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HP Objets d’art

By kim_messina Fri., Mar. 29, 2013 ,4:11 am EDT

Art and Fashion. Some people argue that Fashion is Art; and others, tend to believe the opposite. This week’s "HP and Avant-Garde" episode was about the combination of both highlighting the artsy, inspirational and creative elements of making fashion.

Sold Out Michelle
In case you didn’t get the "Michelle Is Back memo, our dear Season 11 voice of reason designer Michelle Lesniak Franklin won last week’s Lord & Taylor Challenge, with the prize being that her dress would be manufactured and sold at Lord & Taylor. According to the web, her dress SOLD OUT by 8:45 am the morning following last week’s episode (I wonder if she got any profits from that!?). I’m excited that Michelle is no longer "Bad Luck Michelle" but "I Might Win This Entire Show" Michelle. Her positive design karma continued onto this week’s episode as well. Speaking of, let’s get to it…

Why Are You Not Smiling???
The remaining six designers are very tired and visibly stressed. I know exactly how they feel. Been there. Done that. When Heidi Klum opens the episode with her traditional, "Hellooo," and follows with a, "Why are you not smiling?" I wanted to shout at the TV and say to her, "Because they all hate each other, have had three hours of sleep and…THEY. ARE. OVER. IT!"

Guggenheim Fab
After Heidi’s niceties, the designers meet Tim Gunn at the Guggenheim Museum where he is to announce their next challenge. But before that, the producers, I mean judges, would like to "re-work" the teams. The designers are paired up in boy-girl fashion: Stanley with Michelle; Patricia and Richard, and Layana with Daniel. Once that’s done, Gunn tells the designers that this is the HP Intel Challenge: to create a piece of wearable art which should be "over the top, grand, big!" and along with that look, they should design a companion ready-to-wear piece. They are to use the HP Touchsmart Desktop to execute a textile design. The winning designer will get a whopping $10,000 cash prize plus their very own HP Envy X2.

Oil and Water…and Jersey
After going through the halls of the Guggenheim to get inspired, they head back to the 1407 Workroom to design their prints. Layana and Daniel are doing a geometric midcentury-looking print, Michelle and Stanley go for a macabre face of a woman and Richard and Patricia create graphic exaggerated triangles. Once the draping, patternmaking and cutting commence, there are some polarizing team dynamics: Good (Stanley and Michelle), Confusing (Layana and Daniel) and Hopeless (Patricia and Richard). Patricia (the artsy one) is in her zone with this challenge; she’s known for creating her own textiles so this is right up her (design) alley. Richard, however, is lost. They’re mixing like oil and water. I almost DIED early in this episode when Michelle calls out Richard and how he shouldn’t be on the show still, saying that if he were to show at NY Fashion Week, he would show 12 uncreative jersey looks down the runway. Here’s a Newsflash: HE DID SHOW at Fashion Week (he was one of five decoy designers during the Finale Show) and…he showed 12 (almost all) jersey looks. So, once again, Michelle: you were right!

Crying Princess
The following day (one assumes), the prints the teams design miraculously come back finished, printed and in fabric. All the designers are very happy with how their prints turned out. Tim visits and he is positive about Team Michelle and Stanley but worried about the others. Patricia and Richard are still a mess together; while Patricia is excitedly diving head first into her avant-garde creation, Richard has wasted a day making a bracelet. Layana is having issues with her creation. She’s using almost all the printed fabric on her design and finally after some verbal pushin’ and shovin’, she begrudges Daniel about a 1/2 yard for his design. Princess Layana then breaks down as Tim says that her design just "isn’t working." One of the highlights of this episode, is when Tim schools Layana and tells her that this challenge is meant to be out of her comfort zone. You can tell she’s someone who has always gotten her way (possibly through her pretty looks) and is uncomfortable that well, this time, nothing is going her way. As they say in the South: bless her heart.

Daniel Gets His Groove Back and Layana UGHH!!
Runway Day and Zac is still missing. (Someone should find out if he decided to stay in the Amalfi Coast for an "extended vacation" while the show was filming.) Rachel Roy is subbing once again on his behalf. Designer Tracy Reese (First Lady Michelle Obama is a big fan), is the guest judge. The designs come out and here are my "Nick Two Cents": Daniel's ready-to-wear look comprised of a black jacket with leather sleeves and 1/2 yard printed skirt with overlay was GREAT. It was young and directional. The pairing of these two had a positive effect on Daniel in that her eye on what’s cool definitely influenced him. But then, what happened to her? Layana's design was a MESS. The judges suggested that it looked as if she threw in "everything and the kitchen sink." It did. I love when the female judges asked her, "Would you wear it?" And you know the obvious answer is, "NO!" So then, why make it? This is always a point of contention with me when I teach my students in fashion design. Finally, I was very disappointed when both Daniel and Layana were in the holding room and Layana began going off, saying that Daniel’s creation was also HERS, and therefore she was angry she wasn’t getting props for it as well. Daniel’s face reflected what I was thinking: Who. The. He**. Does. She Think. She Is? One word: UGHH!!

Stanley: Shalom Harlow 2013
Michelle and Stanley’s looks were the obvious stars of the bunch. They looked cohesive, inspirational, editorial. The "woman shouting" print was edgy, bold and yes, dark in its intention. Michelle’s coat was stupendous and glorious and very well done, while Stanley’s exaggerated pleated baby doll dress was very Alexander McQueen. Rreminded me of the famous dress model Shalom Harlow wore where the robot spray painted her on the runway stage.) As a result, Stanley wins. Was it ready-to-wear? This could be argued. I would say it was "Ready-to-Wear Runway” for sure. for me.

Patricia, Yes. Richard, No.
And now, for the worst—Team Patricia and Richard. First off, I actually liked Patricia’s look, especially her presentation. I appreciated the avant-garde-like aspect of her design; it was conceptual, thought-provoking and I got it. And I was happy to see that Heidi did too. The rest of the judges did not get it, however. But that wasn’t the biggest problem—it was Richard. His design of a printed top and askew pleated skirt was not cool nor ready-to-wear (Well, maybe in 1989). He wanted to stay away from doing his typical color-blocked jersey, but maybe he should have just gone ahead and done that. When the auf was about to be announced, poor Patricia began sobbing thinking she was out, but as we all knew, it was Richard’s time to go. Next week, the designers are finally on their own. No Teams…well, kind of: they’ll be getting help from some of the eliminated designers. Oh, and Zac Posen is back from the Amalfi Coast! Yeayyy!