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Mila Hermanovski Blog
Category: "episode 5"
This may be the third unconventional challenge (out of five), but what a doozy! This has to be the mother of all unconventional challenges, with not one but *three* sources for materials! We've got Surprise!Surprise! (basically the 99-cent store), an antique wallpaper store, and Garden of Eden, a New York market. All sponsored by Lexus, who provides the winner of PR with a new car. So are the designers supposed to be inspired by Lexus as well? My head would be spinning! The designers have been pre-selected into teams of three, to create a "high-end, luxurious mini-collection." Each designer is responsible for one look, however the three looks need to be cohesive; some teams found this element more challenging than others.
We immediately see that the team consisting of Sue, Ken, and Alexandria is doomed; all the other designers see this as well. There is the concern that the three of them each have distinctly different styles, but no one could have imagined that it would go so far south. Well, I have to say, I saw this personality in Ken from early on. He didn't just get the "bitch edit," he IS a bitch! There is only so much editing can do. He is still responsible for his harsh words. He is nothing but sour and a poor team player this entire challenge. I do wish he had been eliminated just for his lousy attitude and overall nastiness. Some of his comments and looks were really revolting. Only problem? I do have a big issue with someone who is competing on "Project Runway" and can't use a sewing machine.
Oh Sue. You know, I watched a few of the audition videos/home visits and I was immediately intrigued by Sue's work. She is an artisan (there's one on every season) who does things "her way," and she actually makes really beautiful pieces. She definitely has the potential for a high-end, handmade, celebrity/rocker clientele. But "Project Runway" is not her platform. When Tim critiqued this team's work (in particular Sue's), he really ripped on them. I've never seen Tim give as harsh a critique as he did here. He asked Sue if she had ever seen "Runway" before, for if she had, why would she select curtains for an unconventional challenge? She said she had seen it, and knew what she was doing...but her Q&A on her myLifetime.com profile would indicate otherwise (Q: Favorite Project Runway designer? A: Not familiar enough to say). And while I think her work is special, her skills and applications are not diverse enough to compete on, let alone win, "Project Runway." And how is it that the executive producer of the show, Heidi Klum, is so shocked to know that a designer who doesn't use a sewing machine made the cut onto the show? I wouldn't be surprised if that alone was the deciding factor in the decision to eliminate her over Ken. Though it's still a toss-up. who would you have rather seen stay for another challenge: the bitchy queen or the sweet-yet-daft, artsy Brooklynite?
Tim was on fire in the critiques this week! Not only did he elevate Kate's design by pointing out that she was not using any interesting materials, but boy did he slap the losing team, including calling Ken on his poor attitude. What's up with Sandro coming back just to apologize? Seems oddly gratuitous. Ah well...at least he was not allowed back into the competition! And speaking of egos, who does this June Ambrose think she is that she can a), address the designers as "darlings" (doesn't she know that's Mizrahi's schtick?), and b), pull off those furry black ears on her head? Oy.
ALEXANDER / BRADEN / MIRANDA:
The only thing in my opinion that makes this team's work cohesive is the color palette, and maybe the giant poufs of light-colored material (on Bradon's skirt and Alexander's top). I am rather indifferent.
Alexander: A look that is pure "Dynasty"-meets-Cirque-du-Soleil-clown. Everything Alexander designs has a drag queen vibe to it: just too costumey.
Miranda: Such a basic silhouette, but at least it looks upscale. This look is the least cohesive simply because it is the cleanest, and the other two designers went very "grand," a completely different direction.
Bradon: Impressive that he achieved such a large confection of a gown in such a short time. For me it is too costumey, but I respect the ambition.
HELEN / DOM / JUSTIN:
The team only spent $600 and it kind of looked it. What happened to their Art Deco/1920s concept? The only thing that reflected that was their wallpaper choice, quite a nice print. Helen's look was a wreck, with the lopsided, haphazard pouf skirt that screams "unconventional challenge."
Dom: Stalagtite-shoulder overdose! Not fresh or modern, and competely overdone; very Gaga-3 years-ago.
Justin: He hasn't made pants many times, and it showed! Pants are already challenging so why would you then attempt to make them when your material is wallpaper? This is a challenging material with which to make well-fitting pants even if you are an expert. The team was safe, however.
SUE / KEN / ALEXANDRIA:
This mini-collection made me think of an amateur music video circa 1992. Or three best friends in high school attempting to make their own dresses for junior prom. It's an oddly cohesive (albeit awful) collection. It was kind of pathetic and sad because it was so evident in the quality of their work that they were all just miserable during this challenge, largely due to the Lilliputian bad seed Ken. His sour attitude and refusal to attempt to work together with Alexandria and Sue simply rotted the team. All three looks were just haphazard and Ken's look made his model look thick from the slapped-on duct tape waistband. Certainly hard to believe they spent $1400 on materials.
JEREMY / KATE / KAREN:
The winning team's collection was not the most cohesive, but it did look luxurious, elegant, and high-end, fulfilling the requirements of the challenge. All the looks used a really nice mix of materials, NOT JUST predominantly PLACEMATS like so many other teams did. I'm not sure to whom I'd have given the win, however.
Jeremy: oh wait! He used predominantly PLACEMATS! This is why I'm not so convinced he should have won. He sewed a bunch of pieces of cloth together. The glitter ombrÈ effect was very nice though, and the dress fit very well, except the bust, which Heidi was singing praises about -- usually it's the thing she criticizes the most. I was sure she wouldn't like the bust on this dress as it really didn't do the model any favors.
Karen: I very much liked her concept and use of mixed media in this modern dress. The drawbacks were the length and placement of a couple of the style lines, both of which made the model look wide. But overall this look was super modern, luxurious, and European, a surprise coming from Karen, who has not yet impressed me.
Kate: Another thoughtful use of different materials, which she must have added after her critique with Tim, because it would appear she missed the mark of the unconventional challenge based on that. Tim was concerned that she was only using PLACEMATS to make a little black dress. She should definitely be thanking Tim for that one!
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.
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.