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The Glue Gun Challenege

By kim_messina Fri., Jul. 27, 2012 ,5:20 am EDT

The unconventional challenge is a perennial favorite of every "Project Runway" season. It always shows up early in the season and in a kind of baptism by fire it forces the designers to get out of their comfort zone and get creative. Over the years, whether it is hardware or groceries, flowers or garbage, the use of out of the box materials produces spectacular successes and phenomenal failures.

This challenge tends to produce garments that fall into two categories. The first type are the ones where the designer has successfully transformed the materials beyond recognition and created a surprisingly wearable looking garment. They always require a close second look to even figure out what the designer used. Techniques such as weaving, folding, piecing and altering any items used for embellishment achieves this. The main body of these garment is usually made of found materials, unlike the second type, which is essentially a muslin garment completely covered in found objects that is totally dependent on a glue gun.

I prefer the first type, but both types can be successful. Last season, Oliver had type one made of a dog bed, and Anthony Ryan had the second type, a little muslin dress completely covered with a pattern of birdseed. After ten seasons of unconventional challenges, the judges seem to prefer the second type and their bias put some garments in the top that I feel shouldn’t have been there, while some great ones were overlooked.

We can all agree that Ven is one of the designers to watch this season. His dress, a definite type two, was a huge success and deserved the win. The silhouette was flattering and chic, but had great graphic interest. His stained glass idea was clear and flawlessly executed. Crushing the rock candy altered it just enough to render it unrecognizable. The dress was flattering, and the model was able to move, not always an easy feat when pounds of candy and a glue gun are involved. And thanks to his color palette we learned from Nina that pastels are "on trend " for whatever that information is worth.

As right as it was for Ven’s creation to be in the top three, the other two garments in the top just didn’t deserve to be there.

Sonji is adorable. Her personal style, completely entrenched in the eighties right down to the jewelry, is likable. She has great sewing skills and her dress was executed well, but I just didn’t get it. I thought the shape was goofy. I don’t know anyone who wants to wear a jelly bean/gummi shark dress with a butt flap. Admittedly, the color scheme was well thought out and the candy was glued on well, but it was obviously candy, unaltered and completely recognizable. The hat she added was just plain bad judgment.

Gunnar is not adorable. I would say he is one of the most annoying contestants ever to be on any season of "Project Runway." I would take Santino, Kenley and Josh all in place of just Gunnar. This Christopher vs. Gunnar war is not amusing and better fade out fast or I am not going to be a happy viewer. Even if I did like Gunnar, whom I don’t, I don’t believe his garment should have been in the top. The muslin dress was just a sheath with a peplum tacked on at the waist. A Peplum? Really? Who wears that? I was not impressed with his checkerboard Twizzler pattern even if it did match his checkerboard hair. It just looked like exactly what it was, glued on cut Twizzlers. And they were falling off. Did Heidi say she would wear that? Yes, when she isn’t wearing snake print pajamas.

I would easily have replaced Sonji and Gunnar’s entries with Dmitri or Christopher’s. Dmitry’s dress was not made of muslin provided by the producers. The fabric was cut from a Dylan’s Candy Bar t-shirts purchased at the store. You had to look not twice, but four times to see that the "beading" was not done with actual beads, but candy. Christopher’s dress was of the muslin covered in candy school, but the dress was tasteful and the candy was unrecognizable. I’m still not even sure if it is candy.

Buffi skirted by this week but her taste issues are going to get her in trouble down the line. Heidi likes short, tight and shiny, but not tacky. Nina and Michael can’t tolerate tacky. Personally I think Buffi is doomed because she simply doesn’t do what these judges want. I’m not as worried about Elena. Her pasta football player was a disaster, but she does have a very definite aesthetic and she does what she does very well. This week was just a glitch. Lanti was a weak link and had to go. For the second week in a row she couldn’t handle the constraints of competing on "Project Runway." I’ve always said it takes much more than being a good designer to win "PR." Time is short, fatigue is long and the challenges get tougher and tougher. She clearly didn’t have what it takes.