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Laura Bennett Blog
Category: "anya ayoung chee"
It’s the home visit episode. My second favorite episode of the year, topped only by the unconventional challenge. I love to see not only the direction the designers are taking, but I love seeing where they live and I especially love seeing how they react to Tim Gunn on their turf. Babies, boyfriends, trampolines and turtle poop, it is always a blast. You can learn so much about a person when you visit them at home.
On Kimberly’s home visit, we learn that her collection is about transforming the urban Brooklyn girl. She didn’t say what she is transforming this girl into, but I can only guess the transformation is from urban Brooklyn to suburban Maryland, because her collection is full of way suburban bright colors and large gold earrings from the eighties. Kimberly says she lives in Brooklyn, but it looks like Maryland to me.
Next we go to Anya’s, where we learn that her collection, or lack thereof, is inspired by the islands and not a single viewer from New York to Uzbekistan is surprised. She has photos of the ocean, lagoons, the sky, and palm fronds. And that’s about it — some fabric, but no clothes. We also learn that losing her brother has ignited her love of fashion.
At Viktor’s home visit we learn that he was inspired by the death anniversary of his brother at Guadalajara, Mexico. Photographs from the trip became the fabrics for his collection. The fabrics are so awesome that I don’t really care where the inspiration came from. The garments themselves look awesome, too. Viktor doesn’t really need Tim’s critique.
Joshua, on the other hand, needs Tim’s critique like a suburban Maryland girl needs big gold earrings. He is working with a horrid color palette, and some of the most frightening fabrics I have ever seen hanging on one garment rack. One by one, Tim convinces him to drop them, and props to Josh, he responds.
We knew about Kimberly losing her mother, and god knows we know of Josh’s loss, so basically what we have learned from all of these home visits is that you can’t become a contestant on "Project Runway" and possibly expect to make it to the final four unless you have a dead relative.
The designers return to New York and move into their swank hotel penthouse. In a "Long Island Medium" moment, Joshua mistakes a breeze on the terrace for his mother. The designers pack up their garment bags and their assorted spirits and go to the Piperlime workroom to unveil their collections. Tim comes in to announce that they will be showing three pieces to the judges from which they will decide who will move forward, and he begins his final critiques wit the designers.
Viktor is fine; he doesn’t need Tim’s help. Kimberly is bouncing off the walls and can’t be helped. Anya’s critique doesn’t go well. She is broken because she designed what she designs and won’t surprise the judges. Joshua wins most improved. Seriously, those black and gray neoprene pieces are amazing — so cool and modern. That jacket is amazing. Joshua, please, dump the purple, hot pink, lime green, and that awful vintage fabric that Tim told you to lose that I see hanging on your garment rack, and do an entire collection of these black and gray pieces. Please.
It’s on to the runway, where Joshua is moved on to Fashion Week. I’m telling you, it was the black and gray jacket, once the judges see the other stuff their eyeballs may start to bleed. That jacket was so good, it made the judges forgive the schizophrenic ass-baring gown/catsuit. Viktor is in a bit of trouble because he followed Tim’s advice and put wow-pieces under wow-pieces but the judges want simple pieces under wow-pieces. These are luxury problems and he, too, is moved forward to Fashion Week.
Kimberly and Anya are left on the runway. The judges weren’t happy with either of their collections, but what the hell, let's all go forward. The queen is not amused.
So whether you are drinking the Viktor Kool-Aid or the Anya rum punch (I stole that from a commenter!) or what ever they drink in Queens and Brooklyn/Maryland, everyone’s happy. It’s on to Fashion Week.
Finally! A challenge that allows the designers to design! Three garments, two days, 500 dollars and an assistant! It’s so reasonable. No birds, no stilts and no sheepdogs, just a three-piece mini collection based on the inspiration of their choice; a completely appropriate challenge to choose the designers who will “return to New York with collections.” Notice that Heidi didn’t say “return with collections for Fashion Week,” which means we can look forward to an elimination upon their return, but in a season where jacking the designers around has been the name of the game, this challenge seems refreshingly straightforward.
Another big change in this episode is the queen of mean himself, Joshua. Instead of the straight-out aggressive Joshua, we are treated to the passive-aggressive Joshua, who instead of confronting designers to their faces, chooses to talk about them behind their backs — and by “them” I mean Anya. He still has a problem with her sewing skills and the fact that jackets are not in her repertoire, and he’s not afraid to let Viktor know it. Oddly enough, when asked who should join him at Fashion Week, Joshua chose Viktor and Anya. (?!?) The one thing we have learned this season is that Anya has laser focus and she has her eye on the prize. She may be a bit unaccustomed to not being loved by all, but she didn’t let Joshua trip her up, and girlfriend brought her A-game.
I would venture to say that Anya’s mini collection was the only slam-dunk on the runway. All three pieces were modern and effortlessly chic — nothing fussy or overworked. Asymmetry was the thread that held them all together — undoubtedly with some of Bert’s construction skills. There was a lot of talk about how complicated the ivory dress was, and how it needed instructions, but it didn’t come off that way at all. Yes, you had to have beautiful coloring, be six feet tall and be thin as a rail for the dress to work, but her model was all of those and looked fabulous in the dress. The short black dress was flawless, and the rust-colored wrap pants were a clever twist on the two dresses. I haven’t been drinking the Anya Kool-Aid all season, and I have questioned many of her wins, but this week she definitely deserved the first slot in the finals.
Next to move on up was Viktor. (It’s the Viktor Kool-Aid I’ve been drinking this season.) I find his designs to be modern and classic and elegant and sexy, all at the same time — not to mention his superb construction and craftsmanship. I also think his designs appeal to women of varying ages; I can see his pieces being worn by both mothers and daughters. All that said, while there was nothing inherently wrong with his mini collection, there was no wow factor either. It was all certainly done in great taste, and the fabric choice that represented the city skyline was brilliant, but there was no there there. Luckily for Viktor, the other designer didn’t bring it, so his second slot in the finals was secured.
This is where I’m glad I wasn’t sitting in one of those judge’s chairs. The last three designers were completely equal, in my opinion. If I had to choose which two would stay and which one to send home, based solely on the garments on the runway for this challenge only, I would be hard pressed. They each had exactly two duds and one decent piece.
Joshua’s winner was his white dress with the net top. I wasn’t crazy about the plastic netting he chose; the edges didn’t finish well, and on a garment this simple, flawless construction is mandatory. It was nice enough and it was clean-lined, but things went south from there. I’m not sure why Joshua keeps dragging out that circle skirt, because it always comes off as costumey. It could only be worse if black felt poodles were appliquéd on. This week’s version was especially horrendous. The length, the layered netting, and topping it off with the studded striped tank just added insult to injury. Even he admitted that the pieces didn’t work together. Only slightly better was his one-shoulder Lurex gown. I liked the idea of a gown layered over a tank, but not that gown in that fabric with that plastic belt, and not that tank. Despite the fact that he needs to edit (translation: he has bad taste), the judges like the idea that he has ideas, and he moves forward.
Kimberly’s silver cocktail dress was her success. It was a bit heavy-looking, probably due to the fabric, but the diagonal draping was interesting and, I would imagine, flattering on women who are not model-sized, and the proportions were spot-on. Her other two pieces, not so much. The coat didn’t immediately remind me of a Dutch exchange student like it did Heidi, but it did come off as very pedestrian-looking, and the color was unfortunate. The sculpted silver skirt was a valid attempt at a unique silhouette, but it just didn’t get there. For her dress Kimberly earns 1 point, enough for her to make it to the next round.
Laura Kathleen had only her graphic circle gown between her and the auf. I thought the design was strong, and as guest judge Zoe Saldana pointed out, the circles were gracefully placed. I think that this gown was potentially the best piece in all three of the remaining designers’ mini collections. If it had been executed with better craftsmanship, Laura would be in the finals and Kimberly would be packing up her puffy metallic brocade, but the poor fit and the weak construction (the overlay circle fabric didn’t lay properly on the lining) were just too distracting. Laura is sent packing after getting so close. (She may have the last laugh. I hear her decoy collection at Lincoln Center was one of the strongest.)
Next episode, home visits! Who doesn’t love seeing where everyone lives?