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The Project Accessory Blog

Emily Blumenthal: Episode 6 Review

By CaitlinBergmann Wed., Dec. 7, 2011 ,6:03 pm EST

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

Posted in: episode 6