Saturday, October 12, 2013

Project Runway, Season 12, The Decoy Collections

Greetings, Project Runway fans!

This week's episode featured Tim's visits to each of the finalist designers homes to meet their families and look in on their preparations for Fashion Week.

Frankly, the home visit part of the show was slap-dash and lasted all of 20 minutes.  Instead, most of the episode revolved around who among Alexandria, Jason and Helen would be going to Fashion Week.

Dwelling on that in any great length will take away from the full experience of seeing the runway show of the two designers that did get in.  So this week, I'm concentrating on the decoy designers.

As many of you already know, during most of the seasons of Project Runway, the runway show airs before the broadcast show is finished.  In order to prevent spoiling the show for those in attendance, the producers have allowed all of the designers who are still in the competition to show at Fashion Week. We affectionately call them "decoy designers."

Although it wasn't always the case, this year all designers were given the same amount of money, time and, I suspect, the same twist challenges in the end: one outfit had to be made of unconventional materials and another made out of washable fabric.

I'll run through some key outfits from each of the decoy collections.  To see all the decoy collections in their entirety, visit Blogging Project Runway.

Jeremy Brandrick

All season long, Jeremy struggled with producing matronly outfits.  The runway show was no different.

His show featured a lot of separates and metallics with classic silhouettes.

Most outfits featured a weirdly plunging neckline.  This may have been an effort to try to make the outfits more youthful.

Very awkward neckline destroyed the interesting lines on his gown.

Overall, nothing revolutionary or interesting.   He's a good technician.  He needs to spend more time thinking about his style and how to bring something new and fresh to his designs.


After two seasons of Kate, I thought I had her aesthetic down pat--complex structure, boning, draping, drama.

I was wrong.

This is a very easy, flowing dress.  Fun and flirty.  I'm not digging the shoes or styling, however.  Note the gown in the back.  This is actually a better picture than the close up.  Color blocking and simple lines, very much of the moment in fashion.

Another look from Kate.  Playing with metallics, which, again, is very in right now.  That slit is way too high for no good reason and the draping is a bit haphazard.

Again, an easier drape than many of the dresses she produced in competition.  The top fabric is stunning but I don't see the point of the underlay.

Her entire collection didn't really showcase her true abilities.  It's as if she spent all of her technical skills in the competition and had nothing left for the runway.   Still, she's got a lot of potential and Project Runway was a great showcase for her.


This wasn't his first rodeo.  He's been costuming drag queens for years.  He knows how to put out a good show.

However...Joan Collins called and wants her dress back.

During the competition, one of the challenges called for finding a visual inspiration and Alexander chose tree branches.  He returned to that theme for the runway show, as you can see in the outfit above.

The branch motif was captrued in the sleeves.  This was an interesting and dramatic look.  Superior to most of his work in competition.

More branches, more drama.  Drag queen styling.

This emitted gasps from the audience at the Lincoln Center.  The cage dropped down.  It was the biggest show on the runway--and from a decoy at that!

Is it fashion?  Is he the next great designer?  His work and thoughtfulness reminds me of Chris March, who also didn't make it to the finals, but produced a dramatic show and has a very successful and dynamic career of his own.  Alexander will continue to succeed.  And I think he can move on from drag queens.  He's earned some design stripes on the show.  Pageants, wedding dresses, red carpet, go for it, Alexander!

This leaves us with our final decoy, chosen only after all of the finalists arrived in New York. Alexandria, Justin and Helen showed three looks for the judges and the judges chose two to continue on.  Helen was not one of them.


I would have lost big if I had bet that Helen would return to sewing strips together, which she had done all season.  And I should have known better because she auditioned for Project Runway with a set of designs that featured intricate overlays, which I thought was her signature technique.

No dice there, either.

Instead, she concentrated on very spare construction, capes and boxy shoulders.  It was chic and simple with a strong point of view...however....

This was the most exciting look she ran down the runway, in my opinion.  Curiously, she didn't show this to the judges.

I'm not sure what this outfit is supposed to showcase.  "Helen can make a bustier bodice?"  Hooray for you!  It really was a throw-away look and there shouldn't be any of those in the final show.

Even after Tim cautioned her about the panel skirt, Helen kept it in.  It would have been more interesting had the sides of the skirt not been so incredibly short.  With the blocky cape, it'a a strong look, indeed, but not the most flattering one.

If I had to pick a look that showed the most potential, it would be this one.  The peplum in the front is way too short in combination with the short pants underneath.  The model looks like she has a belly because your eye naturally extends her belly outward.  But otherwise, the pants fit well and the knee slits are interesting.

Again, Helen is an amazing technician and her future is bright.  But she revealed a great deal of immaturity during the competition and in her final show.  It's as if she becomes obsessed with one design element and that's what drives her creativity.  Whatever she did in the past gets abandoned, so a different Helen shows up with every new creative cycle.  

I think she's on to something with the spare, stark silhouettes she featured in her last few competition designs and in the final show.  If she never touches another strip of fabric or silky overlay, again, it might be to her benefit.  It would be nice to see her stick on this minimalist, modern track and work on getting the proportions better.  Frankly, it was hard to believe that this tattooed, pierced woman produced fussy, delicate gowns and dresses anyway.  I think she's hit on something that reflects her true personality.  I'd like to see her do more work like this in the future.

See you next week with the final four!

1 comment:

  1. I agree...the red one was my fav of all the collections, too, but the rest of Helen's work was just not up there, the one you showed being the only one which had true interest to it. And I hate the dark spots on the patterns, it looked like somehow dirt ended up on the dresses in most cases.

    What I noticed about Kate's collection was there were too in which looked very Hawaiian (which I hated) and another one which looked film noir inspired and had some interest to it. I think she should have stuck to the film noir one and brought it to the next level (hate the golden gown, though, it looks cheap)