Mila Hermanovski Blog
Category: "episode 4"
When I saw the teaser that Jesse Tyler Ferguson would be the guest judge this week, my initial reaction was, "What the heck does he know about fashion?” I do often find it annoying when there is a guest judge who is more celebrity and less fashion designer. While Jesse is not a fashion designer, he and his fiancé have a line of bow ties called Tie The Knot, a trendy menʼs accessory right now, which uses proceeds to support marriage equality, so I can respect not only the whimsical theme but also the cause. I was fully expecting the winning design to be part of a campaign, or at least auctioned to benefit marriage equality!
The challenge sounds fairly straightforward, but sometimes designers tend to either be too literal, or to obscure. In this case, the tie really needed to be represented. It symbolizes not only the literal product itself, but also the marriage equality message. Since Jesse is essentially sponsoring the challenge and will be a judge, I donʼt understand how some designers paid so little attention to it. Itʼs kind of a big "duh" that youʼll get more points for using more ties. There were a surprising number of designs that fell short in that respect.
DOM: Admittedly, Iʼm a sucker for stripes, so I thought this graphic dress was fantastic. It was really well thought out in its use of directional panels, and also carefully picking out all the striped ties in various colors. When she announced her initial concept and mentioned "origami" I knew right away I would like the outcome. The only thing I was a little disappointed in was the silhouette; I wish she had pushed it a bit more with proportion or shape. But it was a happy dress for a happy cause, very cleverly done.
JEREMY: I was worried when he said he would be inspired by his Gran who just passed; his work already has a tendency to go matronly or slightly marmy, and while I feel compassionate towards the fact that he is grieving, he did not do himself any favors with that inspiration. There is a time and place for that and he needed to stay on course. But believe me, it is much easier said than done; in the pressure cooker of "Project Runway" there is simply no room for anything other than staying focused on the competition, for that in itself is so draining. Not only was the outfit extremely mature (it aged his model) and not fashionable, but he did not represent the tie. The color combination was not great and the trousers were even less so.
BRADON: This guy was so smart to use only the ties for his woven bustier top. Another smart move was to make that top the star piece and use the haberdashery tweed fabric which so well complemented the ties as the suiting. The overall look was clever, fresh, youthful, and very suitable for the challenge. He kept saying he hadnʼt made the jacket yet; does that mean he finished it in 2 hours?? In a touching "TV Gold" moment, after being awarded the win, Bradon then proposed to his boyfriend of 18 years, right on the runway! Heidi tells Josh he needs to say yes! Cut to: Los Angeles, six months from now: Heidi and Nina are bridesmaids, Top Gunn is the best man, Jesse presides over the union, and Zac is the ring bearer, petal sprinkler! And Bradon and Josh can be married at last!
KEN: The dress was "fine," but not only lacked a signature but also the key element. Using the ties as trim only was way too subtle.
MIRANDA: Channeling Seth Aaron a bit, her houndstooth look is another one which did not utilize the bow tie enough. There were so many problems with this outfit, and more than ever showed her lack of experience and skill. The jacket was particularly ill-fitting, way too tight in the sleeve and looking like it is going to fall off the shoulders. Can she do anything other than a pencil skirt (the easiest garment to fabricate)? Also the shiny green crop top really ruined it.
HELEN: She was realllly lucky she had immunity, because her gown was very poorly executed. It was difficult to even see the design elements because the look was so sloppy. As many others, her use of the ties seemed to be an afterthought.
ALEXANDER: All I could think was "gay pride clown collar." While Alexander used a lot of ties, the way he placed them, the fact that he used a plain black ground, and the fact that they were rainbow bright colors made me think I was looking at a retail display mannequin in the bow tie department of Macyʼs.
SANDRO: As usual, this frothy pink asymmetric look was overdone and of questionable taste. Sandroʼs behavior, however, trumped all, as he was eliminated from the show based on his tantrum in which he was verbally aggressive towards the other designers and then ripped off his mic (could be $5k right there) and stormed out of the building onto 7th Avenue. Good riddance! This action, however, saved all the other designers who were on the chopping block. I canʼt help but wonder what Sandroʼs pre-casting psycho-evaluation looked like!
SUE: Spent over $400 and then only came up with a black jersey foundation dress and simply tied some of the same patterned ties together to make what she describes as an "exoskeleton"and a sad one at that. I get her concept, but it needed to be pushed a lot further to be avant garde; it was merely crafty boho-eclectic.
JUSTIN: Just "safe." Yet again (I feel redundant!), not enough use of the ties and not a great representation. That said, it was a perfectly nice dress with some seaming interest.
KATE: Her wildly overpraised design was just ok for me. It was nice to see separates, but again I felt that her interpretation wasnʼt as clever as Kate (and the judges) thought it was.
KAREN: This navy-and-white pattern mix look was oddly secretarial and the trousers were illfitting. Mary Tyler Moore would have loved it though.
ALEXANDRIA: While still a subtle use of the tie, this modern, cool look felt very "now" and makes me look forward to see what she does in future challenges.
Through the last 10 seasons of "Project Runway," Iʼve aways wondered how the producers came up with new unconventional challenges, and when they would run out of ideas. Perhaps that time has come. I can just hear it now: the producers brainstorming, pre-network-presentation: "What the heck are we going to do for the unconventional challenge this time? Everything has been done! Wait...what if we COMBINE two of the challenges? Letʼs make them use flowers AND hardware in the same garment! Heidi can use her new tagline, 'I like hard and soft!'" And itʼs a double whammy.
I wonder what that workroom smelled like with all those overly-fake-scented Glade candles burning. Come on, someone be honest. You canʼt tell me that 30-something deodorizing candles burning in that room was not olfactory hell. Oh yeah...you canʼt say air anything negative about a sponsor! I was waiting for the challenge to have some sort of twist that would make it more relevant to Glade candles...but I guess they were trying to make it a floral connection.
The designers are sketching this time. In some previous unconventional challenges, we did not sketch but rather just went to the source of materials (in my case, the hardware store...which by the way was the very same one they use in this episode). While I guess sketching can be good to do beforehand to have some sort of plan, I also feel like it can be a waste of timethat sketching AFTER the shopping trip is more useful because you have no idea what you may find in the store and that can have a significant impact on your design. Iʼm betting many designers had to modify or change their designs after they returned from shopping.
The teams have been shaken up to even them out a bit. Michelle is now on Team KIR and Stanley and Layana are on Dream Team. Dream Team comes up with the concept of "Dior New Look" and a color palette; Team KIR has no common theme or direction to keep their looks cohesive (not good). As a result, the looks they are creating look like they are made by "crazy people," says Michelle. Did anyone notice Josephʼs crazy sketch?! Just to be clear, Team KIR: "RuPaul meets 'Gilliganʼs Island'" is NOT a good theme. Michelle, by the way, wins the prize for the best sound bytes this episode!
During the workroom critiques, Michelle comes up with a theme for the team, so that they can try to justify their "insane asylum" looks to the judges: "decades." Whatʼs funny is it kind of made sense when each designer announced his/her era on the runway. Tim advises Joseph, "You donʼt want it to look like itʼs consuming her," referring to an overly-embellished outfit. Actually, Tim, he does want that! What came to my mind, ironically enough, was look #40 in Christian Sirianoʼs Spring 2011 collection, which looked like a massive red tulle creature eating the model as she walked down the runway. Poor Amanda is having a Titanic experience, sinking as she tries to tread water and all her team mates try to keep her afloat.
Sidebar: can we talk about Heidiʼs runway-day dress? Hello, giant diamond/triangle at crotch?! What are she and her stylist smoking that allowed then to overlook this? It also made me reflect upon when I was criticized by Nina for a chevron dress Iʼd made for a challenge to design Heidiʼs cover look for Marie Claire. Nina was obsessed with the fact that the chevrons were pointing at the crotch...yet Heidi didnʼt seem to mind.... (p.s., Kors had a black and white chevron swimsuit that season with...you guessed it...arrows to the crotch).
Welcome the odd pairing of judges: the legendary performer Bette Midler, and the newly legendary blogger Leandra Medine (aka Man Repeller). Some trivia for you here: my good friend Lou who is a costume designer for shows such as "Glee" and "American Horror Story" (we worked together on "Nip/Tuck") told me she used to tour with Bette, and how she would always insist upon having fresh flowers DAILY. So Iʼm sure she enjoyed being a guest for this challenge!
Team KIR has a more avant-garde collection, albeit less cohesive. Most looks spoke for themselves, and were quirky in their own ways. The judges deemed that this was the less successful team, and I agree. The lowest scoring looks were Joseph and Amanda....but can we talk about Danielʼs RuPaul-meets-Creature From the Black Lagoon creation? This was one of the worst in my opinion, with the dripping bits and the overexaggerated, drag queen-esque panniers. Was it worse than the moss dress? Perhaps not. Was it worse than Josephʼs? I think so. It was nice to see Joseph take a different path and I thought his use of color and composition were interesting, not to mention the evidence of the mix of organic and hardware materials. Not a top-scorer by any means, but certainly more unique and less of an eyesore than Danielʼs. I felt bad for Amanda, though, who was totally thrown under the bus by all her teammates. I know they are ASKED to declare the weakest player, but the whole thing was uncomfortable and you could tell Amanda was a bit taken aback. Of course she was spared, so that there will potentially be drama between her and her teammates going forward. If I were her, Iʼd feel pretty crappy right about now, and possibly wish Iʼd been put out of my misery to avoid all that tension and the feeling that all her teammates think she should have been eliminated. Just icky.
Dream Teamʼs looks were pretty spectacular. From Tuʼs "sleeveless jacket" to Stanleyʼs leaf lady, not a single one was bad. It was very cohesive in both silhouettes and color palette, and even fabrication, as they all looked well made. My favorite look was Samanthaʼs, as she really married the "hard and soft" the best, and the dress looks current and fashionable. I love the cutout bodice. Layanaʼs dress was indeed magical, but looked made of predominantly organic materials, so not *quite* as successful as Samanthaʼs in fulfilling the challenge.
Youʼve been watching Season 10 for 4 weeks. What you probably donʼt realize is that the designers have been in New York competing for less than 2. Thatʼs right: they get NO time off in between challenges. Can you imagine having 4 challenges in just over a week? Not to mention they have no communication outside the "Project Runway" "bubble," they canʼt listen to music, read books or magazines or eat whatever they want. They have to sleep (What little they get) on crappy twin mattresses and share an apartment with 3 other roommates. And everyone wants to win.
This might help you understand why some of the designers can crack. The "bubble" really is that intense (And even more than you could ever fathom until youʼve been there). People do things they might not ordinarily do and might behave differently because the pressure is so great. You have to be tough to survive the fashion industry, and certainly "Project Runway." It was one of the hardest things Iʼve ever done in my life, but I never once thought about quitting. Maybe it was a combination of my Taurean determination and designer pride.
All that said, I felt like Andreaʼs resignation was lame. Certainly as a teacher she would not advise a student to quit. And certainly she must have had some inkling of how strenuous the show is from watching it. I have maybe a *bit* more respect for Kooanʼs departure, only because he explained how he realized the platform of the show was not for him, and he wanted to do his thing on his own terms; but again, was the way the show is really that much of a surprise? Itʼs a major process casting the show, and whittling down to 16 people from thousands. There are a lot of people who would love an opportunity to be on the show, so really anyone who doesnʼt want to be there, shouldnʼt. When several of the other designers started crying when Kooan left, I thought, "Thereʼs no crying! You should be glad! There are two less competitors! Youʼre that much closer to winning!" But I know itʼs unsettling and the designers are already stretched thin physically, emotionally and mentally.
The designersʼ departures and Raulʼs return made me recall when Maya left the show on my season, though we were much farther along (Top 6). I was shocked that she waited so long and left after making it that far. Not only was she a good designer, but she was my roommate and kind of like a little sister. Everyone was rattled by her departure and Anthonyʼs return I had a hard time focusing that day and my work suffered. I feel no one in that challenge (We had to make a red carpet look for Heidi in one day) really did *great*, and we all looked at each other after we saw our looks walk the runway and said, "We did it ... barely." I donʼt know that anyone was completely satisfied with their designs, except maybe Emilio, who won the challenge. I felt like this is what happened to the remaining designers in this challenge.
Overall, I was disappointed in the designs in this episode. Perhaps the designers were rattled, and freaked out, as I mentioned. They had gone to the Michael Kors boutique to receive their assignment my Kors himself, which I recall from the hardware store challenge in my season. He and Tim tell the designers to create a versatile look for a "woman on the go." While this is not described as a "sportswear" challenge per se, one of the keys to a versatile look is separates, otherwise, the versatility is in the styling. I was really expecting to see more sportswear from the designers, and yet the top three made dresses. Read my thoughts on each designer after the jump!