Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Project Runway Junior: Episode 2: Workin' at the Car Wash

Greetings Project Runway Fans!

Welcome back.  This week's episode had me singing this song all week long...

Because it's time to take the limo to the car wash.
Thank you, Matt, for saying what needed to be said.
"Wax on...wax off."
"Designers, it's time for the unconventional materials challenge!"
The designers displayed a panoply of emotions.

Tim Gunn's tie displayed a panoply of colors.

"I hope I don't need to explain to you that 'unconventional materials' means want you to use them like conventional materials. This is not an avant garde challenge."
But Hannah really dropped the biggest hint of all.

"Look at me. I'm wearing another cropped top. Design a cropped top and you're getting a high score from me."
After the mad scramble for stuff, there was no visit to Mood. The designers did have a table full of notions, however.
Note the missing picture of the designer who lost the last challenge.
Let's see how everyone did.

Maya used a floor mat for the top and pinwheels for the skirt.
I'm still trying to figure out what pinwheels have to do with a car wash. Can someone explain this to me? Do you get a free pinwheel with every car wash now? Do they tie one to your antenna after the wax is finished?

This look kept her safe for the challenge. There's nothing here to set the world on fire. It would have been better had she had enough pinwheels to completely cover the muslin skirt or if she had had some interest in the top.

Zach used floor mats and other assorted flotsam and jetsam.

 It's a little too "Playboy Bunny." All that's missing is the little collar at the neck, ears and a bunny tail and she should be carrying a tray of drinks at the club. I realize the only brief was to make something that "looked like clothes" but you have to have some level of taste, I think.

This would have been elevated had Zach made more than just a bra out of the pieces that he used in the bodice. He could have given the whole top a more ombré effect. 

Victoria used floor mats and hose.
The fit on this dress is rather questionable. She needed a whole lot more darting and shaping. Wrapping a hose around fabric does not make a dress. Furthermore, you allowed the model's hair to cover up the most interesting part in the back.

Always pumped up for every challenge.
He's using fabric hose, which few people did. The colors were really nice.
The top is interesting. The shorts (yes, they're shorts) are clever. Still, it's two different pieces. I would have loved to see the shorts in the hose fabric as well. I'm impressed with the construction of the shorts. Here, a 15-year-old boy has managed to make a pair of shorts with unconventional materials that fit better than any shorts did in Season 14 with the adults. Drop the mic, Jax.

Why this look wasn't also rated high enough to go before the judges is beyond me. Look at that cropped top!

She used plastic flags and broken-up reflectors.
It's a big bowl of ok. She was also in the safe zone for this challenge. I would have liked to have seen something more interesting done with the skirt. Don't ask me exactly what, however. It seems as those she was really limited by the materials.

Peytie ain't just playing around...
"I see you're making some sort of cropped top."
"Just trying to keep Hannah happy!"

"The top and bottom look like they're from different outfits."
"I disagree. They're both made out of mops. Can't you see this?
"Someone has failed to inform Kelly that this show is not the 'Fashion Police.'"
I see both sides here. The outfit would have been more cohesive had both the skirt and top featured the fringe. The fit and the construction are spot on. Our surfer girl is quite the contender.

"I can make anything out of anything!"
The color put her off. The texture could have gone "full Muppet." The challenge for Samantha was do design something that made this look like a garment. I think she came close, but wouldn't have heaped as much praise on it as the designers did.
"I can't even see the seams!"
"Take a closer look at the back, Ava."
Just a little bit of shaping at the waistline and the same cut-away in the back as the front would have improved the dress. We all know, however, that only a cropped top could have catapulted this dress into contention to unseat the reflecto-boys.
Reflecto #1
The sun reflector dress was well fitted.
Oh the key chains! Let's gush over the key chains! Let's not and say we did. I'm all for the right not looking like the left...breaking the rules. But when the entire dress is over the top symmetrical, a red shoulder and a blue shoulder looks too much like a mistake. I would have preferred blended colors. From a construction standpoint, this was the better dress.

"Ha ha ha...not so fast..."
Reflecto #2 was an interesting mashup between the sun reflectors and the floor mats.
"Not just that, but it doesn't pull away at the top. He's working some gravity defying voodoo up in there."
When the construction exceeds expectations and the visual interest is high, it doesn't really matter that the top really belongs with another bottom, I guess. Normally, I'm peeved when the "best design" doesn't win, but the Reflectos were so close and it gave us the best non-verbal exchange of the season....any season for that matter.
Sheepish grin of a surprise win.
That's TV gold there, folks. TV gold.

"I made the cropped top for Hannah and I wanted to add tubing for the skirt."
The top is a hot mess. The tubes are even worse. They bound the model to the point where she could only waddle down the runway. Tim had the answer all along. Cut the tubes in half. Here's what Matt needed to do with the skirt: cut the tubes into 4-6" sections, THEN cut the tubes in half. Stab them several times to poke holes. Hand sew them through the holes--concave. They would have laid flatter and the skirt would have moved. All that still wouldn't have helped with the top.

I'm not 100% convinced that Matt shouldn't have been the one to go home and not Ysabel. I like the flare on the back of the skirt. Had she been able to incorporate some of the purple and red, she might have been able to make this more interesting. Kelly also pointed out that the top needed a pop of color as well, instead of the white cording from the flags. I liked the sponge top. She was the only designer to use the sponges. Had she used them for both pieces she might have been rewarded for all her pain and suffering (there would have been a lot) by staying for another challenge.
The outfit looks way better in this picture than it did on the runway, by the way. 
Still, it's sad to lose one of the designers and this picture says it all.

Have we ever seen such a genuine, heartfelt display of emotion on the runway before? Maybe we have, but I bet it was more from individual gratitude or individual disappointment and not the pain of losing the camaraderie of friends who share your passion after years of working and dreaming alone. There aren't other kids their age who have this design dream where they live. For the first time, they can pal around with people who get their inside jokes, have their same concerns, follow the same people, worry about the same things. It's hard to leave that. Forget about the competition.
Yes, Ysabel is 17 and about to have one of the best years of her life. She kicked it off with Project Runway and it can only get better from here. Wishing her all the best in the future!

Well, I'd say see you next week, but next week is that week where you eat a meal with your relatives and give thanks that you don't get together with them more often. Oh wait...that's only some of us! I'm very thankful for the readers that visit this blog each week. I'm also thankful for the creative folks behind Project Runway who decided to take a chance with the Juniors. It's a much-needed shot in the arm to a stale franchise and it's been a lot of fun so far.

See you in two weeks!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Project Runway Junior: Season 1, Episode 1: The Kids are Alright

Greetings Project Runway JUNIOR Fans!

I know how excited everyone is that I've decided to blog Project Runway Junior.

Don't hold back, kids.
"Designers, I would like to introduce you to our host, Hannah Davis, who will has poster paper around her waist that she will be be passing out to you so you can draw your designs."

"'re such a jokester. That's my skirt."
"For this first challenge, use the New York Skyline as your inspiration. Hannah, could you please pass out the paper?"

"Tim, I have no paper to pass out."

"This is great poster paper."

"I actually think it was supposed to be Hannah's skirt. She looked kind of upset when Tim ripped it off of her."

"Did you know she was dating Derek Jeter?"

"Who's Derek Jeter?"

In all seriousness, these kids were delightful. As individuals in their own communities, they are likely to be oddballs. Here, however, there's instant camaraderie that comes from meeting other people who share your interests.

Also worth noting, their general attitude is one of a group of kids playing a game, not a group of adults competing for a job. And just kid exuberance in general.

Given cameras, they dutifully took pictures of the skyline...

And then, took selfies.

And after season after season of jaded designers entering the workroom and sewing room, it was refreshing to see their excitement.

The brief....couldn't be briefer.

The judges....

Joining Hannah is Kelly Osbourne, Christian Siriano, and executive fashion editor at Cosmopolitan and Seventeen Magazine Aya Kanai. The judges certainly don't pull any punches just because the designers are so young.

One note: Lifetime only identifies each designer by his or her first name. Some designers have had some additional press in local media, etc... Where I could find the last name, I'm identifying it in the blog, at least for this edition. 

Let's dive in!

Matt Sarafa, Manhattan Beach, CA

He looks like Tin Tin, no?

And Tin Tin managed to find a new section of Mood we've never seen....the suiting section!
Matt was all about the bling, using chains to accent the front and the back of a very basic, black dress. The construction was solid and there was nothing too offensive or outstanding to notice. He advances safely.

Ysabel, Artesia, CA

Intricate strapping and mixed materials gave this this a bit more interest than a standard, little, black dress. The fit and construction are outstanding. The asymmetrical skirt is a bit too severe and very short on the side. 

Victoria Cohen, Westlake, OH

Christian pointed out that strips were only on the front of the skirt, which seemed a little incomplete. The judges also pointed out that the strips were a bit too long. I think they're also too uneven. The overall effect was interesting, well constructed and ultimately safe.

Peytie, Carlesbad, CA

Peytie is our surfer girl and true to form, went right for the tie-dye material.

She designed an easy, breezy dress. What this dress has to do with NYC is beyond me. It does showcase her beachy aesthetic. The look was safe and she advances.

Jesse, Swampscott, MA

It's an understated dress with a little bit of interest at the neckline. Really safe.

Bridget, Brockton, MA

Bridget doesn't need me to tell her that with this group, a dress with a cape will not be enough to stay ahead of the pack. Even a cape that is a clever extension of the cross halter top. She was safe for this challenge.

Zachary, Berkeley, CA

A.K.A., "second Kini." He sews fast and has a sophisticated sense of style.

A collar, two layers of gathers...there's a lot to this look. He was safe for this challenge, but you can see the potential that he has.

Maya Ramirez, Toledo, OH

At the tender age of 13, she's the youngest competitor this season. Her look had a high degree of difficulty.

The idea of someone tackling a pant jumpsuit with mixed materials is pretty audacious. Where you'd expect a simple, gathered top in the back, she delivers delicate strapping with a leatherette strip down the back that meets at the waist.

Unfortunately, the look is brought down by puckering at every seam and at the hem. The hem, also, seems a bit too short. If she can get control of the details, she's definitely has the potential to bring some wow to the runway.

Zach Lindsey, Louisville, Kentucky

We've got a Zach and a am I supposed to keep these two straight? For one thing, Zachary is usually the one in the hat.

I expected to hear a bouncing baseline and strains of "Happy"...

This was a welcome pop of color on a generally drab runway. While the fit and construction were fine, the judges pointed out that this look is way too conventional. While it was far from the only safe look on the runway, Zachary needs to step up the creativity if he's going to continue on much further.

Jaxson Metzler, Minneapolis, KS

Yeah, he's goofy and off the charts nerdy...but....

He has a strong idea of what he wants to design and he's not afraid to go for it. This was beautifully graphic and a lovely play on black and white with some clever pops of color. Yes, it was a literal inspiration, but it was clever and whimsical, yet really sophisticated. I only wish the top had not been so highly cropped in the front. That limits its wearability. Still, if Jax were my son, I'd make him design my clothes. I'd be doing Pilates 5 days a week just to be able to fit in them.

Samantha, Queens, NY

Leave to the gal from Queens to take her inspiration from her city and win the challenge.

There's nothing literal here. This is a contemporary street look, just a little more refined....if you don't look too closely at the details.

She kept the edges raw and you can see the seam allowances in the top. The collar is a little wonky. Samantha needs to be mindful of the finishing, particularly if future challenges are close.

I think the factor that elevated the look for the judges was her choice of daywear over eveningwear--a choice that helped her stand out. She was also thoughtful about creating a look that could be worn by a variety of sizes. Using denim was classic. The white top, while cropped and baring some skin, doesn't bare an excessive amount. It's youthful without being trashy.  

Do we HAVE to send someone home?

Mind if I pick at this scab a bit? I'm still trying to figure out what went wrong here. Sami was the one that was drawn to the detail of the city, not to the buildings.

I got excited thinking that she was going to play with the cab theme. Maybe a black and yellow print of some sort....

Not even close. I'm not exactly sure what ended up inspiring her because the next thing you know, she was drawing what looked like a very standard, low-cut evening gown.

With a "paper bag" gathered skirt. That's where she lost everyone. I loved the back and forth between the judges. "But she did that lovely chain in the back..." "It looks like the paper chains we made at summer camp!"

What else can we pick on? Oh yeah...the hem is really uneven.

Oh, if only Sami could have caught that mental cab that was stuck in traffic. Maybe she could have succeeded. But the way the judges were rolling, we would have lost Zachary.

And that would be sad, no?

It's sad to lose any of them.

Yes, Tim gets a save this year, but he's not going to use it this early. So it's goodbye to Sami.

I have to say, it's nice to have a 60 minute show back. Nice, tight, with no dull moments. We got plenty of construction. Not a whole lot of drama, because these kids don't have time for that kind of negativity.

It was almost like time traveling back to Season 1 in a way. I'm sure the sniping will begin at some point. Some of these kids would drive me bananas if I had to share a workroom.  But if you haven't watched the show, you should. This is going to be a good season.

We'll be in the Blogging Project Runway chatroom next Thursday at 9 pm. Until then, see you next week!