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Blood Diamonds, Sweat and Tears

Posted By laurareineke 4:50am GMT

A rainy June afternoon in the Big Apple. An armored truck approaches the Parsons School of Design. Two muscular men armed with guns and bullet-proof vests exit the truck, carrying in hand millions of dollars' worth of jewels. It all sounds like plot for new blockbuster movie, but is in fact the suspenseful build up to the reveal of our second challenge: Eveningwear! Impactful, I must say, and definitely dramatic. With a prize package of nearly half a million dollars, these designers better get used to dealing with "green," and not in the sense that Timothy has so comically displayed.

Heidi hits the catwalk looking like a million bucks holding the infamous button bag that ravished the runway last season while bringing chaos and fear to the idea of team challenges. I donít know about you, but I was picturing a dÈj‡ vu moment developing, triggered by all the new changes, but Heidi reveals the button bag has been dusted off for its customary purpose to identify in which order the designers will choose the jewels and which model that will be their new best friend.

While their names are being called and the designers are choosing with such an upbeat tone in all of their voices, I question if any of the designers even really look at the jewelry, or are instead more focused on which model they want to work with. To be honest, screw the jewels. I would have dropped them into the ocean, just like the old lady did in the end! As beautiful as they are, in this game, your model is way more crucial than a tear-drop earring and a choker from Harry Winston. Leave those for the broad on Fifth Ave. who needs to cover up a botched facelift while trying to get a deal on her "cosmetic updates" in Mexico. This show is all about a ton of talent and whole lot of strategy.

Speaking of strategy, I am captivated by the new element of the designers being in control of their own GoBank account throughout the season, giving them the opportunity to decide how much they want to spend on each challenge. It's absolutely fabulous. However, 45 minutes is too long to shop at Mood! It's a very calm checkout process. No one has even broken a sweat running up and down the stairs and aisles to find what they need! It may be awful but I am secretly praying that someone will pull a Cher in "Clueless" and blow through their money faster than expected so we get to watch what happens. Come on, show me who the shopaholics are! Let's face it, we are going to need some form of entertainment after Timothy is no longer on the show shopping for remnants in the garbage bags, explaining his stance on sustainability and dissing Benjamin Franklin's hard work.

Back in the workroom and aware of the challenge only being one day, tensions rise high and it doesn't take long before Sandro and Ken are going at it in the sewing room. The confrontation truly starts out as catty gay banter that quickly turns into a "reading" war between the two. True "Rupaul's Drag Race" realness. But all of Sandro's frustration is sparked by the machines he has been working at being messed up every time he returns, and rightfully so. It's clear there are people in the competition who don't even know how to properly thread the machine and bobbin, like Sue, who reaches out to Dom and seems less than appreciative of her help. Question: How in Godís name can you enter a competition of this level and not know how to use an industrial sewing machine?

I promote taking risks in this competition, but so early on in the game it's important to make sure the ones that the designers decide to take are strategic. For example, Kahindo decides to work in a very graphic print. This is a great way to stay true to your roots and to what defines you as a designer, but to work in a fabrication such as silk charmeuse for the very first time is a HUGE risk. The fabric alone is enough to make an impactful dress, but then to go and add a horrendous circle cutout detail with shirring is just over-working. Mentioning "over-working," Helen, who has an eveningwear background, is confident that she will do extremely well in this challenge. It's great to say you love one specific area of design and that it's your forte but you better be able to back it up with masterful work! For someone who is in the eveningwear market, a bust cup and boned bodice is essential to most strapless gowns, and the fact that Helen is attempting one for the first time makes me curious to know where she was trained.

Kate may be designing a dress that bears a resemblance to Vivienne Westwood, as Alexander points out. I do applaud Alexander for being realistic and honest, stating, "I could repeat designers left and right, but I came here to be original!" Isnít originality what being a designer is all about? While Sandro may be extremely referential in his designs, at least he knows his history of fashion, but learning to use the equipment such as a steamer is clearly a task for the minions in his studio to handle. Maybe the steamer isn't working since Sandro clearly let all his steam out on Ken the day before. I'm in utter shock as we see Sandro pull a crew member onto the set to help him. Learning to troubleshoot during this competition is all part of the process, but Sandro seems to be above discovering that.

The diamonds might be the only flawless element of the runway show, which is more or less predictable and ordinary. Pretty dresses, I get it, but where is the fashion and something interesting to discuss with the coworkers over the lunch break the day after the show?! The viewers are craving something to rave about and all they can get, as Zac puts it, is a "dress from a sale rack!" Hands down, Kate's dress and her narrative about Versailles and fleeing with diamonds in the middle of the night is absolutely stunning, while Helen, on the other hand, is having a nervous breakdown during the runway show. It's so uncontrollable that Tim has to go over to calm her down. I mean, why so upset? You're only on national television showing everyone how horribly you built bust cups; it's only the end of your career! Entirely said in jest, but let's call a spade a spade. There seems to be some very unstable contestants on the show this season and it's only the second episode!

Helen receives some great words of advice from our judges this episode that every designer should hear:

Zac Posen: "Fashion is black and white. You can put as much love, sweat, tears, and hours into something, but if you don't deliver, you don't deliver."

Eric Daman: "You have to time manage, and understand the competition before taking on a huge amount of work."

Heidi Klum: "You have to be careful not to bite off more than you can chew!"

In the end it's the veteran from Season 11, Kate, who takes the win, even with Alexandria thinking there is "only drama to the dress, but no originality." Well, Alexandria, people donít go to the theatre to be bored, they go expecting drama or else the show wouldnít make it past previews! And with Nina being one of the toughest critics, she still is smart enough to "celebrate the ambition" of the designers and the blood, sweat, and tears they put into their work.

What are your thoughts? Would you have chosen to send Kahindo's bargain-basement look home over Timothy's dumpster-diving eco-friendly ensemble?


It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's Kate the Great!

Posted By laurareineke 12:36pm GMT

The mystery is finally over as Kate returns once again to try her luck at becoming "a much nicer, less vocal version of Kate Season 11," and it's ironically comforting to start this season with a familiar face returning to our living rooms on the 12th installment of the Emmy-nominated series "Project Runway." However, inviting 15 strange new faces into my home, I was sure to lock up all my couture, put away all the fine china, and take cover like Anne Frank!

Right out of the gates the aroma of things leads me to think Barnum & Bailey is headed into town for what surely will be the greatest show on earth. From psychopaths to sociopaths and all illnesses treated by laying on a couch while a therapist doodles into a yellow college-ruled notepad while draining your bank account, this is going to be a fabulous season of pill-poppin' personalities.

On the topic of poppin' pills, I'm not talking about Amanda Bynes: I am pretty sure Alexandria has been in violation of an S.U.I during this ENTIRE first episode. “S.U.I?" you ask? This acronym originated during my college years and stands for Sewing Under the Influence.

Side Note: I myself have accrued a few S.U.I.'s over those years, but it was all worth it to spend sleepless nights integrating myself into New York City, meeting some of the most influential people that have aided in the success I have today. There is always a price to be paid in the fashion world, but if you find the right people, you will have an unlimited balance.

Alexandria is an ex-model-turned-designer and quick to point out that Sandro is an "idiot," while a few others don't even "belong" in the competition! With the mouth of a boxer and the look of a figure skater, let's hope she can hold her own next to Mike Tyson and Tonya Harding. If not, she'll be out an ear and a kneecap! I think it's rather ballsy to make such bold statements so early in the game; however, I am going to give her the benefit of doubt and blame it on every model's depravity: Hunger.

Speaking of Mike Tyson and ears, it's awe-inspiring to see Justin on the show even with having a hearing disability. I am already a fan of his personal strength and attitude because this show is more than just designing pretty dresses but having the confidence to stand in the face of judgment. What I am most intrigued by is his architectural background, because I believe it can make for a very strong and innovative designer.

There are DEFINITELY some unique characters on this show, but no one takes the crown from Milwaukee's Best -- and no, I'm not talking about the beers I have consumed during this episode -- Timothy Westbrook! His explanations and platform were the comedy of the episode, watching him create, define, explain, and demonstrate his garment and its purpose. Though his intentions seem genuine, the man on Canal Street in Chinatown told me the same thing about the Louis Vuitton bag he was trying to sell me! Timothy may be odd, but his hometown comrade Miranda Levy seems to think she is above him, barely reciprocating the hug he tries to give her. I don’t know about you but I am intrigued to learn more about drama behind these Farm Town Fashionistas!

It was such an explosive and dramatic show opener using the sky divers to deliver what became the designers' fabric for the challenge: The parachutes! These are people jumping from thousands of feet in the air using a VERY lightweight material known as “ripstop nylon” fabric which is resistant to tearing and ripping.

Definiton: Ripstop nylon is a light-weight nylon fabric with interwoven ripstop reinforcement threads in a crosshatch pattern. The material comes in many different colors and sizes, including thickness. It is woven with coarse, strong warp and filling yarns at intervals so that tears will not spread.

I don't know about you, but wearing last season Dolce & Gabbana is as dare-devil as I get! With that said, it was great to see such beautiful color options and an excess amount of fabric to work with. In the end I think that was the triumph for Bradon that he used so much of what he was given but had the ability to manipulate the parachute into a stunning editorial piece. In this competition it is all about taking chances, especially on the first challenge! Nina nailed it when she said, "First impressions are all that you have!" I couldn’t agree more.

My favorite first impressions and personal picks I'm intrigued to see more from are Alexander Pope, Sue Waller, Jeremy Brandrick, and Bradon McDonald.

Who are yours?


Bleeding Love

Posted By kim_messina 12:02pm GMT

It was sad to see the beloved and charming Daniel "sashay away" on what seemed to be a very difficult decision for the judges. But in true form of any competition, someone must win while others lose, and unfortunately Daniel's dreams of making it to the final three probably felt like Nancy Kerrigan's knee after Tonya Harding had her way with it. It’s imperative to remember, that she got up after that incident and continued on her amazing journey. As the age old saying states, "If at first you don’t succeed, try try again!" I have no doubt that we will be seeing some brilliant fashion from Daniel in the near future! I am praying he will dive into a bit of menswear and deliver some of those awesome sculpture jackets because I am in need

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping to see a bit of torture in terms of having some insane challenge thrown at the designer’s just days before the show! I mean it seems as though their "design assistants" have been there for weeks and with that kind of help, they should be able to take on designing a thirteenth look. In reality however I didn’t have the chance to be on the edge of my seat with a twist, but I was just as shocked when the designers were given an extra 500 dollars to shop at Mood!

Side note: If you remember Season 9, we had the same opportunity for some exotic reason, do I smell something fishy!? Who needs the extra fabric to make their collection more cohesive and impactful!?

I mean let’s roll back the calendar, shall we…they have each had five MONTHS to put 12 looks together! And yet they are being given more money! As Biggie AKA The Notorious B.I.G has said, "Mo Money, Mo Problems," and it seems to be the case since Patricia and Stanley have a substantial amount of work to complete. Meanwhile, Michelle has the best assistant Amanda working with her that she even has the time to take coffee orders for Stanley and Patricia!

Speaking of coffee, I could use one right at this second to wake me up! I feel like I am witnessing Humpty Dumpty’s infamous fall and not even an Aderol, prayer and an entire team of seasoned sweatshop workers could put back together the travesty happening. I am literally biting my nails praying to see completed garments! But the panic attack I am having at the moment has nothing to do with finished garments or how emotional it is when the families make their much needed "pep rally" debut, it’s in fact surrounding my utter anticipation to see my boyfriend Michael Kors! Can I get a RuPaul, "AMEN, UP IN HERE?" Who has been craving his wit, banter and PRICELESS facial expressions!?

Side note: I absolutely love Zac because he is so intelligent and handsome, but wouldn’t it be great to have them BOTH on the panel!?

I remember that 2 am wake up call for the day of the runway show, like it was yesterday and as tired as I was, the energy and excitement I felt was unlike anything else! It’s emotional to invest so much time into something to then only have it loved or hated! Each of these three designers, have such true and honest collections that help us to better understand who they are and where they see fashion as it stands to them personally. I appreciate the blood, sweat and tears, that Michelle, Stanley and Patricia put into these looks. It reminds me why I love what I do so much and that even with critics, fans, groupies or just plain admirers if you continue to do what you love and achieve to inspire others, then there is nothing going to stop you or hold you back, because you are simply: Bleeding love!


Stung by the Sting Ray

Posted By kim_messina 4:11am GMT

Last week we lost our some solid talent and a girl, though oddly whiny at times, was such a beauty to grace our television and enter our living room each week, Layana. It was sad to see her go because all season we had seen some really concrete work come from her and I imagine with the five months the designers had to put together their 12 look collections, she would have nailed it. Unfortunately we will not have the pleasure of seeing the masterpiece that is Layana. What always upsets me the most about an elimination is when it comes down to a garment that is not something the designer typically designs and in Layana’s case, as Heidi Klum described it "a house coat" sent her home. We all know she would have given us some fabulous eveningwear with her signature "hard and soft" aesthetic.

EGN (Excited Gossip Note): SHE’S BACK! Even if only to lend a helping hand to Patricia, BUT she’s PREGNANT! Congratulations Layana, what a special treat!

Tim is immediately off to visit the designer’s and check in on their progress. First on our tour is Patricia in New Mexico! As the camera descends upon a beautiful sunrise and the gorgeous mountains it’s probably the first realization for most of us watching that Patricia doesn’t look oddly out of place or perhaps that it’s true your surroundings can help you blend. Tim mentions the "epiphany" he is feeling about Patricia, and I do feel he has summed that up for most of us.

Side note: you really want to love the chick, but all that complaining and whining about Richard and not being able to get things finished was really wearing on me!

However it really helps to see people in their natural environment and I think this home visit really has helped to put Patricia in a positive light. I must admit that Patricia’s collection was the one that I was most anticipating because of her background in textiles. I know the short time period of the challenge’s and how hard it is to completely deliver your entire vision, but after seeing most of Patricia’s looks in the works I was much more interested in discussing how delicious the lunch looked that was being served, b/c I didn’t see anything being delivered from the design studio, with an exception to the horsehair caplet, which I thought was SIMPLY DIVINE!

Next off we are almost engulfed by Daniel and his new do, and all I am thinking is…OMG, it’s been four months, do the drapes match the carpet!?

Side note: I know it’s a stressful time, but one must keep everything in check, I only had four and a half weeks to make a collection and I didn’t look like Raggedy Ann!

On a lighter and less thought provoking note, it is so wonderful to see the excitement in Daniel. He has really delivered some kooky humor to the entire season, along with some fabulous jackets! Can we talk about his molding technique? LIVING for that! As we previewed the collection, I was a little lost on how the solar system and Dali were playing into the pieces that we were seeing. It really didn’t make any sense to me at all. The stingray is a fabulous touch, but doing it on an excessive amount of pieces is really over kill for me!

Design note: there are only 12 looks, so don’t overkill one technique or one fabrication, as a designer to put a solid cohesive collection together, you really have to know how to merchandise in all of those elements and even though you may LOVE one thing, do your best to edit down. And trust; I learned my fair share of editing!

It’s off to Stanley’s, and as I guessed we have to blow off all the dust and remove the moth balls before we can take a look at the collection! I say that with love, but also some frustration. I think Stanley has some of the best construction and tailoring on the show. The man has such skill and talent, that I think at points it has worked against him. It is hard to let go of everything you know and love and are attracted to, and throw it out the window to try new things. One thing is CERTAIN for sure, he knows EXACTLY who is client is, and for that I applaud him 100%, however he will not win the show if he only does it the way Stanley wants it.

Side note: this is a design competition and part of these challenges is to listen and take the critiques from the judges and show them how you have listened and respected them.

I don’t feel there was much listening at all, nor really caring about their opinions and past critiques. All I have to say is that this is THEIR 10,000 dollars and as much as YOU want to show what YOU want to show, THEY want to see what THEY want to see. Confusing I realize, but let’s just make it simple and say, "Even politics play into fashion."

Last but not least we land in the beautiful city of Portland to see how Michelle is doing. It had been a tough last few episodes for her but I can see the fight in her eyes this entire season, so of course I am intrigued to see the magic she has been producing. First and foremost I must say that I love her workspace! It’s almost as though HGTV came in and set up the room to compliment her designs. What I think really set Michelle apart from the rest is the story and vision of the woman she is dressing. I love the whole idea of the "lone wolf/woman." I think as she said it really translates the story of her journey on the show, and in fact it really embodies most designer’s stories. I of course am gagging over the design with detachable bags because I am in love with oddly functional clothing and anything dealing with the "more is better" aesthetic! Some of her fabric manipulations and over the top design has me really craving to see the collection in its entirety!

Judging note: who else thought Zac Posen’s commentary about design from the cuts, to the length, to the techniques used was fabulous and spot on!? Such a brilliant designer and judge!

Well you all know the results…Michelle, Stanley and Patricia—IN, Daniel—OUT!

Do you think they got it right, or was Daniel "stung"?


Thank You For Flying "Project Runway" Airlines

Posted By kim_messina 4:45pm GMT

THAT was the "to be continued…" we were waiting for? Don’t get me wrong, I am glad to see that they gave Michelle another chance, but I was waiting for something juicy to happen, weren’t you? I just had to giggle to myself when everyone was trying to console Michelle, because the girl was NOT having it! I feel for her, as I am sure many people did as well. We all can relate to those moments when you "just don’t want to be touched." It was really vulnerable of her and honestly human. Those are the moments that make reality TV its best and define EXACTLY what it is "reality"!

While Michelle is still in, she gets to enjoy her time in the Big Apple, while the other four each travel to their assigned respective cities: Berlin, London, Paris and Barcelona! Truly such an amazing opportunity to travel to a foreign European city, become inspired and purchase your textiles there. What makes this even more exciting is that the budget has just had some Botox and the limit is set at $1000. Even with the conversion in each of the respective cities, it’s a ton of money to buy more than what each designer will need to make a "high-end runway look."

Naturally the architecture in these cities is going to be breathtaking and Stanley and Layana are both extremely inspired by what they are seeing. Layana is honing in on the passion of Barcelona and is drawn to a lot of the tile work that she sees, while Stanley is deciding to go a little "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" on us, with something a bit dark that is "ghostly or haunting, very modest (of course, darling we wouldn’t expect sex from you), that is long and lean."

Like Patricia, I too was just in Paris and I was so excited to see that she was drawn to the street art! There truly is an abundance of street art, and it’s not horrific like the graffiti we see in NYC and other US cities, it really is art. It’s thought out, it’s planned, and it really speaks to you if you let it. It’s almost like walking through an art gallery in the streets, so when Patricia points out how it’s like "layering of history" I was right on board with her and intrigued to see how she brings to life the "True gritty street, NOT the romantic Paris."

Meanwhile over in Berlin, Daniel is getting his first trip of European travel and what a city to start in! I had been some six years ago for New Year's in the winter and what a different place it looks like in the summer months. It is definitely sad to see how emotional he is getting, but I too would be just as overwhelmed. Like Paris, it has some amazing street art but what sets it apart is how raw it is. Speaking of raw, feelings that is, Michelle is back in NYC exploring for her inspiration. With so much around her, she should be glad she doesn’t have to deal with jetlag, and she finds her inspiration from the concrete jungle itself! She says she is "cleansing her feelings" which is sparked by seeing the stains of old chimneys when they were fueled by coal or wood.

The fabric shopping seems to go seamless for most, except for Patricia, who actually has to RETURN fabric! How hysterical is that? In America, "You break it, you bought it," or in terms of fabric stores, "You cut it, you bought it!" I was delighted to see how patient the saleswoman was while Patricia was acting like she was on an episode of "Hoarders"! I also love the guts Stanley has to spend almost his ENTIRE budget on four years of leather sequin fabric, so ballsy, but so confident!

After making it through customs safely, the designers meet back at 1407, where Michelle is not having it with them! I can understand her frustration and feeling of being left out, but I honestly think it was for the best!

Side note: Michelle, no tears boo, just win the damn show and take the 100 thousand dollars and visit whatever country you please!

The only thing you really missed out on was having the opportunity to shop of fabric that might not be at Mood, but like Tim infamously says, "MAKE IT WORK!" And for four of the designers, they did just that, unfortunately we lost Layana to what Heidi described as a "house coat," and that saddens me, because Layana leaves us on a design that was NOT EVEN her forte! So frustrating when that happens!

I kind of fell in love with the romantic Spanish flare; do you think the judges got it right?


I Need A BREW-ster!

Posted By laurareineke 10:33am GMT

It's that time of the season. Some call it spring cleaning, while we on "Project Runway Teams" call it "Reorganizing and Reconstructing!" With Richard gone it's down to the Top 5, and honestly probably the point of the season in which the show is just beginning. Would it really be a complete season without bringing back some familiar faces to the show? Never! What always alarms me about this point is that they come back as "sewing assistants." Now doesn't that just sound demeaning? I mean we did cast them as designers, so wouldn't it be more appropriate and politically correct to call them "design assistants?" I'm just saying!

Speaking of politically correct, Tim tells the designers it's time to utilize the communication and management skills they have developed throughout the season thus far. WHAT!? The only thing that has developed for the designers this season is their tolerance for insanity! With the five that remain, I think there are some of the WORST communicators of the cast, e.g. Patricia. She doesn't even comprehend what she is saying half the time, and the wide-eyed facial expression that seems to own her face, should be an indication that she's lost herself. As a viewer it's hard to understand what she is trying to say if it doesn’t have to do with complaining about someone else.

Daniel has me singing "Oh Happy Day" from "Sister Act 2" while he is describing what a relief it is to finally have to chance to design alone and be 100 percent him. I think he has really summed up that feeling for the other 4 as well. It’s the moment they have all been waiting for, to develop and carry out their own ideas as a solo force. I would like to reference back to the very first episode when on set, on hot cameras, and in front of the viewers the designers learned that they were on a brand new format of "Project Runway" -- TEAMS! I personally applaud each and every one of them for sticking it out; they are all troopers in my eyes.

We descend upon 57th Street and 8th Avenue on the gorgeous architecture of the Hearst Corporation building, home to Marie Claire and numerous other affluent publications and businesses. The camera pans onto the impeccable Nina Garcia and ever-so-handsome Tim Gunn waiting to deliver the news that this week's challenge is all about creating a Spring/Summer high fashion editorial look that will be worn by Jordana Brewster and run in the May issue of Marie Claire! What a fabulous challenge, a fabulous prize, and a FABULOUS opportunity for the designers to expand their EDITORIAL wings.

Nina design note: No red carpet looks, no t-shirts and pants, think BOLD in terms color, shape, silhouette and print.

Back at 1407, the designers learn who will be their sewing assistants, and for some the reveal is dreadful. Most, if not all, fear the possibility of having to work with Richard, but as the universe states the law of attraction nailed Patricia her fate. She's paired with Richard once again, while things work out in favor for Michelle. Stanley goes to left field in most people's eyes with his choice of Tu, while I see it as the perfect opportunity for him to be completely in charge. He always had something harassing to say about Kate's overbearing and controlling personality while working with Tu, and now after a good Windex to the specks you can clearly see the twinkle of Hannibal Lector in his eyes.

Opinions are flying about opposing teams throughout the day while Tim stops in for his weekly visit with an overall message for the room to be designing "what's next, NOT what's now!" Daniel has definitely honed in on the "fantasy" of high-fashion editorial that Nina spoke of, and Michelle had me rolling with probably the best line of this entire season: "If you don't know how to get to 'Sesame Street,' Daniel can tell you how to get there!" There definitely has been a lack of comedy this season, but I imagine that's because we have been focusing on such great work. NOT! I have yet to be BLOWN away by something, and I think Layana is definitely serving up something fabulous this week. Rihanna says it best that "Chains and whips excite me!" and Layana is delivering on her leather and chain look. Patricia, however, seems envious that she hasn't used the technique yet, so instead of giving compliments she chooses to take the low road and bash Layana's technique. All the while, Patricia has a disaster happening in front of her that she would rather complain about than change. With all the attitude and negativity spewing from her mouth, I would have just watched her crumble hearing all the excuses. There is no doubt she has unbelievable talent, however I don't think she knows as much about construction and sewing. Perhaps she and Richard should take a class together?

Side note: Even having a sewing assistant, you should plan to finish everything yourself. You are still in the competition with a huge prize at stake, and I imagine you don't plan to share your winnings with your helper.

In most factories around the world, there is a standard of treatment for the employees even if the minimum wage is unfathomable to most, but the way Stanley is treating Tu would call for a government inspection! At points it is truly unbearable to watch and honestly just sad. It's one thing to tell someone to "take a nap," but to attack their skills as a designer is so belittling. I'm extremely sad for Tu, but ultimately the jacket that Stanley is harping on him for "f*cking up" turns out to be the piece the judges love the most!

While Nina had forewarned the designers to "do your BEST work," she, along with the other judges, is disappointed in some. They all really come down hard on Michelle for the t-shirt and pants, but Michelle does not waver from her idea of "a b*tchin' giant pair of linen pants and the weirdest little t-shirt you have ever seen!" It was a risk that at this point might or might not pay off, because we now have a cliffhanger until next week!I am on the edge of my seat. Tell me what your predictions are!

To Be Continued...


Marriage or Divorce

Posted By kim_messina 12:53pm GMT

With salability behind us we embark on our new journey of creativity! This is perhaps one of the most creative "realistic" challenges of the season: the HP create your own print challenge. Truly what makes this so exciting is that it’s every designers dream to begin to create, manufacture and design using your own customs prints. It can give you an edge and an identity as a designer in this industry and its just flat out a heck of a lot of fun and more motivational to work with something that you created yourself!

With inspiration from the Guggenheim museum and a headache for me from Patricia and Layana, I would have eliminated a few designers with a quick nudge from the top floor of the gorgeous building and call it a day! I mean eventually there has to be elimination so it would naturally just be moving things along! Right!?

I was honestly starting to feel bad for Richard as the episode unfolded. I would have taken the time to sew a body bag to put Patricia in if she kept hounding me for a design, as if she truly ever has one in mind herself. Love the women’s textile techniques to death, but really go back into her design rolodex for the season thus far…have you been blown away?

Side note: From experience you may have a design idea in mind; however as the challenges and work room time constraints tick away designs have to naturally change at points to complete them and sometimes it is actually for the better! With that said, being completely lost for a design idea is EXTREMELY frightening. I would compare it to a writer’s block if you are having trouble understanding the picture I am trying to paint.

Speaking of painting, it’s always interesting to have to show an avant-garde look and then a ready to wear look that has a clear reference and influence to one another. It can either be a beautiful marriage or something that looks entirely divorced! There was a clear divorce between Richard’s chef hat skirt and Patricia’s ghost of Christmas past costume, but I find the culpability of that within horrible communication between the two. I do believe Richard had pulled an Elvis and "already left the building" mentally, but I also think since Patricia wanted to take on the outrageous avant-garde look, she should have been better able to articulate the vision she was going for. I can imagine that was quite hard with all the voices that seem to be having a conference call inside her head. She wanted us to believe she knew the direction she was going to make Richard look inept when ultimately she just wanted to play preschool and paint her textile, while blowing smoke up our butts.

Speaking of blowing smoke, Layana started the forest fire this week thinking Smokey the Bear was going to come and save her! She put up such a stink in the Guggenheim because she felt she would be best to carry out the avant-garde look and Richard would be better at the ready to wear look. Well baby, he did just that, and when he felt he should be the winner of your duo, Niagara Falls appears and suddenly you have the "I feel betrayed" card thrown out on the table. Haven’t you ever been to a casino love? The house always wins!

As for the pairing of Michelle and Stanley it looks as though it paid off for Stanley. It was a good match seeing how Michelle’s contemporary rock edge gave life to Stanley’s once again 50s reference! I mean I think to date he’s referenced his look to this era 4 or 5 times this season. The question remains, what did Michelle gain from working with him? I would guess patience and a better understanding of the 50s!

It’s sad to see Richard go, because I don’t think it was his talent that ejected him&151;it was ultimately the intensity of the competition. As he said during his Skype chat with his friend,"This competition takes more endurance then you think." That’s very true. You got to have the endurance to keep with all your fierce and yes girl moments, or the psychological side of the show, the people and the competition can EAT YOU ALIVE! LOL I really let myself go as though I’m writing a Stephen King novel about a competition eating people alive! How silly of me. Did I think this was as dangerous as "Survivor"!? Any who boos, Top 5, and can’t wait to see what next!

Does anyone have their Top 3 predictions? Let me know your comments and thoughts! XOXO


Oh My Lord & Taylor!

Posted By kim_messina 12:33pm GMT

If you’re like me, we have all had a week to cool ourselves down from last week’s episode, where the only thing that kept us watching was to get a glimpse of the beautiful bodies of the Thunder from Down Under boys! I was sad to start this episode with the absence of Amanda, but I imagine she is already making waves somewhere, even if it is in the tub! I know Nashville is ready to embrace her talent and I look forward to seeing what she does.

I prayed we would have less whining this week so we could get back to creating some glamorous fashion and of course we start the show out with Richard and Layana not being able to share toys in the sandbox! I mean honestly dolls, didn’t you ever learn to kill you enemies with kindness!? It’s the first rule of the fashion world, heck of the world in general, don’t be fooled by the fancy parties and the double kisses photographed during fashion week. They all go back to the office and chatter with annoyance and aggravation about their competition and "frenemies!"

One aspect that has begun to emerge is that the judges are an integral part of pairing the designers for the following challenge! I absolutely love this seeing how they have no idea what happens in the workroom on the day to day basis and are merely matching the designers on what they think can be interesting collaborations. It makes for a fabulous new dimension to the show and one that makes us all antsy in our seats.

With this being the Lord & Taylor challenge, it’s specific, and within lies the challenge to create a look that embodies not only the Lord & Taylor style, but the trick is to design something they will crave. Like most department stores, the consumer is oversaturated with choices, so this is a tricky challenge to design for knowing you will really have to hone in on your design and mold it to be something that you could see this specific customer wanting to spend $250 on.

Side note: It’s easy to get caught up on making it within the budget, but the truth of the matter is, if the judges love it and they want it, they will (no pun intended) "Make it work!"

It’s the point of the season where we certainly see designers at a lack of ideas and Richard is taking the top prize for being drained creatively. Heck, I’d rather see "tacky," in the words of Layana, then boring and seen before! Talking about his color blocked maxi dress as if it’s never been done before? Umm hello, did we not see Prabal Gurung three seasons ago!? And "Miss I need a pacifier to suck on" Layana feeding us from her hard and soft birdbath…Groundbreaking, leather and chiffon! Puke! And by puke I’m talking about her fabric choice. I don’t know, perhaps it reminded her of her abuela's sofa!?

Meanwhile in the far corner we are having a "he said, she said" battle following Tim’s departure from Michelle and Daniel. I mean it made for an interesting moment, but I just had to giggle knowing that it’s all recorded by the court room stenographer, and can be replay to sort out this debacle. They are both strong designers in the competition and can be of asset to one another, leave all the drama up to Layana and Richard for today, because you’re drawing to much attention to yourselves.

Side note: It’s great to finally see some sort of friction, even if its childish, it’s making for a far better ending to a rather slow and tedious, "OMG, we are all going to be friends here," beginning! Don’t you agree?

I was disappointed to not see Zac Posen in his chair this week, not only because he’s so handsome, but I think he would have been such an integral point of view for the designers to here from regarding retail and the salability of a garment. He has built a huge fashion design house in less than 15 years, Impressive!

Remembering it’s the Lord & Taylor event I realized I wasn’t going to be "blown away" by the runway show. But it’s the most realistic challenge we might see all season, because when the cameras stop rolling and the microphones are off, this is what it’s all about loves…SELLING! It’s what makes a business and it’s what grows a business. Frankly without selling your clothes might as well be a plumber. These designers are here to do just that, design, get picked up by stores, and create seasonal collections.

It’s definitely a diverse runway show and it gave the judges a lot to discuss. It was by far one of the first challenges that truly became a subjective numbers game and what Bonnie and the judges find the most attractive and sellable for that moment. That’s the tricky thing with fashion, one day you might be on the plus and nail all the right trends, and the next season, you might be completely off. Regardless you have to own what you do and believe in it!

Talking about believing in what you do, I applaud Samantha like a 13 year old girl at a Justin Beiber concert for this week! She took a risk to design for a more junior Lord & Taylor consumer and it didn’t work, but she stood by her design with conviction. With Lord & Taylor in the works to revamp the customer base for the store, I wouldn’t have taken such a risk to try and reach a new demographic for them, in terms of design, let them take that risk first and see if it’s profitable or not. I would have amped up a design as Michelle did for their current customer, which it was a gorgeous shift and what ultimately landed her the win. Remember: design and deliver who and what you are as a designer and let them come to you, because it’s tricky to try and make people see your vision especially when what they are looking at and for are dollar signs.


No Shirt, No Shoes, We’re in Business!

Posted By kim_messina 12:19pm GMT

After cleaning up their workspaces from last week the latest updates to hit the "Project Runway" obituaries are that Tu has picked up Rosetta Stone and a fly swatter while Kate picked up a "Teen Cosmo" and reality check! It’s sad to see both them go…well actually, who am I kidding, and it was a blessing! I never really had any emotional attachment to Tu, because we never really got to know or understand who he was as a designer and Kate had some pretty solid skills and was quite entertaining, but it just became too much of her complaining and focusing on everyone else and their designs, when she should have just focused on what was right in front of her.

It’s the challenge I have been waiting for all season, and clearly not because of the drama or the fashion, but the beautiful Australian men! I share in Heidi’s misery of not being able to attend the pre-show of "Thunder from Down Under!" It was quite the show, but I was sad to see no tip action or "Magic Mike" moves! Then again, I realize this is a family show, or I least it still is somewhere across this great country of America.

I have to admit, I was so close to turning off my television as soon as all the "I don’t do menswear" statements started to fly! Hello designers, we are in the 11th season on "Project Runway" and if you have not noticed, there always seems to be one menswear challenge! I think automatically people’s minds go directly to "suiting" and here is the definition for your future references:

Suiting – noun
1. A set of clothing, armor, or the like, intended for wear together.
2. A set of men's garments of the same color and fabric, consisting of trousers, a jacket and sometimes a vest.
3. A similarly matched set consisting of a skirt and jacket, and sometimes a topcoat or blouse, worn by women.

This of course is a very in-depth definition and quite intimidating, but there are so many other areas within the design field of menswear. I always say, if you can sew, you can tackle anything! Then again we did just come off a duct tape challenge so I can imagine it’s odd for the designers to once again have to use the amazing Brother sewing equipment and use it well!

I really felt for Richard and Michelle collectively trying to get there respective teams to think outside the box on this challenge, even if for a moment of fresh air! Both however faced the Union and the Rebels and neither team were receptive to hearing what they had to say. Michelle took the "You FOOLS, and decided to go along with them for the time being," while Richard was rightfully hurt and thought, "I’m trying to be creative and help," and he saw the Regina George in each of his teammates. I feel bad because he immediately shut down and really had no interest in enjoying the challenge after that and he DEFINITELY wanted nothing to do with Layana, who apparently thinks everything she does in not "tacky" because she feels confident enough to use the word enough to describe Richard's design aesthetic.

It’s sad when the other designers can appreciate what you bring to the table even if is not their taste. I personally think it just shows the insecurities of what society is telling them think and or believe about something or someone. It’s a sad state of living in a world with too many followers and not enough leaders and it think it parallels this season flawlessly. There are truly a few standouts as great designers, yet most have just merely filled a place within the workroom while slaughtering good fabric along the way!

It’s a disaster in the workroom by the time the hunks make their way in for fittings. Nothing fits, nothings exciting, expect for the tan and beautiful bodies, and nobody seems to grasp the fact that these guys need to look HOT! It’s just a chaos of crap and the designer’s faces let us know that. The whining ensues especially from Layana, and if is have to sit here and hear Patricia discuss how she feels bad and wishes she could be helping her team out more, I’m going to have to throw my cell phone at her head in true Naomi Campbell style! I mean woman, finish the Wal-Mart button up, or in this case Velcro button-up and HELP!

Joshua note: I can stand someone who complains but refuses to fix the problem or do anything to make it better! Ex: "IF YOU’RE TIRED, TAKE A NAP!"

It was no surprise to me following the show that there was clearly no actual winner of the challenge as a whole. I do however think Michelle and Daniel both did a nice job on their looks, but like the panel of judges, I think it was a reality check to not let anyone walk away with the win!

The most entertaining portion of the whole episode was watching Nina laugh uncontrollably! I swear she had me in tears just watching her… Now that’s good television! I was of course sadden to see the beautiful and talented Amanda leave us on Velcro pants, but like Heidi says, "One day you’re in, the next day you’re out," and today was all about, "No Shoes, no shirt, we’re in Business!" Now on with the show!


Duck! It’s Prom Season!

Posted By kim_messina 11:12am GMT

After last week’s shock of Benjamin going home over Amanda, its clear most don’t think Amanda will be able to rise to the occasion, but I have faith she’s still in the competition because we have yet to see what she is truly capable of. Plus, seeing how she is so articulate she’s the main reason I understand the premise of the challenges through her interviews. I mean hello, she’s pulling the weight for half the cast in being clear, audible and helping the viewer to comprehend the mess unfolding before our eyes each week. Thank you Amanda!

Heidi has truly taken the idea of wild animals on leashes and as pets to a new level, and introducing the challenge with her pet duck, seems even something Paris Hilton hasn’t attempted to tame. Like the designers I was lost on where we were headed with this challenge, but I should have guessed it was down sticky lane with Duct Tape! I truly think the first thing that came out of my mouth was, "Wow, what a fabulous challenge!" While most designers are "fingers-crossed" in hopes to not be paired with Patricia or Amanda, Kate is merely focused on pointing out all the "b*tches" of the group, and praying she has Tu to put on a leash again just like Heidi’s pet duck!

Side note: Notice how Kate has seemed to only like to work with Tu? Ding dong folks, he doesn’t say much and it’s terribly hard to understand him when he does but still he always seems to be stuck with "It’s my way or the highway Kate!"

The wild thing is, I was so touched by her a few weeks ago, no seriously, I had a tears in my eye during her deliberation speak and then as the smoke lifted I wanted to shake Tu and say, "Boo, move on, your talent is being obscured and overridden!"

Always confident Stanley has no worries for this challenge of course, he has designed prom dresses for his nieces many times before…but I thought he and Richard were the only "high fashion" designers? I imagine he just meant the latter of that statement! And seeing how after he overlooked working with Richard, he’s clearly taken that statement back! Babes over bros clearly!

It’s the Gold Rush of 1849 with Richard and Daniel, and it’s for Beyoncé of course! But Layana is not happy with the boys claiming their stake on the lot of gold duct tape! She immediately takes it to the appropriate level of the challenge of "high school" and claims it to be Richard's jealously of her being chosen by Stanley! Wake up 6, it’s not that deep! Speaking of whining, my ears are bleeding listening to Kate! She has such a strong opinion about EVERYONE in the room, but is failing to see the horror on her dress form! She won’t let Tu have a say until Tim comes over and blows the lid off her confidence can and at that point it’s so condescending I would have duct taped her mouth shut for the rest of the challenge!

I think having a live show with actual high school students added a great element to the challenge; however it’s imperative as the designer to stand behind your look and not waiver your design based on such a subjective group of individuals. As I have said many times before this design competition is about displaying who you are as a designer and creating a voice for your esthetic. We need a hero, not someone that is going to serve everyone because even while sticking to what feels right chances are you are going to be criticized anyway, so why not be criticized for something you love.

The runway show is a hit with the students and I applaud how quickly the looks have come together! I know the time constraints and even I was pretty blown away with them! I of course am in love with Michelle and Amanda’s hounds tooth manipulation, its spot on! Speaking of manipulation, I have to raise both hands and clap obnoxiously for Patricia’s work on the skirt. I think it’s absolutely fabulous and even though it seems the consensus to work with her is rather taxing, I am sure each person, if they open themselves up to her, could learn a lot. Textile artists are some of the most creative people I have met, because they see things in a completely different way than most designers and in this case Patricia is able to apply those new and interesting techniques to her designs! So instead of being scared to work with Patricia, I would be volunteering myself!

Interesting enough, Patricia and Samantha won over the 20 percent vote of the students and I would imagine half would be the easy and fun silhouette and the other half would be the divine duct tape textile manipulation! While the petrified 80s baked potato falls flat along with Tu and Kate’s gala dress.

Congratulations FINALLY to Michelle first and foremost on her rightfully deserved win, the dress was EVERYTHING, and the lovely Amanda for making it out of her rut! Work it out girls!!

It’s always an uncomfortable moment when they ask each team who was the weakest link and should be sent home. In the case of Tu and Kate, it shows a lot of character to own the leadership role, and I applaud Kate for doing so. Ultimately I had the shock of my life when BOTH were sent home! I literally gasped at the television, and that I rarely do unless I find a Swarovski encrusted blazer!

In the end however, I do think it was the appropriate choice on the judges to make the double elimination, this is "Project Runway 'Teams'"if you have forgotten. And it seems as though Kate must have "forgotten" high school seeing how hot pink, zebra, gold and a "queens of hearts costume" trumped her dress. You may not be seeing any prom dresses from Tu and Kate in the near future, however you would most likely see that dress at a funeral…IN THE COFFIN!