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Mila Hermanovski Blog
Category: "episode 2"
The unconventional challenge strikes again! The designers are invited to a “screening," which turns out to be a weird, quasi-trailer which doesn’t make any sense, except that it's a decoy for the bigger picture, when Tim emerges and announces the challenge. Honestly, I was shocked that this wasn’t another Miramax/Weinstein film plug!
I’m dying to know who selected all the “movie experience” stuff the designers had to choose from. At first it felt so staged, like someone went on a shopping spree at a party store and made it a cinema theme, but at least there were scripts and marquee letters. I just thought it was odd and inauthentic that there were things like costume accessories and props, like plastic cat-eye masks and feather boas. Luckily, no one chose the boas. The contestants scramble for whatever they can physically carry out of the building with them (in a large garbage bag provided by production, of course).
The double-whammy this week is that not only is this an unconventional materials challenge, but the designers must also work in teams of three with whomever they were randomly seated next to in the theater; there are five teams named by color. Not only does the unconventional challenge weed some people out because they cannot think outside the box or because they lack creativity, but a team challenge shows us who plays well with others and who has a big ego. They must individually make 3 cohesive looks, which is often hard enough to do using real fabrics and regular materials.
The editing was pretty transparent this week. I knew from camera time that the Purple team, for example, was going to be safe because they were hardly featured at all. I also knew somehow that Angela and Sandhya would not produce good work. It became very apparent early on that Angela was the weak link on the Blue team, obsessing over paper flowers and angels when her teammates were keen on a villain/femme fatale theme. The team concept seemed pretty foreign to her. Similarly, Sandhya was overly consumed with making sure her voice was heard, abandoning any sort of common thread in the designs. She just thought that if each person on the team did their own thing then they could somehow tie the looks together at the last minute. Honey, it doesn’t work like that. When Hernan put his foot down and took charge, she whimpered away like hurt puppy. Sandhya, how many times do I need to tell you THERE’S NO CRYING IN FASHION! This girl will never survive unless she thickens her skin. The whole sobbing to Tim episode she had was pathetic, sorry. I mean I know he is there to be a mentor, but sometimes you just have to figure these things out on your own and BUCK UP. Hernan perhaps did end up being a bit domineering, judging from the final looks, but the team were given a rough critique by Tim in which he called them out on an non-cohesive collection; Hernan’s reaction by controlling the situation bit them in the ass. I can’t help but wonder what the collection would have looked like had they stayed the course (without a direction or theme). Something tells me they may have been criticized for that, as well.
The rest was up in the air. The Silver team members were all on the same page and worked really well together, which typically means success. However, their work seemed underwhelming midway through the construction, even though I was excited about their concept. The Green team didn’t have much of a theme -- Avant garde/high fashion? Sorry, not a concept -- yet produced some nice enough looks which ended up leaving them safe.
And now for the runway:
RED TEAM: The lowest scorers produced three lackluster looks made entirely of film strips. Everything about these looks was monotonous: materials, silhouettes, colors. Heidi was spot on when she said they look like three women from a music video -- I thought "girl band in a B-movie." It just stinks for Carrie and Hernan that Sandhya had immunity (for a design which should have never won, by the way). I think Carrie is young and has likely has some growing to do as a designer, but I was interested to see more of her work. Bummer she was eliminated.
SILVER TEAM: I was happy to see the team pulled through in the end with their 1960’s futurism concept, winning the challenge. They used the most interesting and diverse assortment of materials to create three diverse yet cohesive silhouettes, and were smart to have a pop of color. Amanda’s winning design had great movement on the runway and a beautiful neckline. Do I think it was the BEST design of the entire challenge? No. But it was a team challenge and I believe she won because her design was very different from the others. I knew Kristine would do something fab when I saw those marquee letters, and she did not disappoint. Overall the graphic elements of this collection provided a great “wow” moment.
GREEN TEAM: This collection was very cohesive. They did achieve the avant garde and high fashion elements they wanted, and gave good runway drama. I adored Samantha’s white paillette top made of DVDs with the film strip bubble skirt, a great play of texture and shape.
BLUE TEAM: In the end the collection was very cohesive, and it is such a drag that Angela’s score prevented them from potentially being the top-scoring team. Sean’s innovative use of straws was fantastic and worked really well, yet contrasted with Fade’s use of assorted materials and a different silhouette; I like that he used film strips in moderation. Angela is proving to us that she is indeed a newbie fashion designer (admittedly in the midst of changing career paths). Her design was just a simple dress with paper embellishments, which were pretty, but in the need not nearly creative enough for an unconventional materials challenge.
PURPLE TEAM: Speaking of simple silhouettes relying on embellishment, here are three of them! It’s my biggest pet peeve when a designer simply hot-glues a bunch of materials onto a simple dress for an unconventional challenge. These designs have all been seen before. Heidi lit up, though, when she saw Mitchell’s short-tight-shiny number walk. I’m sure the colors looked good on stage, but for me the three of them were pretty much eyesores. Still, they are safe because there was nothing truly abominable.
Loved seeing Garance Doré as a guest judge. She’s an incredibly articulate, intelligent fashion blogger with a great eye, and one of my favorites. Zac is trying really hard to replace Michael in the judge’s seat; I haven’t decided if I love or hate how bitchy he was in this episode. I do love that he wouldn’t stand for any excuses!
This is a pretty straight-up, classic "Project Runway" challenge: design and construct and evening gown in one day. The spin here is to showcase the fine jewel ensembles on loan from the New York Diamond District. Easy, right? It takes me right back to Season 7 when Heidi asked us to design a red carpet look for her in a day. It was much later in the season and we were all just so exhausted. Not to mention I so rarely if ever make gowns; it was not something in my wheelhouse, so I felt handicapped compared to some of the other designers who were more versed in eveningwear. That said, we were a tad more "practiced" in the art of making clothes in a daynot that you ever really get comfortable with it. Itʼs just that in the beginning, for me at least, it was very difficult to get a grip on how to utilize shortcuts and manage time. With every challenge, I feel I got a little better at that, learning both from my mistakes, and othersʼ. In fact even now in my life I occasionally feel like Iʼve been given a "Project Runway" challenge (Recently a stylist friend asked me to make a custom, futuristic white catsuit for his client, Ciara...OVERNIGHT), and inevitably I partially credit the experience I had on the show with my ability to turn such assignments around fast.
This is where we see Kate having an advantage. She has been through a season of "Project Runway" before, and has her "legs," if you will. In addition, she is a gown designer, so she has an added advantage. I give her major props, though, for creating her Vivienne Westwood inspired winning look, which to me, a sportswear designer, is super impressive just based on the fact alone that she was able to handle ALL_THAT_FABRIC in such a short amount of time. I was also amazed that ALL_THAT_FABRIC was less than $300! I must say however that I agree with Alexanderʼs comment about the look being extremely derivative of Westwood. I was shocked that this was not brought up in the critique, especially by Nina; but for all we know, it was mentioned but did not make it to the edit. You all do realize that you only see about 40 percent of the critiques, right? Itʼs amazing how much longer we are standing up on that runway, sweating under the lights, feet swelling.
Overall this episode was fairly straightforward, but not without drama in the workroom and some tears on the runway. Havenʼt we all been wondering how long it would take for Sandro to get in someoneʼs face about something? But what an emotional roller coaster he was on, in just 24 hours! First he gets on Ken about using his machine (which admittedly is annoying, but also inevitable when there are still so many designers in the running), and then he has a total meltdown because the steamer isnʼt working...complete with tears! And then he is in the top three! Then we have Helen, who feels she must constantly remind us that she is an amazing gown designer, totally tank and have what Iʼd consider one of the top 5 meltdowns in the history of "Project Runway," right on the runway. Usually people donʼt cry when they see their looks walk. Squirm, shudder, yes...but not completely lose it. Thereʼs no CRYING IN FASHION! And from such a tough chick, no less! As Tim said, it was a misstep; everyone has them. But maybe that gave her a little serving of humble pie; if thereʼs one thing being on the show does, itʼs that. She is a perfect example of what I am talking about with not having her "legs" yet in terms of time management. It is truly one of the hardest elements of being on the show. You have to make something amazing and "glamorous" in just a day. How?
On the runway, there is quite a bit of “meh”. I do wish this challenge had come along later, or had been two days, when the looks perhaps could have been executed better. Or is it simply a case of a lack of talent?
DOM: I donʼt agree at all with the over-praise of this green and white design. The print is charming, but the execution ended up looking sloppy to me. The waist was crooked and wonky and sitting too high on the model, so the fit was unflattering. She likely ended up in the top because it was refreshing to see something livelier than many of the basic black looks which other designers made.
JUSTIN: Completely safe black gown devoid of any signature. However it was well executed and I loved his styling; the modelʼs hair and makeup made her look like she stepped out of aFlemish painting.
KEN: The color was not a WOW at all. Perhaps in person it was more interesting but to me it was a rather dull green. The gown is something weʼve seen before from any number of pedestrian eveningwear lines.
KAHINDO: Like others, I thought the print was interesting; what she did with it, however, was not. She tried to save it by taking Timʼs advice of layering the darker organza over it, but it was not enough to save her boring design. The one detail which was supposed to be the focal point of the dress, the odd circle opening on the back, was poorly executed as well. She admittedly had not worked with charmeuse before, and sadly did not use the fabric in an appropriate and complimentary way. So it was AUF for her.
ALEXANDRIA: A well done bias-cut dress. Thatʼs about it. Again, lacked any signature.
MIRANDA: Clearly she is obsessed with this midriff-baring silhouette. Is she going to use it every time? I think her days are numbered, because her lack of skill is becoming more and more evident. The neckline is godawful and looks like a beginning home sewer.
ALEXANDER: The look walked very dramatically down the runway, which is always a good thing; but he really needed to turn down the volume on those sleeves, which were way too goth-70s. He was saved by the flowing, sheer skirt which balanced the sleeve misstep.
TIMOTHY: Just weird and amateur. But did we expect anything less? I love how he tried to justify using remnants and some velvet that "used to belong to someone else" (who supposedly was Zac)! I have news for you: virtually EVERYTHING in Mood used to belong to someone else! They take unwanted fabric off the hands of designers! So when you are shopping in Mood, you will often see "Marc Jacobs," "Vera Wang," etc on the tags, indicating where it came from. His days are numbered, too. In fact he really should have been eliminated this round.
KAREN: Spent $160 and it looks it. If Mirandaʼs looks home-sewn, this looks like a high school student sewed it in home-ec. The bodice is ill-fitting and unflattering, particularly in the gaping bust/armpit area, the design is (again, like many others) super-basic, and there is nothing glamorous about it.
JEREMY: Pretty colors of tulle at the bottom. While again there was nothing ground-breaking about this, it was well executed and elegant and tasteful. It looked expensive, which is more than I can say for Domʼs or Sandroʼs dress, so I may have put him in the top three over one of those two.
SANDRO: Dated and borderline vulgar. Dolce & Gabbana for H&M. It had some interesting points, but needed editing. I canʼt understand why this was in the top though; perhaps it was because there were so many weak entries...and because the Kluminator loved it.
HELEN: Why would she try bust cups for the first time while competing on "Project Runway"? She set herself up for failure, but was spared. She had some good ideas, but simply was too ambitious and unable to manage her time. She made an emotional plea to the judges to save her because she is so passionate about being a designer, and wants to practice couture. But her breakdown runway-side which caused Tim to run to her aide makes me think she is a bit unstable!
SUE: OK, so if Mirandaʼs schtick is the fitted midriff-look, Sueʼs is the hand-pintuck. Her look was OK...but I sure hope we donʼt see those tucks in every single challenge. Iʼm not even going to go off on the fact that she canʼt thread a sewing machine.
BRADON: Chic, elegant, modern. A good entry and impressive that he made an inexpensive furnishing fabric look rich. It was nice to see something metallic as well.
Food for thought: who else is happy about another change this season: the absence of filming in the apartments? I noticed it in the first episode, and was hoping it would continue throughout the season. I love that this episode opened with the armored truck and cut right to the challenge! Itʼs great to see more workroom and less gratuitous "getting ready in the morning."
The designers are informed, to most of their dismay, that they will stay on the same teams. Some are pleased and some are not (for obvious reasons, the last winning team, "Keeping It Real" [worst team name ever], seems at peace with this).
Itʼs another field trip challenge, and this time the destination is SPiN, a new ping pong social club. Odd, right? I mean I guess itʼs not so different from a billiards club or bowling alley, but do that many people love ping pong? Anyway, another oddity is that Susan Sarandon owns SPiN. [Sidebar: why call it SPiN? All I can think of is a spinning studio. Is there really not a name more suited to ping pong? Also, the SPiN logo is such a knockoff of the Equinox logo! Did anyone else get that?] The designers are briefed on the challenge: to create three types of uniforms for the staff of the club. They are then "put to work" doing various tasks of servers and ball boys so they can get a sense of what itʼs like to work there. The winning uniform will be produced and worn in the club-and Susan herself is judging.
I was wondering when there would be a uniform challenge! While this does seem to be an appropriate team challenge, I feel for the designers as the work is being distributed/delegated. There are more designers than there are looks required to be made, so not everyone has the opportunity to be equally creative. This again raises my skepticism for the whole team format. If a great designer is forced to take a "back seat" (i.e., been delegated to make a "companion piece"), how is his/her voice going to be heard? One can only do so much battling for the creative helm until he/she is deemed a controlling bitch. Likewise, a weaker designer may take on more responsibility and potentially create something which brings the team down. It just seems like it will be difficult to ultimately find the BEST designer through this format.
In the workroom, some of the pitfalls of working in a team can definitely be seen. James "I got this in the bag" is making a violet trapeze top for a man. He also seems resistant to communicate and be a team player. Benjamin is micromanaging Cindy...but he has a promising epiphany to pair a tank top with a kilt for a male staffer. Layana is apparently being tutored by Daniel. Joseph wants to use polka dots, which I thought was kind of genius, but then I saw his Krazy Kats sweatshirts he makes and am seriously reconsidering my early opinions of him!
Dream Team had some strong, innovative, edgy, urban looks. I loved Michelleʼs very "New York" dress, which could fit a variety of women and looks comfortable and cute. I think it could have benefitted from being a different color though; perhaps something more bold and sporty. Jamesʼ colorblocked tank and long shorts look was urban and modern; however, it was not appropriate for a servermore for a ball boy. Benjamin and Cindyʼs jacket look was sad and too conservative. A jacket is not appropriate for an active sport-centric club, and the shorts were ill fitting and a horrible length (Cindy, your days are numbered). Benjamin and Matthew really took a risk by thinking outside the box; unfortunately, it did not pay off. The judges deemed it inappropriate and Susan said the guys who work for her would never wear it. I feel conflicted about this look because, while I think it is infinitely more interesting than some off the looks on the other team, I understand how it may not be appropriate for a ping pong club. It could be a great uniform for a different, more edgy setting though, like a club on the lower east side. Samantha and Tuʼs look was way too dressy, and revealing in the front, but the giant circle cutout in the back was interesting.
Keeping It Real, the winning team, was, for the most part, lacking in creativity for me. Only one outfit stood out as superior and that was the one designed by Joseph and Richard. The use of the slogan as a print was fantastic, as well as the play on positive/negative. It was bold, sporty, and appropriate for the challenge. The harness to hold the ball net is clever. Overall it has a good balance of creativity/ sport influence/ wearability. I do not understand at all why the win was awarded to Layana (who was tutored!). The outfit in general looked amateur and sloppy, from the lopsided racerback to the length of the vest, which was too short; it really bugged me that you could see so much of the white t-shirt popping from under it. And Iʼm sorry but since when is a SKORT innovative?! Please, Nina. How can you pretend you and Susan are so blown away by that? Ever watch tennis? I also recall skorts being a big deal for girls in the 90s (Come on, ladies...I know you remember that). The other outfits fell into either the "odd" (Kate and Patriciaʼs leggings look) or the "basic/boring" category (the fit and flare dress).
It takes balls for James to make a comment during deliberation like, "We should have communicated better," says the guy who secluded himself in his corner and did his own thing. It takes balls to present a kilt as an option, but I applaud those designers for thinking outside the box. After all, how many times have designers been criticized for being too boring and not having a point of view? While that outfit was a bit TOO "left field" to be a uniform for this client, I think in general, it is good to be memorable. It also takes balls to award the win to a SKORT (definitely one of the Project Runway all-time lows for me).
It’s the unconventional challenge, a "Project Runway" tradition and perpetual crowd pleaser. While fun for the viewers to watch, it’s always harrowing for the designers to go through. Some embrace the test to think outside the box, while others are uncomfortable with using anything but fabric. Each season, the producers have to come up with a new setting, material and premise for this challenge, and this time it was Dylan’s Candy Store, owned by Ralph Lauren’s daughter.
The unconventional materials challenge always reminds me of my sophomore year in college, at Rhode Island School of Design. Our very first assignment in the Apparel Design program was the “Innovative,” in which we were to create a look made out of a non-traditional material of our choice. I made a cocktail dress out of multicolored telephone wire. Of course this is in art school and I loved it (And also had more than one day to complete it). When I competed on Season 7 of "Project Runway," our “innovative” was the hardware store challenge. I definitely enjoyed it, as stressful as it was, and reminisced on my college years.
I have a problem though with the choice of a candy store for this challenge. While candy is fun and everyone loves to eat it and look at it, it is nearly impossible to do much more than glue it onto a muslin foundation in such a short amount of time. With a hardware store, 99-cent store, etc..., there is a wide variety of materials the designers can choose from. Most candy is so small to work with that in the end, the challenge becomes more about creating graphic design or a new textile.
Did anyone else notice that when Kooan picked out his orange candy, he used his hands? Ew. Of all the thousands of candies in Dylan’s, Elena selected one of the blandest looking ones which happens to resemble PASTA (piña colada licorice)! Both Buffi and Kooan have cotton candy disasters perhaps they didn’t have it growing up in their respective cultures and experienced what happens when you attempt to save it for later (You have a collapsed mess).
There is definitely some panic in the workroom this episode, rightfully so. And the runway showed it. Read my thoughts on each designer after the jump!