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Mila Hermanovski Blog

Category: "season 11"

26
FRI

No Contest

Posted By kim_messina 4:19am GMT

Congratulations, Michelle! It was no contest.

Iʼm not saying the other two designers had nothing to offer, but they really had no chance; it was a case of one designer who sabotaged himself, and another who frankly doesnʼt quite have the fashion designer "toolbox" required. I think by now I have a good idea (after having lived through two seasons of Runway as a designer) of how much of what we see is real and how much is editing. This finale didnʼt need much creative editing because of this.

Stanley seemed to have disappointed everyone by showing clothes that were not fashion-forward or modern; he likely disappointed himself the most, though, by not completing more work before his collection was taken from him and sent to New York (more than four looks, apparently). The way it works is all the finalists must stop all work simultaneously; the production company sends a courier to each oneʼs house at roughly the same time on a particular day, approximately a week before they head to New York, to be reunited with their collections at the 1407 Broadway workroom. This is so that the time allowed to work is the same for all.

I reflect on what is was like to make my collection, and I could not imagine leaving it in such an incomplete state. Iʼd much rather pull as many all-nighters as required at HOME to in order to make it as complete as possible before NYC, because you never know what sorts of tricks they have up their sleeves! What was Stanley thinking? Also, he claims that he paid Russian women for 800 hours of work to do the beading on his designs. Wait a minute, how much were those women making hourly?? If he paid them $10/hour (hard to find anyone in the US, let alone Los Angeles, to work for that rate doing a specialty skill), then he spent $8K out of $10K on beadwork?! So what did he do during that time? Iʼm confused why so much was incomplete. Backstage, if Iʼd been in his shoes, I surely would have had either a total meltdown or full on heart attack. Why put yourself through that?

From a critique point of view, Stanleyʼs collection, which he stated as "Urban Opulence" was not at all urban, but could be described as luxurious because of the materials and embellishment used. He mentioned it was for a "working woman" who also lives the Park Avenue life. There was absolutely nothing in that collection that a woman would wear to work! This collection speaks to the well-kept lady-who-lunches on Park Avenue, who is likely over 45 (and circa 1958). It was cohesive in that respect: he knows who he wants his customer to be.

Patricia, on the other hand, has much of her work completed, but as evident in her home visit and in the runway show, she is not enough of a "fashion designer" as she is an artisan and textile designer. Her collection was not cohesive, as predicted. There were times when it channeled Chicoʼs, like if Chicoʼs had a "luxe" range. If you take away the interesting textiles, there is not a whole lot left. Patricia seems like a lovely person, but her disorganization in the workroom does oddly reflect the lack of "organization" in the collection.

In general, I am not a huge fan of the horsehair headpieces, but I think itʼs because the collection as a whole needed to be more avant-garde to be able to really justify them. If the entire collection had truly been pushed creatively and made a strong statement, I could see perhaps even more of the headpieces. For example, the plaid shirt with black pant seemed too sporty and out of place to be in the same collection as the turquoise mica paillette dress and the breezy painted silks. Some of those silk pieces remind me of Donna Karan from the 90s (not a bad thing), but then I donʼt think they relate to the turquoise dress OR the graphic black and white looks like the feather dress and the horsehair cape. The first look, which was pink, also seemed odd (There was nothing else tying in that color). Again, though, I appreciate Patriciaʼs craft, and the way she incorporates her heritage into everything she does, and that clearly pulls at the judgesʼ heartstrings as well. But thereʼs no way she could have won "Project Runway." QUOTE OF THE SEASON: "The art teacherʼs on an acid trip." Oh, how I missed Michael!

As I said before, Michelle is the only designer who showed a cohesive, modern collection that felt fresh. I could see all the work she had done, and I could see her concept in virtually every look. The styling was still a bit too "tricky" (as Nina said) at times, even though Michelle said she was simplifying, and some of the volume could have been more balanced. One of my favorite looks was the yellow/nude/black dress. I also like the opening look but would have preferred that the sleeves had been short and sculpted like the bodice, or long and skinny, since the dress itself had so much volume. I have to say I agree with Heidiʼs desire for perhaps a couple of looks to be more "hip-friendly," for while they look dramatic on the runway, there is only a tiny percentage of women who can actually wear them, and they were dangerously close to making the models look big. One of the highlights of the collection was the use of knitwear. It was so clever for Michelle to hire Joe to make her sweaters. I saw his signature in them, especially in the fabulous bleeding heart sweater. In fact, when I had seen photos of the collections after they had walked at Lincoln Center in February, this one threw me because I identified the sweaters with Joeʼs work, yet the collection overall felt more sophisticated than that which he would design as a whole. Two other looks which I felt could have benefitted from some tweaking were the yellow peplum top which Michelle had added, and the red felt gown. I agree with Michael that she didnʼt need a gown and that it would have been more successful as a dress, but my biggest peeve was the neckline on both. I kept wanting to close that giant gap down the front; it was too wide. But overall, Michelleʼs collection blew the other two out of the water. So congrats to the FOURTH Portland designer to win "Project Runway"!

19
FRI

Home Stretch

Posted By kim_messina 4:57am GMT

The top four designers are told they have $10K to make 12 looks for their final collections, and that they shall return to New York for another judging to determine who will then compete at New York Fashion Week to become the winner of Season 11 of ("Project Runway Teams," remember?). If those designers are feeling at all as I did that day, it is an immense sense of relief and accomplishment, as the utter exhaustion sets in and it all feels quite surreal. As I was "released" and given my cell phone back, and permitted to take a walk by myself in New York to kill time before my flight, it was a strange feeling of vulnerability and displacement...even though Iʼd lived in and subsequently visited New York before. The whole thing felt like a dream. What just happened?

Now for the home visits!

Timʼs first destination is Taos Pueblo, NM, to see Patricia and experience her environment, which is incredibly culturally rich. The food her family cooked looked amazing, and what a beautiful setting, right down to her studio (really impressive)! Timʼs time in Patriciaʼs native land gave him an epiphany about who she is and where much of her aesthetic comes from7#151;itʼs hard not to! She tells Tim her inspiration is simply, "trees," which seems a bit general.

Next he visits Michelle in Portland, where she reveals she had been in the wine industry for years had decided one day to start making clothes. Her collection is inspired by the "Lone Wolf," a descriptive which interestingly she had used to refer to her emotional state earlier in the season. I have to say I can relate to that sentiment. I often felt lonely during the intense experience that is "Project Runway." It sounds odd to say that, unless youʼve been through it, because ironically youʼre surrounded by others constantly. There is no privacy except when youʼre in the bathroom. Contestants are either chaperoned or with roommates at all times. It wasnʼt until I was the last woman standing that I was even fully alone for more than a few minutes. And even then, the competition was almost over at that point.

In Austin, Tim calls on Daniel, sporting a new Labradoodle (or as Tim says, "Chia Pet") hairdo, and does not reveal where he lives...why? He sets everything up in his friendʼs house. He is using a lot of black—and stingray—in his collection, which has multiple inspirations that do not necessarily relate to one another. Daniel shows Tim his mood board and explains that he was influenced by his trip to Berlin, the Cosmos, and...Salvador Dali. Then a light bulb went off in my head. Dali...moustache! Everyone Google images of Dali now. Do it. Daniel is SO channeling him, from the hair to the moustache to the facial expressions.

Here in La L aLand, Tim checks in on Stanley, who is working out of a glamorous space right on Hollywood Boulevard, merely blocks away from the Walk of Fame, very appropriate for his luxurious "Old Hollywood" collection. He says itʼs 1960s meets Renaissance Spain. Nice mid-century dinette set, Stanley!

As predicted, when the designers return to New York and the 1407 Broadway building as their satellite workroom, they are instructed to select the three looks which best exemplify their collections and (ideally) will leave the judges salivating to see more, so that they will go through to NYFW.The producers just couldnʼt leave it alone, so they invited the last four designers back to help. Apparently Stanley needs the most help of all, with some looks barely sewn, so he gets Richard, the least helpful! Layana helps Patricia, and then gossips about her to the others—are we surprised? Michelle and Amanda (with a very fetching ombré hair color, I might add) are reunited, and Samantha gets to help Daniel add four inches to one of his small-fitting pieces. (Which would mean that garment was what...a double-0?)

Stanley selected three looks which, while very luxurious and well-crafted, were quite stodgy. They strike me as *too* vintage, as if one were to go into a costume house or high-end vintage store and copy period pieces exactly, only changing the textiles. However even the textiles looked vintage, though it is impressive that all the beading was done by hand. Nina was somewhat drawn to his collection because of the luxury element, but the proportions were all wrong, and the looks lack any sort of forward design or allure/sex appeal. Itʼs not to say they need to be sexy, but they could use an injection of modernity. The gold dress, in particular, made the model appear to be twice her size, and was too heavy-handed. Stanley said he loves American sportswear, yet the sportswear element was completely absent.

Patricia, kooky Patricia. She is a talented and creative textile artisan, but she does not understand how to put a collection together. Granted, we have not seen the whole thing, but the three looks she showed were not cohesive. One material (horsehair) is not enough to hold a collection together. The cape trimmed with horsehair was clearly the star, but I donʼt see how the "Dr. Seuss" blue dress with sea-anemone headpiece would be in the same collection or worn by the same woman. And the third look, while graphic and ethnic, was not special enough. I got a real Chicoʼs vibe from that one. However, Heidi has a soft spot for Patricia because she is so different, and designs things we havenʼt seen before (for better or for worse). Heidi: "You could win this thing!" Really?

Daniel seemed very confident in the workroom, and reluctant to take any advice from Tim. He showed three all-black looks, which anyone whoʼs watched the show knows is extremely risky and almost never outshines another collection. I was waiting for Nina to go off on him, and of course she did (I got a similar lecture from her because I hardly used any color in my final collection, either). But Nina is right: if youʼre going to use ALL black, the shapes need to be fantastic, graphic, striking. Texture is key as well. He used stingray, but like Patricia, thought it was enough of a common element to tie everything together. His looks were simply not forward or interesting enough. This was no surprise to me, though, as Iʼve thought in general Danielʼs design tends to be dated. What *was* surprising, though, is the fact that he used all black, after seeing his past designs and how much he loves bright color. In the end, Daniel does not advance; Iʼve said it before: the judges almost always favor the designer with MORE ideas (even if they are questionable ones) to the one with not enough.

Michelle is the only designer, in my opinion, who fully executed and understands how to translate a concept. Not only were her three "Lone Wolf" looks thoughtful and rich with layers and texture, they made me want to see more. They were diverse in material and style, yet still very cohesive. The sweater was fantastic, and I love that she collaborated with "LOL Cats" Joe and utilized his knit expertise! I also really like the delicate, sheer "underpinning" layers, contrasted with hardware, leather, knit, and neoprene. Overall the looks were bordering on too busy for me personally, but then again, the runway is about fantasy to some degree, and editing is always a possibility. The compass was too gimmicky and even though I like the tousled hair, it was just a tad TOO messy. The makeup could have benefitted from a neutral shadow and deep berry or brown lip to emulate a modern huntress. Iʼm looking forward to seeing the entire collection next week.

12
FRI

I'll Take Manhattan

Posted By kim_messina 4:22am GMT

So...another cliffhanger ending leaves us on the edge of our seats wondering what sort of "do or die moment" Michelle has been given, since she was about to be eliminated (over Patricia!). So the designers are assembled in the lounge backstage, in awkward silence, waiting for Tim to come in and tell them what the hell is going on (and what they are supposed to do next). The waiting game: you sit back there, wait for Grim Reaper Tim to come in and tell the eliminated designer to "clean up his/her workspace," and then you usually have a quick catered dinner break (which Iʼve affectionately called "nursing home food" because is usually all the same color), change clothes (so it looks like the next day to the viewer) and go down to the runway to get your next clue from Heidi. If youʼve been eliminated, well, the road ends before you can have your last monochromatic meal.

Tim arrives and (shocker!) explains that NO ONE is going home. All five designers go to the runway and Heidi and Tim explain that for the next challenge, each designer and a newly assigned "sewing assistant" eliminated contestant (!) will be going to a different European city as inspiration for the "luxe look" they are to design...except Michelle, who will have to stay in New York and escape packing, jetlag, overly expensive fabrics and excessive sleep deprivation. Poor thing, she doesnʼt get to be rushed through Paris, half awake.

Talk about getting a second chance: Patricia must be incredibly relieved to have Kate helping her instead of Richard. She also gets one of the most inspirational cities: Paris...and she gravitates towards graffiti, of all things. I understand *why* Patricia, in particular, is so drawn to it, but there is graffiti everywhere in the US, and it is a bit shocking that it trumps all the other amazing and inspiring sights in Paris. Meanwhile, Richard is assigned to Stanley, and the two of them jet off to London. Stanley is intrigued by Big Ben of all things, but romanticizes it with his own sort of back story and wants to channel his inner goth. Daniel is sent to Berlin (jealous!) with Amanda, who is determined to inspire him to inject a more youthful point of view into his design this time. After visiting the Berlin Wall (where he had "never felt happier in his life") and the modern Berlin Hotel, his holy grail ends up being the hypergraphic Bürohaus, a super cool white, futuristic structure, which is not what I would have expected he would gravitate towards. Over in passionate Barcelona, Layana finds inspiration everywhere she looks, in the architecture, tile and patterns, with Samantha as her sidekick.

Last, but not least, and also getting a second chance, Michelle, who is feeling worn down, lonely and defeated, rides around Manhattan with Tu atop a sightseeing bus, and sees New York from a new, yet very real, perspective. I feel for Michelle, because when you think youʼve really done a great job, and youʼve made it that far, itʼs a real punch in the gut to be on the chopping block. Of course we viewers can see how problematic it is that she completely ignored (or perhaps didnʼt fully understand) one of Ninaʼs important rules in the last challenge, but the bottom line is her design was far better and more fashion forward than at least two of her peersʼ...and the judges knew it. Still, Michelle is in the eye of the cyclone and she canʼt see straight and itʼs taken a beating on her.

What is it with everyone wanting to use leather? I like it! The designers in Europe each have their own challenges with limited fabric selections and/or exchange rates. Fortunately, they have a substantial ($1K) budget; nevertheless, there is no place like Mood. Michelle gets to go to town with cashmere and exotic leather with her budget. Whoʼs got the disadvantage here? I know he had his heart set on leather, but it does seem tragic that Moustache went all the way to Berlin and bought white vinyl. Meanwhile, Patricia is like a kid in a candy store and canʼt seem to focus so she buys a little of everything.

Who knew John Legend would be such a thoughtful judge? Who knew there would only be one designer eliminated? Who knew Michelle would pull through? Oh come on, we all saw that coming.

Layana tortured that beautiful lace. I thought she had great promise with her textile selection when I saw it in the fabric store...and then she just overworked it and it became this weird retro coat ensemble, devoid of any sex appeal or passion, which one naturally would equate with both lace AND Barcelona. The sleeves on the blouse further ruined the look, both in color (peach with black?) and style (Austin Powers meets Stevie Nicks). Layana didnʼt see that there was any problem, however, and for that, she gets sent to clean up her workspace.

Michelle wonderfully captured New York in this gritty yet luxe ensemble. This is my favorite look this week, so brava to her for rising from the ashes with her inspiration of soot. It so perfectly reflects manhattan: the contrast of gritty and dirty with sleek luxury (Even seen in the styling, which could be a socialite whoʼs gone on a bender). The lines of the dress are modern and expensive, yet the hard edge of the breastplate and strapping exemplify the tough exterior we all need to get through daily existence in the city. I only wish the wonderful hand painted ombre "soot" had shown up better.

Stanley created a dramatic, gothic look which was well-executed. I love the simplicity of this and I am always a sucker for a cape of any scale. The modest front reveals a sexy back which is a great balance. His styling is spot on and the veil is a nice touch, adding to the mystery and "darkness." I like subtlety, but I do wish he had used those wonderful leather paillettes in a more visible place, like inside the capelet, or lining the skirt as a cutaway from the front rather than the back, which seems like a throwaway. Nonetheless, this was a fine entry from Stanley and hands-down he is the first to be chosen to proceed into the finals and make a collection for NYFW.

Moustache surprises everyone this week with a modern black and white look which has a slightly softer hand than he has shown in the past (thank God). Iʼm not a fan of the jacket, which may have worked better in leather as he originally wanted, and also on TV it doesnʼt show much of the seaming detail he speaks of; however as Zac pointed out, I really could see a German woman (like Heidi!) wearing this complete ensemble. I was scared when I saw the beginnings of stripper-boots in the making in the workroom, but actually they really pull together the look, and so does the asymmetric draped skirt. Hope Daniel sent Amanda some flowers for that one!

Patricia seems to have nine lives. The decoupage-looking structured jacket she made was cool in theory, and I respect her technique in making the textile. However, the pant which accompanied it felt clumsy, heavy, and like an afterthought. Itʼs a shame she didnʼt make a dress out if this textile. Overall it seems that while she is a great artisan, she does not quite have a grasp on pulling together looks as a fashion designer. Iʼm surprised she was not eliminated alongside Layana....but the Kluminator wants to see more. (And there has to be sudden death in the next episode, right?)

05
FRI

Do or Die

Posted By kim_messina 4:39am GMT

Itʼs the Top 5, ladies and gents. Funny how it sneaks up on you when youʼre a viewer, dontcha think? Well let me tell you: when youʼre IN the competition and make it to top five, it feels like youʼve been in one of those cyclone rides at the fair. At first, youʼve got all this adrenaline and excitement, just trying to keep it together...and it feels like it will never end...and then suddenly, you feel a little nauseated. And then...just like that, the ride is over. Many of you know this already, but for those who do not, the entire season of "Project Runway" up until the finalists go home to build their collections is shot in only five weeks. You do the math: it means NO DAYS OFF! So basically, every other day is a new challenge (with the exception of two-day challenges). Brutal, right?

This may shed some light on how Patricia was feeling in this episode. Honestly, from the beginning when the designers were told they would have some help, and then the ubiquitous velvet bag was brought out to determine which previously eliminated designers would help each current designer (shocker), I felt my stomach wrenching for Patricia. And then the entire episode was like watching the Titanic sink. I really felt for her because at this point in the competition, everyone is so tired and stressed out; the last thing you need is the kick in the gut of knowing youʼve got to work with someone you canʼt stand, who is going to bring you down. She couldnʼt do anything to save herself. The only thing that would have possibly helped her would have been if she had said, "Screw this, I donʼt want any help!" when she found out Richard was her assigned helper. She would have gone into survival mode and the adrenaline may have kicked in and maybe...just maybe...she would have produced something better, instead of trying to TEACH her "helper" techniques and thus wasting precious time.

The challenge for this episode is to create an editorial look for a Marie Claire spread featuring actress Jordana Brewster. Nina is at the helm this time (where it was previously Joanna Coles) on her home turf in the Hearst Building, and she delivers some strict parameters, such as "bold in color or print," "do NOT show me a t-shirt and pants" and "do NOT embarrass me or disappoint me"! No pressure there.

In the workroom, Layana is creating a royal blue leather chainmail bodice inspired by the architecture of the building. I have to give her props for thinking outside the box this time, at least, so far. She sees Kate as her new BFF because Kate is basically her sewing bitch. Patricia quickly discovers that Richard doesnʼt understand any of the (rather basic) sewing terminology she is using, and cannot be of any help to her. She desperately tries to teach him some technique, but I am sure that deep down she knows that ultimately he is completely out of his league. After all, he is being asked to sew French seams on silk organza, about as far as one can get from overlocking jersey. It is visible to me that poor Patricia is having a quiet, internal meltdown. Daniel is very proudly making a yellow winged shorts suit, again trapped in a time warp and is completely daft when it comes to what is contemporary and fashion-forward. Stanley is showing his OCD side big time. He bosses Tu around like a sweatshop worker, telling him he "doesnʼt like it" when anything is not done HIS way. On one hand, I respect a perfectionist; on the other hand, patience is a virtue. Michelle is...making a t-shirt and trousers. Amanda, her partner, is not helping her see objectively when she supports her in her time of self-doubt. Michelle has a moment when she asks herself, "Is this enough?" (and in the end, she thinks it is). I do wonder, though, if Michelle even heard Nina when she specifically stated, "Donʼt show me a t-shirt and a pair of pants," because if she had, youʼd think she would have told Amanda, and perhaps Amanda (having had more sleep at this point) could have steered Michelle differently.

Michelle was criticized for doing exactly what Nina asked the designers not to do. While her outfit was modern and wearable (and certainly progressive), it was not editorial enough. I do like her spin on color-blocking, with the hem detail, but Nina had a good point which was that the photograph could end up being cropped and in that case all the great elements of the design would be lost, and it would just look like a white t-shirt. Michelle was in the bottom two, and ultimately was eliminated...or was she? The episode ends with a cliffhanger, that the judges producers have given Michelle a "do or die" sort of second chance.

Daniel was also criticized for his bizarre outfit. I personally did not care for the shade of yellow he chose, or for the costume-like exaggerated winged shoulders. Whatʼs more is he does not seem to understand the judgesʼ criticisms at all. Who wears that?

Stanley wins the challenge. While I do not think his look is super editorial, it is very well constructed and the culottes are fantastic. His look is by far the most polished and expensive (and we all know how Nina likes expensive). I do feel the look would have been better had the leather jacket been severely cropped (or perhaps just sleeves?) so that the innovative shape of the trousers would be that much more pronounced and balanced. Also, I would have preferred that the jacket was a bolder shade such as red, cobalt, black, or metallic, for more contrast.

Patricia just tanked. The finishing on the dress was sloppy, the embellishment too crafty, and the shape was...too shapeless. While I completely sympathize with her, she should have been eliminated for this mess, if elimination was solely based on the design. However, the judges weighed her overall point of view and performance as a designer. Again, judging can be spun any which way. In some ways, I think Patricia may just be totally over it.

Layana was praised for her "hard-and-soft" look which in the end was too disjointed and unsuccessful in my opinion. What started off as really cool, edgy, sixties Paco Rabanne-esque leather chainmail was cheapened by a fluffy, prissy organza skirt. It would have been so much more modern and cool if it was entirely the same technique. If she did not have time for that, she should have made a sleeker skirt or even a pant to accompany the bodice. Funny how her clothing reflects her personality...

29
FRI

Wear Me

Posted By kim_messina 4:25am GMT

I love the avant-garde and super artsy challenges because ideally they really separate the creative from the mediocre. Letʼs face it, to be a successful designer, you need to be able to push the boundaries sometimes. Often we see the judges deliberating between two designersʼ elimination, and one has no innovation while the other has questionable taste and/or the inability to edit or too many ideas. Nine times out of ten the designer who has too many ideas is spared because usually someone with no creativity never really becomes more creative; however someone who cannot edit can sometimes be reigned in.

Woohoo! Itʼs about freaking time there was a cash prize on "Project Runway"! Thank you, HP and Intel! Now why wasnʼt this on my season? We see it all the time on "certain other reality competition shows" (sensitive subject): in many challenges, there is a cash prize from a sponsor. All it would take is more work on the producersʼ or executivesʼ part to make that happen. Sponsors would pay more money and have the brand featured on the show; itʼs that simple. Instead, even in cases where the designerʼs look is for a specific retailer (or uniform for a restaurant, etc), that poor designer sees none of the profit, and only receives "exposure." Contrary to what one would think, this really doesnʼt do a whole lot for them in the longrun. And since no one gets paid to be on "Project Runway," a cash prize is kinda nice.

The challenge is for each team of two to create an innovative "wearable art" look, and a companion ready-to-wear look, incorporating their original print created with the new HP Envy tablet. The designers are in one of the most inspiring places they could be, the fabulous Guggenheim museum. Wait...they only have a HALF HOUR to seek inspiration and sketch? Is that even enough time to walk up the ramp? So sad. So the designers run around snapping photos of things that interest them, and as usual, everything is rushed so they are then whisked back to the workroom to design the textile, where they find a Romper-Room-like array of crafty items like bubble wrap, popsicle sticks and the ubiquitous glue guns. They will be allowed a trip to Mood, thank god, to supplement the craft items and the printed fabric.

When we had our HP print challenge, we had about an hour to create it, not much when you consider the learning curve for some who are not so computer-graphics-savvy, or donʼt use PCs. Think about all the elements: the main graphic, the repeat, the colors. Not a lot of time, so itʼs no wonder the prints arenʼt great. Iʼm a wee bit scared by Michelleʼs disturbing face print. Not a fan of the color, and the face is just fug. You know Stanley likely gave her full license on this one since Iʼm willing to bet he falls under the category of "not computer graphics savvy," since back when we studied fashion design, we didnʼt learn that. I love that Michelle has a contemporary outlook but sometimes I really see the "Keep Portland Weird" in her (famous bumper sticker you see up there...and it speaks volumes). This is one of those times. Overall, though, it seems Michelle and Stanley are getting on famously as a team.

Patricia and Richard. Oh dear. I feel so bad for Patricia because she is a true artisan, who probably feels excited and right at home in this challenge, and she has been teamed with someone who has zero creativity. At first youʼd think that it could be good, right? She takes the reigns and makes the super over-the-top piece, while he makes the watered-down, ready-to- wear piece inspired by hers. Well, Richard was a deer in headlights at the museum, finding nothing inspiring in a building full of inspiration. Oh dear. I lovelovelove Patriciaʼs bold, painterly, large scale print. Richard is simply paralyzed again by Patriciaʼs creation, not knowing what to do partially because she canʼt articulate what she is making...and partially because he canʼt use jersey! So, he spends the entire first day making a bracelet. And the quote of the week goes to Patricia: "You scared of my piece? GOOD! If I instill fear in you, at least you FELT something!" Suddenly I really love Patricia. Watch out for that bus, though, Patricia.

Layana and Daniel...another rough team. Layana is being her narcissistic self again and making the challenge all about her. She belittles Daniel and tries to control everything: "Iʼm going to make sure he makes something sexy..." While he does need some youthful spirit, he does not need to be patronized and bossed around. She then has a meltdown due to creative block. This is definitely the time (towards the end of the competition) when those blocks creep in. Clearly, she reallllly wants that prize, and is her own enemy right now. But everyone is so sleep-deprived and stressed out at this point that itʼs all starting to take its toll. Reality TV gold (Thereʼs a reason we are under such stressful conditions)! Apparently, though, Layana thinks she is all alone, since Daniel (in her eyes) is worthless. She cries it out and starts over.

Michelle and Stanley have high scores. Michelle designed the wearable art look which was a waistcoat with a fantastic hand painted train, painted bubble wrap petticoat (which Stanley executed), and Dr. Seuss (Keep Portland Weird) headpiece. The overall effect of this look was very artsy and avant-garde, so it succeeded there. I happen to like the fact that it had little of the scary face print, but perhaps that detracted from her score? Stanley designed a tiered tent dress out of the majority of the scary face fabric. Anyone out there whoʼd really buy and wear that? Just curious. I sure wouldnʼt. Iʼm dumbfounded that Stanley won for this. One thing Iʼve realized from my experience on the show (and the perspective it has given me): judging can be spun any which way. Tim always used to tell us that too. It must be the earbud judging again. I couldnʼt help but imagine the judgesʼ spin if it had gone the other way:
Nina: "That print is just SO depressing."
Heidi: "I would never wear that. It looks like a maternity dress. But even if I were pregnant again, it would scare my baby."
Rachel: "Trapeze dresses are so KMart."
Tracy: "Ummmmm..."

Daniel and Layana are basically safe. However let it go on the record that little Miss MeMeMe got bitten in the ass. What a brat! What do you MEAN you feel BETRAYED? Daniel stuck up for himself just as you would have if the tables were turned. In the end Layana produced a hot mess of a dress that may be suited for Helena Bonham Carter....it was cray cray. The print she designed looked like it was from the home furnishings department of Jo-Ann, and was completely wrong for the period-looking gown she designed. Then she haphazardly threw a bunch of tulle over it, and has meltdown #2 backstage. Daniel designed an acceptable ensemble of a well-executed black cocktail jacket with a bubble skirt out of the pillow print. I cannot understand how the judges so wildly praised this look, even though the jacket was well made. It simply looked odd together as an outfit, mainly because the skirt cheapened it.

Patricia and Richard have low scores, which is again due to one extremely weak designer bringing down a strong look. Patriciaʼs unique design was truly avant-garde and reminded me of a high fashion European runway look. I thought the veil was a great addition, but wish it had been executed a bit better, perhaps out of stiffer fabric. But that is just splitting hairs. It was highly conceptual and as looked as if the model was wearing a hand-painted gown. Itʼs such a drag that Richardʼs sad, inexpensive looking creation brought them so far down. He clearly lacks creativity, which is essential for a successful designer. The skirt was very unflattering, and the added belt cheapened it further. I honestly thought Patricia could win for this look. Her textile design was far superior to Michelle and Danielʼs, but unfortunately itʼs still a "team" challenge.

22
FRI

Every Rose Has Its Thorns

Posted By kim_messina 4:10am GMT

Thank goodness we are back to a "real" challenge about fashion. This week the designers are asked to each (er, in teams) create a ready-to-wear look which retails for $250 or less, inspired by Lord & Taylorʼs iconic rose logo. The winning designerʼs look will be produced and sold in Lord & Taylor stores and online. Naturally, the designers are all very excited about this as it is a great opportunity for exposure to the masses, and the look will also be featured in the window of the store. While this may be wonderful publicity, letʼs not forget the designer receives absolutely *zero* percent of the sales— kind of a bummer, if you ask me. Richard is particularly mesmerized by this opportunity which "would take years to achieve"; oh honey, trust me: it will still take years for your line to to be sold in Lord & Taylor. The spiky cap+leopard pant+tank top look is not exactly helping.

The producers are liking this "judge-assembled" team method. They decide to use it again this week, and I just canʼt help but think they put designers together whom they think (or know!) will have friction. Conveniently, Layana and Richard end up on the same team again, after a dramatic runway ending last week in which Layana spoke her mind about Richard. Now, Iʼm not saying that voicing oneʼs opinions is a bad thing (Hello...I do it), but sometimes Layana doesnʼt know diplomacy and comes off sounding like sheʼs infinitely more talented and smart than everyone else. The combination of that with Richardʼs ego is no bueno. I could feel the tension all the way on this side of the TV. The fact that Richard refused to look at Layana while sketching as a team was so immature. That said, keep in mind that the whole runway duel *just* happened yesterday in "Project Runway" land...so those wounds are fresh.

More prickly team drama ensues! Stanley clearly doesnʼt take Patricia seriously as a designer and does not respect her unique creative process. He is bossing her around and itʼs not cool. However it slays me how Patricia knows whatʼs going on and is patronizing him to an extent. Itʼs interesting to me that as he criticizes her crafty and sometimes overworked design process, he seems to be creating something which is rather devoid of any design!

Michelle and Moustache are very different designers; we already know this. Michelle is much more in tune with what is contemporary and thinks outside the box; Moustacheʼs designs are for a more mature clientele and tend to be rather dated. Things donʼt start off well when they go to Mood and Moustache selects the perfect 80s neon highlighter pink fabric, in an attempt to wow the judges with some unexpected color. Michelle hates pink but he doesnʼt care. And then...reality TV GOLD starts to unfold! After Timʼs critique in which the consensus was that Moustacheʼs "Joan Collins" jacket was...well, for a Joan Collins-type customer, he has a total meltdown because he was so in love with his design. There is a bizarre cyclone going on in his head and Michelle is trying not to get sucked in. He states in an interview, teary-eyed, that Michelle is taking away the happiness again, which he lost a couple of episodes ago. Well, Daniel, being in the pressure cooker that is "Project Runway" can have that effect. Donʼt blame Michelle!

The judging panel this week has Rachel Roy sitting in again for Zac, and the president of Lord & Taylor, Bonnie Brooks, as guest judge. Here we go...

Patricia and Stanley produced a really nice pair of looks that could be from the same collection. Go figure! In a seemingly sudden twist, Stanley said he was actually *learning* from Patricia, and was appreciating what she was making! I thought her look had great mass appeal, looked expensive (yet could be made at the $250 price point), and was on-target with the Lord & Taylor customer who is a bit conservative yet trying to draw customers of many ages. Also, I could see the rose inspiration very clearly, in both the fabrication and color palette. Stanleyʼs dress was magnificently clean and simple yet modern and forward. The fit was what was different about it. I must say I thought he was going to make a boring shift dress but it ended up an expensive looking, sophisticated design. My only criticism is the length, which I would have preferred a couple inches shorter. In the end, however, these two were safe.

Richard, Samantha and Layana were clearly the losing team. Richard designed a very simple jersey dress, which resembled the olive and black jersey dress heʼd made earlier, but oddly enough I was also reminded of the coral and black (again, jersey dress) heʼd made for the senior challenge. The hot pink and black combination not only looks cheaper than his competitorsʼ looks, but really does not have enough design to it. Iʼm sure it would sell, but perhaps better in H&M or Forever21, not Lord & Taylor. Bonnie made a good point: who wears that and where to? Samantha, on the other hand, had TOO MUCH going on in her design, and it was poorly executed. It also looked cheap, but at least there were more ideas there. She needed to edit though, and when she first mentioned the heart cutout, I cringed...not only because it was overkill, but also because I knew it was too ambitious to be fabricated well in such a short amount of time. Her color blocking was infinitely more creative than Richardʼs to start, but sadly she felt it wasnʼt enough so she had to add ruffles and a giant cutout. When Layana chose her fabric at Mood, I thought it channeled the Lord & Taylor rose really well. But it ended up looking marmy even though she thought she was making it look youthful by adding black leather, which was way too heavy in my opinion. The redeeming elements of her design were, ironically, the leather parts. It fit well, but needed to be executed in different colors. What if she had used pale petal pink chiffon with beige leather? It would have felt more youthful, ballerina-esque, and feminine yet still channeled a rose. I donʼt agree with Samanthaʼs elimination. I think she has a lot more creativity than Richard, and would have liked to see her stick around a bit longer.

Moustache and Michelle are the winning team have the winning design. Michelleʼs dress was wonderfully chic. I love the color and the simple yet interesting design. However...I do take issue with this win. To be fair, the challenge called for the designs to pay homage to the Lord & Taylor iconic rose. Iʼm all for a designerʼs own interpretation, but donʼt see a rose in the least bit in her design. Spring, green buds...yes. But I feel Patricia and Stanleyʼs designs better represented the rose. Is Michelleʼs design better? Maybe...Iʼd wear it before the others. But does it really fulfill the challenge? And how about the fact that a silk and leather dress could never hit the $250-and-under price point? As we see later when Michelle admires her design in the window of Lord & Taylor, the leather appeared to have been eliminated. Daniel just could not escape the mature and dated design voices in his head, and thus made a very boring, very poorly executed dress in a very bold color.

15
FRI

Down Under Blunders

Posted By kim_messina 4:17am GMT

This week, there is a new twist on the team thing: the judges get to decide how the teams are divided, and select players for each one (Hello, producer intervention?). There are eight designers remaining, so they were split into two teams of four. Seems no matter how those judges attempted to rationalize their decisions, I wasnʼt quite buying it. Naturally, Michelle and Patricia end up on the same team, as do Richard and Layana.

First thing in the morning, in lieu of coffee and croissants, the designers are taken on a field trip to meet the ALL MALE Aussie "reveal" group, Thunder From Down Under. They are given a show by these guys, followed by the challenge delivered by Tim: create three cohesive, tear-away looks for these burly male dancers! Whaaaat?! Can we go back to bed now?

I donʼt know about you, but this challenge has very little, in my opinion, that is relevant to being a talented fashion designer. I like that the Bunim/Murray execs wanted to do a menswear challenge, but this isnʼt REALLY menswear. These are male dancer costumes. This is a joke. No wonder everyone failed at it. I canʼt imagine any of the designers were too thrilled about this challenge. And when youʼre in the competition, the thing you most fear is to be eliminated for a challenge which has nothing to do with fashion design. Seriously...this challenge is a big blunder in so many ways...what a waste of an episode!

But back to the workroom. Even the teams were a bit boring in the ways they worked together. I did think Richard was getting the loser edit because he was so sure that he could nail this (Perhaps because he could really relate to male stripper costumes?), but then his ideas were not well received by his teammates. Richard dear, thatʼs because your ideas are not "edgy"—they are in bad taste!

Again I question Layanaʼs ability to stand on her own as a designer. What happens a lot with young designers is they (a) donʼt know who they are yet and havenʼt had time to hone their point of view, and (b) they are often not well-practiced/skilled enough (in sewing and construction, the more one practices, the better oneʼs skills become). The latter is what we see an example of in this episode (Weʼve seen the former in previous ones), as Layana somehow thinks itʼs OK to approach the opposing team for construction advice.

Honestly there is not a whole lot to judge. No one did well. It was painful to watch. Even Heidi said that she wanted to eliminate everyone and end the show right then and there. Well, perhaps she should have thought about that before approving the challenge, because HOW can a designer truly show his/her talent in a challenge like this??

Team Slick and Hip was the worse of the two teams. Abominable. There was no design and the construction was godawful. How does Richard not know what a collar stand is?!?? The shirt he made looked like something a 3rd grader would make. The only redeeming thing about any of the clothes is that the tearaway element functioned. However it was not enough to make up for all the blunders, and Amanda was eliminated for her outfit which could barely stay on the guy. Something had gone very wrong in the workroom with the pant she was making, and by the time she figured out it was too small, it was too late.

Team Shades of Grey was safe. Daniel made a smock, Patricia made a crafty woven shirt that was never seen and Michelle made an outfit which, while odd and had fit issues, was at least outside the box and creative. Hers really stood out, for better or for worse. However there was NO WINNER selected in this challenge! I canʼt recall when this has ever happened on "Project Runway," but how fortunate for the Aussies; at least they donʼt have to wear any of those designs!

SIGH.

08
FRI

Prom Duckie

Posted By laurareineke 4:25am GMT

It's the unconventional challenge! Wait, didn't we already have one? OK, it's a sponsored product placement challenge! The designers are introduced to Fred the duck as their hint. All I could think of was Aflac (now thatʼs some good advertising and marketing). No, it's DUCK Tape. At one point, someone decided it would be clever to brand duct tape as Duck Tape, just to confuse the masses. What did you do with duct tape in college? In art school in the late '80s we'd patch our combat boots or even our vintage men's wing-tip shoes (worn with cut-offs or a babydoll dress and black ripped tights) in the old-school silver variety. My boyfriend's niece made him a duct tape wallet and messenger bag. Throughout the years, duct tape has been used in very fun and innovative ways.

For this challenge, the designers have a myriad of newfangled, novelty colored and printed DUCK tapes to choose from to create a prom dress as a team, in ONE day (not the 24-hour kind of day, but more the 8-hour variety). That afternoon, they will be judged by high school students first, before the regular judging panel; the student vote supposedly accounts for 20% of the final scores.

The producers are ready to shake things up a bit, so the teams are shuffled by drawing names and those who are called are able to select a partner. It's about time! Stanley is over Richard, so he chooses "someone who can teach him something," the younger Layana, whom I actually thought was about 22 but in fact is 28 and acts like 19. While I don't know that Layana is going to teach him anything, Stanley could not have made a better move than dumping Richard. Kate picks Tu, so she can have the upper hand. Michelle chooses Amanda, and they become BFFs. A rejected Richard goes with Daniel, and that only leaves Samantha with Patricia. Samantha is "buggin'" over this, but I can tell she is trying really hard not to dis Patricia in her interviews, but rather emphasize that the two of them have such different points of view. At least she's trying to be diplomatic!

Layana, honey, Richard isn't jealous of you. He's just got a bruised ego. So he takes all the gold tape so no one else can use it. Bitter and spiteful, or just competitive? Either way, it was kind of an asshole move. And speaking of tape choices, Michelle and Amanda are each gravitating towards different printed tapes, both of which would be pretty yucko for a prom dress: Camouflage and tie-dye. Thank goodness they agree to disagree and work it out to come up with a new idea, to make their own giant houndstooth print (infinitely better). I found myself wondering: Do they plant those ugly prints, just to see if the designers will go for them? Probably just the sponsor wanting all their product out there...but still, it made me think. Patricia and Samantha seem to be working together rather sheepishly. Seems there is some tension and both ladies are aware of it. Samantha makes TWO bodices since they can't seem to merge their designs. Certainly there could be a more efficient way of using her time/working, but then again, if she has time to make two bodices, go girl! I recall when I was paired with Jay ("by chance") in a team challenge and it was so awkward. It sucks when there is tension and whether or not you are able to rise above it, it's still there, and you find yourself envious of those who are working synergistically.

Lone Wolf and Amanda are an example of a team that had that synergy. They were having a grand old time together and that energy helped produce a WOW moment of a design. The dress was unique, bold, fun and cool. Most high school girls want something fun for the prom. This dress is definitely for a certain girl. Not everyone could pull it off, but it was fab. I love that they created their own pattern, well engineered by Michelle. I could have done without the side cutouts, but other than that it was a great shape. And Michelle has a coup at last!

Layana and Stanley receive high scores. Stanley is on a roll. He is pretty much guaranteed a place in the finals at this point, methinks. It's always good to get some wins under your belt early in the competition because it makes the judges notice you, and if you do slip up, they are less likely to give you the axe. The dress these two produced a super cute, well constructed design. It appeals to that "Glee" girl: Youthful, flirty, fun. While I like the touch of pink, I did think the bow was a bit much. Perhaps it could have been scaled down a bit. The crinoline was marvelous. Nice job!

Moustache and Richard, low scorers, produced a mess of a dress which was '80s in a bad way. Funny enough it truly reminded me of a dress I wore to a prom back then. The underlying silhouette of the dress was the most simple cut (the princess foundation), yet was not fitting well. The sweetheart bodice and the ruffles, all in gold, made it look cheap and dated. And all that faux-lattice on the sides simply got lost. But thank god they didn't touch that leopard print tape that was on their table! Guess that move of hoarding all the gold tape didnʼt work out so well for you, did it Richard?

Kate and Tu also flopped. While the dress at least fit well and was well-constructed, the color was dull and drab and too mature for a high school girl. I don't necessarily agree with Nina that all girls want short dresses. I think Kate is right that most girls seldom (if ever) have an opportunity to wear long gowns, so some of them want to use the prom as an opportunity to do it to the nines. That said, the dress is not the most forward. I was an editor at Your Prom magazine once and the dresses I saw and that we featured really ran the gamut. And in a "shocking elimination," BOTH Kate and Tu get the axe! Personally I think it would have been more interesting and appropriate if Tu and Richard had been eliminated. The two low scoring designs each had issues, and at least this gown fit well.

Samantha and Patricia ended up with the most popular dress by the students! After all that tension they cranked out a really fun design. I have to admit when I first saw it developing I feared it would look like a Hanukkah dress because of the colors! But it was a cool, futuristic, unique design. Is it the most suitable for the prom? Probably not. But kudos to them for creating something outside the box and creative!

01
FRI

When Fashion Generations Collide

Posted By kim_messina 4:35am GMT

Itʼs the "real people" challenge. I love these because they really show the designersʼ true skills of problem solving and ability to think "outside the dressform," meaning adapt to real bodies and not just mannequins and models. I love the twist this time: designing for seniors! Tim welcomes the designers to Midtown Loft Dance Hall, where we see a slew of spry senior ladies dancing up a storm. The designer teams of two (and one team of three) have been "randomly assigned" (another thing I never believed, just like the button bag) their new clients. Tim instructs the designers to each make a look that not only pleases the client but also showcases their own point of view; "No cohesion is necessary," so, again, how is this a team challenge? I mean I get it, the team mates are supposed to support one another...but honestly no one has time for that! You barely have time to get your own look done. Timʼs words of advice: "good fashion is ageless and timeless."

There is only one team of three: "Lone Wolf" Michelle, having lost her team mate Matt last week, is teamed up with Patricia and Layana....poor thing. Apparently Michelle has been placed with her most loathed and dreaded team mate (Patricia). No coincidence there. If I were her, Iʼd be dreading hearing Layanaʼs whiny complaints and unwarranted opinions! The other teams remain the same. They all seem to be fine with it, but I wonder how they really feel....? Amidst a group of designers, where there are always egos, Iʼm sure someone else in there is less than thrilled with his/her partner.

We soon discover that indeed Benjamin is less than thrilled with his partner Amanda, who is having a bit of a design meltdown due to choosing the wrong fabric in Mood for her design. Oy vey, Iʼve been there...not a good feeling. You feel incredibly helpless and blocked, because time is so precious and once youʼve sketched your design (in 15 minutes or so), selected your fabric (30 minutes), and are back in the workroom, itʼs GO time. Itʼs hard, once you think youʼve got it sorted out, to go back to the HP tablet and start over. However....this is problem solving, and itʼs imperative on "Project Runway" and in "real life." Only thing is on "Project Runway" youʼve got this pressure to perform QUICKLY. And sometimes you simply get blocked. This is when the ubiquitous expression which has been made famous by our own Tim Gunn is so appropriate: MAKE IT WORK.

I could have sworn that either Patricia or Michelle was getting a total loser edit. We have Michelle talking about how awful Patricia is, and that everything she does sucks. Then we have Patricia struggling in the workroom and decides to start over with her look. You know, either Michelleʼs ranting is going to bite her in the bum, or Patricia is going to go down, simply because Michelle is feeling like every team she ends up on is cursed and ends up in the bottom. However, as we will see, this is not the case....

In the judging panel this week, Zac is absent, which I have to say doesnʼt make me all that sad. In his place is Rachel Roy, who has been a guest judge several times. While she is not all that interesting, Iʼve always felt her critiques are fair and honest. The two guest judges are none other than the hilarious Joan Rivers and her daughter Melissa, whom I thought had some really astute things to say actually! I do love me a little Joan Rivers. If nothing else she is just fascinating to look at, you know, in that Cat Woman kind of way!

Lone Wolf, Layana, and Patricia were the safe team. I could have seen this going either way to be honest. The judges and producers could have put any spin they wanted on it, because I felt like Michelle did a good job in the end. Sure, it wasnʼt ground-breaking, and in my opinion, did not have any signature of Michelle in the design....however it the print was really fun, and the dress was super complimentary to the client. Patricia "made it work" (unlike Amanda), by scrapping the mu-mu she had going on and making a jacket which had a lovely collar but unfortunately looked rather unharmonious in its colors and raggedy in finishing. I could not understand what Heidi was praising Layana for. I think this was all producer fluff to escalate the drama and tension between the three ladies, by making it seem that Patricia bogged them down. To me her design looked ill-fitting and frankly I did not care for that print. When I saw her client, I thought she had a fabulous, dramatic look with her platinum hair and that she could pull off a livelier or bolder look. Besides that, I still donʼt know who Layana is as a designer.

Richard and Stanley are high scorers again. This was another case where I think one designer outshines the other, but since they are a "team," the judges praise both looks, even if one is far inferior or even just "meh." Stanley produced a tres chic navy pantsuit which was fabulous on his client. Yes, the crotch has major issues, but the back view was flawless and the look in general was elegant, expensive looking, and fashionable rather than marmy. Richard, on the other hand, produced a sack which required a fraction of the work that Richardʼs look did. I hated the mint green and black combo; it brought me to a KMart place, like when Iʼve had to shop for a housedress for a plus sized character. What was that odd "mini drawstring" in the front? I found it distracting. The fabric looked cheap somehow, like a poly or acrylic jersey...perhaps it was just the color I could not get beyond. But the judges wildly praised it for some reason.

Tu and Kate received low scores, due to Tuʼs mess of a dress. Why he would choose wool (and not even wool jersey) is beyond me. The color was the only thing going for that dress. You can tell it was a wreck with fit, and as seen in the workroom, the belt (which was not great styling anyway) was the only thing holding it together. We saw how Tu really struggled with anything outside of a model figure; in my opinion, he should have been in the bottom two with Amanda. Clearly his client was disappointed as well. Kate, on the other hand, produced an incredibly chic and flirty ensemble for her client. If this was an individual challenge, she should have been a top scorer, far and away better than Richard. The print was so lovely and the look was very appropriate for her client. One of my favorites!

Samantha and Moustache received high scores. Neither of their looks were thrilling to me. Itʼs funny, Samantha embraced her clients spunkiness, and the dress fit well. However, out of context, one would question the taste level here. I hated the "Gaga Lite" shoulders and yellow satin with leopard combo. But OF COURSE "animal print" Joan liked it!! Moustache fulfilled his clientʼs request for an elegant black suit, and itʼs good that he put his own details and twist into it, because otherwise it would have looked like any old black suit off a department store rack. It did fit well though. Again, had this been an individual challenge, I could see both these looks being safe.

Amanda and Benjamin are low scorers, which we all saw coming. I am shocked that Amanda was saved. She did not "make it work" in the least...there are so many better ways she could have resolved this dress. The print was fantastic, so it was sad to see the outcome. Where to begin....? It was just a complete mess. Benjamin chose a great color, and made his client happy, but the dress did look like it was suffocating her, and was very marmy, like what you expect to see a little old lady wearing to a wedding. A different fabric selection could have helped, as satin is oneʼs worst enemy for TV, not to mention for hiding construction flaws, which there were. Nevertheless, it was a tough call as to whom should have been eliminated. What do you think?

22
FRI

Two-Step to the Top

Posted By kim_messina 4:12am GMT

The end of the last episode was a cliffhanger. Never are the designers called back to the runway after the end of a challengeʼs judging and "auf." They are lead to the set and take their seats runwayside, and from behind the scrim emerge Tim and Heidi, carrying the ominous "velvet bag." This can only mean a twist. Drum roll please...the designers will regroup into teams of two. Whomever is called will get to select his/her partner. By the way, I have never actually seen those buttons up close (or well enough to see a name), and Iʼve never met any other designer who has: things that make you go "hmm."

Next, itʼs a field trip to Johnny Utahʼs, some country bar, the setting for the next challenge. The designers find out they are to make two looks per team for Miranda Lambert: one for performing, and one for red carpet. I like how Tim explains that the two looks can be a team effort, and "the way the work is divided is up to each team." Oh come on, the designers are totally thrilled that they finally may have the opportunity to design and make a garment 100%! Sure enough, that is the way it played out and it almost ended up being an individual challenge, except that the pairs are still being judged together when it comes to high and low scores. The lines sure seemed blurred though.

The teams seem to be getting along for the most part. But what was everyoneʼs obsession with NAVY? In Mood it seems many designers were selecting Navy, an odd choice for Miranda. Her look is the quintessential "little country and a little rock 'n' roll," neither of which one associates navy blue with (except denim). The trickiest thing in this challenge is to not go tacky or cheap; there is a fine line between fun and fug in this sort of genre of clothing.

Highlights of the workroom:
-Daniel uses "soutache" effect, which required definition because no one has used it for 20+ years. Boy does he love his soutache idea.
-Kate is trying to think outside the box by making a red pleather leather mermaid dress reminiscent of Elvira.
-Richard thinks nothing of the fact that his mesh dress has no lining. Itʼs looking very Hollywood Boulevard (where all the stripper shops are, for those of you who donʼt know).
-Tu leaves Tim speechless, as he doesnʼt seem to know the difference between Miranda and Gaga.
-Patricia is at home with this challenge as she employs a Native American fringe technique that she and her family use when making their own performance costumes.
-Layana is complaining about everything again.
-Matt is struggling big time with confidence and self-esteem. Oh dear...this is a runaway train if I ever saw one. There is just no room for any of that on "Project Runway," as it is hard enough to get through without thinking you already suck.

Thank goodness we donʼt have those team names anymore! The runway was a much more individual show this week.

Amanda and Benjamin are high scorers, which was a bit of a boggle to me. I thought Amanda did a fine job. The dress looked comfortable and like it would be flattering to Mirandaʼs curvy figure, and it was great that she thought about the necessity for a bra. Benjaminʼs navy gown, however, while well-constructed, was ruined with one dripping jet-beaded boob. Seriously, Nina? You liked that?? I was waiting for her to hate on that asymmetric drip. And it just didnʼt seem right for Miranda. Only a man could design that...

Tu and Kate were safe. Kateʼs gown looked cheap and tacky, which can happen easily with all red gowns. It looks as though Tu took Timʼs and possibly his teammateʼs advice and toned the "Gaga" down, but unfortunately it was kind of a nothing dress. The color was bland for stage, and the style was neither here nor there.

Samantha and Daniel had low scores. I was excited about Samanthaʼs idea in the workroom. Who doesnʼt love a little moto-jacket styling, and the movement of the skirt in the sketch looked interesting and potentially a good contrast to the "hard" leather vest. Sadly the execution was weak, and the look was sad. Daniel ended up making a garish top covered in that soutache of his. But the look overall was dated. And how could he do that to that silk skirt?! Fringing with a fork? The modelʼs bad styling didnʼt help.

Michelle and Matthew were in the bottom as well. I understand why Matthew was a low score, but I really felt Michelle designed a fun outfit that was outside of the box, and did not deserve to be in the bottom. I may be in the minority with this, but I thought it was one of the cooler, hipper looks out there, and fits the country-meets-rock challenge. The judging was way too hard on her. Regarding Zacʼs comment about it being too casual for the red carpet, I will say that there are MANY types of red carpet events, ranging from a film premiere to Grammys. The music industry has a lot less rules. Good for her for defending herself! Auf, Matt.

Patricia and Layana are safe. Patriciaʼs fringe was super impressive and had great movement, but I was not crazy about the dress and fabric underneath. Layanaʼs gown was unoffensive, but certainly not suited for Mirandaʼs big personality.

Richard and Stanley are high scorers, and Richard "made it work" by cutting up a couple of Mood t-shirts to use as lining (why didnʼt he think of lining while fabric shopping though?). The dress did a total 180 from Hollywood Blvd to Beverly Hills! It is a great dress for stage, and the length and lining saved it from being trashy. He used enough fringe and chain to make it look substantial as well. Stanleyʼs gown was cool, but had some fit issues and as the judges pointed out, had too much volume in the skirt. I like the hammered metallic waist cincher. Apparently, though, none of the red carpet looks were good enough to be selected as winners.