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Bert Keeter Blog

Andrea, This One's For You!

By kim_messina Fri., Aug. 31, 2012 ,4:59 am EDT

Heidi introduces Episode 7 looking like the supermodel she is, stunning in a bronze/deep orange tonal sequin shift! Beautiful!

The nine remaining designers while starting to show just a "bit" of fatigue after six challenges, all seem in great spirits and ready for this next challenge. They are off to meet Mr. Gunn somewhere on Fifth Ave. Their destination is the legendary Lord & Taylor flagship store to be exact. Lord & Taylor, like Sak's Fifth Avenue and Macy's has for generations been a shopping destination, offering fashion, style and value for New Yorker's and shoppers around the world. DECADES ago in the 70s, I and fellow Parsons design students regularly "shopped" Lord & Taylor for fashion and industry knowledge! It is probably "the NYC department" store most synonymous with the "dress"!

Mr. Gunn introduces Bonnie Brooks, the president of Lord & Taylor. I am surprised and excited to see that this challenge incorporates "Project Runway's" Fashion's Night Out event that nine former "PR" designers. Nick Verreos and myself among them, each designed a look, apparently to be rounded out by the tenth design, from the winner of this challenge! Now this challenge is what "Project Runway" should be all about. The dresses will retail between $200 - $300. The challenge is for one day and there will be NO TRIP TO MOOD. JS Collection, the manufacturer of the ten dresses, has provided all the fabrics and trimmings they will need. Designers, get designing! Sweet Gunnar, I like him now, is focusing on a LBD along the esthetic lines of Season 1 winner Jay McCarrol. Christopher has done some merchandising and decided to do a gown as there are only two gowns from former designers, Chris March and myself. Clever!

Elena, in her zipped up hooded parka (It's frigging July, okay!) seems like a lost child. She appears to be uncomfortable with this challenge. Come on, this is a breeze. DESIGN a DRESS … duh? Melissa has it down — she totally connects with the challenge. I'm surprised to see Sonjia is floundering a bit. I would have thought this challenge would have sung to her, LOUD and CLEAR!

Back at Parsons, the designers select the fabrics provided by JS Collection. When I researched this company for my design I was amazed at the quality, stye and luxury they provide at the price points they offer. This is the type of challenge "PR" should develop more often, real fashion for a real market! Uh oh, Christopher is using his shredding technique, AGAIN! Sort of like Ven's origami ... and by the way he's also at it again. ZZZZzzzZZZZ!

11 pm is the deadline for the first day. What happened to like midnight, 1 am, 2 am? In Season 9 for Heidi's "sneaker" challenge, we were at Parsons from 7 am til 2 am the following day and we needed every second. Mopey Elena needs a Red Bull or something. And take your parka OFF! Considering this is the sweetest challenge all season you would think she could be just a tad excited. Finally we see muslin being ripped, mannequins being taped and a design or two taking shape. Gunnar is in love with black lace so much that it hurts? Careful. Finally, we hear from Ven. Okay that's just enough! Elena is moaning again. What exactly do they wear in the Ukraine? That's right, parkas. She makes it sound like designing a dress is from another world. Maybe she is a bit anxious, remembering her last few runway experiences — not happy memories for her or us. Sonjai also continues down the road of anxiety. Alicia, cool and calm as always is developing a unique but classic twist on a Chanel dropped waisted silhouette form the 30s. Modern and young. Dmitry is executing another sleek little dress, unfortunately so very similar to all his previous sleek little dresses. Melissa wanted a hardware store challenge? Shhh, the producers are listening girlfriend!

The "Chiffonies" term is getting a tad old in this episode. Maybe some of the women are hanging on to it to deflect their fears of not having a clue about this what to design? Hmm? Ven opens his big mouth once more to insert his even bigger foot into it by commenting that "men are usually stronger designers, while women are a little more practical." First of all, those two terms don't relate. One can be strong and practical, OKAAAY! Ven, last episode you alienated most women over a size 4. Now you are narrowing any chance of possibly working for say, Donna Karen, Monique Lhullier, Vera Wang to mention just a few. Ferme la bouche, mon dieu! Christopher gives us a little "how to" on his fabric manipulation/shredding. I know after tonight, almost every home sewer across America will be manipulating/shredding after his detailed demonstration!

Mr. Gunn is strolling the work room. Gunnar's LBD accented with matte sequins and lace is conservative but tasteful. He is just a bit concerned it may be a bit "matadorish." Mr Gunn sees it. I don't.

Alicia's dress is looking a bit rough. Mr. Gunn sees Joan of Arc? Alicia is pleased he didn't see a princess. Please loose the electric blue inserts. I have to applaud her for doing such a subtle silhouette. Will the judges appreciate it?

Fabio is working on a LBD with too many details for my book. I'm OVER the exposed zipper idea! I especially don't like it with the asymmetric hem. Zip should be on left side leaving a clean back to accentuate the hem line.

Elena, Ms. PARKA 2012, is still struggling to find her Lord & Taylor vibe. Mr. Gunn opens the flood gates and Eena has another mini meltdown. .He walks her back off the ledge with some insightful "make it work" statements.

What ALL THE DESIGNERS need to know is that at this price point a design can have loads of detailing and construction interest. I am always amazed when I see designs in this market that are anything but basic. The customer expects fashion at every price!

Ven is creating what looks like "The Black Hole" on the bodice of his dress. Sort of nasty and a bit, "Uh, you know what that looks like?" Not sexy! Dmitry is executing a sleek grey and silver dress accented with body conscious seaming. It's nice, but how about another silhouette/proportion for a change?

Christopher is designing an ever so soft pink bodice with his shredding thing going on and a long slim black crepe skirt. The most important element of this run of the mill look is that it is a gown. It is nothing really new or exciting, but his thought of adding a third gown may just get him on top!

Melissa has created a design that says Melissa! A strapless brocade gown with an uber high "crumb catcher" neckline. It's dramatic and modern. I see Ms. Klum wanting this! Not quite sure what the drama is about with the fabric ... move on! A minute or two in the designer lounge to CALM DOWN! Models arrive, something I always enjoyed — someone from the "outside world!" A possible chance to get some current news, like what's happening on the Kardashians, etc. :)

Melissa is pleased that her model likes the fabric. Mood change, yeah! Gunnar is happy with his look. Fabio is adding years to his model with a matronly three strand necklace. Sorry, styling not Fabio at all. Christopher loves the pale pink on his models skin tone, good choice. Hallelujah, Alicia got rid of the electric blue insert! Love the dress, but silhouette may not translate to the customer Lord & Taylor have in mind. She can't have any hips or boobs in that look. She loves it and that is what is important. Dmitry is on track with his fitted sheath. Sonjia is channeling the 80s with a retro peplum dress. Not bad but not current!

One hour left in the work day. Get moving and get worrying! The girls are all having some time management issues. Nighty night, get some rest. Right? Okay, wake up. It's probably not even sunrise and those pesky PA are nocking at your apartment door. God, I hated them! Off to Parsons where last night's drama is waiting patiently. Two hours for hair and makeup. Final fittings. Ven of course feels his design is the best. Well, honey, it ain't! I actually am liking Elena's bondage inspired Breakfast at Tiffany's bouffant LBD. Different, loads of interesting construction and YOUNG!

And as always when we were running out of time … sewing machine drama. Threads and needles break, tension is off. What ever can go wrong will. At this point in the season, there are several free machines so just jump up and go to the next one! Okay, just a little more sobbing and hand wringing in the workroom. Are we finished?

I'm ready for the runway even if they aren't! Guest judge is Bonnie Brooks from Lord & Taylor. LOVE Nina Garcia in that knit, almost chain mail, YSL dress. Heidi must have a date later. She looks stunning in what I think is a Dolce & Gabbana strapless pink sequined dress. WOW! Let the games begin. First out is Fabio's. Hate the styling — way to conservative for him, but dress is well executed. The second look and the second asymmetrical hem ... Melissa's angst paid off. Dress is super hot. The hem just a bit to extreme, dress doesn't need it! Gunnar's LBD is chic and also well executed. A tad generic for such a special challenge. Elena's looks super. It's a totally different take on the challenge, very modern and edgy but tasteful. Fit my only issue here. Christopher's look is actually sort of "Downton Abbey," but not upstairs with the lords and ladies but but downstairs with the staff. Skirt is just to black and heavy. Sort of a poor version of what the ladies upstairs would have worn. And I hate the keyhole back. Let's take a dress anyone could wear and make it a bra issue. Really? Melissa is also channeling "Downton Abbey" in her sleek LBD. I actually love this. It is the most subtle shape any designer has executed so far this season. That said , this is not a dress for most figures. Okay, next is Sonji's tonal peplum dress. Well executed, but dated. Not loving the pointed back hem! The zillionth and one LBD arrives. Ven's. His dress is way under budget for this challenge. Absolutely no design in the silhouette, just a very bad sample of his "one note/origami" manipulation. ZZZzzzzzZZZ. The fabric Dmitry chose is a perfect match for his design. The details and metallic each set the other off perfectly! Again, what's with the dipped rear hem. That's not an easy detail for most women to carry of guys and girls! All in all a good runway show. No obvious outs and a few perfect designs for the Lord & Taylor event. Ven, Dmitry (bridesmaid again, sorry), Sonjia are all safe! She is beside herself with joy! Dmitry is confused.

Fabio does well with the judges. MK is of the same opinion as myself about the zipper not working the silhouette. Christopher also impresses the judges. Heidi loves the pale tone. MK likes the gown but hints that maybe we don't need to see more of the shredding. Thank you MK! Nina is not sure gown would be successful on many different types of women. She doesn't explain why. Darn, I want to hear her opinion. Producers? Melissa is on top. All that angst paid off. MK loves the bronze material and neckline. He is not as wowed by her extreme hemline. Wants to add a bell? Gunnar is not so fortunate. The judges have seen this dress before too many times. MK feels it actually may be in Lord & Taylor already. Gunnar accepts the feed back with style and maturity. Elena also does well. YEAH! I'm really pleased for her. She melded her esthetic into a exciting, wearable and commercial garment. After a mini meltdown she explains her struggles in past challenges along with the relief of getting to the top in this challenge. Nina loves it. Now thats a compliment. MK sees a ying yang in her design. Alicia I'm sad to say is in the bottom. Heidi likes it. Bonnie sees it not meeting the challenge. Nina wants it younger. MK sees a girls field hockey uniform?

Back in the designer lounge, Gunnar is a tad pissed and irritated. So much for my earlier maturity comment. But I do se his point — they liked the dress, it fits into the Lord & Taylor brand. But Gunnar, it's not anything new. Elena appears totally energized for the next challenge!Well, Christopher is the winner. I was right, Bonnie feels it compliments the other nine looks! Fabio, Mellisa and Elena are also complimented for their work. Gunnar scores bland. Alicia, they didn't get except Nina who gets her contradiction in design for this challenge. She always knows! DRAMA! Gunnar and Alicia are left hanging. Alicia is safe. OH NO! We can't finish this season with out our Southern Charm. Poor Gunnar is out???? Thank's to Andrea, who bailed ship earlier in the season, he is mercifully saved this time. The producers WILL HAVE A FULL SEASON!

This was by far the best challenge and the best performances by the designers of the entire season so far. Wonder what lies in store next week?