Sunday, August 16, 2015

Project Runway Season 14, Episode 2: When You Care Enough to Glue Very Best

Hello there from Vacationland, USA, Project Runway fans!

Last day of vacation and your blogger is so happy to be returning home to a familiar cable system and reliable wifi.

It's a promotional challenge!
"Promotional much fun..."
There are still too many of you....
Instructions were easy. The materials for the challenge were found in the Hallmark card store. It looks like someone stripped the store of fabrics and christmas ornaments.

We'll never see someone make a garment out of Hallmark's Star Trek 2015 Ornament collection.
Leaving only cards. And as we learned from the nice Hallmark lady, cards tell a story. A story about our feelings.

Happy nut!
Speaking of feelings and stories, one story that emerged was the idiotic response that Blake made when Swapnil announced that the heavy duty machines were threaded in the sewing room. Let's go to some expert analysis...

"Blake, I don't understand 'Indian' any better than you do, but your comment makes me wonder if you understand the difference between a language and an accent."
Which could end up being a BIG PROBLEM....

"Are you not going to understand my accent, either?"
Rather than vilifying Blake Patterson for his ignorance before the reality TV cameras, let us hope, instead, that his listening comprehension improves...and fast!

Anyway, this silly dust up was a distraction from the real feel-good story of the week....

Swapnil has scissors!!!
Designers struggled with the challenge and the materials.

"Designers, the glue gun is your friend. Use it thoughtfully."

Ashley Tisdale was the guest judge this week. She's an actress and fashion blogger. Fashion blogger? Does everyone have a fashion blog now?

But we all know who should have been the guest judge this week....

She's going to be my guest judge this week as we break down the looks we liked and the looks we didn't. Take it away, Maxine!

The Looks we Liked

Jake Wall, I still don't know who you are, but Tim Gunn said your outfit looked like roofing tiles and you ignored him. You got away with it this time. Actually, using all that black was pretty smart. I have no idea how sloppy the construction is. The color hides all that.
Kelly Dempsey took a chance by making fringe. This could have gone completely Polynesian, but the contrasting, angular crop top saved it from becoming too costumey. I understand that everything is being "hoodied" these days, but I thought the hood was an unnecessary design element. It's as if she doesn't know whether she wants to go to the nightclub or to dance class.
Lindsay Creek captured Heidi's length of the moment.  But if you're going to feature jewelry on the back of the outfit, style the model's hair up.
Suburban mom chic!
See the square hanging from the collar? IT'S AN ENVELOPE! How cute is that? Thank you, Hanmaio, for being so playful! Your shoe choices, however...are beyond weird.
Swapnil's almost win was very intelligent. First, he could have done both pieces if he had enough flowers and time to make the top and bottom in the same way. He didn't have those materials so he was forced to design a contrasting top. He used the pinstriping to create an edge to the whole ensemble. Pairing it with boots raised the sophistication level. Smart! It almost got him a big win.
Edmund Newton was inspired by a bridal card and went for broke creating an iconic look fit for a Hallmark card. Where did he get those large sheets of paper?  
Here's Edmund opening up Hallmark bags.
He used the logo as a subtle pattern, too. All these things added up to the perfect use of unconventional materials. And he made a flower, which made Zac Posen smile. If we ignore the fact that you can see the model's derriere every time she took a step and don't look too close to see how those petals are joined to the bodice, this is the obvious winning look.

Blake Patterson is the one we all love to hate, isn't he? And there was much discussion in the chat room last week about use of the cards and how many cards constituted "use." Because, this is clearly a muslin dress. Covering the muslin in glitter helped, apparently. What the judges loved was that the cards were a prominent and intricate part of the dress. He used them as a textile and not an embellishment. This is a subtle distinction that I'm pretty sure the judges didn't use in prior unconventional materials challenges. I'll let some other blogger figure that one out. Project Runway has a long history of inconsistent rules. 
One rule always stands out: if the design is successful, the judges overlook a lot of shortcomings!

The Looks We Didn't Love....

Take it away, Maxine!

Candice Cuoco was safe with the judges, but upon closer inspection, the bodice and the back of the outfit are rather messy. Shiny materials are a challenge to make look good. You know going in, you'll get points for cohesiveness but the risk you run is a less-than-perfect execution.
I don't know if it's lighting or execution, but the back of Laurie Underwood's outfit looks better than the front. She shape is too much like a lampshade and the bodice looks like a mess of compromises with an unforgiving material.

Gabriella Aruda's look just pissed me off. She had such a promising technique of shredding the card material onto the muslin that I thought she had potential to make a run for first place. Then, we began to see the pattern, which one of the designers gratuitously compared to a part of a woman's anatomy. Why she didn't produce a more abstract pattern is beyond me. Even stripes would have been better.

But that's not the biggest sin here. She started off with a muslin underlay, which means she had full control of the shape of the dress. Why, then, is the neckline so high in the front and awkward in the back? What sort of fashion statement does a woman make with a rounded skirt past her knees in the front and just barely covering her butt in the back? This is a mess. The judges did Gab no favors by making this safe. She could have benefited from some hard critique.

So, Amanda Perla...I know it's hard hearing that your skirt looks like a piƱata and that there's too much going on, but you needed to hear those things. It's definitely no fun being dangled for a possible elimination, but you needed to hear that when you're in a design hole, sometimes the solution is not to throw everything against the wall.

Amanda started off with the bodice and wanted to do a look with the lace and colored underlay. That was executed successfully. The skirt solution was a complete compromise as a result of a lack of time and materials. This is completely understandable. Where she failed was in just giving up and putting the skirt and top together without any sort of unifying element, first and foremost. Second, the shape of the hemline looks like a total mistake. Third, the cards in the front look like an apron. Had she more thoughtfully executed the skirt, I think she would have been safe instead of almost off...and maybe we would have seen this one instead....
What the hell is this? The model looks like Joseph Poli stuffed her into a paper bag. No, you don't get points for an unconventional shape...not when it's clear that you are letting the material master the design instead of the other way around.
Or maybe Merline's could have been in the running for worst. What seemed like an intelligent approach to architectural design last week now seems like an obsession. Panels in front and back of dress do not = "architectural." It's a gimmick and not a good one. The creases exclaim to the world that THIS IS A PAPER DRESS. And the rest of it is a glue gun mish-mash.
When Ashley Tipton said she wanted to make a poncho, I got the shivers. Those never work out on Project Runway.
"They worked out for me!"
Why, yes, Amanda, they did. But back to Ashley. The judges said that had she not had immunity, her outfit would have been disqualified because all she did was glue a pattern of cards onto a muslin outfit. She did not USE the materials as a textile-like overlay. That is different from using the materials like an embellishment. And for all this use of muslin, what did she get? A garment so stiff the model could barely walk. A real miss.

I will be so glad when the world gets over it's collective love affair with putting hoods on everything. Poor David Gianpiccolo! I so loved typing your name and now I won't anymore! David used a plastic embellishment from a card and decorated a muslin hoodie. I don't know if that was a misunderstanding of the rules or if he was so fixated on using the letters in this way that he simply forgot that the unconventional materials were supposed to dominate the design.
One way this could have worked would have been to alternate strips of the muslin with paper material. That would have made the sleeves and hood nearly impossible to execute. Who knows? Clearly, once he set his sights on an outfit with a hood and sleeves, he upped the difficulty ante so high, he could no longer use the paper effectively.
David's story really touched me and I wanted to save some blog space for that, before I close. The United States has made huge progress this year in securing the right to marry for all regardless of sexual orientation. Part of this has lead to increased acceptance in the general community of differences in orientation. The military and even the Boy Scouts now accept gay people.

But that doesn't mean that families still accept them. As a parent, I can tell you that children are the biggest challenge to one's belief system. You have a child and you have certain expectations of what that child is going to be. If you aren't careful, those expectations can easily develop into an extension of your own identity. Parents are always in danger of feeling like a failure if their child does not meet their expectations.

Parents are driven to instill a moral code and sense of compassion in our children. We want them to be good citizens and team players...but that line is sometimes so subtle and sometimes we fixate on a behavioral detail instead of the big picture. It's not unlike using a part of a card instead of the whole card in a design contest... That's the sort of thing that can move a parent to "disowning" a child. Allowing children to question your world view is one of the most humbling and daunting aspects of parenting. It can also be the most rewarding, if you let it.

Replace the word "gay" with "depressed" or "autistic" or any other word you wish and you'll see that parents everywhere with children who are different all struggle with their challenges in "Project Parenthood." Before we go beating everyone up for falling short, let us remember that the enterprise we call "childhood" is really less than 200 years old--in the Western world, anyway. Prior to that, children were considered "little adults." The whole notion of "child development" is still brand new, as is the whole consideration of mental health and so many other things. We're collectively toddling around in this new world of the inner person, so cut people some slack as they're busy evolving.

Which brings us back to the greeting card, doesn't it?  Isn't that a weird custom? Letting someone else's words and pictures express your feelings? As a company, Hallmark has been evolving just like the rest of us. Remember a few years ago when Hallmark released this Christmas ornament?

Ellen DeGeneres and Jon Stewart had a field day. Has definition of "gay" become exclusively about sexual orientation? It was a big whiff for Hallmark and threatened their standing with the gay community...a huge and growing market for them.

But they figured it out.
Hallmark's first gay Father's Day card.
Remember, the challenge to INTEGRATE the unconventional material into the ENTIRE DESIGN. 

It's a silly, reality TV design show, but Project Runway is always at its best when it makes you think about the struggles that creative people have in the real world because we have those struggles too.

I'm stepping off my soapbox to tell you that next week's challenge is IN TEAMS! 

"Team much fun...."
It's on a cruise ship so the Project Runway promotional juggernaut marches on!

See you next week for more blog fun and check out the Blogging Project Runway chatroom on Thursday at 9 pm EDT for live chat during the show!


  1. I put in Hallmark's suggestion box 2 years ago that they needed more LGBT cards. Really? Is that all they have?

    1. They have a whole line of LG cards. Not so sure about the B&T, since that evolution has been much slower.

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  3. Use the glue gun thoughtfully! lol! Love the captions. Great blog, Susq!

  4. Your musing on parenthood are spot-on. In my family, I've seen the evolution of homophobic parents having a total change of heart when their own child was gay/lesbian, seeing people becoming less racist due to marriages or adoptions, becoming less arrogant about educational achievements after having a family member struggle with dyslexia, etc. Luckily, everyone has risen to the occasion. I can't imagine the devastation for a child whose parents cannot or will not accept them.