Sunday, August 24, 2014

Project Runway Season 13, Episode 5: Fringe Benefits

Greetings, Project Runway Fans!

If I could sum up this week in one picture, this would be it.

Seriously, huh?
Once upon a time, there was a woman named Heidi who lived in New York City.  She was a very, famous model who hosted a TV show.  One year, the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences decided to add a new award category for "Reality Television Show."  This was good news for Heidi. It meant that Heidi would get an invitation to the big ball*! Every year, Heidi worried about what to wear. The dress had to be perfect.

Well, perfect for Heidi.  You see...Heidi's taste level fluctuates.

Sometimes she's elegant.

Sometimes, she's in a leg mood. 

And then, there's whatever this is.
* It's not really the "Big Ball," which would be the actual Emmy Awards but the Creative Arts Emmys, where they give awards for all those categories nobody wants to watch at the real Emmys.  It's a step up from the Daytime Emmys.

So you know going in, that any challenge to dress Heidi will be ripe with land mines.  Do you dress the Elegant Heidi?  Sexy Heidi?  Or Weird Heidi?  When you only have one day and $200 for materials, most of the time, you're just trying to do the best you can.

Curiously, after 13 seasons of the show, Heidi parading in front of them twice a day and a book of everything Heidi has ever worn to the Creative Arts Emmys many designers had no idea of Heidi's style.  Are contestants so caught up in competition that they don't even notice the host?  

With this crew, I actually think the more interesting challenge would have been to dress Tim. They'd have him wearing cut-off denim shorts and fringed biker jackets in no time flat.  

Let's get this out of the way, since Heidi did.

Sean Kelly won the challenge this week.
She didn't even leave the runway before spilling the beans to US Magazine.

Project Runway used to mean something.  There used to be respect for the drama of the show.  I guess after 13 years, there really are no surprises.  In fact, the producers couldn't even keep their traps shut about the double "auf" this week.  They splashed it all over the previews.  

Regarding the double auf, the odds were good but the goods were odd this week.  Our clueless designers were missing the mark left and right.  As far as I'm concerned, there could have been a triple auf this week.  It was hard narrowing it down to just two.  

"Seriously, Tim.  I think they all hate me.  Why would they want to dress me in such ugly gowns?"
"Come on, people.  Its not the real Emmys, it's the 'Schmemmys.' You don't need to wear a gown."
Kathy Griffin is right.  The Creative Arts Emmys have so many technical people attending, that it's a blessing that most people dress up at all.  So the designers had a lot of leeway with this challenge.  Even pants, as Nina suggested to one contestant.  Like pants are the easiest thing to whip up in one day!


I'm going to get her out of the way because she bores me so much.

And look at her.  Trying so hard not to be boring.  Short dress with side train. Interesting back.  Heidi loved the work on the bodice and told her not to be to boring with the bottom.  She wasn't.  But this was black.  Black is not Heidi's go-too color.  Once again, Samantha is good enough to be safe.  Never good enough to be good.  She's not getting useful critiques and insights into what the judges love and hate.  In a color, Heidi might have noticed.  Maybe.

Oh, and if you're going to make an interesting back, PUT THE HAIR UP.  I know you're styling the model, but you're also showcasing the dress.  Who cares if Heidi wears her hair down most of the time.


With the first $200 Sandhya was given, she bought pre-beaded fabric, fabric paint and feathers and a dream of Bollywood nights.

I actually think this was an interesting dress.  Heidi wouldn't have loved it, but I think it would have gotten points for being interesting.  There was no need for Sandhya to freak out and scoop up extra money when Tim and Heidi gave the designers another shot at going to Mood.  The designers who didn't need to go could give their money to someone else and Sandhya made sure that someone was her.

The dress, for $400 is nice.  It's also black, despite all the painting Sandhya did up top.  And all that freaking out got her nothing but safe. Because it was safe, we didn't get to hear the nice story she cooked up about the sort of woman who would wear this dress.


What's a designer got to do to get noticed around here?  It's a beautiful shade of blue. It's got all that pleating and folding that everybody loves in front and a dramatic train in the back. What's not to love?

Well, for starters, all those pleats and folds add inches to the waist.  The model looks like she's holding up the dress because she has to, otherwise it will fall apart.  It's too bad.  It was the best fabric.  But Char is solidly safe this week.


Emily missed the part about how Heidi wasn't attending the MTV Video Music Awards.


This was the dress that Alexander should have made for the "future of fashion" editorial for Marie Clare, a couple of challenges ago.  You see, with the increasing influence of religious fundamentalists around the world, models like Heidi will need bullet proof protection on the runway.  This dress offers just that.  And from the back, you can still give your detractors the "two cheek" salute.  Best of both worlds.


Now this just pisses me off.  This is a gorgeous statement dress that does all the things that Samantha wanted to do with the bottom but does it better.  Instead of doing a half-train, fäde gives us a three-quarter train so that walking away, the dress billows out instead of just drags off to the side.  His play with prints continues to delight.  Why he was safe instead of called out as one of the best is beyond me.  

I blame it on the cult of Amanda. 

"Look deeply into my eyes.  Now look at intricate hand beading that I did on this dress..."
Just don't look too closely...

"We are putty in your hands, oh great and wondrous Amanda..."
On the bright side, Pier 1 is on the phone and would like to give Amanda a contract to design table runners.


The side seaming was very eye-catching.  The dress was perfectly made.

The back took the "Heidi plunge."  Biggest problem: it was black.  I think Kini needs to get colorful in order to jump from "bridesmaid" to "bride" and win one of these challenges.


"It's not just any kind of fringe.  I gave it a 'haircut' so you wouldn't see rows of fringe."
I don't know why that's important because when Heidi began to spin, well...

"Those cars never seem to stop comin'.  Keep those lines and machines hummin'...."
But hey, it's colorful and fun and Sean's the big winner.

Now for the big losers.  Each of them had to scrap their original designs and start from scratch.


We've seen this story line before.  Small town girl, big city.  Designer who just doesn't do evening wear.  Her idea of elegance was a one-sleeved gown made out of forest green jersey.  She needed the big "Mood freak-out."  What she really needed was for Sandhya to show her where the pre-beaded fabric was and to give her some cash.  That stuff is expensive!  

But poor thing, she didn't know.  She thought "gown= satin" and for most people, it does. In fact, as I type this, I sit next to a pile of satin pieces I have sewn together for parts of a 1930's gown. Why are they in a pile and not on a hanger as a dress?  Because I need to rip out some puckered seams.  VERY CAREFULLY.  I started this dress last Spring and it is a source of soul-crushing dismay every time I look at it.

She was spared the auf this week still need people for the competition.


We knew Kristine was in trouble right off the bat.

"This looks like a bed sheet."
A white dress isn't necessarily a bad idea, but it must be carefully designed with the right material.  Kristine bought a ton of white material and had no other fall-back when Heidi came in to critique her dress.  I believe she was one of the reasons why the designers were given extra money and another trip to Mood.

The top of this dress simply defies gravity while still obeying the laws of physics.  As a result, the viewers missed out on seeing pixellated breasts, but poor Zac Posen got a full frontal from the side.

Kristine has been all over the place this competition--almost winning, almost losing. She's had as much much time with the judges as Amanda.  Somehow, she hasn't managed to beguile the judges as much as Amanda has.  That's one reason she was given the boot this week.  The other is that there is nothing well designed about this dress.


Zac Posen put his finger on the problem during the auditions.  Mitchell just doesn't have the maturity level right now to win the competition.  This was never more evident than this week, when he simply crashed and burned on the challenge.  His first idea wasn't completely bad.

Heidi saw "devil horns."  The thing is, his design wasn't dependent upon that exact bodice.  He should have been able to figure out how to re-work it.  Instead, he scrapped the entire thing and fell into a complete mental block, wasting valuable time.

And he simply didn't have enough time to make a decent garment.  The over reaction was a rookie mistake.  Kini had a similar scathing critique and quietly took his garment apart and reworked it.

If you're not tracking with Heidi, you're not going to win the challenge.  Plain and simple.  Your only strategy left is to make the best dress you can possibly make, knowing that Heidi won't like it.  But maybe the other judges will and you'll live to see another day of competition.  Had Mitchell kept his cool, he might have been able to stay.

Next week, Dita Von Tease is the guest judge, which should make things exciting.  She is very exacting about design and style.

See you next week or in the chatroom on Thursday!


  1. Great review. I, too, am mystified at what they keep seeing in Amanda. Heidi would NEVER (or rather I would like to think she would never) wear Amanda's dress to an event. In the words of Amanda during the 1st challenge, "I don't get it".

  2. Sorry about that. It's what I do for a living; it's ingrained in my very soul.