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Mila Hermanovski Blog

Good Enough For Gatsby

By kim_messina Fri., Oct. 5, 2012 ,4:56 am EDT

Itʼs the final challenge. At last, something which can potentially be compelling and creative. We went from baby clothes (!) to avant-garde. Heidi too, changed back from her "mom-appropriate" outfit to the usual too-short-and-too-tight number, and this time itʼs particularly...questionable. Someone is single (and turning 40 next year) and letting it all hang out!

The designers arrive at the "far, far away" place on Long Island, a stunning estate called Oheka Castle, built as the country home of financier and philanthropist Otto Khan, inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgeraldʼs "The Great Gatsby," and presently a historic hotel. Tim and Billy B, a consulting artist for LʼOreal, deliver the challenge to them: design an avant-garde look inspired by one of the LʼOreal limited edition "Electric Fantasie" makeup palettes, and the surroundings of the estate. They have 2 days and $400.

Tim announces back at the the workroom that the judges want to see two months of work in two daysʼ time. Huh?

Everyone is looking very tired, I must say (except maybe not 24 year old Christopher?). I remember how it was. I also remember being rather tapped out creatively, yet simultaneously energized by the last push to make it to the finals, and relieved that there were so few designers left and I was still in. I also felt quite isolated (not a bad thing necessarily), being the only female left in a group of males who were kind of "clique-ish." We had the circus as our inspiration, which frankly I wasnʼt that into. I was thinking how much Iʼd have preferred a challenge like this with the main inspiration as a color palette, leaving the designers less specific creative parameters and the ability to perhaps showcase their POV better.

Melissa

Iʼll bet a lot of you think Iʼd love this — itʼs modern and graphic and color-blocked. While I like the outfit, I donʼt think itʼs avant-garde enough. Melissa is very creative and has an edgy style, and I expected more from her. I thought her imagination could have run wilder and she even admitted that she got caught up and blocked by the color palette she was assigned (randomly? I think not...see my "random thoughts" below). Nevertheless, sheʼs always been a favorite of the judges, and I do think sheʼs a good designer. She is through to the finals.

Fabio

Thank god Fabio had his "epiphany" to turn the jacket upside down. The wonderful thing about that is that, in itself, is what producing an avant-garde design is about: thinking outside the box and looking at shapes differently. I do wish that the outfit underneath was more modern and less "goth" — a more streamline look would have been better. Picture a McQueen-like catsuit or skin tight skirt to exaggerate the shape of the jacket and make more of a scale juxtaposition and statement. Iʼm thrilled that Fabio makes it through, though — Iʼm looking forward to his final collection.

Dmitry

Dmitry never ceases to impress me with his attention to detail and immaculate construction. Itʼs channeling Thierry Mugler a bit. I love the sleeve shape but agree with Tim that it was not really enough to consider the look "avant garde." It was a fantastic look, yes, but he needed to push it further. Iʼm a fan of Dmitry in general and think that not only does he make great clothes that a lot of women would want to wear (and look fabulous in), but also think his wit and mellow personality are very charming. Glad he made it to the finals — my money was on him from early on.

Sonjia

Sonjia has had some great moments, and some tacky moments (wait til you see her decoy collection). This look falls into the latter. While she has had some highs, she hasnʼt really shown a distinct POV as a designer. This dress has several issues, the primary one being taste. I cringed when I saw her selecting that green Moiré. Her LʼOreal muse is the "seductive temptress" and there is nothing very seductive about kelly green. Iʼm not sure what she would have done with the gold that went missing, but Iʼd have rather seen it than green! The illusion mesh she chose is too featured (not an illusion in the end, but rather distracting) and gives the dress a dancing or skating costume vibe.

Christopher

Avant-garde doesnʼt mean costumey. Christopher went a bit overboard with the details — it looks schizophrenic. I actually donʼt think the feathers on the arms are as fugly as Kors said, but I am visualizing them with a simpler dramatic dress (perhaps without the feathers on the gown itself). The sweetheart neckline which is not at all modern is ill-fitting as well. The corset feature on the back of the dress is a lot more interesting and appealing. The makeup and hair are very edgy and cool, which saves it from being kind of a train wreck. And so Christopher is a finalist. Shocker!

Random thoughts for the week:
-What did actually happen to Sonjiaʼs gold fabric? When we select fabric at Mood, we pay for it, the Mood cashier bags it, and then the producers take all our bags away from us and bring them to Parsons, where they are given back to us. Just sayinʼ...
-Whatʼs really on those buttons that Tim and Heidi pull out of the velvet bag? We designers never get close enough to them to actually see if there are names. Just sayinʼ...
-Although it was harrowing at the time I went through it, I found myself yearning this season for more suspense, like a tiebreaker for the third finalist spot. Whatʼs with four? There was no explanation as to why they decided to have four finalists (whereas in the past at least Heidi would say they couldnʼt decide).
-Swatch got a LOT of airtime this week! Maybe he fired his publicist and got a new one.