Season 15 Premieres September 15 at 9/8c

Mila Hermanovski's Blog

Every Rose Has Its Thorns

By kim_messina 03/22/2013 04:10AM GMT

Thank goodness we are back to a "real" challenge about fashion. This week the designers are asked to each (er, in teams) create a ready-to-wear look which retails for $250 or less, inspired by Lord & Taylorʼs iconic rose logo. The winning designerʼs look will be produced and sold in Lord & Taylor stores and online. Naturally, the designers are all very excited about this as it is a great opportunity for exposure to the masses, and the look will also be featured in the window of the store. While this may be wonderful publicity, letʼs not forget the designer receives absolutely *zero* percent of the sales— kind of a bummer, if you ask me. Richard is particularly mesmerized by this opportunity which "would take years to achieve"; oh honey, trust me: it will still take years for your line to to be sold in Lord & Taylor. The spiky cap+leopard pant+tank top look is not exactly helping.

The producers are liking this "judge-assembled" team method. They decide to use it again this week, and I just canʼt help but think they put designers together whom they think (or know!) will have friction. Conveniently, Layana and Richard end up on the same team again, after a dramatic runway ending last week in which Layana spoke her mind about Richard. Now, Iʼm not saying that voicing oneʼs opinions is a bad thing (Hello...I do it), but sometimes Layana doesnʼt know diplomacy and comes off sounding like sheʼs infinitely more talented and smart than everyone else. The combination of that with Richardʼs ego is no bueno. I could feel the tension all the way on this side of the TV. The fact that Richard refused to look at Layana while sketching as a team was so immature. That said, keep in mind that the whole runway duel *just* happened yesterday in "Project Runway" those wounds are fresh.

More prickly team drama ensues! Stanley clearly doesnʼt take Patricia seriously as a designer and does not respect her unique creative process. He is bossing her around and itʼs not cool. However it slays me how Patricia knows whatʼs going on and is patronizing him to an extent. Itʼs interesting to me that as he criticizes her crafty and sometimes overworked design process, he seems to be creating something which is rather devoid of any design!

Michelle and Moustache are very different designers; we already know this. Michelle is much more in tune with what is contemporary and thinks outside the box; Moustacheʼs designs are for a more mature clientele and tend to be rather dated. Things donʼt start off well when they go to Mood and Moustache selects the perfect 80s neon highlighter pink fabric, in an attempt to wow the judges with some unexpected color. Michelle hates pink but he doesnʼt care. And then...reality TV GOLD starts to unfold! After Timʼs critique in which the consensus was that Moustacheʼs "Joan Collins" jacket was...well, for a Joan Collins-type customer, he has a total meltdown because he was so in love with his design. There is a bizarre cyclone going on in his head and Michelle is trying not to get sucked in. He states in an interview, teary-eyed, that Michelle is taking away the happiness again, which he lost a couple of episodes ago. Well, Daniel, being in the pressure cooker that is "Project Runway" can have that effect. Donʼt blame Michelle!

The judging panel this week has Rachel Roy sitting in again for Zac, and the president of Lord & Taylor, Bonnie Brooks, as guest judge. Here we go...

Patricia and Stanley produced a really nice pair of looks that could be from the same collection. Go figure! In a seemingly sudden twist, Stanley said he was actually *learning* from Patricia, and was appreciating what she was making! I thought her look had great mass appeal, looked expensive (yet could be made at the $250 price point), and was on-target with the Lord & Taylor customer who is a bit conservative yet trying to draw customers of many ages. Also, I could see the rose inspiration very clearly, in both the fabrication and color palette. Stanleyʼs dress was magnificently clean and simple yet modern and forward. The fit was what was different about it. I must say I thought he was going to make a boring shift dress but it ended up an expensive looking, sophisticated design. My only criticism is the length, which I would have preferred a couple inches shorter. In the end, however, these two were safe.

Richard, Samantha and Layana were clearly the losing team. Richard designed a very simple jersey dress, which resembled the olive and black jersey dress heʼd made earlier, but oddly enough I was also reminded of the coral and black (again, jersey dress) heʼd made for the senior challenge. The hot pink and black combination not only looks cheaper than his competitorsʼ looks, but really does not have enough design to it. Iʼm sure it would sell, but perhaps better in H&M or Forever21, not Lord & Taylor. Bonnie made a good point: who wears that and where to? Samantha, on the other hand, had TOO MUCH going on in her design, and it was poorly executed. It also looked cheap, but at least there were more ideas there. She needed to edit though, and when she first mentioned the heart cutout, I cringed...not only because it was overkill, but also because I knew it was too ambitious to be fabricated well in such a short amount of time. Her color blocking was infinitely more creative than Richardʼs to start, but sadly she felt it wasnʼt enough so she had to add ruffles and a giant cutout. When Layana chose her fabric at Mood, I thought it channeled the Lord & Taylor rose really well. But it ended up looking marmy even though she thought she was making it look youthful by adding black leather, which was way too heavy in my opinion. The redeeming elements of her design were, ironically, the leather parts. It fit well, but needed to be executed in different colors. What if she had used pale petal pink chiffon with beige leather? It would have felt more youthful, ballerina-esque, and feminine yet still channeled a rose. I donʼt agree with Samanthaʼs elimination. I think she has a lot more creativity than Richard, and would have liked to see her stick around a bit longer.

Moustache and Michelle are the winning team have the winning design. Michelleʼs dress was wonderfully chic. I love the color and the simple yet interesting design. However...I do take issue with this win. To be fair, the challenge called for the designs to pay homage to the Lord & Taylor iconic rose. Iʼm all for a designerʼs own interpretation, but donʼt see a rose in the least bit in her design. Spring, green buds...yes. But I feel Patricia and Stanleyʼs designs better represented the rose. Is Michelleʼs design better? Maybe...Iʼd wear it before the others. But does it really fulfill the challenge? And how about the fact that a silk and leather dress could never hit the $250-and-under price point? As we see later when Michelle admires her design in the window of Lord & Taylor, the leather appeared to have been eliminated. Daniel just could not escape the mature and dated design voices in his head, and thus made a very boring, very poorly executed dress in a very bold color.