Mila Hermanovski Blog
Category: "episode 11"
The HP Textile Design Challenge has become as much of a "Project Runway" tradition as the Unconventional Challenge. Is it just me, or does it seem like more than half of the challenges this season have been sponsored? Nonetheless, we all expect and anticipate the HP challenge, as they are such generous sponsors every season; the fact that the designers receive an HP prize (unlike other sponsored challenges) goes a long way.
There is a different twist on the "inspiration" for the designers this time. In the past, they have had to draw upon experiences, photos, or field trips. This time, they are to select a muse from a group of "young innovators," whom they must go meet and hang out with and, well, be inspired to design a print. I thought this was bit convoluted, and an odd way to derive inspiration. Sidebar: did you notice how quickly Tim spewed the names from the "velvet bag?" Did he even pull the buttons out at all? There was no actual footage of that, and you know how dubious I am of that velvet bag. I mean, I know editing was involved, but still...
After designing their prints on the HP Envy Rove, the designers head to Mood for fabrics to complement their print. One thing you may or may not know is that the designers only have TWO options for base fabrics for their printed textiles: cotton twill or cotton sateen. When you think about it, (a) these fabrics are rarely used in high fashion ready to wear, especially in printed form, and (b) they are sneaky difficult to work with due to their stiffness. They do not drape whatsoever, so really making a gown is not a good choice (I learned this the hard way as well, when I had the print challenge...*shudder*). I recall being very stumped on this challenge, much like Helen, because not only do I seldom use prints, but also the fabric quality really threw me. It just felt like something I would make throw pillows out of, not a fashion-forward outfit.
For me, the clear winner of this challenge should have been Bradon. His look was a clever example of how to use that awkward fabric: in a jacket. But more than that, his look really captured the spirit of his BMX racerʼs energy and urban vibe. Both the look and the print were fabulous. However, the judges awarded the win to Dom, whose bold, linear print a la Trina Turk was fun, but I was incredibly distracted by the football shoulder pads and symmetric placement of pink scribbles on the nipples. Scripples! I was shocked Heidi and Nina werenʼt all over that. I also did not understand the over-praising of Helenʼs design. I felt it did not really say anything about her inspiration (mind you she had first pick, an artist, which resonated with her fine-artist parents). The print was weak and maybe it was my TV but I felt the combination of white and cream was unsuccessful; the fit was extremely tight to boot.
Alexander's days were numbered, especially after last weekʼs tragic unfinished outfit. I felt he was getting the loser edit from the beginning of the episode. He was admittedly "blocked" creatively, though I thought a CAKE was a fitting inspiration for a part-time drag queen! His look had no relevance to his inspiration, and the print was just kinda fugly. Moreover, just because his last name is "Pope" doesnʼt warrant license to make clothing with a religious reference! How very art school! The one redeeming thing about his look (if you squint really hard and pretend the giant white cross isnʼt there) is the silhouette, which was somewhat interesting (I love me a dolman sleeve). However, when he was aufʼd first, I thought, "Theyʼd better not keep Kate!”, because her look was an epic fail. There was not a single redeeming quality to it. The print, which started off conceptually as brilliant, was barely recognizable; the outfit itself was odd, ill constructed, and poorly styled. Who wears that, and where is she going? To me she should have been first to go, but the producers likely kept her squirming on the runway to create drama (and maybe torture her a few minutes longer). Justin was spared, though his gown was a hot mess. The print was thoughtful and cool, incorporating a stylized "I love you" in sign language; however the print seems inappropriate for a gown, and the addition of white chiffon, tacked on haphazardly, took it to a pageant level. Alexandria was also spared, and produced another letdown of a look this week. Honestly she should not have been safe, but someone had to be, I suppose!
Itʼs the Top 5, ladies and gents. Funny how it sneaks up on you when youʼre a viewer, dontcha think? Well let me tell you: when youʼre IN the competition and make it to top five, it feels like youʼve been in one of those cyclone rides at the fair. At first, youʼve got all this adrenaline and excitement, just trying to keep it together...and it feels like it will never end...and then suddenly, you feel a little nauseated. And then...just like that, the ride is over. Many of you know this already, but for those who do not, the entire season of "Project Runway" up until the finalists go home to build their collections is shot in only five weeks. You do the math: it means NO DAYS OFF! So basically, every other day is a new challenge (with the exception of two-day challenges). Brutal, right?
This may shed some light on how Patricia was feeling in this episode. Honestly, from the beginning when the designers were told they would have some help, and then the ubiquitous velvet bag was brought out to determine which previously eliminated designers would help each current designer (shocker), I felt my stomach wrenching for Patricia. And then the entire episode was like watching the Titanic sink. I really felt for her because at this point in the competition, everyone is so tired and stressed out; the last thing you need is the kick in the gut of knowing youʼve got to work with someone you canʼt stand, who is going to bring you down. She couldnʼt do anything to save herself. The only thing that would have possibly helped her would have been if she had said, "Screw this, I donʼt want any help!" when she found out Richard was her assigned helper. She would have gone into survival mode and the adrenaline may have kicked in and maybe...just maybe...she would have produced something better, instead of trying to TEACH her "helper" techniques and thus wasting precious time.
The challenge for this episode is to create an editorial look for a Marie Claire spread featuring actress Jordana Brewster. Nina is at the helm this time (where it was previously Joanna Coles) on her home turf in the Hearst Building, and she delivers some strict parameters, such as "bold in color or print," "do NOT show me a t-shirt and pants" and "do NOT embarrass me or disappoint me"! No pressure there.
In the workroom, Layana is creating a royal blue leather chainmail bodice inspired by the architecture of the building. I have to give her props for thinking outside the box this time, at least, so far. She sees Kate as her new BFF because Kate is basically her sewing bitch. Patricia quickly discovers that Richard doesnʼt understand any of the (rather basic) sewing terminology she is using, and cannot be of any help to her. She desperately tries to teach him some technique, but I am sure that deep down she knows that ultimately he is completely out of his league. After all, he is being asked to sew French seams on silk organza, about as far as one can get from overlocking jersey. It is visible to me that poor Patricia is having a quiet, internal meltdown. Daniel is very proudly making a yellow winged shorts suit, again trapped in a time warp and is completely daft when it comes to what is contemporary and fashion-forward. Stanley is showing his OCD side big time. He bosses Tu around like a sweatshop worker, telling him he "doesnʼt like it" when anything is not done HIS way. On one hand, I respect a perfectionist; on the other hand, patience is a virtue. Michelle is...making a t-shirt and trousers. Amanda, her partner, is not helping her see objectively when she supports her in her time of self-doubt. Michelle has a moment when she asks herself, "Is this enough?" (and in the end, she thinks it is). I do wonder, though, if Michelle even heard Nina when she specifically stated, "Donʼt show me a t-shirt and a pair of pants," because if she had, youʼd think she would have told Amanda, and perhaps Amanda (having had more sleep at this point) could have steered Michelle differently.
Michelle was criticized for doing exactly what Nina asked the designers not to do. While her outfit was modern and wearable (and certainly progressive), it was not editorial enough. I do like her spin on color-blocking, with the hem detail, but Nina had a good point which was that the photograph could end up being cropped and in that case all the great elements of the design would be lost, and it would just look like a white t-shirt. Michelle was in the bottom two, and ultimately was eliminated...or was she? The episode ends with a cliffhanger, that the judges producers have given Michelle a "do or die" sort of second chance.
Daniel was also criticized for his bizarre outfit. I personally did not care for the shade of yellow he chose, or for the costume-like exaggerated winged shoulders. Whatʼs more is he does not seem to understand the judgesʼ criticisms at all. Who wears that?
Stanley wins the challenge. While I do not think his look is super editorial, it is very well constructed and the culottes are fantastic. His look is by far the most polished and expensive (and we all know how Nina likes expensive). I do feel the look would have been better had the leather jacket been severely cropped (or perhaps just sleeves?) so that the innovative shape of the trousers would be that much more pronounced and balanced. Also, I would have preferred that the jacket was a bolder shade such as red, cobalt, black, or metallic, for more contrast.
Patricia just tanked. The finishing on the dress was sloppy, the embellishment too crafty, and the shape was...too shapeless. While I completely sympathize with her, she should have been eliminated for this mess, if elimination was solely based on the design. However, the judges weighed her overall point of view and performance as a designer. Again, judging can be spun any which way. In some ways, I think Patricia may just be totally over it.
Layana was praised for her "hard-and-soft" look which in the end was too disjointed and unsuccessful in my opinion. What started off as really cool, edgy, sixties Paco Rabanne-esque leather chainmail was cheapened by a fluffy, prissy organza skirt. It would have been so much more modern and cool if it was entirely the same technique. If she did not have time for that, she should have made a sleeker skirt or even a pant to accompany the bodice. Funny how her clothing reflects her personality...
Ladies and Gentlemen, itʼs your Top Six. Iʼd expect a much more serious challenge at this point than designing a baby outfit. OH! Itʼs for Heidiʼs new line for Babies"R"Us....*that* explains it! It sure would suck to get eliminated for this one. The designers meet with the conservatively- dressed (but Twiggy-eyed) Heidi at Babies"R"Us and are told they must use the fabrics provided to them (bummer) in order to be cohesive with the rest of the collection, that there will be two winners, and that the winning designs will be sold as part of Heidiʼs "Truly Scrumptious" collection.
Upon returning to the workroom, the designers discover that they each have a "surprise" from Heidi: one of those "training" babies that they must care for. REALLY? Elena said it best: that the surprise would be a f-ed up one. This is not remotely amusing, to the viewer and certainly not to the designer. I canʼt think of much worse than a fake crying baby distracting you while trying to focus and work and complete a challenge in a day. And really, whatʼs the point? It was just a big gimmick. Iʼd rather see the designers at work and struggling with the challenge itself. I mean, what would have happened if someone had just left their fake baby in a pile of fabric under their work table? Would he/she have been eliminated?
There havenʼt been any major twists yet this season, so thereʼs no time like the present! This one was a redux of the challenge we had on my season: to make a companion look for the mom. Although WHY wouldnʼt they be judged as much on the adult look? I realize the crux of the challenge is to make a look for Heidiʼs Babies"R"Us collection, but ultimately the winning designer will be making a womenswear collection, and they are all womenswear designers, so there should be equal judgement made on those looks (which they have an entire additional day to make, mind you). Not to mention, a good designer should be able to create two cohesive looks that look like they were designed by the same designer (think Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, etc...).Fabio
A cute, retro look. I donʼt quite get why there would be a giant pocket on the babyʼs back though. Would have rather seen it modernized with another cargo pocket or something. But the momʼs look was a bit flat. The print is pretty but I felt like again, I would have liked to see a bit more edge from Fabio.Melissa
Melissa got caught up in what many designers who are inexperienced in childrenswear do: designing a "mini" version of an adult outfit. Usually this is unsuccessful. The vest was OK...the only thing it had going for it was the cookie-monster-ish face on the back. But it was not strong enough to make up for the white dress underneath, which was too structured for a little toddler and not at all practical; also, metal zippers shouldnʼt be used on a babyʼs clothes. She mismanaged her time and because of that, her "mom" look really suffered. And linen is never a very good choice for the runway it looked sloppy.Dmitry
Looks like an odd union suit or pajamas. It is indeed a bit superhero-like, but not really full-on superhero, so it was just...odd. The fit was too tight and the hood had a weird shape. I kept thinking maybe this it looked like something a little Russian boy would wear! The momʼs dress was very nice (what I saw of it! they all went so fast), but that comes as no surprise.Sonjia
The perfect cross between a suit and sweats, this look is spot on. Itʼs hard to make a little toddler look stylish sometimes (They are just little dumplings still!), and she managed to do so yet still design a practical outfit which can be machine washed and is comfortable for him. I love the contrasting lapels, pockets and waistband. My only criticism is the tank could have had a wee bit higher cut neckline. The momʼs outfit is totally complimentary to the babyʼs, and believable that she would have selected that outfit for him.Christopher
Wow, two weeks in a row winning. The two looks are very complimentary to each other, but were not the mom or girlʼs styles (Though Iʼm not sure that matters). The adult print was happy and fun, but as cute as the childʼs dress was, itʼs something I feel Iʼve seen before, and itʼs a special occasion dress (A wear-it-once and then it doesnʼt fit any more dress). The little white vest is adorable, but doesnʼt go well with the party dress underneath.Elena
Clearly Elena was distracted by her crying baby. This babyʼs outfit is very disjointed. Like a 2-year-old dressed herself in the dark. The jacket is way too busy (and would be costly to produce). She needed to remove about three elements, and rework the color palette. The momʼs outfit was cool, but she doesnʼt look like she would pick out that outfit for her little girl. Not to mention they donʼt look like they came from the same designer.
Random thoughts for the week:
-Is it me or does "Truly Scrumptious" sound like a new version of a frozen dietary confection like "Tasti-D-Lite"?
-Sonjia now officially has a "signature" look: the headwrap/turban. I wonder if this was a midway-through-Project Runway style epiphany? She wears it well!
-Dmitry is now the author of my favorite one-liners of the season: "Heʼs a one-way monkey" and "Itʼs just like youʼre making an outfit for a cat." Who knew the quiet guy would be such a comedian?
-I canʼt wait to see Fabio as a Dad (too cute).