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Mila Hermanovski Blog


Season 13, Episode 9: All American Girl

Posted By laurareineke 4:18am GMT

Whenever there is a childrenswear challenge, there are certain issues the designers always seem to face. Is the outfit age appropriate? Is it youthful enough (and not simply a woman’s outfit scaled down for a girl)? Does it make sense in a day in the life of a child? It is interesting to see how each designer handles this and what they think a child should wear. I loved this spin on a childrenswear challenge, and though we are all sick of sponsor-based episodes, this one made sense. I honestly had never set foot in an American Girl store, but have seen girls walking around with the dolls. The fact that they each come with a story is really sweet, and provides a great source of inspiration for the designers. It is always better to design something when you have specific inspiration, because it allows you to visualize and have a point of reference. Each of the dolls had a character who had a background and also a specific time period.

As predicted, some of the designers have a “disconnect” with kids and right away struggle with “What does an 8-12 year old girl wear?” Korina expressed this disconnect many times, even as far as to say she doesn’t know the difference between a 5-year-old and a 15-year-old. Really? We were all kids at one time, and she is not that old! Sean seems to latch on to the period aspect of the challenge a lot more than others. Sandhya is getting a bit esoteric with her story about a girl whose father works on a ship, and so that is all the girl wants to do. Tim seems a bit nonplussed as he comes through the workroom; frankly nothing seemed to catch my eye either. He advises both Sean and Char against using fringe from their vests; Sean heeds Tim’s advice but Char does not. You never know when you will end up doing the right thing by going with your gut or listening to Tim. It’s that inevitable fork in the "Project Runway" road.

I was surprised at Tim’s comments of Sandhya’s work in general, though I agree with him; it seems many of the designers share those sentiments. This must have been what set her off that night in the apartments. She broke down in tears and expressed to her roommate Emily that she gets no respect from anyone and that all she wants is compassion. She professes to have a thick skin, but this behavior would not indicate that. Of course everyone is entitled to break down once in a while, and I’ve mentioned in a couple of blogs now how intense the whole competition is in general and how it can have this effect on people.

We welcome yet another celebrity to the judging panel, Elizabeth Moss. I happen to be a fan of hers, BUT it is still kind of annoying that every episode there is a different actor as a judge and no additional fashion designer, don’t you think?

Korina made a pretty cute dress with tiered flaps, but I don’t understand how it relates to the girl’s story. Also it verged on crafty and costumey. Sure it was original, and I liked how graphic it was, but I don’t know that I would have put this design in the top three.

Sean struggled from the start with this challenge, and I’d had a feeling he wouldn’t relate to childrenswear. The outfit ended up looking sad, drab, and too “vintage," like something my mom sewed for me in the '70s. He had expressed that he was excited about the 1970s period, yet this look doesn’t reflect it at all. The (incorrect) peace sign appliqué was contrived. He was certainly regretting listening to Tim’s advice to remove the fringe from the vest, but it is doubtful that he would have been safe even with that addition.

Amanda kookiness worked in her favor in this challenge. I thought her mix of prints worked well together. The look itself was nothing extraordinary, but lively and whimsical and definitely believable that a girl aged 8-12 would wear it.

Alexander also combined prints well, and childrenswear is so much about print. He said he was happy to be safe, and this outfit was just that. Perfectly cute and believable and I could see it in stores, but there was very little design there.

Char trusted her gut and it paid off. I honestly didn't know what to expect with the fringe, but she made it work without looking too costumey. The way she shaped it in back was great. What really made the outfit modern and fun was the mix of suede fringe with the print she selected. Great job.

Sandhya's jumpsuit, on the other hand, was a fail. There was absolutely nothing fresh and contemporary about it, and it certainly wasn’t appropriate for a girl aged 8-12. Even for a 1-year-old it looked dated. She was quite defiant to the judges, which is not very flattering to her after last week’s statement she made about her work. Even though I think this was the worst look this week, I am surprised to see her eliminated over Emily because the judges seemed to be be smitten with her in previous challenges; she must have really put them off by her attitude this time.

Kini had a story which really worked for him and which he translated wonderfully. At first I was concerned (as was Tim) that the outfit would look too “mature," like a woman’s which was simply shrunken down for a girl. However Kini pulled it off, and of course his story totally helped. If he hadn't had that story, it may not have been as successful. I loved the mix of plaids and the dress was fantastic. It is hard to believe he made other pieces on top of this dress with great little details AND a coat! Kini is on a roll, for sure.

Emily sort of screwed herself when she told everyone she has a line of kids’ clothes. I was cheering for her but then realized that was going to work against her (that old producer set up). I didn’t think this was nearly as bad as Sandhya’s, but it did have issues. The color palette was odd for a girl that age. The sweater wasn’t bad, but I did not understand the grey taffeta skirt and colored tulle. Perhaps if she had used a purple fabric for the skirt she may have had a higher score. She said her daughter likes to play dress-up, but I think it was a fatal mistake making an outfit with that in mind.


Season 13, Episode 8: Creative Blocks

Posted By laurareineke 4:03am GMT

The avant-garde challenge is always telling as it shows who has the ability think outside the box. That said, this is challenge #8 and it’s about this time in the competition that one can experience a major creative block. Think about it: in "Project Runway" Land, the designers are given a new challenge pretty much every other day. As a viewer it’s easy to forget this since you watch it weekly. But the whole season, except the finale, is shot in only five weeks. This means an average of two to three challenges per week. There are occasional days in between challenges, more so in the beginning, when the designers don’t go to the workroom but must do confessionals or promotional shoots. While this is not a day off, we would generally be at the production’s disposal for two to four hours (or half a day for a promo shoot). There are virtually no days off, not even Sunday or the Fourth of July. There are no leisurely activities. No shopping, no movies, no TV. We are mic’d from 7 a.m. til midnight. We are being followed around by cameras most of the time. We can’t listen to music or read magazines or books. So, it’s a rather taxing schedule, and emotionally draining as well. For a creative person in particular, there is little source of inspiration. It starts to wear on you and can absolutely lead to creative blocks; creativity doesn’t have a “switch." It happened to me on more than one occasion! Everyone has a different process as a designer; often designers need more time and/or the right environment to nurture their creative souls.

Fade was clearly going through what I’ve described. It was hard for me to watch as he was getting such a a “loser” edit. It was painful to hear him say in the beginning of the challenge that he does a lot of avant-garde designs and that he thought this challenge was in his wheelhouse, only to then hear how “stumped” and “stuck” he was and that he felt “empty," hence producing such a weak and forgettable design. Then again, he did truly stand behind his work as being cutting edge. Poor Fade.

On a positive note, this was one of the most interesting and innovative challenges the producers have come up with yet -— kudos to them. I very much enjoyed the “rainway” twist to this challenge (Thank you, Samsung: This was likely a spendy production for reality TV), and finally the designers were given more than one day to produce something which is meant to “look good from every angle” and be “cutting edge” and “forward." The two clear forerunners of the season, Kini and Sean, clearly had their creative channels open, and derived great inspiration from the rain aspect. Amanda was inspired as well, though her fantasy about Cleopatra watching the Nile flooding was a bit convoluted. Sandhya was off on her own planet as well, on which she is apparently watching episodes of "Romper Room" and "H.R. Puff-n-Stuff" in technicolor HD on the new Samsung curved monitors.

Char - Went the catsuit route. Nothing verges on too costume-y more quickly than a vinyl catsuit, especially when you pile on a giant asymmetric growth/mass of more vinyl. The pillboxish hat on that particular model was giving me a little Grace Jones, but that was about the only redeeming thing about this look. There were worse entries though, according to the judges, so Char landed back in the safehouse.

Sandhya's concoction looks like a life-size doll that a 5-year-old wrapped as a present to bring to her friend’s birthday party. She is becoming very reliant in each challenge on her hand-crafted embellishments, and often does not know when to stop “decorating." While it is necessary to push the envelope in a challenge like this, she does not know when to edit. This look desperately needed editing; like half of the metallic pinwheels needed to go away. Even with that, the clown-like candy-colored striped fabric was hardly cutting-edge or forward. Nevertheless, one cannot argue that she is creative, and the judges really love that she stands out with her own unique POV, so she was a top scorer.

Emily also took a costume-y path. However, somehow this outfit did not offend me as much as Char’s did. I liked her choice of metallic pewter fabric, but unfortunately she only used it on the legs. The dress reminded me of Mugler in the '80s, which is not necessarily a bad thing but can easily look dated and contrived, especially with the Mad Max shoulders and McQueen latex skullcap/ponytail combo. She probably thought she was being innovative but it all felt a bit stale and contrived.

Alexander - At first I wasn’t sure about the purple-hued flowers he used to embellish the vinyl, but with the rain and the lighting the look really came alive and was sort of ethereal walking down the rainway. I did not expect Alexander to use purple flowers; it was refreshing after several designers used so much black. (And I love black! But the set was very dark. I doubt that they knew this when they started designing.)

Fade seemed to know this was his auf. Unfortunately his look lacked the drama and “wow” factor needed for this challenge. I imagined this was a dress that a rave groupie or techno music enthusiast would make at home to attend an event or festival, or something out of a music video. I don’t understand the gimmicky play button and it didn’t even appear to be made that well.

Korina, who had immunity, fell short as well with her silver cage-like thing which was worn over a nondescript black dress. It felt anemic, as if she ran out of time or did not think through her idea enough. Seems she realized after her critique with Tim that her grand plan of designing a dress with wings was going to be too literal and costume-like, so she hit a wall and could not come up with a plan B. She kept the same hair and makeup vision though, which I happened to like; the only thing is, the overall did not reflect her original concept.

Amanda...more weirdness. I hate to use the word “costume-y” AGAIN in this blog but I must! From the moment she stated her inspiration and obsession with Cleopatra, I was dubious. Then, when I saw the colors she picked out, I was scared. Finally when she really DID make giant eyes all over the dress, it made me cringe! How was this bizarre Burning Man dress safe?

Kini used the umbrella as his inspiration and made a fabulous silhouette with a tight-fitting, wet latex-y top to balance a cartridge-pleated skirt which was referencing the umbrella. The styling was spot on, with only the model’s red lips peeking out from her shadowed face. She looked mysterious, like a femme fatale lurking on a dark rainy night in Berlin. I was concerned about his use of so much black, but the textural shifts and silhouette made it work. I do wish he had made a larger hat that was a different shape, as his original sketch indicated. The judges awarded him a win second to Sean.

Seam took a huge risk with his genius idea to use the rain as an element to create a metamorphosis. The result brought drama and fantasy to the “rainway." I honestly can’t recall such a thoughtful and imaginative idea in many if all seasons of "Project Runway." My only issue, however, is with the actual design of the dress. I wish it hadn’t been such a basic “frock” and that it had a more compelling silhouette or maybe even more seams in an unusual pattern to highlight the dye. Perhaps a higher neck, sleeves, or even a cape? Well, just a thought. Just something else. But his risk certainly did earn him the reward.

In general as I am watching "Project Runway," I try to separate any personal feelings I may have about a contestant from his/her design work, since I’ve been on the show and have seen the manipulation of editing first-hand. It is not always easy. I find it curious that many viewers have commented both on my blog and in other forums that they dislike Sean because he is “cocky." I don’t feel this coming across. However, I have actually felt that way about Sandhya in the past, and this week her comments post-runway in the lounge during deliberation really put me off. I can only imagine how the other designers felt at that moment. Without any consideration of others who had just been on the chopping block, she so matter-of-factly stood up on her soapbox and proclaimed that she doesn’t want to ever be compared to another designer and that she feels her work stands on its own. This was as a response to others referring to the judges’ multiple references to Alexander McQueen in this particular critique. It’s fine to think that about yourself, and good to be confident about your work, but arrogant and insensitive to say it to your peers, even if they are competitors, at that moment. What do you think?


Season 13, Episode 7: Cruel Jewels

Posted By laurareineke 4:06am GMT

Well, I'm glad I was not on this season of "Project Runway" because I'd be getting pretty frustrated right about now that out of 7 challenges, this is the third (in a row!) that is "gown" or "occasion" oriented. Gowns might have mass and crowd appeal because they are dramatic and glamorous, but when you think about the great and established fashion houses, few of them are gown-centric. What percentage of women actually have a need for a gown anyway? Aside from mass-market gowns (i.e. from a department store) one would wear to prom or a similar one-off occasion, most gowns are either made to order for the very wealthy (a small percentage of the world's population), or loaned to celebrities for marketing/PR purposes. You do the math. Personally, I don’t relate to gowns as much as I do ready-to-wear and sportswear. I would have been really bummed about another red-carpet gown challenge at this point because it would not be allowing me to really show my strengths as a designer.

My personal preferences aside, I do think it is an interesting challenge to design an "extravagant evening wear look" based on jewelry. However, why such boring jewelry? There was only one piece out of the Chopard selection that made a significant design statement. Everything was really just about some beautiful stones. Swiss-based Chopard is rather conservative and classical when it comes to fine jewelry. It is a company whose slogan is "a tradition of excellence," and was founded by a watchmaker family. That "artistic director" could stand to turn things up a notch, no? I love that the designers were taken to the Met to be inspired by Charles James, though, whose designs pretty much set the bar for extravagant gowns. Right, so basically the challenge is to make a Charles James gown in one day. *Sigh*…that is just cruel.

Sidebar: did anyone else notice how often the word "gala" was mentioned by several designers, yet it wasn't used by Tim to describe the challenge? I heard it again when Heidi came out to introduce the runway show. This sort of thing happened from time to time, "behind the scenes." What I mean is, there were times when the descriptives were a little different between what we as designers heard and what you as viewers saw on air. Yes, it was confusing for us too. Just food for thought.

There are definitely some designers this season who are likely as frustrated as I'd be at this point. Samantha says her forté is street wear, and she has never even been to a wedding, let alone a gala (go figure). Korina just wants to do her southwest-themed ready-to-wear (is she this season's Gretchen, without the bitchiness?). And then there's Amanda, who doesn’t really have a POV but just rolls with it each time. Kini, on the other hand, our resident 8-hour dress wizard, thinks he’s going to be in the top on this one, "guaranteed" (another "Project Runway" no- no: gloating on camera, or predicting you’ve got it in the bag; this is producer gold and they LOVE a good set up for failure).

Didn’t we all feel bad for Char last episode? Sure, her outfit was pretty abysmal, but everyone has missteps, and I feel she was pushed by her teammate Sandhya to use an eyesore of a color which honestly is difficult to make anything attractive out of. While I haven't been blown away by Char’s designs, she is certainly not one of the worst designers. Apparently Tim concurs and has major guilt for his biting comment to Char at the end of the last episode ("Oh Char, if it were several challenges from now, I’d have saved you," which had to have made her feel even worse, thanks!). So Tim pulls out the TG Save and uses it in an unprecedented way, ladies and gentlemen! Char is brought back from the ashes, from being sequestered to her own room at the Refinery Hotel, where she had one night to herself. Now it will be back to having roommates and her phone locked up in a safe. But now she has another chance to win!

Korina was completely inspired and excited by the printed velvet she found in Mood in the upholstery department. I always find great inspiration from fabric; sometimes finding the right one completely dictates the design. This was the case here. She hit a home run with this look, and the judges concurred. It really stood out from all her competitors', and had her voice in the design. I am happy for her as I know how she was struggling with the thought of doing evening wear again. Even the black charmeuse gown underneath was perfect and simple (which it needed to be to ground the coat, and show off the Chopard statement piece), and even stood on its own with a lovely draped back. Pretty impressive that she knocked out that gown in an hour or so the morning of the runway! At first when I saw the look evolving in the workroom, I wasn’t convinced it would complement the necklace, but it really did in the end. The hair and makeup styling was spot on, and Korina made a dramatic and memorable statement. Well done!

Fade was safe this week, and so was his design. I really want to love his work more, but something about it just keeps making me go, "meh." This design was a bit too simple and conservative. The draping in the derriere was not doing him any favors.

Char is back in the game….the "safe" game, that is. After being traumatized by blinding citrus yellow, she selected a clean off white which shows the colored jewels well. The hair and makeup are fresh and pretty. However, I’m not a fan of a "pooping train" on a dress, and the length in the front was way too short. There just isn’t a lot of design happening here in my opinion, especially if you take away the train. But hey, good for her that she's safe....again.

Emily is also safe with her red dress. I love the shade of red she selected, and the neckline shows the pearl necklace well. I also like the idea of the back "cowl" drape she created, but it doesn’t work with the weird pouf peplum thing, which itself looks a bit sloppy. The length is too short as well, so the overall look of the dress seems like a droopy red poppy.

Samantha gave it her best shot, considering she designs urban sportswear, which is about as far away from the world of ball gowns as it gets. She made a fine dress with no point of view and no signature; as Nina said, it was a gown for the "intern," not for a socialite who would be wearing Chopard jewels. But it wasn’t a train wreck. She could have been safe had she given a bit more thought to the neckline, though, as it is screaming for a necklace when she selected the watch and ring combo; the main focus of the challenge was to showcase the jewelry. Sadly at this point in the game, a "vanilla" design isn’t enough to be safe. Frankly I thought Kini’s design was more of a train wreck but (a) he has already proven himself to the judges as a designer and (b) he showed the jewels off.

Sandhya selected the rubies of course, and a really great print. It’s always risky to use a print for a gala dress, and the fact that she designed a cocktail length dress was a mistake because it was not “evening” enough, or really appropriate for a gala. That said, it looked expensive and fit well, complemented the jewelry, and was styled perfectly. The close up on the hand with black or dark dark red (hard to tell on my screen) nail color was gorge.

Sean NAILED it in my opinion. The gown fit perfectly and was the right balance of sophisticated, sexy, and luxe, with just the right amount of detail to not be "boring." The dress needed to be somewhat simple and clean to ground all the sapphire and diamond glitz (he chose a set of earrings, statement necklace, AND ring…a lotta look). I love the velvet accents and low back. For me honestly it was a toss up between his and Korina's looks. They were so different, and both showed the jewels off. However Korina took more of a risk and her look was so unique, which is what makes the judges tick.

Amanda chose a bracelet with heart shaped rubies because her last name is Valentine. OK. Then she decided to make a spandex catsuit and organza overcoat. Is it me, or…how does that relate in the least bit to the bracelet with hearts? Disconnect aside, talking strictly about the look, while I love a good catsuit and hers was cool and I liked the strap detail, I found this to be completely inappropriate for the Met Gala or anything of the caliber of a Chopard-wearing woman. MTV Awards, maybe. I don’t always agree with Zac but I couldn't agree more this time when he said the look would end up on the worst-dressed list. The only reason perhaps she ended up with higher scores than some others is for the risk-taking element and I will say the hair and makeup styling helped sell the outfit. Still, what about the finishing on the "robe"? This fabric is a nightmare to work with and needs to look perfect and it didn’t. I also felt the coat was anemic and needed more volume. The whole look appeared kind of haphazard and odd but I guess that’s no surprise from Amanda.

Alexander also had a disconnect from the jewelry he selected. The neckline was fighting with the bold necklace. The overly textured gunmetal fabric made quite a statement, and he took a risk, but it did not relate at all to the jewelry. It's like he just did what he wanted to do and didn’t consider the necklace enough. Also it would not have taken long to adjust that neckline accordingly so it would better show it off. He could have folded it over and tacked it in place backstage right before the runway and the texture would have hidden it. In his defense, it seems like the designers did not have access to the jewelry at all during the workroom process because we saw the "gloved hands" come in (likely a rep from Chopard) and place the jewelry on the models at the last minute. So he probably had no point of reference to use for that neckline until 5 minutes before his model walked.

Inside scoop: when Tim calls out, "designers and models, it’s time to go down to the runway," there is about an hour between that moment and the time they actually walk the runway. During that time, models and designers are sequestered. Usually we eat some lunch and wait for production to light the runway and cameras to set up. Then, we are given only 3-5 minutes of "last looks" backstage in which to tweak. If your fabric wrinkles easily and the model has been sitting during that hour, or she mistakenly spills something on the dress (which doesn’t happen often), you’re kind of screwed. But at least it’s enough time to quickly tack or fluff something. We are not allowed to use double-stick tape but we are allowed to hand sew.


Season 13, Episode 6: Four Funerals and a Wedding

Posted By laurareineke 4:55am GMT

When I first heard Tim begin to announce this challenge, I thought, “They had better give the designers more than ONE day to make a wedding look!” Of course they didn’t. Perhaps the producers think it’s *easier* to work in teams of two?? Hardly. And when you ask someone to make a gown, let alone a wedding gown, in one day (and a $400 budget), it’s NOT going to be very pretty. Case in point: the winning team. Not to cut to the chase (I will revisit this later), but the clear winners of this challenge made a couple of outfits which frankly seem more a bit more reasonable to complete in one day, and don’t necessarily read as wedding looks. Seems the “trick” in this challenge is to leverage the fact that there are no boundaries or rules, that it just has to be “believable” and the designers can sell it. The fact that Tim used the words, “alternative wedding DRESS” could (and did) throw some people off as they got caught up in the word “dress”, i.e., gown.

While I like the concept of having to design a ceremony look with a companion reception look, I would have preferred (as I’m sure many of the designers would have, too) that they had two days to come up with both looks on their own. Why not go Old School and deliver the challenge for the wedding look, and then pull a good ol' “twist” and tell the designers at the end of the day that they must create a second look for the reception? This would showcase the individual designer so much more and still be just as challenging. It feels like the team aspect was gratuitous and just designed to create more stress, hence more drama. And hey producers, I see right through you with that velvet bag! The episode opens with the “drama” between Amanda, Korina, and Char. Amanda is shocked and hurt (yet somehow still comes across as flippant) that Korina would just tell her to her face that she seems insincere and phony; apparently Char concurs. And then -— shocker -— the two of them end up together as a team. Come on! I want to see names on buttons and I want to see them NOW!

That said, it appears Amanda and Korina took the high road and worked fine together. So there, producers: no drama! That’s not to say they produced very good work, but at least there weren’t any catfights. Still, I felt for them. A similar thing happened to me during my season when I was “stuck” with Jay; it was obvious that we were set up that way, and everyone knew we really weren’t fans of one another. It was tense the whole time, and neither one of us wanted to communicate with each other. We just kind of kept our heads down and did our own thing, and the only real thread of cohesion in our looks was a pop of red. Hmmm, I see a similarity between us and these two.

I knew Char was going to get the auf from the get-go. When she described the fabrics she would be using -- “lace, leather, and chiffon” -- it made my head hurt to imagine them ALL in the same garment, ALL in vibrant citrus! My suspicions about Char’s fate were validated that much more when she was asked in confessional, “How would winning 'Project Runway' change your life?” Historically, the kiss of death in the show via editing is either when the designer answers that question, or if they get to Skype with their loved one on camera. When I did "All Stars" there had been a video phone call scheduled between me and my fiancé right before I was eliminated. It never happened, but still. There is a pattern!

Last week I was wondering where all the style icon judges are for "Project Runway." Well, at least I got what I asked for in Dita Von Teese. Who doesn’t love to watch her? And I quite enjoyed listening to her, too, hearing her opinions on the designs; I thought for the most part she was spot on. I am not sure why there was a need for an additional judge, especially a blogger, but I’m not going to lie, I also got a kick out of listening to Chiara Ferragni’s Italian inflections. They were simultaneously endearing and annoying. I know she’s a big deal (over 200,000 Twitter followers), but is she really as important as Dita? Oh well. Maybe I should send her a pair of leggings. :)

Kini and Sean - The clear winners. The judges almost always reward designers for (a) thinking outside the box, and (b) making separates. I know from experience when I won a challenge for designing an alternative tuxedo when everyone else made gowns. When I saw Sean’s look, I literally said out loud, “I would wear that!” something I rarely say while watching "Project Runway." Kini’s dress was as usual very well executed and fit. I just don’t believe that the two looks would be work by the same woman. I do, however, believe that these two women make a GREAT couple, and it sounds like the guys had that in their minds the whole time. At any rate, they sold it to the judges, but it wasn’t a very hard sell because the looks were so well done. As much as I like Sean and his aesthetic, I think it’s a little messed up that Kini was not awarded the win because he actually made the blouse (AFTER he finished his dress), which was the show-stopping piece in Sean’s outfit. Even if Sean did design the blouse, it’s a shame the judges did not know this (COME ON TIM, isn’t that YOUR job?) because it seems that little piece of information is all it would have taken to tip the scales. Hopefully Kini will win soon, because he deserves it. I am calling these two in the top four.

Alexander and Samantha - I was actually hopeful when I saw the beautiful lace these two selected. I thought the oxblood color was unique and rich and could actually see it appealing to many clients. What they should have thought out a bit more was how to better differentiate the two dresses, because as Tim said, in the workroom they looked virtually the same. His feedback, no doubt, made them panic a bit and likely was the catalyst for Alexander to cover up all that beautiful lace with cumbersome ivory appliqués; he completely ruined the gown by doing so and made it extremely top-heavy. He should have stayed on track with the initial design (perhaps a few of those appliqués placed in a thoughtful way would have been interesting), and Samantha should have then used more solid fabric in her design or...something. There were other problems with her design, such as the unflattering armscye which shows that part of a woman’s armpit that is attractive on .06% of women in the world. The results of these two gave me “Real Housewives of New Jersey” for BOTH. In other words, of very questionable taste. But hey, at least they were cohesive!

Korina and Amanda - Miraculously this pair was safe; they were lucky there were more catastrophic designs from other designers. Korina’s outfit suffered from being “too simple” again. I am beginning to wonder who she is as a designer. It was a bit more apparent in earlier challenges, drawing more upon her Native American roots, as she said, but I haven't seen that, or any signature at all, for several challenges now. I can empathize with her due to there being essentially two “occasion” challenges in a row which could be throwing her, for she is more of a ready-to-wear designer like me. But she needs to step up her game. Amanda...I don’t have a lot of words. To me this dress was just odd (again) and not special enough. And what was UP with the STYLING?! If she had been in the bottom Nina would have had a field day with that. Here is a mod 1960s quirky black and white dress and she throws on an armful of gypsy-like gold bangles and rings. The black and white color palette was the only element tying these two designs together.

Emily and Fade - I felt these two looks weren’t abominable on their own, but they were not cohesive in the least. The two looks would not be worn by the same woman. Fade’s dress was very nice and I do appreciate his textile creations; however he focused so much on the textile that the silhouette ended up being very basic. Understandably, one must balance the two, but I’d like to see him do more like his design last week. As for Emily’s look, I LOVED her choice of textiles and thought the unexpected combination of the lace with the graphic cut-out felt was really intriguing and actually worked. However, she took the goth a little too far. I hated the bell sleeve and hood, and agree with Dita that it was contrived. Heck, I could have even lived with the hood as a veil alternative had she made a sleeker top, either sleeveless or with fitted sleeve with her full skirt a la Geoffrey Beene. Even better, how about no hood but a cowl instead, and then long skinny sleeves with thumb holes or an elastic loop so they stay long on the hand? Oh Emily, I had such high hopes for this.

Sandhya and Char - As I mentioned earlier, I knew it would be Char’s auf. There was also foreshadowing when she mentioned how Sandhya was very insistent on using this extremely bright acid yellow. There needed to be a LOT of editing here. You can’t use a color like that and then embellishment, multiple textiles, AND volume. Poor Char lost her way big time and produced a look which was sloppy and irregular on top of all the aforementioned elements. The draping was really bad; it looked like she’d been caught in a cyclone on the way to the party. Sandhya’s gown was also poorly draped, and she again relied to heavily on the textile fabrication she spent hours making. It backfired on her because not only was the texture too much, but she was left with no time to properly execute the gown.


Season 13, Episode 5: Fringe Is The New Black

Posted By laurareineke 4:42am GMT

DRUM ROLL -- I mean, eye roll. We all KNOW Heidi and Tim are the “stars” of the show, but come on, Heidi exiting from the car in a trench coat being snapped by staged paparazzi in front of Parsons was all a bit silly and gratuitous. But then again, this IS the gratuitous “red carpet dress for Heidi” challenge. At least this time there was an actual event to which she promised she would wear the winning design: The Creative Arts Emmys.

The “red carpet” challenges always separate those who are comfortable with gowns from those who are, well, less than seasoned. I ought to know; I was terrified when we had ours, when the season was more than halfway over. We were all fried, I was “blocked” creatively —- big time -— and gowns were not in my wheelhouse, nor does designing them come naturally to me. I consider myself a ready-to-wear designer, not a formalwear/gown designer. If you haven’t made gowns before, it can be very intimidating. There are certain fabrics associated with gowns which should be avoided, or must be handled very carefully and/or skillfully, and if one is not familiar with how to work with such fabrics, a one-day challenge on "Project Runway" is NOT the time to experiment. However, when you are in the thick of it and only have a half hour to brainstorm your design, a half hour to shop for fabrics, $250 to spend on materials, and one day to finish, all to the tune of “GO GO GO," you have a tendency to lose sight of common sense! And of course that is when Reality TV Gold happens.

We see early on who is struggling and who is not. Big Bad Heidi comes into the workroom with Tim to weigh in on the works-in-progress. Let me tell you, it is very weird having her in the workroom. Not only is it incredibly intimidating, but awkward because you’re not exactly sure when she is playing up the drama for the camera and when she is being sincere. Also Heidi is a pro at the ol’ poker face. Only about half the designers received critiques they were content with. Heidi leaves and many of them are scrambling.

Some time goes by, and then...wait, what is HK doing back in the workroom? A twist? Well, sort of. She tells the designers she is worried. She is concerned that many of them do not have good designs unfolding. So, as only Heidi Klum (a.k.a. an Executive Producer) can do, she gives the designers the option of returning to Mood with $100 more to rework their designs. She does, after all, have to WEAR the design, but my first thought was “Come ON!” This seemed so unfair to me, for (as Emily said) the designer should have to make their fabric selections work, and fabric selection is all part of a challenge, so they should be critiqued accordingly! Then I realized that the $100 and second trip to Mood is the poison apple: If you go to Mood, you lose that more precious time in the workroom and even more time rethinking your design. A trick question, perhaps? As much as we all wanted to see an underdog emerge victorious, it didn’t happen. News flash: It’s hard enough to make an evening/cocktail dress in one day, let alone five hours. Honestly, what do you expect?

Lindsey Vonn, olympic gold medalist in alpine skiing, is the guest judge this week. Oh, and she is Tiger Woods’ girlfriend. That is all. I guess Marina Sharapova declined. Can you tell I’m underwhelmed? Where are all the style icons as judges on this show?

Char: Aaaaannnnnnd ditto from last week, *again*. It’s a perfectly nice dress in a nice color, and not offensive. But haven’t we seen this before a gazillion times over?

Emily: Emily strikes me as one of the designers who really doesn’t “do” gowns, but she is an experienced enough designer that she could make something work. I liked the asymmetric lapel feature, but the final design was a bit snoozeville. Heidi lit up when she saw it because it was short and tight —- TOO short and tight. But really, it was more appropriate for a nightclub than for the Emmys.

Mitchell: He said it himself, this was the “Hot Mess Express." My first reaction was not to the design but to the particular shade of shiny red that he chose; it looked cheap and pageant-y. On top of that, the design was lackluster, poorly made, and too short. The styling even further cheapened it (nude patent Minnie Mouse-stripper pumps). He may have been able to compensate slightly for the short length had he selected a non-platform, lower heeled shoe. Who knows if his first “drag queen she-devil bodice” design would have saved him from elimination?

Korina: Another designer admittedly out of her element, I knew Korina was doomed when she mentioned “green cotton ponte and snakeskin” in the same sentence. But then she made another fatal move by choosing green again when she had a second chance to go to Mood, after Heidi compared her first train wreck of a dress to a particular green German uniform. I did feel her pain, because as she said she was just trying to make a dress in 5 hours. Sometimes, you’re just blocked, and she surely was. If she loves green, though, I just don’t understand why she didn’t go with something that would pop more, like emerald or even chartreuse; she clearly likes to use color, so why was she so stuck on such a dull shade? It is kind of hard to believe she was spared, but then again at least the length of her gown was somewhat correct compared to Mitchell, albeit with a jagged cut hem. She is also infinitely more interesting a designer than him.

Fade: Something about his designs are just okay for me, but I appreciate a more European style that shows in his work. I loved Fade’s choice of fabric and print here, and the back had great movement when the model walked. But from the front it was just OK. That said, it was more interesting than some of his competitors’, and I certainly would have scored his higher than Amanda’s for taste level alone.

Alexander: This LBD was cool and downtown-edgy, but nothing extraordinary. I could actually see HK wearing this dress to a club or other event, if the length in back was corrected and we weren’t seeing cheek.

Samantha: Again, not blown away by her design. When I saw it on the mannequin I thought the back of the bodice was really cool; I only wish she had done something as modern and interesting with the skirt portion of the dress. They seem disjointed to me, and the skirt detracts from the main design feature which is the back bodice. I think Samantha has some good ideas but somehow they aren’t quite memorable enough.

Kristine: Another one bites the dust. A big fail from a designer who was out of her element. She knew the dress was bad, but I agree with her that she should have stuck with her original design which was much more unique, at least from the sketch. At least she may have been spared for being creative. The silver grey color she had originally selected was not a good choice for a red carpet, and apparently too thin, but all she had to do was choose a different fabric when she went back to Mood and keep the same design. I could see the base color being black, or even nude, with the pop of red. Too bad.

Kini: Kini has his mojo on. Clearly dresses are his forté. It is rare to see someone who works so fast, is so spot-on with fit, and is also creative. The gown was simple and elegant, but it was the fit that made it. I thought his use of matte and shine was really nice and the style lines were very flattering. The deep back was perfect and it was very smart of him to choose a double jersey to emphasize the body-hugging design and great fit. The gown looked expensive and professional. I would have tied him with Sean, as the judges likely did.

Sean: First: Google the Jil Sander Spring/Summer 2009 collection. It was clear that Sean had a strong vision of what he wanted to do. He takes the win for a fun and elegant fringe creation in a most fabulous color. The ombré “haircut” he gave it totally made it; without it, it would not have been as special. I would definitely question how many women could actually pull this dress off, but if anyone can, it’s ze Kluminator! Amanda, take note: THIS is how you use fringe. I guess Heidi is having a fringe moment as she seems to be awarding fringe use lately. Is this going to start a major fashion trend? I have to say I wasn’t as crazy for the dress when I saw it in the photographs from the Creative Emmys. It kind of gave me a Muppet vibe. Still, it looked like HK was having fun in it.

Amanda: Is it me, or is she getting some preferential “runway redemption” treatment again? I thought this look could have been in the bottom. Again, it looked too “crafty,” and not in a good way. The trims did not work together and I had a flashback to Francesca’s, the sponsor for “Under the Gunn”; if this was a challenge to design a gown to sell in their stores, I’d definitely put it in the top three. But this is a challenge for Heidi and I really can’t picture her in this gown. I felt like the judges’ critiques of her design were lukewarm, and less than thrilled. So why is she a top scorer? OK, so the back is nice, but 75% of the time photos are taken from the front. What’s going on here!? Like I said, I would have given Fade or even Sandhya a higher score.

Sandhya: Yes, I know I said I’d give her a higher score than Amanda, but it did make me mad that she pilfered money from the other designers who chose not to go to Mood so that she could buy more expensive fabric. Her gown was all about the fabric. I am sure some viewers (and competitors) feel differently, but it just seems the producers should have stepped in and stopped her from using others’ budgets. When you are competing on the show, you hear multiple times from producers that they want there to be a “fair playing field” for everyone, especially in terms of time. For example, many of us complain about having to be pulled to do confessionals in the middle of a workday, because the time is so very precious. But they make sure they keep each person out of the workroom for the same amount of time to keep it fair. Another example: We bring our sewing kits/tools/supplies with us on the show, but they are inspected and certain items removed and stored (if deemed advantageous) until one is no longer competing. Why shouldn’t the same rules apply when it comes to budget? I would not have given her my $100! I thought for sure Sandhya would end up in the top three, if nothing else so that the issue could be raised on the runway and she could be praised for making such an “expensive” looking gown!

Just a bit of epilogue here, since the subject is the Creative Emmys: This week, I am dedicating my blog to my dear friend Lou Eyrich, with whom I have had the honor to work in the past; I am very proud of her for receiving the Emmy for Best Costume Design for a Miniseries for her work on “American Horror Story." Not only is she extremely talented but she is one of the loveliest people I know. Plus it’s a bonus that (a) I love the show, and (b) she used some of my designs on it last season!


Season 13, Episode 4: Royale With Cheese

Posted By laurareineke 12:30pm GMT

OK, so for those of us who don’t really have a clue about the "Project Runway" Season 13 sponsor, this episode will enlighten us! You see, this is what they pay for. Apparently Red Robin is the “Home of the Gourmet Burger!” Tim says excitedly. The designers gather 'round to get the spiel from the Red Robin’s “President of Brand Transformation," a small man in a rather cheesy suit and tie. I can just see him now, planning his outfit: “I’m going to be on 'Project Runway,' so I need to be SUPER fashionable." A cacophony of men emerge in colorful, ill-fitting suits, some from the 1970s and some formal wear, which the designers find out will (along with a side of fries) serve as their inspiration AND their main fabric. They are to use as much of the suit fabric as possible to create a high-fashion look. The producers decide that Sandhya, the poor bullied girl who has no friends, will get her revenge by choosing a suit for each of her competitors. Of course the storyline of the rivalry between her and Hernan is amplified now, as he is convinced she selected the worst possible suit for him. Sabotage!

There certainly are some hideous suits there. I know now why they were all ill-fitting: because the producers tried to buy suits in larger sizes so the designers would have more fabric to work with. Honestly I don’t think Hernan got the worst suit; Sean did. Come on: Dijon-colored corduroy? What woman even wears corduroy anymore, and how the heck do you make it look high fashion?! Of course Sandhya chooses the most colorful one which is yellow and purple. Amanda is kvetching over her pink floral damask; Mitchell hates his denim leisure suit. I still don’t understand what any of this has to do with burgers.

The designers supplement their vintage polyesters with materials from Mood. I do think this is kind of a fun challenge, but I also think it sucks for the designers that in the first four episodes, they’ve been forced to use either materials which are not of their choosing, or “non-fabric” materials for all but one challenge. Tim visits the workroom and Amanda is going all krazy kwilt on us. I’m kind of scared of the crafty-patchwork direction. Kini, on the other hand, is apparently the speed sewer this season, and has already whipped up a very sharp-looking dress; Tim is impressed, but Alexander thinks his designs are bland and “understated." I’d hardly call that dress understated. Mitchell has taste issues again; it seems that in every challenge he only does slutty club dresses and talks crap about everyone else’s designs. Poor Sean is really struggling with his Dijon corduroy and attempts a deconstructed look by making a textile using the suit fabric and others which he bought at Mood, all in a similar palette; it’s not working and there doesn’t seem to be any hope of saving it. Hernan is also completely tanking. He blames Sandhya for giving him an awful suit, then becomes indignant about the whole thing and just wants to throw in the towel. We can see this train is headed to derailment as he cuts the dress and has no time to hem it. Ouch. There is nothing quite like the feeling on the morning of the runway when your heart is racing because you seem to have an impossible amount of work to do, and know you may not even finish. Then, when Tim gives his 10-minute warning, you have to think very quickly about what you can let go and what you can realistically do in such a short amount of time. Typically the judges are pretty unforgiving for a raw-edged hem.

Korina: Her red-and-black motorcycle jacket and skirt looks cheap. All I could think of was some JC Penney misses’ department ensemble which was supposed to be for the matronly customer who’s having a rebellious moment. It looked dated and the opposite of what a “high fashion” outfit should be.

Char: Ditto from last week. Everything she makes is starting to look the same to me. It’s fine, but there's nothing ground-breaking or particularly distinct about her POV.

Fade: Much better this week. His design had wonderful texture combinations and a great silhouette. It looked very Parisian.

Samantha: Not blown away, but it was an interesting LBD. I thought it would have been much more chic had the length been longer.

Hernan: What a disaster. Nina was being kind when she said the back looked perfect; certainly nothing about it looked perfect. Why oh why would he choose to add vinyl to the design? I’m all for a chevron, but not a gigantic “V” in the front of the skirt. There are just so many things wrong with this dress. Seems Sandhya’s voodoo worked and Hernan dug his own grave! Sadly, he seemed to know his auf was coming.

Alexander: I hate to say it after my reaction to last week’s judging, but I am glad he was spared because this design was really great. Not only did it look high fashion, but Alexander styled his model so well that she really looked like a little starlet on the red carpet or even at a Paris fashion week party. He did a great job and let’s hope we see more like this from him.

Mitchell: Where do I begin? Cheap, tacky, costumey, ill-fitting. Since when does vinyl equate with high fashion? I always wondered what the judges do when the low scores are tied between two or more designers, meaning they must decide who goes on the chopping block and who slides through to safety. Consult with the producers is my guess. I was imagining his score could have been just as low as Kristine’s perhaps, but because of the motorcycle jacket story line, and the fact that Mitchell talks crap about everyone, he slid through. Just a possible theory.

Sean: We all knew watching the episode that it would be very very difficult for Sean to make something good out of his “deconstructed” mustard creation. He was on the right track to break up the corduroy so it wasn’t distinguishable, but I think one fatal error (which he knew was a risk) was using the fraying/reverse side of the textile he created. I wouldn’t say the other side was “boring” -- he could have made a more interesting design, or a long dramatic gown which perhaps would have at least landed him into safety. He should have stuck with the entire outfit being made out of the same textile, rather than making an icky power mesh crop top. Come on, Sean, we know you can do better!

Kristine: Kristine got a suit made out of fabric that was also potentially difficult to work with: velour. When I saw her moto jacket in the workroom versus Korina’s, there was no question that hers looked better than Korina’s; however, Kristine spent so much time on the jacket that she was scrambling to make a pant for the outfit, and in doing so realized she did not have enough fabric, so she made a rushed, bad decision to add black organza to the pant legs in order to make them full length. I would have simply made them bermuda length or cropped pants if possible. She may have been able to get away with that and some cool styling. But those pants were very scary. The bad critique shook her up but at least she made it to the next round, because she has some great potential!

Amanda: Sorry, but I didn’t like the design unfolding in the workroom and I didn’t like it on the runway. To me it looked like some kooky thing you’d find in a thrift store that was hand-made by a hippie in a band. My first thought was Stevie Nicks, and then the model was totally doing the “Stevie twirls" during the deliberations! Tim called it when he said the fringe would be her saving grace. Sure, Amanda took polyester suit fabric and transformed it so you’d have never known its origin, but does that make it a winning design? Not in my book. I mean would you really think someone looked chic wearing that dress on the red carpet? Or would you be more impressed by Kini’s design? I stand firmly in betting that Amanda’s dress would make it onto US Weekly’s worst-dressed page. I’d like to know what Nina REALLY thinks about it.

Kini: Kini is making statements with his work. I am starting to see his POV as a designer, and that is what you want on "Project Runway." He did a fantastic job this week with the challenge. His look was strong, sexy, and had just enough detail. He was very clever to use neoprene as an accent, which added an edge and sculpted element. Now, you must admit that it is much easier to make grey pinstripes look chic as opposed to mustard corduroy or pink damask. But in the end it was a bit of “luck of the draw” (OR, whatever fate Sandhya has for you), with design and construction prowess. Undoubtedly Kini “made it work” and produced a very well-constructed, red-carpet-ready design which looked expensive. He was completely robbed of the win this week.

Sandhya: Another look from her which was undoubtedly original. However there were way too many elements going on and it needed editing. Even Tim seemed skeptical of her mustache stencil, which was too gimmicky. There is no denying there were some interesting elements to the look, and it was a creative and fun showing on the runway. For me though, personally, it went a bit too far, a la Jeremy Scott (whose designs I’m not a fan of), and ended up looking too much like student work.

Emily: Fantastic job again. Emily really understands what it is that trend-driven girls like to wear. This was a clever use of the plaid jacket. I love that she made cropped pants out of it as well. The look had great proportions and details and reminded me of Gwen Stefani’s “L.A.M.B.” line. If I had been a judge I’d have given this look a higher score than Amanda’s.

Now, who’s inspired to go try one of Red Robin’s 24 burgers? Do any of you know where I got the title of my blog this week? Something about a leisure suit and a cheeseburger made me think of this film...


Season 13, Episode 3: Forty-Year Forecast

Posted By laurareineke 4:32am GMT

Happy Birthday! It’s Marie Claire magazine’s 20th anniversary, so let’s have a challenge about it. This rather convoluted challenge asks that the designers each create a look that is inspired by their past (in 1994, that is) which would be featured in Marie Claire in 2034. So are we saying that the '90s make another comeback in 2034? If you were confused, it seems the designers were as well, because when they were trying to explain their concepts early on, they all sounded somewhat vague. It takes some deeper thought, which apparently Kristine embraced, as she seemed into it. Sidebar: does anyone miss Joanna Coles like I do?

After hearing the challenge and watching it unfold, I was already predicting the outcome of this challenge would be designs that either (a) look too costumey and “futuristic," (b) don’t make any sort of statement, or (c) look too 1990s. It can be very tricky to design something “realistic” for the future. No one really knows what people will be wearing in 20 years. When I worked as a costumer on “Star Trek: Into Darkness," my domain was the civilian costumes (in the year 2259). In many ways this is much more difficult to conceptualize and actualize in a realistic way than creating fantasy costumes, because they have to be believable. I drew upon a lot of research on avant garde fashion and then modified store-bought and/or found clothing items that fit within our color palette and silhouettes. (There was not a budget to build much in the way of civilian clothing since everything else in the film was being made to order, so we altered and modified things to “Trek” them out.) Although the parameters of this "Project Runway" challenge were odd to me at first, as I began watching and thinking more about it, I found myself wishing I’d had this challenge, as I do love me some futurism!

Early in the workroom coverage, nothing is blowing me away. Sean seems to have a handle on things from the conceptual stages. He just seems like such a smart, thoughtful designer. I had high hopes from his “minimalist future” direction. Sandhya is designing “something pink for a strong woman” (does anyone else feel they need subtitles sometimes to understand her? I don’t mean to criticize, but I had to play back her commentary a number of times). Is Amanda getting a loser edit, or what? From the beginning of the episode she seems quite sure of herself, like she’s got this one in the bag.

Later, youngster Alexander has to scrap all the leather work he had done because of fit issues, and start from scratch with only two hours left in the day. As we’ve seen in the past, this can either mean he’s going to tank, or rise from the ashes and take the gold; I’m guessing the former. It is a shame, as his first design looked interesting in a sort of downtown-future-goth kind of way. Sandhya, as usual, is a wild card; will her design be really fabulous and innovative, or just weird and poorly executed?

Since we’re critiquing, let’s discuss Heidi’s outfit. As her silhouette appears behind the scrim before the runway show, for that split second we are all anxious to see what she’s wearing. Then she emerges, and...huh? I was thinking that for the occasion she would have some sleek, sharp, maybe even slightly futuristic outfit on. Perhaps something metallic? Maybe a jumpsuit? Even an Hervé Leger dress would have been better than the schmatta she was wearing. The simple black camisole, small necklace, and animal-print elastic waist skirt wasn’t offensive, but just looked like an outfit HK might wear to a daytime summer rooftop party in Brooklyn, not what one would expect the supermodel host or "Project Runway" to wear. Don’t you think?

And why is Amanda de Cadenet a guest judge? Oh, because she’s hosting a talk show on Lifetime. (I actually did try to watch it. Erm, no comment.) What has she really done in the past besides be pretty and have babies with hot rock stars? On to the runway:

Kristine: Hands down, she nailed it. When I saw the coat in progress during Tim’s critique, I was so hoping she wouldn’t listen to his advice and veer from her vision (Tim didn’t seem to be a fan of the coat in general, calling it too “lady”). I thought the coat was going to be fabulous with the slashed/banded sleeves and then when I heard during the judges’ reviews that it was neoprene, I loved it even more. When I saw it on the runway with the off-white mod/futuristic dress, it was even better! It was a great play of vintage references with modern ones, and the combination of materials and silhouette were spot-on. Even the fact that the coat fabric was olive was unexpected, not the stereotypical “futuristic” black or grey. It was totally believable as an outfit which could be worn in 20 years, and even right now. How the judges didn’t award her the win is completely beyond me. The only criticism I have is of the styling, particularly the pink lipstick (too 1960s) and the ginormous hoops.

Hernan: Interesting details, but too ambitious a design for one day, so the execution and craftsmanship suffered. It also did not make enough of a futuristic statement.

Mitchell: From the moment I saw it taking shape in the workroom, I felt it was channeling DKNY-meets-Body Glove from the '90s, and that is not a good thing. I would have placed this in the bottom for being too contrived. Also the stripes did not match up. And who is wearing this anywhere but Florida, anyway?

Amanda: Another “Who is wearing this, and where are they going?” situation. Just weird. And a second week of someone being VERY lucky they have immunity. I must say I didn’t really have a sense of Amanda’s voice as a designer from her season, and I still don’t.

Angela: Gets das AUF for designing (as the judges said as well) a rather “vanilla” futuristic airline uniform suit. The problem is, that was not her intention. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the judges were saying, though, and at least Angela doesn’t have questionable taste. She bit off more than she could chew and couldn’t manage her time. A suit needs to be well-finished and look sharp, and this did not. The skirt length was way too short as well. Personally, I still would have put the Body Glove in the bottom before the airline Uniform, but I’m not going to miss her “woe is me” cries.

Emily: Definitely my second favorite look, and a top scorer. Again, it is believable as an outfit now OR in 20 years. If anything, though, I think it looks slightly more “now." I just want it, like all the female judges did, except Nina, who’d seen the jumpsuit before. I don’t disagree with her about that.

Samantha: A super cute outfit, but for 2014. Nice pop of white in the jacket. But you can’t just throw on a cowl and call it futuristic.

Kini: I love a good cape. The outfit was well done and enough to be safe. Again, it did not make enough of a statement for the future and no doubt the all black didn’t wow the judges.

Fade: Meh. Not awful, but not really coming across as much. All I thought was, "Okay, maybe this is futuristic Euro resort wear?"

Sean: SO disappointing. This was waaay too heavy and funeral. He should have skipped the hat but it was super cute that he made it our of the Mood bag. I haven’t seen enough of his work to determine his skill level but perhaps he chose a difficult fabric and that is why everything was finished in such a wonky way. Prior to this, sean was becoming one of my favorites. Let’s hope he redeems himself!

Char: Nice outfit, clever color blocking to create an illusion. That is all.

Korina: I was really trying to see some sort of futuristic moment here and coudn’t. Maybe the mesh coat could sell it, but the overall silhouette isn’t sleek or modern enough; those wide cropped pants didn’t do it for me.

Alexander: How did he not get eliminated? HOW? The dress looks like it was made in three hours (because it was). The judges were absolutely disgusted by it, so...? I have to admit my favorite clip from the season so far —- had to replay it a few times -— was Nina’s “Planet of the Apes” reference. I really laughed out loud over that one. *sigh*

Sandhya: My reactions were: avant garde, original, odd. I still can’t decide if I think it’s great or awful, and oddly enough many runway/editorial/statement pieces evoke similarly conflicted reactions. It certainly conveys the statement she wanted to get across of a warrior woman, and no doubt it is memorable. I did not think pink could come across this strong, so kudos to her on that. But the metallic “contraption” on top just looks a bit too costume-y in my opinion, and more the W reader than Marie Claire. Do you think the judges awarded her the win just to be controversial again?


Season 13, Episode 2: From The Cutting Room Floor

Posted By laurareineke 12:40am GMT

The unconventional challenge strikes again! The designers are invited to a “screening," which turns out to be a weird, quasi-trailer which doesn’t make any sense, except that it's a decoy for the bigger picture, when Tim emerges and announces the challenge. Honestly, I was shocked that this wasn’t another Miramax/Weinstein film plug!

I’m dying to know who selected all the “movie experience” stuff the designers had to choose from. At first it felt so staged, like someone went on a shopping spree at a party store and made it a cinema theme, but at least there were scripts and marquee letters. I just thought it was odd and inauthentic that there were things like costume accessories and props, like plastic cat-eye masks and feather boas. Luckily, no one chose the boas. The contestants scramble for whatever they can physically carry out of the building with them (in a large garbage bag provided by production, of course).

The double-whammy this week is that not only is this an unconventional materials challenge, but the designers must also work in teams of three with whomever they were randomly seated next to in the theater; there are five teams named by color. Not only does the unconventional challenge weed some people out because they cannot think outside the box or because they lack creativity, but a team challenge shows us who plays well with others and who has a big ego. They must individually make 3 cohesive looks, which is often hard enough to do using real fabrics and regular materials.

The editing was pretty transparent this week. I knew from camera time that the Purple team, for example, was going to be safe because they were hardly featured at all. I also knew somehow that Angela and Sandhya would not produce good work. It became very apparent early on that Angela was the weak link on the Blue team, obsessing over paper flowers and angels when her teammates were keen on a villain/femme fatale theme. The team concept seemed pretty foreign to her. Similarly, Sandhya was overly consumed with making sure her voice was heard, abandoning any sort of common thread in the designs. She just thought that if each person on the team did their own thing then they could somehow tie the looks together at the last minute. Honey, it doesn’t work like that. When Hernan put his foot down and took charge, she whimpered away like hurt puppy. Sandhya, how many times do I need to tell you THERE’S NO CRYING IN FASHION! This girl will never survive unless she thickens her skin. The whole sobbing to Tim episode she had was pathetic, sorry. I mean I know he is there to be a mentor, but sometimes you just have to figure these things out on your own and BUCK UP. Hernan perhaps did end up being a bit domineering, judging from the final looks, but the team were given a rough critique by Tim in which he called them out on an non-cohesive collection; Hernan’s reaction by controlling the situation bit them in the ass. I can’t help but wonder what the collection would have looked like had they stayed the course (without a direction or theme). Something tells me they may have been criticized for that, as well.

The rest was up in the air. The Silver team members were all on the same page and worked really well together, which typically means success. However, their work seemed underwhelming midway through the construction, even though I was excited about their concept. The Green team didn’t have much of a theme -- Avant garde/high fashion? Sorry, not a concept -- yet produced some nice enough looks which ended up leaving them safe.

And now for the runway:

RED TEAM: The lowest scorers produced three lackluster looks made entirely of film strips. Everything about these looks was monotonous: materials, silhouettes, colors. Heidi was spot on when she said they look like three women from a music video -- I thought "girl band in a B-movie." It just stinks for Carrie and Hernan that Sandhya had immunity (for a design which should have never won, by the way). I think Carrie is young and has likely has some growing to do as a designer, but I was interested to see more of her work. Bummer she was eliminated.

SILVER TEAM: I was happy to see the team pulled through in the end with their 1960’s futurism concept, winning the challenge. They used the most interesting and diverse assortment of materials to create three diverse yet cohesive silhouettes, and were smart to have a pop of color. Amanda’s winning design had great movement on the runway and a beautiful neckline. Do I think it was the BEST design of the entire challenge? No. But it was a team challenge and I believe she won because her design was very different from the others. I knew Kristine would do something fab when I saw those marquee letters, and she did not disappoint. Overall the graphic elements of this collection provided a great “wow” moment.

GREEN TEAM: This collection was very cohesive. They did achieve the avant garde and high fashion elements they wanted, and gave good runway drama. I adored Samantha’s white paillette top made of DVDs with the film strip bubble skirt, a great play of texture and shape.

BLUE TEAM: In the end the collection was very cohesive, and it is such a drag that Angela’s score prevented them from potentially being the top-scoring team. Sean’s innovative use of straws was fantastic and worked really well, yet contrasted with Fade’s use of assorted materials and a different silhouette; I like that he used film strips in moderation. Angela is proving to us that she is indeed a newbie fashion designer (admittedly in the midst of changing career paths). Her design was just a simple dress with paper embellishments, which were pretty, but in the need not nearly creative enough for an unconventional materials challenge.

PURPLE TEAM: Speaking of simple silhouettes relying on embellishment, here are three of them! It’s my biggest pet peeve when a designer simply hot-glues a bunch of materials onto a simple dress for an unconventional challenge. These designs have all been seen before. Heidi lit up, though, when she saw Mitchell’s short-tight-shiny number walk. I’m sure the colors looked good on stage, but for me the three of them were pretty much eyesores. Still, they are safe because there was nothing truly abominable.

Loved seeing Garance Doré as a guest judge. She’s an incredibly articulate, intelligent fashion blogger with a great eye, and one of my favorites. Zac is trying really hard to replace Michael in the judge’s seat; I haven’t decided if I love or hate how bitchy he was in this episode. I do love that he wouldn’t stand for any excuses!


Season 13 Premiere: Casting Is A Puzzle

Posted By laurareineke 4:52am GMT

Hey everyone! Welcome back to another season of "Project Runway." I don’t know about you, but the thing I look forward to the most in the first episode —- more so than the designs, to be honest —- is the cast and trying to get a quick read on everyone. Let’s face it, it’s difficult so early on to have favorites when there are 15 designers to cover in less than an hour of airtime. Who will be the villain? The snarky one? The know-it-all? The one trying to reinvent herself as a fashion designer? Who’s playing to camera the most? Who’s going to win it all, and who’s going to just safely skate by for the majority of the competition?

Whenever I watch the first episode and/or casting episode of a new season of "Project Runway," it takes me right back to my experience of being cast on the show. I did not seek out the opportunity to be on "Project Runway," but rather was approached by someone I knew who was besties with the casting director. They were trying to find more people by referral/word-of-mouth at the time, rather than relying solely on open calls. It was a very “Why not?” moment for me, as I was in between gigs and sort of rethinking my career path, having started in fashion but veering into costuming for TV and film. I was missing designing and thinking I needed to get back into fashion somehow. After submitting my application, getting called back to present to the panel (including Tim Gunn), and going through to the next levels, I was informed I was “top 25." I was told by the casting director at that point to remember that "casting is a puzzle" and that I should not take it personally if I don’t make it on the show because they really did like me. When you think about what that means, and watch the show season after season, you get it. There is a method to any casting. The casting director and producers must have a diverse range of ages, personalities, race, gender, “character," and design style. From the perspective of the designer, the show is "a design competition that could change your life," but to the people behind the show, it is “entertainment." I waited day after day for “the call” to tell me of my fate. I was very laissez-faire in my attitude about it, thinking it could be a fun experience, but that I’d be okay I didn’t end up being in the cast. But then the phone rang and I was told I was an “alternate," and I was so disappointed! I guess I wanted it more than I thought. At that point I’d given up on the thought of being on the show. Five days later, the phone rang again with *THAT* mystery caller ID. “You’re on the show, Mila! Pack your bags because you need to be on a plane to New York this Friday!” I’ll never know what happened to the person I replaced. Maybe she failed her drug test...or maybe she just got stagefright!

So, this season there would appear to be a pretty good cross-section of types. Didn’t we all know that Mitchell who wears short-shorts would be cast based on his snark factor and unapologetic personal style (representing Ft. Lauderdale!)? How predictable was the selection of the final designer? Between purple-haired Carrie and a rather boring Emmanuel, it’s a no-brainer. Carrie is one of my early favorites, but maybe because I’ve got a soft spot for goths. Representing some ethnic flavor is Sandhya, apparently a novelty to the judges because it’s “different." Everyone else (including me) is dumbfounded by that. There are also a few accents to add to the spice, such as Sean from New Zealand. Did anyone else wonder how it is that he just moved to New York 4 months ago and is already on a hit American TV show?

The first challenge on "Project Runway" is usually a pretty basic one to get everyone warmed up. There is also usually little or no fabric selection, and no shopping at Mood. I would die if I was given some of the fabrics in those trunks. I know there needs to be some sort of spin on the challenge but yikes -- most of those fabrics look like they came form the clearance section at Jo-Ann.

Julie Bowen is the first guest judge and boy, is she a firecracker. She is a fan, and actually has some great things to say! Apparently Michael Kors has had enough of being a judge, which actually makes me sad because I’m not a fan of Zac Posen. He can deliver the sass, but will never come close to delivering the “Kors-isms” that we all know and love. Thank God Nina isn’t going anywhere.

I wasn’t going to do a critique of all the looks, but here are some brief impressions of some:

Sandhya - Sloppy and weird, hot mess. I can’t believe the judges awarded her the win. That was clearly Heidi getting her way. “I haven’t seen it before!”...yes, Heidi, because it’s BAD.

Char - Fresh, pretty, sexy, just the right amount of skin, good balance. Shoulda won, hands down.

Angela - Some good ideas there, but trying too hard. Weird proportions. She was extremely ambitious to try pants for the first challenge.

Carrie – Not what I expected from her, but then again it made sense. She made the best of a fabric she may not have chosen. Well-fitting, albeit a bit referential to McQueen.

Sean - Great color-blocking (Mila-approved!). Nice length and color combination, and great graphic design.

Mitchell – Is it me, or do the legs of the shorts look like they are two different lengths? It doesn’t get more basic than this. Florida mall clothes, from the clearance rack.

Kini - Oh wait, it does get more basic than Mitchell’s. This dress has no design whatsoever. All I thought was “McCall’s pattern." The only interest is the print, which wasn’t his choice anyway.

Samantha – She admittedly did something “safe," which is actually a good move in the early stages of the competition. It was chic but nothing ground-breaking, and that’s fine for now.

Amanda – Sorry, but I thought the pants were weird. The execution of the textile was good and they fit well, but the cut in general was off for me. However, glad to see her back of the three “runway redemption” designers.

What did we learn? NO SHORTS.

Fans and readers, can we talk about RED ROBIN as the prize sponsor?! This is a huge headscratcher. Not to be a snob but what exactly is fashionable or appealing about designing uniforms for the servers? There is always so much emphasis on Project Runway to be fashion forward and “amp it up” for the runway. Discuss.


No More Tears

Posted By laurareineke 10:30am GMT

When we left off, it had been whittled down to four finalists after the elimination of Helen. Now, with two days until the finale at Lincoln Center, the final four must edit one look out of their collection and replace it with a new "washable" look, sponsored by Tide Pods. I think I'd be pretty annoyed at that, because it's difficult enough make a cohesive collection with less than 10 looks, but then after all that hard work making these collections at home, having to 86 one of them would be super frustrating. It involves new fabric (i.e. finding something that works in the collection), which would be used in only the one look, unless someone bought their original fabrics at Mood. Not to mention the designer could be omitting a look which potentially took several days or even a week to make, and substituting it with one that must be made in a day or two. Then again I suppose for some people it could be a bonus if they were not happy with one of their looks.

The beautiful and articulate Kerry Washington is the guest judge this week. I don't think I'm alone when I say that usually I find the choice of some of the celebrity judges very annoying. I'd love to see a powerhouse fashion designer a la Donna Karan or Narciso Rodriguez, not another actress. However, Kerry seems to know quite a bit about fashion, definitely had some opinions, and made some valid points. Plus she is just straight up eye candy!

Judging from Bradon's collection, I am not sure I know who his customer is. Where does one wear some of those looks? I'm not into all the gold (particularly the shorts and pants). The Tide washable look is not cohesive with the rest of the collection. Though the prints are pretty and have a painterly quality about them, the addition of the gold, along with the very average proportions, make the looks rather mature, and therefore they don't seem fresh. All I could think of when I saw look one was "Gone With the Wind" skirt with meringue hem! I can't understand what the judges liked about that, and again who wears it. Bradon's muse look was the one I responded to the most, when the camera started panning low.....then it reached the top and there was this giant gold caterpillar thing on one side and it ruined the gown for me. Bradon came in fourth place.

Dom was awarded the win with her print-heavy collection, which I felt was very overpraised. I think she is great at her prints, but the gown looks were questionable for me. The colors of the three solid gowns, in that shiny charmeuse (?), looked cheap and like the silhouettes I've seen department store "occasion dress" areas, and while I like a good clear plastic trench, this was a bit too referential to "Blade Runner" and went a bit costumey. I did love the printed jumpsuit, Tide Pods look, and the unconventional look.

My favorite collection was Alexandria's "Neo Nomadic Punk." Like the female judges, I responded to many of the looks with, "I want that." She really understands what the modern contemporary look is about right now. It looked professional and well made, the fit and proportions were great, and it had a relaxed, luxe vibe. The oddball look, however, was the full skirt with vest. I have a feeling Alexandria is a lot like me in that she doesn't wear many skirts or design them, which is why perhaps it was a head-scratcher. She was very smart to open with her unconventional look to grab the judges' attention, although I didn't feel it fit with the rest of the collection. Apart from that, the collection overall was extremely focused and well styled (though I could've done without the headdresses). I'd always been rooting for Alexandria, even though she had some misses through the competition. I think itʼs because I relate to her aesthetic a lot as a designer, and it's refreshing to see someone whose work is very relevant to what's happening in fashion now. I hope she is able to get her line going, because she makes great clothes.

Justin's sleek, futuristic collection made a very powerful statement with its thoughtful autobiographical story behind it. The 3D-printed accessories were such an innovative, fabulous addition; the collection made me recall the work of Claude Montana or Thierry Mugler in the '80s, but in a good way, softened and brought into this decade. I love how he explained some of the looks representing different pieces of his life and how they related to his hearing. My favorite look was his muse look, which I liked but then LOVED when I saw the cut of the vest and how it cleverly plays into the tank to create the back opening shape. My other favorite was the taupe dress with soundwave print. Look 2 and Look 3 were a bit too similar, though; I felt like there are a few that needed amplifying, or at least more variation. And though I am a big fan of white and monochromatic, dare I say I was wishing for some sort of POP? Maybe it didn't need to be color, but just something with more contrast. When the entire collection walked, it was all white with only a couple of taupe looks, and I felt it needed a little something else. Fortunately he worked out the hair to much improvement, so the styling overall felt more complimentary and cohesive.

What an emotional season, right up to the end! All the designers were teary-eyed in front of the judges, and with good reason. As you know, they have to wake up at 2 a.m. to go to Lincoln Center, on top of the stress of knowing their collections are about to walk the BIG runway and be seen by millions of people, and then be judged to determine who will be the winner. It's a hell of a day. The whole experience is at once surreal and exhilarating. For those of you who don't know, the finalists must say goodbye forever to their collections that day at Lincoln Center. I will never forget that moment after I'd put my blood, sweat, and tears into a collection I was so proud of, only to never touch it again. That's right, it's the property of the show. It's like walking away from a baby after you've just given birth to it! Imagine how Justin felt!

Until next season, bloglings! Thank you for reading and commenting. Who do you feel should have won this season? How are we feeling about the new "All Stars" airing next week? I'm a little dubious. I'm also a little put off that there are three winners competing again; are you?