Laura Bennett Blog
Category: "episode 4"
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.
Yeah! For the first time in the history of "Project Runway," the designers are going to design a garment for Nina Garcia. For the first time in "Project Runway" history, the garment needs to transition from a day at the office to a nighttime industry event. For the first time in "Project Runway" history, the winning garment will be featured in an ad on New York City taxicabs and in an editorial in Marie Claire magazine. Despite all the "first time in histories," this season is feeling really stale to me.
Nina starts out by giving the designers a list of her likes and dislikes. She likes tailored clothes. She doesn't like volume, muted colors, bright colors, pattern, short, long, tight, loose, flashy, boring or "Dynasty." After 30 minutes of sketching, each designer has an individual consultation with Nina to present their ideas and get valuable feedback. Nina did appear open to some of their ideas, but she asked for Plan B so many times I started to think the whole episode was a commercial for the morning-after pill.
The designers head off to Mood, where Anya chooses mustard yellow, Cecilia chooses what she thinks is purple, and Becky and Anthony choose the same fabric. Fabricgate is a non-happening. Yes, Mood is a big store with a lot of fabric to choose from, but they do display some rolls of fabric standing in the aisles, and these are much easier to see. It is perfectly possible that two designers grab the same fabric, especially if it screams "Nina Garcia" the way their fabric did. No drama here, citizens; go back to your lives.
It's off to Parsons, where the designers get to work. Any amount of encouragement or hope Nina gave the designers during their individual consultations was snatched away from them in an instant when she came to the workroom. She slammed the fabric choices, the silhouettes, and the general idea of just about every designer in the room.
"Do you like this fabric?"
"What if I did this?"
"Is this better?"
"What if I change that?"
"I could try it this way."
The designers now fall into two camps: those who can come up with Plan B and respond to Nina's critique, and those who at this point in the competition don't have the energy or the wherewithal or the dye to do anything about it.
For the first time in "Project Runway" history (there it is again), Tim comes to the sewing room to remind the designers that they have two hours left to send their models to the L'Oreal makeup room and the Garnier hair salon. For the first time in "Project Runway" history, he forgets to tell them to use the Piperlime accessory wall thoughtfully!
Anya and Julie are running out of time, so Laura and Cecilia (respectively) decide to help them finish their garments. Despite Viktor's horror, Assistancegate is also a non-happening. It is not against the rules for one designer to help another. Whether you see it or not, it happens all the time.
Joshua makes a dress with a built-in apron all it is missing is big patch pockets. Bryce doesn't like the hem on his dress, but it is by far his best entry to date, and for the first time this season he actually earns himself a place in the middle. Bert makes a little black dress nothing wrong with it, but nothing right either. Olivier surprises no one with a neutral color-block jacket and cropped pant. Becky and Anthony are both safe because neither of them made use of the fabulous fabric they shared. Laura narrowly escapes the bottom with a Christmas number that is mysteriously unwrapping itself.
Anya makes it to the top with a brown jumpsuit that looks to me like a high school sewing-class project. It's backless, so it can't be worn to the office during the day, and it's the color of poo-poo, so it can't be worn by anyone fashionable at night. Nina is impressed by how she came up with a Plan B and saved herself from mustard-yellow hell. Let's give a shout-out to Joshua, who gave Anya the idea to dye the fabric. Viktor makes it to the top with a modern black top and skirt. Seen before, but modern. Kimberly successfully takes in all of Nina's critique and wins the challenge with a sparkling gold brocade asymmetrical top and navy blue pants (so I'm told they looked black on my screen). We are informed by the experts that this top is transformative and great things will happen when one wears this to work. It looks more evening than office to me, but I do admit it looks like Nina.
Danielle is in trouble because she made another chiffon church-lady blouse. This is the same church-lady blouse that got her in the top three last week, so go figure. Cecilia is in the bottom with a classic potato sack. We all now know that the expression "You are so pretty you could wear a potato sack and look good" is not true. The model looked awful, and I think Cecilia should have been the one to go home and so, incidentally, did she. Julie is sent home with an asymmetrical coatdress of muted grays and orange. I actually liked the garment. It may have looked much worse in person than it did on TV, but I think there was some impressive tailoring and interesting seaming. I'm sorry to see Julie go. I had picked her as one to watch.
So for the third week in a row, I agree with the judges' pick for the win, but totally have issues with their choice for the auf. Stay tuned: I got a hot tip that next week features some serious drama, for the first time in "Project Runway" history.