Monday, September 15, 2014

Project Runway Season 13, Episode 7: On the Chopard Block

Greetings, Project Runway Fans!  

I'm a week behind because of my own personal sewing issues.  I was making a 1920s dress for a Great Gatsby picnic in the area and the construction ate away at my prime viewing and blogging time.  

Way too many ruffles! Ruffles for days! The vintage pattern called for picot edging, nearly impossible to do on modern machines. So I rolled and scalloped the hems instead. 
I'm a week behind and it's time to catch up!

This week's guest judge was Artistic Director and Co-President of Chopard, Caroline Scheufele. The designers had one day to create a red carpet/gala-worthy outfit inspired by a set of Chopard jewelry.

I imagine that Caroline spends a lot of her time with stylists and designers picking the perfect jewels to go with the expensive designer gowns they've picked up for their celebrity clients. She's probably perusing the latest fashion collections for inspiration for next season's jewelry designs. This challenge is the other way around: the dress is designed from the jewel. You would expect Caroline to go for the traditional gown, but she was very open-minded and imaginative--to the benefit of the designers.

By now, the designers are used to one-day challenges. But the producers always have to up the ante.  This week, they subtly added an "inspirational" visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Charles James exhibit.
Inspirational quickly becomes aspirational.

There's no way you're making that in a day. Don't even think about it.
See, the exhibition even shows you how complex the construction is. Don't be fooled!
You can't do this in a day. If you attempt this, it will look like this....


fäde is fading, I'm afraid.  He was inspired by a set of aquamarine, chandelier earrings, but the outfit he made was his most unnoticeable look thus far.  

He didn't want to upstage the jewelry.  He ended up putting himself backstage--safe.


Why is she still here?

She was clearly inspired by a draped dress at the James exhibit, so she knocked it off in red.

It wasn't bad, it just lacked a certain exuberance the judges were looking for.  The pearl necklace seemed to get lost in the dress, too. I'm not seeing her "rock and roll" aesthetic here. It's just another somewhat pretty, draped dress.  The front looks a little droopy and the hem is messed up.  I'm not fond of the styling. If you're showcasing a necklace, clear the hair out of the way.


Sandhya took a chance this week by making a cocktail look.  I'm not sure the guards that Chopard employs allow their jewels to be worn to the Vanity Fair after party.

But let's suspend disbelief for the sake of the runway.  Sandhya smartly gave the dress some interest at the neck, something she could do because she had earrings and a ring to showcase.

She was going for a solid safety this week.  This dress was not going to set anyone's world on fire.


Wait up. Didn't she get auffed last week?

"I've had the worst indigestion since you left. It's my conscience bothering me about telling you that I would have used my save if this had been a couple challenges from now.  I never should have said that and I won't rest at night until you come back."
"Hahahahaha!  No "Tim Gunn Save" for you!!!!"

 Kini said it best. Another dress with a peplum and a cut-out in the back.  zzzzzzz.... At least she found a way to keep the white dress from going full bridal.


Kini was clearly inspired by the James exhibit, particularly the structured garments with the diaphanous overlay.  He went with white so that he'd showcase his jewels.

But he chose neoprene for the underlay. Gosh. Remember when neoprene was revolutionary to use? Now everyone is using it all the time. Just because Mood carries it in every color, however, doesn't mean it's the fabric for every task.

After Kini's pants, the first thing you notice is the model's left breast. It's wrinkled and puckered.  It's as if someone punched a Charles James gown right in the bullet bra. Still, he styled it perfectly so that even Caroline could imagine Kim Kardashian wearing it. If the skirt were a bit shorter, that is.


Alexander chose the most stunning piece, in my opinion.

Now the logical thing to do would be to make a dress that matched the jewel. But that wouldn't be exciting.  I actually think his choice of color and a textile with a texture was inspiring.

His execution, however....

was a mess from the back

and every other angle as well.  About a foot above the heel...

was an exposed pin. 

Zac Posen pointed out that the neckline of the dress competed with the necklace itself. He tacked down the bodice of the dress and immediately improved it.  Caroline kept saying the color was wrong.  I disagree.  I think, had the design worked with the material instead of against it and had it displayed the neckline more prominently, it would have been a lovely contrast.


This was a challenge that required a designer to be true to him or herself.  Anything less than that and there was simply not enough time to recover.  Samantha does not do glamourous gowns.  Her's is more of a rock and roll aesthetic.  She didn't choose last, either, so I don't understand why she went for the watch and ring, of all things.

The ring is very unusual.  The watch is an interesting contrast of leather and diamonds. This set was screaming for something luxurious--with an edge of menswear to it. Leather skirt.  Leather trim. Instead, Samantha played it safe and designed the dress that Alexander should have made using the same fabric that Sean picked. The results were pretty pedestrian.

It was a nice, solid, designer dress, but nothing to stop the presses over.  In fact, nothing she's done this entire competition stopped presses.   The biggest problem here was that a watch and ring are not enough for this dress, which needs a necklace. A suit jacket and skirt or pants would have been perfect for the watch and ring. But if you had to do a gown, this would have been the opportunity to do something interesting at the neck. Absent that, there was nothing compelling to keep Samantha on board for one more week.  Sorry you were booted off for a gown.  It's better than being booted off for something in which you specialize.


Amanda did an admirable job of pulling this one off at the last minute. First, Ms. Valentine picked the heart bracelet, which was full of whimsy.

A bracelet like this called for a lighthearted outfit and Amanda delivered. She just chose a poor material with which to make the jacket.

In the end, she benefited from being daring enough not to make a dress and skilled enough to make a good looking jumpsuit. Glass organza requires lots of patience and a special needle and presser foot for the machine.  Rolled seams are crazy hard to do. I'm having voile ruffle flashbacks.


Sean's been on a roll and if you asked him this week, he'd probably tell you that he should have still been rolling.  He picked the most audacious set of jewelry.

Coco Chanel was fond of saying that to look tasteful, a woman should take off one accessory. Here, we have a necklace, earrings and a ring. Each made of sapphires set in a camphor glass/silver filigree frame.  It's Belle Epoch glamour, straight out of the Downton Abbey collection...practically ripped off the neck of Lady Mary. Sean played it brilliantly.

When presented with an impossibly beautiful set of jewelry, you make an exquisite backdrop. That's exactly what this dress was.  The front allowed the piece to be displayed against the skin as well as smoothly against a strip of velvet. The velvet was repeated across the back, where it draped, echoing the back tab of the necklace. It was also repeated on the hem, grounding the dress and giving it a luxurious finish. This was absolute perfection. It was also the very thing Caroline expected to see.


Korina was right about one thing. Her design voice has been missing from this competition. That's why I was so glad she picked the most dramatic necklace from the collection.

Pay attention to that center piece.  You will see it again, just not as literally repeated.

I cheered when the producers put the roll of fabric out front at Mood  she wandered into the upholstery section and found a gorgeous, southwestern-styled velvet.

She took Tim's advice to be mindful of matching up the pattern.  That pattern turned out to an absolute perfect interpretation of the necklace itself.  Not to mention that the velvet jacket cut an impressive swath on the runway.

She took a risk putting a black necklace on top of a black dress.  I might have done grey underneath.  Then again, I would have wasted all my time trying to find a perfect match for the grey.  Perhaps black was better.  The black was matte, so the shiny necklace could still be seen.  She created the ultimate jewel box and totally upstaged Sean.  By being true to herself this week, Korina emerged a clear winner.

Next week, our designers face an avant garde challenge...with a watery twist.

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