Saturday, September 19, 2015

Project Runway Season 14, Episode 7: Dumpster Diving

 Greetings, Project Runway Fans!

I think the Project Runway Graphic Art division had the most fun with this episode.
So did the props crew.
With a tip of the (freecycled) Project Runway cap to Season 10's Fabio Costa, this year,  the unconventional materials challenge featured cast-off, vintage technology.

All those tubes and wires...
The Challenge

"Designers, you may have thought that we already did the unconventional materials challenge, but you'd be wrong. That was the 'special sponsor promotion' challenge. THIS is the unconventional materials challenge.
"The woman with the perfect posture standing next to me is Nina's boss, Anne Fulenwider, from Marie Claire. Despite her presence, this will not be a chance for your garment to appear in Marie Claire. We've done that twice this season. How much more must we do for you?"
Gratuitous shot of actual dumpster diving.
Project Runway over the years has had it's iconic moments. Santino mimicking Tim Gunn....Christian Siriano demonstrating the perfect runway walk, Laura Bennett and the turtle poop....To this list we can add the shopping cart parade. I even have a soundtrack for it. Turn it up...LET'S GO...

I'm doin' the shopping cart...I need this I need that...
Doin' the shopping cart...gimme this, gimme that....
I spread my feet apart and I bring the shopping cart....
Being New York City, I'm sure nobody batted an eyelash at the spectacle. Because THEY DO THIS EVERY YEAR IN THE WINTER.

Friends, let me introduce you to the NYC IDIOTAROD!

Yes, New Yorkers are cooler than you. In fact, they're down right freezing.
For the past ten years, about the same time as the Iditarod in Alaska, New Yorkers take to Queens and Manhattan in souped up shopping carts (some with real's cold out there!) and race across town. It's almost as crazy as a Project Runway unconventional materials challenge.

We're seven episodes in. In production time, its somewhere around a couple of weeks. At this point, some of life's hard truths are starting to sink in.

"I've got to change my 'mumsy' ways."
"Must use found muslin."
That is, for SOME PEOPLE.  Others...

"You see, Cahn-dees, I have a see-cret strategee. I will make safe garments...nothing too good, nothing too bad...Every week I will be safe and that's how I will get to Fashion Week."

"You see, Lind-see, I can sew faster than you so I cahn vait until the last minute to make my skirt. Until then, I will distract you from making yours, because you are so slow!"
One thing I was pleased to see this week....

Shop safety is always very important.
For a change, no one had to be rushed to the hospital.

Guest Judges

I'm going to tread delicately here. I've been accused in the past of being too critical of guest judges, particularly when they seemed so out of left field. Paula Patton was this week's guest judge. She's on every other television show and in all the popular movies. She was recently chosen to do a fashion spread for Ellen Tracy. So there's that.

"I'm just trying to keep it positive! Everyone tried their very best. Even the ones that utterly failed!" 
Such sweetness, light and generosity of spirit. Makes you wonder what Robin Thicke did to cause the divorce, right? Because you know it was his fault. He knows it was his fault.

Not many women get a mediocre album written about their starter marriage.

That was kind of petty, wasn't it? Listen, you give me guest judges who add nothing substantive to the mix but good posture, Nina's continued employment (you're not fooling us, Anne) and a 1,000 watt smile (seriously, Robin...what were you thinking?) I'm going to poke fun.

Let's move on to the outfits.

Laurie (Mouse Pad) Underwood

Perhaps the model walked too fast for the judges to get a good look at it. Perhaps the other dreadful outfits wore them down to a more charitable disposition. This was one of my least favorite things she did. In fact, it's my least favorite look of the night. (Yes, worse than the loser.) Even with a little paint slapped on here and there, it's a mouse pad dress.

By the way...when did mouse pads become "vintage technology"? I'm using one right now.

Candice Cuoco

Everyone raves and raves about Candice....I'm just not seeing it right now.

The dress is staring back at us in silent judgment.
This was a hot glue gun hot mess. Wires weren't fully glued on. They began to unstick and pop out in odd places. And then, there's the matter of the "eyelids." That is not a sophisticated white accent. It's not even a clever or compelling graphic statement.

Some in the chatroom began comparing this dress to Jillian's Twizzler dress in Season 4. Really?

I wasn't a big fan of that dress, but at least it's not staring back at me.

Merline "Birdie" Labissiere

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy wires be tacked and tethered, thou,” I said, “art sure not feathered,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the East River shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s fierce Runway shore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Merline was safe, although those teal panties are playing peek-a-boo!

Edmond "Fringe Benefits" Newton

This one looked better the further away from it you were. In close-ups, you could see the glue. Edmond took a close look at his matierals and realized that the underside of the keyboard keys was shiny and had an interesting texture. He assumed (correctly) that others would use the right side of the key. Black on black, the right side wasn't as interesting as the reverse. Instead of covering the whole dress, he used it to make a pattern. Smart use of materials.  Once again, however, the model's hair is in the way of the most interesting part of the dress.

This wasn't one of my favorite looks. The front looked better than the back. The only real interest is in the strapping. The back of the skirt is an afterthought and the fringe thing, from the back, looks like a set of hockey shoulder pads.

Swapnil "The Guru of Goofing Off" Shinde

It's all very interesting, isn't it? Up close, however, the wires were tied together with duct tape, sticking out all over the rhyme or reason. He basically tied a nest of wires onto a muslin skirt.

"I'm pretty sure that looks like something I saw on 'This Old House'."

"I could have sworn this was the 'Angie's List' Challenge!"
Let's set aside all the shenanigans associated with Swapnil's multiple smoke breaks, strategy of mediocrity, and holding back. My theory is that he thought that an avant garde gimmick would get him by. Remember, he went for the "wow" factor in the last challenge knowing full well his look would not be easily mass produced--the whole point of the challenge. The junkyard challenge might not have been the best time to employ that approach. Let's hope for Swapnil's sake that there isn't a real avant garde challenge in his future. He may have shot his wad on this.

Lindsey "Indecisive" Creel

Throughout this competition, Lindsey has been unsure of her designs, her textiles, her approaches, etc... Even when she is sure, she's easily tripped up by a setback.  She made a beautiful bodice covered with keyboard came dangerously close to just being keys glued onto muslin--keys as decoration, not keys used as a textile substitute. The difference is subtle. She clearly ran out of time and material and turned to the CD dust sleeves to make the skirt. An obvious choice, but way too much like a textile. I actually liked the effect of the skirt. BUT....the skirt and bodice don't seem to go together.  And the little silver belt and doodad at the neckline don't really help, either.

"It's like the bathroom tile on top and the shower curtain on the bottom."
Zac took his harsh pills for this challenge.

Joseph Charles "Mumsy" Poli

It's the worst thing he's ever made. Up until now, his designs and workmanship have been unimpeachable. They've also been uninspired. Too safe. Too conventional. Too...matronly (because lord knows, old women are conventional and safe....) Now, if I had to pick between the two mousepad dresses, I'd choose Joseph's. Sorry, Laurie. I have to say it was the least matronly thing he made. Why the auf? Well, for one thing, he barely manipulated the pads at all. For another, there hasn't been a challenge he's really come out ahead on, let alone won.

"You know, I had some encouraging words from Paula...a kiss from Heidi....that's more than Robin Thicke got this year."
So true.

Ashley "Flare Skirt" Tipton

Ashley had Polaroid pictures.


The smeared color developing chemicals made a lovely effect. So she gathered them all together and made a lovely print dress.

"It's like a dress made of memories."
It's gorgeous. Almost got her the win. It was easily my favorite look of the night.  It was a beautifully executed look for this challenge. 

Is the lack of confidence an act for for real?  If it's an act...well done. Way to promote that story line. If it's for real, it's understandable, but she wouldn't be the first designer or the only designer driven by her need for acceptance. I suspect many of them are filled with self doubt. It compels them to be successful.

Kelly "From the Deli" Dempsey

She took aluminum tubing, stretched it out and sewed (or glued...) it in alternate layers to make an interesting textured pattern.

Kelly's "street" aesthetic finally fit the challenge perfectly. The dress was loose on the model, so at the last minute, she added the back and side straps. Brilliant fix, which totally fixed the fit.

Well deserved win!


It seems that every season, the outside world breaks through to remind the designers that there is more to life than competition and personal ambitions. Jake learned that his dog would need to be put down and decided to leave the competition so that he could be by his side at the end. Sure, Jake could have continued. But this was the dog that was with him when his parents died. It speaks to his character that things like loyalty and companionship are important to him.

Wasn't it fortunate, in hindsight, that Jake included his dog in his audition videos? 

Until next week...see you in the Blogging Project Runway chat room!


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