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Mila Hermanovski Blog
Category: "episode 4"
OK, so for those of us who don’t really have a clue about the "Project Runway" Season 13 sponsor, this episode will enlighten us! You see, this is what they pay for. Apparently Red Robin is the “Home of the Gourmet Burger!” Tim says excitedly. The designers gather 'round to get the spiel from the Red Robin’s “President of Brand Transformation," a small man in a rather cheesy suit and tie. I can just see him now, planning his outfit: “I’m going to be on 'Project Runway,' so I need to be SUPER fashionable." A cacophony of men emerge in colorful, ill-fitting suits, some from the 1970s and some formal wear, which the designers find out will (along with a side of fries) serve as their inspiration AND their main fabric. They are to use as much of the suit fabric as possible to create a high-fashion look. The producers decide that Sandhya, the poor bullied girl who has no friends, will get her revenge by choosing a suit for each of her competitors. Of course the storyline of the rivalry between her and Hernan is amplified now, as he is convinced she selected the worst possible suit for him. Sabotage!
There certainly are some hideous suits there. I know now why they were all ill-fitting: because the producers tried to buy suits in larger sizes so the designers would have more fabric to work with. Honestly I don’t think Hernan got the worst suit; Sean did. Come on: Dijon-colored corduroy? What woman even wears corduroy anymore, and how the heck do you make it look high fashion?! Of course Sandhya chooses the most colorful one which is yellow and purple. Amanda is kvetching over her pink floral damask; Mitchell hates his denim leisure suit. I still don’t understand what any of this has to do with burgers.
The designers supplement their vintage polyesters with materials from Mood. I do think this is kind of a fun challenge, but I also think it sucks for the designers that in the first four episodes, they’ve been forced to use either materials which are not of their choosing, or “non-fabric” materials for all but one challenge. Tim visits the workroom and Amanda is going all krazy kwilt on us. I’m kind of scared of the crafty-patchwork direction. Kini, on the other hand, is apparently the speed sewer this season, and has already whipped up a very sharp-looking dress; Tim is impressed, but Alexander thinks his designs are bland and “understated." I’d hardly call that dress understated. Mitchell has taste issues again; it seems that in every challenge he only does slutty club dresses and talks crap about everyone else’s designs. Poor Sean is really struggling with his Dijon corduroy and attempts a deconstructed look by making a textile using the suit fabric and others which he bought at Mood, all in a similar palette; it’s not working and there doesn’t seem to be any hope of saving it. Hernan is also completely tanking. He blames Sandhya for giving him an awful suit, then becomes indignant about the whole thing and just wants to throw in the towel. We can see this train is headed to derailment as he cuts the dress and has no time to hem it. Ouch. There is nothing quite like the feeling on the morning of the runway when your heart is racing because you seem to have an impossible amount of work to do, and know you may not even finish. Then, when Tim gives his 10-minute warning, you have to think very quickly about what you can let go and what you can realistically do in such a short amount of time. Typically the judges are pretty unforgiving for a raw-edged hem.
Korina: Her red-and-black motorcycle jacket and skirt looks cheap. All I could think of was some JC Penney misses’ department ensemble which was supposed to be for the matronly customer who’s having a rebellious moment. It looked dated and the opposite of what a “high fashion” outfit should be.
Char: Ditto from last week. Everything she makes is starting to look the same to me. It’s fine, but there's nothing ground-breaking or particularly distinct about her POV.
Fade: Much better this week. His design had wonderful texture combinations and a great silhouette. It looked very Parisian.
Samantha: Not blown away, but it was an interesting LBD. I thought it would have been much more chic had the length been longer.
Hernan: What a disaster. Nina was being kind when she said the back looked perfect; certainly nothing about it looked perfect. Why oh why would he choose to add vinyl to the design? I’m all for a chevron, but not a gigantic “V” in the front of the skirt. There are just so many things wrong with this dress. Seems Sandhya’s voodoo worked and Hernan dug his own grave! Sadly, he seemed to know his auf was coming.
Alexander: I hate to say it after my reaction to last week’s judging, but I am glad he was spared because this design was really great. Not only did it look high fashion, but Alexander styled his model so well that she really looked like a little starlet on the red carpet or even at a Paris fashion week party. He did a great job and let’s hope we see more like this from him.
Mitchell: Where do I begin? Cheap, tacky, costumey, ill-fitting. Since when does vinyl equate with high fashion? I always wondered what the judges do when the low scores are tied between two or more designers, meaning they must decide who goes on the chopping block and who slides through to safety. Consult with the producers is my guess. I was imagining his score could have been just as low as Kristine’s perhaps, but because of the motorcycle jacket story line, and the fact that Mitchell talks crap about everyone, he slid through. Just a possible theory.
Sean: We all knew watching the episode that it would be very very difficult for Sean to make something good out of his “deconstructed” mustard creation. He was on the right track to break up the corduroy so it wasn’t distinguishable, but I think one fatal error (which he knew was a risk) was using the fraying/reverse side of the textile he created. I wouldn’t say the other side was “boring” -- he could have made a more interesting design, or a long dramatic gown which perhaps would have at least landed him into safety. He should have stuck with the entire outfit being made out of the same textile, rather than making an icky power mesh crop top. Come on, Sean, we know you can do better!
Kristine: Kristine got a suit made out of fabric that was also potentially difficult to work with: velour. When I saw her moto jacket in the workroom versus Korina’s, there was no question that hers looked better than Korina’s; however, Kristine spent so much time on the jacket that she was scrambling to make a pant for the outfit, and in doing so realized she did not have enough fabric, so she made a rushed, bad decision to add black organza to the pant legs in order to make them full length. I would have simply made them bermuda length or cropped pants if possible. She may have been able to get away with that and some cool styling. But those pants were very scary. The bad critique shook her up but at least she made it to the next round, because she has some great potential!
Amanda: Sorry, but I didn’t like the design unfolding in the workroom and I didn’t like it on the runway. To me it looked like some kooky thing you’d find in a thrift store that was hand-made by a hippie in a band. My first thought was Stevie Nicks, and then the model was totally doing the “Stevie twirls" during the deliberations! Tim called it when he said the fringe would be her saving grace. Sure, Amanda took polyester suit fabric and transformed it so you’d have never known its origin, but does that make it a winning design? Not in my book. I mean would you really think someone looked chic wearing that dress on the red carpet? Or would you be more impressed by Kini’s design? I stand firmly in betting that Amanda’s dress would make it onto US Weekly’s worst-dressed page. I’d like to know what Nina REALLY thinks about it.
Kini: Kini is making statements with his work. I am starting to see his POV as a designer, and that is what you want on "Project Runway." He did a fantastic job this week with the challenge. His look was strong, sexy, and had just enough detail. He was very clever to use neoprene as an accent, which added an edge and sculpted element. Now, you must admit that it is much easier to make grey pinstripes look chic as opposed to mustard corduroy or pink damask. But in the end it was a bit of “luck of the draw” (OR, whatever fate Sandhya has for you), with design and construction prowess. Undoubtedly Kini “made it work” and produced a very well-constructed, red-carpet-ready design which looked expensive. He was completely robbed of the win this week.
Sandhya: Another look from her which was undoubtedly original. However there were way too many elements going on and it needed editing. Even Tim seemed skeptical of her mustache stencil, which was too gimmicky. There is no denying there were some interesting elements to the look, and it was a creative and fun showing on the runway. For me though, personally, it went a bit too far, a la Jeremy Scott (whose designs I’m not a fan of), and ended up looking too much like student work.
Emily: Fantastic job again. Emily really understands what it is that trend-driven girls like to wear. This was a clever use of the plaid jacket. I love that she made cropped pants out of it as well. The look had great proportions and details and reminded me of Gwen Stefani’s “L.A.M.B.” line. If I had been a judge I’d have given this look a higher score than Amanda’s.
Now, who’s inspired to go try one of Red Robin’s 24 burgers? Do any of you know where I got the title of my blog this week? Something about a leisure suit and a cheeseburger made me think of this film...
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!