Sunday, August 3, 2014

Project Runway, Season 13, Episode 2: Lights, Camera, Factions!

Greetings, Project Runway Fans!
I have a friend who loves to review movies.  When he sees one he doesn't like, he says, "That movie would be so much better in 3-D."

Judges, what do you think?

So this week, our designers had a team challenge combined with an unconventional materials challenge.  Sandhya had immunity.

"All of my outfits tell a story."
Right.  Sandhya lives in the land of stories.  She also has immunity this week.  You DO NOT WANT TO BE ON HER TEAM.  So what happens to Hernan and Carrie, they're on Sandhya's team.  Oh noes!

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Every team challenge needs a good theme.  Tim?

"Your challenge is to make clothes out of movie-related items we have for you here."
Most of you are experienced Project Runway fans, so you know what's coming: a mash-up between the team parameters and the crazy judge rules that go into unconventional challenges.  Let me break it down for you.

Team parameters
  1. The judges will always award the winner from the winning team.
  2. If the best design is on a weak team, it will not win.
  3. The loser always comes from the worst team.
  4. If the worst design is on a strong team, the designer will not be eliminated.
  5. Cohesiveness is important until it isn't.
Unconventional challenge crazy judge rules

  1. Don't be too literal.
  2. Have fun with your materials.
  3. The outfit should have some movement.
  4. Don't just glue things onto muslin and call it good.
  5. Treat your materials as if they were fabric.
  6. We're going to put fabric in there for you to your peril!
So with a number of combinations of rules and parameters, you can easily come up with a logical explanation of the results from this last episode.

Before we dive head-first into each team, what is a Garance Doré?

Besides being this week's guest judge, that is.
She's a fashion illustrator and photographer.

She's a blogger.

She dates Scott Schuman, otherwise known as the Sartorialist.

She wisely didn't bother to be a hero this week.  She ran with the herd as they pretty much ran roughshod over this week's competition.  A team challenge brings out the crazy in everyone!

Sean, Angela and fäde

This week, we discovered what we already suspected.

"I am smahtah zen anyone else."
So caught up in his own brilliance, fäde almost let his teammate, Angela, get away with this.

No Angela, don't do it!!!
Remember the last time an Angela decided that "fleurchons" were a good idea?

They were NOT a good idea.
fäde wasn't smart enough to realize that Angela was dragging his team down until it was too late.  They could have been the winning team.  They should have been the winning team.  

fäde's dress was creative and dramatic.  The breastplate was indicative of a superhero--a common movie theme.  It had movement and used multiple materials in unique ways.

Sean's straw dress was an eye catcher.  It was beautifully constructed and designed.  It could have easily been the winner.  So could fäde's dress.  What brought them down was this.

Angela's ashes.
She had the clever idea to use scripts.  The problem was that Angela glued paper onto muslin with no consciousness of why she was using scripts.  Those could have been receipts from Mood Fabrics, for all we knew.  Cutting them into geometric shapes didn't exactly reflect the common theme running through the team, either.  What makes the scripts so special?  The words on them. Trouble is, they're small, so to use them as a print might not have translated on the runway.

Project Runway producers throw a smörgåsbord of objects into an unconventional materials challenge.  If you're going to use something, you have to think about how it's going to be used and whether that meaning and purpose will translate effectively.

This was a wasted effort and deserved the boot.  Instead, the high level of her teammates's work kept her hanging on for another episode while she simultaneously dragged them from the top spot.

This collection was one of my favorites.  It reflected the spirit of the movies, but with color and imagination.

Char used tickets to a fun effect.  

Kimi used mostly duct tape (who knew that movies used colored duct tape?) to make an interesting and colorful dress.

Mitchell totally redeemed himself this week with a mix of tape and DVDs.  The dress is really basic, but the color was spectacular.

This was another safe team, but with much less stunning results.

Samantha spent a ton of time making a gorgeous DVD top only to completely ruin it with a sloppy tape skirt.  The skirt is too long and the hem is uneven for no good reason.

Alexander used the same hard, molded plastic that fäde used but the result was less focused.  While there's some interest using the tape diagonally in the skirt, the fringe in the front and back just makes it look unfinished and unwieldy.

This looks like Emily ran out of time making a perfect bodice and had to scramble tape pieces together for a skirt.  Had the skirts been more finished on this collection, it could have contended for the win.

What a bunch of sad sacks, no?

That's what being under relentless attack will do to a person.  Was it well founded?  In part, sort of.  Here's the thing....Sandhya had immunity and she had it too early in the game to understand what it really meant.  What did she learn last week?  Tell your stories and be creative.  With that encouragement, she gave us the story of Sandhy, a transfer student from India who attends Rydell High and falls in love over the summer with Danny on a beach holiday.

Hopelessly devoted to you.....
Hernan fell in love with the ability to sew film together.  He and Carrie began going their own way and letting Sandhya go hers...except...Sandhya had immunity...and the potential to drag the entire team into the dumper.  Tim complained that the collection had no cohesion only as a way to snap Sandhya out of her thrall of her story.  He did not overly praise the other two looks and there was no need for them to charge forth and make three dresses out of the same material.

Hernan's dress is not bad.  I love the shape and styling.  It's nothing to write home about, however any of the contestants in the other safe team with the sloppy film tape dresses were probably thinking they could have sewn film together instead to contend for a win.

Let's face it.  This dress was way too simple to carry a team anywhere.  This is a dress you make when you are wrestling with difficult materials and are trying to present something that doesn't embarrass you on the runway.  There's no design here.  Had the duct tape skirt been, say, duct tape shorts, maybe she could have gotten a pass.  There were other short dresses on the runway with far more interest.  Seeing them walk should have put fear in Carrie right away.

Before getting to Sandhya's monstrosity, let me say something about the film material.  It wasn't bad.  In fact, it was very beautiful.  I kept saying the words "tortoise shell" to myself, over and over.  That's the effect it had from a distance.  This could have been a winning collection had they used it with other objects as an accent instead of the predominant material.

Sandhya did not put her heart into this dress.  It's not even a "slutty Sandhy wearing one of Rizzo's dresses after she gets too fat for them after Sandhya finds out that Danny still has feelings for her" dress.   This is an "ok, Hernan, you win; let's go cohesive, dammit..." dress. She's exposing the middle because they are separates?  She didn't cut her stray film because she ran out of time?  This dress if full of spite and and disappointment.  The judges picked up on that.

I was curious that no one expressed any love for their outfits.  Hernan, perhaps, came the closest.  Carrie's only defense of herself while under attack was "I can do much better than this.  I have so much to show you."

In the middle of Carrie's defense, Zac Posen seemed to laugh at her. I say "seem to" because it was a cut between two shots and we have no way to know if it was edited that way.  He did seem exasperated with her.  "We can only judge what we see before us." While that isn't exactly true, Carrie didn't do anything spectacular last week either. Still, many us Project Runway old timers just haven't warmed up to Zac Posen just yet.  He's got a youthful face that borderlines on smarmy when he sees something he doesn't like. Michael Kors and Nina Garcia are experts at expressing pain in their faces when they see something they don't like.  Maybe it's his baby face, I don't know, but Zac is incapable of communicating his disapproval without a dollop of disdain.  

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Nina called Korina's dress a "flapper dress." Sure, it' had flapping video tape fringe, but it is only tangentially in a flapper style.  It is graphicaly interesting and beautifully styled with the shoes she picked out.  

Kristine's marquee dress was easily the chatroom favorite during the show last week. The use of speaker wire was quite notable and well done.  Of all the short dresses that walked, this had the biggest impact.

It was also fun to watch Zac struggle to think of the word "marquee."  He used "sign" and "title" at one point.  

Was Amanda's dress the winning look?  Not to me.  It's a toss-up between Katherine's or Sean's, had the team dynamics been different.  I want to run up with a pair of scissors and cut the errant wires that are hanging down.  I want to roll back the clock and weave more fringe into the skirt.  Maybe give it a more dramatic strap.  I think it's incomplete and unfinished.  But everyone fell in love with idea.

Nina said, "You could wear it with jeans."  I would love to see Nina try to wear this with a pair of jeans.  How ridiculous!  

What I did love from this team is the marquee letter bracelets the designers sported.  I would have loved to have seen them on the models, instead.  Judges love it when designers manage to make an accessory out of the materials as well.

Over thirteen seasons of watching team challenges, it occurs to me that what makes them work is a sense of mutual respect.  Musicians collaborate out of mutual respect and the blend of ideas can often be greater than the individual talents.  A team challenge this early in the competition, or a season of team challenges, like the one that Amanda was originally on, are designed to weed out people with strong visions but weak construction and interpersonal skills.  Good collaborators are the ones who see the strengths of the people with which they work and seek them out for it.

Instead of dismissing Sandhya's stories, Hernan should have encouraged her to come up with the team story and everyone work together to design to that.  Instead, he dismissed her story and wanted to focus on the aesthetic.  She comes from a different place--less visual, more conceptual.  All she needed to hear, early on, was "how do we hear your idea without rendering it into a costume?"  She would have lost the foil skirt and moved on to something else.  But Hernan didn't respect her creative process and things deteriorated from there.

Likewise, fäde didn't respect Angela's construction skills.  He let her flounder instead of intervening to ask her some pointed questions about her graphic statement and how it was cohesive, either visually or materials-wise, with the other two pieces.  

See you next week for more Project Runway.  And join us for all the real-time fun on Blogging Project Runway on Thursday at 8:30 PM EDT.


  1. Did you refer to Kristine as Katherine (twice?)

  2. I did. I goof up a name or two during these early challenges.