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Episode 6 Recap: Avant-Garde Challenge

By CaitlinBergmann Fri., Sep. 2, 2011 ,11:06 am EDT

Avant-garde challengeI hate to say this, but avant-garde challenges are NOT my fave. It’s not because I don’t get the art of it; it’s just that I’m always underwhelmed and confused. It always seems that the designers feel that the more you pile on, the more “forward” it is. In my opinion, NOT THE CASE. But hey, I am game to be proven wrong (side-eye).

The Challenge: Create an avant-garde look inspired by artwork. NOT a Van Gogh or Georgia O’Keeffe, but a piece from a student of the Harlem School of the Arts. I must say, that was the only part of this challenge that was interesting.

The deviant part of me wanted to see the awkwardness that could have possibly happened between the students and the designers. They all actually fared pretty well. Laura even called her student Kai a “little Dalai Lama or something.” Poignant.

So, the inspiration … let me make it easy:

Viktor & Skyy – Swirls
Bert & Antonio – Graphic shapes
Josh C. & Sasha – A Wolf
Becky & Maris – Outer space
Josh M. & Patrice – Tree and Roots
Anya & AJ – Tree O’ Fire
Bryce & Audrey – Eerie Man
Laura & Kai – Randomness (I know she said roses; not to me. REMEMBER, art is subjective, lol)
Anthony Ryan & Wu Qing – Self-Portraits
Kimberly & Claudette – Red Bird

The designers’ exploits in Mood were made apparent upon arriving back to the workroom. The usual suspects were present: feathers, fur, tulle, organza and every other fabric used to create volume and drama. I can’t take it.

By the time Tim comes for his routine visit, the designs have developed further. Anya and Anthony Ryan’s designs are the ones that catch my attention most. The silhouette of Anya’s piece is familiar, but the colors and textures interested me. Anthony Ryan’s concept for his piece was quite provocative! I was REALLY excited to see how would develop! Love the movement, love the texture, love, love, love it!


There were a few somewhat referential pieces in the workroom. I find it ironic that Viktor gave his rundown of all the designers’ looks (clever references I might add) but his design, or maybe just the fabric, felt a little … ummm … Austin Scarlett–esque.

Maybe it was just me. Becky’s cubed situation felt a little Lady Gaga, circa “Poker Face.” Forward then but extremely familiar now.

The day of the runway show was more of the expected. When it’s time for hair and makeup, half the designers ask for BIG, CURLY HAIR. No bueno. Nothing new, nothing forward.

On the runway, I was given a few surprises. Kimberly’s piece was pretty cool. Love the asymmetry and the texture. Although Becky’s look was familiar, it came together beautifully and it was an energetic departure for her. And of course, do I have to mention Anthony Ryan!!! GORG!!!!

Avant-garde challengeTHE NOT SO GOOD: Josh C., Bryce and Bert. Josh C.’s garment was pedestrian and not expensive-looking at all. Bryce (sigh), I don’t want to say about this kid. He’s hanging in there, though! Lol. Bert’s look was just unnecessarily offensive to God’s creation of the human body! His design was totally out of control.

As I expected, Anthony Ryan was the winner! I will say, just to be honest, it wasn’t all that avant-garde, but no one else’s was either. But what DID feel avant-garde about it was how he abstracted his direction from the artwork into the garment. AND THAT is what makes it forward. Josh C. was sent home … AGAIN! To be real about it, Bryce should have been sent packing as well. I just don’t get his aesthetic!

So, needless to say, this challenge (and these designs) didn’t really move any mountains for me. But there is still hope! “Project Runway” is full of surprises.

Auf Wiedersehen!


“Sometimes you don’t need the crutch of styling. Let the garment shine.”
“I think it looks like something a Teletubby wears to a party!” —Michael Kors

“I’m gonna be a hooker for Halloween.” —Heidi Klum (A-HA!!!)

Posted in: episode 6