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Mila Hermanovski Blog

Category: "season 10"

19
FRI

A Wow Moment Without the “Wow” (Part 2)

Posted By Tracy_Goldenberg 12:00pm GMT

When we left off last week, all four designers had been asked to submit three looks from their collections, which would be judged and which would determine the three designers who would actually show at Fashion Week. Except...a very anti-climactic Finale Part 1 ended with no one being eliminated. I'm not quite sure why this decision was made, but it certainly waters things down. In my opinion, Christopher should have been eliminated. Part of the challenge is indeed figuring out which three looks will “wow” the judges and pique their interest enough to want to see the entire collection, and he failed at this. I think he chose the three looks that were the least interesting (or, as I call them, “filler” looks).

Now that Christopher has made it through, all we hear from him is attitude and lack of focus. He almost seems to have given up, yet he is completely sassy, making fun of Nina's critique of him and coming across very ungrateful. Christopher, this is not very becoming. He doesn't understand how “nothing fits” (whose fault is that?), doesn't understand why he received the critique he did, and makes fun of his fellow designers' work. Mind you, some constructive criticism is fine, but let's lose the attitude! I found it all to be quite off-putting.

Fabio, Melissa and Dmitry, on the other hand, handle the judges' critiques thoughtfully, and do whatever they can to work on the elements that they were told have room for improvement. Fabio is trying to make his collection a bit more “luxe,” Melissa is adding color (“blood orange” leather, to be exact, which Chris thought sounded pretentious or something; for the record, I would also describe that shade of red as “blood orange”—so there!), and Dmitry is trying to improve his styling by attempting to make his Ivana Trump looks more youthful and hip. To help the designers out, they are given one last shopping trip to Mood. I believe this is the first time this has happened. You know....all this would be unnecessary if they had just had more time to make the collections. After Season 7 (mine), the time to build a collection has diminished significantly. I feel the work suffers because of it.

CHRISTOPHER: So Christopher wasn't given a whole lot of advice in terms of changing his collection; he had selected three rather boring looks (nice, but boring), so the judges were fixated on that for the most part. In the end, I thought his collection was quite nice in person (I saw the finale show live). In fact, knowing he was a bit of a “judges' pet,” I thought he stood a good chance at winning at the time when I saw it live. The collection was sharp and fit well, and his styling was good. But there was nothing that really made it a WOW. The gown at the end seemed gratuitous and not cohesive, even though we've seen him use that technique before. It just didn't fit this collection. He thought he'd nailed it, but also came across as a little kid throwing a tantrum because not everything was going his way. Christopher has a bright future as a designer, but needs to mature a bit more.

MELISSA: Melissa definitely listened to the judges and made major improvements. She drastically improved her models' hair and makeup, for one thing. The white leather jacket also was drastically improved by removing the oversized pirate cuffs and showing it zipped. Her choice to add the blood orange leather dress was very smart and added some zing. However, the collection overall lacked “wow.” Some of the proportions were off and looked pedestrian. Nina stated what I was already thinking, that while a lot of women would likely wear her designs, there is nothing “fresh” and innovative about them. They look derivative of Rick Owens and Helmut Lang; she could have more of a signature. All that said, Melissa's collection looks like it could be rolled right into Barneys New York or a hip-girl boutique in any major city. I personally love her modern style and know she has a great future.

DMITRY: It's funny, I see Dmitry's hand in every look in his collection, but somehow there is a slight lack of cohesiveness. I personally feel there was too much going on; it desperately needed editing. Yet there were looks that have been seen before. However, his collection had more “wow” than others. I don't know that I would select any of those pieces for myself, but I see how there is a market for some of them. It felt very European to me, and expensive in the fabrication, except for the last gown, which looked cheap. The ballroom dancer in Dmitry was evidenced in that gown and also the jacket with fringed sleeves. I still don't get why the judges were so cuckoo over that. All I could think of was the first time I'd seen a male Latin-ballroom costume when I worked on “Dancing With the Stars”! While I loved the silver leaf in the hair (contrary to Tim), I was not a fan of the monobrow happening makeup-wise. The judges selected Dmitry as the Season 10 winner, likely trumping Fabio for his “showmanship,” consistency and well-made collection. Dmitry is a great designer and a great guy, and I wish him the best. Congratulations, Dmitry!

FABIO: As others have said, and as the consensus seemed to be in the tent that day, Fabio's collection was a breath of fresh air. There is something about Fabio that has had me rooting for him from early on, even though his designs were lackluster earlier in the competition. He really stepped it up, and in the finale listened to the judges' advice and made his arty, thoughtful collection a bit more luxe. It delivered a message and a story, unlike the others. It was rounded, innovative and downright mesmerizing when seen in person. I love his color palette. I am not a pastel girl, and it made me want to wear pastels! While his looks are less commercial and not for everyone, there is no doubt that this is the most cohesive and innovative collection. Not every successful fashion designer appeals to everyone; the great thing about fashion is that it IS subjective. It would have been nice to see the producers and judges reward the designer with the most creativity and not the one who is most commercially appealing. However, I understand why, in ProjectRunwayLand, Dmitry was awarded the win and not Fabio. It was wonderful to see Fabio evolve as a designer while on the show, and he is a lovely person. I would think this experience will only inspire him to push forward with his career as a fashion designer. Good luck, Fabio!

12
FRI

A Wow Moment Without the "Wow"

Posted By kim_messina 4:33am GMT

I definitely feel for these designers, only having a very fast five weeks to produce their collections. We had a lot more time, and sometimes even another week can make a difference. Iʼm not sure why, but Timʼs home visits seemed less than eventful. There were some surprises, such as Christopher going with a rather dark inspiration (and collection), Fabio breaking free creatively with a light collection that (at last) seems more “Fabio,” and well...Dmitryʼs leather fringe.

I recall when Tim came to my loft for the home visit. It was a chilly, rainy day and I had slept (maybe) two hours the night before. How can you sleep knowing TIM GUNN is coming to your house?!? Not to mention, itʼs the big critique. At this point, the designers need to have as much done as possible, not only for Tim but also because after he leaves, there is not much time left until the collections are snatched up by a messenger, all at the same time at each designerʼs studio, and whisked away to "Project Runway" Land, waiting for you when you arrive.

When the designers arrive at their new temporary workroom, they are told that there are actually only three spots for fashion week, and that they will need to select three looks to whet the judgesʼ appetites for more, and that they will then determine which THREE designers will move forward. Oh yes, Iʼve been there (Only I had to go head-to-head with Jay to vie for the last spot), and after the nerves and the sleep deprivation, itʼs intense! Well, Iʼm just going to cut to the chase and get to my assessments of the designersʼ showings.

Dmitry

I never thought Iʼd say that Dmitry needed editing. But boy did he. The three looks, while they borderline on not being cohesive except for color story, somehow look like they would be worn by the same woman. I get a very "rich Russian lady shops Rodeo Drive" vibe from his collection. He definitely designs for a more mature and sophisticated customer. The first dress, while very cool, architectural and graphic, could have been made more youthful by shortening the hemline. The second look is all over the place. The trousers are very cool and reflect the futuristic lines of the white dress; however the top is completely the wrong vibe for them. Those trousers deserve to have all the attention, but the pouf sleeves/black bra/crystal embellishments makes it difficult to look at the outfit. The eye canʼt rest in one place as it is not balanced. The third look is a WTF. All I could think of is the Latin ballroom dancing tops with fringed arms. I was shocked that Kors didnʼt have some snarky comment about it. And again, the top underneath, with the black bra, was just a bit too much with the pattern and fringe of the jacket. I think a slim pant would complement it better than a skirt, but I get that Dmitry was probably trying to show diversity in the looks. Dmitry is a master at execution, and it is evident he worked hard, but these three looks make me question his taste a bit.

Christopher

Christopherʼs lack of experience contributed to what I am interpreting as a bit of a "block" which he had when it came to thoughtfully selecting his three looks. Tim showed concern about that, and rightfully so. He seemed to freeze when he needed to pre-select the looks which he thought would best encapsulate his collection and leave the judges wanting more. The result was three random looks which just happen to fit the models the best; these looks fell flat. First of all, WHY would you select black shorts for two out of three looks? Iʼm already bored. While none of the looks were offensive, and they were all well-fit, there was no "wow" piece. The bleach technique on the leather and the fact that he designed his own print are definitely points in his favor, and the textiles all work well together. All the looks are sellable and cool, but they look more like they are part of a trunk show than a runway show. I like the x-ray print but am surprised to see it coming from Christopher. I almost think he was trying to channel a darker, edgier designer, but this is not how I thought of him before; perhaps this is his youth and lack or developing his own point of view as a designer. The first thing I thought when he announced his x-ray concept, though, was Michael Drummondʼs (Season 8) decoy collection, entirely based on x-rays, and really beautiful by the way, for those who havenʼt seen it. All I could think when I saw them was that they look like "filler" looks in a runway show, in between the "statement" looks. As Nina said, "Where are the clothes?" That said, I think there are looks in his final collection that will be more impressive, and as a whole it is pretty cohesive.

Fabio

The collection is called "Cosmic Tribalism" and I recall when I saw it in New York that he really encapsulated his concept; it looks simultaneously futuristic and ethnic/bohemian, which is not easy. I think the collection is one of the strongest ones both creatively and cohesively, and was a total surprise and a breath of fresh air amidst his competitorsʻ darker collections. It makes me love pastels — also not an easy feat! My main problem is that some of the construction and execution looks amateur, which does a disservice to his looks. For example, I adore the first look with the long draped vest, which feels luxe, but those trousers needed to be perfect to be so front-and-center (paired with a bra top), and they had major problems with the waistband/fly execution. The second look is a more tailored contrast to the first look (while still being cohesive), but the vest could have been about an inch longer and the waistband better made; the skirtʼs uneven hemline was probably intentional, but Fabio needed to make it more extreme because it looks like a mistake. The third look is fabulous. His painted silk is gorgeous and the necklace compliments it well. The jewelry overall is just wonderful, and punctuates his concept perfectly. I still canʼt decide if I love the frankenstein shoes or hate them! In any event, his three looks did what they needed to do: pique the judgesʼ curiosity to see more.

Melissa

Melissa has always been an early favorite of mine personally, because I like her dark yet modern aesthetic. But she seems to have made a lot of the same silhouettes and shapes throughout the season. And while there is something (a lot actually) to be said for consistency (the judges LOVE a consist point of view, and it is the mark of a seasoned designer), there need to be surprises sometimes. Michael Kors gave me some of the best advice ever, that I will never forget, during one of my critiques: "To be a successful designer, you constantly have to walk that line of the expected and the unexpected." Unfortunately, Melissaʼs collection only shows us the expected. The first look was a pair of perforated white leather shorts, which are great. But the top opens too high up, and I find it distractingly screaming "look at my abs." A little less of the stomach would have been nice. In general though, this look seems like a "filler" look and lacks impact. The second look is surely what Melissa thought would "wow" the judges, and while the jacket is great, Iʼve seen it before, not only from her but in stores. This silhouette was started by Rick Owens and then knocked off by Helmut Lang and has now trickled down to diffusion brands. Itʼs still a perfectly nice jacket (Though Iʼd have preferred to see a sleek sleeve instead of those big clunky cuffs), and the graphic elements are different. Itʼs just not enough of a surprise. The drop-crotch pants feel heavy with the jacket for spring. It could have been more interesting to pair it with a dress or maybe even a pair of shorts, for more runway impact. The third look, the leather dress, is a great dress but again I thought of it as both a "filler" look, and something we have seen from Melissa before. The hair, as Kors said, is dreadful; Iʼll be interested to see how she changes that for her final show. What didnʼt Melissa and Christopher understand about showing the judges the best of their looks? There seemed to be some sort of disconnect there. They only have one chance to wow the judges to move forward. It is more apparent than ever that the judges have picked Christopher as an early favorite; in my opinion, if they are selecting the three finalists based on each designersʼ three looks, Christopher failed to pique enough interest to go forward. The fact that all four designers went through to fashion week is disappointing and a cop out. Come on, whereʼs the dramatic elimination? Whatʼs the point of the three-looks?

05
FRI

Good Enough For Gatsby

Posted By kim_messina 4:56am GMT

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.

28
FRI

And Baby Makes Twelve

Posted By kim_messina 4:55am GMT

Ladies and Gentlemen, itʼs your Top Six. Iʼd expect a much more serious challenge at this point than designing a baby outfit. OH! Itʼs for Heidiʼs new line for Babies"R"Us....*that* explains it! It sure would suck to get eliminated for this one. The designers meet with the conservatively- dressed (but Twiggy-eyed) Heidi at Babies"R"Us and are told they must use the fabrics provided to them (bummer) in order to be cohesive with the rest of the collection, that there will be two winners, and that the winning designs will be sold as part of Heidiʼs "Truly Scrumptious" collection.

Upon returning to the workroom, the designers discover that they each have a "surprise" from Heidi: one of those "training" babies that they must care for. REALLY? Elena said it best: that the surprise would be a f-ed up one. This is not remotely amusing, to the viewer and certainly not to the designer. I canʼt think of much worse than a fake crying baby distracting you while trying to focus and work and complete a challenge in a day. And really, whatʼs the point? It was just a big gimmick. Iʼd rather see the designers at work and struggling with the challenge itself. I mean, what would have happened if someone had just left their fake baby in a pile of fabric under their work table? Would he/she have been eliminated?

There havenʼt been any major twists yet this season, so thereʼs no time like the present! This one was a redux of the challenge we had on my season: to make a companion look for the mom. Although WHY wouldnʼt they be judged as much on the adult look? I realize the crux of the challenge is to make a look for Heidiʼs Babies"R"Us collection, but ultimately the winning designer will be making a womenswear collection, and they are all womenswear designers, so there should be equal judgement made on those looks (which they have an entire additional day to make, mind you). Not to mention, a good designer should be able to create two cohesive looks that look like they were designed by the same designer (think Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, etc...).

Fabio

A cute, retro look. I donʼt quite get why there would be a giant pocket on the babyʼs back though. Would have rather seen it modernized with another cargo pocket or something. But the momʼs look was a bit flat. The print is pretty but I felt like again, I would have liked to see a bit more edge from Fabio.

Melissa

Melissa got caught up in what many designers who are inexperienced in childrenswear do: designing a "mini" version of an adult outfit. Usually this is unsuccessful. The vest was OK...the only thing it had going for it was the cookie-monster-ish face on the back. But it was not strong enough to make up for the white dress underneath, which was too structured for a little toddler and not at all practical; also, metal zippers shouldnʼt be used on a babyʼs clothes. She mismanaged her time and because of that, her "mom" look really suffered. And linen is never a very good choice for the runway — it looked sloppy.

Dmitry

Looks like an odd union suit or pajamas. It is indeed a bit superhero-like, but not really full-on superhero, so it was just...odd. The fit was too tight and the hood had a weird shape. I kept thinking maybe this it looked like something a little Russian boy would wear! The momʼs dress was very nice (what I saw of it! they all went so fast), but that comes as no surprise.

Sonjia

The perfect cross between a suit and sweats, this look is spot on. Itʼs hard to make a little toddler look stylish sometimes (They are just little dumplings still!), and she managed to do so yet still design a practical outfit which can be machine washed and is comfortable for him. I love the contrasting lapels, pockets and waistband. My only criticism is the tank could have had a wee bit higher cut neckline. The momʼs outfit is totally complimentary to the babyʼs, and believable that she would have selected that outfit for him.

Christopher

Wow, two weeks in a row winning. The two looks are very complimentary to each other, but were not the mom or girlʼs styles (Though Iʼm not sure that matters). The adult print was happy and fun, but as cute as the childʼs dress was, itʼs something I feel Iʼve seen before, and itʼs a special occasion dress (A wear-it-once and then it doesnʼt fit any more dress). The little white vest is adorable, but doesnʼt go well with the party dress underneath.

Elena

Clearly Elena was distracted by her crying baby. This babyʼs outfit is very disjointed. Like a 2-year-old dressed herself — in the dark. The jacket is way too busy (and would be costly to produce). She needed to remove about three elements, and rework the color palette. The momʼs outfit was cool, but she doesnʼt look like she would pick out that outfit for her little girl. Not to mention they donʼt look like they came from the same designer.

Random thoughts for the week:
-Is it me or does "Truly Scrumptious" sound like a new version of a frozen dietary confection like "Tasti-D-Lite"?
-Sonjia now officially has a "signature" look: the headwrap/turban. I wonder if this was a midway-through-Project Runway style epiphany? She wears it well!
-Dmitry is now the author of my favorite one-liners of the season: "Heʼs a one-way monkey" and "Itʼs just like youʼre making an outfit for a cat." Who knew the quiet guy would be such a comedian?
-I canʼt wait to see Fabio as a Dad (too cute).

21
FRI

Kickin' it with My Homies

Posted By kim_messina 5:10am GMT

Even though I make a living partially as a costume designer, Iʼm not always a fan of costume challenges on "Project Runway," because I feel the competition is about awarding the best FASHION designer. However, this is a great challenge. The designers are kickinʼ it with the Rockettes, and challenged to design a uniform for 36 ladies with great gams to wear on stage. The Rockettes are so iconic to New York and what designer wouldnʼt want to see their designs on stage at Radio City?

Now that the number of designers has been whittled down, there seems to be more camaraderie. There is everything from money to labor being volunteered to help a designer in peril! I canʼt say we had much of that on my season. And I admit I was one of those competitors whoʼs "not here to make friends" (I had to stay very focused when I was there), but Iʼve found that after the hazing that is "Project Runway," there is a bond between those who have been through it. No matter what anyone hears about the experience, nothing compares to living through it. Itʼs truly one of the hardest things Iʼve ever done in my life!

My very first thoughts while I was watching the beginning of this episode (before I saw any designs) were:
-Dmitry should NAIL this
-Elena will not!
-Heidi as a Rockette freaks me out (and the dress sure was an icky shade of green)
And then later: WTF is with a second shopping trip to Mood?? I sense producers trying to save someone ... but who?

Dmitry

Fabulous! Another impeccable look from him. I love that this is a modern and graphic interpretation for the Rockettes. It does everything it needs to do (i.e. functionality) with the fringe and short skirt (which is the perfect length for them), yet also makes a statement and looks sophisticated. Dmitry shows his technical prowess in dancewear with impressive use of nude mesh. In addition, he styled his model perfectly — love the hair.

Melissa

Iʼm not surprised Melissa struggled with this one, and yet Melissa has been surprising me lately. The most bizarre thing, though, is that she received one of the higher scores. The dress is odd. It looks like an 80s cigarette girl, and the graphic layout of her black blocks is unsuccessful. I wonder if 36 ladies all in a row wearing that design would create a new pattern? If she had not embellished her design with black sequins (from her second trip to Mood), her score likely would have been lower.

Ven

Mr. Origami Roseʼs creation is way underdesigned. I couldnʼt help chuckle to myself, though, when he said he thought the fabric was really "loud" and glitzy...because this fabric, while it is sparkly, is actually quite subtle and Ven was not imagining how it would look from the balcony. This dress was definitely more cocktail than costume. It has no impact.

Elena

Oh Elena! We are seeing your inner Ukrainian figure skater come out! How bizarre is this coming from a badass architectural minimalist designer? I do think the cutouts have some impact, but the colors are (as Elena said) too "high school band" or really bad figure skater. And she just couldnʼt stop bedazzling! Perhaps it was like therapy to her?

Christopher

Hands down, a well-deserved win. This dress is absolutely perfect for this challenge. Itʼs chic, innovative and clever. It will look amazing when all 36 dancers wear it ... like a continuous Manhattan skyline! I really love the way he punctuated the buildings, and the scattered "stars" he used on the nude mesh. You could tell all the other designers knew when they saw his dress that it was a slam dunk.

Sonjia

She got lost in this challenge as well. Her design ended up looking too much like a cocktail dress, and feathers are simply not practical for a dance costume. It lacks impact and is not dynamic. It also most definitely would not be successful repeated times 36.

Fabio

The only one who was "safe." I really liked what I was seeing in the workroom, but somehow it fell a bit short on the runway. I like the silver zigzag, but it looks heavy and armor- like, which is opposite from the way a Rockette looks and dances. The additional trim doesnʼt add to the design at all, and the fabric he used for the top of the bodice is too opaque.

14
FRI

This is Getting Personal

Posted By kim_messina 4:39am GMT

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!

07
FRI

The Skills to Pay the Bills

Posted By kim_messina 4:50am GMT

This episode seems to require some additional skills that perhaps the designers donʼt immediately think about when it comes to being successful. There sure have been a lot of team challenges on this season. Gotta give the producers credit for being clever this time with that "crafty" intro. I couldnʼt help but chuckle to myself as a designer struggling to get her brand into stores and business underway and Iʼve got to do whatever I can to self-fund, including everything from working on TV shows and films as a costumer to occasionally selling my personal belongings! When I started my business, my priorities shifted and my motto became "will work for fabric”"(when previously it was "will work for shoes" — not that I donʼt still work for shoes)!

The teams are given 3 hours and some craft supplies and blank t-shirts and tote bags to make items to sell on the streets of New York. Yuck! No one likes to have to hock their wares. Especially to a tough crowd like New Yorkers (In the meat packing/ High Line district no less, full of fashionistas). As Dmitry said so well, itʼs like selling umbrellas in the desert! If only those New Yorkers knew they were buying something from a "Project Runway" designer, perhaps they would have been a little more interested. Nevertheless, Melissa, Ven and Fabio ended up making the most money: a respectable $800! This is quite a nice chunk of budget to work with at Mood — when you think about it, itʼs almost $300 each! The team of Alicia/Elena/Dmitry seemed doomed to fail on the street as youʼve got Alicia whoʼs soft spoken, Elena who, while outspoken and aggressive, tries to sell everyone "ugly shirts" (Thatʼs never worked as a sales tactic), and Dmitry who didnʼt seem to take much initiative.

After the teams raise the cash, Tim gives them their challenge: to create three cohesive fall looks, one of which must include outerwear. Again, as I keep saying, a much more "industry" related challenge, having to create a mini collection with others, as one would typically have to do at a fashion house. Everyone is excited because all (ok most) designers love fall. Itʼs so much more interesting ... more textiles to choose from, more layers, boots, sweaters, jackets, coats! Iʼm so ready for fall!!!

As usual, there is some team drama. Elena is trying to dominate again, and Ven made his signature skirt again but thanks to Tim, who pointed out that it was the black sheep of the collection, that changed. But: shocker! Our separated-at-birth boys, Gunnar and Christopher, who were dissing each other in interviews, were working unusually well together. I wouldʼve been a little skeptical of Gunnarʼs sincerity, too, though, if I were Christopher.

TEAM DMITRY/ALICIA/ELENA

When I saw their collection in the workroom, I thought it had great promise. What went wrong? I also thought, can Dmitry make anything other than a dress? Hereʼs the thing about Elena: she may be bossy, overly dramatic and at times too critical, but more often than not, she is right in her criticisms, like Dmitryʼs shawl and Aliciaʼs garments.

Dmitry

Dmitry makes a great dress. Heʼs proved that many times now. But to win "Project Runway" he needs to show more diversity. This dress looked very similar to another he has made. Unfortunately, the fringed wrap he made to accompany the dress aged it by about 25 years.

Alicia

At this stage in the game, you canʼt just squeak by for being safe and “under the radar”. The trousers and t-shirt with random dart (which looked like a mistake) Alicia made were very basic, and her work has been up and down. There was no risk taken on these pieces, so she was the clear designer to be eliminated this week.

Elena

When I saw this on the dress form in the workroom, I loved it. I thought Elena had a good chance of being a top scorer. But when I saw it on the model on the runway, it was a disaster. What looked expensive and modern ended up looking wilted and sad. The collar was falling, the shoulders were drooping (as if they were too big ... there she goes again with the big shoulders), and there was too much volume in the coat in general. It would have been much more successful had there been less fabric and if it had been more tailored and not flaring out.

TEAM SONJIA/GUNNAR/CHRISTOPHER

Overall a very cohesive collection — you really get a sense for the customer and that one woman would wear all the looks. I would have rather seen separates in one look instead of two dresses, but thatʼs just me thinking of the collection as a whole and how youʼd merchandise it and sell it.

Sonjia

Hands down the best piece on the runway this episode, her jacket was well tailored, expensive looking and creative. The styling of the infinity scarf (by Gunnar) was terrific. This jacket would look great in many colors (or black), but I love that she chose a very deep green for it. The only thing I could have done without was the shaped back hem with peaks. Otherwise, great job!

Gunnar

Great work from Gunnar this week, and he played well with others! The first dress couldnʼt be seen much. I actually think they would have been better off using a skirt and top under the jacket instead. I am not crazy about the sleeves of the dress coming out from the 3/4 length sleeves of the jacket. The second dress with leather was fab but the length was odd; I think it should have been shorter.

Christopher

The judges were raving about his camel wrap coat and I just donʼt understand why. It was "ok." I like the idea but it needed to be beefed up or something; perhaps a lining? I also donʼt like the way it flared out at the bottom and the asymmetry of the hemline looked lopsided rather than intentional. Plus it did not work with the length of the dress underneath. Again, a good idea but just needed tweaking.

TEAM VEN/FABIO/MELISSA

They had $800?!?? This collection generally looks sloppy and sad. The first fatal error they made was the color palette. In theory the shell pink and grey should look light and chic but it didnʼt work because of their fabric choices. On top of it, some of the key pieces were sad shapes — there was no sharp element to it so it ended up looking, as Nina said, "poor." Yikes!

Ven

I know Tim told Ven his original skirt didnʼt belong, but this one was worse! At least his original was sharp — this one looks Amish and frumpy. The t-shirts simply donʼt work with the pieces they were paired with, mainly because of the fabric being so lightweight and clingy.

Fabio

This coat looks so sad. It almost looks like something Iʼd pull from a costume house to put on a homeless woman character. All it needs is a little "movie dirt." It needed more structure, like interfacing, or simply should have been a different fabric altogether. The shoulders and sleeves look ill-executed as well. And then the black buttons which are an odd size for a coat, and there are too many of them.

Melissa

Melissa made the only redeeming piece in this collection. The leather jacket was well made and elevated the collection a bit (however I think it looked out of place). The pairing of the jacket with the skirt was not good. It would have looked better with the pants, but then the length should have been a bit longer. Speaking of pants, these are awful. The ruching at the ankle is unflattering, and I have no words for the crotch! Iʼm impressed with the fact that she made a couple of leather clutch bags though!

How adorable are Aliciaʼs chambray jumpsuit and black leather high tops? Bye Alicia.

31
FRI

Number Ten

Posted By kim_messina 5:04am GMT

There have been quite a few "real" challenges this season on "Project Runway." Mind you, this is not a complaint from my point of view, as a designer who frankly was sick of all the "red carpet" or fantasy/costumey/gimmicky challenges I participated in on both Season 7 and All Stars. But the public love gowns. To many, they are quintessential fashion. But the reality is that hardly anyone wears gowns anymore. They are so specific to events, and unless youʼre talking prom or a wedding, gowns are for the generally for an elite or celebrity clientele (And most of time, borrowed — in other words, there is no money in the gown biz). That said, they are usually what is most entertaining to viewers.

This weekʼs show exemplifies an "industry" challenge, in which designers must consider mass market, price point, client image and must use certain fabrics within the budget. It also happens to be a big deal for the designers, as the winning design will join the other nine dresses (Each of which was designed by a "Project Runway" designer, each representing one of the nine seasons of "PR"), and the dresses will be manufactured by and sold at Lord & Taylor, which means great exposure to the public without the headaches and financial chunk normally required to produce hundreds of dresses for a retail account. I happen to know from my fellow "PR" alum colleagues that they received a small design fee for the dress and each one will then receive a microscopic royalty for each dress sold.

I must say, the work produced on many of the "real" challenges until now has left much to be desired. But this episode some of the designers stepped it up a bit. Itʼs not easy to design within set parameters, like price, fabrics, etc., and with the nine other "Project Runway" alum designs as part of their inspiration. Letʼs just say I personally was underwhelmed by many of those. Some of them were just fugly, and most didnʼt have any sort of "signature" which would indicate who created them. I was glad to see some of the Season 10 designers using a "signature" element in their design.

Fabio

A really nice twist on a modern black dress. This was a clean design with just enough details to make it stand out from a sea of black dresses: the asymmetric hem with sheer bit, the back shoulder detail, the back zip. From a consumer standpoint, Iʼd rework the back, though, so a woman can wear a bra (even a racerback). Because you know we always think about that.

Melissa

While I appreciate her design, I feel it is too difficult to wear for the masses, especially the L&T customer. This looks more Barneys or Neiman Marcus to me than Lord & Taylor. There was major side boob as well, which of course would be corrected before the dress would go into production. I do love the fabric, but could do without the "tail." It was also distractingly tight (no wonder Heidi loved it).

Gunnar

A really simple yet classic silhouette. This would probably sell well in L&T (though the lace makes it less versatile, though more interesting). Itʼs true, weʼve all seen this in a store at some point already, but I donʼt quite understand why the judges were so hard on it.

Elena

See, Elena? You can tone your aesthetic down. All that fuss over how difficult it will be to take her "edgy avant garde" point of view and "water it down," and she made a great little dress. The only thing is (like Melissaʼs), I can see it more in Barneys COOP than Lord and Taylor. (Thatʼs a compliment in my book.) On a personal note, Elena should chill on the false eyelashes!

Christopher

He again defaulted on his now-signature shredded chiffon technique. Iʼm not sure Iʼm on board with this (Because after all, you want your dress in L&T to have a signature), or feel itʼs a bit tired. In any event, itʼs a very pretty dress, but Iʼm surprised the win went to his design. (What was I saying about how everyone loves a gown? Itʼs the drama.)

Alicia

Oof. Just an odd dress, and reminded me of the one she and Raul made for me in a way. I think it was the "Amish" neckline. It was just a head-scratcher in terms of who the client is and where sheʼd wear this. Sorry Alicia, this one wasnʼt up to par with your colleaguesʼ designs.

Sonjia

Not much to say about this one except: 86 the peplum, girl! Itʼs dated and just not a great idea to bring back unless itʼs in a very modern way. Sonjia was in the weeds in the workroom, and although she pulled it off and made it through, it was not great. Itʼs a relatively simple dress with a peplum, in a fabric which also looks dated.

Ven

Ven also relied on his "signature" technique. However the exploding rose on the chest is strange. I donʼt think it would work on a variety of bust sizes, either. Aside from the exploding black rose, itʼs got nothing else.

Dmitry

Dmitry fits his clothes really well. This is no exception, and is a great twist on a classic, sheath dress and would likely sell a ton. The fabric is a terrific choice and makes the dress look expensive, and the seaming and neckline give it a modernity. I would have chosen Dmitry as a top scorer (again).

What was up with all the crying again?

24
FRI

Fashion For All

Posted By kim_messina 4:55am GMT

The "real woman" challenge: when we see the designersʼ true colors. I must say, I know they are different, but I was kind of surprised to see another "non-model" challenge so soon after the one in which designers had to design for other "PR" alum designers. The premise of a makeover challenge (sponsored by LʼOreal) is interesting, but while designed to make women feel better about themselves, it can have the opposite effect when dealing with designers who have never made clothes for anyone other than a mannequin or model.

We discover early on that while most designers have the right attitude and feel compassionate towards their "real life" subjects, others (or more specifically, Ven) do not. There is absolutely no excuse for his attitude and embarrassing behavior towards his client. A legit designer should be able to apply his/her aesthetic and skills to any body. It may be challenging, and no one said it was easy, but you have to figure it out and make it work. I was appalled at the things he said not only in interviews, but in front of and directly to his client (who by the way is not plus-sized). Who does he think will be buying his clothes one day? Not just size 5ʼ10” size 4 women!

It was not surprising to see some of the designers struggling in the workroom. There was a lot of problem solving going on for sure. The editing lead me to believe certain designers (Alicia) would have been in the bottom and others (Christopher) would have been in the top. This was not the case ... so good job this time, editors.

Nathan

Poor Nathan. He was a bit doomed from the start, being assigned a that client who obviously has bad taste and is asking him to make something questionable. He obviously got caught up in trying to give her something that would make her happy without baring her midriff. The way he used the < a href="http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/project-runway/season-10/rate-the-runway/episode-6#id=8">sheer fabric seemed like it could have been a good solution, but unfortunately, the result looks like a cheap mall dress for a "Jersey Shore" character.

Elena

I thought Elena did a good job. She went outside her "box" (Although her client said she likes color and it would have been nice to see a different color on top; the pale peach was not the best for her). The fit is flattering. But the hem on the bodice is a bit of a roller coaster and itʼs difficult to tell if that was intentional or not.

Melissa

Unfortunately there is not much to go on here, because the client was covering the dress with the wrap. I really like the use of the printed wrap, and Melissa succeeded in transforming her client and making her look very chic. Really great call on the hair color.

Gunnar

Another "meh" entry from Gunnar. Iʼm shocked the judges gave him a top score. The bodice makes her bust look smooshed, and both the neckline and empire line are too high. It certainly isnʼt a disaster, but I think his clientʼs attitude and walk totally sold it to the judges.?

Alicia

Again not a catastrophe, but this is a dress that is very basic aside from the sheer details. Because it was so simple, the construction flaws were glaring. Her client was not particularly challenging fit-wise, but kudos to her for really going outside of her wheelhouse and pulling it off.

Christopher

What a shame the client whipped that jacket off so quickly, because Christopher had a great concept here of making two versatile pieces for her. Itʼs always impressive when someone makes a jacket (as well as a dress) in one day; however without it, itʼs a dress weʼve all seen before. If the judges had seen more of the jacket, I wonder if heʼd have been in the top instead of Gunnar or Dmitry. The other thing I noticed (which was for the most part edited out) was that the dress was riding up in the back, big time. But maybe that happened when she was sitting backstage.

Ven

Cheap looking color and fabric. Matronly design. Itʼs like he had no respect for his client from the start. He and his attitude should have been eliminated this week.

Dmitry

The dress fits well, and the styling is hip and contemporary. But the design is so basic and he has made another sleeveless dress out of ponte jersey. The neckline is too conservative. Iʼm underwhelmed.

Fabio

Hooray for Fabio, at last stepping it up and showing more of the creativity we know he has. I love the graphic element of the dress, and that he pieced the three greys together to make an artsy composition. His client was transformed wonderfully, from the hair to the outfit, and it was still very believable. My criticisms are the length of the dress (needs to be a couple inches shorter) and the styling. The red belt isnʼt nearly as bad as the red boots.

Sonjia

The first thing I thought was that she was relying on her "tricks" from the design she made when she won. She made a rather simple twisted jersey dress again: safe. As simple as it is, it needs to be perfect — it was way too short and the proportions were off. The whole thing needs a good yank down as the knot is falling in an unflattering place.

Random Thoughts:

-I wonder if the producers saw the sad state of the clothes in the workroom when the designers left the first night and decided to give them an extra hour, to make certain the "real women" were fully clothed. (This has been known to happen.)
-The way Gunnar holds his pencil (like a 5 year old) is very odd and really bothers me.
-I didnʼt think it was possible to trump the last episode, but the majority of the looks produced in this challenge pretty much amounted to a big lump of mediocrity.
-I want Heidiʼs striped dress. Badly. One of my favorite looks on her ever, especially as this season I havenʼt been a fan of any of them.

17
FRI

The Bitch Sessions

Posted By kim_messina 5:08am GMT

Itʼs true. No one likes team challenges. Look at all the egos in that room! Everyone thinks he/ she is the best and his/her poop doesnʼt stink. But it seems this episode was all about the designers complaining about each other. The designers are divided into only two teams this time, to produce mini collections for Marie Claire @Work, a new publication geared towards the career set. By the way, could no one come up with better team names than "Team 5" and "Team 6"?

When I heard the premise of this challenge, I actually thought it was refreshing because it is more "fashion industry" oriented. This challenge is more akin to an assignment a designer would be given in the corporate fashion world. Iʼm sure a lot of viewers felt it was boring, because people love gowns, red carpet, Miss Piggy, unconventional materials, etc... But as a designer I have a lot more respect for it than any celebrity-driven one, for example. Iʼm trying to get my line going and this challenge is infinitely more relevant to what a successful fashion designer needs to consider. After all, red carpet gowns donʼt make any money for designers.

I also love anything to do with Nina or Joanna. Fashion editors are extremely relevant to the industry and potentially the success of a designer. Both ladies are tough customers but I respect their opinions so much. They see many collections before them constantly, so they understand a lot about clothes, what works, and what is current.

Can we talk about the time given for this challenge?? I know it makes for good TV, but come on. The designers could have done SO much more if they had had one more day to produce their designs. This has always been an issue for me with "Project Runway." So many times I felt like the outcome of a challenge was not as good as it could have been because of ridiculous time constraints. Sure, the designers always pull it off (meaning no one sends a half-dressed model down the runway), but think about the potential if they had had one more day. I especially felt this way during my recent guest stint as a client on the show. Who makes a successful red carpet gown appropriate for the Emmys in ONE day? It reminded me of when we had a red carpet challenge for Heidi on my season. There werenʼt many of us left and we were all so burned out. And all we could think of was how much better we could have done with a little more time.

Speaking of time, I really felt for those designers while shopping at Mood. Even in a team challenge of two people, it is very difficult to hustle around Mood and hunt for oneʼs fabric and be able to communicate with your teammate in a half hour. Imagine if you had five or six people on your team and needed to ask one of them a question — you might waste valuable shopping time just trying to locate that person. It appeared to be a big scramble!

After the designers finish their looks, they have a photo shoot for Marie Claire. How great is this? Photo shoots are important so you can see your look from an editorial point of view. Certainly the highlight of the drama here was everyoneʼs reaction to Elena. Now I was not there, but Iʼm going to defend some of her actions. For example, regarding props. Some of those props did in fact take the shoot from high fashion to catalog. I agreed with her. She may have been bossy at times, but I think she has a good critical eye. If anything, I had more of an issue with Raulʼs attitude. He was certainly not a team player and his ego got in the way.

Team 5

Looks like a collection at a moderate department store. This print is matronly and cheap looking. Sorry guys, but the color combination of black+white+pink is NOT pretty much always looks cheap. Nathanʼs one-shouldered look was odd (who wears that and where to?). Since when does Heidi know what anyone wears to the office? Clearly she doesnʼt, since she thought this was a look a young woman would wear to the office. Notsomuch! Maybe one of the OC housewives would wear this outfit to a lunch. Christopher did the only interesting thing here, and made the print palatable by using his signature technique. Gunnarʼs dress was dated (love Heidiʼs "souffle boobs" quote), and Fabioʼs was super boring in my opinion. It was extremely simple, which isnʼt a bad thing, but the fit was off; a shift like that needs to not pull anywhere, and it did. And the styling was awful with the print in the hair. I couldnʼt believe the judges placed him in the top. Venʼs look was a very believable outfit for a chic businesswoman, and it photographed really well.

Team 6

The clear winning team. Melissa uses color! I loved this dress. It was modern, wearable and chic. I love that it was office-appropriate and yet fashion-forward. A well-deserved win. I also loved Elenaʼs leather-trimmed jacket, but not the other look "shoulder explosion." The first look was again modern but totally wearable to the office. It actually also showed a lot of versatility — it would have been a great look for the last challenge! Sonjia kicked ass with her two skirts. Both were impeccably made and fit, with just enough interest to not be "boring career clothes." Dmitryʼs dress was fab as well. Yes, I am a sucker for well done color blocking! But this dress was very well executed and had a great neckline. Raul deserved to be eliminated for his work. His simple tank top needed to be flawless — this is one of the easiest, most straightforward patterns! To have a lopsided, dartless mess is inexcusable, especially when the other piece he made was just poorly designed. My favorite line, though, was Raul said he was "good at making pants" in the beginning of the challenge. Um ... seriously dude? After that train wreck of a trouser you botched in the last episode? And just like that, Raul got his second kiss from Heidi.