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Mila Hermanovski Blog
Category: "episode 8"
No "Project Runway" season would be complete without the obligatory "design something for [insert one of Heidi Klumʼs many business ventures here]" challenge. Itʼs that time again: this season itʼs for her activewear range for New Balance. Heidi tells them that she is looking for a fashion-driven athletic look for the line (so basically Stella McCartney for Adidas, Heidified). Per usual, part of the "prize" for the winning designer is that their look will be produced and sold in the collection; shame they donʼt see a penny of those profits (now that would be a little more of a prize)! Itʼs just another example of "Project Runway" making money off the designers who sign on to the show and get paid nothing to participate.
Without a doubt, the biggest highlight of this episode was seeing Tim in a referee outfit (with shorts)! I canʼt believe he agreed to wear it; whomever thought of that should get a raise. Why is he in a referee outfit, one asks? We find out the designers will have to go through an obstacle course in teams of two, decked out in HKNB apparel, and the winning team will receive an extra hour of work time (which is golden), along with first dibs on fabrics, all HKNB issued. After the obstacle course challenge, however, the designers will be competing solo. Dom and Justin win the race.
After theyʼve been awoken by the screech of Timʼs whistle at the crack of dawn, competed in the obstacle course and gotten sweaty, the designers return to the workroom around 3pm and are told they only have until 11:00 to produce their looks. As if that day isnʼt already exhausting, drama ensues. Helen (quite cleverly, in my opinion) asks Tim if it would be within the rules of the competition to use the HKNB pant on her form as a pattern/spec reference. Tim concedes. Her fellow competitors are curious about what she asked, and she does not want to share. On the one hand, when competing on Project Runway, the producers and Tim make it very clear that there should always be an "even playing ground," so really that information should have been shared by Tim. However, itʼs a competition and Helen thought of a strategy for a shortcut, and why should she share her idea?
Well, Ken is not having any of it. We see Kenʼs true colors and lack of anger management rear their ugly heads. He launches a totally unnecessary verbal assault on Helen, dropping F-bombs and B-bombs left and right. She is understandably shaken, but I do think she overreacted a bit in thinking her life was in danger. She goes to Papa Tim for refuge, he has a talk with the two of them, and Ken calls his Spiritual Mother (is this code for “shrink”? because that is what he really needs!). The result is a fake apology from Ken to Helen. Can someone get him some meds please? By the way, did anyone catch his “grandmother” reference to Karen back on the field? Rude! Moving on....
In general, many of the designers created very SAFE designs, that look innocuous enough...but innocuous isnʼt what HK wanted. This challenge seems relatively simple to most people, but itʼs sneaky. There is a fine line between "overworked" and "underwhelming" because spandex can go clubwear quickly, and there still needs to be a functionality in the clothes because they are for working out and being active.
The top scorers were:
KATE, who designed an interesting and wearable ensemble with great details like piping, thumb holes, zippered back vent, and mesh panels. I thought the proportions could have been better (i.e. slightly longer jacket to balance the pink blocks on the lower part of the legs), but could totally see this look in Lululemon.
HELEN, the winner, who made a hooded mesh jacket with drawcord and arched hemline, with cropped leggings which had panels of lime with a black mesh overlay. This is the look which I thought was the most "cool" and that I could see a woman in New York wearing when hitting the gym.
ALEXANDER, who made a sharp, sleek look that fit well but was nothing extraordinary. As Tim pointed out, he is a costume designer so it was an achievement for him to create a successful activewear look. My response to that is, "A lot of costumes utilize spandex!"
In the safe zone were:
BRADON's dynamic look, which I thought was a bit more interesting than Alexanderʼs. I liked the use of grey with black and the pop of lime piping.
DOM, whose look was rather forgettable. I thought she would do better and push the "urban" element which is in her wheelhouse.
JUSTIN's black+lime asymmetric zip jacket, sports bra, and short-shorts. I thought that again, this look was “fine”, but I did particularly like the cutout detail in the back of the bra and the fact that he made shorts when no one else did. They just needed another inch on the length.
JEREMY, who must have been a close contender for the bottom, made VERY purple outfit which would surely end up on the clearance rack at a discount store. It also lacked any sort of distinctive design elements.
Bottom of the barrel:
KEN's super generic tank and leggings, which was simply devoid of any personality except the layered straps on the back of the tank. Iʼm not so sure I agree with the criticism of the longer tank, however, because that proportion is on trend.
ALEXANDRIA went outside the box again and repeated her drop-crotch pant from last week. I may be in the minority (like Heidi) in liking me a drop-crotch, when itʼs DONE WELL. There was way too much volume in this pant; as Nina said itʼs not practical for any sport. However her jacket was smart and cool, with the mesh back. I felt the tank could have been better had those slashes been filled in with mesh.
KAREN, whom I somehow knew would be eliminated in this episode before it even started, began producing a train-wreck of a bra which looked like bad clubwear in lime and black, and based on Heidiʼs workroom critique, scratched it and went the complete opposite direction. The result was a sad, shapeless 2-piece ensemble, which might be found at your local Walmart. #Imgoinghome is right, Karen!
This week, there is a new twist on the team thing: the judges get to decide how the teams are divided, and select players for each one (Hello, producer intervention?). There are eight designers remaining, so they were split into two teams of four. Seems no matter how those judges attempted to rationalize their decisions, I wasnʼt quite buying it. Naturally, Michelle and Patricia end up on the same team, as do Richard and Layana.
First thing in the morning, in lieu of coffee and croissants, the designers are taken on a field trip to meet the ALL MALE Aussie "reveal" group, Thunder From Down Under. They are given a show by these guys, followed by the challenge delivered by Tim: create three cohesive, tear-away looks for these burly male dancers! Whaaaat?! Can we go back to bed now?
I donʼt know about you, but this challenge has very little, in my opinion, that is relevant to being a talented fashion designer. I like that the Bunim/Murray execs wanted to do a menswear challenge, but this isnʼt REALLY menswear. These are male dancer costumes. This is a joke. No wonder everyone failed at it. I canʼt imagine any of the designers were too thrilled about this challenge. And when youʼre in the competition, the thing you most fear is to be eliminated for a challenge which has nothing to do with fashion design. Seriously...this challenge is a big blunder in so many ways...what a waste of an episode!
But back to the workroom. Even the teams were a bit boring in the ways they worked together. I did think Richard was getting the loser edit because he was so sure that he could nail this (Perhaps because he could really relate to male stripper costumes?), but then his ideas were not well received by his teammates. Richard dear, thatʼs because your ideas are not "edgy"they are in bad taste!
Again I question Layanaʼs ability to stand on her own as a designer. What happens a lot with young designers is they (a) donʼt know who they are yet and havenʼt had time to hone their point of view, and (b) they are often not well-practiced/skilled enough (in sewing and construction, the more one practices, the better oneʼs skills become). The latter is what we see an example of in this episode (Weʼve seen the former in previous ones), as Layana somehow thinks itʼs OK to approach the opposing team for construction advice.
Honestly there is not a whole lot to judge. No one did well. It was painful to watch. Even Heidi said that she wanted to eliminate everyone and end the show right then and there. Well, perhaps she should have thought about that before approving the challenge, because HOW can a designer truly show his/her talent in a challenge like this??
Team Slick and Hip was the worse of the two teams. Abominable. There was no design and the construction was godawful. How does Richard not know what a collar stand is?!?? The shirt he made looked like something a 3rd grader would make. The only redeeming thing about any of the clothes is that the tearaway element functioned. However it was not enough to make up for all the blunders, and Amanda was eliminated for her outfit which could barely stay on the guy. Something had gone very wrong in the workroom with the pant she was making, and by the time she figured out it was too small, it was too late.
Team Shades of Grey was safe. Daniel made a smock, Patricia made a crafty woven shirt that was never seen and Michelle made an outfit which, while odd and had fit issues, was at least outside the box and creative. Hers really stood out, for better or for worse. However there was NO WINNER selected in this challenge! I canʼt recall when this has ever happened on "Project Runway," but how fortunate for the Aussies; at least they donʼt have to wear any of those designs!
This episode seems to require some additional skills that perhaps the designers donʼt immediately think about when it comes to being successful. There sure have been a lot of team challenges on this season. Gotta give the producers credit for being clever this time with that "crafty" intro. I couldnʼt help but chuckle to myself as a designer struggling to get her brand into stores and business underway and Iʼve got to do whatever I can to self-fund, including everything from working on TV shows and films as a costumer to occasionally selling my personal belongings! When I started my business, my priorities shifted and my motto became "will work for fabric”"(when previously it was "will work for shoes" not that I donʼt still work for shoes)!
The teams are given 3 hours and some craft supplies and blank t-shirts and tote bags to make items to sell on the streets of New York. Yuck! No one likes to have to hock their wares. Especially to a tough crowd like New Yorkers (In the meat packing/ High Line district no less, full of fashionistas). As Dmitry said so well, itʼs like selling umbrellas in the desert! If only those New Yorkers knew they were buying something from a "Project Runway" designer, perhaps they would have been a little more interested. Nevertheless, Melissa, Ven and Fabio ended up making the most money: a respectable $800! This is quite a nice chunk of budget to work with at Mood when you think about it, itʼs almost $300 each! The team of Alicia/Elena/Dmitry seemed doomed to fail on the street as youʼve got Alicia whoʼs soft spoken, Elena who, while outspoken and aggressive, tries to sell everyone "ugly shirts" (Thatʼs never worked as a sales tactic), and Dmitry who didnʼt seem to take much initiative.
After the teams raise the cash, Tim gives them their challenge: to create three cohesive fall looks, one of which must include outerwear. Again, as I keep saying, a much more "industry" related challenge, having to create a mini collection with others, as one would typically have to do at a fashion house. Everyone is excited because all (ok most) designers love fall. Itʼs so much more interesting ... more textiles to choose from, more layers, boots, sweaters, jackets, coats! Iʼm so ready for fall!!!
As usual, there is some team drama. Elena is trying to dominate again, and Ven made his signature skirt again but thanks to Tim, who pointed out that it was the black sheep of the collection, that changed. But: shocker! Our separated-at-birth boys, Gunnar and Christopher, who were dissing each other in interviews, were working unusually well together. I wouldʼve been a little skeptical of Gunnarʼs sincerity, too, though, if I were Christopher.TEAM DMITRY/ALICIA/ELENA
When I saw their collection in the workroom, I thought it had great promise. What went wrong? I also thought, can Dmitry make anything other than a dress? Hereʼs the thing about Elena: she may be bossy, overly dramatic and at times too critical, but more often than not, she is right in her criticisms, like Dmitryʼs shawl and Aliciaʼs garments.Dmitry
Dmitry makes a great dress. Heʼs proved that many times now. But to win "Project Runway" he needs to show more diversity. This dress looked very similar to another he has made. Unfortunately, the fringed wrap he made to accompany the dress aged it by about 25 years.Alicia
At this stage in the game, you canʼt just squeak by for being safe and “under the radar”. The trousers and t-shirt with random dart (which looked like a mistake) Alicia made were very basic, and her work has been up and down. There was no risk taken on these pieces, so she was the clear designer to be eliminated this week.Elena
When I saw this on the dress form in the workroom, I loved it. I thought Elena had a good chance of being a top scorer. But when I saw it on the model on the runway, it was a disaster. What looked expensive and modern ended up looking wilted and sad. The collar was falling, the shoulders were drooping (as if they were too big ... there she goes again with the big shoulders), and there was too much volume in the coat in general. It would have been much more successful had there been less fabric and if it had been more tailored and not flaring out.TEAM SONJIA/GUNNAR/CHRISTOPHER
Overall a very cohesive collection you really get a sense for the customer and that one woman would wear all the looks. I would have rather seen separates in one look instead of two dresses, but thatʼs just me thinking of the collection as a whole and how youʼd merchandise it and sell it.Sonjia
Hands down the best piece on the runway this episode, her jacket was well tailored, expensive looking and creative. The styling of the infinity scarf (by Gunnar) was terrific. This jacket would look great in many colors (or black), but I love that she chose a very deep green for it. The only thing I could have done without was the shaped back hem with peaks. Otherwise, great job!Gunnar
Great work from Gunnar this week, and he played well with others! The first dress couldnʼt be seen much. I actually think they would have been better off using a skirt and top under the jacket instead. I am not crazy about the sleeves of the dress coming out from the 3/4 length sleeves of the jacket. The second dress with leather was fab but the length was odd; I think it should have been shorter.Christopher
The judges were raving about his camel wrap coat and I just donʼt understand why. It was "ok." I like the idea but it needed to be beefed up or something; perhaps a lining? I also donʼt like the way it flared out at the bottom and the asymmetry of the hemline looked lopsided rather than intentional. Plus it did not work with the length of the dress underneath. Again, a good idea but just needed tweaking.TEAM VEN/FABIO/MELISSA
They had $800?!?? This collection generally looks sloppy and sad. The first fatal error they made was the color palette. In theory the shell pink and grey should look light and chic but it didnʼt work because of their fabric choices. On top of it, some of the key pieces were sad shapes there was no sharp element to it so it ended up looking, as Nina said, "poor." Yikes!Ven
I know Tim told Ven his original skirt didnʼt belong, but this one was worse! At least his original was sharp this one looks Amish and frumpy. The t-shirts simply donʼt work with the pieces they were paired with, mainly because of the fabric being so lightweight and clingy.Fabio
This coat looks so sad. It almost looks like something Iʼd pull from a costume house to put on a homeless woman character. All it needs is a little "movie dirt." It needed more structure, like interfacing, or simply should have been a different fabric altogether. The shoulders and sleeves look ill-executed as well. And then the black buttons which are an odd size for a coat, and there are too many of them.Melissa
Melissa made the only redeeming piece in this collection. The leather jacket was well made and elevated the collection a bit (however I think it looked out of place). The pairing of the jacket with the skirt was not good. It would have looked better with the pants, but then the length should have been a bit longer. Speaking of pants, these are awful. The ruching at the ankle is unflattering, and I have no words for the crotch! Iʼm impressed with the fact that she made a couple of leather clutch bags though!
How adorable are Aliciaʼs chambray jumpsuit and black leather high tops? Bye Alicia.