.


Lite Brite!
I've got to stop calling him Josh so I'm correcting myself because this week, the Joshua McKinley we all know and love went back to his colorful wheelhouse.

This should have been Joshua's picture.  No, really.  It should have been.  He actually chose a picture of two colorful electrical outlets, which ended up having nothing to do with the outfit that resulted.

So let's pretend he chose the weather map.  I want to like the angular nature of the high pressure system over the flowing low pressure system that is creeping slowly down from Canada, but the skirt is way too short on one side.  I know that is supposed to represent the strong heat dome that is trapping the cold north of the Great Lakes, but on an outfit, it just messes up the proportions.

I also want to like the black banding representing the stationary front, but the closures in the front combined with the graphic pattern of the colors move it into Pocahontas territory.  The judges graciously said there was too much going on, including another cut-out back, but sometimes the weather is like that.


"I have a pretty butterfly, which represents my attitude about life..."
Constant metamorphosis?  I took that exact same picture this summer when I went to a park and caught newly hatched monarchs drying off their wings before their first flight.  I didn't send my picture to USA Today, however.  Perhaps I should have.  Ivy could have chosen my picture.  I could have been a contender!

Of course, the snarky denizens of the chatroom let loose with a hearty round of "butterfly...of course she's pick a butterfly...."  I love the chat room.  But how was the outfit?

This was actually one of my favorites.  I thought the top was a bit too throwaway, but Ivy put a lot of thought into the skirt.  The inserts spread out like wings, appropriately.  I think she should have made the top out of the same center fabric as the skirt for a more cohesive look, but that's just me.  Who do I think I am?  Some sort of 16-year-old fashion blogger?


"This is the Paris Train Station, or something like that.  My husband and I got married in a place like this.  I'm going to make something...architectural, yeah, architectural!"
I see opulent columns, wrought iron grill work and lacy leaded glass.  How would Althea interpret all of that?

"The jacket is long in the back and short in the front and the pants are.....draped."
But the puke-y fabric color?
"That's sepia."

I guess you could say that this was the best view of the outfit.   Even so, the proportions are way off in the back as the incredibly long jacket is paired up with awkwardly cropped pants.  She should have been given the boot this week, but her flub completely surprised the judges and there was way worse to come!


"Who is this sad woman in the picture?  Why are you so sad?  Are you sad like Andre, who has decided to talk about himself in third person now that Suede is gone from the competition?"
This was the challenge where Andre gave up fashion designing for social work.  You see, in life, Andre really wants to make people happy.

"This is part of my new 'color therapy' line for QVC.  Keep the yellow close to your face for a sunny glow.  It will perk up your disposition." 
And be sure to wear a dress so tight you can barely move, too.  Right?  The more he explained, the less he made sense.

Maybe if all sad girls dressed like cheap tramps, they'd feel better.  Way better if they just take off the jacket you made and ignore it altogether, too.  Whatever.... Andre seemed lost on All-Stars.  He never connected with the judges and his outfits showed no creative growth from his season.  Given that he was on one of the earlier seasons, that would have left a tremendous amount of time for creative growth.  We saw none of it here, alas.  Good bye, Andre!


"I chose a picture of a little girl in a grey and yellow dress...but that doesn't make me creepy!"
No, it doesn't, Emilio.  It makes you almost a genius!

He took a child-like, grey dress trimmed in yellow and transformed it into an exuberant dress for a very dynamic woman.  The yellow lining was clever.  I know the tent top was supposed to evoke the little girl's dress, but the transition between the top and bottom seems a bit abrupt in the front.  He was designing on the fly and with a one-day challenge, there was certainly no time to resolve that.

My take on why this didn't win is that when we have these sorts of "inspiration" challenges, the judges don't want anything too derivative.   They want to see the inspiration in surprising ways, not obvious ones.  So while this was a very brilliant update of a child's look for a modern woman, it was not an inspirational one....for the judges anyway.

Emilio still remains one of the designers to watch this season, which makes me very happy.  When a former Project Runway designer shows growth and improvement, that is something we can all cheer.

Anthony Ryan

"This ain't my first rodeo.  I know how to pick a winning inspiration picture."
Strong graphic used judiciously on a design you are already comfortable making = Project Runway design success!

There are no emotional statements.  No big risks.  There is a beautifully proportioned, well made outfit that takes just the right amount of graphic inspiration from the design.

At the end of the day, the USA Today folks do not want to embarrass themselves.  They want a pretty, well-designed dress matched up with a clever picture.  Congrats to Anthony Ryan.  A picture of your dress will show up in a newspaper full of pictures!

See you next week for another challenge involving ballroom gowns.  No, make that gowns with ball room.  I believe we may have another drag queen challenge.  At least I certainly hope so!

See you then!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Project Runway All-Stars Season Deux, Episode 3: American Graffiti

Greetings, Project Runway All-Stars Fans!

How many of you are there left?

I'm a bit behind in the blogs, so I'm racing to catch up.  This week's episode wasn't all that bad.  The Project Runway franchise is at its best when it's love affair with New York is in full bloom.  This week, we were introduced to a New York institution that is unknown to a lot of people and is threatened with demolition.

This is 5 Pointz, in Long Island City.  It is an abandoned site of buildings whose owner allowed graffiti taggers aerosol artists take over and practice their craft.  The site is the brainchild of a tagger aerosol artist named Meres 1.

These days, the place has become a mecca for hip hop artists, designers, and anyone who wants to get a dose of the urban aesthetic and see some incredible artwork.

Meres 1
So imagine the collective buzzkill when Carolyn walked onto the street.

"Hi guys!  Let's pick up a can of spray paint and do a fashion show!"
So the challenge this week was to use spray paint in the style of a graffiti artist and make an outfit suitable for a runway show OR an art gallery display.  Not everyone heard that last part.

With regards to the first part, Meres 1 was on hand to give the students tips and tricks on painting with aerosol cans.

"Let us spray."
The denizens of the Thursday night chatroom have not warmed up to Carolyn Murphy.  She talks as if she were a kindergarten teacher who learned English from a Rosetta Stone DVD.  In fact, somewhere, she is still explaining the instructions for this challenge.  We love her, however, for wearing strange and wonderful outfits on the show.  Nevertheless, she laid a big goose egg with this number.

Let's wear a shirt that looks painted for a challenge with spray paint!  Why didn't she wear the amazing outfit she wore to 5 Pointz?

Meet Tom and Ray Magliozzi Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra.  They're fashion designers.  Note the cute flannel shirt and vest combination.  I don't believe in Santa anymore, but if I did, he would look just like them...and don't you think the role of Santa should be played by two people anyway?
I guess Carolyn didn't want to overdress for the runway show.  Let's see how our designers did with this challenge.

Laura Kathleen

I really liked Laura Kathleen during her season, despite the fact that she was a big ditz most of the time.  This year, however....

I am not impressed at all.  The spray paint effect looks like a bad dye accident. The hem detail that intrigued Joanna Coles so much in judging, on a skirt that hikes practically up to the crotch, looks cheap.  The high neck and sleeves are not flattering and the dress bunches up under the bust.  It's not LK's best work.  The judges hated it and she was in the bottom, but not dead last.


Why is he even in this competition?

What is going on with that hideous bow?  I can't get past it and the hair, which is really excessive for no good reason.  As for the spray paint, Meres 1 instructed the designers to hold the can closer to the surface so that you could get the maximum effect from the spray media.  It looks like Andre held back and the result looks more tie tied or batiked than anything.


Old Tacky Josh from his season occasionally shows up for this week...

I see what he's trying to do here with the buildings and street, but the peplum makes it busy and the skirt belongs to a different outfit.  Still, the proportions are fine, so he's safe.


Casanova, in his season, was a total joke.  This time out, however, he's turned into a real contender and one of my surprise favorites.

The spray paint effects were subtle and the design was easy and effortless.  The look was quite flattering.  It was not assertive enough to catch the judges' eyes, however, so he was safe this week.


Design-wise, Uli's dress was a real departure from what we saw from her in her season.  Still, from a distance, this looked dyed and not really spray painted.  The uniqueness of the medium is not showing through with this outfit, so Uli was safe.


Didn't we all want to like this outfit when he first put it on the dress form?

That was before he put the velvet ribbon on it, which sent it straight to Tackyland.  I thought it was so cute when the Santa twinz said that the lines terminating at the model's navel made them uneasy.  It's way to close to parts of the model they'd rather not think about.  Nobody likes a dirty Santa!

I disagree with that point.  Where this dress goes horribly wrong is just above the knee.  If he could have lost that gather and simply flared the bottom out naturally--or better yet--on the bias--it would have been spectacular and in the running for the win.  It would have taken a TON of fabric and I'm not sure they rationed out that much.  It was one of the better hemmed dresses out there.

Ivy made it to judging for being close, but not quite.

Ivy's vision was of a superhero woman, dressed in a power suit with a chiffon skirt that could be used as a cape, if needed.  She would wear her superpowers on her sleeves...and jacket...and skirt...

You do get the effect of the spray painting here.  Carolyn and Georgina loved the outfit.  Everyone loved the cut-out in the back.  However, Isaac was put off by the words...literally...and the Santa twins were NOT fond of the chiffon skirt/cape thingy.  Ivy missed it by that much!

So, which is better...bold or graphic?

Anthony Ryan

Anthony Ryan went for a graphic look, using the spray paint to make a clear, repeatable pattern.

The dress is super cute, but did anyone get flashbacks to the painting challenge in Anthony Ryan's season?  The "brushstroke" theme was exactly what he used in that competition, too, albeit with a totally different design.  It was very well done...almost perfect, had it not been for someone who used to kick it old school on the streets of Brooklyn and likely knew a tagger or two...


Go back and look at the picture of the designers spray painting.  If you watched the episode, you saw that right way, AR and Emilio looked at this as a pattern competition and went about creating a bold pattern with the spray paint.  Emilio decided to go for a bold drip effect rather than a graphic motif.  In the end, the drips, colors and strong design gave him the win.  The wide collar and peplum provided more surfaces on which to display the colors.  Showing the drips going up gave it some visual tension.  It was one of the strongest looks so far this season.


Suede grew up in Seven Hills, a modest suburb of Cleveland, Ohio.  My uncle lived there, so I know it well.  Street after street of manicured lawns with mid-century modern ranch houses.  My aunt and uncle's living room looked like a museum exhibit for 1959, where time seemed to stop for them.  I'm sure Suede's parents updated their ranch house to 1980's standards and maybe their galley kitchen got a fresh, new granite top in the 90's.  I digress like this because somehow, Suede never hung out with the degenerates I grew up with in Cleveland, who were quite familiar with the workings of a can of spray paint.  

So Suede was doomed from the start in this challenge. 

Let's be honest.  This was a craft project.  The paillettes were unnecessary.  Up close, you could see how uneven they were.  The Santa twinz tried so hard to like this outfit.  They suggested that maybe the paillettes could have emanated from the skirt, or been more integrated into the body of the skirt....

Whatever.  The effect was to cover up the pattern that Suede sprayed onto the fabric.  I wanted to rip off every single one of them.  He chose chiffon, as did many of the designers who ended up with dye effects, rather than spray paint effects.  The skirt ended up looking like camouflage and reminded me of the outfit that offed him in his season.

It's sad to see Suede go.  He was a real character.  He's got an interesting career making patterns and encouraging people to sew.  You'll keep hearing from him in the future, I'm sure.  

I'll have next week's show up in bit.  Thanks for your patience!