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Flowers and Fasteners
Through the last 10 seasons of "Project Runway," Iʼve aways wondered how the producers came up with new unconventional challenges, and when they would run out of ideas. Perhaps that time has come. I can just hear it now: the producers brainstorming, pre-network-presentation: "What the heck are we going to do for the unconventional challenge this time? Everything has been done! Wait...what if we COMBINE two of the challenges? Letʼs make them use flowers AND hardware in the same garment! Heidi can use her new tagline, 'I like hard and soft!'" And itʼs a double whammy.
I wonder what that workroom smelled like with all those overly-fake-scented Glade candles burning. Come on, someone be honest. You canʼt tell me that 30-something deodorizing candles burning in that room was not olfactory hell. Oh yeah...you canʼt say air anything negative about a sponsor! I was waiting for the challenge to have some sort of twist that would make it more relevant to Glade candles...but I guess they were trying to make it a floral connection.
The designers are sketching this time. In some previous unconventional challenges, we did not sketch but rather just went to the source of materials (in my case, the hardware store...which by the way was the very same one they use in this episode). While I guess sketching can be good to do beforehand to have some sort of plan, I also feel like it can be a waste of timethat sketching AFTER the shopping trip is more useful because you have no idea what you may find in the store and that can have a significant impact on your design. Iʼm betting many designers had to modify or change their designs after they returned from shopping.
The teams have been shaken up to even them out a bit. Michelle is now on Team KIR and Stanley and Layana are on Dream Team. Dream Team comes up with the concept of "Dior New Look" and a color palette; Team KIR has no common theme or direction to keep their looks cohesive (not good). As a result, the looks they are creating look like they are made by "crazy people," says Michelle. Did anyone notice Josephʼs crazy sketch?! Just to be clear, Team KIR: "RuPaul meets 'Gilliganʼs Island'" is NOT a good theme. Michelle, by the way, wins the prize for the best sound bytes this episode!
During the workroom critiques, Michelle comes up with a theme for the team, so that they can try to justify their "insane asylum" looks to the judges: "decades." Whatʼs funny is it kind of made sense when each designer announced his/her era on the runway. Tim advises Joseph, "You donʼt want it to look like itʼs consuming her," referring to an overly-embellished outfit. Actually, Tim, he does want that! What came to my mind, ironically enough, was look #40 in Christian Sirianoʼs Spring 2011 collection, which looked like a massive red tulle creature eating the model as she walked down the runway. Poor Amanda is having a Titanic experience, sinking as she tries to tread water and all her team mates try to keep her afloat.
Sidebar: can we talk about Heidiʼs runway-day dress? Hello, giant diamond/triangle at crotch?! What are she and her stylist smoking that allowed then to overlook this? It also made me reflect upon when I was criticized by Nina for a chevron dress Iʼd made for a challenge to design Heidiʼs cover look for Marie Claire. Nina was obsessed with the fact that the chevrons were pointing at the crotch...yet Heidi didnʼt seem to mind.... (p.s., Kors had a black and white chevron swimsuit that season with...you guessed it...arrows to the crotch).
Welcome the odd pairing of judges: the legendary performer Bette Midler, and the newly legendary blogger Leandra Medine (aka Man Repeller). Some trivia for you here: my good friend Lou who is a costume designer for shows such as "Glee" and "American Horror Story" (we worked together on "Nip/Tuck") told me she used to tour with Bette, and how she would always insist upon having fresh flowers DAILY. So Iʼm sure she enjoyed being a guest for this challenge!
Team KIR has a more avant-garde collection, albeit less cohesive. Most looks spoke for themselves, and were quirky in their own ways. The judges deemed that this was the less successful team, and I agree. The lowest scoring looks were Joseph and Amanda....but can we talk about Danielʼs RuPaul-meets-Creature From the Black Lagoon creation? This was one of the worst in my opinion, with the dripping bits and the overexaggerated, drag queen-esque panniers. Was it worse than the moss dress? Perhaps not. Was it worse than Josephʼs? I think so. It was nice to see Joseph take a different path and I thought his use of color and composition were interesting, not to mention the evidence of the mix of organic and hardware materials. Not a top-scorer by any means, but certainly more unique and less of an eyesore than Danielʼs. I felt bad for Amanda, though, who was totally thrown under the bus by all her teammates. I know they are ASKED to declare the weakest player, but the whole thing was uncomfortable and you could tell Amanda was a bit taken aback. Of course she was spared, so that there will potentially be drama between her and her teammates going forward. If I were her, Iʼd feel pretty crappy right about now, and possibly wish Iʼd been put out of my misery to avoid all that tension and the feeling that all her teammates think she should have been eliminated. Just icky.
Dream Teamʼs looks were pretty spectacular. From Tuʼs "sleeveless jacket" to Stanleyʼs leaf lady, not a single one was bad. It was very cohesive in both silhouettes and color palette, and even fabrication, as they all looked well made. My favorite look was Samanthaʼs, as she really married the "hard and soft" the best, and the dress looks current and fashionable. I love the cutout bodice. Layanaʼs dress was indeed magical, but looked made of predominantly organic materials, so not *quite* as successful as Samanthaʼs in fulfilling the challenge.