+ More

Thursdays at 9/8c

The official site for "Project Runway" Season 13 offers video, designer portfolios, Rate the Runway, blogs and more.

mila-hermanovski-blog-project-runway-blog

Mila Hermanovski Blog

08
FRI

Season 13, Episode 3: Forty-Year Forecast

Posted By laurareineke 4:32am GMT

Happy Birthday! It’s Marie Claire magazine’s 20th anniversary, so let’s have a challenge about it. This rather convoluted challenge asks that the designers each create a look that is inspired by their past (in 1994, that is) which would be featured in Marie Claire in 2034. So are we saying that the '90s make another comeback in 2034? If you were confused, it seems the designers were as well, because when they were trying to explain their concepts early on, they all sounded somewhat vague. It takes some deeper thought, which apparently Kristine embraced, as she seemed into it. Sidebar: does anyone miss Joanna Coles like I do?

After hearing the challenge and watching it unfold, I was already predicting the outcome of this challenge would be designs that either (a) look too costumey and “futuristic," (b) don’t make any sort of statement, or (c) look too 1990s. It can be very tricky to design something “realistic” for the future. No one really knows what people will be wearing in 20 years. When I worked as a costumer on “Star Trek: Into Darkness," my domain was the civilian costumes (in the year 2259). In many ways this is much more difficult to conceptualize and actualize in a realistic way than creating fantasy costumes, because they have to be believable. I drew upon a lot of research on avant garde fashion and then modified store-bought and/or found clothing items that fit within our color palette and silhouettes. (There was not a budget to build much in the way of civilian clothing since everything else in the film was being made to order, so we altered and modified things to “Trek” them out.) Although the parameters of this "Project Runway" challenge were odd to me at first, as I began watching and thinking more about it, I found myself wishing I’d had this challenge, as I do love me some futurism!

Early in the workroom coverage, nothing is blowing me away. Sean seems to have a handle on things from the conceptual stages. He just seems like such a smart, thoughtful designer. I had high hopes from his “minimalist future” direction. Sandhya is designing “something pink for a strong woman” (does anyone else feel they need subtitles sometimes to understand her? I don’t mean to criticize, but I had to play back her commentary a number of times). Is Amanda getting a loser edit, or what? From the beginning of the episode she seems quite sure of herself, like she’s got this one in the bag.

Later, youngster Alexander has to scrap all the leather work he had done because of fit issues, and start from scratch with only two hours left in the day. As we’ve seen in the past, this can either mean he’s going to tank, or rise from the ashes and take the gold; I’m guessing the former. It is a shame, as his first design looked interesting in a sort of downtown-future-goth kind of way. Sandhya, as usual, is a wild card; will her design be really fabulous and innovative, or just weird and poorly executed?

Since we’re critiquing, let’s discuss Heidi’s outfit. As her silhouette appears behind the scrim before the runway show, for that split second we are all anxious to see what she’s wearing. Then she emerges, and...huh? I was thinking that for the occasion she would have some sleek, sharp, maybe even slightly futuristic outfit on. Perhaps something metallic? Maybe a jumpsuit? Even an Hervé Leger dress would have been better than the schmatta she was wearing. The simple black camisole, small necklace, and animal-print elastic waist skirt wasn’t offensive, but just looked like an outfit HK might wear to a daytime summer rooftop party in Brooklyn, not what one would expect the supermodel host or "Project Runway" to wear. Don’t you think?

And why is Amanda de Cadenet a guest judge? Oh, because she’s hosting a talk show on Lifetime. (I actually did try to watch it. Erm, no comment.) What has she really done in the past besides be pretty and have babies with hot rock stars? On to the runway:

Kristine: Hands down, she nailed it. When I saw the coat in progress during Tim’s critique, I was so hoping she wouldn’t listen to his advice and veer from her vision (Tim didn’t seem to be a fan of the coat in general, calling it too “lady”). I thought the coat was going to be fabulous with the slashed/banded sleeves and then when I heard during the judges’ reviews that it was neoprene, I loved it even more. When I saw it on the runway with the off-white mod/futuristic dress, it was even better! It was a great play of vintage references with modern ones, and the combination of materials and silhouette were spot-on. Even the fact that the coat fabric was olive was unexpected, not the stereotypical “futuristic” black or grey. It was totally believable as an outfit which could be worn in 20 years, and even right now. How the judges didn’t award her the win is completely beyond me. The only criticism I have is of the styling, particularly the pink lipstick (too 1960s) and the ginormous hoops.

Hernan: Interesting details, but too ambitious a design for one day, so the execution and craftsmanship suffered. It also did not make enough of a futuristic statement.

Mitchell: From the moment I saw it taking shape in the workroom, I felt it was channeling DKNY-meets-Body Glove from the '90s, and that is not a good thing. I would have placed this in the bottom for being too contrived. Also the stripes did not match up. And who is wearing this anywhere but Florida, anyway?

Amanda: Another “Who is wearing this, and where are they going?” situation. Just weird. And a second week of someone being VERY lucky they have immunity. I must say I didn’t really have a sense of Amanda’s voice as a designer from her season, and I still don’t.

Angela: Gets das AUF for designing (as the judges said as well) a rather “vanilla” futuristic airline uniform suit. The problem is, that was not her intention. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the judges were saying, though, and at least Angela doesn’t have questionable taste. She bit off more than she could chew and couldn’t manage her time. A suit needs to be well-finished and look sharp, and this did not. The skirt length was way too short as well. Personally, I still would have put the Body Glove in the bottom before the airline Uniform, but I’m not going to miss her “woe is me” cries.

Emily: Definitely my second favorite look, and a top scorer. Again, it is believable as an outfit now OR in 20 years. If anything, though, I think it looks slightly more “now." I just want it, like all the female judges did, except Nina, who’d seen the jumpsuit before. I don’t disagree with her about that.

Samantha: A super cute outfit, but for 2014. Nice pop of white in the jacket. But you can’t just throw on a cowl and call it futuristic.

Kini: I love a good cape. The outfit was well done and enough to be safe. Again, it did not make enough of a statement for the future and no doubt the all black didn’t wow the judges.

Fade: Meh. Not awful, but not really coming across as much. All I thought was, "Okay, maybe this is futuristic Euro resort wear?"

Sean: SO disappointing. This was waaay too heavy and funeral. He should have skipped the hat but it was super cute that he made it our of the Mood bag. I haven’t seen enough of his work to determine his skill level but perhaps he chose a difficult fabric and that is why everything was finished in such a wonky way. Prior to this, sean was becoming one of my favorites. Let’s hope he redeems himself!

Char: Nice outfit, clever color blocking to create an illusion. That is all.

Korina: I was really trying to see some sort of futuristic moment here and coudn’t. Maybe the mesh coat could sell it, but the overall silhouette isn’t sleek or modern enough; those wide cropped pants didn’t do it for me.

Alexander: How did he not get eliminated? HOW? The dress looks like it was made in three hours (because it was). The judges were absolutely disgusted by it, so...? I have to admit my favorite clip from the season so far —- had to replay it a few times -— was Nina’s “Planet of the Apes” reference. I really laughed out loud over that one. *sigh*

Sandhya: My reactions were: avant garde, original, odd. I still can’t decide if I think it’s great or awful, and oddly enough many runway/editorial/statement pieces evoke similarly conflicted reactions. It certainly conveys the statement she wanted to get across of a warrior woman, and no doubt it is memorable. I did not think pink could come across this strong, so kudos to her on that. But the metallic “contraption” on top just looks a bit too costume-y in my opinion, and more the W reader than Marie Claire. Do you think the judges awarded her the win just to be controversial again?

01
FRI

Season 13, Episode 2: From The Cutting Room Floor

Posted By laurareineke 12:40am GMT

The unconventional challenge strikes again! The designers are invited to a “screening," which turns out to be a weird, quasi-trailer which doesn’t make any sense, except that it's a decoy for the bigger picture, when Tim emerges and announces the challenge. Honestly, I was shocked that this wasn’t another Miramax/Weinstein film plug!

I’m dying to know who selected all the “movie experience” stuff the designers had to choose from. At first it felt so staged, like someone went on a shopping spree at a party store and made it a cinema theme, but at least there were scripts and marquee letters. I just thought it was odd and inauthentic that there were things like costume accessories and props, like plastic cat-eye masks and feather boas. Luckily, no one chose the boas. The contestants scramble for whatever they can physically carry out of the building with them (in a large garbage bag provided by production, of course).

The double-whammy this week is that not only is this an unconventional materials challenge, but the designers must also work in teams of three with whomever they were randomly seated next to in the theater; there are five teams named by color. Not only does the unconventional challenge weed some people out because they cannot think outside the box or because they lack creativity, but a team challenge shows us who plays well with others and who has a big ego. They must individually make 3 cohesive looks, which is often hard enough to do using real fabrics and regular materials.

The editing was pretty transparent this week. I knew from camera time that the Purple team, for example, was going to be safe because they were hardly featured at all. I also knew somehow that Angela and Sandhya would not produce good work. It became very apparent early on that Angela was the weak link on the Blue team, obsessing over paper flowers and angels when her teammates were keen on a villain/femme fatale theme. The team concept seemed pretty foreign to her. Similarly, Sandhya was overly consumed with making sure her voice was heard, abandoning any sort of common thread in the designs. She just thought that if each person on the team did their own thing then they could somehow tie the looks together at the last minute. Honey, it doesn’t work like that. When Hernan put his foot down and took charge, she whimpered away like hurt puppy. Sandhya, how many times do I need to tell you THERE’S NO CRYING IN FASHION! This girl will never survive unless she thickens her skin. The whole sobbing to Tim episode she had was pathetic, sorry. I mean I know he is there to be a mentor, but sometimes you just have to figure these things out on your own and BUCK UP. Hernan perhaps did end up being a bit domineering, judging from the final looks, but the team were given a rough critique by Tim in which he called them out on an non-cohesive collection; Hernan’s reaction by controlling the situation bit them in the ass. I can’t help but wonder what the collection would have looked like had they stayed the course (without a direction or theme). Something tells me they may have been criticized for that, as well.

The rest was up in the air. The Silver team members were all on the same page and worked really well together, which typically means success. However, their work seemed underwhelming midway through the construction, even though I was excited about their concept. The Green team didn’t have much of a theme -- Avant garde/high fashion? Sorry, not a concept -- yet produced some nice enough looks which ended up leaving them safe.

And now for the runway:

RED TEAM: The lowest scorers produced three lackluster looks made entirely of film strips. Everything about these looks was monotonous: materials, silhouettes, colors. Heidi was spot on when she said they look like three women from a music video -- I thought "girl band in a B-movie." It just stinks for Carrie and Hernan that Sandhya had immunity (for a design which should have never won, by the way). I think Carrie is young and has likely has some growing to do as a designer, but I was interested to see more of her work. Bummer she was eliminated.

SILVER TEAM: I was happy to see the team pulled through in the end with their 1960’s futurism concept, winning the challenge. They used the most interesting and diverse assortment of materials to create three diverse yet cohesive silhouettes, and were smart to have a pop of color. Amanda’s winning design had great movement on the runway and a beautiful neckline. Do I think it was the BEST design of the entire challenge? No. But it was a team challenge and I believe she won because her design was very different from the others. I knew Kristine would do something fab when I saw those marquee letters, and she did not disappoint. Overall the graphic elements of this collection provided a great “wow” moment.

GREEN TEAM: This collection was very cohesive. They did achieve the avant garde and high fashion elements they wanted, and gave good runway drama. I adored Samantha’s white paillette top made of DVDs with the film strip bubble skirt, a great play of texture and shape.

BLUE TEAM: In the end the collection was very cohesive, and it is such a drag that Angela’s score prevented them from potentially being the top-scoring team. Sean’s innovative use of straws was fantastic and worked really well, yet contrasted with Fade’s use of assorted materials and a different silhouette; I like that he used film strips in moderation. Angela is proving to us that she is indeed a newbie fashion designer (admittedly in the midst of changing career paths). Her design was just a simple dress with paper embellishments, which were pretty, but in the need not nearly creative enough for an unconventional materials challenge.

PURPLE TEAM: Speaking of simple silhouettes relying on embellishment, here are three of them! It’s my biggest pet peeve when a designer simply hot-glues a bunch of materials onto a simple dress for an unconventional challenge. These designs have all been seen before. Heidi lit up, though, when she saw Mitchell’s short-tight-shiny number walk. I’m sure the colors looked good on stage, but for me the three of them were pretty much eyesores. Still, they are safe because there was nothing truly abominable.

Loved seeing Garance Doré as a guest judge. She’s an incredibly articulate, intelligent fashion blogger with a great eye, and one of my favorites. Zac is trying really hard to replace Michael in the judge’s seat; I haven’t decided if I love or hate how bitchy he was in this episode. I do love that he wouldn’t stand for any excuses!

25
FRI

Season 13 Premiere: Casting Is A Puzzle

Posted By laurareineke 4:52am GMT

Hey everyone! Welcome back to another season of "Project Runway." I don’t know about you, but the thing I look forward to the most in the first episode —- more so than the designs, to be honest —- is the cast and trying to get a quick read on everyone. Let’s face it, it’s difficult so early on to have favorites when there are 15 designers to cover in less than an hour of airtime. Who will be the villain? The snarky one? The know-it-all? The one trying to reinvent herself as a fashion designer? Who’s playing to camera the most? Who’s going to win it all, and who’s going to just safely skate by for the majority of the competition?

Whenever I watch the first episode and/or casting episode of a new season of "Project Runway," it takes me right back to my experience of being cast on the show. I did not seek out the opportunity to be on "Project Runway," but rather was approached by someone I knew who was besties with the casting director. They were trying to find more people by referral/word-of-mouth at the time, rather than relying solely on open calls. It was a very “Why not?” moment for me, as I was in between gigs and sort of rethinking my career path, having started in fashion but veering into costuming for TV and film. I was missing designing and thinking I needed to get back into fashion somehow. After submitting my application, getting called back to present to the panel (including Tim Gunn), and going through to the next levels, I was informed I was “top 25." I was told by the casting director at that point to remember that "casting is a puzzle" and that I should not take it personally if I don’t make it on the show because they really did like me. When you think about what that means, and watch the show season after season, you get it. There is a method to any casting. The casting director and producers must have a diverse range of ages, personalities, race, gender, “character," and design style. From the perspective of the designer, the show is "a design competition that could change your life," but to the people behind the show, it is “entertainment." I waited day after day for “the call” to tell me of my fate. I was very laissez-faire in my attitude about it, thinking it could be a fun experience, but that I’d be okay I didn’t end up being in the cast. But then the phone rang and I was told I was an “alternate," and I was so disappointed! I guess I wanted it more than I thought. At that point I’d given up on the thought of being on the show. Five days later, the phone rang again with *THAT* mystery caller ID. “You’re on the show, Mila! Pack your bags because you need to be on a plane to New York this Friday!” I’ll never know what happened to the person I replaced. Maybe she failed her drug test...or maybe she just got stagefright!

So, this season there would appear to be a pretty good cross-section of types. Didn’t we all know that Mitchell who wears short-shorts would be cast based on his snark factor and unapologetic personal style (representing Ft. Lauderdale!)? How predictable was the selection of the final designer? Between purple-haired Carrie and a rather boring Emmanuel, it’s a no-brainer. Carrie is one of my early favorites, but maybe because I’ve got a soft spot for goths. Representing some ethnic flavor is Sandhya, apparently a novelty to the judges because it’s “different." Everyone else (including me) is dumbfounded by that. There are also a few accents to add to the spice, such as Sean from New Zealand. Did anyone else wonder how it is that he just moved to New York 4 months ago and is already on a hit American TV show?

The first challenge on "Project Runway" is usually a pretty basic one to get everyone warmed up. There is also usually little or no fabric selection, and no shopping at Mood. I would die if I was given some of the fabrics in those trunks. I know there needs to be some sort of spin on the challenge but yikes -- most of those fabrics look like they came form the clearance section at Jo-Ann.

Julie Bowen is the first guest judge and boy, is she a firecracker. She is a fan, and actually has some great things to say! Apparently Michael Kors has had enough of being a judge, which actually makes me sad because I’m not a fan of Zac Posen. He can deliver the sass, but will never come close to delivering the “Kors-isms” that we all know and love. Thank God Nina isn’t going anywhere.

I wasn’t going to do a critique of all the looks, but here are some brief impressions of some:

Sandhya - Sloppy and weird, hot mess. I can’t believe the judges awarded her the win. That was clearly Heidi getting her way. “I haven’t seen it before!”...yes, Heidi, because it’s BAD.

Char - Fresh, pretty, sexy, just the right amount of skin, good balance. Shoulda won, hands down.

Angela - Some good ideas there, but trying too hard. Weird proportions. She was extremely ambitious to try pants for the first challenge.

Carrie – Not what I expected from her, but then again it made sense. She made the best of a fabric she may not have chosen. Well-fitting, albeit a bit referential to McQueen.

Sean - Great color-blocking (Mila-approved!). Nice length and color combination, and great graphic design.

Mitchell – Is it me, or do the legs of the shorts look like they are two different lengths? It doesn’t get more basic than this. Florida mall clothes, from the clearance rack.

Kini - Oh wait, it does get more basic than Mitchell’s. This dress has no design whatsoever. All I thought was “McCall’s pattern." The only interest is the print, which wasn’t his choice anyway.

Samantha – She admittedly did something “safe," which is actually a good move in the early stages of the competition. It was chic but nothing ground-breaking, and that’s fine for now.

Amanda – Sorry, but I thought the pants were weird. The execution of the textile was good and they fit well, but the cut in general was off for me. However, glad to see her back of the three “runway redemption” designers.

What did we learn? NO SHORTS.

Fans and readers, can we talk about RED ROBIN as the prize sponsor?! This is a huge headscratcher. Not to be a snob but what exactly is fashionable or appealing about designing uniforms for the servers? There is always so much emphasis on Project Runway to be fashion forward and “amp it up” for the runway. Discuss.

21
MON

No More Tears

Posted By laurareineke 10:30am GMT

When we left off, it had been whittled down to four finalists after the elimination of Helen. Now, with two days until the finale at Lincoln Center, the final four must edit one look out of their collection and replace it with a new "washable" look, sponsored by Tide Pods. I think I'd be pretty annoyed at that, because it's difficult enough make a cohesive collection with less than 10 looks, but then after all that hard work making these collections at home, having to 86 one of them would be super frustrating. It involves new fabric (i.e. finding something that works in the collection), which would be used in only the one look, unless someone bought their original fabrics at Mood. Not to mention the designer could be omitting a look which potentially took several days or even a week to make, and substituting it with one that must be made in a day or two. Then again I suppose for some people it could be a bonus if they were not happy with one of their looks.

The beautiful and articulate Kerry Washington is the guest judge this week. I don't think I'm alone when I say that usually I find the choice of some of the celebrity judges very annoying. I'd love to see a powerhouse fashion designer a la Donna Karan or Narciso Rodriguez, not another actress. However, Kerry seems to know quite a bit about fashion, definitely had some opinions, and made some valid points. Plus she is just straight up eye candy!

Judging from Bradon's collection, I am not sure I know who his customer is. Where does one wear some of those looks? I'm not into all the gold (particularly the shorts and pants). The Tide washable look is not cohesive with the rest of the collection. Though the prints are pretty and have a painterly quality about them, the addition of the gold, along with the very average proportions, make the looks rather mature, and therefore they don't seem fresh. All I could think of when I saw look one was "Gone With the Wind" skirt with meringue hem! I can't understand what the judges liked about that, and again who wears it. Bradon's muse look was the one I responded to the most, when the camera started panning low.....then it reached the top and there was this giant gold caterpillar thing on one side and it ruined the gown for me. Bradon came in fourth place.

Dom was awarded the win with her print-heavy collection, which I felt was very overpraised. I think she is great at her prints, but the gown looks were questionable for me. The colors of the three solid gowns, in that shiny charmeuse (?), looked cheap and like the silhouettes I've seen department store "occasion dress" areas, and while I like a good clear plastic trench, this was a bit too referential to "Blade Runner" and went a bit costumey. I did love the printed jumpsuit, Tide Pods look, and the unconventional look.

My favorite collection was Alexandria's "Neo Nomadic Punk." Like the female judges, I responded to many of the looks with, "I want that." She really understands what the modern contemporary look is about right now. It looked professional and well made, the fit and proportions were great, and it had a relaxed, luxe vibe. The oddball look, however, was the full skirt with vest. I have a feeling Alexandria is a lot like me in that she doesn't wear many skirts or design them, which is why perhaps it was a head-scratcher. She was very smart to open with her unconventional look to grab the judges' attention, although I didn't feel it fit with the rest of the collection. Apart from that, the collection overall was extremely focused and well styled (though I could've done without the headdresses). I'd always been rooting for Alexandria, even though she had some misses through the competition. I think itʼs because I relate to her aesthetic a lot as a designer, and it's refreshing to see someone whose work is very relevant to what's happening in fashion now. I hope she is able to get her line going, because she makes great clothes.

Justin's sleek, futuristic collection made a very powerful statement with its thoughtful autobiographical story behind it. The 3D-printed accessories were such an innovative, fabulous addition; the collection made me recall the work of Claude Montana or Thierry Mugler in the '80s, but in a good way, softened and brought into this decade. I love how he explained some of the looks representing different pieces of his life and how they related to his hearing. My favorite look was his muse look, which I liked but then LOVED when I saw the cut of the vest and how it cleverly plays into the tank to create the back opening shape. My other favorite was the taupe dress with soundwave print. Look 2 and Look 3 were a bit too similar, though; I felt like there are a few that needed amplifying, or at least more variation. And though I am a big fan of white and monochromatic, dare I say I was wishing for some sort of POP? Maybe it didn't need to be color, but just something with more contrast. When the entire collection walked, it was all white with only a couple of taupe looks, and I felt it needed a little something else. Fortunately he worked out the hair to much improvement, so the styling overall felt more complimentary and cohesive.

What an emotional season, right up to the end! All the designers were teary-eyed in front of the judges, and with good reason. As you know, they have to wake up at 2 a.m. to go to Lincoln Center, on top of the stress of knowing their collections are about to walk the BIG runway and be seen by millions of people, and then be judged to determine who will be the winner. It's a hell of a day. The whole experience is at once surreal and exhilarating. For those of you who don't know, the finalists must say goodbye forever to their collections that day at Lincoln Center. I will never forget that moment after I'd put my blood, sweat, and tears into a collection I was so proud of, only to never touch it again. That's right, it's the property of the show. It's like walking away from a baby after you've just given birth to it! Imagine how Justin felt!

Until next season, bloglings! Thank you for reading and commenting. Who do you feel should have won this season? How are we feeling about the new "All Stars" airing next week? I'm a little dubious. I'm also a little put off that there are three winners competing again; are you?

11
FRI

To Each His Own

Posted By laurareineke 1:30pm GMT

It's that time again! The designers have $9000 and 6 weeks to make a 10-look spring/summer collection. There is a twist this time, however: one look must be made out of unconventional materials. While this twist makes for good television, and everyone likes to see unconventional-materials challenges on "Project Runway," I feel it makes the collections more TV and less NYFW. For those of you who look at all the runway shows, when was the last time you saw an established designer's collection include a "wearable art" look? I know many of you may not agree, but I'm just seeing it from a designer's perspective, as a PR alum who is trying to create her brand and business and be taken seriously as a designer, not as a "reality show designer." In my opinion, the key to succeeding with this look will be creating one that works seamlessly into the collection and doesn't stand out as so obviously made of unconventional materials.

Bradon and Dom have secured finalist spots. Justin, Alexandria, and Helen are all creating collections as well, and will show 3 looks to the judges to determine who gets the final spot (though the judges ended up having 4 finalists).

Bradon's collection is inspired by the first sign of spring after a long winter, specifically flowers, when he was living on the East Coast. We donʼt see too much of his or Dom's collections in New York, only the works-in-progress during the home visits. Bradon used a couple of prints and seems to be doing a lot of dresses.

Dom took her "Blade Runner" inspiration (one of my top 5 favorite films of all time!) and designed her own prints. Do we expect anything less from her? The "retro-futurism" collection ought to be interesting. I wonder how much pattern mixing she will do, and what her silhouettes will be. The prints are quite bold, so her silhouettes should probably be more simple.

I've always thought Justin has had great ideas but weak execution. He is clearly a very creative guy. His inspiration, sound waves, made a very compelling statement. I love the futuristic quality the looks had (I DIE for those 3D-printed accessories!), yet there was also a softness to the actual clothing, making it feel approachable and real. I also love the sound wave digital print he used in targeted areas. His test tube gown was magnificent, and does indeed feel like a "wearable art" piece, but stunning nonetheless. It must have taken forever to tie on all those tubes! Should be interesting to see the gown in the context of the entire collection. While he knocked the socks off the judges by showing the gown as one of his three looks (the goal when trying to secure that finalist spot), hopefully the rest of the collection does not disappoint. I still see some execution issues, but the ideas are so good. If there is one designer who really made me curious to see more, it's him. I was skeptical of his work in the past, but I think when he has his own environment to work in, and more time, the outcome is much better. The judges out him through of course.

Alexandria, who was harshly criticized by El Nina for using no color (boy, did I have flashbacks!!), created a collection which she calls "Neo-Nomadic Punk." I donʼt know that I see the punk element there, but I do see the nomadic. It's ironic that Nina always criticizes for lack of color because a) she hardly wears it, and b) her job requires her to look at every single fashion collection that walks a runway, and there are MANY successful designers who donʼt use a lot of color. Alexandria is of the Helmut Lang/Rick Owens variety, two very successful brands that do not use much color. I immediately knew Heidi would respond favorably to the three looks, as they are very contemporary and "now." The looks may not have been show-stoppers, but they were very well executed and full of interesting details. I do wish there had been a bit more variation in the three looks she selected though. Nonetheless, Alexandria went through as the 4th finalist, which it seems Heidi had a big hand in.

Are you wondering as I am why Helen wasn't eliminated last episode? Alexandria nailed it when she said Helen just comes across as young and student-like in the way that she always speaks so highly of her own work. I was curious to see if she would produce better work outside of the "bubble." Her inspiration was clairvoyance and so she somewhat literally designed a print from a photograph of her boyfriend's eye. At first I thought it was kind of cool but the more I looked at it, the more I did not care for it, certainly not paired with the clear red. I actually like the choice of the bright orange-red, but that color along with some of the design details she chose (the geometric "tails" Tim hated, the cape) are extremely referential to one of Givenchy's recent collections. It's not just the color but the combination of all the elements she chose. It was an amazing collection, but she took a LOT of those elements. I am surprised Nina did not call her on it (then again she only saw three looks). The trouble is, for such streamlined designs, the execution must be flawless and it was hardly that. Helen was eliminated and I'll bet she is cringing while watching the episode at the way she was edited. Perhaps it will be a dose of humility for her.

Can we talk about the "additional look" for TIDE?! Just when I thought the sponsors were done rearing their heads! So in the same collection, there is meant to be an UNCONVENTIONAL look and a WASH-AND-WEAR look? Oy. Discuss!

04
FRI

Five For the Road

Posted By laurareineke 4:00pm GMT

I know L'Oreal typically sponsors the avant-garde challenge, but come on! I find this sponsored challenge pattern to be really tired now. I can barely recall an episode this season that hasn't been sponsored. It has become very distracting. I understand that the network makes money from advertising, but it is so in-your-face this season, and all I keep thinking is that if the execs are going to shamelessly "sell out," they could at least make part of the sponsorship package a cash prize for the challenge's winning designer. You know, like some other competition shows do. Contrary to popular belief, we Project Runway designers don't get paid a penny to compete on the show (people are always shocked to hear this; it's a question Iʼve been asked many times), and honestly it never really pays us anything back post-show either, except to hear that we've inspired people (which is nice and all but it doesnʼt pay the bills or help our businesses get off the ground).

This avant-garde challenge for the top 5 designers is meant to determine who goes to New York Fashion Week. It reminds me SO much of the one I had at this point in my season. It's the same exact formula. I recall being less than thrilled to hear that we were assigned to be inspired by the circus, because frankly I don't find the circus to be all that inspiring to my particular aesthetic. "Butterflies" is also quite specific, but perhaps a bit more open to interpretation as there are many types of butterfly, in a variety of colors. Nevertheless, I find it restricting to be told what my inspiration must be as a designer. I think for some designers, it resonates, and for others, it does not. When the inspiration does not resonate for the designer, it is difficult to really "spread your wings" creatively. I can't help but (again) see this "butterfly inspiration" as a direct result of the L'Oreal marketing strategy, to promote the new Butterfly Mascara. So basically the designers become pawns for L'Oreal and don't see a penny!

I guess I'm cranky because I've been so sleep deprived from finishing a new collection. Sorry! :)

Anyway, as if it isn't enough to create a truly "inspired" avant-garde look in two days, after the designers have made it this far (and trust me, they are just as exhausted as I feel right now, if not more so, from the pressure of being in the "bubble"), there has to be another twist: to rework an eliminated look. While I think this particular challenge is interesting, it kind of pissed me off that the producers felt the need to add this twist right now. Honestly it seemed gratuitous and a total plug for Justin. The whole Justin-selecting-his-previously-eliminated-design, after getting the Tim Gunn Save, and now making it this far to Fashion Week? can you say "phoned in?" Not to mention I did not think any of the "make it work" looks were particularly great, because they were literally an afterthought. An add-on.

There was no clear winner of this challenge, in my opinion, and I donʼt agree that all 5 designers should have been able to produce collections and compete for the final spot later. I appreciate the fact that Bradon's avant-garde look was dramatic and creative. But he did admittedly struggle with the inspiration, and it shows. I think he just did whatever he felt like (making hundreds of "noodles"), and the result bordered on costumey. I don't care for the extreme mullet hemline but I quite like the back lace-up detail on the bodice; I just think he went overboard with the "noodles." I thought surely his Make It Work look would be criticized, because all I thought when I saw it was "waitress uniform in a low-budget sci-fi flick." However, the judges were completely wooed by his over-the-top look and awarded him the win.

Dom used the cross-bred butterfly as her inspiration, and cleverly showed her point of view by utilizing a print mix (which translates very well from "cross-bred butterfly"). While I think her print combo was successful, I am not a fan of the overall silhouette. It wasn't particularly avant-garde and I felt the look could have been better had the jumpsuit been a more tailored shape. She did a good job turning Jeremy's look into something less "marmy," but the jacket was too haphazard for my liking.

Alexandria took a black and white butterfly as her inspiration, of course. I know Alexandria hasnʼt been doing well lately but I still think she is talented and I like her POV. Her gown fit well but I think she went overboard on the tatters. It went goth really quickly. I like the draping on the bodice but the rest of the gown felt a bit too Tim Burton for even me! I do think she aced the Make It Work look, though. Talk about going from Talbots to Punk! Trousers are not easy to re-cut (and who knows what there was on the inside to work with), and she made them fit perfectly with the clever addition of leather. I'd have preferred a different hairstyle and to lose the feather mohawk, which felt a bit contrived, but the use of the combat boots sold it. The leather vest was smart, but I wish she had used a different leather.

Justin was inspired by the Albino butterfly, so he opted to make an off-white dress. I was really into his technique of jumbo piping when I saw it developing in the workroom, but I wish he had let that feature really shine and used fewer tiers on the skirt. The black coat was a wonderful idea (as Emmy said, it looked like shedding a cocoon), however I found myself wishing it had been either more cocoon-like, or less lacey, or...something. Perhaps if it had been more dramatic it may have been more successful. Perhaps if he had carried that piping into a coat out of faille or something with more structure, and more Dior. Did anyone else think it was awkward when Justin said he should go to Fashion Week because he's gay and deaf? Umm...so you shouldn't be selected because youʼre a good designer?

Last and certainly least, Helen -- who has butterfly tats and thus was very excited about the inspiration -- designed a gown which a) looked like two or three other gowns she's done before and b) did not push any boundaries to make it avant-garde. It is a super simple silhouette (avant-garde is all about shape) and we've seen the technique already. Furthermore, the color choice was awful. I know she was inspired by the Monarch butterfly, a most ubiquitous variety, and actually she nailed the color of the wings. However, it's not such a great color to make a gown out of; she did not need to be so literal. I was sort of surprised at how many designers abstained from color considering the colorful inspiration. I fully expected the judges to comment on that (they did not). On top of it, it was not so smart to choose what is quite possibly the WORST eliminated look of the season for the Make It Work challenge just because it was your friend's. Then she made basically the same thing as she did last challenge, shorter and sans print. I can't understand why she wasn't eliminated for two mediocre looks, except that the producers can't get enough of her meltdowns...

27
FRI

A Printed Matter

Posted By kim_messina 4:20am GMT

The HP Textile Design Challenge has become as much of a "Project Runway" tradition as the Unconventional Challenge. Is it just me, or does it seem like more than half of the challenges this season have been sponsored? Nonetheless, we all expect and anticipate the HP challenge, as they are such generous sponsors every season; the fact that the designers receive an HP prize (unlike other sponsored challenges) goes a long way.

There is a different twist on the "inspiration" for the designers this time. In the past, they have had to draw upon experiences, photos, or field trips. This time, they are to select a muse from a group of "young innovators," whom they must go meet and hang out with and, well, be inspired to design a print. I thought this was bit convoluted, and an odd way to derive inspiration. Sidebar: did you notice how quickly Tim spewed the names from the "velvet bag?" Did he even pull the buttons out at all? There was no actual footage of that, and you know how dubious I am of that velvet bag. I mean, I know editing was involved, but still...

After designing their prints on the HP Envy Rove, the designers head to Mood for fabrics to complement their print. One thing you may or may not know is that the designers only have TWO options for base fabrics for their printed textiles: cotton twill or cotton sateen. When you think about it, (a) these fabrics are rarely used in high fashion ready to wear, especially in printed form, and (b) they are sneaky difficult to work with due to their stiffness. They do not drape whatsoever, so really making a gown is not a good choice (I learned this the hard way as well, when I had the print challenge...*shudder*). I recall being very stumped on this challenge, much like Helen, because not only do I seldom use prints, but also the fabric quality really threw me. It just felt like something I would make throw pillows out of, not a fashion-forward outfit.

For me, the clear winner of this challenge should have been Bradon. His look was a clever example of how to use that awkward fabric: in a jacket. But more than that, his look really captured the spirit of his BMX racerʼs energy and urban vibe. Both the look and the print were fabulous. However, the judges awarded the win to Dom, whose bold, linear print a la Trina Turk was fun, but I was incredibly distracted by the football shoulder pads and symmetric placement of pink scribbles on the nipples. Scripples! I was shocked Heidi and Nina werenʼt all over that. I also did not understand the over-praising of Helenʼs design. I felt it did not really say anything about her inspiration (mind you she had first pick, an artist, which resonated with her fine-artist parents). The print was weak and maybe it was my TV but I felt the combination of white and cream was unsuccessful; the fit was extremely tight to boot.

Alexander's days were numbered, especially after last weekʼs tragic unfinished outfit. I felt he was getting the loser edit from the beginning of the episode. He was admittedly "blocked" creatively, though I thought a CAKE was a fitting inspiration for a part-time drag queen! His look had no relevance to his inspiration, and the print was just kinda fugly. Moreover, just because his last name is "Pope" doesnʼt warrant license to make clothing with a religious reference! How very art school! The one redeeming thing about his look (if you squint really hard and pretend the giant white cross isnʼt there) is the silhouette, which was somewhat interesting (I love me a dolman sleeve). However, when he was aufʼd first, I thought, "Theyʼd better not keep Kate!”, because her look was an epic fail. There was not a single redeeming quality to it. The print, which started off conceptually as brilliant, was barely recognizable; the outfit itself was odd, ill constructed, and poorly styled. Who wears that, and where is she going? To me she should have been first to go, but the producers likely kept her squirming on the runway to create drama (and maybe torture her a few minutes longer). Justin was spared, though his gown was a hot mess. The print was thoughtful and cool, incorporating a stylized "I love you" in sign language; however the print seems inappropriate for a gown, and the addition of white chiffon, tacked on haphazardly, took it to a pageant level. Alexandria was also spared, and produced another letdown of a look this week. Honestly she should not have been safe, but someone had to be, I suppose!

20
FRI

Smashing Superfans

Posted By kim_messina 4:03am GMT

For the LʼOreal Paris challenge, "Project Runway" superfans competed to be selected as one of 8 clients/models to be made over. Behold, the "Project Runway"/Lifetime TV majority demographic: housewives and suburban moms! But seriously, I am sure these women were all beyond giddy to see "Project Runway" from the inside. Iʼd love to read a blog from their side, about how eye-opening their experiences were!

From the perspective of the contestant, though, while it feels good to try to make a woman feel better about herself through transforming her and making her something new to wear, at this point in the competition everyone is exhausted. It is that much more arduous to deal with a "real" body (i.e. not a model) and the specifics of what the client wants in such a short time, and I feel this was evident. Then there is the added pressure of the superfan tagging along to Mood, which makes the already-challenging 30-minute fabric search that much more stressful (the producers should have given them more time). At least the designers had two days for this challenge. Even still, it was obvious to me that they are tired, because much of the work was underwhelming and seemed labored. When you have to come up with new ideas every other day, on very little sleep, the pressure of cameras following your every move, and none of your creature comforts, the work starts to suffer.

The Ken drama continues. At the end of day 1, Alexander and Braden must move into Ken and Justinʼs room. The producers ask the designers to "consolidate" like this as more of them are eliminated so that (a) they only have to shoot in one room and (b) there is more potential dialogue and interaction to film. Hmm....foreshadowing...perhaps they also already knew a male would be eliminated this episode? Alexander attempts to enter Kenʼs room but apparently Ken is too consumed with his beauty treatment and ironing his cut-offs. His blatant disregard for Alexander really sets him off, so all hell breaks loose as he barges in, throws the iron on the floor, and we see Kenʼs temper flare yet again, big time! Donʼt poke the bear! This guy really does have an anger management problem. The outcome? Ken gets his way, because the producers (by way of Tim) intervene and determine Ken will be staying in his own room after all!

Heidi must have been feeling the housewife vibe because she sure did dress down this week! From the waist up she looked like she was running to the market in her stripey tee. Zanna Roberts Rassi filled in for Nina this week, and the guest judge Erin Fetherston, a somewhat indie designer, didnʼt have a whole lot to say; she seems an odd choice of judge for the challenge.

BRAVO to makeup and hair leaders Scott and Johnny, because honestly the most interesting and impressive things about all these makeovers was their metamorphoses! You guys really did an amazing job!

HELEN was the clear winner; it helps that her superfan was the MOST transformed physically. Her navy gown made Jamie feel truly glamorous, was very well done, and had design interest and a signature. Also in the top was BRADON with an ensemble which fit well and absolutely helped his client, Jennifer, feel empowered as she requested. The epaulet detailing shows that he really listened to her needs. The shiny patent trim on the dress was necessary, because it was quite basic otherwise. Both Jenniferʼs and Jamieʼs hair styles were fabulous! JUSTIN, also a top scorer, clearly made his client feel confident and glowing, and she may have been one of the more challenging ones as she needed a more conservative look due to her religion. The clever use of her signature as an abstract embellishment was wonderful and the dress fit her very well, imperative as it was a rather simple design.

It was a toss-up for me between KENʼs and ALEXANDERʼs designs at first, mainly because Alexander did not finish. But as I looked at Kenʼs, I couldnʼt get beyond that strangely hideous split-pea soup fabric. He kept saying he would never choose it, so why did he allow it to happen? The style lines of the leather pieces were so unflattering as well. When there are such bold lines, their placement is everything; he did not place them well. On top of it, the dress was ill-fitting, and the hem was awful. Alexanderʼs suit, even if he HAD finished, was not without issues. The skirt was an odd shape, and I donʼt like the random flap/patch thingy on the right shoulder. Organza was not the right fabric choice for those accents anyway. And where are the sleeves? ALEXANDRIA had a 20 year-old client who works in the arts, a seemingly perfect pairing, but somehow she managed to make her look like a 30 year-old bank teller or real estate agent. This hum-drum outfit was a big disappointment from Alexandria, who is typically a more edgy designer.

KATE and DOM were safe, Kateʼs top had potential but whatʼs with all the handkerchief hems this season?? Why donʼt these designers know handkerchief hems end up on the clearance rack? Dom is lucky there were other designs that were worse than hers, because this dress looks like it was plucked off the rack from an average department store in Anytown, USA. The combination of the length, print, and style made for a pedestrian look, and the little jacket was devoid of any signature as well.

Thank goodness we donʼt have to listen to Ken anymore. And now production doesnʼt have to pay for an extra room for him! Unless, of course, he was truly sequestered from the other eliminated designers because he was deemed threatening. If that was not the case, I feel bad for the previously eliminated designers whoʼve now inherited him as their roomie!

13
FRI

A Word From Our Sponsor

Posted By kim_messina 4:49am GMT

We all saw it coming: the BELK challenge. It did, however, take me by surprise just as much as it did the designers when they were brought to a lovely southern style brunch at Juliette restaurant. They all knew too well that when Heidi announced they had "the morning off," it meant something was up. There is no such thing as "time off" in ProjectRunwayLand! As they brunched away, the designers were wondering the entire time what their fate would be (not exactly relaxing, but hey, they probably had some yummy food for a change). When Tim emerges, they knew their down time had come to an end.

I must admit I bristled a bit when I heard the details of the challenge: to design a look for the Belk customer, a "modern, Southern woman," "vibrant and expressive," "put together, with feminine details." While I think Tim very well described a southern woman, this is not my target customer, so I could relate to the designers who struggled with wrapping their heads around this, like Helen and Alexandria. I personally hated it when "Project Runway" challenges were so specific, because it would prevent the designer from being whom he/she is completely and therefore doing his/her best work while in the competition. I donʼt necessarily think that the talent and success of a designer is measured by how well she/he adapts to such challenges or "designs for a client" if what the client wants is completely opposite from the designerʼs style. In reality, a client is likely going to hire a designer whose signature style she relates to.

Nevertheless, Belk is a sponsor and this season seems to be all about sponsors! John Thomas, a judge on this weekʼs panel and bigwig at Belk (and doppelganger in pink for Jeremy!), tells the designers that the winning look will be manufactured and sold at Belk (and again, not a penny of profits shall be given to the designer). Does this mean the winner of "Project Runway" Season 12 will be someone who can design for Belk, a.k.a. the modern, Southern woman?

KEN's deep purple gown was too plain, too safe, and lacked any sort of point of view; weʼve all seen it before. Last week his design was equally boring, so I was sure he would be eliminated this challenge, especially after his montage of "finest moments" and Skype to Mom. He was safe, but at least the judges are starting to catch on to his attitude problem. His cockiness was on fire again in this challenge, and I couldnʼt help but get a little enjoyment out of seeing him fail after being so certain he was nailing it (and so certain others were making bad choices), being from the South and all.

HELEN knew this challenge was not in her wheelhouse, so she made something which no one would ever guess came from her (an example of what I mentioned earlier, and a waste of a design for her...but at least she made it through safely). The yellow and white daisy gown was not very modern, but I could see a southern belle appreciating it. How annoying was it that she was pissed off she wasnʼt in the top, though? Honey, just be appreciative. Someone is greedy after her last win!

Thank goodness JUSTIN took Timʼs advice and abstained from using black with coral. Indeed, it would have been too "Halloween." His little dress was fine, but nothing groundbreaking and a tad sloppy considering it was so simple. I could definitely see a southern woman buying it, though, so Justin survives another challenge, post-Tim Gunn Save.

ALEXANDER is one of three designers who used plaid, even though Ken thinks the southern woman would never wear it. His dress was well-fit as usual, and that particular plaid was lively and happy which is perfect for the southern market. I am not a fan of the layered pointy kerchief hems though.

ALEXANDRIA was understandably completely thrown by the parameters of the challenge, but she kept her game face for her competitors. I can relate the most to her style, so I know what she was going through. I do think she could have selected a more vibrant textile. The dress wasnʼt bad at all, but it could have been much better suited for the challenge had it perhaps been a vibrant red or ultramarine blue, or more of a statement print. Iʼm sure she was extremely relieved to be safe.

BRADON wins the challenge by using plaid as well, which Ken is clearly livid about. I was not a fan of his very "Brooks Brothers" Madras fabric choice, but he utilized it in an interesting way, with all the panels, seaming, and shirt-style bodice. The mullet hem is a bit tired, but was dramatic for the runway; it will be interesting to see how the design team at Belk modify it.

JEREMY's try as he may, still cannot design anything modern or youthful. This is very problematic for what the judges are looking for (design that is forward, or even somewhat current), and even more problematic that he doesnʼt see this (he has made it very clear every time that he doesnʼt agree with the judges). Everything about the outfit was mature and lacking any distinct point of view, from the print selection to the bland jacket to the cut of the dress.

KATE selected a very vibrant print. I thought she might win just based on that when I saw it in Mood; she was a runner up. While it might not be my idea of a fabulous print, I think many women in this target market would love it. The dress in the end was cute. I really like the way she utilized the solid raspberry to break it up a bit. However, the waist was not sitting in the right place on the model, so it made her look big.

DOM's teal green and periwinkle gown was forgettable, again; it lands her in the bottom 3. Nothing about it was modern or fashionable, and the colors donʼt work well together. The flutter cap sleeve looks dated.

But WAIT! For some reason, this week, the judges feel compassionate. They cannot decide who should be eliminated and feel that none of the bottom three designers "really understood the challenge." They are all given one more hour, access to any fabrics laying around in the workroom, AND a teammate of their choosing, to rework their disasters. On the contrary, I think all three of them VERY MUCH understood the challenge, and all were quite confident in their designs! Ken and Dom, in particular, seemed to think they knew what southern women like to wear much more than their competitors. Iʼm still trying to figure out why the producers wanted this twist to happen.

The results were infinitely better. Ken chooses Kate to assist him, and clearly doesnʼt agree with the judgesʼ comments at all, so he is reluctant to change the dress much or make a new one. He whacks off too much of the length and slaps a sleeve onto one side, giving it more of a clubbing vibe than a southern day dress. Jeremy asks Alexander to help him make something more youthful; they scratch his entire first look and make a sundress from one of Alexandriaʼs discarded fabrics. It is certainly a 180 from his original, but isnʼt enough of a distinct or interesting design to keep him in the competition. He is chosen over Ken for elimination, unfortunately, because while both of them need to be gone, we have to endure Kenʼs personality for another episode! Dom, with the help of Helen, makes a fantastic asymmetric sundress out of the wonderful black and white printed silk she had originally chosen in Mood; I was disappointed that she did not use it the first time. The dress looks great from all angles, and though some of the draping looks rushed (because they had ONE HOUR), the overall effect is so strong that she ends up being Winner #2! Shocker!

What do you think? Is it unfair for the three bottom designers to get second chances and for one of them to then win because of it?

09
MON

Fashion Has Its Obstacles

Posted By kim_messina 11:43am GMT

No "Project Runway" season would be complete without the obligatory "design something for [insert one of Heidi Klumʼs many business ventures here]" challenge. Itʼs that time again: this season itʼs for her activewear range for New Balance. Heidi tells them that she is looking for a fashion-driven athletic look for the line (so basically Stella McCartney for Adidas, Heidified). Per usual, part of the "prize" for the winning designer is that their look will be produced and sold in the collection; shame they donʼt see a penny of those profits (now that would be a little more of a prize)! Itʼs just another example of "Project Runway" making money off the designers who sign on to the show and get paid nothing to participate.

Without a doubt, the biggest highlight of this episode was seeing Tim in a referee outfit (with shorts)! I canʼt believe he agreed to wear it; whomever thought of that should get a raise. Why is he in a referee outfit, one asks? We find out the designers will have to go through an obstacle course in teams of two, decked out in HKNB apparel, and the winning team will receive an extra hour of work time (which is golden), along with first dibs on fabrics, all HKNB issued. After the obstacle course challenge, however, the designers will be competing solo. Dom and Justin win the race.

After theyʼve been awoken by the screech of Timʼs whistle at the crack of dawn, competed in the obstacle course and gotten sweaty, the designers return to the workroom around 3pm and are told they only have until 11:00 to produce their looks. As if that day isnʼt already exhausting, drama ensues. Helen (quite cleverly, in my opinion) asks Tim if it would be within the rules of the competition to use the HKNB pant on her form as a pattern/spec reference. Tim concedes. Her fellow competitors are curious about what she asked, and she does not want to share. On the one hand, when competing on Project Runway, the producers and Tim make it very clear that there should always be an "even playing ground," so really that information should have been shared by Tim. However, itʼs a competition and Helen thought of a strategy for a shortcut, and why should she share her idea?

Well, Ken is not having any of it. We see Kenʼs true colors and lack of anger management rear their ugly heads. He launches a totally unnecessary verbal assault on Helen, dropping F-bombs and B-bombs left and right. She is understandably shaken, but I do think she overreacted a bit in thinking her life was in danger. She goes to Papa Tim for refuge, he has a talk with the two of them, and Ken calls his Spiritual Mother (is this code for “shrink”? because that is what he really needs!). The result is a fake apology from Ken to Helen. Can someone get him some meds please? By the way, did anyone catch his “grandmother” reference to Karen back on the field? Rude! Moving on....

RUNWAY
In general, many of the designers created very SAFE designs, that look innocuous enough...but innocuous isnʼt what HK wanted. This challenge seems relatively simple to most people, but itʼs sneaky. There is a fine line between "overworked" and "underwhelming" because spandex can go clubwear quickly, and there still needs to be a functionality in the clothes because they are for working out and being active.

The top scorers were:
KATE, who designed an interesting and wearable ensemble with great details like piping, thumb holes, zippered back vent, and mesh panels. I thought the proportions could have been better (i.e. slightly longer jacket to balance the pink blocks on the lower part of the legs), but could totally see this look in Lululemon.

HELEN, the winner, who made a hooded mesh jacket with drawcord and arched hemline, with cropped leggings which had panels of lime with a black mesh overlay. This is the look which I thought was the most "cool" and that I could see a woman in New York wearing when hitting the gym.

ALEXANDER, who made a sharp, sleek look that fit well but was nothing extraordinary. As Tim pointed out, he is a costume designer so it was an achievement for him to create a successful activewear look. My response to that is, "A lot of costumes utilize spandex!"

In the safe zone were:
BRADON's dynamic look, which I thought was a bit more interesting than Alexanderʼs. I liked the use of grey with black and the pop of lime piping.

DOM, whose look was rather forgettable. I thought she would do better and push the "urban" element which is in her wheelhouse.

JUSTIN's black+lime asymmetric zip jacket, sports bra, and short-shorts. I thought that again, this look was “fine”, but I did particularly like the cutout detail in the back of the bra and the fact that he made shorts when no one else did. They just needed another inch on the length.

JEREMY, who must have been a close contender for the bottom, made VERY purple outfit which would surely end up on the clearance rack at a discount store. It also lacked any sort of distinctive design elements.

Bottom of the barrel:
KEN's super generic tank and leggings, which was simply devoid of any personality except the layered straps on the back of the tank. Iʼm not so sure I agree with the criticism of the longer tank, however, because that proportion is on trend.

ALEXANDRIA went outside the box again and repeated her drop-crotch pant from last week. I may be in the minority (like Heidi) in liking me a drop-crotch, when itʼs DONE WELL. There was way too much volume in this pant; as Nina said itʼs not practical for any sport. However her jacket was smart and cool, with the mesh back. I felt the tank could have been better had those slashes been filled in with mesh.

KAREN, whom I somehow knew would be eliminated in this episode before it even started, began producing a train-wreck of a bra which looked like bad clubwear in lime and black, and based on Heidiʼs workroom critique, scratched it and went the complete opposite direction. The result was a sad, shapeless 2-piece ensemble, which might be found at your local Walmart. #Imgoinghome is right, Karen!