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Project "I Don't Care How She Gets Into It"

By LisaRaphael Thu., Oct. 6, 2011 ,5:09 pm EDT

Anthony Ryan and his Hippy Dippy Navajo-print Girls are gone. Sigh. I fantasize that they're probably enrolling in a Women's Studies Program in New Mexico — with their mohawk'ed "Best Gay." For now, six designers are left. Now what? Here's a sampling: Birds, birds, and more birds, plus a head-to-head challenge with A LOT of twists and a $20,000 prize! There are glue-gun meltdowns and the infamous Project Seamstress or Project "Make It Work" Dilemma. It's enough to drive a boy to ... write a recap.

$20,000, Sweetie Darling
We begin with our fourth Advertorial Challenge (but who's counting!). This one is different. For starters, it's L'Oréal. Second, there are birds waiting for the designers back at Parsons as their next challenge is announced: they must create a high-fashion runway look inspired by a cockatoo, a parrot, a raven and (if you look closely …) an owl! The six designers are split into teams of two and given their Bird Inspiration. Anya and Laura get the raven, Joshua and Bert get "Sweetie" (how ironic) the parrot, and Viktor and Kimberly get the cockatoo. The owl gets left behind, unfortunately. Finally, what makes this challenge really different? The prize (besides the Marie Claire/L'Oréal advertorial): a $20,000 check. Shut. The. Front. Door.

Head to Runway Head
Twist No. 1: Instead of competing against the other teams, they are competing HEAD TO HEAD — against each other. As original as this "Head to Head" component was, I was a bit questionable of the idea: What if both members of a team were equally FABULOUS? What then? Moving on …

Twist No. 2: After the designers have been working for a full day, Tim walks in to announce that they are to create a SECOND look as well, and they are given $300! "Project Runway" has definitely upped the budget! I remember having $30 to make a flower dress!

Kimberly and Tim Gunn hug in the workroomThe Unraveling of Kim
Day 2, and stress is in the air. Joshua hates his first creation (with good reason — it looks like a pleated nightgown for a woman who pops a lot of pills!). He asks Anya if he can borrow fabric. She disregards him, acting as if he's speaking in tongues. Kimberly begins unraveling emotionally. She's having issues: She sews through her finger, and her fabric gets stained. Oh, and a glue gun melts a hole in her dress. Not a good Kimberly Day. Bathroom crying ensues. Anya and Laura console her, as well as Tim, who gives her a "Poppa Gunn" hug.

Girl, I Feel For You ...
I unraveled and almost threw in the Frette towel back in my season. It's a result of the abnormal and surreal work environment and pressures of the competition, so I get it, Kimberly. In my case, I had my own Anya and Laura in the form of my fellow designer (Daniel Vosovic) who pulled me aside and read me the "You've Lasted This Long ... Don't Give Up" Riot Act. I snapped back. So did Kimberly. She decides to make a new dress with only THREE hours remaining in the day. As Tim is about to lock the workroom doors, he announces Twist No. 3: Only one look will go down the runway. Stress relieved.

Project I-Don't-Care-How-She-Gets-Into-It
Runway Day, and Anya is struggling to get her model into her dress, after inexplicably forgetting to put an opening/closure. She seam-rips it open and sews it back (or glue-guns it, who knows?) Well, that little detail of construction ignorance did not sit well with Viktor and Joshua, the "Sewing & Construction Stepsisters."

Anya on the runway Here's the deal: I know it's frustrating when you see and know how some of your fellow designers can barely construct a garment but then are able to "Make It Work" come runway time. We all must come to realize that the judges don't care how the model gets into the outfit and arrives on the runway. They turn a blind eye to sloppy hand-sewing and glue guns. Yes, they praise good construction and sewing, but they praise design, presentation, good taste level and the "It Factor" more. There is NOTHING in the "Project Runway" Rulebook that says that it needs to be made so well that it can be sold in a store and worn by an actual non-model in an everyday situation THAT NIGHT. Is it fair? No. But again, as Ms. Kors has repeated several times this season, "It's NOT Project Seamstress, it's Project RUNWAY."

Miss Elie Saab 2011 or Miss Anya
Speaking of The Runway, Francisco Costa, Women's Wear Creative Director for Calvin Klein, is the guest judge for this challenge. Kimberly, Joshua and Anya are deemed the best. Kimberly's "3-Hour Gown" was very Elie Saab and yes, a little pageant-y, as Nina Garcia said. The construction was wonky (what were those unintentional mini-pleats in the waist?), but overall, it was an elegant and sensual representation of her bird. Joshua did a one-shoulder side-cowl draped orange cocktail number that wasn't Bedazzled or tacky-licious. Also — interestingly enough — it was VERY "Sophisticated '70s." Why didn't he do THAT dress in the previous challenge? Anya's edgy, black, high-necked, shoulder-capped dress was exceptional (minus the "How Does She Get Into It" factor). It was my favorite, in fact, reminding me a lot of the dresses Karl Lagerfeld just showed in his Chanel Spring 2012 Collection in Paris. She wins, much to the dismay of her "Construction Stepsisters."

Shredded vs. Un-Joyous
Viktor's shredded gown was not a favorite and was labeled too literal by the judges. For me, a bigger problem is why he didn't line the entire floor-length skirt? I know the whole transparency thing is "In," but there's a difference between when Frida Giannini of Gucci did it (Fall/Winter 2011) and when Viktor attempted it. Laura's too-tight skinny pants and bird-feather-like-neckline jacket was not High Fashion Runway. But poor Bert; his strapless faux-python-skin bustier with matching belt and multi-layered-skirt gown with a center front slit was oh-so-boring, not joyous and, more importantly — as the judges (again) correctly stated — not NEW or INTERESTING. It also looked like a Pageant Gown that a Miss Cayman Islands would wear — in 1998! And when Bert got the boot, even he concurred that "You (the judges) made the right choice." Yep, they finally did.