Saturday, July 27, 2013

Project Runway Season 12, Episode 2, Don't be Fooled by the Rocks that I Got...

Greetings, Project Runway Fans! exciting!  Armed guards, $30,000 diamond necklaces!

Design a garment with jewelry as your inspiration.

In one day.

Are we over it already?  It's only the second challenge!
 Before we dive in, first, some BREAKING NEWS!

The Anthony Weiner for Mayor Campaign has hired the Lifetime Modesty Box ® to work full time on Weiner's social media relations.

...not a moment too soon.
Back to the runway.

This week's judge was Eric Daman, Emmy Award-winning stylist and designer, who worked on Sex and the City with Patricia Field and Gossip Girl on his own.  I'm sure he spent more hours than he's willing to admit sweating over exactly what piece of jewelry Samantha, Carrie or whosits should be wearing for her big break-up, love, fight, glamorous party scene.

As for the one-day limit, I'm ok with that in this challenge.  Any of these designers could have whipped out a stunning outfit in two days.  In one day, however, you have to strategically pick your fabric and technique.  Without the time twist, it's just another "make a pretty dress" challenge.

Finally, thank you, Heidi Klum, for not using this challenge to hock whatever it is you're running as a jewelry line these days.  That kind of selfless sacrifice is how you go for that Emmy as Best Reality Show host, darlin'!

Let's get the safe looks out of the way because I think with this challenge, the judges were trying to send a message.  Let's see if we can decipher it....


Basic black dress with QuinceaƱera poufs stuck on, mermaid style.  Does it call back to the necklace?  Yes, but in the most pedestrian, "stand back and let the necklace do the talking from the waist up" sort of way.


This looks black in the picture, but in reality, it was a gorgeous, midnight blue.  It also overpowered the teeny tiny necklace and earrings the model was wearing.  A peppy day look would have been a conversation starter and could have drawn Alexandria into the winner's circle this week.


I liked this look a lot, but at the same time, I was SO disappointed.  Just one or two design elements could have launched this into the winner's circle.  And really, there was no excuse.  He had immunity.  If anyone could afford to go for broke this week, it was Bradon.  Imagine palazzo pants instead of a skirt.  Some draping or pleating at the top instead of a flat tank.  Lose the jacket--it really didn't add anything.


Beautifully sewn.  Perfectly styled.  Showcases the necklace....but are you beginning to see why it wasn't a judges' favorite?


Poor Sue.  She has big dreams....

See Sue sew! Sew, Sue, sew!
....but that Brother commercial machine is NOT going to let her attain them.  I don't know how to thread one, either, but if I were going on Project Runway, I'd get to know how fast.  Haven't they some operators' manuals lying around?  News flash to Brother:  You're trying to sell sewing machines, aren't you?  Do you think hearing a designer say, "I don't know how to thread this thing" helps you sell sewing machines?  Imagine a designer say, "Wow, these BROTHER machines are so easy to use.  Even an IDIOT like me can thread this correctly!"   Brother machines would sell like hotcakes.

Perhaps Heidi should consult with them on a marketing strategy!

Sue sews charmeuse down by the sea shore and likes to ruche and used that technique once again this week.

In dark grey.

Even in the brand new studio, it was hard to see the detailing on the bodice and hip.

All the ruching in the world couldn't save this from being just another safe, black dress.


The color is gorgeous and she was going in the right direction.  Had this been a day look, it would not have overpowered her teeny tiny necklace.  Nevertheless, without a proper fit in the bodice and with a relaxed waistline that added bulk on an otherwise, sleek dress, this was going nowhere.


She fell short on construction.

It was wise to choose a bright fabric.  It was wise to go short and add some pleating and other little styling details.  What was unfortunate was the sloppy seaming on the bodice and the plain skirt on the bottom.  Good enough to be safe, but nothing more.  This was on its way to being a wow outfit, suitable for a movie premiere and posing in front of a "step and repeat."

However, she is just one more exposed midriff away from getting the boot.  Two in a row is time to quit that look for awhile.

Are you starting to pick up a pattern with the judging?

They trotted out jewelry worth tens of thousands of dollars.  They did not want to see anything you could find on a department store rack--either in the misses section or evening wear.  Come on, folks....DESIGN something!


Mr. Devil Brow had the first WTF moment on the runway.  It would have been on my list for the auf this week.  I seriously question his styling, proportion (find the necklace in this circus tent) and his ideas.  I think the judges kept it in for the drama.  Either that or the model managed to sneak it past them without anyone paying attention.  Or, perhaps, the judges were relieved that someone tried to design something.


Timmy went a-dumpster diving this week, this time, in the toss bags at Mood.  This, I guess, is one step down from the remnant rack and the one reason why he won't deplete his GoBank account before the season is over.

"Anyone can design a racer-back dress.  It takes a REAL DESIGNER to come up with a racer front dress.  That way, the necklace sits on the dumpster velvet like jewelry in a jewel box, see?"
Nina: "No."
Heidi: "What kind of a bra would you wear with that?"
Zac: "Since when did you start wearing bras, Heidi?"
But what almost spelled doom for this dress was the construction.

He let Sue sew that part, didn't he?
"I wouldn't go bra-less in that for a million dollars."

"Let's ignore that I was tearfully convulsing not 10 minutes ago and let me celebrate the fact that I finished a dress for the runway this week, shall we?"
Perhaps she would have had more time to spend on her ambitious design if she wouldn't spend so much of it helping her fellow designers.  Sometimes it's easier to solve someone else's problems instead of your own.

What I don't understand is that if you can make a dress this stunning, why

would you waste your time with detailing that seems to be going nowhere?  It was poor planning, poor time management, and poor proportion with another tiny necklace that killed this dress and almost killed her season.  With a simple necklace, she also had an opportunity to make a stunning short dress.  Instead, Heidi got to show off her impeccable manicure.

I'm really liking the up-close view this season.

It's not lace trim, Sandro.  It's FLEXI-LACE HEM TAPE, for goodness sakes! 

 It's also cheap and stretchy, just the way he likes it.

Oh, sure, it almost looks respectable when you're looking at it straight on...

...but from the sheer panels on the side, it's a honky tonk peep show.  I kept waiting for Heidi to say that it looked cheap, but she never did.  I would have loved to run a breathalyzer on the judges' panel this week.

Home stretch, people....


This almost won.

"The green reflects the green emeralds in the necklace."
Of course it does, Dom.  We expect that level of consideration from you.  It was not your standard "runway dress" but with a stunning emerald necklace like the one you had, you could have stepped up just a little bit.  Tim warned you about this look being to "beachy."  Yes, rich women go to resorts and wear beach dresses but they don't wear a diamond and emerald sautoir with one.

Anyway, it had to compete with a fairy tale.


"It's a deconstructed ball-gown.  Something Marie Antoinette would wear if she was fleeing."
"Well then, off with your head!
No, we're joking.  We've been busy backstage burning Timmy's fabric from last challenge and sniffing the fumes.  We LOVE your dress!"
Let's run through the checklist:

  • It was a stunning, attention getting, yet tasteful color.
  • It had design elements that were not off-the-rack.
  • It fit the scale of the jewels.
  • It told a story.

It was that last one that got to the judges.  Kate told the judges a fairy tale and made them too sleepy to notice the droopy bodice and the haphazard gathering in the back.

Without the story, it's a crumpled up mess of a dress with some exposed boning.  With the story, it's suddenly a stunning, asymmetrical dress that a starlet could wear for a magazine editorial.

Because if she wore it to Met Ball, she'd look ridiculous.

So that leaves us with


It's not a bad dress at all.

Except for the back.  Yes, it's a design element, but it's tacky and it's on the back, not the front.  Everyone is looking at the front.  To make matters worse, the fabric shows up camouflage on the runway.

And she doesn't have a cute, Kate-tale to tell about the Army bride who spent her husband's nest egg on a knock out dress and expensive diamond necklace for his return from Afghanistan.

Eric: "Who wears camouflage with diamonds?"
Nina: "Who wears a pocket square with camouflage?"
Listen, Kahindo is a brilliant designer in the same vein as Uli or Korto.  When someone has such a strong, graphic vision, they need to edit carefully.  Kahindo got hung up on her key-hole back and probably should have addressed the horrible fabric she chose for the dress.

The strong lines could have easily been re-worked into a different pattern and, like Uli, she knows how to do that!

She just picked very unfortunate fabric.  So it's good bye to Kahindo and with that, we lose some real diversity from the contestant pool right off the bat.

Before I close out, I wish to highlight a slight from last week.

Miranda Levy wanted to wear her uniform on the runway.  She had written clearance from the US Army to do so (this, not being a political program, it would have been perfectly acceptable for her to honor her service.)  Women have appeared on the show before, proudly wearing their uniforms.  It would have been a wonderful way to highlight the diversity of Americans who proudly serve their Nation.  However, Lifetime totally botched it.

Moments before the runway show, producers demanded that she remove her uniform.  She tried to fight them, but to no avail.  At the last minute, she stripped her jacket, put her hair down and did her best to try and make her uniform blouse and skirt look generic.

The backlash was fierce.  Members of the Armed Forces, personal friends, and family members demanded to know why she "defaced" the uniform.  She finally, at risk of her contract with Bunim-Murray, took to Facebook to explain what happened.

All that is fine and good, but still, I have to wonder.  They had several days to sort this out.  Why was nothing done to verify that she had permission?

In any case, let's give Miranda Levy her proper due.  Thank you for your service, Miranda.

See you next week!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Project Runway Season 12, Episode 1: What Color is Your Parachute?

Greetings, Project Runway Fans.  You'll note from my Season 11 experience that I pretty much petered out there at the end of the competition.  I hated the team aspect last season but really loved Michelle Lesniak Franklin and I'm so happy for her win. 

What's done is done, however and it's time to move on to a more NORMAL season of Project Runway.

This week, we were introduced to our new contestants.

There are so many in the beginning, it's hard to keep them all straight.

I'm going to resist calling you "Nicole Kidman."

I'll try not to call you Freddy Mercury.
And I'll try real hard not to call you Douchebag....however....

Before we dive in, I have to say that this

is all sorts of awesome.  Having a close look at some of the garments, considering how little time the designers usually get to make them, could be a game changer.  It also appears that the folks at Bunim-Murray paid the light bill so now we can really see the outfits on the runway.

 Our challenge this week was heaven sent.

Parachuters landing everywhere.  It gave Timmeh flashbacks to Hiroshima, where he lived a past life and there were no paratroopers whatsoever.

 Some of the landings were a little too close for Tim Gunn's comfort.

 The parachutes themselves were to be the materials for this challenge.  Designers scrambled for the chutes....

and my mind kept turning to Richard Nelson Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute?  

"I'm quoted in What Color is Your Parachute. 'Know then thyself, Do not the Market scan, Until you've surveyed all You are, Then you will have your plan.'" 
That's not you, you bottle-dyed, devil-eyebrowed, nymph.  That's the 18th century poet.

In his book, Mr. Bolles takes would-be job seekers through a series of quizzes known that are designed to help them hone their interests, skills and needs into a practical plan for finding a job.  The whole thing culminates in something called "The Flower Diagram."  I suppose a typical Project Runway contestant's flower diagram would look like this:

So now that our contestants have diagrammed their pathway to success, let's see how they did!

Helen Castillo

She took the top of the parachute and cut a dress out of it.  Or she cut the dress out and fit the top of the parachute into it.  Either way, the seams puckered and the skirt was weirdly billowy.  The star motif was strong, but bordering on folk art.  From the "meet the designers" show, it appears that she prefers to work with meshes and overlays.  This does not reflect her design aesthetic at all.

Alexander Pope
Our 18th Century bachelor poet produced a cross between jockey colors and a target.  The front skirt was way too short and clingy.

Dom Streater

The jacket is very sporty, commercial and intricate.  It was a gorgeous piece and completely out of character with the rest of the outfit, which was an afterthought.  This would have been better paired with a nice pair of shorts and a top.  I don't think she had enough material to do both a jacket and pants.

Alexandra Von Bromssen

Much like Alexandra herself, this has an icy coolness to it.  Very architectural.  It's a solid contribution.

Ken Lawrence

Although it was barely noticed by the judges, this piece was plastered all over the Lifetime Network's website this week.  Something about it is highly editorial, despite what Nina may have thought.   Still, it's just got one over-the-top element to it.  The rest is just basic and not enough for the win.

Karen Batts

The graphic elements are very vibrant and interesting, however the silhouette is a bit shapeless and tenty.

Kate Penkoke

Returning from Season 11, where she was booted off, Kate made a lovely dress.  It just wasn't outstanding enough to rank higher.  I don't understand why she felt the need to put little flowerettes onto the shoulders.

Justin LeBlanc

Justin is the FIRST DEAF CONTESTANT IN PROJECT RUNWAY HISTORY.  As you regular blog readers know, the caps are for Lifetime Network hyperbole, not because Justin is hearing disabled.  His offering this week was very commercial, which, for someone who considers himself to be a conceptual designer, is a bit too safe and standard.

Kahindo Mateene

Prints and African motifs are in her wheelhouse.  Given materials like a standard parachute, however, forced her to go with a technical approach.  The pleats in the skirt were flawless.  The fit was perfect and so were all the seams.  It just wasn't the sort of challenge where you'd expect her to shine.

Jeremy Brandrick

This was one of my favorites, even though it didn't make the finalists.  I thought those pants were brilliant.  Maybe the hardware hanging off was a bit excessive and the teeshirt was a bit too baisc.

Timothy Westbrook

What's a vegan, sustainable, green designer to do when he is forced to work with nylon?

Burn it!  I think he may be exhausting some fossil fuels, too.

Timmeh took the burned material and used ti as an overlay.  This was to be conceptual, with origami paper crane on the back--to symbolize the paratrooper suffering that didn't occur at Hiroshima.  He wanted the model to walk out barefoot with no hair and make up.  Without high heels, hair and make-up, the model lost all her superpowers.

He wanted his model to walk down the runway as if she were being dragged.  And to make matters worse, he wore those stupid glitter shoes from the Lola Falana collection at Belk Department store.  Not in the history of Project Runway has one designer made everyone hate him simultaneously.

Miranda Levy

For a woman who spent so many years in the Army, you'd think she would be able to follow the rules.  Instead, she took the supplementary material, made that her base and used the parachute material as an accent.  Heidi instructed everyone not to do that.

The back featured some of the buckles from the chute.

Sue Waller

She started off trying to machine ruche this fabric and ended up ruching by hand, which turned out to be a good idea.  The judges loved the detailing.

Bradon McDonald

Old McDonald had a winner this week.  It was a gorgeous gown and completely reflected the parachute concept.  In the front, it hugged close to the body and cording was attached to the front of the skirt mimicked the lines of the chute.

The skirt was spectacular.  Bradon has the win and immunity for the next challenge.

Sandro Masmandi

Oh, you little, Russian, kookala...  Those shorts sure were cute on the mannequin.  If only the mannequin were more lifelike, you would have realized that when the inseam is too short...

Lifetime is forced to edit the offending image to protect their viewer's tender sensibilities.

In other news, Sandro has been picked to be the new costume designer for "The Client List."

Despite the X-rated display, the judges understood what Sandro was trying to do, but explained to him that he piled on too many design elements.  If only some of that parade float he wrapped around his model's top could have been used to cover up her hoohah.

Angela Bacskocky

Alas, poor Angela, we hardly knew ye!  Her intention was to make a raincoat...without arms because arms are hard.  The front was really simple and the back featured a box pleat that was really the only good design element.

So that's it for this week.  I think we're off to a good start and it should be an exciting season.  See you next week!