We're in the home stretch and this week, we're smelling the jet fuel. The final four designers set off for Rome, Italy. What should have been a highlight of the season turned into an afterthought that was tacked on to an already action-packed episode.
|Time for a cat nap!|
The tour was practically drive by.
|"And on your left is the coliseum..."|
|After his Project Runway stint is over, Tim should look into running a travel tour operation. He's a font of knowledge about art and history.|
By the way, Lifetime has some extras from the Rome visit that you might want to see.
|The designers paid a visit to Salvatore Ferragamo.|
And speaking of Char. I've got a theory.
Tim "went there" in Italy, OVER DINNER. Gee, Tim, that's so American of you, to talk about uncomfortable topics at dinner. Italians save that talk for after dinner, over shots of grappa.
"How does it feel to be the ONLY FINALIST IN PROJECT RUNWAY HISTORY not to win a challenge?"
I would have spit out my pasta.
Later, Char turned the tables asked Tim why he gave her the save.
"Your voice needs to be heard," Tim replied.
So here's my theory.
Season after season, Project Runway had been criticized for booting off designers of color.
|"Wait...I was the winner of Season 12. Remember?"|
So, no, one win by Dom Streater doesn't set this whole thing right. Just like one African-American guy in the White House can't undo centuries of racism in this country. It's not that simple.
Enter the Tim Gunn Save. In his heartfelt desire to make sure that Charketa Glover's voice got to be heard, did he really do her any favors? To catapult her to the finals only to have her hopes dashed? Cast her on the pile with Korto Momolu and Emilo Sosa. Only thing... Momolu and Sosa actually won challenges!
And if she wins, all the times Tim and the judges bent over backwards makes it look like a form of affirmative action--the sort your crazy, Fox News-watching uncle rails against at Thanksgiving dinner. It's the sort of break that seemed to elude designers of color in past seasons with a really fresh, different and modern voice, like Jerell Scott.
I agree with Nina on Char. The reason why Char never won a challenge this season is because her runway entries never completely reflected her personal style. She often wore something way more interesting than the garment she showed on the runway. So if you're a judge and willing to be charitable about a designer's style voice, when you give them six weeks, $9,000 and an inspiring trip to Italy, you expect to see something fantastic. This is where her design vision should finally be revealed.
This week, during Tim's visit, we learned that Char's mom died when she was young and her father was in prison. She was raised by her grandmother. The family wasn't so pleased when she decided to abandon her career as a hairdresser and begin pursuing fashion design. She had a few high profile clients and then began her own clothing line in Detroit. The risk is finally paying off.
|@chargrelscouture on Instagram|
Tim visited Kini in Hawaii and revealed that he can't hula. It was an incredible Tim Gunn moment. His interactions with the families are always a highlight of the show, but as usual, in their efforts to jam pack each episode with moments, these were given the short shrift.
When the designers returned to New York, the judges asked for a preview of the final show so that they could critique it. They've done this a time or two in the past and when they have, the final collections improve immensely-- even though the designers have only a day or two left.
During Tim's visit, he said that Sean should show a cohesive collection that reflected his voice. Sean speaks "fringe" apparently, so fringe is peppered throughout. Of the four, Sean was the most inspired by the history of Rome, particularly the betrayal of Caesar, who was strangled by Brutus with a strand of fringe (a little-known fact!) The fringe sliced his neck clean open and rivulets of blood spilled down--the inspiration for the white dress with the orange-red fringe. All of Roman history in one outfit! Oh, and a toga-dress! The judges received his preview quite well, so he got the least constructive of the critiques. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
The judges told Char to lose the middle look and try to address the missing piece with more of her own, personal style. The middle look does look a bit out of place. Nina hated the placement of the sheer fabric...and let's face it...she's sick of the sheer. And get off her lawn, already! The look on the right features wild and garish fabric she bought in Rome for $100 a yard. Thing is, that crazy print really does reflect her style. So the judges are hoping to see more of that on the runway. They also wanted her to tweak the styling into something less severe.
The hippy, bohemian love affair continues....
Look closely. You can almost see the graffiti and architecture that pepper the Roman streets Amanda claims to be her inspiration. Thing is, there are women in Rome who would dress like this. Cosmopolitan, urban Italians, more than anyone else, will dress their personal style. But unless Tim managed to take her to some exclusive night club or a dinner party with venture capitalists, I'm not seeing the Italian flair. This is "Amanda goes to Italy." The judges did have some constructive feedback. Amanda had some jewelry made for the collection but only showed it on one piece in the preview. The judges loved the jewelry and the styling in general. They wanted her to try and lighten up the final collection. There are too many maxi dresses. She should show some more variety.
Kini proved he could show exquisitely made clothes but I always worried he would showcase his construction technique and nothing but that.
He completely fell into that trap. There's the coat everyone loved but didn't need to see again. There's the fussy skirt that almost scuttled his last competitive entry. There's the denim fringe that everyone loved as a trim now being used as a major detail. It all looks so overbearing.
And that's just what he sewed.
The Mary Kay make-up team conjured up some sort of denim-shaded, smokey eye that made the models look like they were appearing in one of those "stop domestic abuse" film-shoots. Kini also managed to find the most matronly purse on the Aldo accessory wall. Aldo probably doesn't even know it sells that purse. The list of judges' recommendations constitutes an overhaul. Kini sews fast and well but my constant critique of him this year is that he never uses the extra time remaining to address the details. Now, after six weeks and $9,000, I have questions about his design vision and (as Nina would say) taste level. If anyone has the chops to overhaul a collection, Kini does. Previews of next week's show, however, show that this critique broke down his spirit. We'll see if he manages to overcome.
This week, I'm going to be posting the collections of the "decoy" designers that showed at Fashion week. So do check back! Until next week!