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What’s All the Fuss About?

By kim_messina Fri., Aug. 17, 2012 ,4:22 am EDT

The dreaded group challenge. "Project Runway" contestants hate them. It is true that having to reach some kind of consensus amongst a group can slow things down, but if everyone just remains calm and acts reasonably, it is totally doable. The truth is in the real world a designer NEVER works alone. There is always someone putting in their two cents, or dollars, and their wants and needs need to be addressed.

Any buyer from Bergdorf to QVC is going to have input into the product they are ultimately going to offer to their customers. They become responsible for what does or doesn’t sell and tend not to be passive about what they accept. Designers go to them with samples or sketches and the design process really just begins. You may not love the changes they are proposing or think they are the most qualified people to be modifying your designs, but they place the orders and authorize the checks so you better damn well listen.

On a smaller scale, private clients are no better. In fact, I think they are more difficult and require an even higher degree of design flexibility. They may say they trust you to design them the perfect garment, but round about the first fitting their quirks about color, fabric care, design details and body issues will come into play and the idea you started out with may take a total 180. (Beware of brides, they are notoriously the worst.)

Are these designers all planning to start off at the top? Most designers, if they are lucky enough to get a job past the reception desk, start off as part of a design staff. This is a collaborative team that works out the details of a given concept then presents it to someone higher up on the design chain for approval. And like I said, even that higher up then goes on to bow to the desires of the buyer. So get over the "I work alone" crap and do your job.

As far as group challenges go on "PR," this one was not that risky. Each designer had the opportunity to make their own complete outfit, and render themselves safe or at risk to be sent home. All each group really needed to do was coordinate fabrics and make sure there was an even distribution of pants, dresses skirts and tops. Team 6 took somewhat of a risk by mixing up the garments, but the judges just held them accountable for the individual pieces instead of the whole look.

It was odd that Team 6 was chosen as the winning team, then a member of that winning team was sent home, but thank God it happened because Raul needed to go. He was the most "I work alone" of all the designers and it bit him in the ass. Speaking of ass, what was with the stiff lobster bib ruffle thing he tried to pass off as work wear? And that other top? It was a badly crafted throw away, the kind of garment a "PR" designer would throw together as a fill in to put under a jacket to walk the runway. Every other designer on the team was able to put together two real pieces, albeit strangely shouldered fabrigami ones, but fully executed garments with a real idea, not just some badly cut, ill fitting, and poorly constructed tank top. Goodbye Raul. Again. (Did someone just call him Eddie Munster? Hilarious.)

Congrats to Melissa, Ven and Dmitry for bringing it. Their garments looked great on the runway, but even more fantastic in the photos. On notice: Elena, Nathan and Gunnar, especially Gunnar because if the judges had followed precedent and sent home a designer from the losing team, you would certainly have been aufed. Heidi gets offended when the girls aren’t properly displayed.