Saturday, August 30, 2014

Project Runway, Season 13, Episode 6: We Are Gathered Here Today

Greetings, Project Runway Fans!

Tim is not happy.

"Due to budget cuts at the network, I regret to inform you that the intros for the rest of the season will be filmed in this garage in Queens.  To make matters even worse, the producers blew this season's meager budget on the cheesy lighting and backdrop you see behind me."
"This leaves just $200 for each of you to spend on a dress.  It's a real 'make it work' moment."
When I heard that the lovely and talented Dita Von Teese would be a guest judge this year, I got very excited.  The possibilities were endless...and fun!  I envisioned a real woman burlesque challenge, inspired by the burlesque revival that's sweeping the nation. Imagine the rip-away skirts and tops!  Fun, right?

Or how about designing an outfit inspired by Dita's fabulous lingerie line?  What?  Does only Heidi get to promote her items and no one else?

What did we get?  A wedding dress challenge.  Oh, Tim had some song and dance about how unconventional wedding dresses are all the rage with rockers these days.

Are they really?  I know Vera Wang has added black and grey to her wedding dress line.

But the biggest "rock and roll" wedding of the year looked pretty traditional to me.

Has the concept of what you wear to get married changed that much?  I don't really think so.  So we have what is likely to be the biggest celebrity thus far this season, someone we've waited for a long time and designers are making cheap-o wedding dresses.

Even Swatch is pissed off and bored.
I'm forgetting something.

There was a twist.  There had to be a wedding look and a reception look because today's unconventional bride wants different outfits for different activities.

Kim sure did.  We'll revisit this later....
There was something else....

Tim brought out the producer manipulation prop button bag to pick the teams. 

What else am I forgetting?

The Blonde Salad
Seriously.  As only a native speaker of Italian can, Chiara Ferragni chose the most curious word combination in English to title her blog.  The blog was launched "in 2009, when blogs were not yet the today phenomenon."  "Blonde." "Salad."  I guess she's a vegan, or something. 

The site goes on to say, "She launched, to express herself and relate to 360°."  Can you say, "word salad?"

In any case, I'm declaring this THE YEAR OF THE BLOGGER on Project Runway.  At this rate, by 2016 or so, they should be asking yours truly to have a seat at the judge's panel.  

Or maybe it's the year of the blonde fashion photographer.  Or maybe it's the year that all the well-known fashion celebrities had something better to do than to guest judge an episode.

Let's dive in to the "fashion salad" with both forks.

Korina & Amanda

My husband was popping in and out of this week's episode.  Having not watched a single episode this year, he was having a heck of a time distinguishing Amanda from Korina. "Amanda has the mole," I said. "Korina rolls her eyes all the time."  That's how I tell them apart.  He asked me who the mean girl was.  "I think they're taking turns," I said.

Despite all the trumped-up, producer-stoked drama, these two were solidly safe.  The only thing left to say is that I'm getting sick of Amanda's two dress designs.  Also, this was the week when good team members helped their mates.

fäde & Emily

"Rocker" meets "Cool Intellectual."  Match made in heaven?  No.

You may say he's a dreamer.  But he's not the only one.  See what I did there?
The results were disastrous for Emily.

Somewhere between Goth, Italian widow and burkha is Emily's gown.

There's too much going on here.  She needed to pick a motif and stick with it.  Mixing a delicate lace with a strong geometric pattern in a sleep deprived state with only 10 good hours to sew it up is a recipe for disaster, as this was.

I generally don't associate such tight, geometric patterns with Goth and I think that's where she fell into trouble here. The open square fabric is high-tech and bold and would have been better suited for a more streamlined treatment.  It was too jarring juxtaposed with the lace.  

Goth ultimately has romantic undertones that are just not evident here.  A better treatment would have employed a more fuller, exuberant skirt.  See Vera Wang, above.

She also revisited her Ewok Hood, since it worked so well for her with the judges the first time. When she employed it as a veil, using the black lace, she ended up turning the bride into a widow. 

fäde was smarter and played to his strengths.

He took all the disparate fabric and made a textile that showcased the variety of patterns.

The resulting dress design was unremarkable, but he wanted something clean to showcase the fabric design.  Now THAT'S a Goth/rocker chick who's thrown off her widow's veil and wants to party!

Samantha and Alexander

Where did this go wrong?
"Let's face it. The appliqué aisle is never your friend."
Particularly when the appliqué is so haphazardly placed.  It looks like a fungus.  And Samantha continues to zzzzz.....

Char & Sandhya

"We chose yellow because it's such a happy color and a strong color and a strong woman would wear this and my tradition in India is that brides wear strong colors and....strong!"
More like "wrong!" The minute Heidi said "Big Bird and Tweety Bird" we knew someone was going home. Where did this go off the rails?  The inspiration was spot on.

Sandhya claimed to be inspired by her own wedding. Traditional gowns in India are magenta, red and pink. Bright colors.
So why in Vishnu did Sandhya choose this?

The caution tape yellow fabric prompted Char to choose this.

Along with some leather in the SAME COLOR.  How do you even find leather in that color?

Char started draping with the leather.  That didn't go well.

The problem here is that she tried to mash-up leather and lace which led to a cascade of errors. After a while she just gave up and started using the lace to cover up the leather, with no thought about shape and design at that point.

Meanwhile, Sandhya was braiding fabric for her bodice.  She spent so much time doing that, she just slapped together the skirt.

One color +  bad fabric - design vision - your original inspiration = disaster.

I was feeling pretty surly about this episode already, so I had no charity left.  I wanted another double auf.  Instead, just Char was given the boot.

Which leads me to my pet peeve of the week.

When the producers give the designers just a day to make a dress, the judges shouldn't be doing this

 and this.

Project Runway isn't a production line. It isn't even 24-Hour Catwalk, with it's team of professional sewers. Criticizing the quality of construction with just a day to produce a garment has nothing to do with good design technique. It serves no purpose but to demoralize designers about not being able to live up to a challenge that would defeat 99.9% of everyone everywhere. It's a cheap ploy for laughs and soundbites and it demeans the show. I wish it would stop, but after two seasons of it, someone at Bunim-Murray thinks the best designers are super human.  They don't need time, money or inspirational challenges to produce magic.

Well guess what?

Once again this week, no magic was produced.

Kini & Sean

Sean had immunity.  Kini was worried, but Sean was trying to go for the win.  Kini's premise, however, nearly ran them off the rails this week.

"Our bride is in a gay wedding, but she can't let go of her business suit.  Still, she wants to be a bride..."

"The idea of a "gay wedding" is so brilliant. Why didn't anyone else think of it?"
Um...Planet Earth to Zac Posen:  the challenge is two looks for one bride, so who cares if she's gay or straight?

But let's explore the "gay bride" notion for a minute.  Do women who prefer business suits or pants suits have to be pried out of them for a special occasion?  Maybe they do, but wouldn't the alternative suit look like an alternative suit, with pants, and not some embellished jacket and skirt number fresh from the set of Dallas?

In the second picture, you can see the two outfits together.  Nina was spot on when she said "flamenco dancer and bull fighter."  Had there been been their intention all along, I could have embraced this pair of outfits.

For me, what bothered me was the "gay wedding" premise. I've been to quite a few lesbian and gay weddings over the past few years.  These ceremonies have come pretty hard fought. The vast majority of these couples try to bring some tradition into their ceremony and attire. Marriage, for gays these days means normalcy. Legal marriage is the extension of the human tradition to a community too long on the outside. I'm not saying that no gay couple should ever take on the ceremony with playfulness and subversion. What I'm saying is that right now, in 2014, these unions tend to be the expression of tradition and acceptance. If you're inviting relatives who might not be 100% thrilled with your choice of partner the last thing you want to do is wear an outrageous outfit.

That's where Kini lost me. It's a fine design and high level of tailoring despite the time and money spent. It just didn't speak to me for his concept. Although I was amused at Heidi's valiant effort to convince the other judges that Kini should win. "It's a special occasion!" she said. And every special occasion needs sparkles and bows, right?

Let's take a closer look at Sean's winning outfit.

No doubt, the blouse was stunning.  The pants were well-fitted.  I wouldn't have cropped them so high, but that's not the biggest error.  

Looking back at the original design, Sean had gathers around he waist.  Tim suggested a cummerbund.  I think that would have elevated the look.  The waistline is just too unfinished for me.  Dita said it was an outfit "I'd wear on a Tuesday."  I didn't take that as the compliment everyone else did.  The blouse carried the entire festive nature of the outfit, but I think the pants, had they been better designed, could have carried its share as well.

The two brides at the last gay wedding I attended wore tops similar to this one only they were rendered in a lovely, floral, watercolor print.  The cape effect was not as long so they did not look like flying squirrel superheroes.

So the funny thing is, for me, Kini's vision was best reproduced by Sean: the sort of outfit a gay bride would want to wear.  Or Kim Kardashian, only without pants.

I think that's what the judges saw, too.  It speaks to the casual elegance that many people strive for when dressing up for special occasions these days.  Life is so complicated and hectic.  Why do your outfits have to be?  This design can be dressed up or dressed down, as needed.  It would compliment a wide range of bodies.  

So unconventional outfit in thought and design, rather than motif, wins the challenge.

Next week, the designers have a jewelry challenge

and what looks to be some sort of surprise.

Maybe the surprise will be good outfits for a change!

See you next week or in the Blogging Project Runway chatroom at 9 pm EST next Thursday.


  1. I don't understand why you dislike Chiara Ferragni, an Italian who gave her blog an unusual English name.

    You gave YOUR blog an unusual Italian name, one that doesn't seem to mean anything. I have heard people say "tirare le fila di un discourso" to mean bring a thread of discussion [to a close]. The full phrase is in Italian dictionaries.

    I have never heard the shortened "tirare le fila" OUTSIDE of your blog. Maybe some Italians would say it, I just haven't heard them do so. Most English speakers would use the expressions "to sum up" or "in conclusion" instead.

    Maybe you meant it as a joke. But it sounds petty and hypocritical for you to complaint about some blogger misusing a phrase to be trendy when you're doing the same thing. You just seem annoyed that another blogger was chosen as a guest star ahead of you.

    It's a nasty, spiteful attitude to convey.

  2. 1. I don't dislike Chiara Ferragni. Frankly, I've never heard of her before her appearance on Project Runway. I don't follow every single fashion blog out there.

    2. The logic of your comparison of my blog title and hers doesn't quite hold for me. "Tirare le fila means "pull the thread." It's a play on sewing and discussion. The three words can be used as part of a number of phrases. They are not randomly put together. It's also a throw-back to my Italian heritage, another subject of the blog that I'm working on to expand. I have never heard the words "blonde salad" used together in any English sentence. I believe Ms. Ferragni clearly meant for her blog title to be attention-getting and humorous. And since her veganism is a big part of her life, she wanted to honor that.

    3. I could care less if I ever heard from Project Runway, quite frankly. This blog is not an enterprise. I do not make money from it. I don't endorse products or promote anything, so I don't see the hypocrisy or pettiness that you seem to see here. You are comparing apples to oranges. Ms. Ferragni is a professional blogger and I highly doubt that she cares one whit what I have to say about her appearance on Project Runway.