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Mila Hermanovski Blog

This is Getting Personal

By kim_messina Fri., Sep. 14, 2012 ,4:39 am EDT

A season of "Project Runway" would not be complete without the HP Print Design Challenge. My season (7), was the inaugural season of this challenge (and possibly HP sponsorship). Prints are indeed a conundrum — they seem simple in theory, but they are not. They are incredibly personal, and if a designer is not used to working with them, they can really be a curveball. Add the technical learning curve (using new HP equipment that Iʼm willing to bet none of the designers already know how to use) to that creative curveball, and suddenly designing a print in an hour is daunting!

Who more appropriate to host and judge this challenge than Mondo, who made history designing a print that not only won the challenge in Season 8, but was also a catalyst for revealing his emotionally charged HIV-positive status on national television! Now how are those designers supposed to top that?! Mondo and Tim deliver the requirements of the challenge: to create a print (and look) inspired by oneʼs cultural heritage. Mondo reiterates how personal the print should be. Something tells me the producers asked Mondo for ideas on this one. Again, no pressure or anything! And then Mondo introduces the new print and bag design he did for HP — *bam* they probably just sold 10k of them!

I could tell the designers had the exact same reaction we did back on Season 7: at first, it sounds like the coolest thing ever. Following the team challenge, it could not be more opposite, given that it is so very individual. To make matters even more personal, each designer is reunited with a loved one. Let me just tell you that at this point, not only is everyone exhausted, but they are getting used to being removed from all regular communication with loved ones (aside from *maybe* a call lasting several minutes, once a week). So basically itʼs a sobfest when they see their loved ones. You become so focused and (as Sonjia mentioned) a visit from a loved one, while wonderful, can also cause your focus to weaken. We had no visits from anyone familiar in our lives on my season, and extremely limited phone communication. I recall the day when I was released to go home, and got my phone back from being locked up for 5 weeks, and called my boyfriend and mom from the airport and completely lost it. Itʼs just such an intense journey!

In the workroom, clearly some designers are struggling, whether from their distracting family visits, or simply due to not being familiar with print design. Some pulled it off in the end, and some did not.

Sonjia

I like the graphic nature and colors of the print &3151; I get an American-Indian Totem from it. Itʼs a bold statement, and *almost* too large a scale for a trouser. But they are fabulous and fit really well. The black top was simple (as it should be to balance the large scale print), yet had just enough detail to not be another long-sleeved jersey top. Love the back drape. No wonder Mondo loved this look-- he made a very similar wide leg pant out of his graphic print!

Elena

The print looks scratchy and chaotic, and Iʼm not a fan of the color combination. The jacket still resembles like a smock; she didnʼt really get too far from the scrub-like vibe she had going on in the workroom.

Christopher

Christopher is one who was admittedly insecure about print going into the challenge, and it shows. The print was weak, and then he layered a black sheer fabric over it but it did not work with his construction. The result was a dress that looks messy and not innovative. The sweetheart neckline is dated and the draping is something weʼve seen a thousand times before.

Ven

What a train wreck! And flowers again? I get that the hibiscus is relevant to his culture, but the rendering of the hibiscus was juvenile and way too simple, yet ironically he turned a very simple print into a very busy, very over-designed dress. For some reason he felt he had to use the same old exploding rose trick on the skirt (on top of all the other details), even though heʼd been warned by the judges that he was becoming a one-way monkey.

Fabio

The outfit is chic, and the print is cool (based on the reproductive system and genitals!). But he didnʼt use enough of it, especially after covering it up with black sheer fabric. I like the vest design.

Melissa

Melissa used red and white, the colors of her heritage, the Polish flag. Red and white could have been translated a lot edgier though — the print and the dress design looked like a totally different designer had made it. The styling fell flat as well. The judges praise her for stepping outside her comfort zone, but it looks nothing like Melissaʼs signature looks weʼve seen so far. However, it is a dress that likely a lot of women would buy. Just goes to show you: you never know how the judges can/will spin things.

Gunnar

Not only is the print sophomoric and sad, but the jacket looks like something seen on the clearance rack at Ross Dress for Less or a home-sewn project from a store-bought pattern. With the exception of only a couple of challenges, I feel I am consistently at a loss for words for Gunnarʼs designs, because they are devoid of any sort of signature. Heʼs only 22, and needs to find his voice as a designer. I guess heʼs not going to get those new boots and a boob job for his Mom anytime soon. (What is up with that?! how about investing that money in your business? Priorities, dear...)

Dmitry

At last, a well-deserved win for Dmitry. He challenged himself by making separates and proving his diversity, while still maintaining a consistent point of view (the way to the judgesʼ points). Moreover, his print is great and the jacket is fantastic. His use of sheer strips to create a 360 view of the print was genius. And the geometric lines in the jacket were wonderfully complementary to the lines in the print. Iʼd wear that jacket too, Dmitry!

My "Project Runway" designer personal style observation of the week: Sonjia is trying to resurrect the stirrup pant!