Saturday, July 26, 2014

Project Runway Season 13 Episode 1: The Lottery

In 2014, creativity is a scarce commodity.  The world was quickly becoming devoid of style.

Designers, everywhere were frustrated and sad, stymied by the absence of creativity.

A team of researchers set out on a nation-wide quest to find creative designers.

But all they found was despair.

One woman had the power to restore it again, giving hope to a desperate generation.

"I have developed a special serum of creativity."
But the team of researchers had other ideas:

"We've been out in the general population and I can assure you that the taste levels are questionable. If this serum were to be unleashed, the results could be....catastrophic!"
One man, a man of courage and conviction, had the answer.
"Designers, we'll be drawing names to see who can go into the test trials for this experimental creative serum." 

Greetings, Project Runway Fans!   Lifetime got the lucky 13th season of Project Runway off to quite a dystopian start.  Much like the movie they were touting all through the show, 18 designers were chosen but only 15 got the chance to participate in the first challenge.  This means that three people left us even before we got a chance to figure out how to pronounce their names.  It's just as well.  It's such a slog to keep track of all these designers in the early challenges anyway.

As starter challenges go, this was refreshingly straightforward.  Designers had a box with fabric.  It looked like there were, at most, six, maybe seven patterns and solids.  Each designer had four in his or her box and could trade with others, if they didn't like their patterns.  The brief was to create a look that would be indicative of an entire spring collection.  The judges would need to see design elements that could easily be translated into other types of garments in a collection.

Before we dive into the designer creations, I must point out the funniest moment of this week's episode.  Look at the following clip very closely.  Nina is talking to Heidi here.

"I agree with you, but....."
My momma always said that you can ignore everything said before the "but."  In college "Interpersonal Communication" class, I learned that non-verbal actions speak louder than words.  Put the two together and Nina really needs to use her....inside finger voice.  I'll be keenly looking for Heidi's response in future episodes.

Let's leave Nina and Heidi to work this out for themselves and see how our designers did.

Kristine Guico

I'm not sure I would have paired such a soft pink to go with that yellow trim.  The black espadrilles from the Aldo accessory wall contrast too much, even though they do reinforce the characterization of this outfit as sporty and casual.  You could see a collection of spring sportswear, with better shoes, one would hope.

Kini Zamora
If the theme of tonight's show was to show us your creativity, Kini bombed out.  This was off-the-rack, ready to wear clothing, if I ever saw it.  As illustrated in this picture, unless you pin the jacket to the model, she will never showcase it effectively.  So you can do two pieces in one day.  Hooray for you.  The last one we see on the runway better never be this boring again if you want to live to see Fashion Week, Kini!
Korina Emmerich

I like Korina quite a bit and I like how she generally weaves Native American and western elements into the design portfolio she showed the judges.  We're seeing none of that here, however.  She thought it was good enough for the win, but the judges, as you will see, were looking for a spark of creative personality that stood out from the rest.  That's how you win in the big challenges.

This is ok.  I think the pants are too wide and unwieldy in that fabric.  I like the idea of the partially hidden belt and the high neck in contrast to the open back.  Solid, but not a winner.

Samantha Plasencia

Can we say, "I'm going to do a safe outfit until I'm more used to these one-day challenges?"

Alexander Knox

Other than mixing two patterns here, where is the design?  

Hernan Lander

This dress pissed me off the most.  Hernan benefitted the most from the continuation of last season's "anonymous runway."  The judges do not know who designed which outfit until after they have scored the looks.  Had they known this was Hernan's outfit when it walked, they would have been pissed off, too.  Here's why: He previously showed at three fashion weeks!  He's one of the most experienced designers in the competition.  Can he not sew?  Does he need more than 24 hours to make something? Or is he just trying to fly under the radar so as not to burn all that creative energy too soon?  Who knows?  Those shoes look horrible with that outfit.  This is very uninspiring.  Hoping for better from Hernan.

fäde zu grau

Not a bad early start for fäde.  He created a pattern by mixing the floral with the black and white graphic.  Adding the fabrics under the arms was an interesting detail.  The design is basic, but the thought put into it indicates a very playful approach to color and pattern.  

Emily Payne

A lot of folks in the Blogging Project Runway chatroom thought this was in the running for the auf.  It's certainly not my favorite look, but it's ripped from today's runways.  She was going for an edgy, asymmetrical look.  With more time, she might have been able to produce something that didn't look so arbitrarily bunched up at the top with the slim chance that she could make this bodice/dress mashup look good.
Carrie Sleutskaya

There were some interesting design elements in this outfit, none of which show up in the Lifetime pictures, even using it at its full size.  There was a folded hip detail.  The neckline cut out and side cutouts were visually striking without being vulgar.  She's got a good eye.

Sean Kelly

This was easily one of the chatroom favorites for the win.  I think the dress is a little too long.  Still, Sean had the presence of mind to take the nasty fabrics they gave him and piece together a strong graphic element, even if it does remind me of some sort of alien cult symbol.

Angela Sum

During her pre-show portfolio review, the judges told Angela she needed to turn up the volume on her designs.  She took that to mean she should toss every design idea she had into one outfit.  The pants weren't as nasty as everyone said they were.  I actually liked the idea of the cut-outs at the hip.  Cutouts are all the rage these days and you can totally see Rihanna rocking those pants.  What spelled disaster for her was the fact that the pants were low on the hips.  The top, on the other hand, is way, way, way too fussy for no good reason.  It is not visually stunning.  It doesn't showcase good workmanship.  Still, I'm amused that the meekest contestant this season managed to produce such a provocative outfit.

Mitchell Perry

It was the best of shorts, it was the worst of shorts.  These were the shorts that tried men's souls.  I watched this episode and I still don't know if the top was attached to the shorts or not.  The whole design of the top is sloppy.  What was the point of the insert of floral fabrics at the arms?   This would have been my candidate for the auf.

Jefferson Musanda

Jefferson's biggest sin was making a pair of high-waisted shorts.  They have never been in style nor is the world crying out for them.  Funny thing...he was so concerned about the length of the shorts that he never stepped back to even see how high the waist was.  On top, he plopped yet another, poorly-conceived top.  It was barely sewn together, with a flap on the front that could pop open with the slightest breeze.  The poor construction only amplified how unflattering it was on the model.  All of a sudden, this poor girl, who probably hasn't eaten a square meal in months, looks like she's thick in the waist.  

And I liked Jefferson, too.  I would have kept him on the hope that he could deliver some of the exciting things we saw in his portfolio.  Instead, the hip hop hopped away and we were left with a hastily constructed craft project.  Not the best showcase for him.  I bet he's thinking that maybe he should have joined the Big Brother house, instead.  I wish him luck and hopes he sticks with the hip hop and never constructs a pair of high-waisted shorts ever again.

Charketa Glover

I hope by the end of the season, Lifetime figures out what to call Ms. Glover.  On the website, it's "Char."  Heidi calls her "Charketa" and it shows "Charketa" in the title.  I'm going with the full name.  She can talk a good game, that's for sure.  With this first challenge, she delivered an eye catching outfit. This top started off in grandma land and somehow, with the open back and crop in the front, ended up not so grandma after all.  Still, I'm not sure we needed the full sleeves with the full skirt, no matter how many times Zac Posen asked the model to spin.  The judges loved this outfit way more than I did.

Amanda Valentine 

I could have easily seen Amanda win this challenge if it were something other than a "make us something that indicates a spring collection" challenge.  This outfit doesn't exactly scream out "hello spring!" to me.  The pants are very, very well made and the diamond design elements were striking.  If there was one strange thread that ran through this challenge, it was the curse of the weird top.  It's not an unattractive top at all.  It just does nothing to showcase the pants.  Still, the top and the pants are well made and interesting.  Amanda got off to a very good start.

Sandhya Garg

I watch WAY too many reality competition shows.  I have to admit that every time someone says Sandhya's name, I think of this...

So excuse me for hoping that Ms. Garg appropriates a fauxhawk at some point in the competition.  

Sandhya had one of the most complex portfolios in terms of symbolism and inspiration, including a middle finger fabric print that Nina would love.  So we knew going in that she was going to think "out of the box" about the fabric in the box.  She knew that several other designers were using the fabric, so if she was going to use it, it had to be memorable.  

So she dyed the top and ripped the sleeves away from the armscye (fancy sewing word for armhole.)  Because this was a stiff cotton, it looked sculptural.  With a flimsier fabric, this would have been a disaster.  She added trim and embroidery, so it was clear that the effect was completely intentional. 

What resulted was the tension between the sweetness of the floral print and the roughness of the treatment.  Nina dived in.
When Nina grabs her glasses, you know she means business.
All of a sudden, it was a love fest.

 Oh look!  Stitching!  She stitched the garment!  Trim!  Oh look!  She finished this seam! wasn't the best garment ever.  In fact, I think it had a lot of flaws.  For starters, if you're going to do princess seams on the front, the fabric needs to match better.  Second, if you're going to fray the bottom hem, fray it evenly.  That hem was all over the place.

Still, it really was the most creative idea on the runway on a day when Heidi just wanted to spread a little creativity to a world in desperate need.

For you see, these designers had the serum all along, coursing through their veins.  They just don't realize it.  See you next week when we'll see who discovers their inner creativity and who just discovers the drama.  And if you can't wait that long, join us in the Blogging Project Runway chatroom at 8:30 pm EDT next Thursday.  Watch the show, type your comments and read everyone else's.  You be the judge, bring the funny, or just snark on all design drama.