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Mila Hermanovski's Blog

Season 13, Episode 5: Fringe Is The New Black

By laurareineke 08/22/2014 04:42AM GMT

DRUM ROLL -- I mean, eye roll. We all KNOW Heidi and Tim are the “stars” of the show, but come on, Heidi exiting from the car in a trench coat being snapped by staged paparazzi in front of Parsons was all a bit silly and gratuitous. But then again, this IS the gratuitous “red carpet dress for Heidi” challenge. At least this time there was an actual event to which she promised she would wear the winning design: The Creative Arts Emmys.

The “red carpet” challenges always separate those who are comfortable with gowns from those who are, well, less than seasoned. I ought to know; I was terrified when we had ours, when the season was more than halfway over. We were all fried, I was “blocked” creatively —- big time -— and gowns were not in my wheelhouse, nor does designing them come naturally to me. I consider myself a ready-to-wear designer, not a formalwear/gown designer. If you haven’t made gowns before, it can be very intimidating. There are certain fabrics associated with gowns which should be avoided, or must be handled very carefully and/or skillfully, and if one is not familiar with how to work with such fabrics, a one-day challenge on "Project Runway" is NOT the time to experiment. However, when you are in the thick of it and only have a half hour to brainstorm your design, a half hour to shop for fabrics, $250 to spend on materials, and one day to finish, all to the tune of “GO GO GO," you have a tendency to lose sight of common sense! And of course that is when Reality TV Gold happens.

We see early on who is struggling and who is not. Big Bad Heidi comes into the workroom with Tim to weigh in on the works-in-progress. Let me tell you, it is very weird having her in the workroom. Not only is it incredibly intimidating, but awkward because you’re not exactly sure when she is playing up the drama for the camera and when she is being sincere. Also Heidi is a pro at the ol’ poker face. Only about half the designers received critiques they were content with. Heidi leaves and many of them are scrambling.

Some time goes by, and then...wait, what is HK doing back in the workroom? A twist? Well, sort of. She tells the designers she is worried. She is concerned that many of them do not have good designs unfolding. So, as only Heidi Klum (a.k.a. an Executive Producer) can do, she gives the designers the option of returning to Mood with $100 more to rework their designs. She does, after all, have to WEAR the design, but my first thought was “Come ON!” This seemed so unfair to me, for (as Emily said) the designer should have to make their fabric selections work, and fabric selection is all part of a challenge, so they should be critiqued accordingly! Then I realized that the $100 and second trip to Mood is the poison apple: If you go to Mood, you lose that more precious time in the workroom and even more time rethinking your design. A trick question, perhaps? As much as we all wanted to see an underdog emerge victorious, it didn’t happen. News flash: It’s hard enough to make an evening/cocktail dress in one day, let alone five hours. Honestly, what do you expect?

Lindsey Vonn, olympic gold medalist in alpine skiing, is the guest judge this week. Oh, and she is Tiger Woods’ girlfriend. That is all. I guess Marina Sharapova declined. Can you tell I’m underwhelmed? Where are all the style icons as judges on this show?

Char: Aaaaannnnnnd ditto from last week, *again*. It’s a perfectly nice dress in a nice color, and not offensive. But haven’t we seen this before a gazillion times over?

Emily: Emily strikes me as one of the designers who really doesn’t “do” gowns, but she is an experienced enough designer that she could make something work. I liked the asymmetric lapel feature, but the final design was a bit snoozeville. Heidi lit up when she saw it because it was short and tight —- TOO short and tight. But really, it was more appropriate for a nightclub than for the Emmys.

Mitchell: He said it himself, this was the “Hot Mess Express." My first reaction was not to the design but to the particular shade of shiny red that he chose; it looked cheap and pageant-y. On top of that, the design was lackluster, poorly made, and too short. The styling even further cheapened it (nude patent Minnie Mouse-stripper pumps). He may have been able to compensate slightly for the short length had he selected a non-platform, lower heeled shoe. Who knows if his first “drag queen she-devil bodice” design would have saved him from elimination?

Korina: Another designer admittedly out of her element, I knew Korina was doomed when she mentioned “green cotton ponte and snakeskin” in the same sentence. But then she made another fatal move by choosing green again when she had a second chance to go to Mood, after Heidi compared her first train wreck of a dress to a particular green German uniform. I did feel her pain, because as she said she was just trying to make a dress in 5 hours. Sometimes, you’re just blocked, and she surely was. If she loves green, though, I just don’t understand why she didn’t go with something that would pop more, like emerald or even chartreuse; she clearly likes to use color, so why was she so stuck on such a dull shade? It is kind of hard to believe she was spared, but then again at least the length of her gown was somewhat correct compared to Mitchell, albeit with a jagged cut hem. She is also infinitely more interesting a designer than him.

Fade: Something about his designs are just okay for me, but I appreciate a more European style that shows in his work. I loved Fade’s choice of fabric and print here, and the back had great movement when the model walked. But from the front it was just OK. That said, it was more interesting than some of his competitors’, and I certainly would have scored his higher than Amanda’s for taste level alone.

Alexander: This LBD was cool and downtown-edgy, but nothing extraordinary. I could actually see HK wearing this dress to a club or other event, if the length in back was corrected and we weren’t seeing cheek.

Samantha: Again, not blown away by her design. When I saw it on the mannequin I thought the back of the bodice was really cool; I only wish she had done something as modern and interesting with the skirt portion of the dress. They seem disjointed to me, and the skirt detracts from the main design feature which is the back bodice. I think Samantha has some good ideas but somehow they aren’t quite memorable enough.

Kristine: Another one bites the dust. A big fail from a designer who was out of her element. She knew the dress was bad, but I agree with her that she should have stuck with her original design which was much more unique, at least from the sketch. At least she may have been spared for being creative. The silver grey color she had originally selected was not a good choice for a red carpet, and apparently too thin, but all she had to do was choose a different fabric when she went back to Mood and keep the same design. I could see the base color being black, or even nude, with the pop of red. Too bad.

Kini: Kini has his mojo on. Clearly dresses are his forté. It is rare to see someone who works so fast, is so spot-on with fit, and is also creative. The gown was simple and elegant, but it was the fit that made it. I thought his use of matte and shine was really nice and the style lines were very flattering. The deep back was perfect and it was very smart of him to choose a double jersey to emphasize the body-hugging design and great fit. The gown looked expensive and professional. I would have tied him with Sean, as the judges likely did.

Sean: First: Google the Jil Sander Spring/Summer 2009 collection. It was clear that Sean had a strong vision of what he wanted to do. He takes the win for a fun and elegant fringe creation in a most fabulous color. The ombré “haircut” he gave it totally made it; without it, it would not have been as special. I would definitely question how many women could actually pull this dress off, but if anyone can, it’s ze Kluminator! Amanda, take note: THIS is how you use fringe. I guess Heidi is having a fringe moment as she seems to be awarding fringe use lately. Is this going to start a major fashion trend? I have to say I wasn’t as crazy for the dress when I saw it in the photographs from the Creative Emmys. It kind of gave me a Muppet vibe. Still, it looked like HK was having fun in it.

Amanda: Is it me, or is she getting some preferential “runway redemption” treatment again? I thought this look could have been in the bottom. Again, it looked too “crafty,” and not in a good way. The trims did not work together and I had a flashback to Francesca’s, the sponsor for “Under the Gunn”; if this was a challenge to design a gown to sell in their stores, I’d definitely put it in the top three. But this is a challenge for Heidi and I really can’t picture her in this gown. I felt like the judges’ critiques of her design were lukewarm, and less than thrilled. So why is she a top scorer? OK, so the back is nice, but 75% of the time photos are taken from the front. What’s going on here!? Like I said, I would have given Fade or even Sandhya a higher score.

Sandhya: Yes, I know I said I’d give her a higher score than Amanda, but it did make me mad that she pilfered money from the other designers who chose not to go to Mood so that she could buy more expensive fabric. Her gown was all about the fabric. I am sure some viewers (and competitors) feel differently, but it just seems the producers should have stepped in and stopped her from using others’ budgets. When you are competing on the show, you hear multiple times from producers that they want there to be a “fair playing field” for everyone, especially in terms of time. For example, many of us complain about having to be pulled to do confessionals in the middle of a workday, because the time is so very precious. But they make sure they keep each person out of the workroom for the same amount of time to keep it fair. Another example: We bring our sewing kits/tools/supplies with us on the show, but they are inspected and certain items removed and stored (if deemed advantageous) until one is no longer competing. Why shouldn’t the same rules apply when it comes to budget? I would not have given her my $100! I thought for sure Sandhya would end up in the top three, if nothing else so that the issue could be raised on the runway and she could be praised for making such an “expensive” looking gown!

Just a bit of epilogue here, since the subject is the Creative Emmys: This week, I am dedicating my blog to my dear friend Lou Eyrich, with whom I have had the honor to work in the past; I am very proud of her for receiving the Emmy for Best Costume Design for a Miniseries for her work on “American Horror Story." Not only is she extremely talented but she is one of the loveliest people I know. Plus it’s a bonus that (a) I love the show, and (b) she used some of my designs on it last season!