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Fashion Field Day

By laurareineke Fri., Sep. 6, 2013 ,1:20 pm EDT

Heidi mentioned "soul searching" for shoes last week, but I imagine Miranda will be doing much more than that, perhaps even a new career following the boot last week. While Helen is running on a high from a much deserved win last week, the other designers are really starting to feel the pressure, and in the words of Jeremy the competition is becoming "cutthroat." What better way to celebrate the true spirit of competition than throwing on some activewear from Heidi Klum's New Balance collection to get a little sweaty for a field day? Heidi suggested it was a good idea to get the designers out of the workroom to get their blood flowing. If you check your "Project Runway" rolodex of seasons and challenges, you would remember that on Season 9 we had the exact same challenge, and if there is one piece of advice I can give these designers the second time around it's that Heidi is one tough cookie and knows what she wants. As Dom mentioned, Heidi is "very opinionated and will not sugar coat anything for you."

We turn the episode into a brief flashback of "American Gladiators" where they have to compete in teams of 2 for the top prize of choosing their fabric first and getting one EXTRA hour of work time! Braden and Helen were off to a seamless start but forget to do the wheelbarrow portion of the obstacle course, which ended up costing them the win to Dom and Justin. Activewear is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry and plays a huge part in the fashion industry. Gone are the days when people worked out in baggy pants and a ratty old t-shirt, which is why Heidi wants the designers to turn their attention from the "catwalk to the treadmill." Jeremy believes "It's a very commercial challenge" and he is excited to be designing for the mass market because it's not a field that he has focused on much before. Well we all know that, Jeremy. In fact, we don't even really know what market you design for yet. You're hot then you're cold, you're in then you're out, you're up and you're down, you're in and you will probably be out soon enough.

Sorry about the Katy Perry tangent, but thinking about her "Firework" song, can anyone explain to me what the heck really set Ken off on Helen? I have to admit, the episode was just getting started and I was so caught off guard with all the profanity and derogatory comments. It really made me uncomfortable. If he was pissed that Helen pulled Tim aside to ask about using the existing pants to spec from, I just find the reaction to be irrational. Helen was right in mentioning and reminding us all that this is a competition and you don’t have to tell everyone everything because it's all about having a little leg up. She thought to step outside the box and ask a question and when Ken didn't get a response from her that HE wanted, he literally let her know that he thought she was an "ignorant bitch!" I can imagine things would get a little tense this episode with such a fabulous prize as having the winning look manufactured and sold in select New Balance stores and well as online, but I didn’t think people would literally kill for it.

Karen lets us know that she is "a little nervous because I only do ready-to-wear and not sportswear." What she meant to say is that she doesn’t do "activewear," because in this market "sportswear" IS considered ready-to-wear. But what REALLY blows me away is that she said she has never really worked with stretch fabrics! WHAT? Now I understand that there are many different grades, weights, and stretches to fabrics -- as in a 2-way stretch or a 4-way stretch -- but does she think I'm going to believe that she has NEVER worked in a knit? I find it comical when designers always give us the sob story of "Oh, I have never done design technique before," or "I have never worked in these fabrics before." My all-time favorite from any season is "Oh, I have never done menswear before." It's almost always said with the idea that the judges and the public should cut them some slack. It's preposterous and frankly, it's the 12th season of the show; f you apply to be on, you should make sure you brief yourself in every area of design, from fabrics, to design, to not complaining every time a new obstacle comes your way. How hirable are you if all you do is bitch and moan?

Karen really seemed to be doomed from the moment she chose the green fabric, knowing it was a risk. Then again Alexandria thinks she is taking a risk using all black. Not surprisingly, Jeremy, never one to hold anything back, thinks "Alexandria's look is hideous," while Heidi actually digs the poopy pants. But then again if you think about it, Jeremy is always friendly to everyone's face but then degrades them in his confessionals. Heidi is completely thrown off by Karen's "martian and crazy design" and doesn't "see anyone wearing this." Of course the news of that throws unbalanced and undefined Karen into a tizzy and she decides to change her entire look with only 3 hours remaining! Big mistake! Even though Heidi might not like it, Karen needed to trust in the direction she was going and make changes. To start COMPLETELY over with her skill set was crazy! Her sports bra was quite graphic and fabulous, all she needed to do was, in borrow Tim's word, "recalibrate" the rest of the garment.

With the insatiable Michael Kors as guest judge this week, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house from laughing uncontrollably, but the most pertinent advice he drilled into the designers was that even though the challenge was surrounding active wear, they needed to be able to mix fashion with function. While Helen and Kate surpassed the rest of the gym class on the elliptical, Karen couldn’t keep the pace of the pack. Was it ultimately the design that sent her home, the awful sewing, or not being able to stand by the convictions of her original design? Perhaps she SHOULD have listened to her model during the fitting instead of saying "Girlfriend, stop telling me how I should change my outfit!" She was so upset that her model had a valid opinion, but she was so quick to change her design after Tim and Heidi left her critique. This time would be best spent on deciding who you are as a designer and what you want to deliver in terms of defining your brand! It's important to know who and what you are going into this competition or else you WILL get lost. But if you ever need a home, just remember the gym is always there for improvement!

I would have turned heads wearing Dom’s look to the gym, and I'm definitely feeling more inclined to go to the gym following this episode. What look would you have chosen to work up a sweat in?