Friday, September 19, 2014

Project Runway Season 13, Episode 8: Raindrops Keep Falling

Greetings, Project Runway Fans!

I'm still a week behind, but fast catching up.  This week was a return to the fun Project Runway shows we used to know and love.  Any runway that can make Heidi do this

And Zac do this

is a good runway. This week's runway was an avant garde challenge....with a twist. Rain would come down on the runway. Not theoretical, make-believe rain, but real H2O. So, the smart designers began to conjure up ways to interact with the rain. Each had $200 and one day to produce the outfit.

Before we dive in, let's have a word from our sponsor.

"It's the innovative Samsung Curve television!"
"Just look at that super high definition picture."
Seemless product placement is the hallmark of every Emmy-nominated reality TV competition show, wouldn't you say?

This week's judge was Caitlin Fitzgerald, star of Showtime's Masters of Sex. In the show, she plays Dr. Master's wife and she gets to wear fantastic clothes from the 50's and 60's. She had a keen eye and some pointed commentary for the designers.
And now, another word from our sponsors.
"I like how you don't have open all the doors to get what you want in this Samsung refrigerator."
That wasn't awkward or staged at all, was it?
I think Samsung was hoping that their innovative product line would serve as the model for the level of innovation in the avant garde challenge...or something. Why showcase the products if they weren't supposed to be inspiration of a sort?   Poor Samsung.  The one designer who was inspired by'll see. 
It was a very pretty rain dress with purple flowery things stuck to it.  He went on and on about how it all looked like glass.  It was a fan favorite.  Avant garde?  As a child, I had a clear rain coat with white daisies tacked on to the outside.  From the cheap seats, this does read a little Dale Chihuly but only if you're thinking about it.  To be really avant garde, it needed something way more exuberant. Once again, this week, he was safe.


Ms. Valentine was inspired by a vision of Cleopatra, weeping as the rains flood her beloved city. This sure isn't anything like Katy Perry's version of Cleopatra. It looks more like someone painted the Venezuelan flag on a pagoda.
But hey, it's striking.

Despite the fact that the part of back collapsed on her, she was safe this week. What a hideous outfit. Out there, but hideous.
If I could wave a magic wand on this outfit, I would get rid of the green and find a way to get the cones to stick out more.
Char's heart was in the right place.  She wanted to make a dramatic, sculptural statement.  Her drawing had a real flow and energy to it.  You could envision rivulets of water flowing down from it.

Instead, we got a tree fungus.
The pillbox hat and Grace Jones styling was fantastic, but I thought this look was more than a little clichéd.

Sean's look wasn't exactly avant garde and it wasn't what he had planned originally.
He meant for the dress to be more angular and sleek. It was supposed to have dye pockets all over that would burst forth with color in the rain. Quite brilliant, actually.  Unfortunately, he changed his mind about the shape of the dress, sewing something extremely conventional.  Instead of color pockets all over, he built them into obvious areas like the neckline, waistline and hem.  Finally, his color palate was very limited and safe.

The white dress that spun nicely on the runway

until the dye soaked in.

and the dress slowly transformed.

As clever and whimsical as it was, it was not avant garde. Sean was so smug about figuring out how to insert dye into a white, cotton dress that he totally forget about pushing design boundaries. In his favor, it was interactive and well executed and had the "wow" factor everyone wanted. Still, had Tim talked him out of it, or pushed him to a design breaking point, we would have missed out on all the fun.  People will remember this entry for years, long after we've forgotten what the design brief was.
If you're going to interpret avant garde in terms of shape, you've got to go big or go home. Kini is capable of going big and he had to for this challenge.
I'm still not impressed at his attention to detail.  It's a weakness with him.  He has plenty of time to finish a garment.  Could he not have found a way to resolve the floppy nature of the skirt?  What happened to the huge hat he was supposed to make?  Also I wish he had managed to do the scorpion back that he had originally planned.  The look could have used another pop of color.

It was a very well executed and bold sculptural statement.  Kini was the clear winner here, but the judges had so much fun with Sean's that they awarded a double win. Whatever.  Award a triple win. There's no immunity!

Well, this just pissed me off to no end.

I want to believe in Sandhya's talents.  I really, really do but she makes it so hard. 

The above drawing is an excellent example of a strong, graphic element underneath what should have been a strong sculptural element. I see a clear, plastic garment draped over a multicolored body suit. On the plastic are bold white stripes, painted or fashioned from cut-out vinyl. Did she not have enough money to do this?  It would have played with positive and negative space.  It would have been quite visually beautiful.

Look at what she has there. There's a wide, white belt around the middle. That's not in the drawing.  Where did that come from?  By the time she returned from Mood, she abandoned her drawing and began telling wide tales of spinners and geegaws.  Tim was dubious.

Gone were the bold stripes overlaid on the clear fabric. Gone were the dynamic diagonal lines. In their place was a folded, metallic grating over a wide metallic belt. Hanging from the belt and plastered on the back were metallic pinwheels. It made Zac giggle, but both Nina and Caitlin wanted more sophistication. Nina is over the whimsical tales of yore. Caitlin is just passing through and recognizes an emperor with no clothes when she sees one. This was a child's toy with very little to say aesthetically. It didn't challenge or assault.  It delighted, a bit.  Well, it delighted Zac and Heidi. But those of us who saw that original drawing were left disappointed in what could have been.

Speaking of disappointment, never let someone talk you out of your design vision who doesn't know what R2D2 looks like. Here was Emily's drawing.

For me, it conjured up visions of Metropolis.

"I'm concerned that it looks too much like R2D2."
Tim, R2D2 is on the left.

Emily worried so much about how robotic her outfit was becoming and totally lost her vision of what she wanted, which was a take on armor as protection from the rain.

If you're going to wear armor in the rain, why would you wear it upside down?

Maybe if you lived in California and were trying to contain every precious drop that fell from the sky you'd wear a rain catcher. Caitlin wondered about the long-term wearability of an outfit that actually retained water that fell.  Nina thought it looked to "space age/futuristic."  Oh, what she could have done if she had just concentrated on her original design and not held back.


fäde was lost this week.  He didn't have a drawing.  He seemed super confident that he tends to be an avant garde designer as a matter of course and that he would come up with an idea.  He considered avant garde not necessarily to be "things sticking out all over the place. 
And maybe that's true, but what it isn't is a literal interpretation of an inspiration least not one that's so mundane.

fäde was inspired by the Samsung TV and the presence of technology in our lives.  Press play and current runs through the circuitry.  Only YOUR MODEL IS WALKING IN THE RAIN.  HELLO?  ELECTROCUTION? At least his model was wearing goggles, right? Did he get those from the Aldo accessory wall?

No fäde, YOU be that way!

No, really, I'm gonna miss you, fäde. You marched to the beat of a different drummer and nobody really understood or appreciated you. We were so caught up in Sandhya's creativity and Sean's dreamy eyes. Your intellectual approach to design was wasted on us, I'm afraid. Still, I wish you could have had it within you to have gone for it. Embrace the rain. Play with it.

If I could wave a magic wand at you and go back in time, I would have suggested the ultimate wet t-shirt experience.  Underneath, the model would wear a white wetsuit that says "DRY." On top would be a long, flimsy, white, jersey t-shirt.  Make it really androgynous and amorphous.  As she walked through the rain, the shirt would become see-through exposing the words "DRY" underneath. Tongue, firmly in cheek.  Joke on the judges. Wet clothes on the outside. Dry clothes underneath. THAT'S quiet intellectualism meets avant garde. But then again, I'm not the one who is sleep deprived and missing my family, so it's easy for me to toss out bright ideas, isn't it?

Well, all this rain and no fäde makes me sad. I'm going to go take my sad and spend some double time catching up with this week's episode. 

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