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The Project Accessory Blog


Emily Blumenthal: Episode 8 Review

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 1:54am GMT

Dear Project Accessory Viewers,

That's it. This is the last episode of this show.  We are down to the final 3: #Goggles, Brian & Nina.  Christina & Diego are out. We are going to find out who is going to get a feature spread in InStyle and $100,000 from eBay Fashion. 

#Goggles starts off feeling confident.  Nina is still lamenting that she is still living at home and therefore has been limited with what she can do.  Brian of course says that he respects the others but he has what it takes to win (blah, blah, blah.) But I digress...

The final challenge need to create a collection of 9 accessories and presented with 3 different looks. They will be judged on a range of pieces and the designers' unique point of view.  In typical Project Runway form, they are allowed to select 1 former contestant as their helper.  #Goggles picks Diego. Nina picks Kelly and Brian chooses James for his shoe skills. #Goggles and Nina pick the former for their bag skills and rightfully so (since they are both Independent Handbag Designer Awards' alums...) The designers get to work with stylist, Amanda Ross to work with them on their looks with 2 days and $1000 to shop. Nina is doing day wear, happy hour and evening.  She says it is going to be grownup bohemian tomboy. #Goggles is going for casual, workday-evening and elegant evening. Brian is doing a swimwear, casual and evening look and says living in Miami gives him a color edge.

Nina says that $1000 is a lot for her (#youngdesigners) and is letting Kelly handling the the bags with a boho and clutch on the to make list.  James is matching pumps and clutch out of snake skin.  Brian found big colors for his bracelets. #Goggles and Diego disagree on colors for bags since Diego believes in color and Rich wants black. Hm.... Brian is making a beach bag for his day look. James is doing pumps for evening out of snakeskin for evening. #Goggles is making a pendulum necklace.  You can see the stress building with the partners they have brought on with the expectation that their canned colleagues could pull miracles out their brother machine.  Brian is making a resin necklace for a change. #Goggles said he is running without a plan and that his line doesn't look finished. Nina is doing a cuff, statement necklace and a stone bezzeled ring. #Goggles and Diego are butting heads since their aesthetics are completely different and Brian comments that he wouldn't have ever picked Diego for that reason.  

Eva reviews Nina's look and says that currently there isn't much differentiation between her looks. Eva is wincing looking at Brian's work and says he is not being strategic and all over the place which he might actually finally listen to.  Eva says to #Goggles to find his voice and then he says to Diego that he needs to make changes to fix his bags to make it more his voice.  Kelly is working her butt off to make sure Nina is happy which is the opposite of what is happening with #Goggles and Diego.  James messed up the sizing of the shoes for the models and Brian is angry. Diego gives up on #Goggles and won't even help him style the models. Kelly is finishing the bags but it seems none of them will actually not be done but did at the last second. Diego helps Kelly finish the bags which infuriates #Goggles.

At the final runway, Molly says that the runner up will get a trip to Paris which is quite amazing. Lorraine Schwartz is the judge for the final episode. #Goggles first look is quite boring to say the least.  His second and I am not sure it makes enough of a statement.  His third look much more him but sadly I think it is just too soft for someone like him.  Nina's first look is very Nina.  The second look is amazing with a great tooled handbag and cocktail ring.  Her third look with 2 metal cuffs and a statement necklace. To me, it is a home run and oddly, very commercial but Nina is her own target audience which she has been consistently designing for.  Brian's swim wear look with a brass cuff and a beach tote is chic.  His daylook  to me is a bit on the cheesy side specially the fringe bracelet. His third did not blow me away either. James might make shoes but his taste is still not there. (My opinions - not the judges, yet.)

Nina's look and the judges say she has grown.  Ariel likes her but says her necklace isn't enough.  Kenneth says her look is consistent.  Molly loves her shoes.  There are barely any negative comments.Lorraine loves her 2 cuffs and said that her look was great. Ariel said that her innovation was lost.   

Lorraine loves #Goggles bronze cuff.  Molly loves his pendulum necklace.  Ariel loves his bronze clutch too. Kenneth said that in creating his commercial look that his voice was lost.  He also said that he elevated his level of danger with elegance.  (I totally agree - that bronze clutch was beyond and the fusion of Diego & Rich really worked for that piece.)

For Brian, Ariel likes his bangles and says his necklace is hatching. Kenneth said his mismatched earrings don't work. Molly loves everything.  Ariel worries that he doesn't have the balance between costumey and taste.  Oddly enough, Ariel loved his fringe bracelet (I am shocked we disagree!?!) They all do agree that Brian has a strong voice and he can execute his pieces well. 

That's it for me.  You can find me at the 2012 Independent Handbag Designer Awards or get my book, Handbag Designer 101. As for our 3 finalists, it is in the hands of the gods and by the time you read this, the best bag, shoe and necklace will be left standing on the Runway.

Emily Blumenthal


Emily Blumenthal: Episode 7 Review

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 5:01am GMT

Dear Project Accessory Readers,

We are now hitting Episode 7, the last episode before the finale, so the stakes are at an all-time high. So now for the zinge: Two designers will be going home. The designers will be creating accessories for the red carpet with Elie Tahari evening gowns as their inspiration. This challenge is all about creating statement pieces and not playing it safe.

Brian selects the black dress and then comments again that he isn't there to make friends, so he picks someone who is not competitive, like Nina, to choose the next dress. Nina has her eye on a gorgeous one-shoulder gray gown and chooses it. Christina picks an embellished lace dress. Rich picks a maroon dress and Diego is left with a white gown and is very happy about it.

Eva takes the designers on a field trip to Evolution in Soho, which is filled with fossils, butterflies, skulls, beetles and other creepy pieces. They meet with Bill Stevens, founder and curator for Evolution. The designers get to select one insect to inspire three accessories and one of the pieces must incorporate that actual insect. #Goggles is in heaven and thinks he can bring it on and picks Hercules Beetle the from Central America. Brian picks the glide beetle because of the pattern and wings. Christina picks a leaf bug because it matches her dress. Nina picks a spider and thinks she can do something web related. Christina mocks Diego for selecting a butterfly for being too contrived.

Nina is doing a web necklace and cuff and she is taking advantage of the wire. Brian is making a necklace with the glide beetle. Christina said she wants to do something clean that won't compete with the dress. Diego is making a clutch, bracelet and earrings. Rich is making a bug ring and taking it apart, which is blowing the rest of the designers' minds. #Goggles is getting cocky, which is exciting to see what he will bring to the table. Christina is doing an antique hair comb which will feature her bug and is also creating a cuff, ring and a Lucite minaudiere which she said represents her as a designer.

When Eva comes in she is immediately impressed with what #Goggles is doing. He is planning on making a pave background with his bug, amongst several other pieces. When she reaches Brian, the ego serum comes out. He said that he is going to do a beetle necklace as the centerpiece on an embossed croco leather which Eva commented is overwhelming and just too much. Brian said that, more or less, Eva doesn't know what she is talking about. And then he says that he is going to make one earring. (WHO DOES THAT!?) Eva encourages Diego to really push it, since it seems that he is playing it safe, but lately I am getting concerned that for all of that talent, is Diego just a bagman?

Brian makes a necklace, and then, of course, pours resin over it, and thinks he may have messed everything up. Brian's necklace at this point now looks like accidentally dumped Elmer's Glue all over it. Diego makes a headpiece that he just shouldn't have out of leather with the butterfly thrown on top. Christina says her oblong minaudiere is her wildcard and left it for the last minute, which came back to bite her in the butt since the blade broke, so now she has to make something else. She manages though to create a quick pair of earrings at the last minute. Pretty, but not mind-blowing.

This week's judges are Ariel, Molly, Kenneth, and then Rachel Roy and Brian Atwood. Brian's look looks like glue vomit on a bug and his model's hair looks like my 4-year-old did it. Diego's look was definitely safe (that headpiece must be confiscated). Nina's model looked AMAZING. The shoulder chain and bug cuff were unique and creative. When I have spoken about Christina not showing her voice, this is what I am referring to. Look at what Nina has done: pushing herself and that pieces she has created. That is showing a voice. Rich's look: he found himself. By golly, #Goggles got his groove back by a beetle. He made a brooch, earrings and cuff. Christiana's look was safe too. It definitely underwhelmed, even if it was pretty.

Brian went on and on about the death of a beetle through freezing. Ariel said that his model looks contrived. Molly said the looked like she was in Hurricane Irene. Rachel Roy loved the necklace and cuff. #Goggles look killed. Where has he been all season? Brian (Atwood, not the other designer) said his execution was amazing. Kenneth Cole said the pieces were too close together, but were great in look. The judges liked Nina's look and said that was all about new shapes and looks. Ariel said that Christina's antique comb looked like a bug on a barrette (which it totally did.) Brian liked her jewelry. The judges felt that she got lost. With Diego's look, Ariel said he wanted to ignore the headpiece. Molly loved the earrings and bracelet. His proportion for his clutch was too small and looked like a daybag.

So now what? We are almost done before the clock strikes, and I turn back into a handbag.

Stay tuned.

Emily Blumenthal


Live Tweet With @LifetimeTV and Special Guests During Tonight's Episode

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 11:27am GMT

Tweet along with guest judge (and "24 Hour Catwalk" host) @alexa_chung, plus @kennethcole, @RebeccaMinkoff, @Vivre_Eva and @MollyBSims during tonight's episode, beginning at 10 et/9c. Follow @LifetimeTV to join the conversation and use the hashtag #projectaccessory!


Emily Blumenthal: Episode 6 Review

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 6:03pm GMT

So just to recap, we have six designers left: Nina, Christina, Diego, Brian, Rich and Adrian. If you aren’t already familiar with my blog posts, we have gone through several #nicknames for these contestants (and just in case you didn’t know, Rich is known as #goggles since the others have since been voted off). Nina is green but talented, and Diego can make great bags and seems to be able to roll with the challenges, even with making jewelry. Christina has a great eye and is very talented, but we have yet to see something that is her voice and not so commercial. Brian has skills, but his ego and lack of editing could be his demise. #Goggles is great with a blowtorch but can’t seem to get it right with anything else but jewelry. And Adrian is supposedly a milliner but used a store-bought hat for the last challenge and definitely cannot edit. Got it?

The designers now have a meeting with Kenneth Cole in his design studio, and #Goggles is hoping for a menswear challenge. Kenneth greets the designers with all smiles. Christina is stoked, since this is up her alley. KC jumps right in, saying black is the foundation of the brand but it’s a challenge every season to keep it fresh. He then shows them a mood board (which is standard practice for creating a collection) from Holiday 2011 with the theme of Triple Black and informs them that he has selected six looks personally from the holiday collection and assigned a look to each designer. The designers are then asked to accessorize each look and are required to create a clutch and another accessory of their choice. The winner’s accessories will be sold in their stores, with the profits going to AIDS research. The look needs to be their own point of you within the boundaries of the brand and then throws in “don’t screw it up.”  You already know which designers are going to jump on this and which are going to jump out the window.

The designers have until 1 am and $150 dollars to create their products. Diego’s look is a classic sleeveless scoop-neck black gown with a bow and pumps. Nina has an iridescent feather mini with an open top basically meant for two-sided tape. Nina says that this open look is begging for a statement necklace. Brian is taking a runway or “editorial” approach with his belted knitted minidress. #Goggles’ look is a high-collared soft leather jacket with a floor-length dress, and he is now inspired to create a necklace and earrings. Adrian’s look is covered in fur, including the booties. I think they did that on purpose to see how he could edit it down if possible.

Diego is creating a copper gold leather clutch. Nina is getting a metallic leather that is two-sided and has lots of chains. Adrian is going to try to keep his clutch plain in order to show he can edit.Christina’s concept is clean lines. You know she will kill it on this challenge, because this is all about creating a sellable product. Now, people, this isn’t a bad thing — this is a very, very good thing. That makes her a great designer to “hire,” but I (like Ariel) am waiting to see something that she can create that hasn’t been done before, something that makes you think “AHA, that is Christina Caruso,” not “That is a great Kenneth Cole product,” since doing the latter is something she can clearly do. But I digress ... She is going to create earrings and a clutch with hardware detail.

Diego says his bags are better than Kenneth Cole’s bags. (He may have ego, but we have seen his work already ...) Diego is paying attention to the finishing of the product, since he says that is the first thing that women notice. Diego is actually giving advice to the other remaining designers. #Goggles is looking nervous already, since you cannot use a blowtorch to create a bag. Brian is making his own unicorn horn handle for his clutch out of resin (something he loves to do), but to me this is already a #redflag. Handles on a clutch? You can see he is more keen on showing his point of view than keeping it as a Kenneth Cole Productions product. Christina immediately notices that there is no connection as well. Everyone gets irritated with the resin in the air, since it is making it hard for everyone to work, and he could care less. Typical Brian.

Eva comes in for her review. She loves Brian’s clutch, but I am not sold. Eva challenges Diego to create a showstopper, since he does clutches well. Christina says he is playing too safe. Eva says #Goggles should be using metal and, to be honest, he should do his clutch out of two-toned metal with a cut-out handle and blow everyone away. (Where is #phoneafriend — I could save him already!) Adrian says he is going minimal for his accessories, and Eva isn’t impressed with his suede envelope clutch. He wants to make a cuff with grosgrain ribbon. (?!) (Can we just talk about the fact that Eva’s wardrobe is beyond ...)

#Goggles is paranoid because his sewing skills are his weakness, but hey, that is no excuse, since I remember someone who was new to sewing won “Project Runway,” no? But he says that Diego can’t work with metal. Adrian’s clutch looks like an envelope that needs a stamp — where did the wild man go? He added in a snake chain design on top to try to make it somewhat interesting. Christina recognizes that KCP has unique hardware, so she is creating her own closure with unique metal. I don’t know; maybe I will change my mind. Diego creates gigantic earrings that look like they weigh 15 pounds, but runway is always torture, isn’t it? (No tears for the models, sorry ...)

OK, people — let the runway begin! Kenneth Cole’s smile has already disappeared. And #OMG #AlexaChung is the guest judge. (If you are reading this, Alexa, you can tweet me anytime @HandbagDesigner and I will drop everything to answer you …)

#Goggles’ look works even though you can tell he used a faux croco. His necklace and ring are killer. Adrian’s look is poorly styled, so even his cuff couldn’t save it. Christina’s look is KILLER. Her clutch looks like a KCP product, and the earrings work. Brian’s clutch is awkward, with the horn too heavy for the goatskin. Diego makes a great clutch, but he recognizes that it isn’t right for the look. Nina’s clutch has a top metal handle that you can slip up your arm, which is a nice touch, especially for a sellable product. Her necklace is pretty but has been done before.

#Goggles: KC wants the bag to have a pleat to make it usable. Alexa loves the shrapnel & earrings dangerous necklace. Ariel is disappointed that there is a dark clutch with a dark look and thinks that a jewel tone would have been better suited to show contrast and up the look.

Adrian: KC says that the ornamentation for the bag will never be seen, since it will always be covered by a hand holding it, and that it isn’t functional. He says that the closer he looked at the clutch, the less he liked it. Alexa says it is too embellished for her taste. Molly says that she used a snake chain her in her jewelry line two years ago, so the snake is now dated, as far as she is concerned. Ariel says it looks like a project.

Christina: KC says her bag is made well. Alexa likes the elastic closure, but mind you, none of the judges mention her earrings, which I found odd. Perhaps since they weren’t worth talking about? (Where’s your voice?)

Diego: Ariel is disappointed with his shape of clutch. KC says it could be any other brand and has been done better. Alexa says the earrings — or, as she renamed them, “Chandeliearrings” — look uncomfortable. Molly says they are a bit big and this wasn’t her favorite.

Brian: Alexa loves his bag and his bolo necklace. KC says it’s great but it is more primitive and not modern. I do not like the bag, and it bothers me that the other judges are saying how much they like it, when it clearly does not reflect what the challenge was. This is not a Kenneth Cole bag. The horn is WAY TOO HEAVY for the material hanging. #Structure Textbook handbag case study: Check out the famed Mombasa bag from Yves Saint Laurent when Tom Ford was still there — that is how a horn works with a bag. Not like this.

Nina: Molly loves her necklace with the mix of gold and black. Alexa loves the handle. KC loves the necklace with the top, and Ariel says that back detail is a miss. (I agree with him on that — it was overdone.)

If only I could be in Vegas now, since I would be running the betting table, but the blessing of this blogger post of mine is that I have to keep my mouth shut. (In addition, I have no idea, but I could make some serious guesses …) Week 6 down now – what do you think? I am reading, so let me know.

Emily Blumenthal


Emily Blumenthal: Episode 5 Review

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 2:01am GMT

Dear "Project Accessory" Viewers,

Boy, have we missed each other!? Last time we saw each other, Diego won and James was out. Both correct choices. I have been reading your comments, and I think you should all be patient and see how the rest of the episodes pan out, since it all is starting to fall into place now with just seven people left.

This week's challenge is accessorizing a swimwear look. The designers have to pick their models and create sandals, headwear and an accessory of their choice. Rich is the last to choose, based on scores, so he is left with the model with the coral pink suit and is now complaining that is not his look. The designers are then transported in a minivan to Coney Island. The designers have to source their materials from the beach and from the stores on the boardwalk, where the designers can reuse or repurpose an item that they find or can buy with $100.

Christina finds a beach toy, sand glass and shells. Brian goes to a store and gets a straw mat, beach ball and some other tchotchkes. Nina went to the stores as well and got some jewelry that she can take apart. Diego gets a beach mat and finds a piece of driftwood. Shea is all over the place, so that is no surprise. Adrian looks a bit confused as well. Once they get back to the workroom, there is a Swarovski Elements wall for the designers to use.

Shea says she would never design jewelry from seashells or "crap" from a store. Someone else's trash is clearly someone else's treasure. Brian's concept is primitive tribal from an alien race (didn't he do something like that already?). He is using tinfoil and resin, so he knows what he is doing, but the theme is too much. Adrian is doing Old Hollywood and redoing the hat that he found. This is his time to shine. It is criminal that he is using a store-bought hat when that is his specialty; Christina concurs. Nina is using wire again, but she can make something good, since we have seen her wire jewelry work. Rich is complaining about embellishments and is out of his element and is freaking out, which is just boring already. You can't say you don't give a bleep about it when you are on national television and won a slot that people would kill for.

Christina is making a necklace with huge shells and a child toys. Diego is making a necklace, clutch and two other pieces. Nina's look is coming together, which is exciting to see. You can already see that the top three are on their way. Brian is using the interior of kites.

By the time Eva gets to Shea, you see that she is just all over the place, which is consistent, especially since she has been in the bottom three the past two weeks. Adrian's hat looks depressing with an extra tier and a shell, since he is using someone else's hat, and Eva calls him a copout. #Agree Rich is moaning that he is not a sandal person and saying his personality is not inspired by the beach. Eva is calling him out on not being who he is, and that is Rich, who will now be known as blowtorch #goggles to me. How can Adrian complain that it is "just a beach hat"? I am not buying from you with that comment. Shea is drilling holes in a shell and spray-painting. That is no strategy and that is just not sellable. Just quietly, I can make that necklace, and you don't want me doing that.

Brian is making a necklace, sandals and two bangles, and decided his headpiece is a bad Philip Treacy hat on crickity crack. Adrian, on the other hand, decided that a band was missing from his hat. #Seriously If you give up, then I, the viewer, will give up on you. Then of course, Shea hurts herself and is bleeding everywhere. Rich was funny and said that maybe it is her process, and I think he might be right. Rich decides to use a bird skeleton instead, which should be interesting.

When the models come in, you can see that Rich decides that he doesn't want to make a hat and uses a scarf instead. Is it me, or is everyone on the show not following instructions?!

So now we have the creative director and president of J. Crew, Jenna Lyons; and Rachel Roy (swoon - #designercrush), filling in for Kenneth Cole. Nina's look down the runway looks very chic Miami, which is good for her. Brian's look is questionable. The sticks look like Pebbles, and the bracelets look cheap. Rich pulled it out to bring a cohesive look, but will it be enough? Shea's girl looks like she came straight from the five-and-dime shop, and not in a good way. And hello? That shell-sash-thing is NOT flattering – she looks wider because of it! Diego's look is redonk! The clutch, which of course should be amazing, is. His hat has an unexpected pin, and his necklace and piece on his clutch have a similar spray shell theme. Christina has a statement-piece necklace, which I am not sure about, and is wearing a do-rag/bandana. As we said, she has the skills to do things that are sellable, but I am not sure if I am entirely convinced yet of the wow factor. It might be good from afar, but up close, it is a big Monet to me. (Apologies for the "Clueless" reference …) Adrian's star decoration is cheesy; the sandals and bracelet were cohesive but cheesy. And then there is Shea ...

Shea, Rich and Adrian are in the bottom three, but the judges decide to go to the top three first.

Christina is first. Rachel says that she loves the Bain de Soleil look and made it into something cool. Molly loves the necklace, and Jenna likes the subtlety of the sandals. Ariel says that the model is impeccable but doesn't know her vision yet – and clearly, I think so too. Do you agree?

Molly loves Brian's bangles, and Jenna likes the proportions of the necklace but says the sticks in the hair were too Bamm-Bamm for her. Ariel says he likes the shoe but not the decoration on top (once again we agree ...).

Nina's Miami Girl is fierce. Rachel loves her ring and necklaces. Jenna loves the shoes. Molly questions Nina's range. But they think she needs some edge.

Molly loves Diego's overall look and the clutch, and Ariel says his shell in the hat was a copout. Jenna loves his attention to detail.

Bottom three – here we go ...

Adrian: You can see Rachel sighing to herself. Ariel says his look isn't contemporary. Rachel says he should take a moment and learn to edit. There isn't any more to add, since he did it already with the overdone look he created.

Shea: Breathe before you read. Did you see the hat and the goiter hair growing underneath it? (That is my comment, not the judges'.) Rachel looks perplexed just listening to her. Ariel says the hat is unflattering and is giving her hype in the wrong places. Molly says she could never wear that belly chain. Rachel keeps it real and says that she will be ridiculed wherever she goes. Rachel says that the best thing about her is what she chooses for herself.

Rich says as soon as he saw the suit, he wanted to cover it. Ariel likes his sandals but was lost at the copout headscarf. Jenna loves the bracelet and ring. Rachel loves the bird skull on the sarong, which might be his saving grace. He keeps giving up and is unacceptable for a designer or for someone running his own business (again, my comment, not the judges').

That's all for now. We will be down to six and with no immunity this week – it could be anyone's game. Let me know what you think, because I am reading and definitely watching.

Until next week –

Emily Blumenthal


Emily Blumenthal: Episode 4 Review

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 4:35pm GMT

Dear "Project Accessory" Viewers,

Molly starts off the next challenge by saying that everyone should check out the workroom, where Eva is waiting with Andrea Linnett, Creative Director of EBay Fashion. There in front of them are bins filled with contents of a woman's handbag. The designers have to select a bin and are then paired with its owner and have to design a bag to fit her lifestyle and of course, carry her items comfortably. EBay Fashion features a different notable woman every week, and those women, of course, are the owners of the handbag contents and will be the designers' clients for this challenge. If you didn't already know, I am the voice of the people for the handbag designer (with my Independent Handbag Designer Awards and book, "Handbag Designer 101"), so I am just as excited as the designers are to finally have a handbag challenge! Especially since it is a $7.5 billion dollar industry and more profitable than apparel and everything else.

The owners come in and meet the designers. Diego picked the bin that had a gym membership card because he assumed that the owner would be fit, and she definitely was. Diego tells his model, Editorial Director for Style Caster Marni Golden, that he loves texture and skins, and she is down with that. Diego has an edge, since in his atelier in Chicago, he creates high-end bags that are made for each consumer; he was actually the only designer seen measuring his client. Christina says she might have immunity but she is up for trying to beat Diego, so she is immediately trying to accommodate her client, Umindi Francis, owner of the Umindi Francis Consulting Group. Shea's client, Anya Strzemien, who is now the Deputy Editor of xojane.com, is petite. This gets Shea excited, since she feels she can identify with her frame. However, she laments that any bag she makes will overwhelm Anya's tiny frame. Clearly she hasn't walked the streets of New York, where petite women carry bags that they themselves could crawl into and hide. Shea is on #FashionProbation, as far as I am concerned, for the looks she is putting out.

Adrian gets designer Ann Brady, who immediately says she likes stripes. Brian's client, full-figure model Leigh Shoemaker, says that the bin contains just half of her stuff. Brian then throws in a comment saying he would have had to make her a suitcase with wheels, which she didn't find funny and I didn't either. Handbags have gotten larger to accommodate a woman's busy life, and as a designer, he should be aware of that. Leigh says that she doesn't have a good black bag, but Brian comments to the camera that he doesn't want to make her a black bag because it would make her a "biker chick" – let the buzzer go off now, because he is already not listening to the needs of his client. Even with his talent, this arrogance will come back to bite in him in the you-know-what. James' model, maître d' Roz Campbell, said he would make something that is simple and sculptural with not a lot of decoration, which is ironic because that is the antithesis of James' aesthetic. Rich immediately said he was going to make something utilitarian, which pleased his client, stylist Sharon Anderson.

The designers get 20 minutes and 100 dollars to buy their materials from Mood. Diego is looking for fall colors and is going to make a frame bag. Brian said he wasn't going to make a black bag and said he is different from the other designers, since he isn't as worried about pleasing the client as he is about pleasing himself. #REDFLAG I don't even know how to respond to that. Shea is still complaining that she has to make a laptop bag that is BIG, which is actually, next to the diaper bag, the most popular silhouette. Has she not walked down the streets of, say, anywhere? She is saying that she has the hardest challenge when making a large bag is probably easier, since you have more material to work with and the minor details will be less visible. Nina and James both comment that this is actually the first bag they have ever made. And it shows for at least James, who is making a messenger bag and selects a camel-colored nubuck (the non-fur side of the skin, treated to feel like suede), which is a big mistake since it will show everything and is not a durable color or material for such a large bag. Brian is making a leather "boho bag" (what that means remains to be seen) and is not making a pattern #REDFLAG. Rich is making a modified messenger bag and feels out of his element, since he is still wearing his goggles for some reason and asking Diego's advice, and now Diego is the one helping everyone else. Nina said that leather scares her but metal doesn't, so she is adding textured brass. Adrian is spending too much time on the lining, and already I am skeptical.

Eva comes in and says their clients (who are all wearing handbags) are coming in for a fitting and then gives them another zinger! The clients hand over the handbags that they are wearing. The designers are then informed that they now need to create an additional accessory out of that handbag to match the current one that they are creating. Shea is having difficulty with the machines. The fact is, you have to use a different needle when you sew with leathers, which it seems that she doesn't even know, which is why she keeps screwing this up. Nina didn't make a pattern, so she had to actually take her bag apart. Handbag patterns are different than apparel patterns, which most don't even know. The designers are panicking about creating the second accessory out of their additional handbag — so much so that James didn't get a chance to do his second piece. That might work for Adrian but not twice.

This week's guest judges are the inimitable Rebecca Minkoff, who has an exclusive line of tech accessories on eBay, and the amazing accessories designer Kara Ross, who is filling in for Kenneth Cole.

Let's just jump into the highs and lows, since there are four of each this week.

Diego created a spectacular doctor satchel handbag and card holder. The bag has feet, which is perfect, and the leather juxtaposed with the skin makes the bag look exotic, as Rebecca agrees. The straps are the right length, and the look is styled on point, not to mention the great tassel piece making the bag look like a true affordable luxury item. Ariel loved Diego's work, which isn't hard to do; this is, after all, Diego's specialty.

Nina created a mini crossbody bag and a stunning rosette ring. Because she had to remake her bag, she added gold panel gussets with a chain handle that can be removed to make it into a clutch. The closure on the bag was totally unique and that of a jewelry designer. I have to say it again: The ring was spectacular, and Kara Ross, who has the best eye for jewelry in the world, agreed. I was definitely impressed with what Nina put out, and the judges agreed.

Christina created a very sellable oversized grommet tote with a scarf-knotted detail where the handles were. The bag is made well, and she made a quick necklace out of the handle of the other bag that her client brought in. The judges love her aesthetic, which is very, very commercial. Considering she worked for Isaac Mizrahi, she understands retail, but I am not blown away, not yet at least.

Brian created a soft leather shoulder bag with different panels side by side on the flap closure. The bag was textural and made with distressed leather, and the judges liked that. I have seen this bag before, though – it was soft and floppy with no hardware and needed a bit more form. It looked like something you would buy from the Brooklyn Flea off the streets, which isn't a bad thing necessarily, but it definitely did not WOW me in the slightest. His cuff also didn't make sense to me, and because of his attitude and lack of respect for his client he is still on #FashionProbation.

Oy – now the bottom 4 and very much, bottom.

Adrian's look was just a hot mess, and sadly, he wasn't the only one. The striped bag without strap was oversized and awkward – it looks like a painful street bag and clearly looks made by hand. Rebecca said that proportions are off and unsellable (well, I added in the "unsellable" part). The bag is too busy to work. The bracelets work. The judges agree that there is a complete lack of taste and his ability to do something that is in good taste is up for question.

James' nubuck satchel detail was just plain cheesy. (I think Kristen from Aspen came back.) The soft material with the orange overlay with the skin detail was illogical, in addition to the fact that the bag will get dirty and has no feet (the four little gold things that go on the bottom of the bag, in case you were wondering …). The length of the bag is off, and it isn't made well enough to hold everything. Molly said she liked the color but then said James knows better, and Ariel said it is unacceptable that he didn't have a chance to make another piece like everyone else. Yes, James did not finish the challenge and really didn't seem to be so stressed about it — perhaps because Adrian didn't finish two challenges ago and was still there. Rebecca said his proportions were off and that was just the beginning.

Shea, for all of her moaning, sadly didn't deliver. She created an awkward oversized bag with a bad choice of color. The bag looks like something sold on Canal Street. Ariel said it looks like a carry-on. Kara said that her bag should have been made north-south as opposed to east-west (right-left is what most messenger bags are) in order to be more flattering on a figure, since the bag was actually unflattering on his model.

Rich, who tells us at the beginning that he left his job as a diesel mechanic to become a jewelry designer, basically gave up. The bag is sloppy and unfinished, and you don't need to be an expert in anything to see that the base and the gussets are already falling apart. Rich goes on to say that the bag is poorly made and the worst thing he has ever done. Rebecca said that the execution … she doesn't have the words. Neither do I, since I think I have said enough already.

Who will have immunity and who won't be here next week? I could tell you what I think – but then again, what fun would that be? See you all after Thanksgiving, when I will be giving thanks for well-made shoes, bags and jewelry.

Emily Blumenthal


Emily Blumenthal: Episode 3 Review

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 2:47pm GMT

Dear "Project Accessory" Viewers,

This challenge is taking a hot bodysuit and using it as the blank canvas. Now, this isn't something you or I would have the chutzpah to wear, but it is definitely something exciting to work with. The designers can do anything they want with them in order to transform the bodysuits into real everyday wear.

Christina mentions that she is interested in making a belt that creates movement and is draping some stretch jersey to make a sarong. Rich gets his blowtorch goggles on, as always. He makes a concave copper necklace. Diego is making a clutch and necklace. Shea is making about a million things because she is afraid – again, red flag for overdesigning, which is a big problem with designers today #LackOfEditing. David is lamenting how he doesn't know what's going on in today's world, and sadly, it shows in his taste. Eva comes to check on progress and is impressed with the work of Rich, who is making a beveled ring, but she mentions that he shouldn't want the belt to look like a miniskirt, since the whole point of this challenge is to make the bodysuit wearable and not as a background. The key point of being a good designer is that you have to know how to design as well as knowing how to edit. Case in point: Shea is so overdone. Eva says that Shea is having a moment. #Rockstar decides she thinks Eva isn't allowing her to be true to herself by critiquing, which is the whole point of having a mentor. David mentions he is designing for an Aspen socialite with two types of furs and python shoes with a fuchsia bodysuit: a.k.a. Paris Hilton Barbie. And then the zinger happens – DOUBLE ELIMINATION!

Christina says she isn't threatened to help others, and #Rockstar says that's everyone else's problem. We have so seen this "I am here to win" bad guy so many times, and it is just old by now, isn't it? It is always fun to watch the designers scramble during crunch time, because that is just business. #LastMinute is how this business is run. Now, let's hit the runway!

Christina creates a belt, cuff and earrings, which completely transformed her black bodysuit. The stretch jersey sarong, though, I find texturally distracting juxtaposed with the satin. As I said before, she used brown leather, and the turban is so on-point with trend and not fashion-forward. Like belly button rings, not everyone can pull off a turban. She is one to watch, since she did have her own line and then went to work for the majors, and that experience is priceless in the challenges since it pulls the emotion out of the items you create. When talking accessories, look at how Coach runs their business: If an item doesn't sell, it will disappear the next day. But I digress, as the professor in me can't help but come out. The judges loved her look, and guest judge Kelly Osbourne was smitten since the matte jersey wrap belt and earrings were synergistic, all having Swarovski crystals in the same placement. Kenneth Cole mentioned that it would have been nice if the finish on the belt and cuff matched, but he was happy with her overall look. Ariel said that using brown on black makes it look very now. (The editor-in-chief of InStyle and I think alike …)

Diego created a necklace, cuff and clutch (something he likes to do very much), and I must say, I love love loved the styling. His model has a modernized Audrey Hepburn look, and he styled his light blue jumpsuit by turning it into a pedal-pusher length, which is very editorial. The necklace had an oversized medal triangle with gold heavy chain. As always, his bag is flawless. He also created an oversized cuff, which was very jagged but definitely eye-catching. Kenneth Cole said he doesn't know any woman who would want to wear dangerous jewelry, but Kelly and Molly chimed in and said they would happily. Diego said it was his first time doing jewelry and he tried to make it look vintage with the symmetry a consistent part of the look. Molly and Kelly agreed and said his execution was great. #OneToWatch

Rich created a necklace, a belt and a ring that you know people are going to want (after all, he soldered it with his blowtorch goggles …) His model has a Mohawk, which shows Rich has a voice that is cohesive with his look. The hand-cut copper toothlike necklace matches the scoop neck perfectly, and the oversized ring was done to perfection. As he said regarding his model, "She is a modern primitive." We could roll our eyes, but judging by his craftsmanship, we won't. I will say, though, up close I hate his belt. The material is too overpowering, especially with the jumpsuit, and is making it all too matchy-matchy, and I think the style is dated. Ariel said he created a runway look (which he definitely did), and Kelly O loved the necklace and ring.

Oy – now it is time to exhale.

James is worth mentioning even if he has immunity. Props that you made your own booties, but seriously now, I cannot tolerate this. After having taught students fashion marketing and PR for eight years, it is not that hard to figure out what works and what doesn't. Styling is definitely a skill set, and I am starting to realize that is something he does not have. The cuff and the hair ornament, if you look at them from the product shot, may match in color but not in overall look. No, James, your look is NOT popping, and no, a belt would not have saved your look. If you freeze-frame at Kenneth Cole's look at James' model, it is indeed priceless.

Now David. Oh poor, dear sweet David … He creates a white-fur trimmed hat, a necklace, leg warmers (?) and a belt. As you see his look coming down the runway, you think OMG – this is Caveman Barbie, who is tripping. I mean literally tripping and about to fall. The fuchsia stirrup jumpsuit paired with strappy heels, two-toned quasi legwarmers that look unfinished – I just don't know where to start. #PhoneAFriend The fur hat doesn't match and isn't doing anyone any favors either. David then says that the Swarovski necklace adds to the ice of Aspen. Not to be snarky, but girlfriend will be iced out if she shows up this way. And the belt – what is that for? When Kenneth Cole asked him to tell us about his girl, David said his woman is named Kristen and lives in Aspen. He also adds that he tried to accentuate the leather with the belt by creating old-world wealth. (I think he plays WOW with these descriptions …) I must say, it is hard critiquing those who have been humanized by discussing their families and kids, but if you are going on TV, you are what you create, and this was not good. The hat is not young and hip – this woman looks like a pink goat. Kenneth then says he has been to Aspen and he has not seen anyone like Kristen anywhere and that the look is a circus from the knees down. Kelly O asks why someone would wear leg warmers with an open-toe shoe. Ariel says that mixed together they don't work – warm knee and cold toe – and it is strange. Ariel is so kind in giving his critiques.

Shea made earrings, bag, belt. The look is definitely interesting, and even if the judges don't like it, she managed to work under pressure. The earrings look cheap with the multi-stones put together and look like they could have Made in China stamped on the back. The belt with the white bodysuit is a good look, but it looks sloppy with its asymmetrical shape and that unnecessary spider-web fabric slapped on top. The fact that she cut the sleeves might give her points, but I don't know if it will be enough. She definitely is not going to a party and not impressing a lot of important people. Ariel says that the mix and match of shapes and silhouettes is confusing, especially with the boat-neck collar, and is not adding up to one cohesive look. The cuff looks inexpensive, and Kelly O says the pieces look finished.

#Rockstar spends the bulk of the episode complaining about the challenge and camel toe. When Eva comes around to discuss her look, #rockstar decides that she needs to be true to herself instead of taking her advice. There is a reason Eva is Eva and why Eva is there. By the time #Rockstar's look goes down the runway, it is completely disjointed. Her necklace is pretty (again – her specialty is jewelry), but that belt is from hunger. The two-toned leather and snakeskin do not match in the slightest, and no woman wants a tassel hanging between her legs. This is not a sellable piece, and Kelly O said it was reminiscent of a tampon, which is not good for sales either. She did though select some great items from the eBay Fashion Wall, and I would love to know what brand they are.

Which two are going, and who will win? I can take a wild guess, but it is not for me to decide.

Until next week …

Emily Blumenthal


Laura Bennett DIY: Episode 3 – Christina's Crystal Earrings

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 5:49pm GMT

Laura Bennett DIY earrings

6 Swarovski 26 X 8.5mm Sew-On Crystals, style 39337 6 large jump rings
2 small jump rings
1 pair earring wires

Needle nose pliers

1. Using a pair of needle nose pliers, pry open the large jump rings and form two chains of three stones each.

Laura Bennett DIY earrings

2. Using the small jump rings, attach the earring wires to the top jump ring of each chain of stones.

Laura Bennett DIY earrings

3. Collect your prize for creating a winning accessory (pictured below: orginal on the left, my DIY on the right).

Laura Bennett DIY earrings

For some of my own great DIY accessory projects check out my new book, "Handmade Chic: Fashionable Projects That Look High-End, Not Homespun".

- Laura


Catch Up on Episodes of "Accessory"

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 10:27am GMT

Catch encores of "Project Accessory" this week:

Project Accessory

Thursday, 11/10
8 pm/7c - Episode 1
9 pm/8c - Episode 2
10 pm/9c - Episode 3 Premiere

Saturday, 11/12
11 am/10c - Episode 1
12 pm/11c - Episode 2
1 pm/12c - Episode 3


Emily Blumenthal: Episode 2 Review

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 10:16am GMT

Dear "Project Accessory" Viewers,

We are now rolling in full force and down for Episode 2. I am sure you all have picked your faves by now, so let the bets begin in Vegas as to who will be the best jack-of-all-trades, since that is what being a well-rounded accessories designer requires.

This episode takes the little Little Black Dress/LBD as the blank canvas. The designers find their way to the SWAROVSKI CRYSTALLIZED store in the heart of SoHo. There they meet Eva and Richard Chai, winner of the CFDA Swarovski Menswear Award. There they learn that they can select one piece of already assembled Swarovski jewelry as their inspiration to create one piece of their own jewelry and also a pair of shoes.

Now, to the average person, this might not seem like a big deal. Jewelry, OK, fine – construction and taste level is up for judgment. But shoes! Shoes require an understanding of math, balance and construction, not to mention which kinds of heels work best with which materials. What's a shoe last? (A shoe last, FYI, is for lack of a better explanation, the wooden mannequin the designers use to create their shoe.) YIKES!

This challenge knocked the socks off almost all of the designers (no pun intended) except for James. James should feel confident, as he is the only footwear designer out of the group, so he has to bring it on – or else his claim to fame will be up for some serious reconsideration.

The designers are given a wall of shoe and jewelry supplies as well as Swarovski crystals to dress up their LBD. After watching the episode, you can see already who is headed for the bottom three, sadly.

Kelly, whom you just want to root for, selects a Victorian choker. After wrestling with the idea of making her own heel out of wood and covering it with yellow leather or using a plastic heel that was available in the bins, she decides to go the DIY route. However, it's Kelly's first attempt at making shoes, and it shows: The heels aren't connected correctly, and the construction was poor, leaving the model wobbling. Props for the canary yellow, but paired with the choker, it is a disconnect from top to bottom. Nadja Swarovski, this week's guest judge, says that the gladiator-"inspired" heel was a hard juxtaposition with the Queen Victoria necklace. The eyeball-looking earrings might be enough to save Kelly, but a cohesive look definitely is not there. I regret to say this, but the expression on Kenneth Cole's face as he looked at Kelly's shoes going down the runway was priceless.

Adrian seems excited and daunted by this challenge. His completed work is really moot to discuss, since he never actually finished his earrings. Ten minutes before the runway, Eva gives her feedback that it seems like the earrings are a bit much since he put crystals all over the dress, so once time was up, he neglected to edit his look. As the judges said, instead of taking a risk and putting something out there that wasn't perfect, Adrian sent his model down the runway in an incomplete look. You just wanted to shout at him, "SERIOUSLY – you didn't finish it?!" Even though the judges gave him snaps for his tie-up ribbon heel with great Swarovski detail (which wasn't so labor-intensive when using ribbons as support and design), he actually didn't finish the challenge.

David was droning on about the goddess woman he was designing for, where she was going and basically what she was thinking about when she looked in the mirror. He seems to have a solid understanding of his demographic, but designing for her, not so much. As Ariel said, the look shouldn't need the narrative to sell, especially if you have to be there to sell it. There was absolutely nothing cohesive about his look and definitely nothing "goddess" about it. The leather cuff with the Swarovski detail was actually not bad when seen in the product shot, but this is about styling, editing and knowing what works, and as Molly said, nude shoes look cheap, especially when they have a mini knock-on heel and closed toe. The hair was poorly styled, and as Nadja said, two powerful pieces cancel each other out.

Nicolina, a.k.a. #Rockstar, after losing it during the time to construct her pieces, regains strength and rebounds with a look that is sellable. Not only does she put spikes on the shoulders of the LBD, she uses a muted gray animal print on her strappy heel – very on-trend. Animal print at this point in the market has become like wearing brown or red, especially since animal-print ballet flats are popping up everywhere. She does, however, throw in some gratuitous safety pins. (WHY?) Maybe for Sid Vicious, but girl, you are designing for people other than yourself, and unless those safety pins have crystals on them, they don't belong. Her choker and cuff do have synergy, with the alignment of the crystals tying in the look with the shoes.

James takes time during the challenge to educate the other designers on Shoe Design 101, with lasts and some of the mathematical balance game that goes into creating a shoe. He creates a jewel-tone color-blocked heel with "just the right amount of #toecleavage" as Kenneth Cole said. Ariel said those heels would walk right out of the store – his point being that the shoe is on-trend from top to bottom. However, James cannot edit. The matching cuff PLUS his "Xanadu" (Ariel's term, not mine) headband made his model look like Wonder Woman.

Brian starts this challenge out with a bang. He creates a polyresin mold to create a completely crystallized wedge heel, and the girls in the studio were swooning. (So was I!) His appeared to be made out of an ostrich (or ostrich-like) leather with an ankle strap. Given that it's the first shoe he has ever created, I am intrigued. However, Brian also needs a styling assistant or something. His effort to be edgy was misguided, creating only one earring to make a statement that was completely redundant if one had looked at his shoes. In addition, the handbag he created may have matched with his geometric inspiration, but it was sloppy and was too light in material to hold the crystals. The handbag was just too much, and Ariel agreed. Less is more, and doing extra credit when the teacher didn't ask can sometimes not go in your favor.

Who will be here next week and who won't?

Emily Blumenthal