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Mila Hermanovski Blog

That Takes Balls

By kim_messina Fri., Feb. 1, 2013 ,4:41 am EST

The designers are informed, to most of their dismay, that they will stay on the same teams. Some are pleased and some are not (for obvious reasons, the last winning team, "Keeping It Real" [worst team name ever], seems at peace with this).

Itʼs another field trip challenge, and this time the destination is SPiN, a new ping pong social club. Odd, right? I mean I guess itʼs not so different from a billiards club or bowling alley, but do that many people love ping pong? Anyway, another oddity is that Susan Sarandon owns SPiN. [Sidebar: why call it SPiN? All I can think of is a spinning studio. Is there really not a name more suited to ping pong? Also, the SPiN logo is such a knockoff of the Equinox logo! Did anyone else get that?] The designers are briefed on the challenge: to create three types of uniforms for the staff of the club. They are then "put to work" doing various tasks of servers and ball boys so they can get a sense of what itʼs like to work there. The winning uniform will be produced and worn in the club-—and Susan herself is judging.

I was wondering when there would be a uniform challenge! While this does seem to be an appropriate team challenge, I feel for the designers as the work is being distributed/delegated. There are more designers than there are looks required to be made, so not everyone has the opportunity to be equally creative. This again raises my skepticism for the whole team format. If a great designer is forced to take a "back seat" (i.e., been delegated to make a "companion piece"), how is his/her voice going to be heard? One can only do so much battling for the creative helm until he/she is deemed a controlling bitch. Likewise, a weaker designer may take on more responsibility and potentially create something which brings the team down. It just seems like it will be difficult to ultimately find the BEST designer through this format.

In the workroom, some of the pitfalls of working in a team can definitely be seen. James "I got this in the bag" is making a violet trapeze top for a man. He also seems resistant to communicate and be a team player. Benjamin is micromanaging Cindy...but he has a promising epiphany to pair a tank top with a kilt for a male staffer. Layana is apparently being tutored by Daniel. Joseph wants to use polka dots, which I thought was kind of genius, but then I saw his Krazy Kats sweatshirts he makes and am seriously reconsidering my early opinions of him!

Dream Team had some strong, innovative, edgy, urban looks. I loved Michelleʼs very "New York" dress, which could fit a variety of women and looks comfortable and cute. I think it could have benefitted from being a different color though; perhaps something more bold and sporty. Jamesʼ colorblocked tank and long shorts look was urban and modern; however, it was not appropriate for a server—more for a ball boy. Benjamin and Cindyʼs jacket look was sad and too conservative. A jacket is not appropriate for an active sport-centric club, and the shorts were ill fitting and a horrible length (Cindy, your days are numbered). Benjamin and Matthew really took a risk by thinking outside the box; unfortunately, it did not pay off. The judges deemed it inappropriate and Susan said the guys who work for her would never wear it. I feel conflicted about this look because, while I think it is infinitely more interesting than some off the looks on the other team, I understand how it may not be appropriate for a ping pong club. It could be a great uniform for a different, more edgy setting though, like a club on the lower east side. Samantha and Tuʼs look was way too dressy, and revealing in the front, but the giant circle cutout in the back was interesting.

Keeping It Real, the winning team, was, for the most part, lacking in creativity for me. Only one outfit stood out as superior and that was the one designed by Joseph and Richard. The use of the slogan as a print was fantastic, as well as the play on positive/negative. It was bold, sporty, and appropriate for the challenge. The harness to hold the ball net is clever. Overall it has a good balance of creativity/ sport influence/ wearability. I do not understand at all why the win was awarded to Layana (who was tutored!). The outfit in general looked amateur and sloppy, from the lopsided racerback to the length of the vest, which was too short; it really bugged me that you could see so much of the white t-shirt popping from under it. And Iʼm sorry but since when is a SKORT innovative?! Please, Nina. How can you pretend you and Susan are so blown away by that? Ever watch tennis? I also recall skorts being a big deal for girls in the 90s (Come on, ladies...I know you remember that). The other outfits fell into either the "odd" (Kate and Patriciaʼs leggings look) or the "basic/boring" category (the fit and flare dress).

It takes balls for James to make a comment during deliberation like, "We should have communicated better," says the guy who secluded himself in his corner and did his own thing. It takes balls to present a kilt as an option, but I applaud those designers for thinking outside the box. After all, how many times have designers been criticized for being too boring and not having a point of view? While that outfit was a bit TOO "left field" to be a uniform for this client, I think in general, it is good to be memorable. It also takes balls to award the win to a SKORT (definitely one of the Project Runway all-time lows for me).