Season Premiere July 24 at 9/8c
Mila Hermanovski Blog
Category: "episode 3"
The good news is that the first episode was not this season's sole "unconventional" challenge. This is the REAL deal. There are only so many things they can think of, I suppose; however, as Tim was delivering the details of the challenge, this one seemed particularly wackadoo. Frozen Yoplait? Coney Island? Carnival toys? Teams? I dunno...seems kinda destined for disaster....and it was! I mean how many decent things are there to really make something fabulous and chic out of within the realm of Coney Island prizes? Apparently, the majority of them are either blue vinyl or green vinyl. The designers' GoBanks are docked $100 as an allowance to play all the games. Translation: Luna Park required $1400 as a stipend.
Also, I've been wondering for a long time why "Project Runway" doesn't have individual challenge prizes, like "Top Chef" does for example. All it would take would be a company/product (like Yoplait!) to sponsor the challenge, get free advertising, and then up the ante of the challenge by awarding the winner a cash prize. Come on, we starving fashion designers would be over the moon for even $1000. When I heard the Yoplait representative speaking, and then the fact that the designers had to hand out samples of the new frozen yogurt product to promote it, and moreover ask the tasters for "descriptives" which are then meant to serve as inspiration for their designs, not only did I wonder if I was watching "Top Chef" for a minute, but also thought surely there would be a prize for such product placement. Alas, not even a year's supply of yogurt. I hope there was some at craft service at least!
Interesting team pairings, producers. Shocker that Timothy and Miranda are paired together. And Sandro and Sue: you couldn't choose two people with more polarized personalities and work styles. But then Helen and Kate seem like a match made in heaven since both their fortés are gowns. It's no surprise that there's plenty of drama in the workroom. I don't even know where to begin with Timothy and Miranda. Both of them seem a bit...unstable...and though I'm sure I'd want to beat the crap out of Timothy as well, there was no excuse for Miranda's immature smack talk and despicable mean-girl behavior. And then when she realized she was being such an a-hole and tearfully apologized to Timothy, whom she had driven to evacuate the workroom clutching his giant stuffed unicorn, she wanted to HUG IT OUT. Timothy's expression was priceless. And so was his sitting in a dark corner in the stairwell with Unicorn, reading the pep-talk letter from his model, which gave him the strength to carry on. Reality TV gold there. I did laugh out loud, even in my current stressed-out and sleep-deprived state, so thanks for that.
The runway was generally an explosion of icky vinyl and half-assed kitsch. There was a very clear winning design, and the rest were pretty much losers.
Bradon + Karen: While I appreciate the "out of the box" thinking here, the tumor-like appendages are gross, and this overall looks too costumey and not avant-garde. It does, however, fit well. And for those positives, the pair are safe.
Dom + Alexandria: As the judges said, this look makes anyone smile, which is great. But I think the only reason it was in the top is because there were so many bad entries, none of which were worthy of much praise. Why else would there only be TWO top teams? They made an adorable piece that someone (albeit only a Tokyo-Pop girl, a 12 year-old, or a raver) would actually wear, and virtually no one else did. And why didn't Heidi comment this week that it seemed to lack a bottom half?
Sandro + Sue: There is one of these looks in every unconventional challenge. It's just a boring silhouette with no signature. The skirt fabrication and hem makes it look sloppy and droopy. And the material itself isn't helping: Who wants to wear something that looks like it was made of blue vinyl shower curtains? The judges decided they were safe, though, which is good for Sue since she merely served as Sandro's slave.
Helen + Kate: Hands-down the only attractive entry this week. They were smart to choose the red straw hats, which were a really nice color. I'm sure the judges thought what I did when they saw it: "Thank God it isnʼt vinyl!" Aside from that factor, which made it stand out that much more, this chic little dress was well constructed, fashionable, and a clever use of materials. I could see it worn by any number of starlets to an event.
Alexander + Justin: Looks like a goth girl had to dress as a sea creature for Halloween. This needed a major editing eye. It was loads better after the jacket was taken off, but even then it was just okay, and those hip appendages had to go. Then they just couldn't stop themselves and had to add pink shoes and matching pink eye shadow. Wackadoo at its finest.
Jeremy + Ken: More blue vinyl, but at least they made separates. Only thing is, the separates were completely disjointed from each other. It's almost as if someone colorblind got dressed. Who would really wear blue vinyl pants anyway?
Miranda + Timothy: Even Miranda couldn't explain who would wear this and where. Who wears vinyl to the beach? It reminded me of those costumes that come in a clear plastic bag. The colors don't work together, and the vest looks like a shredded afterthought. And with that it is the inevitable auf for Timothy. At least he got to take his unicorn mascot with him.
Quote of the week: "I'm gonna need f**kin' therapy after this!" - Miranda. You already need therapy, but we all did after "Project Runway!" Welcome to the club.
Itʼs the ubiquitous Heidi challenge. It seems Heidi always has (yet another) product sheʼs launching, and this time itʼs her latest perfume, "Surprise." It must be hard being Heidi, in constant need of new things to wear to all the events associated with all these launches. Enter the "Project Runway" designers!
The designers enter the workroom and find giant pink gift boxes with black ribbons...my immediate thought was, "WOW, itʼs the Agent Provocateur lingerie challenge!" (Rhat is their exact packaging/gift box, and probably one of HKʼs favorite brands). Then when I saw little bowls of various scent ingredients, I knew I was on a different path. Tim gives the designers the exact same spiel he gave us on Season 7 when we had our Heidi Challenge: "Youʼve got a VERY important client with VERY strong opinions..." And soon it is revealed that the task is to design looks for Heidi to wear in a commercial/print ad and to the press event for the new fragrance, using the colors on the perfume bottle/packaging: black, pink and gold.
By the way, can we please rename these teams? I donʼt think they could be any worse. I doubt if the designers realized those names would be permanent for the entire season.
Itʼs always interesting to see how certain designers do with "red carpet"-type challenges. It can be an intimidating thing, especially when designing for ze Kluminator. She does, after all, have strong opinions, and will tell you sheʼs quite picky. I think Joseph, left to his own devices, would have probably designed some cat-themed hand-hooked or patchwork creation and made it into a gown. He says he aspires to see his design on the worst-dressed list. With a schizophrenic portfolio such as his, I think his dreams could come true. Thank goodness Amanda is there to reel him in.
In the workroom, Cindy asks advice from her peers: "Which is better: the pink taffeta or the iridescent pink shantung?" Uh, have you got anything less suited for an 80s prom dress, Cindy? Layana, who has immunity, is a total Nervous Nelly, getting hung up on minute details, such as the right shade of pink fabric, which by the way has already been purchased. Kate is right: there is no time for that. For better or for worse, in a one-day challenge, there is barely time to even step back and look at your design objectively. And even if you can, should you decide something is not working, there is seldom a) time to rework it and b) material with which to rework it. Decisions need to be made quickly and one needs to be constantly moving forward. Benjamin is struggling and reveals his personal "skeletons" in an interview. While this is touching, Benjamin, itʼs a bit early to be breaking down! Itʼs only the third episode (they have likely been in New York only ONE WEEK), and I wonder how he will do as the season continues. Losing oneʼs confidence in this fierce competition and stressful setting can be your worst enemy.
Keeping It Real is clearly the winning team. Layana and Kateʼs winning look blew everyone elseʼs out of the water. Not only was the design chock-full of details, but it was so very Heidi. It fulfilled the challenge perfectly. In addition, it was well-executed and the fit was spot-on. Danielʼs gown was wildly overpraised though. To me it looked like a tarty Kardashian gown out of cheap jersey, in a rather unflattering, dead color. Not worthy of second place in my opinion, but then again better than some others. Patriciaʼs dress, while I appreciate her ambitious fabrication and unique design, was incomplete; she needed another day (or half-day, as it seems she works very quickly) to add more leather squares to cover up the remainder of what looks like a nude slip or lining. It simply looks like she ran out of time and/or fabric, and part of the challenge on "Project Runway" is managing oneʼs time and materials. This again, is the problem with the "team" format this season: the judges have to select three top looks from the team the winning look is on. What if there is a look better than the second and third place looks on the other team? And how about that cha-cha-chicken look of Richardʼs? The judges did make some criticism of it, but he basically gets through unscathed.
Dream Team loses again, with several uninspiring looks, and several catastrophes. As predicted, Cindy creates an 80s-looking "mall" dress, extremely underdesigned and uninspiring. After having lowest-scoring looks every challenge, she is eliminated. Benjamin barely scoots by with his "shipwrecked" blunder. I have no words. Clearly his personal struggles got in the way of his confidence and productivity and it shows. The model is lucky the bust of the dress didnʼt fall down! Matthewʼs dress was just in bad tastedid he think Heidi was going to a Playboy event? Two designers who made their models busts look tragic...donʼt they know by now that Heidi is boobie-obsessed?!
When I was approached to participate in this challenge, I thought the concept was pretty clever, so I agreed to do it. Then I started thinking, wait I’ve got to *model* the outfit. I've got to WALK the runway! Oh, pleeeeaase don't give me a bad designer who's going to make a pink ruffled prom dress! Being the "client" as a not only a designer, but one who has already been through the "Project Runway" competition was interesting because on the one hand, I empathized with those designers, having to make an Emmy awards red carpet look in ONE day, but on the other hand, this was so personal in a way — I’m not a model after all! I felt very vulnerable trusting in them to pull it off and design and execute an outfit for me.
When I first met Raul and Alicia, they told me they both had menswear backgrounds. I saw the potential advantage to this: no ruffles and no pink — yay! I told them I like sleek, simple designs, leather, structure and tailoring (note the jacket I was wearing, a tuxedo-inspired black blazer with leather from my Fall collection; I was hoping they would have been inspired by that). When they told me they had to incorporate the color of the Lexus, my response was that although I wear a lot of black, I also love red and it suits me. I was trying not to think about the negative side to this: that they most likely had never made gowns and were probably not familiar with designing “red carpet” looks.
Imagine my shock and horror when I saw the red and black zebra-esque print Raul and Alicia had chosen from Mood. Not only is print a very risky choice for the red carpet, but honestly I thought it was tacky. I would not be caught dead in that, even at a pool party! I could not believe *that* was how Raul had been inspired by my personal style. When Tim and I critiqued them, we both concurred that they needed to step their design up a notch and make something much more formal for the Emmys. However, all they had as a backup fabric was a plain black silk crepe. They had purchased some black and red leathers, and I warned them that if they go with an all black dress, they will be criticized for not using red (the color of the Lexus). Why hadn’t they selected a solid red fabric? The problem was at this point was since it was so late in the day, they had spent all this precious time on a bodice and a design for the red and black print. It was a total redo.
Next were the “model fittings." My designers basically had nothing to fit on me except this red and black printed bodice so they could use it as a pattern. I was really bummed at this point, and concerned that the fit and style would suffer. I also warned them that I’m not exactly a mannequin size and my waist is much longer, so they needed to adjust accordingly. As I looked around the room, there were some interesting things happening for the other designer clients. I thought Elena and Buffi were working on something quite lovely and very suitable for Laura. I was impressed by Melissa and Dmitry’s liquid silver creation for April (although we left the fittings at 9 pm and ran to the nearest Duane Reade in search of some last-minute Spanx!).
With not much time left in their work day, I suspected this train was destined to wreck. However, I tried to be hopeful that at the very least, they would pull off a well-fitting, tastefully executed black gown (with red leather trim) and that perhaps another design would wreck harder and they would be safe. I felt for them, especially knowing they had not made gowns, and most likely not made clothes for a real, “non-model” client.
The next morning, Raul and Alicia tried the bodice and skirt on me. As I stood in front of the mirror, I thought, “Oh no." It was way too big and ill-fitting in the bust. The waist was landing at that awkward, unflattering point, where it wasn’t low enough to be at my real waist and it wasn’t high enough to be empire. The neckline was also neither-here-nor-there, a high V which was ultra-conservative. I dieted for a week before I came on the show and NOW you’re gonna make me look fat?!?? Sad face. I just felt fat and frumpy. I remember thinking at that point how much I would have loved it if they had made me a sexy tuxedo. Or even a tuxedo-inspired gown. It was yet another "Project Runway" lesson: trust your instincts and stay within your wheelhouse! What a missed opportunity they had to create something outside the box.
In hair and makeup, I just wanted to feel prettier! My boy Scott did a beautiful job on the makeup, as always. It was the obvious choice to go with a bold red lip. However the horsetail side pony was a major misstep. I had suggested a sleek chignon in the back or on the side, and Johnny suggested adding an extension and Raul loved the idea. I only wish I had interjected and taken more control over the hair. It was so NOT Mila! I wanted to whack that thing off!
Backstage before the runway, the dress was still droopy and ill-fitting. I happened to have both topstick (double stick tape strips, a stylist and costumer’s staple) and a few safety pins (tanother staple) in my purse. Laura pinned about two inches out of my neither-here-no-there-waistline. I feared for my life as the hem of the gown was done so poorly (unevenly and with loose threads), as with every step I took, my heel was getting caught in the hem! In fact during one run-through walking the runway, I almost fell. So I started taping the hem in a few places.
During the judges’ critique on the runway, I told them how I’d wished for something more tailored. They all concurred, that a woman’s tuxedo would have been so fab. I recalled the Met challenge (which I won) during Season 7, in which every team made a gown except Jonathan and I. Being that I am not a “gown” designer, I went with my strength, and knew I wanted to make a coat, which then evolved into a twist on a tuxedo. The judges loved the fact that we didn’t make a gown.
As far as the other designs go, I felt some of the judging was off. I preferred BOTH Melissa/Dmitry’s and Elena/Buffi’s to the top scorers, Gunnar/Kooan’s (Which was too bridal), and Ven/Fabio’s (Which, while beautifully executed, was too daytime lady-who-lunches or early cocktail for the Emmys, especially in Navy). April looked beautiful in the silvery, old-Hollywood glamour gown, and what was interesting is it was not so on-the-nose "goth" yet it really did suit her. In the end, unfortunately I did feel like the right person was eliminated. Sorry, Raul.
My regrets? Not that I agreed to be a "client," but that I was not more assertive and demanding, like Kenley, who basically told her designers what to do, down to what type of fabric to buy! I should have directed them more, should have taken charge of the hair, and maybe I should have even started sewing that hem! But in the end, it’s their competition and on "Project Runway" every decision is crucial, and one misstep can be fatal.