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Mila Hermanovski Blog
Category: "episode 7"
For this seasonʼs Marie Claire challenge, the designers take a field trip to the styling closet full of shoes, where Anne Fulenwider, the new editor-in-chief (who replaced Joanna Coles), makes her television debut. I must say she is no Joanna. When I first heard that she was leaving MC to go to Cosmopolitan, I thought it must be because Nina wanted her job! But sadly Nina wasnʼt promoted, and they brought in Anne, who was previously at Brides magazine and Vanity Fair. Is it me, or would Nina not have been a more appropriate choice than a Bridal editor? But what do I know about the editorial hierarchy...?
I digress...back to the SHOES. The designers are told to select a pair of shoes from the massive array in the closet....oh wait, *psych*! They can only choose from a select area within the closet, a choice of about 10-12 pair, it seems. The shoes are to serve as the source of inspiration, and basically the challenge is to design an outfit FOR the shoes. But why didnʼt they have to use shoes from the Belk wall (kidding!)? In lieu of the old velvet bag to decide the order in which the designers get to select their shoes, Tim gives them a fashion quiz! I love this twist as it does sort of separate the dedicated fashion designer from (well, the NOT so dedicated). You really do need to know at least some important moments in fashion history and fashion popular culture to be a respectable designer, in my book. It is important to not only know the significance of fashion movements in history, but also be aware of that which is happening in contemporary fashion and pop culture. Miranda fails and gets to choose last.
Iʼve noticed recently that the show covers a lot more of the workroom processes, which I think a lot of viewers have wanted to focus on more so than "life outside the workroom." I for one am not sad that we donʼt see designers applying mascara, straightening their hair, brushing their teeth, and being prompted to discuss the most recent elimination from their beds. A little is OK, but Iʼd much rather see what is at the crux of the competition: the pitfalls of trying to make an outfit in a day. One of such pitfalls was Bradenʼs struggle. He had committed to his materials and had this technique in mind, but got so hung up on it that he lost any sense of modern style. After his critique with Tim, he had a partial "do over," but was pretty much stuck with what he had in terms of fabric.
KEN, who harped on how unforgivable it was that many "educated" designers didnʼt know their fashion history, selected a high-heeled, strappy, laced black sandal, and to compliment it, designed a top-scoring peplum dress out of what I believe is a black Carolina Herrera reptile cloqué (I swear someone in front of me at Mood today just bought some!). I honestly thought this dress was overpraised, but maybe itʼs because I think peplums need to go awayand this peplum was larger than life (and a bit sloppy)! I did like the sporty styling in the bodice, but couldnʼt get completely behind the dress. However, I do think it complemented the shoe very well; the outfit was believable.
ALEXANDER chose a nude patent Louboutin pump with red stripe up the back, and decided (along with Miranda) he must make red Tartan plaid pants. Unless you are Vivienne Westwood, itʼs very difficult to make red Tartan look cool and not "Talbots." I was concerned that he would have fit issues, but in the end his trousers fit well and it was key that they have an exaggerated fit (in his case, skinny) to be successful. The top he paired with them, while interesting, did not in my opinion complement the pants; there was a disconnect. The top looked like it belonged to a dressier ensemble. He was safe.
MIRANDA, on the other hand, having chosen red Tartan as well, had the last pick of shoes, which appeared to be the last pair available...but from the editing I couldnʼt tell. Nevertheless, she "knew she wanted" one of the ugliest pairs of shoes in the closet the moment she saw them (what does that say?). She then made one of the ugliest outfits to complement those shoes, so hey, I guess she was fulfilling the challenge! Nina was right when she said it looked like Christmas. When I saw the first shot of the shoes and bottom of the pants come out from the scrim, all I could think was "holiday grandma," given the combination of red Tartan with red patent flats, and the fit/hem. A super wide leg would have been soooo much better than this dated, mumsy fit. And why on earth would it not register to Miranda that she should avoid making virtually the same odd cropped tank top she had made before, after she was so supremely criticized for it? And white leather with red Tartan? Yikes. The poor styling choice to "Winehouse" her model didnʼt help at all either! I knew Mirandaʼs days were numbered, and this was just another in a series of uninspiring designs throughout the competition...so itʼs an Auf to her.
DOM was second-to-last to pick shoes, but she actually got a pair that were so bad they were good, if that makes sense: colorblocked creepers! At least it was something she could have fun with, and I thought she had a lot of potential since it seems she can do the urban/street/sport thing better than some of the others. However, the choice to make a quilted dress was a poor one. And she tried to select the exact same colors in the shoes, which made the whole outfit a bit too matchy. That didnʼt bother me as much, though, as the silhouette and some of the odd design lines. The dress needed to either be a super fitted/stretch construction, or a cute little boxy/mod shift. Trying to fit her quilted look only made the model look big and begs the question, "Who would wear that?" Dom slipped through though, and is on to the next round.
JUSTIN is safe for his design, and has redeemed himself (at least for now) from his disaster last week, with this all-black edgy look for his multi-colored, printed pumps. This was a surprise coming from him, but maybe itʼs just because Iʼm not sure what his POV is as a designer. I am normally not a fan of poufy anything, especially not hips...but the pant look succeeded because of a successful balance and proportion: super fitted bustier, leather shrug to add strength to the shoulders, and tapered leg.
ALEXANDRIA having won the last challenge, was able to choose her shoes first. She selected the badass thigh-high gladiator sandals (This totally would have been my choice). I think generally Alexandria has been under the radar, and have always thought she is the designer this season who understands what is modern and contemporary in fashion and what the downtown girl wants to wear. Itʼs not for everyone, but I respond to what she designs. The little black dress she made was a perfect balance of simple lines with interesting details. It has an ease to it which complements the shoes which are in-your-face hard. I love that she added a bit of lace as well. In my opinion this is the only look (with Helen a close second) which really looks straight off the runway or like you would see an off-duty model wearing walking through New York. However, Zac called it "pedestrian" (HUH??) and Anne criticized that Alexandria relied only on the shoes (isnʼt the challenge about the shoes?). The styling was perfection as wellfrom the fab hair and dewy makeup to the bold arm cuff and simple clutch. She was the winner in my book, and I think in Ninaʼs as well, who said it looks just like something she would see in the pagers of Marie Claire.
KAREN created another predictable, safe look which was very matchy to her chartreuse/grey sandals. The jacket was terribly ill-fitting; it was super boxy (not in a good way) and kept falling off the modelʼs shoulders when she walked, a sign of a poor armhole/sleeve/shoulder construction. When the look is that simple, the fit and construction need to be spot-on; hers was not.
BRADEN's choice of champagne colored, embellished flats could have inspired him to do much more than this awful, matronly swing dancer look which landed him in the bottom two. I was sure heʼd be eliminated (the phone call to his fiancé, I thought, surely was the kiss of death), but then again earlier in the competition he was a judgeʼs favorite. I had always been skeptical, as he is more of a costume designer and while he has produced some great work, I feel the last challenge and now this one have shown that sometimes he does not have a grip of what is fashionable. The styling did not do any favors.
KATE was on the right track with designing a black split palazzo pant and white shirt for her surrealist red sandals. When I saw the shoes...and then the pants...I thought, "She could be in the top 3 for this"...but when the camera panned up there was a disastrous top happening. It way too tight and appeared to be lopsided, which may or may not have been intentional. Either way, it failed. If she wanted to push the artsy/surrealist concept, it needed to be pushed further, a la Margiela. Instead the shirt appeared very poorly constructed. However there were worse blunders (and at least she got the bottom half right), so Kate slipped through.
JEREMY whose ego we are seeing rear its ugly head more and more in every episode, selected a pair of "Pretty Woman"-esque over-the-knee black suede boots with gold chain trim. I recoiled a bit when I saw those, and thought right away it could be a runaway train. Still, there was a part of me that thought maybe he would do something more tasteful to balance those boots, since he has good construction skills and if anything airs on the more conservative side with his design POV. Well I guess not! He really did feel inspired to design a look which felt like Shakira-meets-Dionne Warwick circa 1999. The fabrication he was so proud of looked sloppy and cheap. There are some major taste issues here, and an even bigger concern that he was so defensive about the critique (“the judges donʼt know what theyʼre talking about”).
HELEN. takes the win this time, which was surprising to me. I liked her very referential Alexander Wang for Balenciaga/ Margiela look a lot, but it was really all about the cape. I am a fan of minimalism, and it was executed very well. BUT...it is so rare that a designer wins for a look which is all black and minimalist. The biggest problem I had with her winning, however, is that the look did not complement or seem inspired by the boots. Thatʼs not to say it wasnʼt styled fine, or that they donʼt work at all as a look, but to me it lost the point of the challenge, and in my opinion Alexandriaʼs made a stronger statement and fulfilled the challenge better.
Random observations on Tim Gunn this week:
-Tim totally threw Jeremy under the bus to the judges! For that alone, I thought Jeremy could have been eliminated. Clearly Jeremy is not a TG fave.
-Tim told Miranda after she had been eliminated that he "responded well to her look." Whaaaa?
-Tim used his ubiquitous expression, "The most talented group in the history of the show," to describe this crop of designers. Donʼt you know he says that each and every season? Tim, the BS meters are going off...
It's the unconventional challenge! Wait, didn't we already have one? OK, it's a sponsored product placement challenge! The designers are introduced to Fred the duck as their hint. All I could think of was Aflac (now thatʼs some good advertising and marketing). No, it's DUCK Tape. At one point, someone decided it would be clever to brand duct tape as Duck Tape, just to confuse the masses. What did you do with duct tape in college? In art school in the late '80s we'd patch our combat boots or even our vintage men's wing-tip shoes (worn with cut-offs or a babydoll dress and black ripped tights) in the old-school silver variety. My boyfriend's niece made him a duct tape wallet and messenger bag. Throughout the years, duct tape has been used in very fun and innovative ways.
For this challenge, the designers have a myriad of newfangled, novelty colored and printed DUCK tapes to choose from to create a prom dress as a team, in ONE day (not the 24-hour kind of day, but more the 8-hour variety). That afternoon, they will be judged by high school students first, before the regular judging panel; the student vote supposedly accounts for 20% of the final scores.
The producers are ready to shake things up a bit, so the teams are shuffled by drawing names and those who are called are able to select a partner. It's about time! Stanley is over Richard, so he chooses "someone who can teach him something," the younger Layana, whom I actually thought was about 22 but in fact is 28 and acts like 19. While I don't know that Layana is going to teach him anything, Stanley could not have made a better move than dumping Richard. Kate picks Tu, so she can have the upper hand. Michelle chooses Amanda, and they become BFFs. A rejected Richard goes with Daniel, and that only leaves Samantha with Patricia. Samantha is "buggin'" over this, but I can tell she is trying really hard not to dis Patricia in her interviews, but rather emphasize that the two of them have such different points of view. At least she's trying to be diplomatic!
Layana, honey, Richard isn't jealous of you. He's just got a bruised ego. So he takes all the gold tape so no one else can use it. Bitter and spiteful, or just competitive? Either way, it was kind of an asshole move. And speaking of tape choices, Michelle and Amanda are each gravitating towards different printed tapes, both of which would be pretty yucko for a prom dress: Camouflage and tie-dye. Thank goodness they agree to disagree and work it out to come up with a new idea, to make their own giant houndstooth print (infinitely better). I found myself wondering: Do they plant those ugly prints, just to see if the designers will go for them? Probably just the sponsor wanting all their product out there...but still, it made me think. Patricia and Samantha seem to be working together rather sheepishly. Seems there is some tension and both ladies are aware of it. Samantha makes TWO bodices since they can't seem to merge their designs. Certainly there could be a more efficient way of using her time/working, but then again, if she has time to make two bodices, go girl! I recall when I was paired with Jay ("by chance") in a team challenge and it was so awkward. It sucks when there is tension and whether or not you are able to rise above it, it's still there, and you find yourself envious of those who are working synergistically.
Lone Wolf and Amanda are an example of a team that had that synergy. They were having a grand old time together and that energy helped produce a WOW moment of a design. The dress was unique, bold, fun and cool. Most high school girls want something fun for the prom. This dress is definitely for a certain girl. Not everyone could pull it off, but it was fab. I love that they created their own pattern, well engineered by Michelle. I could have done without the side cutouts, but other than that it was a great shape. And Michelle has a coup at last!
Layana and Stanley receive high scores. Stanley is on a roll. He is pretty much guaranteed a place in the finals at this point, methinks. It's always good to get some wins under your belt early in the competition because it makes the judges notice you, and if you do slip up, they are less likely to give you the axe. The dress these two produced a super cute, well constructed design. It appeals to that "Glee" girl: Youthful, flirty, fun. While I like the touch of pink, I did think the bow was a bit much. Perhaps it could have been scaled down a bit. The crinoline was marvelous. Nice job!
Moustache and Richard, low scorers, produced a mess of a dress which was '80s in a bad way. Funny enough it truly reminded me of a dress I wore to a prom back then. The underlying silhouette of the dress was the most simple cut (the princess foundation), yet was not fitting well. The sweetheart bodice and the ruffles, all in gold, made it look cheap and dated. And all that faux-lattice on the sides simply got lost. But thank god they didn't touch that leopard print tape that was on their table! Guess that move of hoarding all the gold tape didnʼt work out so well for you, did it Richard?
Kate and Tu also flopped. While the dress at least fit well and was well-constructed, the color was dull and drab and too mature for a high school girl. I don't necessarily agree with Nina that all girls want short dresses. I think Kate is right that most girls seldom (if ever) have an opportunity to wear long gowns, so some of them want to use the prom as an opportunity to do it to the nines. That said, the dress is not the most forward. I was an editor at Your Prom magazine once and the dresses I saw and that we featured really ran the gamut. And in a "shocking elimination," BOTH Kate and Tu get the axe! Personally I think it would have been more interesting and appropriate if Tu and Richard had been eliminated. The two low scoring designs each had issues, and at least this gown fit well.
Samantha and Patricia ended up with the most popular dress by the students! After all that tension they cranked out a really fun design. I have to admit when I first saw it developing I feared it would look like a Hanukkah dress because of the colors! But it was a cool, futuristic, unique design. Is it the most suitable for the prom? Probably not. But kudos to them for creating something outside the box and creative!
There have been quite a few "real" challenges this season on "Project Runway." Mind you, this is not a complaint from my point of view, as a designer who frankly was sick of all the "red carpet" or fantasy/costumey/gimmicky challenges I participated in on both Season 7 and All Stars. But the public love gowns. To many, they are quintessential fashion. But the reality is that hardly anyone wears gowns anymore. They are so specific to events, and unless youʼre talking prom or a wedding, gowns are for the generally for an elite or celebrity clientele (And most of time, borrowed in other words, there is no money in the gown biz). That said, they are usually what is most entertaining to viewers.
This weekʼs show exemplifies an "industry" challenge, in which designers must consider mass market, price point, client image and must use certain fabrics within the budget. It also happens to be a big deal for the designers, as the winning design will join the other nine dresses (Each of which was designed by a "Project Runway" designer, each representing one of the nine seasons of "PR"), and the dresses will be manufactured by and sold at Lord & Taylor, which means great exposure to the public without the headaches and financial chunk normally required to produce hundreds of dresses for a retail account. I happen to know from my fellow "PR" alum colleagues that they received a small design fee for the dress and each one will then receive a microscopic royalty for each dress sold.
I must say, the work produced on many of the "real" challenges until now has left much to be desired. But this episode some of the designers stepped it up a bit. Itʼs not easy to design within set parameters, like price, fabrics, etc., and with the nine other "Project Runway" alum designs as part of their inspiration. Letʼs just say I personally was underwhelmed by many of those. Some of them were just fugly, and most didnʼt have any sort of "signature" which would indicate who created them. I was glad to see some of the Season 10 designers using a "signature" element in their design.Fabio
A really nice twist on a modern black dress. This was a clean design with just enough details to make it stand out from a sea of black dresses: the asymmetric hem with sheer bit, the back shoulder detail, the back zip. From a consumer standpoint, Iʼd rework the back, though, so a woman can wear a bra (even a racerback). Because you know we always think about that.Melissa
While I appreciate her design, I feel it is too difficult to wear for the masses, especially the L&T customer. This looks more Barneys or Neiman Marcus to me than Lord & Taylor. There was major side boob as well, which of course would be corrected before the dress would go into production. I do love the fabric, but could do without the "tail." It was also distractingly tight (no wonder Heidi loved it).Gunnar
A really simple yet classic silhouette. This would probably sell well in L&T (though the lace makes it less versatile, though more interesting). Itʼs true, weʼve all seen this in a store at some point already, but I donʼt quite understand why the judges were so hard on it.Elena
See, Elena? You can tone your aesthetic down. All that fuss over how difficult it will be to take her "edgy avant garde" point of view and "water it down," and she made a great little dress. The only thing is (like Melissaʼs), I can see it more in Barneys COOP than Lord and Taylor. (Thatʼs a compliment in my book.) On a personal note, Elena should chill on the false eyelashes!Christopher
He again defaulted on his now-signature shredded chiffon technique. Iʼm not sure Iʼm on board with this (Because after all, you want your dress in L&T to have a signature), or feel itʼs a bit tired. In any event, itʼs a very pretty dress, but Iʼm surprised the win went to his design. (What was I saying about how everyone loves a gown? Itʼs the drama.)Alicia
Oof. Just an odd dress, and reminded me of the one she and Raul made for me in a way. I think it was the "Amish" neckline. It was just a head-scratcher in terms of who the client is and where sheʼd wear this. Sorry Alicia, this one wasnʼt up to par with your colleaguesʼ designs.Sonjia
Not much to say about this one except: 86 the peplum, girl! Itʼs dated and just not a great idea to bring back unless itʼs in a very modern way. Sonjia was in the weeds in the workroom, and although she pulled it off and made it through, it was not great. Itʼs a relatively simple dress with a peplum, in a fabric which also looks dated.Ven
Ven also relied on his "signature" technique. However the exploding rose on the chest is strange. I donʼt think it would work on a variety of bust sizes, either. Aside from the exploding black rose, itʼs got nothing else.Dmitry
Dmitry fits his clothes really well. This is no exception, and is a great twist on a classic, sheath dress and would likely sell a ton. The fabric is a terrific choice and makes the dress look expensive, and the seaming and neckline give it a modernity. I would have chosen Dmitry as a top scorer (again).
What was up with all the crying again?