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Departure Drama

By kim_messina Fri., Aug. 10, 2012 ,7:45 am EDT

There are two distinct parts to my blog about this week’s episode, the departure drama, and the Michael Kors challenge and the resulting fashion.

Departure Drama

As we sit comfortably on our sofas at home, in familiar surroundings, eating our usual food and un-sleep deprived, it’s easy to question why someone who has been given such a great opportunity would just walk away. “Thousands of designers would love to be in your place” is no comfort when you are near physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. I can’t stress enough how hard it is to be a contestant on “Project Runway.” As hard as it looks on TV, trust me when I tell you it is ten times harder. The fact that someone chooses to walk away, either announced (Kooan) or unannounced (Andrea), doesn’t surprise me at all.

You have to remember that what Heidi refers to as “this week's challenge” is really “this day's challenge.” The shooting schedule for the show doesn’t allow days off in between the challenges. The designers are woken early in the morning, sometimes as early as 4:00 am. If you pay close attention to the morning scenes you will notice that it’s still dark outside. They are taken to Parsons or some other location to be given the details of their next challenge. They shop at Mood then begin sewing sometime in the afternoon. If it is a one-day challenge, they stop sewing at midnight, do interviews (the clips you see throughout the show) then get to bed at about 2:00am. The next morning they usually have two hours to finish, fit, and send their models to the L’Oreal hair and makeup room. The actual runway segment of the show starts filming at about noon and lasts to 8:00 pm. It’s long, hot (no air conditioning that would interfere with the sound) and emotionally draining because you never know if you are the one on the chopping block. When the segment is finished being filmed, the designer change their clothes, and meet Heidi back on the runway to get the wacky hint about the next challenge. Then the entire process starts over. No breaks. No down time. No time to recover. It’s hard.

The fact that Andrea left in the middle of the night doesn’t surprise me at all. As a matter of fact, the only thing that kept me going when I was a contestant was the knowledge that I could walk out and go home at any time. (I could literally walk home. I live seven blocks from the Altlas apartments.) She must have been feeling defeated after two bad reviews in a row.

Kooan’s decision to leave raises a question. Eliminated designers don’t go home. They stay sequestered and actually travel around with the active contestants so that if seen in public, no one can tell who has been eliminated and who is still in the competition. I assume Andrea’s middle of the night slip freed her from the producers grasp. There is no way in hell they could have convinced her to come back just to hang out with the eliminated crowd. I wonder if Kooan was allowed to go home, or held captive in designer limbo. That would suck.

The Michael Kors Challenge

I thought the two of the top three garment this week were stellar. Sonjia’s gray jersey dress was chic and fabulous and actually reminded me of the designs that put Donna Karan on the map in the eighties. (Should we be surprised that Sonji looks to the eighties for inspiration?) Donna Karan invented clothes for the professional woman on the go. Her work with draped jersey was memorable and Sonji’s interpretation was spot on. She deserved the win.

Christopher also showed up with an amazing outfit that looked stylish but wearable. The little leather jacket was a great contrast to the draped dress. The proportions were perfect. But the most amazing thing about his dress was that I could see it on a woman in her twenties, or a woman in her sixties and every age in between. Kudos to Christopher.

I am a huge fan of Dmitry and have mentioned several times already this season that he was overlooked, but this week I think he should have been overlooked. Perhaps his gray dress was more impressive in person. I just didn’t see all the fuss being made over his construction. It looked like a basic sheath with one small design detail. The woven detail on the front was ok, just ok. It looked a bit added on to me as opposed to integrated into the design of the dress, and the cut out on the back is getting tired. I think he has more to offer.

Infinitely better than the Heidi challenges of seasons past, this challenge had poor Buffi doomed from the start. What Buffi does is just not what Michael and Nina want to see. She may have had a chance with Rachel Roy’s rock and roll esthetic, but she blew it on the construction. Buffi’s sea foam green shimmer eyeliner will be missed.