The end is herewell, at least for this twelfth season of "Project Runway." Now, before I begin discussing this finale episode and my recap of the collections, I have to give a HUGE thank you to everyone who tuned in and joined me for the FIRST EVER "Part 1 Finale Live Chat" here on myLifetime.com. I had a blast during my "Nick Dishing on the Web" session, answering fan questions about the season and "Project Runway" in general. I really enjoyed it and hope we can do it again next season!
Time to DISH on the Finale
As of last week, there were five remaining designerswith Bradon and Dom having secured spots at Mercedes Benz NY Fashion Week and three having to "fight it out" for the coveted third spot. As it turns out, there were going to be four designers showing. Alexandria and Justin were in and Helen (and her "caped crusader" girls) was out.
Halfway through last week's episode, we had the introduction of a final challenge, the Tide Pods Washable Fabrics Challenge. The designers had to create a look using only washable fabrics. The challenge, however, was derailed as a result of Tim's unfortunate subway accident. During my Live Chat, I talked about how great this challenge was since I think it is so important for "high fashion" designers to think of using washable fabrics in their collections. This was brought to my attention this past Summer while doing events for my NV Nick Verreos dress line; I heard from LOTS of women who told me how important it was for them to have chic garments that they can actually throw in the wash. But during last week's episode, it was only introduced and then...nothing else about it happened.
Step Away From The BouillonnÈ
The beginning of this episode solved my "Can we get back to the Tide Challenge?" conundrum and immediately showed the Top 4 designers at Mood, picking their washable fabrics and going back to their Parsons Workroom to create their a "washable look that pops" as well as finish whatever they had to do in their collections. Tim checks in. Last week we got a glimpse of what Bradon and Dom were doing through their home visits but this time, Tim got more up close and personal. He LOVED what Bradon's collection was looking like; but I didn't so much. Bradon was mixing prints and while that could have turned out to be good, his designs looked missy, and the styles, not directional enough. And, oh dear: did I spot his BouillonnÈ pick-up 1984 prom technique in some of the looks? No, please Bradon, I said this once and I'll say it again: Step away from the BouillonnÈ! S'il vous plaÓt!
Don't Listen To Tim
I also didn't think Tim's critique of Dom's FABULOUS prints was warranted; he was worried about them and thought they may go a bit "cartoony." I thought they were great, and if anyone can mix prints, it's Domnot Bradon, thank you very much. Now I'm two for two, in terms of not agreeing with Tim's (usually insightful) two cents. Time for Alexandria: Tim thought she should nix her t-shirts (since Nina wasn't a fan). Good enough, I get that; it's always good to bring back judges' feedback to the designers and alert them of anything they didn't like.
Early Wake Up
It's Runway Day and the designers are up and ready at the ungodly hour of 2 a.m. I love that they show them traipsing on their way to Lincoln Center at this hour while most Manhattan-ites are just leaving the bars. In case you guys are wondering why they have to be up at this time, it's because traditionally, the "Project Runway" finale fashion show at Lincoln Center has two showings: One at 6 a.m. (for extra camera footage) and one around 10 a.m. (for the press, fashion editors, stylists, celebs, etc.). I've attended many a "Project Runway" Finale Fashion Show and thank goodness, it has always been the latter one.
Here is what I wrote on my "Nick Judge's Card" on the final collections:
Justin: His entire collection is sleek and very modern. I love it. It looks refined and very directional. And construction-wise, there were no loose threads or visible seam puckering: Good job Justin! I liked the hairstyles he gave his models last week (even though most of the judges had issues) but, I admit these re-styled 'dos were much better; they matched the sleek, architectural lines of his designs. I LOVED his unconventional "test tube" final gown as well as what he created for the Tide Washable Look. Both blended seamlessly into the collection.
Dom: Two words: Luxe Resort. Her collection blew me away; just gorgeous. I am immediately drawn to her prints and the fact that she showed me a story and one woman and I totally "got" who she was. My favorite look was a printed jersey cowl back dress with sleeves. Chic and effortless. She should be in Santorini eating Spanakopita and drinking ouzo with a multi-millionaire Greek shipping heir. Her unconventional final gown was flawless. Dom is the winner for mejust from her runway collection.
Alexandria: First off, I wasn't a fan of her unconventional creation; it looked very Arts-and-Crafty/Student Fashion Show. I admire what she was going for but with the rest of her collection, it did not belong there. Besides that, I actually liked most of her designs; they were chic, modern, and very Heidi Klum in Berlin Fashion Week. Right now, I'm thinking it's between Justin and Alexandria for 2nd place.
Bradon: Bradon is the last to showand last on my "Nick Judge's Card." I was let down by his collection. I don't think he should have begun his show with a printed top and iridescent lame and organza BouillonnÈ gown-skirt. The entire collection looks dated, not directional enough, and for an "older woman" who isn't so fashionable. What happened? Bradon was a judges' favorite and Tim LOVED him too! He admits during the final judging panel that he's only been doing this for three years and well, this tells me that he needs more time to know who he is and cultivate his design aesthetic. Trust me; it takes more than just three years. And I didn't even mention the fact that his Unconventional lookcompared to the rest of the designerswas a major hashtag fail.
And The Winner Is...
Bradon was out, which left Justin, Alexandria and Dom. Justin was the next to be auf'd. His fabulous 3D prints weren't enough to satisfy the judges. Leaving Alexandria and Dom. Out of these two finalists, it was pretty obvious that Dom was the top. Yes, the Winner. The judges loved her collection and her 1960s Retro "Supremes" styling. This was the designer one can see a brand being created with. To me, her finale collection was the best, by far. It told a story, created a mood and looked directional, high-fashion and perfectly made. Move over Trina Turk, it's Dom Streater printed dresses. Soon at Belk. If I was a girl, I'd be all over it!
Until next season! Byeee!!!!!
Season 12 is almost over. Almost. We're down to the top 5 designers out of sixteen. Two have confirmed sports at Lincoln Center NY Fashion Week -- Bradon and Dom -- and the other three have to "fight it out" for the coveted third spot. So pre-finale episode, here we come!
$9,000, Six Weeks and One Unconventional Look
Emmy Award-winning "Project Runway" co-hosts Tim and Heidi come onto the runway to congratulate the remaining designers and announce that they are giving each of them $9,000 to create a 10-look collection ($900 per look) and that the designers have six weeks to do it. In addition, one of the looks must be created out of unconventional materials, e.g. NOTHING that even looks like real fabric. Got it? Good. Now, byeeee! One month later, time for the Tim Trips:
Philadelphia and Dom: Dom's inspiration is the movie "Blade Runner,î and she calls her collection "RetroFuturism.î She has created her own prints which look fabulous! Everything looks fine and dandy until we find out she's only done three and a half looks (out of TEN!) and she's only got 2 weeks to go. Something tells me, however, that she'll be okay.
Los Angeles and Bradon: Tim goes BAREFOOT on a Southern California beach! Still, the jacket remains. Moving on...Bradon explains that his inspiration deals with flowers and the melting of snow right as spring is about to begin. Tim is instantly wowed. I'm actually a bit worried. From the quick glances, the collection has hints of Valentino, but Valentino from 1994. In a later direct-to-camera, Helen comments that she thinks Bradon's collection looks "old lady." Here's a shocker: for the first time this entire season, I agree with her!
San Mateo and Alexandria: It's only nine days until Fashion Week (thatís what the Chyron says) and Alexandria has made 30 pieces! Wow, she's a busy bee! Her inspiration is "Neo Nomadic Punk" and everything looks very her. I'm just a little worried at the lack of "punch" in the color scheme of her collection; it all looks bland. Alexandria then takes Tim to her Camp Couture, where little kids sew and create things. They've all made these "ugly dolls" inspired by Season 12 contestants: There's the Sandro Doll (where's the broken camera?), Unicorn Doll, Sue Waller Doll with dreadlocks and yes, even a Tim Gunn one. Alexandria better put those little kids to work--and FAST--to make a ton more because I can see those selling like CRAY-CRAY! Camp Couture just turned into Camp Sweatshop!
Union City and Helen: Somehow, it's still NINE DAYS to Fashion Week (that's what the Chyron says!) and Tim went from San Francisco to New Jersey in one day and it was still daytime. Helen tells Tim that her inspiration was clairvoyance. She's made a print out of her boyfriend's eye. There's a lot of color, especially red. I like that but...I'm just not sure about the shapes. If you're going to do Cristobal Balenciaga cocoon capes, those things better look IMPECCABLE. These do not. Helen does admit that she has never done a collection before and that this is her first. Not even at F.I.T.? Nothing? I think to myself "Wow, doing a ìProject Runwayî finale collection might not be a good place to start." Too late now.
Raleigh and Justin: EVERYTHING looks great! He's inspired by sound waves and is creating these original 3-D printing pieces. I am so intrigued that I just want to see more. For his Unconventional Challenge look, he is using test tubes. Test tubes! I can't wait! Let's hope his questionable construction will not be his Achillesí heel.
Back in NY
One week later and all the designers are back in NY. They're in their Parsons Workroom for the awkward first-look in front of their competitors. This is an unusual group for "Project Runway" since most (not all) of the time, there's always a villain, someone EVERYONE hates who makes it to the end. But here, nope, nothing. During the unveiling of the garment bags, they're all "That looks cute!" and "Oh, look what you did!" But when they're alone -- direct-to-camera -- they all diss each other. Typical.
But first...there's another twist
Tim walks in with Raquel Rozas, Tide Brand Manager, to announce that Tide is partnering with the CFDA to push their designers to create designs in washable fabrics. Therefore, the finalists who will make it to Fashion Week (Bradon, Dom and ?) will also have to create one additional look using washable fabrics for a look that "pops." Unfortunately, it seems that this challenge was sidelined and I have a sneaking suspicion that it was due to Tim's accident...
Tim returns for his critique and he's all gashed up! "What happened?" everyone asks. (An extra-long time must have transpired since he last told them that he'd be back). Poor Tim fell down the stairs in the subway, slashed his lip, nose and forehead and consequently had to go to the emergency room. You know THE LAST place he wanted to be was back filming in the workroom to critique the designers. But he's a trooper! After his check-in, as he is saying goodbye, he chokes up and gets emotional. Part of me thinks it's less about the designers and more that he's just happy the day is OVER. Time for a stiff martini!
Judges Heidi, Zac and Nina are there to determine who makes it in. I've got my Judge's Note Cards and here's what I wrote:
Alexandria -- I like her three looks. These girls look edgy and modern; very NY-meets-Berlin fashion editor. I LOVE the pant pocket detail. The clothes don't necessarily have a "runway punch," as Nina noted, but they're great for the showroom, and a super hip boutique in the Marais. I would have liked more variation in the pant looks, however.
Helen -- Uh oh. Where's all the amazing construction and creative designs that she did all season long? There's always one designer in these final stages who is really good the entire season, then goes home and somehow, fails. The capes she made were clunky and restrictive (Nina was right in calling one a straightjacket). I know what she was going for, but it didn't work. As Zac said, it takes YEARS to master architectural shapes like those. You can't do that at 25. You can try but it ain't going to be right. I also didn't like the print: It was drab and uninspired. Oh, and the center back zipper closure of the printed cape-dress was wonky and rippling. And what do capes have to do with clairvoyance? Just sayin'.
Justin -- One word: Bravo! All three looks he showed were fab! I loved the cut-out vest and pants, the painted flared dress was great, and the "test tube" gown, wow! His 3-D prints/accessories were unique and strong statement pieces. I loved that he showed a variety with a pants look, a dress and a gown. And it all worked. This is how you do it kids! And I am with Nina: I liked the hair. So there!
Justin was by far the one to keep, so he's in! Alexandria and Helen are left. Will they both be out or is Heidi tricking us? Yep, she is. It's Top 4 not 3, darlings. (For ìProject Runwayî historians, this is only the 4th time in 12 Seasons that there has been a final 4). Alexandria snuck in and "caped crusader" Helen is out. So it's Bradon, Dom, Justin and Alexandria. Who do you guys think will win? And was it okay to let Alexandria in and have a Top 4? Was this really necessary? And will she use a COLOR that "pops" for her Washable Tide Look? Please Alexandria, I hope you do.
It's a double-double on "Project Runway." No, not the delicious In-&-Out burger that Tim Gunn ate with me during this season's castings (Google it, I took a picture for my Twitter AND Instagram!). I'm talking about the fact that last week we had the double elimination of designers Alexander and Kate. Kate's was a big shocker since everyone and their puppy thought she would stay until the end, no matter what she did. But alas, it wasn't meant to be. And now this week, we have a double challenge. This was supposed to be just the avant-garde challenge but as it turned out, there was much more. Time to discuss...
Heidi and Tim saunter on the runway to congratulate the remaining five designers for making it this far. I give them medals of valor for A) dealing with "Unicorn Boy" (what was his name?); B) Sandro, the camera-punching Diva; and C) surviving the mud masque wrath of Ken's anger management issues. Kudos to the five remaining designers indeed! La Klum tells the designers that this is the challenge that will determine who makes it to Fashion Week, and adds that the "sausage is dangling in front of their noses." Say what Heidi? I think the saying is "carrot on a stick." I have a feeling that either Heidi was hungry for a schnitzel at the time, or she was thinking of...well, never mind.
The designers are then off to Sweetbriar Nature Center in Long Island where they meet back up with Tim, as well as Billy B., L'Oreal Paris' consulting makeup artist. He is there to talk about the Voluminous Butterfly Mascara (great challenge tie-in!) and to co-announce that this is the "L'Oreal Makeup Challenge": to create an avant-garde look inspired by butterflies. Dom loves the cross-breading nature of butterflies; Alexandria is inspired by the Zebra butterfly; Helen goes for the Monarch butterfly; Bradon is inspired by the butterfly's movement; Justin bonds with an Albino butterfly and "comes out" to national cable TV that he is both deaf, and gay! Good for him!
Bradon is Stressed...He'll Be on Top
Back in the Parsons workroomafter spending way more than they are supposed to on their GoBank cardsthe designers get to work. The highlight here is that Bradon is stressing out (A LOT!) and making very expensive fabric "noodles." The minute he is shown as a "stress case," I have a feeling that he will either be on Top or actually win. Yes kids, it's not my first time at the "editing rodeo."
Weepy Helen is Still Weepy
The following day, the designers have their L'Oreal makeup/nail consultations and Tim has his check in on their avant-garde looks. "Weepy Helen"she of the "Project Runway" after-school special7#151;is still weepy. She is thinking of making a cocoon-like cape and gown and Tim is not a fan and therefore she begins to cry. This is becoming a bit old. Really.
Day of Runway Show...Not!
The following day, the designers walk into the workroom, expecting to finish their avant-garde looks and get ready for the runway show, but instead they find all the Season 12 losing looks on model forms. Tim enters to tell the designers that this is NOT Runway Day and in fact, they have something else to do: the "Make It Work" Challenge. They must create a new look using an eliminated designers' creation. So now, not only do they have to finish their avant-garde looks, they must also create another look for the runway (which will now be the following day). Dom chooses Jeremy's "Soccer Mom" red jacket/printed dress look; Alexandria picks Miranda's plaid pants look; Bradon chooses Sue's placemat creation; Helen goes for Kate's dress from last week and Justin, in a very emotional moment, chooses the "Foaming Vagina" dress he was eliminated for (prior to Tim saving him). Let's see if they can doa avant-garde and...turn a loser look into a winner.
Finally it is the real runway day. Guest judge is actress and singer Emmy Rossum. Here is what I wrote on my "Nick Pretend Judge" Card:
Dom: Amazing! Love it! Great avant-garde look; Dom has a certain knack for mixing prints and making them work. Her construction is also pretty great. Her "Make It Work" look was transformative. She turned a Virgin Atlantic hostess into a chic Paris fashion editor.
Alexandria: I don't think she pushed the avant-garde button far enough just by being deconstructed. The judges say it's "goth-like" but frankly, I see Elvira. I agreed completely with Nina in that I really liked her reworked plaid pants look. All I kept thinking was, "Finally! Alexandria knows what cool, young, hip girls like!"
Helen: I thought that the gown was well-made but not so avant-garde. The raw-edged strips: been there/done that. I think she should have not listened to Tim and kept the cocoon coat. The models hair was more avant-garde than the pumpkin-colored dress. In terms of her "Make It Work" look, she did a great job but it wasn't outstanding; a crop top and super slim pencil skirt? Not so revolutionary and was too similar to last weeks look. But it was much better than Kate's original creation, for sure.
Justin: LOVED both his looks. First, his avant-garde creation was Alexander McQueen meets Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons fab! When the model took off the black coat to reveal the intricate dress beneath, it was very butterfly coming out of a cocoon. In addition, the way he reworked his own not-so-cute creation, was fantastic. Justin does have some issues with construction but he did a very good job design wise.
Bradon: The judges went berserk over his avant garde creation. He did do a wonderful job; finally, his bouillonné technique had a purpose and looked couture. I really liked it. However, I wasn't a fan of his second challenge look; it reminded me of a naughty french maid, and not in a good way.
You're All In!
In terms of who should have won, my bet was on Dom. I thought she did the best work for BOTH challenges. But it was Bradon who got the judges' vote. Congrats to him. He was in, as well as Dom. They got two of the coveted three spots to show at NYC Fashion Week. So, who is out? The worst for me was between Helen and Alexandria. While neither were bad, I thought they both played it a bit safe. And that is exactly what they were; safe. In fact, the judges decided that the bottom three, Alexandria, Helen and Justin, were going to be allowed to make a Fashion Week collection and fight for the third spot. Heidi said that they weren't strong enough to confirm a post in Fashion Week so therefore...THEY WERE ALL IN! So, who do you guys think will make it through? Alexandria's Mohawk Goth Girls? Helen's shredded raw-edged chiffon gals, or Justin's black and white...and grey ladies? Who do you want to make it through?
Join me NEXT WEEK during the pre-finale episode here on myLifetime.com as I host a first-ever "Project Runway" Live Webchat! Get your questions ready...I can't wait!
Previously on "Project Runway": the UBER SUPER DUPER fans were celebrated with their very own episode, while designer Ken's anger management issues were "celebrated" as well, for the world to see. I still can't get the image out of my head of Ken looking like Faye Dunaway in "Mommy Dearest," shrieking and yelling at the top of his lungs. Besides myself, I'm thinking that most viewers -- and I'm sure everyone associated with the production of the show (oh those poor talent coordinators, P.A.'s, camera and sound people) -- were happy to see Ken get the "You're out!î from Fr‰ulein Heidi. I hear Ken's trash-talking on Twitter, saying he purposely threw the competition (what is this, ìBig Brother"?) as well as dissing Lifetime's target audience. Bless his heart. Now that the nastiness is gone, let's get back to designing and one of my favorite challenges of the show.
YAY: It's The HP Challenge!
After changing from his "Therapist Tim" uniform back to his "Mentor/Co-Host Tim" ensemble, Tim Gunn walks into the lounge, greeting the remaining seven designers and introducing Rob Le Bras-Brown, Senior VP at HP Worldwide Marketing. He is there to announce that this is the HP and Intel Textile Design Challenge. Usually, during this much-anticipated episode, the designers create a print inspired by something personal or their surroundings. This time, it will be different: They will be inspired by a "Next-Gen Innovator. The winning designer and his or her Innovator partner will get an HP Technology Suite consisting of the Split X-2 and Notebook Rove.
Designer/Next-Gen Innovator Pairings:
Helen, who won last weekís challenge, gets first pick and chooses Ryan Keeley, an artist who combines painting with new media and technology. Bradon is with Nigel Sylvester, a world-recognized DMX rider/entrepreneur and youth mentor. Alexandria chooses Ilana Greenberg, a top graphic designer who uses her creativity to advance social causes. Alexander is with Thiago Silva, Executive Pastry Chef at Catch Restaurant (who coincidentally has THE BEST EYEBROWS EVAH). Kate chooses Maria Gonzalez, teen software developer and creator of the app ìSay Somethingî to help homeless individuals. Justin goes for Nana Meriwether, Miss USA 2012, who created a foundation focusing on education and health in Africa. Dom gets Premal Shah, co-founder of KIVA.org, a crowdfunding organization for entrepreneurs worldwide.
After visiting with their innovators, the designers go back to the Parsons workroom where there are FAB HP Envy Roves for each designer to create their original prints. After they are done, the prints are sent to Dynamics (a textile/print printing company) and in 24 hours...poof! The prints are done and on the designers' workroom tables, ready for some designin'.
Afterschool Special Helen
Tim makes his requisite check-in to see how the designers are doing. He's crazy about Dom's bold graphic print (so am I). Bradon wants to make a long A-line skirt out of his "washed" plaid print but Tim is perplexed by this, which leads Bradon to nix that idea (good). Helen is just an overall weepy mess, over-thinking every drape, cut and seam she makes, and asking advice from her fellow designers. Famed bloggers Tom and Lorenzo refer to her as an "Afterschool Special" and that pretty much sums it up. I'll also add that she reminds me of one of my first quarter students at fashion school. I think at this point she shouldn't be acting like a student but more like a full-fledged designer. On top of all that, Helen keeps saying that she doesn't "do prints" which of course leads me to yell at the TV, "Well, GIRL, you better start now!"
The following day, the designers are working frantically to finish their looks. When the camera quickly pans to Kate's look on the model, I just about lose it: WHERE'S THE PRINT, KATE? It's a PRINT Challenge! Did she not get the memo? I just know she'll be on the bottom. Onto the runway: Miss Nina is back from her Capri vacation (in my dreams) and designer Peter Som is the guest judge. Here is what I wrote in my sitting-at-home judge's notecard:
Bradon - Love the bomber jacket. The black tube dress is sexy and once again, his model Ya works it OVERTIME (that girl can wear a garbage bag and make it look couture). But I'm a little dumbfounded by the lack of print used in the entire look.
Justin - Love the top section but from the hips down, a mess. There was too much white and once again (for me), not enough celebration of the print. P.S., the fact that it kind of looked like a pageant gown was NOT a bad thing, at least to me. It was just a poorly designed and constructed pageant gown.
Kate - Oh honey. What happened? What are all those godets? And where is the print? Why is it hidden? She really didn't get the memo. Hasn't she watched past seasons and the amazing work designers like Mondo and Emilio Sosa did for this challenge? Bottom for sure.
Alexander - All I wrote was "he's going home." Oh, and yes, she looks like a high-priestess of the Catholic Chocolate Factory.
Dom - THE WINNER, by far. Hot, gorgeous, celebratory and exactly the kind of look (and perfect use of print) for THE PRINT CHALLENGE!
Alexandria - Alexandria says in her voice-over, "It's cool. It's well made." And my response to her is "No and No." What is that jacket? What is that skirt? And why does the top make the model look as if she's got a pooch? The look is dated and tacky, like for some Club Kid in 2002.
Helen - Miss weepy-mess Helen pulled this look out of nowhere. Good for her. I liked it. It was very on-trend; every other collection during the latest NY Fashion Week showed midriff-baring crop tops. And she used the print well. Only complaint: Too short in the front.
After the designs come out, Miss Heidi warns that there will be one winner and that one...OR TWO...will be out. She's done this before, almost every season in fact, and lots of times, it's just a faux warning. Not this time, darlings. By the luck of the 2002 Club Kids Gods, Alexandria is safe. I cannot imagine how. Dom's bold and graphic dress is the winner, of course. I additionally praise her for cutting those raglan sleeves so beautifully, especially with that stiff twill fabric they had to use.
One...Or Two...Will be Out
The bottom, unsurprisingly, are Kate and Alexander. Alexander's is criticized for not being "yummy, sweet or sexy" and for looking like a chocolate cult leader (thank you Zac Posen. Whenís your next Comedy Show?). Then there's little Kate. I wish I could put Nina Garcia's "Ohhhh God!" remark (when discussing Kate's dress) on a running GIF loop and watch it EVERY other day. Classic Donít-Mess-With-Me Nina. Alexander is first to be waved goodbye and then it's just Kate. I would have bet money she was staying. She has done so well throughout the season and in fact many fans/viewers suggested that she was the "chosen one" and might win the whole thing; perfect "comeback kid" story. But alas, it wasnít meant to be. In a double elimination shocker, Kate is indeed out. During the goodbyes, Dom tells a weepy Kate how amazing of her that she even did the show a second time. And I wanted to tell Dom, "Honey, don't worry. I have a feeling Kate will be back a THIRD time...I can just imagine her in an upcoming season 'Project Runway All Stars.'" Iíll bet money on that one.
From superfan to supermodel. What a great theme for a "Project Runway" episode. As a former contestant, I can attest to the unwavering devotion, passion and enthusiasm fans of "Project Runway” have for the show. So, when Tim introduced this challenge, it made me smile and happy to see an episode that paid homage to them. That’s the good part. And yes, there was the bad: Ken’s "other persona" made an appearance and this time, it had a mud mask on. So, let’s discuss all the super good and super bad.
OMG! It’s Tim Gunn
"Project Runway" superfans submitted videos of themselves to be chosen for the ultimate "Project Runway" experience: to be made over by the designers. Eight ladies were picked and brought to NYC. They all pull up on a double-decker NYC Sightseeing bus in front of Parsons and guess who is waiting there to greet them? Tim Gunn! No doubt that the eight lucky ladies must have felt as if they died and gone to heaven. If seeing Monsieur Gunn live and in person wasn’t enough, he gives them a tour of Parsons and the Runway set. The superfans then all hide in the sewing room as they await their introduction to the designerswho incidentally have no idea of what is happening.
Who Are These Ladies?
As Tim tells the designers that they will be getting "new clients" and the workroom doors are about to open, you can feel the designers thinking, "OMG! It’s going to be my MOM!!" Soon, they realize, it is not (insert sad face). Any feeling of disappointment is quickly gone once they find out what the challengeand who these ladies are. It’s the L’Oreal Paris Challenge: the designers will get to create a look for these superfans and have TWO DAYS to do it. As a bonus, the superfans will also get a complete beauty makeover courtesy of L’Oreal Paris. While most of the designers are excited, Ken informs us that he’s "never sewn for a real woman." Pardon me Ken, but then who do you sew for? Fake women?
Justin was paired with Tristen, who recently lost a lot of weight and is a Mormon; Alexandria with 20 year-old Stephanie; Ken gets Susie; Dom is paired with Jane-Sarah; Helen gets geeky stay-at-home mom/lawyer Jamie; Alexander is with Andrea; Kate gets Altagracia, and finally Bradon is with Jennifer, who looks like a "makeover after" already. The style makeover wishes ranged from wanting a date dress, a job interview look, a glamorous red carpet ensemble, to looking like a "hot mom."
They are off to Mood (another "OMG!" moment for the ladies) and back to the Parsons Workroom, where Tim Gunn welcomes Johnny LaVoy, consulting hair expert for L’Oreal Paris who will be directing the superfan ladies’ hair makeovers. After the first day, Ken is a little behind on his work, which leaves me dumbfounded: he is making a seemingly uncomplicated sheath dress. Why is he behind? Other designers are doing gowns, separates…And PS: he has TWO days and all he’s making is a sheath dress? Just sayin’.
Mommie Dearest Ken
Speaking of Ken…here comes the "superbad" part of the episode. Back at the Refinery Hotel, Bradon and Alexander have to leave their apartment to move in with Ken and Justin. Ken is not happy that other designers are moving in to "his" place. Someone might have wanted to slip him the memo that A) Ken is NOT paying for that space; and therefore B) it is not his place. As Alexander and Bradon are trying to walk in, Ken is blocking the entrance while he’s ironing denim shorty-shorts. Alexander becomes irate that Ken is not allowing them to enter, and proceeds to shove the ironing board and iron, throwing it to the floor, and before you can say Klonopin, Ken’s other persona makes an appearance. In the UGLIEST of tones, Ken yells and berates Alexander, the poor talent coordinator and random P.A’s that are all rushing to keep peace. And did I mention he’s doing it all WITH his mud masque on! Without realizing, Ken has just become a parody of Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest," performing in a scene that would make even Faye Dunaway blush. I watched it with disgust and yes, a sense of "Oh, his momma ain’t going to be proud." And BTW: in case you’re keeping score, Ken’s now fought with Sue, Alexandria, Sandro, Helen and now Alexander.
You Get Your Own Room
The following morning, Therapist Tim is on call to simmer down the flames. While I agree that Alexander’s actions were unacceptable and he shouldn’t have shoved the iron/ironing board, I’m sure he had reached his point of "I can’t anymore" with Ken and his sophomoric blocking of the entrance. Tim then tells Mommie Dearest Ken that he’s got anger management issues (ya think!?) and proceeds to unknowingly reward him for it…by giving him HIS OWN room (while Bradon and Alexander have to share a room). So the lesson is: you act like a maniacal fool and you get your own room at the Refinery Hotel. Good to know for the future.
Let’s Just Get To The Runway Day
Finally, Runway Day is here. Zac, Heidi, Tim, they’re all there. But where’s La Nina? She must have needed a Capri vacation. But luckily, in her absence, we get the lovely Zanna Roberts Rassi, Senior Fashion Editor for Marie Claire. The guest judge was designer Erin Fetherston. The superfan designs come out and here’s what I wrote:
Justin: LOVE this dress for Tristen; it had great movement, was "Mormon"-proper and very unique with the stitched signature. A top contender for sure.
Bradon: The entire look for Jennifer was elegant, chic, and yes "NY edgy" which is what she wanted. One question though: was that really Jennifer’s hair or a wig? Inquiring minds (me!) want to know.
Alexander: Oh no. The suit was sloppy and a bit "business hoochie." But on a good note: Andrea WORKED that runway!
Dom: Not a fan of this look. To be honest, she should have been in the bottom. The printed hi-lo dress was too "Carnival cruise ship happy hour." And why those brown ankle boots?
Kate: Her superfan client Altagracia looked FABULOUS, sexy, sleek and modern; she looked like a fashion editor.
Ken: Oy vey! Two days and he made that? It was sewn badly, the neckline was neither one shape or another, the fit was too tight. One of the worst.
Alexandria: I loved her client’s hair and makeup but that’s it. The clothing: awful and dowdy; her 20 year-old client looked like a 35 year-old librarian at a Christian College. This is NOT an interview look for a 20 year-old. Alexandria might need to take a trip to Zara, Mango or H & M to see what "the kids" are actually wearing these days.
Helen: Wow. Jamie looked like Anne Hathaway at the Cannes Film Festival! What a transformationboth beauty and fashion-wise. The gown fit perfectly, was made well and draped beautifully. Great job Helen!
Congrats and…Good Riddance
The winner was Helen, naturally. For a minute there I thought they might give it to Justin, but after realizing all the work that went into Helen’s strapless corseted and draped gownand how great it looked, there was no question. The bottom two were Alexander and his sloppy unfinished suit and Ken and his sloppy ill-fitting dress. I don’t usually feel like this but…the entire time I kept thinking, "Please let Ken be out! Please!" because, simply put, I just cannot take his nastiness anymore. He belongs in one of the Housewives shows not on "Project Runway." With that, I got my wish and he was out.
Are you guys happy Ken got the boot? What did you think of his over-the-top outburst? How much in the wrong was Alexander? And who else thinks that Bradon’s Superfan client, Jennifer, was wearing a short pixie blond wig? Until next week…BYEEE!
A modern Southern woman. Now, this is something I have a little bit of knowledge about: this past Summer, I designed a line, NV Nick Verreos, that was sold to a major department store and I traveled around the South doing a bit of "market research" during my in-store appearances. So, I was looking forward to what the designers would think was their vision for this "modern Southern woman." As it turned out, I was left as confused as most of the judges. And what was up with that ninth hour Bottom Three face-off? And Ken's attitude? And all that plaid and handkerchief hems? Lots to discuss...
Put Down Your Mint Juleps
The episode began with Heidi walking onto the runway, telling the remaining designers that she was giving them a morning off because they needed to "relax, unwind and have some fun" (Yeah right!). The designers head to Juliette Restaurant, a French brasserie in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for a Southern-style brunch. As they were enjoying their croissants, coffee and French toast, Tim Gunn walks inin a double-breasted suit from Zac Posen's closetto announce that it's time to finish those mint juleps and pack all the extra beignets in a "to-go chien bag." Tim tells the designers that this "lovely, civilized, relaxed" brunch describes who they will be designing for next.
A Modern Southern Woman...Who Loves Plaid?
It's the Belk challenge: to create a day or evening look for a modern, Southern woman. Gunn describes this M.S.W. as someone who dresses vibrantly, expressively; always fashionably put-together; knows how to accessorize; and loves color and anything with feminine details. Even though the designers were told that they were having a morning off, the designers all somehow brought their HP tablets and were ready to sketch. Afterward, they headed to Mood where a lot of the designers caught the PLAID fabric virus...again!
Southern Woman Expert Ken
Ken, who hails from Birmingham, Alabama, deems himself the go-to guy when it comes to what a modern, Southern woman likes and wears. In his direct-to-camera interviews, he keeps wondering what the heck the other designers are doing and how disconnected their designs seem from the woman he knows. Part of me (the I've-done-my-research-in-the-South part) agrees with him, but at the same time I just have a feeling that Ken will be on the bottom, while his plaid-loving co-designers will end up on top. It's my "Southern belle" intuition.
Belk Bragging Rights
Back at the Parsons' workroom, Tim Gunn introduces John Thomas, Executive VP of Private Brands for Belk, who informs the designers that the winning design will be manufactured and sold at Belk and Belk.com. After the designers begin working, Tim revisits the designers. Tim loves all the plaid both Alexander and Bradon are using, admits his hatred toward the fabrication Alexandria is using, and reacts positively to Ken's purple fabric color.
Speaking of Ken, he has some Skype time with his mom, which turns out to be an "enlightening" conversation. I just about spit out my red wine when Ken's mom asks him if "the other side has come out yet." Wait! Can you repeat that again? Momma Laurence knows about Ken's "Sybil-esque" persona? Of course she does! Note to self: don't let your mom get clearance to talk on camera, especially if she knows about your (alleged) multiple personality disorder.
The guest judges are actress (and former George Clooney main squeeze) Stacy Keibler as well as John Thomas, Mr. Belk. The designs come out and here's what I wrote on my "judging from my living room" piece of paper:
Ken: His purple hi-lo maxi dress was OK.
Helen: Why would you create a gown? It's Belk, not Neiman-Marcus. And was the model wearing BLACK SHOES with a canary yellow/while appliqué lace gown?
Justin: I liked the color but it was too low in the back; a dress to be sold for a department store must be "bra-friendly."
Alexander: Cute, but too much handkerchief hemming.
Alexandria: Another handkerchief hem? No. This looks like a crazy school uniform.
Bradon: Pretty. Surprised by how much I like the plaid fabrication but needs editing and some tweaking. The horizontal bias-binding detail in the front needs to go to make it more sellable.
Dom: I like the color-blocking but a high-side slit GOWN? Who is she selling to? The Miss Universe contestants?
Jeremy: Very department store "Missy" section. And yeah, very "Virgin Atlantic" flight attendant (the Purser, perhaps).
Kate: Love the print, like the dress style, but seems a tad high-waisted. But this is the closest to something I could see at Belk.
Who's On Top?
When the runway was done, I had no idea who would be on the top and who ended up on the bottom because none of these looks A) looked like a modern, Southern woman, and B) were department store sellable looking, except Kate's. I understand that it's difficult to design for a department store and hit the right balance of being sellable yet not boring and at the same time, have a "fashion" element. I also get that the judges, especially the Belk exec can look beyond the tricky seaming/construction and too much handkerchief hemming, and see a dress that can be "re-tooled" for his customer. I think this is what happened when eventually Bradon's dress was chosen as the winner. Congrats to Bradon.
Now to The Bottom
On the bottom were Dom, Ken and Jeremy. These three were the most un-modern, Southern woman, I guess. Ken was NOT HAVING it as the judges were critiquing his design; you could see that "Sybil Ken" was two seconds away from making an appearance. Now, instead of going right ahead with choosing the worst and sending them off to "Auf'ed Designer Land," Heidi announced that for the first time in "Project Runway" history, they were getting a "Do Over": the the bottom designers were given one hour, access to fabrics and one designer-helper, to re-create their looks.
Why do this?
The jaded watcherand "Project Runway" alumni&3151;in me felt that maybe the Belk exec didn't like ANY of the looks and was coerced into having to chose something,but still felt that something else could come out of this. I also thought that maybe a designer the judges didn't think should go home was about to (Dom perhaps?) and therefore let's try and give her (and the others) another chance. Who knows? It just seemed a little odd. In the end, the designers re-tooled their looks and they all received positive feedback. Personally I thought Ken's was way too hoochey and he should have been out. However, he was in. They LOVED Dom's printed handkerchief hem dress (I thought she did a great job as well) and subsequently, was also chosen to have her dress be manufactured and sold at Belk. I felt a little bad for Bradon since his "1st Prize Thunder" was taken away. Oh, and yes, Jeremy was out.
So what did you guys think of this entire episode? Do you think the modern, Southern woman loves plaid and handkerchief hems? Would you wear any of these looks, especially the winning designs? I'd love to know your thoughts and theories on this episodeand especially the additional bottom three do-over twist! Do you guys have any theories?
I have Four Words: Tim. Gunn. In. Shorts. I thought I would never see the day. Thank you "Project Runway."
This week's episode began with our dear style mentor waking the remaining designers up at their Refinery Hotel digs, in full referee Uniform ensemble, including the black-and-white shirt, shorts (Oh Dear!) and even sneakers. Yes, Tim Gunn in shorts AND sneakers! Heaven. When he was waking the designers up--going from room to room--I also had another thought as the camera cut to Karen: I forgot she was still on the show! (Is that bad of me?) After the designers changed into athletic/workout outfits from Heidi Klum's New Balance line, they all re-connected with Referee Tim--as well as Heidi--for a little Field Day. Tim and Heidi explained that there were five identical obstacle courses with four stations (a three-legged race, tire run, wheel barrel and flag grab) which the designers had to take part in. The designers would be put into five teams of two for this mini Project Runway Boot Camp.
What's The Point?
As soon as I wondered out loud at the point of all this (except to see Tim in shorts and sneakers!) Heidi announced the challenge: To create a fashionable activewear look for her New Balance collection. She also informs the designers that they have one day to complete their looks and that the winning look will be manufactured and sold as part of her collection at selected New Balance stores and NewBalance.com. She forgot to add, "But the winning designer ain't making any money from the sales, thank you very much!"
Bye Shorts: Dapper Tim Is Back
Justin and Dom win this little field day test. As the winners, they get first choice of fabrics as well as an extra hour of work time back at Parsons. Somehow, next to the obstacle course, a makeshift fabric station had been set up where the designers got to choose the fabrics (from Heidi's line). After changing into more appropriate workroom attire, the designers and Tim all head back to Parsons. Part of me wished Tim would have stayed in his referee "costume" but nope, he was back in his "Dapper Tim" gingham shirt, jacket-and-tie ensemble we've come to expect from him.
Now, it wouldn't be Season 12 without a bit of extra DRAMA, so let's get to it. In the workroom there are examples of Heidi's line (tops and workout pants) on the dress forms to be used as guides. Helen pulls Tim aside, quietly asking him if she can use one of the pants for spec purposes. He says "yes". Immediately, Bitchy McBitch Ken questions Helen on what she had asked. She was a bit elusive about it. This set him off.
Wash Your Mouth With Soap Young Man
What follows is a torrential downpour of expletives and horrible language from Ken's mouth. I thought Sandro was bad but wowsa, that Ken is just plain UGLY. I kept thinking (as I always do when I watch someone be rotten on reality TV), "Boy, your momma can NOT be proud of you right now". And before I could finish my thought, there was Ken on the phone with (ironically) his "Spiritual Mother," asking for advice on dealing with all the stress. Well, wait until she sees him on TV using all that horrible language and treating a human being--a woman, no less--with such discontent; that should make for an interesting day at Church.
Soon Therapist Tim comes to the rescue, has a talk with both Helen and Ken, and then it's all Rainbows and Unicorns. Even though they seemed to be fine with it all, I still had a bad taste in mouth from how nasty Ken verbally abused Helen. After putting away his therapist hat, Tim arrives for his critiques, joined by Miss Heidi. The highlight here is the Karen visit. Heidi sees a neon sports bra on the form plus her sketch and tells Karen that it looks a bit like a green martian. That's not good. This is the cue for Karen to start all over again, with unfortunately four hours left in the workday.
Day of the runway and poor Karen is no better off than she was after Heidi's "Green Martian" critique yesterday. She's freaking out, quickly sewing, has no top made and all the while her model--the ever-so-fabulous Roberta--is sitting around thinking "GURL! I can't believe I'm going home for this crappy outfit that you haven't even made yet!" Cut to the runway where Very Special Guest Judge Michael Kors is BAAACK(!). His comedy writers have probably prepared some really good zingers for this very special judging. As I was watching from the comfort of my home, with my "Nick Judging Note Cards," I thought that most of the designers did a really good job. Here's what I wrote: "Good look!" (Bradon), "Love the pops of red!" (Kate), "Athletic chic!" (Helen), "Great jacket, cool top" (Dom), "Fun asymmetrical jacket" (Justin), and "Really well made!" (Alexander). Out of all of them the best looks were from Kate and Helen. I might have picked Kate but the minute Nina put in an order for Helen's handkerchief-hemmed hooded work-out jacket, it was "done and done" and she was the winner for a second consecutive time. On another note, I am very suspicious of Nina and her supposed "work out." I cannot see La Garcia in a gym unless there's Champagne and Caviar there, but I'll suspend disbelief just this once.
Pooping Pants and Buffet Hour
I thought that Jeremy's outfit used way too much purple. Ken's was not bad but I could buy it at Target TODAY, and it reminded me of all the mothers I saw on my Kauai vacation; it lacked a "fashion" element. The worst were Alexandria and Karen. I agreed completely with EVERY judge--except Heidi--with their comments about Alexandria's look. When Michael Kors called out Alexandria's "Pooping Pants" and "Pleasure Me Pockets," I couldn't hold back my glee in thinking "Awww, I missed you Michael!" That look was so off the mark, but she was lucky that Karen's was worse: it had NO fashion, no style, and completely hid the body. Poor Roberta (the model) did look like a woman at a cruise ship buffet table. All that she was missing was a pink fanny pack. So, yes kids, remember in the beginning when I thought to myself "Is Karen still here?" Well, I only had to wait 90 minutes for my wishful thinking to come true.
I must confess, I'm a shoe-a-holic; I love shoes. My two obsessions are YSL "Johnny Boots" and colorful suede driving loafers from Florence Italy. I own three YSL pairs and about four of the Italian ones. I get the suede loafers from a "secret" little store in Firenze (and I am NOT telling anyone what the store is!). I am only admitting this shoe confession to try and dispel the myth that only women are OBSESSED with shoes. Lots of men are too. And to be quite honest I think there are quite a few of us that are addicted to women's shoes too! No surprise that some of the top designers are Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik and Brian Atwood. So right away, I was excited about the challenge and interested to see if the designers could make the shoes the star.
Last week, the designers got to go GLAMPING. Alexandria won the challenge (much to my dismay, since I liked Jeremy's bias-cut "love letter" gown better), and Justin was out, almost. Tim Gunn used his save and Justin was still in, not because (as Tim said) "he's one of the nicest persons here," but because of his talent and that he needed "a little more time" on the show. OK Tim, if you say so.
For this week's challenge, it was ALL ABOUT SHOES: the designers went to the Hearst Building and met up with Tim Gunn and Marie Claire's Editor-in-Chief Anne Fulenwider. Anne announced that this week's challenge was to choose a pair of FAB shoes from the Marie Claire accessory closet and create a look inspired by those shoes. Before they could pick, there was a fashion quiz they had to take. Alexandria did not need to participate since she was the winner last week. She chose these amazing thigh-high gladiator sandals. Good choice Miss von Bromssen.
Fashion History Fail
The rest of the designers went through the fashion quiz, answering questions such as, "Who created the New Look?" "Who originated the little black dress?" and "What fashion school did Marc Jacobs graduate from?" Dom and Miranda were the last designers standing. When Dom makes the statement that "her teacher is going to kill her when she gets the answer wrong," I quietly think A) Aww that's cute and B) Yes, if I was your teacher, I might chastise you just a little bit. I'm with Jeremy and Bitchy McBitch Ken when it comes to designers having to know their fashion history. Completely.
Cristobal: Yes; Bradon: No
After they all pick their shoes, they head to Mood. Both Miranda and Alexander, choose very similar looking plaids. It looked like a plaid fabric stand-off, and neither designer was backing down. Back at Parsons, Bradon begins to work on his look using this technique called bouillonné (which means "bubbled" in French). It was an old-school sewing technique of puckering up fabric and hand-stitching it. Famed couturier Cristobal Balenciaga did it MASTERFULLY in his Winter 1967 "chou" silk gazar wrap (look it up, kids) and it should have stayed there. In 2013, the technique looks dated and like something one would see in grandma's curtains or a big tacky bubbling-over wedding dress. When Tim Gunn visits and sees Bradon's bouillonné creation, it looks like a mess. I absolutely love when Tim asks Bradon, "Where is she going [in this]?" I used to ask this of EVERY one of my students and when they would come back with, "Umm...well...umm...I don't know," it would be THE END. And this is what Tim was trying to get to with Bradon.
L.A. Casting Sidebar
When Bradon auditioned on the show (I was one of the casting judges along with Tim), he showed us TWO things: a bolero jacket with fagoting technique; and a top with the bouillonné technique. Bradon is making the mistake of doing the two things he knows best and applying them to the show's challenges, when in fact, he should let the challenges lead. It seems that he comes to this realization at the end of the episode, so I'll be hoping for a recovery.
Le Shoe Safe
Now, let's move on and get to the Runway Show. The guest judges were actress Kaley Cuoco and Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief Anne Fulenwider. The designs come out and here are my "Nick Two Cents": Karen's was well done but it was also very department store sellable. Kate's split-front pants and too-tight blouse seemed dated and a bit contrived and not unique enough for the girl who would have worn those "Dali-like" surrealist shoes. Dom's was Rihanna-like cute but heavy with the quilting technique. Justin did well with his all-black power b*tch ensemble. Alexander's plaid look was worse than Miranda's. How he was safe and Miranda was not was beyond me...
The best were Alexandria, Ken and Helen. Alexandria's black satin-and-lace trimmed look was the perfect counterbalance to her rough-and-tough, thigh-high gladiator sandals. I wasn't a fan of the handkerchief hem but it was her model Ya who SOLD it. Seriously, Alexandria needs to send Ya Godiva chocolates for an entire year. I honestly didn't agree with Ken's too-mini peplum look being on the top. I liked the fabric, it was just the length of that skirt (HOOCHIE much??) and the too-trend driven silhouette that I didn't like. I did love the shoulder/cap sleeve detail, however. It was Helen who won with her very monastic all black cape and sheath dress creation. The minute it came down the runway, I knew Nina, Zac, etc. would D.I.E. It was so Alexander Wang-for-Balenciaga; those NYC-based judges live for that.
Chiffon Sad, Bouillonné & Tartan
For me, the worst two were Jeremy and Bradon. First, Jeremy's "Pretty Woman" street-walker-on-a-budget look was sad and tacky. His chiffon "cable-knit" sweater was not only bizarre but somehow heavy looking. But my personal pick for worst was Bradon's outfit: that puckered halter top (what the HECK was sewn in between the puckers? Were those left-over's from the bow-tie challenge?) with a high-waisted half-circle skirt from page 257 of "Helen Joseph-Armstrong's Patternmaking" book was a mess. 1982 prom meets (as Zac Posen says) frumpy-dumpy. Yet, for some reason, the judges added Miranda into the bottom mix. I wasn't a fan of the Amy Winehouse hair, but the pants fit well and looked fine. Were they Christmas-y? Yes? But was Bradon's a frump-a-licious MESS? Umm, YES! So what happened?
Wrong One Out
For some reason Miranda was out. Even Tim Gunn was a bit discombobulated when he admitted that he actually didn't think Miranda's look was so bad. So what happened? I'll tell you: the judges looked at the designers past work (save for Cuoco and Fulenwider who obviously thought Bradon was the worst) and decided to keep Bradon. This was a final decision made behind-the-scenes by those judges (and possibly with consultation from the producers). So, speaking of Godiva chocolates, Bradon needs to send some to Heidi, Nina and Zac...and maybe most of the executive producers.
Now...what did YOU guys think? Was it Miranda's time, or should the judges have "Auf'ed" Bradon? Do you think the judges should look at each challenge and not the entire body of work when judging? Did you agree with Helen's win and Ken being in the Top 3? Until next time, remember say no to Bouillonné and yes to Balenciaga!
Tim in a Camouflage suit? Heidi in a khaki ensemble? Is this THE "Kandahar Province Challenge"? Is the U.S. Army a new sponsor? No kids, relax, "Project Runway" is going Campingas in tents, marshmallows and getting closer to nature...
First things first, I'd like to take this time to discuss my abhorrence to camping. It may come to everyone reading this as a surprise, but oncevery long agoI was a Cub Scout. I HATED IT. In addition, the one time my dad tried to take me on a father-son camping trip, I cried the entire time. Suffice it to say, I don't do camping. So when Tim and Heidi announced that the designers were going on a camping trip,besides thinking bug bites, peeing in a river and snakes in my tent, I thought, "Thank goodness I wasn't there!" This all changed, however, the minute Camo-Tim mentioned that this would be more of "luxury camping" a GLAMPING trip. I think my fuchsia-colored Prada Dopp Kit could definitely get with the GLAMPING program. I also realized that this "get out of the workroom" trip would have been a nice respite from the pressure cooker environment of the competition.
Time To Glamp It Up
I was ready to give Tim Gunn credit for coining a new word into the lexicon of hip 21st Century lingo...until I Googled "Glamping" and 1,330,000 results came back. Oh well Tim, not this time. The designers packed, got in their separate boy-girl vans, drove for hours and finally got to their Glamping site. Tim was waiting there, along with Seona Skwara, who has what could be the MOST OBSCURE TITLE in a Company EVER: she is the Head of Activation with Resource Natural Spring Water. One question: does she "activate" the Resource Natural Spring Water Spout? Inquiring minds want to know.
Along with Tim, Seona announces that "nature helps us discover our best," (Umm, I disagree, I think Paris Haute Couture does, but go on...) and that this is the Resource Water Challenge: to create a high-end fashion look inspired by nature. Tim reiterates that this must be a HIGH-END look and NOT something one would actually wear while camping. After some paddling, zip lining and sign-language teaching, the designers begin getting inspired by their surroundings. The following day, their 24 hour Glamping trip is over and it's back to the concrete jungle of the workroom.
Tents, Glue Guns, Bias Calligraphy and Kindergarten Thread Painting
Tim checks in. Karen is inspired by the tents and is making A TENT DRESS. Uh oh. Jeremy wrote a love poem to his husband and children, and is now transferring it onto a bias-cut gown he's making (a possible "wow"). Justin is using the glue from the glue gun to create a lace appliqué on his look. Uh oh part deux. Alexandria is being a loner7#151;and besides trying to avoid "Mean Girl Ken," she is concentrating on a drop-crotch and denim sporty look. Bradon is "thread painting" and Tim is questionable of the technique. He says it's coming off a bit "clunky" and childlike, but against his wishes, Bradon continues on with it. He struggles, however throughout the day not really even having anything to fit on his model.
"Project Runway" Sidebar: How Much Time To Finish?
It's Runway Day and Bradon begins the day with no dress. He goes into "Make It Work" mode, creating his look entirely in the pre-Runway time. Sidebar: one of the most asked questions from "Project Runway" fans is, "How much time do you really have the day of Runway to finish your garment?" It depends but usually we would arrive at the workroom around 8-9 am and would be told to stop around noon. There would be a "lunch break" and then it was Runway time. So, basically we had about 3 hours to either finish oras in Bradon's casemake an entire dress.
Guest Judge is HBO's "Girls" actress Allison Williams. The designs come out. Helen 's strapless gown with raw-edged treatment looks almost unfinished. Maybe that's the point. Bradon's just-made dress is questionable and certainly not up to the level of what we have seen from him. I liked Miranda's gown; it was very Flamenco Moderno, but also a tad obvious with the leaf detail. Dom re-worked her "Bow Tie Challenge" neckline for her dress and Kate's reminded me of something I'd seen before from Alexander McQueen; it was referential and the fit was odd, but also quite "Fairy Princess" cute.
Alexander's tree-inspired gown was a triumph of fit. The black leather hem did look a bit "oil slicky" but it added some edginess to the gown. I have to be honest that I thought Alexandria's drop-crotch and denim jacket look would land her in the bottom but boy was I surprised when she won. I understood the look, but to me it just didn't really scream high-end enough. The model is very HIGH FASHION, but her look wasn't. I thought that Jeremy's ivory bias-cut "love poem" gown should have won; this was ethereal, gorgeous, inspiring and high fashion. There's always (at least) one instance in every "Project Runway" season where the judges go for the unexpected as their favorite and this was that selection. Also, I've always said that the judges, especially Nina (and Michael Kors when he was a judge), do not really like gowns and here was a perfect example of that.
It was down to Ken , Karen and Justin. Zac Posen called Ken's dress a "Frog Queen." I actually didn't think that was fair. I thought his dress looked very "Madame" and although very heavy up top, was an interesting dress that could have worked with a little tweaking. I also didn't think it was fair for Heidi to be complaining about all the front detail when she was featuring a very front-heavy (and feathered!) concoction herself. Karen made an ombré-dyed maxi dress inspired by the camping tents. It was a TENT DRESS(!) and the styling was so off: Cowboy booties, beach-y hair...what is happening here? But it was Justin's glue gun "appliqué" dress that, rightly so, was at the very bottom. Nina said that his model had a "foaming vagina" (Ayyy Dios Mio!). His technique backfired completely and the look was amateur at best. He was out.
...But Not For Long
As we know Tim gets to save ONE designer in the season. As Justin is saying his goodbyes to his teary fellow designers (I was kinda choking up as well), Tim walks in and announces that indeed he is saving Justin (after wiping his own tears). While this was very nice of Tim, I wondered if this was the right time to use his all-important "Tim Save." Did Tim use his "aww shucks" emotional voice as opposed to his rational-thinking voice? Should Justin have been out and stayed out. What if a (arguably) more talented designer like Bradon, Kate or Alexandria get the unfortunate "Auf"? What then? No saves for them. What do you guys think of all this? Lots to discuss and I can't wait to read your thoughts. Until next week....as Heidi says, "BYYYYEEEE!"
In my last "Project Runway" blog recap, I ended with "hope the drama has left the room and now we can get back to the FASHION"... Well, I got 50% of my wish. Last week, we had the celebratory episode involving the designers creating looks inspired by bow ties and Bradon's heartwarming-and tear inducing marriage proposal. Also, Sandro "The Drama Diva" left, punched a camera and POOF: no one is out. Now is a new week and a new challenge. And yes, new DIVA Drama...
Bridge and Meatpacking Tunnel
Miss Heidi greets the designers by telling them that they are to meet Tim (and a guest) in the UBER hip (still?) Meatpacking District of NYC. Cut to the Gansevoort Plaza. PS: I had no idea that's what it was calledI just thought it was the place where drunk "Bridge and Tunnel" couples stumbled along the cobblestone streets. Tim Gunn is there with several shiny new Lexus automobiles. He's with Brian Bolain, Corporate Manager for Lexus.
And You Must Solve a Crossword Puzzle Too!
Oh yes, it's another "Brand" challenge. As it turns out, it's not only that but...
A) It's also a Team Challenge (the designers are put in teams of three).
B) It's an Unconventional Challenge (The third in 5 episodes! What is this, the "Unconventional Season"?). The designers will not be going to Mood but instead, get their materials from an antique wallpaper store, a specialty food store, or a home goods/party store.
C) The designers must design a mini-collection of high-end looks.
D) Be inspired by the Lexus automobiles...or not.
E) They have a $1500 suggested budget.
F) Have only one day to do it.
G) And they must do all the above PLUS solve a Crossword Puzzle involving World Politics...OK, not this last one, but I wouldn't have been surprised if they did!
Driving Miss Sue
Teams are announced and they are Jeremy, Karen, Kate; Alexander, Bradon and Miranda; Dom, Helen, Justin; and Alexandria, Ken and Sue. The last one being the most contentious from the start: Ken is not happy from the minute the Lexus ignition key has been turned onand especially after Sue makes a remark about Ken being the Chauffeur(?). He immediately goes into Diva mode, not for Sue implying this is a remake of "Driving Miss Daisy," but the fact that Sue doesn't know how to machine sew, thread a bobbin or make patterns. All the teams go shoppingpicking two of those three aforementioned locationsand then, head back to Parsons. There, "Team Drama" continues with Alexandria, Ken and Sue. Ken is very argumentative, divisive and quite nasty to Sue in particular, demeaning her non-sewing/patternmaking skills to her face as well as in front of Tim Gunn during his requisite visit.
First, I get what Ken's frustration with Sue is about. I have NO PATIENCE for someone who comes on "Project Runway" not having their skills down pat. Even if you are not a "machine sewing" person, have never threaded a bobbin or made patterns, I cannot, for the life of me, understand why you didn't take the time between getting chosen and actual filming to learn and school yourself. There is nothing wrong with being self-taught...if you actually TEACH YOURSELF something! With that said, I don't agree with the manner of which Ken went about it to let her know this. He was abrasive and insulting. As a team member, he should have just sucked it upand maybe just complained during his direct-to-camera confessionals. On a side note regarding Tim's visit to their team, I was so happy when he ripped them ALL a new oneincluding the fact that Sue was using FABRIC in an Unconventional Challenge and that the other two weren't doing much better either. Good Job, Top Gunn!
La Diva Is BAACK!
Speaking of the workroom and Tim, guess who showed up? La Diva Sandro. I wasn't expecting this one. I thought he was, by now, in a JFK Airport Transit Hotel waiting to go back to Moscow. But alas, he wasn't. Sandro returned to apologize to the designers for his behavior and put closure to all his nonsense. The jaded person in me thinks that he had to come back to pay the producers for the broken camera. Just sayin'.
Runway day is upon us and Team Alexandria, Ken and Sue are still a mess. Sue's look is not done and they have been told that, "It's runway time!"; Tim says that it was an "unprecedented moment" when Sue's model walked out of the workroom IN HER OWN CLOTHES. Somehow I am beginning to side with Bitchy Ken right about now. June Ambrose, Stylist to Jay-Z, Diddy and Missy Elliot is the guest judge. The designs come out and here are my "Nick Two Cents":
I thought two teams in particular did a great job. First Team Alexander, Bradon, Miranda. I especially loved Bradon's; that "wedding gown" of his was draped magnificently. I also thought Alexander's shawl made of window blinds was pretty FIERCE. Surprised Miranda did not do a PENCIL SKIRT but...she did do a fitted skirt dress, so very close. At least it wasn't a PENCIL SKIRT! When Team Jeremy, Karen and Kate's designs came out, however, I was like, "Done and Done." Those were some of the sexiest, hottest looks that have been achieved using placemats, wallpaper, glitter, drawer lining and coconut, EVAH. Karen's black flapper-style shift dress was SO Prada. Kate, who's on my Top Three Final List as of last night, did a marvelous design that looked like a $3,000 designer dress at Barney's NY. Her model Roberta looked INCREDIBLE; she needs to be the next Miss Universe! But it was Jeremy's ivory placemat strapless dress that won meand the judgesover. It was a complete opposite of a "Madame" look, which is the critique he got last week. This dress was so Victoria Beckham it was RIDUNCULOUS.
And Now to The Bottom
After the runway show, I thought Justin would be OUT because of his uninspired outfit comprised of a top and sloppy, stiff pants. The fact that they showed a tender "family Skype" moment earlier, also added to my "He's out!" speculation. But, it was Team Drama that was in the bottom. I actually liked Alexandria's high-neck vest as well as her ruched mini. The outfit looked modern and kind of chic. It was obvious then, that Ken and Sue were at the bottom. Ken's duct-taped dress was cheap-looking and screamed, "Oh wait, I need to cover my mistakes." But it was Sue who got the eventual boot for her outfit that was poorly sewn, haphazardly designed and just plain odd. On top of everything else, it was shocking to learn that Sue's model sewed part of the dress herself. Wouldn't that alone be cause for elimination? Hopefully she'll go learn some machine-stitch sewing skills and take some pattern-making classes (it will only make her a better designer)...and continue making those great leather jackets.
So...what did you guys think? Was Ken's approach to Sue completely wrong? What did you think of Sandro coming back? Should Ken and his duct tape ensemble have gone home instead of Sue? I'd love to know your thoughts. Until then, see you here next week!