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Do Not Disappoint Nina!

Posted By kim_messina 4:03am GMT

Last week's HP Challenge episode garnered a win for Stanley and sent Richard packing to join the rest of the eliminated designers in a secret undisclosed location. This week, the episode begins right after the elimination as Tim and Heidi announce to the remaining five designers that it’s time for each of them to "work on your own." There will be NO MORE TEAMS! After the screams of joy dissipate, Heidi reminds them, however, that it is still "Project Runway: Teams Edition" and that tomorrow they will be getting "helpers" and sewing assistants for their next challenge. Oh, what fun. Not.

No, No, No
The following day, Tim takes the designers to the Hearst Building, home of Marie Claire Magazine, where Nina Garcia is waiting for them to announce their new challenge: to create a fashion-forward editorial look for actress Jordana Brewster. The winning look will be featured in the May 2013 edition of Marie Claire. Nina then sets the "Nina Rules": NO red carpet, NO gowns, NO t-shirt and pants, it must be EDITORIAL plus be bold in color, shape and silhouette. Before saying Adios, Nina reminds the designers of two very important Nina-isms: Do Not Disappoint or Embarrass Miss Nina. Got it. Bueno.

Free Labor
After Mood shopping, they all head to the workroom where Tim introduces them to their "sewing assistants": the last five eliminated designers Amanda, Kate, Richard, Samantha and Tu (PS: How lucky were all those early eliminated designers?!). Stanley (who won the last challenge) gets first pick on his helper and chooses Tu. Although he says that he chose Tu because he is an excellent sewer, I think the true reason is that he knew that he could easily boss him around.

So Over The Button Bag
Tim then brings out the dreaded button bag to "decide" who the next ones to choose are. Michelle picks Amanda, Daniel is with Samantha, Layana gets Kate and Patricia is last (of course) and she gets her nemesis of last week, Richard. Now, can we please stop this charade that the names are chosen at random? It’s been eleven seasons and unless you are THE MOST NAÏVE VIEWER in TV history, you know that the names have been pre-chosen.

Downtrodden and Helpless
Naturally, Patricia is feeling downtrodden and helpless with the thought of working with Richard, again. I would be too. But this added stress is pushing her to her breaking point. Throughout her time in the workroom, she is mentally, physically and creatively spent. It’s easy to say, "GURL! Snap out of it!" but in that surreal bubble that is "Project Runway" and all the level of stress that comes with that, I can understand sinking deeper and deeper into a black hole of creative suffocation.

Sewing 101
And Richard ain’t helping. Patricia asks him to French seam a dress she's making so then she can work on other things and lo and behold, Richard doesn’t know how to do a French seam. She therefore has to waste valuable time teaching him which is so embarrassing, for Richard. What so-called designer coming onto "Project Runway" does not know how to French seam?! No excuse. Seriously, these last two episodes have been the worst public relations moments for Richard Hallmarq. Not only did he make a fug-a-licious look last week and was annoying to work with, now, all of America (and the rest of the world) knows he can’t sew a basic French seam. File under: bless his heart.

Bossy Lady
Besides the Patricia and Richard drama, we’ve also got Stanley and Tu. Little Tu is doing as much as he can but every other second Bossy Stanley thinks he is the Joan Crawford of the Fashion Design World and Tu is his own little Christina. Stanley is yelling orders and treating Tu like he was a sweatshop worker in a Third World country; Tu can’t talk, sleep, or take a coffee break. But as we soon find out, it was all for good and being a tyrant in the workroom ends up being a positive for Stanley.

The Top
It’s Runway Day and besides the news that Zac Posen is back from my fantasy Amalfi Coast vacation, Nina and Heidi are there, as well as actress Jordana Brewster who will be wearing whatever fabulous ensemble the winning designer made for her for the Marie Claire editorial. Here are my "Nick Two Cents" on the designs: First off, I thought Stanley’s creation was odd. The culottes looked like they were muslin and not some expensive fabric. The shape was interesting but at the same time, looked dated and not so directional. The leather jacket was well-done (Go Team Tu!), but the coloring of the brown with the off-white pants was off. Ah well, what do I know: the judges LOVED it! Nina couldn’t stop talking about how amazing it was, so he won. Layana’s was very referential to me. Zac (my new best friend!) correctly pointed out that it was very Paco Rabanne. I did appreciate how she tried to mimic the architecture of the Hearst Building on her leather and chain top although, I did not like the skirt silhouette; it didn’t make sense with the rest of the look. But once again, the judges liked it, all of it. (I need to make an appointment with my optometrist, soon!)

The Bottom…Kind Of
Daniel’s lemon yellow shorts and exaggerated shouldered jacket looked like a cross between bunny ears and a costume from "Star Trek," as the judges correctly pointed out. I was not a fan. I thought his outfit was contrived and too gimmicky. But somehow, he got praise and excused, for at least "going there." Michelle’s look was comprised of two "Nina No-No’s": a t-shirt and pants. I actually liked this and thought it was a very chic-looking t-shirt and pants, but it was a t-shirt and pants nonetheless. When Nina reminded Michelle of this plus the fact that it was a rather "pedestrian" look with little "fantasy" editorial appeal, I understood more why she was going to be in the bottom. Speaking of bad, Patricia’s was a Pocahontas mess. It looked like student work; the construction was wonky and the fit was not flattering. You could see all the pain and hardship she went through in the past 24 hours all in that one dress. So who goes home?

Do or Die…in Europe?
I could tell halfway through Heidi’s recap of the designers and their looks during the deliberation that NO ONE was going home; she was excusing each and every one of them and finding a positive. So, it came as no surprise to me that no one was aufed. Michelle was the last woman standing and as Heidi tells her that she’s in, she adds that this is a "do or die" moment and that she’s being given one more chance. What does that mean Heidi? Please explain? Well, there’s no explanation just a "to be continued." Next week’s preview shows that the designers are all going to Europe (so jealous!) and wait, why is there no Michelle? Uh Oh...


HP Objets d’art

Posted By kim_messina 4:11am GMT

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!


Everything's Coming Up Roses

Posted By kim_messina 4:05am GMT

I almost lost all hope for this season's designers after seeing the "outfits" they made for those sexy Thunder From Down Under Aussie hunka-hunks last week. But, we will try to put that episode in a "Project Runway" time capsule and send it to Mars and hope it is lost in space forever. It’s a fresh new challenge, fresh new designs and fresh new conflict and drama.

Another Switch-a-Roo
This week, the seven remaining designers head over to the Fifth Avenue Flagship of Lord & Taylor to meet Tim and a guest, to get their next challenge. Let me take a big guess what the next challenge might be? Could it be the "Lord & Taylor Challenge"? Before that is announced, Tim tells the designers that once again, the judges have "decided" to re-evaluate their team situation. And when Tim says the judges, he really means, the PRODUCERS have decided to change it up, thank you very much. Stanley is paired with Patricia (just so her kookiness can annoy someone else this time); Daniel is with Michelle (so she can turn his 50-something "Fantasy Muse" into a younger client); and naturally, Richard—CEO of the "I Hate Layana fan club"—has to work with, Layana. Poor Samantha is thrown in with that pairing, I’m assuming to help with the awkward pregnant pauses and actually have some dialogue for the producers to record.

A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose
Back to the challenge: Tim and Suzanne Timmins, Sr. Vice President and Fashion Director of Lord & Taylor, announce that these three teams must design ready-to-wear looks inspired by the iconic Lord & Taylor rose. The designers can create dresses, separates, or a combination of both for Spring 2013 and they must retail for under $250. Each designer will make their own looks. And the winner will have their look(s) manufactured and sold at Lord & Taylor and will be featured in their Fifth Avenue window. Again, I ask: why even keep this "Teams" shtick? Unless...oh yeah, we need the DRAMA. Speaking of...let's get to it, pronto!

First: Stanley and Patricia
These two had barely taken out the fabric and notions they purchased at Mood and Stanley "The Controller" was already bossing Patricia around; he's micro-managing her design and construction. Stanley keeps asking, "Why are you doing this? Why are you making that?"and he doesn't let up. Bless Patricia's heart, she just sits there wide-eyed (yet visibly perturbed). Personally, I would have shut that Stanley down, with ONE LOOK huney! Stanley finally chills when he sees that what Patricia is making looks kind of cute. Side note: he should be more worried about what he's making because that below-the-knee shift dress he's creating is not looking young, fresh or modern.

Second: Michelle and Daniel
Poor Michelle. First, she was the "Bad Luck Charm" in all the earlier challenges, now she's got to deal with "I-Have-Issues-and-I'm-Projecting" Daniel. Michelle makes a comment about his pink fabric being very pink (PS: J'adore that bubblegum pink color!). That gets him all a-flutter. Then, she says something about how they're designing for a girl who's around 21 years of age, and that sends him into a tizzy. Daniel: get a grip mija, it's not that serious. Even he acknowledges that the woman he designs for is "of a certain age." And now he's mad at Michelle for (sort of) reminding him of this and to "think young" (in not so many words). He's stressed and projecting his design insecurities. Oh, and yeah, Michelle is working on a cute chartreuse dress and possibly a vest. But that doesn't matter...well, yet.

And then there's Richard, Layana and Samantha
Last week, Richard was "thrown under the bus" by several of the designers including Layana and Amanda, when Heidi asked the "Who's the weak link?" (Can she stop asking this, please!) question during the final runway. Therefore, he was very sensitive coming into this and doubly sensitive that the judges put him with Layana and Samantha. The entire time, this week, Richard was barely looking at Layana or even acknowledging she existed. Their teammate Samantha was left as the Switzerland of the threesome; just trying to "make them all get along."

The Little Chartreuse Dress
Finally, it's Runway Day and Zac Posen is not there (again) but "Project Runway Hall of Fame" judge Rachel Roy (Love her!) is his replacement. The designs come out. Stanley's design looked like a shift dress from the Escada Resort Collection—perfect for a 56 year-old Palm Beach socialite. Patricia's top and Capri pant were good. The entire look was a bit "Princess Cruises Luxe" but good, nonetheless; they were safe. Daniel's bright pink sheath dress looked (wait for it) too old. The shape, length (sleeves and dress) and even the styling (What was with that Barbara Walters hair?!) did not look youthful. The construction was wonky as well. But he got a pass. Michelle's was the best, by far. She made a chartreuse silk dress with leather detail that was young, fresh, simple yet still directional and perfect for the Lord & Taylor girl. Congrats to Michelle and I'm especially excited because next month, I'll be launching my new dress line "NV Nick Verreos" which will also be carried at Lord & Taylor—including the Fifth Avenue Flagship so...see ya there Miss Michelle!

Junior Samantha
On the bottom was "Team Richard, Layana and Samantha": Layana's floral print and leather floor-length dress got mixed reviews from the judges. I echoed their thoughts that the floral print was a bit "mumsy." Richard's color-blocked jersey creation was well executed but way too basic for the judges' eyes. Samantha's design was deemed too junior (I agree), especially with that heart cut-out. I almost thought that because Samantha's design had some creativity (the judges usually love that), she would be "In" and Richard would be "Adios." But I was wrong. It was "bye bye" to Samantha. At the very least, she came out smelling like a rose in terms of not getting involved with the Richard-Layana drama. Now, since the drama queens are all still there, I predict A LOT more DRAMA to come, but hopefully, there will also be some FAB fashion. After all, that is what this show is about...at least for me.


Not Enough Thunder and Too Much Down Under

Posted By kim_messina 4:37am GMT

Wowsa. That's all I can say. This was an eye-opening episode for sure, for several reasons, not the least being the fact that there were hot, semi-naked MENSESSS showing their six-pack abs. But even with all that distraction, there was nothing to hide just how BAAAD those clothes were. The outfits they ALL made were a mess. Plain and simple. But as they say, "The show must go on," so let’s get started.

The Nitty-Gritty
First, let's get all the important nitty-gritty parts of the challenge out of the way. This week, the designers—who were coupled in teams of two as of last week—were put into two teams of four, per the judges' requests. Patricia, Daniel, Michelle and Stanley were part of Team Shades of Grey and Richard, Layana, Samantha and Amanda titled themselves Team Slick and Hip. They were given their challenge: to create looks for the famous Thunder From Down Under male performers/strippers. They were given $750 to create three looks per team (that's $250 per look!) and one day to do it. So there you go. This should be fun right? Not.

Season 11 Faux-Kumbaya
First, let’s talk about how mean some of these designers are getting in their confessionals. I found this very interesting. Why? When I went to NYC to attend the "Project Runway" Season 11 Finale Runway Show at NY Fashion Week last month and consequently, attended a "Project Runway" reunion party where they were all there, all the Season 11 designers were very, "I LOVE EVERYONE!" When I asked them, they all individually said to me—repeatedly—how much they all got along and because of the teams aspect of the season—they were all "lifelong friends." But here's the thing: last monthwhen this reunion party occurred—we were only on the third episode, and NONE of them had seen all this behind-the-scenes dissing. I would LOVE to talk to them now and see how they feel about all the supposed Season 11 Kumbaya.

The Workroom
Moving on...I noticed right away that these season's designers were making mistakes. I guess it's the teacher in me, but it was obvious just how off track they were. First off, they all took each of the dancers/performers measurements and they were SUPERhuman. I noticed the male forms used to drape in the workroom were size 38/40. These men were NOT that size. But that's OK. If you are a trained designer, you know what to do: get the measurements and then pad your form to get it the size of your client. They did not do that, especially when it came to the jacket and pant making (Hello Layana and Amanda!). Speaking of Layana, the minute I saw her semi-finished jacket on the for—without sleeves—even I knew that it would not fi. Those armholes were WAY too inset from where they should be—it's amateur hour at 1407 Broadway. And yes, soon on the runway, it would all reveal itself. Literally!

The Runway
Let's discuss the Runway Day. Along with the usual suspects of Heidi, Nina and Zac, the guest judge was actress/singer Emmy Rossum. Now, the first thing that came to mind was, "Where's Fabio?" or at least actor Channing Tatum from "Magic Mike." But that's neither here nor there. I—along with Heidi—was very excited to see these hunka-hunka men in their fabulous looks. Even with the craziness in the workroom, I was hopeful that the dancers might be able to hide the flaws. The designs came out and both Team Slick and Hip and Team Shades of Grey did bad. Really Bad. When I saw the looks come down the runway I murmured to myself, "Ummm, NO ONE should win!” Well, I think Heidi heard me because...for the first time in "Project Runway's" eleven seasons, there wasn't an actual winning designer and look.

Bad Top
Out of the two teams, the judges had to pick a good one by default, and that dishonor went to: Team Shades of Grey (Patricia, Daniel, Michelle and Stanley). They were not as bad as the other team, but still pretty bad. Daniel's trench coat was boring and very boxy. The pants, overall, were also bad: too long and too loose. Michelle's plaid cropped vest was the only thing that seemed anything close to "creative" but even then, it looked like something from an "International Male" catalog circa 1994, and Patricia's "arts-and-craft" basket weave shirt got lost in the bad-mix. No one was good and therefore the judges made the right decision of not choosing a top winner from this top team. They all crawled back with their not-so-much-of-a-"Project Runway"-Diva-tail between their legs.

Not Slick, Not Hip.
Team Slick and Hip (Richard, Amanda, Samantha, Layana) were deemed the worst of the two. The shirts were too long (Richard), a tie was too short and a jacket was way too feminine (even more than the suit I made for Daniel Vosovic in Season 2, thank you very much!) On the subject of the shirts, I agree with judge Zac Posen: you are taught in fashion school to make a dress shirt—collars, plackets, cuffs, band...it's Fashion School 101. Even if it is a women's shirt, it basically means you can also make a proper men's shirt as well. So...the excuse of, "I just can't do menswear," I am not buying. Amanda—bless her untrained heart—made some pants that were ripping right in front of the judges. As my drag queen friends would say: TRAGIQUE. When they were each asked who was the weakest link, I wanted to SCREAM and say, "All y'al!” But as it turns out, it was Amanda's time to say bye bye and I am more than happy to bid adieu to this whole mess of a menswear challenge. It had the makings of something fun and exciting, but these designers #failed.


If It Walks Like a Duck...

Posted By kim_messina 4:50am GMT

Ducks. Yes, Ducks. Miss Heidi walked out with a DUCK. Last week we had "Mature Ladies" and this week: ducks. When La Klum walked out with a duck this week, I instantly thought "I didn't know Aflac was one of the sponsors of this season and how are they going to make stylish uniforms for Insurance Salesmen?!" I am sure that most of the designers thought the same thing. But, alas, I was wrong...

Unconventional Part Deux
After the "Heidi and Duck Show," the remaining Season 11 designers headed to their 1407 Broadway Workroom, arriving to tables piled high with "pyramids" of Duct Tape. In case it isn't 100% obvious at this point, the challenge for this week--as described by Tim Gunn and Bill Kahl, Executive VP of Marketing at ShurTech Brands—was to create a garment made out of Duct Tape. But not just any ol' garment: a Prom Dress, darlings. In case you're counting, this is the SECOND Unconventional Challenge this season. I am not sure if there has ever been a season with TWO Unconventional Challenges, but it's smart of the producers to do this, since the fans LOVE this stuff.

Tim tells the designers that the judges want to see "fresh and innovative thinking" in terms of their Prom-a-Licious designs. He also says that they will have one day to do it and that they will later meet with high school students who will vote on their designs, which will count for 20% of the final "Who's In" and "Who's Out" decision. The designers are paired up in 5 teams of two: Stanley/Layana; Kate/Tu; Michelle/Amanda; Richard/Daniel and Patricia/Samantha. There's no Mood shopping; just duct tape and muslin.

Teams Duct Prom
Back in the "Duct Workroom," Mustachioed Daniel is paired with Richard and thinking of Beyoncé for their look—using only gold tape. While Tim makes his requisite visit, those two boys add that there's also a "Mexican Mariachi" inspiration to their dress. Ay Dios Mio! Of the other teams, Layana is not happy that Team Daniel/Richard got all the gold tape and vents to her teammate Stanley who secretly wants to backslap her. Tim likes what they're making and is "not concerned." Samantha is not on the same duct tape-wavelength as her teammate Patricia, but then again, I wouldn't be either: let's just say Patricia has a design aesthetic that is unique to her. When Tim surveys what they're up to, he notices that they are on two different "design pages." He wonders why they're not collaborating and suggests that their design might look like a "Bride of the Tin Woodman." Ouch. In the Kate/Tu team, Kate is the boss and Tu is her assistant. They're making a gown for the prom and Kate is too focused on making the tape look like actual fabric (is that a bad thing?). Tim thinks their end result may be too "flat and lackluster." We'll see.

Short & Slutty
Time to head to a secret NYC high school gym and have privileged NYC high school students judge the creations on how "prom proper" they are. The models saunter down and by the looks of it, all is pretty good. Some of the designers comment about how high school kids these days want "short & slutty" for their proms. PS: When haven't they? The kids interact with the designers and take an up-close look at the creations and cast their votes. Michelle and Amanda feel like the girls with no dates, as no one seems interested in their dress. It looks like Michelle and Amanda are on a fast track to the bottom once again. With that, it's time for everyone to go to bed and get ready for the Runway Day...

Slutty and Puffy
Runway Day and the special guest judge is bubblegum pink haired-fashion designer Chris Benz. I have met Chris several times and he has always been kind, articulate and very intelligent. He was all that and more, during the judging. Immediately, Heidi announces that the top vote getter amongst the prom Kids was Team Patricia/Samantha. At first this seemed like a surprise, but then I realized not so much; the high-low style was very short in the front, so we got the "slutty" out of the way and the students seemed to respond to it's uniqueness. The judges voted and they also liked Patricia and Samantha's look. Heidi loved it and Nina thought it was very "Katy Perry." I liked the ombre duct tape manipulation but the "Jiffy Pop"-looking silhouette was too cartoon-y for me.

Bad Luck Michelle No More...
The next best were Stanley/Layana and Michelle/Amanda. I think Stanley/Layana did a good job. I loved the bubblegum pink waist bow tie but I think it should have been shorter; not hoochie-short, but shorter. The dress looked a bit heavy to me. Michelle and Amanda's was the best. It was a great silhouette with movement and a sense of fun; perfect for the prom Fashionista. I would have removed the jutting point of the bustier and created a one-shoulder strap, but besides that, good job ladies. Michelle gets chosen as the winner of the Challenge and finally "Bad Luck" Michelle has broken her curse.

Steak Restaurant Leftover Gold Aluminum Prom Dress
And now, let's discuss the Beyonce-meets-Mariachi-inspired prom dress courtesy of Daniel and Richard. It was way too obvious from the minute I saw those tacky gold "ruffles" that this would end up on the bottom. Besides the fact that this brought back way too many memories of my mid-80s prom date ensemble, it looked like something you wrap your leftovers in from a steak restaurant. It's one thing to be purposely tacky a la Jeremy Scott but I'm not so sure if they were going for that. Then there was Team Kate/Tu: I actually liked this gown. I agreed with Zac Posen that a long gown is not a bad thing when it comes to proms, especially ones that suggest a serious Red Carpet vibe; and this one did. I get that Tu let Kate be the boss and he was just her "intern", but does that merit an "Auf"? On the "which is the worst" dilemma, I would have given that to Richard or Daniel. Period. But as we know, that's not how it works in "Project Runway Land". The judges look at the whole season and not the challenge at the moment. So with that, it was "Bye-Bye" to Tu... AND Kate! In a season where you might expect double eliminations, it was still a bit of a surprise on this challenge. There have been far worse designs over the season that deserved the "Auf" (I'm talking to you Amanda!), but as everyone predicted with this season of teams, some designers are getting saved based on their partnerships. And let's admit it, the producer's needed to have an even number of designers for next week.

And speaking of next week: Male Strippers. Oh dear....I can't wait!


Mature Muse

Posted By kim_messina 4:30am GMT

When you combine Joan Rivers with the thrill of designing for "Mature Women" and then throw in my Fantasy "kooky" aunt from Boca…Boy you've really got my attention! Yes kids, this week on Season 11 "Project Runway: Teams Edition" (if it still could be called that) the designers were faced with the challenge of creating ensembles for "Ladies of a Certain Indeterminate Age." Let's Recap...

Who Do You Not Want To Work With? Because That's Who You'll Be Working With
Last week, Matthew was out and Richard was in. Michelle continued to be the "Bad Luck Charm” of the season—as well as the funniest and most "on point" commentator, and platinum-haired Aussie Benjamin is confident about getting such high praise from the judges in regards to his strapless-and-sexy Miranda Lambert gown. Cue the "He's going to be on the BOTTOM this week" thoughts in your head (or at least mine!). Heidi greets the remaining designers with the dreaded button bag and since last week Michelle was left without a partner, it's time to put her somewhere. Earlier, while at the Atlas Apartments, she comments about how she does NOT want to be paired up with Patricia. Well huney, I think you might want to think twice about using your loud voice around the producers because VOILA! Guess whose name Heidi draws from her button bag? Yep! Patricia. Coincidence? Not so mucheeey. This isn't my first time at this Reality Show Rodeo.

Mature Muse
Heidi then tells the designers that "Fashion is timeless" and with that, sends them off. They all meet at the Midtown Loft Dance Hall where there are several "mature ladies" in a dance class. Tim walks in and announces that the Challenge this week is to create a fashionable look for a mature client. The camera then pans to the designers as Richard flashes THE FAKEST smile EVAH. Mr. Gunn tells the designers who their clients are and soon afterward, it's time to consult and Mood shop—with $200 per look. TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS EACH!? I flashback to the days when that would have been the budget for the Couture Challenge!

Not Following the "Teams" Point of All This
I am still unsure as to where the "teams" aspect of this whole thing comes into play since it seems that each designer is doing their own "thang". I'm thinking "are the mature ladies Lesbian partners?" Nope. This challenge was more about each designer going off and creating whatever they wanted and just praying the other person doesn’t mess up.

Poncho Patricia and "Get-It-Together" Amanda
Since the designers had only one day to do this challenge, the workroom was Stress Central. Tim walks in for a visit and surveys what they have been up to. He loves Michelle's look and is questionable of Patricia's poncho. I'm questionable of that poncho too. For goodness sakes, it is a mess and reminds me of a "Before" photo for a Jennie Craig ad. What is she thinking? When I see Michelle's on-point smack-talk confessionals, I almost want to give her a "Hey Gurl!" high-five. Moving on. Amanda is struggling and I have to admit that I can't understand why. IT'S A DRESS!! Amanda is a woman (the last time I checked) and her go-to line is that she designs for "real women", yet she is having issues. Stop the whining, put your nose to the pattern table and make a friggin' dress lady!

We Love You Joan!
Day of runway and Zac Posen is not there. Six episodes in and he's really become the new Michael Kors; showing up whenever he feels like it. The beautiful, talented and very successful Rachel Roy is there instead. In addition, the "Special Guest Judge" is the one-and-only Joan Rivers. PS: There is a GOD! Design for a Mature Client + Joan Rivers = Genius. Her daughter—and Executive Producer of E!'s "Fashion Police"—Melissa Rivers, is there, only because one figures, Joan needs a travel partner in First Class. The designs come out and here are my "Nick Two Cents":

Jumpsuit Polished vs. Fun Fab
I love Michelle's flower print dress with crystal beaded waist. In my opinion it was one of the best and most finished dresses on the runway. Patricia changed her "mumsie" poncho into a blue-and-gold wrap/shawl that looked elegant that still brought her threesome team down. She survived another week and we are guaranteed for more Michelle behind-the-scenes Patricia Hate Talk. My favorites on the runway were Samantha's chartreuse and animal print dress as well as Stanley's navy jumpsuit with matching bolero. Now, both of these designers had an "upper hand" since their clients were closer to a model's size than the other ladies. This isn't fair. When you look at these types of challenges in Project Runway history, it almost always seems to benefit the designers whose "real models" were of smaller sizes. But they both still designed solid garments. I agreed with Fab Joan (and disagreed with the judges) in that I thought Samantha's dress was really good and perfect for her client. Stanley's look was polished and chic but his client was having crotch issues and yes, those cropped pants were TOO cropped. Based on the color, fit and "young spirit"#151;I would have given Miss Samantha the prize. But it was Stanley who got the win.

Oh Amanda
Now, onto the Bottom: Team Kate and Tu and Team Benjamin and Amanda. No one, in their right mind watching this episode was surprised to see Tu or Amanda there. Tu's moss green dress was badly constructed and looked like a uniform for an airline I NEVER want to fly with. Now, let's discuss Amanda: the ENTIRE episode dealt with her and her whining and struggles. Her printed dress was a MESS. The sleeves, the unintentionally asymmetrical hem, the covered-up mistake in the center back...WOW, there was nothing right about this dress.

Grand Dame Auf
But Benjamin? I couldn't understand why he was there—until the judges went more in depth about his design during their deliberation. At first, I liked the dress he created; heck, even his client liked it. It looked very Oscar de la Renta…on a budget. But then I realized, "Oh, it looks Very Oscar de la Renta On a Budget!" Ooops. The sleeve cap was too tight, the skirt too poufy and the color too predictable for an "older lady." I guess if I were to choose which one of the two dresses was more innovative, it would be Amanda&3151;as bad as her construction was. So with that we say goodbye to the Aussie. He can at least sleep well knowing he made his ADORABLE client happy. And wasn’t that the main point anyway?!


Country Couples

Posted By kim_messina 4:40am GMT

"A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock N Roll"…that’s the name of this episode, but it easily could also have been titled "A Little Messy, A Little 80s, Little Self-Confidence and LOTS of Miranda Lambert’s Boobies"! When we last left our designers, Tim Gunn had made an announcement as he waved adieu to bespectacled cat sweater-lovin' Joe, saying that there was still "some business to be taken care of." I fantasized that maybe there would be a revolt of angry cats outside of Parsons, or better yet, someone had cheated and put extra fertilizer spray on their flower creations. Alas, none of that…

No More Teams!
As the designers gather at the foot of the runway stage, Tim and Heidi come out with the dreaded button bag. They announce that there will be no more teams (cue the SCREAMS of delight!). Instead, each designer will be paired up. Samantha chooses Daniel; Richard goes with Stanley; Patricia picks Layana; Matthew is with Michelle; Kate goes for Tu and finally Amanda and Benjamin are left as the last couple standing. With that, it’s back to the Atlas apartments to get some sleep.

Line Dancin' & Tequila Shots (NOT!)
The following day, the coupled designers make their way to Johnny Utah’s Bar, a Country & Western establishment. Tim is waiting and again, in my fantasy episode, he’s there to teach the designers how to line dance and down tequila shots. But no, he's there to announce their next challenge: to design for country music star Miranda Lambert. Each two-designer team must design 2 looks—a performance look and a red carpet ensemble. With that, they’re off to Mood with a whopping $400 per team ($200 each) to gather supplies for their looks. PS: I am now officially really envious of all the money they are getting as compared to what we got back when the show had NO MONEY!

Budget Envy
Now, speaking of money, some of the designers didn’t even NEED all that money. Benjamin comes in way under budget when he goes to check out at Mood. Then there's "Team Richard and Stanley" who again, had money left over and (wisely as it turns out) decide to buy "Thank You Mood" t-shirts. Back in the workroom, after several hours of designing, Tim finally returns from his Boot-Scootin'-Boogie Line Dancing Class at Johnny Utah’s (my fantasy bonus episode), to make his visit. One designer from each pairing takes the "Performance" look while the other takes the "Red Carpet" and all of them discuss with Tim what they are creating.

Gaga for Tu
There's lots of leather, denim, some lace and curiously enough, a "Fringe Virus" attacking the workroom. Amanda, who lucky enough lives in Nashville, is hand-cutting jersey fringe for her "performance" look and Richard is also making a fringed "Tina Turner"-looking creation. Of note, little Tu is getting a lot of airtime this week with his cute Thai-accented comments as well as his Lady Gaga-inspired creation. Mr. Gunn is NOT having any of it. Here's a little DISH: Tim is not a fan of people-especially young upstart designers-using Lady Gaga as their muse. You should see his face when we are at the castings and we hear designer after designer, exclaiming in adulation, "Lady Gaga" when Tim asks who or what inspires them: he takes off his glasses and gets hot under his Brooks Brothers collar! Tim wisely advises Tu to tone it down and make it a bit less "Gaga."

A Pleated Skirt???
Day of the Runway Show and some of the designers are having issues: Richard has no lining for his fringed creation. In a perfect Make it Work moment, he remembers his Mood t-shirt, cuts it up and sews a tube-dress lining. And then there's Matthew. He's partnered up with Michelle and he's in way over his head; he's got about an hour before the runway show and doesn't have a bottom to his look. Really?!? I am sure that he is a sweet, sweet person, however...When you come on "Project Runway," you should arrive with your "ammunition", i.e. knowledge of quick draping, pattern making and sewing skills. In a simple challenge like this, he should have been able to go on "Design Auto Pilot" and pull out something creative from his bag of tricks. But stalling, going through the I-can't-believe-it's-Runway-Day-and-I-don't-have-a-bottom is amateur hour. At the last minute, he went for the "I'll make a pleated skirt" and well, as you know, the end result wasn't so creative-or good.

Thank You Mood
Heidi, Nina, Zac and Miranda Lambert, are present to judge. Miranda is va-va voom in a very cleavage-revealing black ensemble. All I could focus on were her "sisters." She wasn't lying when she said she embraces her curves! On the runway one of the best coupled teams were Amanda and Benjamin. Amanda's performance look was fun and very performance-appropriate, while Benjamin's red carpet strapless gown was slithery and sexy. I wasn't a fan of the one-breast sequin fringe; it was distracting and trust me, it would get a no-no from red carpet commentators. Nevertheless, the judges ADORED it. Richard and Stanley's looks were my favorite. I actually thought Stanley's red carpet plunging neckline gown was a definite YES!, even with the full gathered skirt section. But it was Richard who got the win for his fringed dress-with lining. Thank You Mood!

Thank You Zac Posen
And now for the not-so-good. Team Daniel and Samantha were in the bottom, along with Matthew and Michelle. First up, Daniel: his design was tragic and tacky. He was so proud of the leather "soutache"-like detail he created, yet it looked like a crumpled-up Hefty bag. Nina called it, "Bad, bad, bad." Ayyy dios mio! Zac Posen, interestingly enough, called him on his inclination for being referential. Thank God somebody (other than me) said it. In the first challenge I said his winning design looked very similar to what Raf Simons did for his first Dior Haute Couture collection. Then last week's design reminded me of Giambattista Valli Fall/Winter 2012 Haute Couture.

Bad Luck Michelle and Sad Matthew
But in the judges eyes, the worst of all were Matthew and Michelle. Poor Michelle, she is like the Season 11 bad luck charm. Not sure why. I love her personality and I actually think she's pretty great as a designer. But somehow, she's always on the losing team. I actually liked her design this week. Yes, that necklace was a bit much but the rest was directional and well-made. The problem is that it was a design that reflected Michelle's cool aesthetic but had nothing to do with Miranda Lambert. But I do think they were a little too hard on her. I'm glad Michelle stood up for her design and her love of Rock of Ages and AC/DC. Her coupled partner, however, did not stand up for his (lack of) design. Matthew's creation of a strapless pointed hem bustier and basic pleated skirt had zero performance appeal and no sparkle that someone in the "nose bleed" section could see. They looked like separates a teenager could have bought on sale at Forever 21. You could tell that he knew it was bad, and it reflected in his ability to barely stand up for himself on the runway. With that, he got the boot-scoot. Next week, we go from country and western fringe to...elderly Couture? Yikes!


Fleur de Hardware

Posted By kim_messina 4:41am GMT

Dear Future "Project Runway" Contestants
It is imperative that you watch previous seasons—yes ALL THE WAY BACK to the beginning—before you even think about going on "Project Runway." If so, one particular designer this season would not have made the mistake she did on this week’s challenge-which incidentally, almost caused her to get the big ol' Auf. It seems to be chic to say that you’ve never EVER watched previous seasons of the show before. How do I know this? Because I hear it ALL the time from contestants as well as EVERY year during the castings. But, as everybody knows "Project Runway" is a competition that requires the knowledge of its history, as well as the obvious skills to do well in it. You would do yourself a disservice by ignoring the former. And if Amanda had done her "Project Runway" history homework, she might have remembered that my dear fellow Season 2 contestant, Andrae Gonzalo, was eliminated for making a dress out of (drum roll) GREEN MOSS, the same plant she chose. And so it goes…

Flowers Are Back
Fans and viewers of "Project Runway" LOVE the Unconventional Challenge. It’s one of the most popular challenges. But for me it was torture. For my Season 2 Unconventional Challenge, we had to make dresses out of flowers. I stood for about five hours in the workroom just spraying water on them because I had NO IDEA what I was going to do. I also kept thinking, "How does this prove to the judges that a designer is worthy of showing at NY Fashion Week?" In my opinion, it doesn’t. It took nine seasons to bring the flowers back and this time it was with a twist. The results were surprisingly whimsical as well as stylishly sublime. For this season of designers there were few mental road blocks and it ended up being one of the best runway shows in PR history.

Smells Like Another Sponsor Tie-In
Team Keeping It Real and Dream Team gather at their workroom to find Tim overlooking many fragranced candles. Another fragranced-themed challenge, I thought? As if reading my mind, Gunn quickly explains that these were Glade 2-in-1 candles and they were there because this was the Glade 2-in-1 Unconventional Challenge. First, he says that the teams will make something using flowers, but that’s not all. Heidi walks in to announce the "2" of the 2-in-1: they will also be using hardware. Each team is to create a cohesive line of 6 looks which will have to include both hard (hardware) and soft (flowers) elements.

Almost Even Teams
Coming off last week’s "Heidi Klum Challenge," Team Keeping It Real is still celebrating its winning streak and Dream Team is feeling defeated, and then there’s the issue of team number inequality. Tim’s gonna fix that: he tells the five-member Dream Team that they can choose two designers from the other team. They chose a boy and a girl (how gender diplomatic!), Stanley and Layana. Then, Tim tells Team Keeping It Real that they are to chose a designer from Dream Team. They pick Michelle which does not make her happy.

Bigger Budget Envy
Both teams head to a hardware store and then to the flower mart to get their supplies with a whopping budget of $2,500. Side note: have the budgets for these designers gotten bigger and bigger as the seasons have progressed? I had $100 to make my "Flower Power" dress in Season 2 and these kids got approximately $400 EACH!

A Gay Disaster Bunker
After buying all the leaves, calla lilies, chicken wire, buckets, blinds and hot glue needed to make a Gay Bunker To Protect Yourself from a Nuclear Disaster…the teams are back in the workroom for two days of creating. Team Keeping It Real is soon realizing they have no cohesion with their designs and when Tim Gunn makes his visit on Day 2, he tells them so. Keeping It Real’s Michelle uses her loud voice once again and decides their theme should be "Decades of Fashion." Amanda is making a dress out of green moss and it’s falling apart and not looking cute. Her teammates help by offering advice. On Dream Team, Stanley takes the lead and suggests they create looks based on Dior. They’re looking pretty good. Could this be their time to finally win a challenge?

Woo Hoo It’s Bette Midler!
Day of the runway show and Bette Midler is welcomed as the Next Coming of Christ (I would have been excited too!). A fashion blogger is there as well as judges Heidi, Nina and Zac. Both teams did exceptional work and both received "job well done" nods from all the judges (With all that money they had, they should’ve!). Of the two teams, however, Dream Team was the best for the first time this season and for that: congrats!

Dream Team: My Two Cents
Matthew created a nicely done halter dress using mops for the top and yellow moss for the skirt section. Benjamin hand-loomed his own fabric using strings and made a one-shoulder asymmetrical top and did a flared skirt of flowers. Stanley created a very sophisticated dress using white roses and green leaves. His was one of my favorites. Tu’s was another of my favorites. He used rope and calla lilies, making a vest, an original necklace and a wonderful skirt. The judges sort of skipped over him and how great his ensemble was. Not sure why. Layana made a caged dress out of hydrangeas, wire and string. Hers could have easily been on a Paris Couture runway. Very new Dior meets Valentino. It was finished and flawlessly elegant. But it was Samantha who got the win with her contact paper, mesh and green leaves dress. The leaves were "trapped" within a wire mesh pencil and peplum’ed skirt and the judges agreed that it looked fragile, delicate yet so fashion week ready. But I still would have voted for Layana as the Winner.

Team Keeping It Real: My Two Cents
Team Keeping It Real received the "Almost Winning Team" title this week, coming in second. Daniel’s metal mesh net, PVC pipe, lamb’s ear flower dress was UBER chic and reminiscent of recent Giambattista Valli Haute Couture, especially with that full front peplum. Once again, it was referential, but still fab. I also loved the model’s hair. That hairstyle should get a special award from L’Oreal Paris. Richard and Michelle made a caged Gaultier-like dress using blinds, leaves and flowers. I loved how the flowers and leaves hid in between the blinds. Patricia made a that was verging on a stylish Miss Papua New Guinea. Kate’s was a well executed tea-length gown of calla lilies and carnations. It looked expensive and appropriate for Le Crillon Debutante Ball. Good job kids!

The Flower and Hardware Bombs: Mumsie Joe and Moss Shift Amanda
There were two underwhelming designs in Dream Team, however, which brought them down: "Cat Sweater" for his design. It was mumsie with wrong proportions and an unflattering style. He should have gone over-the-top volume (as judge Zac Posen suggested) or at least balanced the fullness up top with slimness at the bottom. It was one of the worst…in an otherwise good bunch. Now, onto Amanda: her green moss with cotter pins shift dress was also at the bottom (See: Andrae Season 2). After so much struggling in the workroom, her final dress wasn’t half bad. Her team, however really threw her under the "Project Runway" bus when Heidi asked them who they thought should be eliminated. Interesting that in this Team situation, they all agreed. It was a very "Survivor" reality show mentality. But in the end, it was Joe’s time to go. And I agreed completely with that decision.

But wait…
As the episode is ending, Tim walks in and announces to the teams that "it’s not over" and Heidi had some news…I wonder what this could be? An extra green moss challenge? Andrae Gonzalo from Season 2 was outside waiting to de-moss-ify all the designs? Heidi was being attacked by kittens revolting against her decision to Auf Joe? What could it be? Stay tuned… Until then, make sure to rent all the previous seasons of the show and do your "Project Runway" history homework, kids!


Iridescent Surprise!

Posted By kim_messina 4:46am GMT

This episode should have been sponsored by Kleenex and Klonopin. Seriously. Every other contestant on both the Dream Team and Team Keeping It Real was either crying or freaking out to the camera describing the need for validation or a gold star for "making it." Only three challenges in (about a week in real-time filming) and yep, it’s Stress Nation up in "Project Runway" Land. Why are these kids so stressed? Because it’s a "Heidi Klum Challenge" of course!

Four Time's a Charm
For the fourth time in 11 seasons, it’s "Heidi Time"...again! In Season 7, the designers had to create a red carpet look for Miss Klum; Season 8 was when the contestants had to create designs for Heidi’s New Balance active wear line; last season (10) had the designers creating outfits for Heidi’s Babies"R"Us line of children's wear.

Smells Like a Gorgeous German Model
As the designers stand in front of pink boxes wrapped in black ribbon and spice-and-fruit baskets, Tim announces that, it's time for another Heidi Klum Challenge. She is launching a new fragrance, entitled "Surprise" and needs outfits to wear for the launch campaign. The challenge for each team is to create six looks for her and she will pick two winning outfits-one for the commercial and one for the launch press event.

Client Heidi
Heidi specifies that they should follow the colors of the packaging (pink, black and gold) and the designs should mix femininity with something "hard." It should look good from all angles and be sexy NOT slutty. Sounds easy enough (Well, at least for me). Give me an actress, singer and I know what styles from my collection would work best for them. In terms of Heidi, I’ve been lucky enough to have had her wear not one but two of my designs—in an appearance on the Conan O’Brien show and on Season 7 "Project Runway" while she was preggers—so it was interesting to see what these designers were going to come up with.

Let the Kitten Sweaters Go
Consulting, sketching, Mood shopping and divvying up of duties follow. As it’s become the norm now, some designers take entire outfits individually and some work in twos. I was a bit frightened for Team Keeping It Real's Amanda and Joe since her design aesthetic is more structured while his consists of sweaters with kittens. When questioned on his design direction and warned that it may end up on "What Not To Wear," he said he’d be proud of that. I almost wanted to slap his glasses off his face and yell, "Well darling, THIS IS NOT THAT Challenge!" Luckily, he came to his senses and realized that this was the time to let go of his "Kitten Sweater Designer Ego."

Brazilian Doubts, Matthew Boring and Aussie Crashing
Layana and her partner Kate seem to be going back and forth on the direction and color scheme of their design. Layana decides to use her quiet voice loudly and emotionally admits her discomfort with their design in front of Tim Gunn. Matthew, who told Tim back at Mood that he’s not a "dressmaker" (Umm, time to be one huney!), is also stressed because he sees his fetish-inspired design as boring. Patricia is coming to terms that her original, but time consuming, leather design might make her have an unfinished dress when it's runway time. Aussie Ben is having emotional and design breakdowns, or as Momma Cindy said, "Crashing and burning." He tearfully admits to camera that he had just ended an abusive relationship and was emotionally drained. Here's some too late advice Benny darlin': this may not have been the best time to do an UBER-stressful COMPETITIVE REALITY SHOW!

Team Keeping It Real: Red Carpet Fab, Vegas Girls...and Pooping Ruffles
Many Kleenexes—and anti-anxiety pill-popping later—it's runway show time. Guest judge actress Kristin Davis is ready to help decide what Heidi will wear for her "Surprise" commercial and press launch. Team Keeping It Real was up first. Daniel's nude jersey gown is a stunner, very red carpet-ready and well-done. There were some wonky-looking front and back mini-pleats I didn’t understand, but overall: Heidi fab. Patricia's was very flapper girl Prada-on-a-budget and I could see Heidi wearing it. She is known to do "kooky." Amanda and Joe’s black lattice-work dress was OK, but had no "PR launch" appeal whatsoever. Good for a cute girl going out to a Vegas nightclub. Richard's pooping ruffle dress was a HOT MESS. What was he thinking? Stanley’s was over-accessorized and looked like something Carol Burnett might have worn in the 80s. Those two were the bad (design) apples in an otherwise good team.

Dream Team: Hot gowns, Bunny Dominatrix and Iridescent 1992 Shantung
Dream Team was next. Michelle's short tunic dress with studded detail was cute enough for a New Year’s Eve house party, but not for a Heidi Klum fragrance ad campaign. Come on designers, do you understand the challenge? Tu did a directional black gown with a gold exposed back zipper; now that’s better. Samantha's black and illusion gown with a structured shoulder was HOT and very Stephane Rolland-esque. I likey. Matthew's too-short leather mini dress was bad Hoochie Dominatrix Playboy Bunny. Again, do you know who your client is? Cindy did an iridescent shantung (looked like taffeta to me, which doesn't make it any better) dress with a keyhole front neckline. The dress was average at best, but there was certainly nothing fashion forward about it. Oh, and then there was that fabric. Iridescent shantung. Those two words scream 1992. Finally, there was "I Need a Klonopin Benjamin." His mess of a gown was inexcusable. It seems his gown broke down around the same time he did. Benjamin is better than that. I just know it.

Three For Three
Team Keeping It Real got the highest votes and won. For the third time in a row. Pink-hatin' Layana and her team mate Kate won for their gown, with Kate getting the top individual prize. Daniel won the press event prize for his nude jersey and black leather trimmed "Bond Girl" gown. He, of course, got all emotional with a "I've worked so hard, and deserve this" validation interview. While it was heartfelt, it almost seemed slightly angry and bitter as well. Maybe it was just me...

Shipwrecked and Iridescent Adieu
The worst were Benjamin (quelle surprise!) with a dress that Nina deemed as "probably the worst construction" in "Project Runway" history. Didn't she say that about Emily's dress two challenges ago? Boy, this season's worst must be really bad. Nina also added that she thought Benjamin's model looked shipwrecked. Ouch. But it was Cindy who went home for her iridescent shantung non-creative dress. I am not sure what happened here. Maybe the judges—and especially Heidi—thought that while Ben's design was crude and tragic, it wasn't dated. Cindy's was finished, but it might have been about a decade behind in its styling and fabrication-choice. Now, the only question I have is will we actually see Kate and Daniel's Dresses on Heidi? Stay tuned.


A Runway SPiN-Off

Posted By kim_messina 4:21am GMT

Dream Team vs. Team Keeping It Real: this is the premise of Season 11 "Project Runway." Sixteen designers split up into two teams and every challenge this season is promised to be a Team Challenge-with one winner and one loser. Team Keeping It Real had the highest scores last week with "Mustache Daniel" coming out on top and Dream Team at the bottom losing sewing-deficient "Hot Glue-Loving Emily." Nina described her outfit as the worst made garment in "Project Runway" history. PS: I wonder if Emily is adding that accomplishment to her bio or Wiki page?

Oh Cindy...
Now that the "Team Twist" novelty has worn off and the "Oh No, Not Teams!" shrieks have subsided, reality is setting in. One of the designers who was at the bottom last week—"Funeral Director Cindy"—feels like her team may see her as the weakest link, even though you could tell she doesn’t quite understand why. PS: did she see what she created? It always strikes me as both naïve and unrealistic when I hear some of these designers and their self-assessment of where they think they are on the "Project Runway" contestant totem pole within a season.

Ball Happy Heidi
Back at Parsons, Heidi greets the teams, congratulating them for "making it." All I want a say is, "GURL, they’ve only had ONE CHALLENGE; simmer down on the effusive words; let them get through FIVE more without beating each other up and then we’ll talk." Heidi tells them they are to meet Tim at 23rd and Park Avenue.

Ping Pong Couture
The designers arrive at SPiN NYC, a Ping Pong Social Club owned by actress Susan Sarandon. A) I had no idea there was such a thing; I am so LATE on what's HOT in the NYC night scene. B) I had no idea Susan Sarandon loved ping pong. Tim gives them their Challenge: to create five uniforms for the club—three female server outfits and one for a "ball boy"—the boy who gathers the ping pong balls from the floor. That may not be quite how my friends would define the term "ball boy" in my inner circle, thank you very much, but I digress. The uniforms must be fashionable and exude the fun and upbeat environment of the club. Finally, they must utilize the tagline "Balls Are My Business" somewhere in the garments. How cheeky.

Working Girls and Ball Boys
The teams are then put to work as servers and "ball boys." At first I thought, "This is a little humiliating," but then realized what a great idea it was that the designers could get a feel of working at the club to help in their design process. After picking up all the broken beer bottles7#151;and balls—from the floor, Dream Team and Team Keeping It Real assemble separately to decide who is doing what.

Platinum Micro Manager
In both teams, some of the designers (Daniel and Layana, Richard and Joe, Kate and Patricia) couple together while others do a complete look on their own (James, Stanley). They're off to Mood and then, to their 507 Broadway workrooms. Benjamin—of Dream Team—takes a team leader role, much to Cindy's chagrin. Their drama continues in the workroom as Cindy feels like she’s being micro-managed by the platinum-blond Aussie. My guess is that he’s worried she’ll make another printed "Going to Aruba on a Carnival Cruise" look like last week. Team Keeping It Real's Daniel is schooling his young partner Layana in making a shorts/skirt/apron combo while Patricia is having "I'm just making leggins’ and nothing else" issues. A screen printer is brought in to aid the designers in the "Balls Are My Business" logo making, which is a nice addition.

Kilts, Wack-a-Doodle and Emily 2.0
Tim visits and besides having to clock Patricia for sensing too much self-ego within the team, he thinks Team Keeping it Real is in good shape. However, it’s the Dream Team he’s worried about. Matthew is making jeans and Tim asks why. Michelle uses her "loud voice" and brings up the subject of a kilt, which Tim thinks is "quite interesting." Stop it Tim, use YOUR quiet voice! He also thinks Samantha’s jacket and Tu’s dress don't belong together and deems Benjamin and Cindy's creations "wack-a-doodle." In addition, James—who is "Emily 2.0"—is obviously in over his head. It's only the second challenge and we can ALL tell this boy's construction, as well as his design skills are lacking. Tim calls the shirt he is making, a "construction disaster." Tim thinks the entire team is in trouble. They sure look it.

It's a Runway Spin-Off
Day of the SPiN NYC runway show and guess who is the special guest judge? Yep, Miss Susan Sarandon, looking quite good in a printed wrap dress (DVF, I presume?). Both teams show their SPiN NYC uniforms and the results are in: the winning team is Team Keeping It Real (again!) and Dream Team is at the bottom. Not a surprise. Even the editors of the show couldn't hide what would eventually happen during the runway show day.

It's a SKORT Susan
Let's discuss the Good: Stanley's sweatshirt top and drop-crotch pants for his "ball boy" looked great. There was style and functionality. Joe and Richard made a super-tight t-shirt with logo-printed pants and (the piece de resistance), a harness to hold the ping-pong ball picker-upper. So cool. But it was Daniel and Layana's vest, long sleeve top and skort (a skirt/shorts combo) that won the judges and especially the SPiN NYC CEO, Susan Sarandon. Sarandon somehow has been living under a "fashion rock" and didn't know what a skort was. Bless her heart. In the end, Layana got the top individual win—for that skort...that Daniel actually helped her make. PS: Layana, I hope you sent Daniel a BIG expensive bouquet of flowers.

Oh, Cabo
Yes, Dream Team wasn't a dream—yet again. Two for two. To start, the Kilt Boy was cool and appropriate if SPiN NYC opened a club in Hell's Kitchen or South of Folsom in San Francisco; but for this location, not so much. Those straight "ball boys" would not be having any of that kilt and the placement of the "Balls Are Our Business." Next, I figured Micro Manager Benjamin and his horrid shorts look, would be at the bottom. But somehow, Aussie Benjamin walked away unscathed; it was Cindy, once again in the bottom two. Joining Matthew and Cindy was James and his tank top and board shorts atrocity. James' look was better suited for a beach bar in Cabo and as Heidi correctly said, no one wants a server bringing them their drinks—or tapas—with their armpits showing, in Manhattan at 11:30 pm. Ultimately—and without surprise, it was James who got the "Auf." As I said, I knew James was in over his head, and the judges told him so. But on a good note: maybe Señor Frog’s will call James to design their uniforms in Cabo. That should be fun.