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Mila Hermanovski Blog

Do or Die

By kim_messina Fri., Apr. 5, 2013 ,4:39 am EDT

Itʼs the Top 5, ladies and gents. Funny how it sneaks up on you when youʼre a viewer, dontcha think? Well let me tell you: when youʼre IN the competition and make it to top five, it feels like youʼve been in one of those cyclone rides at the fair. At first, youʼve got all this adrenaline and excitement, just trying to keep it together...and it feels like it will never end...and then suddenly, you feel a little nauseated. And then...just like that, the ride is over. Many of you know this already, but for those who do not, the entire season of "Project Runway" up until the finalists go home to build their collections is shot in only five weeks. You do the math: it means NO DAYS OFF! So basically, every other day is a new challenge (with the exception of two-day challenges). Brutal, right?

This may shed some light on how Patricia was feeling in this episode. Honestly, from the beginning when the designers were told they would have some help, and then the ubiquitous velvet bag was brought out to determine which previously eliminated designers would help each current designer (shocker), I felt my stomach wrenching for Patricia. And then the entire episode was like watching the Titanic sink. I really felt for her because at this point in the competition, everyone is so tired and stressed out; the last thing you need is the kick in the gut of knowing youʼve got to work with someone you canʼt stand, who is going to bring you down. She couldnʼt do anything to save herself. The only thing that would have possibly helped her would have been if she had said, "Screw this, I donʼt want any help!" when she found out Richard was her assigned helper. She would have gone into survival mode and the adrenaline may have kicked in and maybe...just maybe...she would have produced something better, instead of trying to TEACH her "helper" techniques and thus wasting precious time.

The challenge for this episode is to create an editorial look for a Marie Claire spread featuring actress Jordana Brewster. Nina is at the helm this time (where it was previously Joanna Coles) on her home turf in the Hearst Building, and she delivers some strict parameters, such as "bold in color or print," "do NOT show me a t-shirt and pants" and "do NOT embarrass me or disappoint me"! No pressure there.

In the workroom, Layana is creating a royal blue leather chainmail bodice inspired by the architecture of the building. I have to give her props for thinking outside the box this time, at least, so far. She sees Kate as her new BFF because Kate is basically her sewing bitch. Patricia quickly discovers that Richard doesnʼt understand any of the (rather basic) sewing terminology she is using, and cannot be of any help to her. She desperately tries to teach him some technique, but I am sure that deep down she knows that ultimately he is completely out of his league. After all, he is being asked to sew French seams on silk organza, about as far as one can get from overlocking jersey. It is visible to me that poor Patricia is having a quiet, internal meltdown. Daniel is very proudly making a yellow winged shorts suit, again trapped in a time warp and is completely daft when it comes to what is contemporary and fashion-forward. Stanley is showing his OCD side big time. He bosses Tu around like a sweatshop worker, telling him he "doesnʼt like it" when anything is not done HIS way. On one hand, I respect a perfectionist; on the other hand, patience is a virtue. Michelle is...making a t-shirt and trousers. Amanda, her partner, is not helping her see objectively when she supports her in her time of self-doubt. Michelle has a moment when she asks herself, "Is this enough?" (and in the end, she thinks it is). I do wonder, though, if Michelle even heard Nina when she specifically stated, "Donʼt show me a t-shirt and a pair of pants," because if she had, youʼd think she would have told Amanda, and perhaps Amanda (having had more sleep at this point) could have steered Michelle differently.

Michelle was criticized for doing exactly what Nina asked the designers not to do. While her outfit was modern and wearable (and certainly progressive), it was not editorial enough. I do like her spin on color-blocking, with the hem detail, but Nina had a good point which was that the photograph could end up being cropped and in that case all the great elements of the design would be lost, and it would just look like a white t-shirt. Michelle was in the bottom two, and ultimately was eliminated...or was she? The episode ends with a cliffhanger, that the judges producers have given Michelle a "do or die" sort of second chance.

Daniel was also criticized for his bizarre outfit. I personally did not care for the shade of yellow he chose, or for the costume-like exaggerated winged shoulders. Whatʼs more is he does not seem to understand the judgesʼ criticisms at all. Who wears that?

Stanley wins the challenge. While I do not think his look is super editorial, it is very well constructed and the culottes are fantastic. His look is by far the most polished and expensive (and we all know how Nina likes expensive). I do feel the look would have been better had the leather jacket been severely cropped (or perhaps just sleeves?) so that the innovative shape of the trousers would be that much more pronounced and balanced. Also, I would have preferred that the jacket was a bolder shade such as red, cobalt, black, or metallic, for more contrast.

Patricia just tanked. The finishing on the dress was sloppy, the embellishment too crafty, and the shape was...too shapeless. While I completely sympathize with her, she should have been eliminated for this mess, if elimination was solely based on the design. However, the judges weighed her overall point of view and performance as a designer. Again, judging can be spun any which way. In some ways, I think Patricia may just be totally over it.

Layana was praised for her "hard-and-soft" look which in the end was too disjointed and unsuccessful in my opinion. What started off as really cool, edgy, sixties Paco Rabanne-esque leather chainmail was cheapened by a fluffy, prissy organza skirt. It would have been so much more modern and cool if it was entirely the same technique. If she did not have time for that, she should have made a sleeker skirt or even a pant to accompany the bodice. Funny how her clothing reflects her personality...