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!