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Mila Hermanovski Blog

A Printed Matter

By kim_messina Fri., Sep. 27, 2013 ,4:20 am EDT

The HP Textile Design Challenge has become as much of a "Project Runway" tradition as the Unconventional Challenge. Is it just me, or does it seem like more than half of the challenges this season have been sponsored? Nonetheless, we all expect and anticipate the HP challenge, as they are such generous sponsors every season; the fact that the designers receive an HP prize (unlike other sponsored challenges) goes a long way.

There is a different twist on the "inspiration" for the designers this time. In the past, they have had to draw upon experiences, photos, or field trips. This time, they are to select a muse from a group of "young innovators," whom they must go meet and hang out with and, well, be inspired to design a print. I thought this was bit convoluted, and an odd way to derive inspiration. Sidebar: did you notice how quickly Tim spewed the names from the "velvet bag?" Did he even pull the buttons out at all? There was no actual footage of that, and you know how dubious I am of that velvet bag. I mean, I know editing was involved, but still...

After designing their prints on the HP Envy Rove, the designers head to Mood for fabrics to complement their print. One thing you may or may not know is that the designers only have TWO options for base fabrics for their printed textiles: cotton twill or cotton sateen. When you think about it, (a) these fabrics are rarely used in high fashion ready to wear, especially in printed form, and (b) they are sneaky difficult to work with due to their stiffness. They do not drape whatsoever, so really making a gown is not a good choice (I learned this the hard way as well, when I had the print challenge...*shudder*). I recall being very stumped on this challenge, much like Helen, because not only do I seldom use prints, but also the fabric quality really threw me. It just felt like something I would make throw pillows out of, not a fashion-forward outfit.

For me, the clear winner of this challenge should have been Bradon. His look was a clever example of how to use that awkward fabric: in a jacket. But more than that, his look really captured the spirit of his BMX racerʼs energy and urban vibe. Both the look and the print were fabulous. However, the judges awarded the win to Dom, whose bold, linear print a la Trina Turk was fun, but I was incredibly distracted by the football shoulder pads and symmetric placement of pink scribbles on the nipples. Scripples! I was shocked Heidi and Nina werenʼt all over that. I also did not understand the over-praising of Helenʼs design. I felt it did not really say anything about her inspiration (mind you she had first pick, an artist, which resonated with her fine-artist parents). The print was weak and maybe it was my TV but I felt the combination of white and cream was unsuccessful; the fit was extremely tight to boot.

Alexander's days were numbered, especially after last weekʼs tragic unfinished outfit. I felt he was getting the loser edit from the beginning of the episode. He was admittedly "blocked" creatively, though I thought a CAKE was a fitting inspiration for a part-time drag queen! His look had no relevance to his inspiration, and the print was just kinda fugly. Moreover, just because his last name is "Pope" doesnʼt warrant license to make clothing with a religious reference! How very art school! The one redeeming thing about his look (if you squint really hard and pretend the giant white cross isnʼt there) is the silhouette, which was somewhat interesting (I love me a dolman sleeve). However, when he was aufʼd first, I thought, "Theyʼd better not keep Kate!”, because her look was an epic fail. There was not a single redeeming quality to it. The print, which started off conceptually as brilliant, was barely recognizable; the outfit itself was odd, ill constructed, and poorly styled. Who wears that, and where is she going? To me she should have been first to go, but the producers likely kept her squirming on the runway to create drama (and maybe torture her a few minutes longer). Justin was spared, though his gown was a hot mess. The print was thoughtful and cool, incorporating a stylized "I love you" in sign language; however the print seems inappropriate for a gown, and the addition of white chiffon, tacked on haphazardly, took it to a pageant level. Alexandria was also spared, and produced another letdown of a look this week. Honestly she should not have been safe, but someone had to be, I suppose!