Thursdays at 9/8c
Well kids, we're heading to the end of Season 10 of "Project Runway" and I learned several things from this penultimate "Finale Part 1" episode. For one, most of these kids (save Melissa) do not have a place to call home or their own place to work. Secondly, I learned that a stylist is a very important job and someone ALL these designers needed. I also think that this pre-finale episode is in serious need of a reboot. Wondering what I mean about that? Keep reading...
Don't Be Safe
Last week we saw the end of Sonjia, with her table-napkin-meets-bad-figure-skating-costume design. As I argued in my last recap, there was nothing avant-garde about her design, nor the designs of most of the other four. (Note to producers: Maybe it's time to re-name that particular challenge). I also discussed my annoyance at seeing very safe looks from all these designers. I think I am echoing what Tim, Nina, Heidi and Michael feel EVERY episode. It goes without saying that I think "safe" just doesn't cut it, especially at this stage. Need I remind you? DO NOT BORE NINA. So now we are down to the top four.
Congrats! You're The Top Four
Our dear Heidi congratulates the designers for making it this far and tells them that they will each be given $9,000 and five weeks to create a mini-collection for Mercedes-Benz NY Fashion Week. That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that NOT everyone is guaranteed a spot in Fashion Week. Or so she says. As an avid viewer/fan/former contestant/perpetual recapper of the show, I've heard this song from Heidi before. Can anyone say "Season 9"? But oh well, we'll stick to the script, Miss Heidi.
Four weeks later and Tim Gunn is off to visit the designers. No trips to Trinidad and Tobago (Anya) or Hawaii (Andy South) this time around. So, my friends, no chance of seeing Mr. Gunn in flip-flops, dealing with slimy fishy whiskers, eating plantains or holding Mai Tais. For his first stop, Tim is off to Massapequa, NY to see Christopher Palu. "Golden Boy" Christopher is at his mom and dad's home working on his collection. He tells Tim that he made a print from an X-ray his mother got from a doctor's visit. This could have gone macabre, but it didn't and Tim likes it. Tim also comments on a leather-and-bleach mistake, which he assures Christopher is a "good mistake" and should be done again.
Fabio Manhattan Pastel Palace
Back in Manhattan, Papa Tim visits Fabio in a fabulous apartment that a friend is lending him to work on his collection. By the looks of the apartment, Fabio must be good friends with the Ambassador of Brazil, because it's very luxe and very expansive by NY standards. Even Tim remarks on how nice it is. Friends-in-High-Places Fabio shows Tim three pieces from his collection, which he's titled "Cosmic Tribalism.” One look is the "Priestess" and the others are the "people within the tribe." Leave it to Fabio to have a strong concept. I give him FIVE "Nick Points" for that. Tim is captivated by the pastel draped designs. It's avant-garde but, at the same time, very sellable; Alexander Wang meets Rio. But as soon as Tim says "J'adore," he's a bit mystified by some of the individual pieces: A certain pant, a bra and a stacked clunky shoe. There is potential for a "wow" factor, Tim says, but he's underwhelmed by some of the styling choices. Styling. We Have a Problem.
Geometric Belarus and Melissa's SF Artsy Collection
Next up, it's Dmitry. Once again, this designer is NOT living/working in his own place. Dmitry is in another very nice home, but it’s in New Jersey and looks as if it would require a job with Goldman Sachs to even afford. I need to meet Dmitry and Fabio's friends. Seriously. Dmitry is working on his NY Fashion Week Collection based on "Organic Architecture." The looks he shows Tim are very geometric. On the rack, the garments look very clean, modern, and cohesive. Finally, Tim travels to San Francisco to check on Melissa. She's using special textiles, including "cracked" leather. The designs are very her; artsy and edgy. Tim is responding positively to the collection. Of note: Melissa's studio/home is not someone else's. She has a home!
Five weeks have passed and time is up. The four designers meet up at the very sleek YOTEL. I've stayed there numerous times and LOVED it (their complimentary coffee and muffins are divine!). They then go to their new workroom offices at the 1407 Broadway building. After setting up their collections and surveying each others' designs, Tim comes in to check on them. In general, he's worried about all the collections. Not a good omen.
After seeming to have only a VERY short time to fit their clothing on the models, the designers return to Parsons and present their three best looks to Heidi, Nina and Michael. Fabio's "Cosmic Tribalism" gets a positive nod from the judges. Kors thinks it's very cool and sweet. He does suggest to Fabio to rethink the chunky bang wigs (too distracting). He says there are styling issues. Yeah, perhaps. Can we call Rachel Zoe? Like ASAP. But overall, the judges LIKEY. Dmitry's three-piece collection looks polished and expensive according to Nina Garcia. But there's an overall feeling that it is over-styled. It is interesting how overworked it looked on the runway compared to when he showed Tim each piece individually. Purity and simplicity should shine, or so the judges suggest. A strong hint that Dmitry also needs a stylist. That's two for two.
Hoochie Shorts for Fashion Week?
Christopher shows his three looks and it's all a bit underwhelming and not high fashion. Hoochie shorts. Leather bustier. Nothing earth-shattering, and nothing worthy of showing at NY Fashion Week. Supposedly he had fit issues and therefore the three pieces he showed were the only things that actually worked on any models. Um, okay. And then there is Melissa. Her designs are (not-surprisingly) Goth all she showed was black and white, and who could get past those awful wigs? Now it's official: These kids REALLY need a stylist. Somehow, all four got it wrong. Who will be OUT? Well, kiddies…[drum roll]…NO ONE.
Do They Need a Stylist or a New Collection?
While it is clear that all these designers need a visit from Rachel Zoe, my frustration lies more in the fact that it is more the actual clothing that needs help than the styling. Do I think some amazing styling could elevate all these collections? Yes. But I feel that because the judges are forced to critique the designers a day or two prior to the actual show, they encrypt their comments and are compelled to talk about styling because they know the designers have NO time to change their collections. Changing a shoe or discarding a wig is easier than making FIVE new looks in one day.
"Project Runway" Reboot
Basically, we have all figured out by now that this episode has been structured to have a pay-off at the end. But now the judges must critique the collections in a format that is designed to make almost any collection look bad. Do I think that all the designers should have picked stronger pieces to show the judges? Yes. But it seems that they were given such minimal time with the models that they had to just "make it work." What seems to happen is that the judges are forced to choose between several bad collections and they end up eliminating no one. I think it might be time to re-think the structure of this episode and do a "Project Runway" reboot!
This tenth season of "Project Runway" can pretty much be defined by one word: safe. Most of the designers have "played it safe" when it comes to their designs and creations. They've been harmless in terms of their "characters" as well; there's been some bitching and hate-talking during their confessionals but the season is so safe that we don't even have a "villain" making the Final Four which for almost every season, has seemed to be de rigueur. It could also be argued that a couple of the contestants played it so safe, they just got up and left the show altogether because they just didn't want to "Go For It!" So, it comes as no surprise that for this last Avant-Garde Challenge, the designers played it safe. And in my feeling, it was a let down. Let's recap...Tim, Is That Your New Home?
Five designers left and this is the challenge that decides who gets to go to NY Fashion Week. If you REALLY follow the show and its designers, we know now that the last eight designers actually showed at Mercedes-Benz NY Fashion Week last month when in "TV Time" there were still eight on the show (five were "decoys" and the other 3, actual finalists). But let's just stick to the "script" shall we? Sexy "Spartan Supermodel" Heidi walks in to tell the designers that she is sending them "far, far away" where Tim and a guest will be waiting. I'm thinking, "Yeaay! They get to board a plane and fly to Florence, Italy!" Nope. Not so much. After crossing a bridge and driving for over an hour, they arrive at Oheka Castle, a historic mansion in the Gold Coast of Long Island. This estate was the home of financier and philanthropist Otto Kahn and in fact, the second largest private home in the entire US. Waiting for the designers is Tim Gunn (who looks perfectly at home outside this castle, I might add) and Billy B. Consulting Makeup Artist for L'Oreal Paris.Electric Avant-Garde
Billy is there to introduce the new L'Oreal Paris makeup line called "Electric Fantasie" based on four "muses/color themes": Enchanting Queen, Seductive Temptress, Wise Mystic and Artsy Muse. Tim announces that this is the "L'Oreal Makeup Challenge" and the designers will have to create an avant-garde Look inspired by this new L'Oreal Paris makeup line. Tim then takes out the dreaded "Button Bag" and each designer is given a muse save for Golden Boy Christopher who gets to choose one himself.Enchanting, Wise, Seductive and Artsy
Christopher and Fabio are doing "Enchanted Queen," Sonjia gets "Seductive Temptress," Dmitry gets "Wise Mystic" and Melissa's is appropriately, "Artsy Muse." Tim then explains that avant-garde means something new/experimental and tells them that they will have two days and a whopping $400 for fabric/notions. After sketching time at the castle, it's a long drive back to Manhattan, Mood shopping, and finally back to Parsons. Tim walks in to do some early "How are you doing?" Day One check-ins as well as to tell the five designers that they need to be incredibly ambitious and they have to "knock the (judges) socks off!" High aspirations indeed, especially from this group.It's Seductive Temptress NOT Figure Skating Queen
Day Two and the designers have their requisite L'Oreal Paris Makeup Consultations with Billy B. and then it's back to work on their so-called avant-garde creations. Tim visits and surveys if there's anything "new" or "experimental" in any of their designs. Fabio was working on a coat that the day before, Tim judged as "looking borderline costume." Today, Fabio had an epiphany and decides to turn the coat upside down and voila: avant-garde or so he thinks. Tim likes it. Tim is worried for Melissa and her time management. He then warns Sonjia that her green moiré with nude illusion creation might be looking too much like a student project. I'm thinking that it looks too much like a Figure Skating Costume gone wrong so did Michael Kors, we later find out. We Fashion Gays think alike.Avant-Garde More!
Christopher is doing a black exaggerated hip gown. Tim says it's very 1890s in its silhouette. But does that make it avant-garde? Tim is doubtful. So am I. Same goes for Dmitry. He is doing a very tailored Mugler 90s-like jacket that in Dmitry's eyes, is VERY avant-garde. But Tim rightly questions him saying, "It may be avant-garde for you...but is it avant-garde for the judges?"What. Is. Avant-Garde?
It's Runway Day and the guest judge is actress Zoe Saldana, who also co-founded MyFDB.com, as fashion's answer to IMDB. Now, remember the Challenge was to create an avant-garde look. When I think avant-garde Fashion, I think of Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons, or British designer Gareth Pugh; I think of that incredible Viktor and Rolf nesting doll collection...you get the picture. So, how did these five "Project Runway" designers do? In essence, they all played it SAFE there was little avant-garde in any of the creations. A common thread with actual avant-garde designs is a very strong concept, a story behind it. None of these kids had that and missed the mark. The "Makeup Muses" could have provided them with a "spring board," but none of the designers really used it to the fullest extent. Heck, even Melissa said she was "designing for herself." Not enough darling.Nancy Kerrigan at a Banquet
In my eyes, of all the five creations, Fabio's was the most avant-garde. But, his "Enchanted Queen" got mixed reviews from the judges. Everyone agreed that the jacket was fantastic but the rest was a bit of a hodge-podge. It was almost like "forced" avant-garde. But at least, there was some avant-garde. Sonjia's green "Seductive Temptress" was exactly what Kors said: "A costume Nancy Kerrigan would wear to skate through a Banquet Hall." To add insult to injury, Zaldana then likened the green folded pieces to a table napkin and not to be out done, Kors added that it looked like a banquet blew up all over her! Oy vey.Black Swan, Singer Sergeant Muse or Enchanted Queen?
Christopher's black gown was more "Black Swan" and less "Enchanted Queen." It was a very pretty gown and the model (with her alabaster skin) looked as if she had stepped out of a John Singer Sargent painting. But there was nothing avant-garde about it and the "hairy forearm" feathered gloves didn't help. Dmitry's "Wise Mystic" suit was made impeccably. That boy can cut and sew a garment. While it was made to perfection, I question how avant-garde it was. And finally, Melissa's "Arsty Muse" scored points for using color, which is a departure from her usual all-black aesthetic. She did marvelous work with leather and the print on the skirt looked "artsy" with hints of a Jackson Pollack painting, but again, was this avant-garde? No. Most of the judges loved her creation except for Heidi. She didn't know which was uglier, Melissa's or Fabio's. How do you say "Oh Dear" in German?My Judges' Beef
I want to take some time to discuss some of the judges comments here, mainly my dear beautiful Heidi. During the judging, Miss Heidi kept saying, "Oh I would wear that...I wouldn't wear that..." and "I can see that on a red carpet," and so on. Newsflash: THAT'S NOT THE POINT OF AN AVANT-GARDE DESIGN. It's NOT for the Red Carpet. It's NOT something for Heidi Klum to wear. It's for a Vogue Italia shoot that makes fashion bloggers D.I.E. and shake with Couture excitement. It's not supposed to be wearable, unless you're Daphne Guinness. It really works my last nerve when I hear these comments from the judges, especially when it involves an Avant-Garde Challenge. Avant-garde is meant to push the boundaries and as Tim stated create something new and experimental. In many cases it SHOULD make you feel uncomfortable.Hits Parade
Before we find out who's In or Out, Heidi asks, "Why do you deserve to go to Fashion Week?" and, "Which two other designers should go with you?"In the past this is where the claws have come out but here, we got nothing. No drama, no back-stabbing talk, just safe answers. Subsequently, during the final deliberation, the judges go through a "Hits Parade" from each designer during the entire season which was really nice to see and noteworthy, especially since I stated in my blog here last week that I had a feeling the judges weren't looking at individual challenges at hand and rather, taking in the entire season's body of work. They proved me right this week.A Safe Final Four?
In the end, Dmitry won for his perfect yet not-so avant-garde look and Sonjia was out. Her creation was not avant-garde, it was just figure skating and tablecloth koo-koo. So now, we're onto to Fashion Week and the Top Four. Who. Will. Be. America's. Next. Greatest. Fashion Designer? Whoever it is, I hope they DO NOT play it SAFE. A Fashion Gay can only wish.
Last night's "Project Runway" was one of those episodes that left me saying "Wh-Wh-What?", mainly because a designer stayed, even though in my eyes they did the worst job. In addition, I think it was one of the first times a designer was NOT eliminated for doing Safe and Boring. The episode left me quite dumbfounded, trying to justify in my mind the outcome. All I could think is that the judges looked at the designers' overall work as opposed to the actual design for THIS challenge at hand. And they always say they do not do that but it's obvious they do. There's more that irked me and yes, things that I LOVED so, allow me to give my "Nick Two Cents" for this week.Oh Baby!
There are only six designers left on this season and therefore they are feeling the pressure as they get closer to the grand prize. This week, they all go to a Babies"R"Us store, where Heidi and Tim are waiting. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to guess what this challenge will be. Heidi has a new line of affordable baby clothing, "Truly Scrumptious", that sells exclusively at Babies"R"Us. The challenge this week is to create a look for this line that will then, be manufactured and sold at "Babies 'R' Us". Heidi tells the designers that there will be 2 winning looks one boy and one girl and they only have one day to do it.Why Do I Care What The Mommies Like to Wear?
The designers' tepid yet pretending-to-be-excited reactions are priceless. Before they can run out and say "I'm Outta Here!", the dreaded velvet bag comes out and each designer is "assigned" their baby models and respective moms. Each designer confers with the moms as to what their needs and style ideas are for their toddlers. The mom's are also describing their own styles, which makes me wonder, "Why do I care what YOU like to wear..." unless (cue the dramatic music in my brain) there might be a TWIST later and they have to design for the mommies too (not my first time at the "'Project Runway' Rodeo"). The only thing that's memorable from this consultation is when Nanci (Christopher's baby momma) says "Dior uses a lot of tulle" in talking about the children's clothes. In case y'all are not aware, a "Baby Dior" tulle dress for a BABY goes for $3,680. I instantly think "Oh no, this one's a DIVA!" Later we find out, she was.Faux Babies...Why?
The designers head back to Parsons where Ms. Klum left them dossiers, fabric, notions and trims from her "Truly Scrumptious" collection so their creations can coordinate with the rest of her line. There are also toddler body forms and a "special surprise": Lifelike Crying Baby Dolls. Yeah, the kind those "16 and Pregnant" girls use. They cry, cry and cry; when they need to be fed, rocked or diaper changed. Is this really necessary, I wonder? The explanation from Poppa Tim was that they are there so the designers know "what goes into creating baby clothes." I don't even think he believed what he said. It seemed like a forced edition to the episode that didn't really need it. This became more evident as WAY too much time was wasted showing the stressed out designers trying to care for their "babies" as opposed to actually creating their designs. More importantly, as a viewer, all that faux baby crying really got on MY last nerve.Mommy Wear?
After much Rock-a-Bye-Baby-at-Parsons time, Tim and Heidi check in on the designers. They give good constructive critiques to the likes of Dmitry (His red hooded jumpsuit seems disjointed, they say) and Melissa (Her printed leggings and basic vest lacks a "fun factor"). Heidi then announces "The Twist": they have to also design and create a companion look for the mommies (PS: I told you so!). There is good news, however. They are given an extra day to do it and the judges will really be judging on the baby couture and not really the mom's ensemble. After Mood shopping and a sleepless night tending to their faux-bies, I think even the novelty of having these crying dolls got on the producer's nerves as Tim walks in to whisk them away to "Day Care," only to never be seen, and more importantly, heard from again.Under No Circumstances
The designers continue working on the mom and baby creations and have fittings. Melissa doesn't have anything for the mom and is having fit issues, actually having trouble putting a dress on her baby (That's never good). Christopher has to deal with yes, that Diva mommy, Nanci. She hates her child's dress saying that "under no circumstances" would her daughter ever wear that. How do I say this politely? Nanci, SHUT UP and let the designer do his job. Thank you. She also dismisses the dress Christopher made for her out of a beautiful Oscar de la Renta flower print fabric, calling it a "1970s tablecloth." Wow, she's going to come off real good (NOT!). The following day, she quickly apologized to Christopher for her grating remarks, possibly realizing my previous sentence. Bless her heart.Hey Jude!
Runway Day and guest judge, actress and new mom Hilary Duff is on hand to check out the Cradle Catwalk. Remember that there will be two winners one boy look and then a girl look. The best boy looks are Fabio's practical blue onesie finished with a baby baseball cap. I thought that Dmitry's red hooded jumper was whimsical but possibly too "costumey" (judges agreed). Sonjia's outfit for her cutie patootie Jude was PERFECT. His grey and blue lapelled knit "suit" was polished, modern and as Heidi said, "sharp." Hers was the clear winner, helped by the fact that Jude, her baby model, was ADORABLE. A big ol' ham, as they say.Sunday Brunch Princess
In terms of the best for the baby girl look, it was Christopher's white appliqué dress that was the clear winner. Christopher's "Special Occasion" dress would guarantee cries of "Oooh She Looks So Precious" at any brunch, church or birthday party from all the jealous moms. It was a MAJAH slap in the face for Diva Mom Nanci (who HATED the little dress) and so I could totally see Christopher privately grinning just a little bit more.Worst Didn't Go Home...
And now to the bottom. Elena's baby look was all over the place. Yes, it was too much. The jacket was interesting but then she tried to throw in everything AND the proverbial kitchen sink. But at least there was something to talk about. Whereas Melissa's who struggled up until the end of this challenge was ba-ba-boring. To me, without question, Melissa's was the worst. It had no design appeal and fit badly (Baby Diaper Britney Moment!). The jacket was OK, but take out the back detail and what do you have, an unexciting black jacket. And the moms? What the heck was happening with the crotch of those wrinkled pants? She looked homeless and sad. So...Elena goes home. Wh-Wh-What?Judging the Judges
I'm sure it is tough for the judges to have to eliminate designers based on the challenge (especially such a silly challenge as this) while still keeping the end result in mind...who the actual winner will be. But the more surprising and exciting result would be if they actually eliminated the worst designer based on the challenge. What a novel idea!!
We all know the First Rule of "Project Runway": Never Bore Nina. And add to that rule that Krazee will always outlast boring on "Project Runway." With that in mind, on last week’s HP Print Challenge, Gunnar went home just for that doing something that was boring design-wise. And even though his bullying story was admirable, passionate and endearing, his print was macabre and un-exciting and the end result of his supposedly equestrian-inspired design was more Chico’s than chic. A lot of you weren’t too happy about this elimination. People wanted Ven to go mainly because they just don’t like him (that Ven/Terri debacle will live on for eternity!) and yes, partially, for doing that "origami flower" one more time. However, I feel the judges were correct in their decision last week. Ven’s dress was just a little more creative than Gunnar’s so ... it was Gunnar’s time to go. But guess whose time is now?High Kick Ball Change
The remaining designers wake up and are all told to meet at Radio City Music Hall. Upon walking inside, Tim Gunn is on stage with a bevy of bedazzled women: The Radio City Rockettes! Gee, I wonder what the kids will be designing this week? As The Rockettes begin their iconic high-kicking dance moves, the curtains part open, and they are joined by none other than Miss Heidi Klum. After one or two Heidi High Kicks, she announces (to no one’s surprise) that the challenge this week is to design a new costume for The Rockettes. Linda Haberman, Director and Choreographer for the Radio City Rockettes, joins Heidi and Tim in explaining to the designers what is expected of them: it must be versatile enough to wear all year long; spectacular up close as well as far away glamorous and elegant, contemporary and must have a modern aesthetic. The winning costume will also be worn by The Rockettes at a future performance. This reminds me so much of my "Design a Costume for Olympic Figure Skater Sasha Cohen" Challenge back in my season so I am privately smiling. Good times.My Time With The Rockettes
The Season 10 kids get some time after The Rockettes sashay off, to inspect various actual Rockettes costumes. Last December, I got the chance to introduce The Rockettes during a special visit they made to LA to promote their "Christmas Spectacular." I got to see and inspect some of their costumes up close and personal. They are AMAZING all the hidden hooks-and-eyes, all the understructures and boning. I even found out that one of the most iconic costumes from the "Christmas Spectacular," the Wooden Soldier, was designed by Vincente Minnelli yes, Liza’s father and Judy Garland’s ex husband. I know first hand how intricate these costumes can be.Dinner vs. Work ... I'll Take Work
Now, the minute this challenge was announced, all I could think of was, "Dmitry has this one hands down!" He was a professional ballroom dancer for over ten years so if anyone knows dance costumes and sequins, it’s him. After their Radio City visit, the designers are off to Mood and then, to the Parsons workroom. Tim enters and tells the designers that they will be leaving early because they are getting a nice dinner out. Now, let me tell you, in my season, they did this to us a couple of times. While it was nice to have a "break," it wasn’t really a break because, PS: they were still FILMING so we are still "working"! And to be honest, I would have rather been back in the workroom creating my design. But this seasons designers seemed to have enjoyed themselves, had some wine … and more wine …a nd got to let down their guards and compliment each other, and apologize for being back-stabbing bitch**. Oh, the power of Vino.Baton Twirler Tacky
The following day, it’s back to work. Tim makes his visit. To begin with, Tim thinks Sonjia looks "disabled" as she struggles to even create anything. She tells Christopher, also, that she doesn't sketch. He wisely responds, "Well, you better start!” Amen sister. Melissa has 18 pattern pieces to cut (it’s not a fully-lined COAT huney!) and is visibly strained and may need more crystal trim. Elena’s is looking like a HOT Band Uniform MESS. All she needs is a baton.Christopher: Skyline Diamante Fab
Christopher, Dmitry and Ven get positive critiques from Mr. Gunn. The very minute I saw Christopher was doing a New York Skyline in crystals on his costume, I was, "Done and Done." This boy has won this challenge (sorry Dmitry). It was so obvious that Christopher was winning and everyone else was failing that Tim (or the producers?) decide that maybe another Mood trip plus an extra $100 was needed (Secretly, for everyone else). Fabio, Ven and Dmitry decide to opt out of this second Mood trip so Elena, Sonjia, Christopher (He needed more crystals to create a starry NYC night skyline) and Melissa took off to Mood on their own.Debra Messing's Biggest Fan
Next day is Runway Day and actress Debra Messing was the guest judge. Christopher is beaming. Yeah, he is gay. A very excited gay (So cute I would've done the same). The Rockettes designs come out and well, it's pretty obvious that Debra Messing's biggest fan is the winner. But we still have to go through the motions. The Top are Christopher (quelle suprise), Dmitry and Melissa. Melissa's design looks like an updated "Cigarette Girl" and she gets props for that. But, the unintentional "No. 1" beaded appliqué gets some negative critiques from the judges. Nina calls it a "miss." Dmitry's was edgy, exciting and impeccably made. But, I just thought it was a little too sexy for The Rockettes. I've been to a Rockettes show and yep, there are children, little children. If this was the Euro version, maybe, but not for America. Christopher's gorgeous NY Skyline costume wins. As Michael Kors says, "It was a Bob Mackie moment"! It was celebratory and yes, magnificent. The BEST design on Project Runway Season 10 thus far.Cheerleader Krazee vs Boring, Guess Who Is Out?
It was down to Elena's royal blue sequined Cheerleader Goes To Vegas Tacky Mess and Ven's tame and proper (and yawn-inducing) halter costume. Kors deemed Ven’s a "glamorous Mother of the Bride who cut off her dress." That's never good. The entire design bored Nina, Michael, Heidi and Debra. You know what that means ... he was outta there. It seems ironic that the one time he did not do his origami pleated flower he was in trouble. But like I said in the beginning, you design something boring and you are guaranteed a ticket home. So, those of you who wanted Ven out last week, you got your wish only a week later. No more Origami pleated roses and no more Ven. I still believe that Ven Budhu was one of the most talented designers on this season more than some of the ones who are still remaining (Even Tim hinted at this as he was saying his "Goodbye" to him). Unfortunately, Ven's ego, his Origami pleated rose and his size dysmorphia issues got to him. Good luck huney.
It's the halfway mark of Season 10 of "Project Runway." We began with 16 designers and now, we're down to 8. Last week's Team Challenge was "The Boris and Natasha Show" as I called it in my last blog recap. It was all about Dmitry and Elena and their bickering and hate-talking which dominated the entire episode. The fashions were mostly a yawn except for Sonjia's winning Armani Prive-esque jacket and Christopher's asymmetrical camel coat, so of course, the episode concentrated on the bitchy drama. What should the next challenge bring? Well, let's find out...Pay Your Bills. .. Before Getting Mommie a Boob Job
As the episode begins, there's a little confessional scene from Gunnar saying that he wishes he'll win so he can buy himself a pair of boots and his mom, a boob job. OK huney, that's cute for TV and will guarantee you get some camera time (Gunnar, you just made the producers and editors have an editorial orgasm!), but it's not so cute in real life. Here's some advice: those two things might not be your top priorities when someone hands you a $100,000. Maybe paying your college loans, bills, setting up a design studio ... those might be your priorities. Oh these kids, they slay me ... AGAIN!Addicted to Heidi
Heidi in a very mini, strapless black dress (a la Robert Palmer Girl) l; walks in, warning the remaining designers that they all need to step it up and "wow" her. Umm, HELLO! Amen Sister. This is not the first time she's said this to this group. I wonder why? I’ve been saying throughout this season that the fashions have been rather unmemorable. It looks as if the theme is "Make it Safe". But when it comes to "characters," Season 10 has it in spades. Which is better? Well, talk amongst yourselves on that one because I would rather discuss this week's challenge and fashions.HP Haute
Tim Gunn is in the Parsons Workroom with Season 8 Finalist and All Stars Season 1 Winner Mondo Guerra. They are there to introduce the HP Print Challenge (Yeayyy, one of my favorites!): Create a textile design and a modern runway look inspired by your cultural heritage. In case you've not been following "Project Runway," Mondo Guerra made a memorable impact during his season and on this same "HP Textile Design Challenge" (which he won) when he designed a gorgeous print and made a pair of impeccably tailored pants AND came out to the judges, fellow designers and millions of Americans as being HIV+. He had wise advice for the Season 10 kids when he told them not to be too literal or so calculated and to "let go."La Familia
Right before saying Adieu, Tim said that the designers would soon be receiving dossiers important to the challenge via "special delivery." They soon got to work on their HP Touchsmart Desktops designing their respective prints. Then, the Parsons Workroom doors blew open and in came various loved ones mommies (Christopher, Elena, Gunnar, Melissa, Sonjia), a partner (Fabio), a best friend (Dmitry) and a sister (Ven) who brought in these dossiers of childhood photos and family videos. Naturally the workroom became an "Oprah Winfrey Show"-like tear-fest! It was a very endearing moment for "Project Runway."The Vagina Print Monologues
Now, back to their print designs: Dmirty was inspired by traditional ornament and created a red/black print, Ven did a flower (quelle surprise!) print a pink hibiscus which he said was very important in his East Indian culture. Gunnar designed a print which had "wretched looking hands reaching out for a bird" inspired by his childhood bullying, Melissa made a "family tree" print in red and white;,Elena went colorful with her design, Christopher did lady bugs; Sonjia injected her African-American heritage into her print,and Fabio, well, he went all anatomical and designed a print inspired by (wait for it), the male and female genitalia. Ummm, you do know that young kids watch this show?Maxi Pad Ven 2.0
After a day of print designing, tearful moments, Mood shopping and a family dinner back at the Atlas Apartments, the designers get back to Parsons to find their newly-minted and printed designs on fabric. Soon, it's time for the "Tim Critique." Christopher is struggling A LOT with his print and designs. Both he and Fabio put black organza on top of their prints (to diffuse their boldness) and Tim doesn't even comment on the similarities. Ven is doing a fan-pleated detail with his print which reminds Monsieur Gunn of an "homage to a menstrual cycle" and Maxi pads (Say WHAT Mr. Tim?) He's right. It does. Subsequently, Ven quickly changes his "Maxi pad" detail and goes into "Ven Auto Pilot," making a pleated skirt using his pleated rose technique which incidentally the judges have seen again and again. You just know that they will rip him a new rose for that one!Winners ... What Do They Know?
Day of the runway show and Mondo Guerra is there as the Guest Judge, along with Season 9 Winner Anya Ayoung-Chee. It's always nice to see "Project Runway" winners/alumn as judges since they know what the designers go through (I was privileged enough to have been asked to be a guest judge back on Season 6). But, you can always sense a feeling (from the current seasons' designers) of "What do you know? You're Just a Former Contestant/Winner." You could tell that from this episode's judging, for sure. There was much eye rolling and snickering. Moving on ... How were the designs? Mostly quite fab!Print Challenge Winner?
Elena and Fabio were safe. I was surprised by Fabio not being one of the top vote-getters. His design was one of my favorites. It was so Tilda Swinton. The styling and hair were ON POINT. The design was very NOW. The print? Well, it was lost in the mix but overall, he did an outstanding design job. The top for the judges were Melissa, Sonjia and Dmitry. They all did a great job. Melissa's dress was bright, colorful, and polished. It was nice to see something that wasn't Ann Demeulemeester black. It was a print challenge after all, and in those terms, she should have won. Sonjia did a pair of great fitting pants a la Mondo and I especially LOVED the black jersey cowl-back top. But it was Dmitry who got the win. I was a bit confused, however. I agree that his jacket was, as Nina Garcia said, "phenomenal," but this wasn't a Jacket Challenge. It was a print challenge. What did I miss?If It's Another Flower I Will Scream!
Now, to the bottom: Christopher, Gunnar and Ven. Christopher's dress was too safe for the judges and he didn't "wow" anyone. And as Heidi said in the beginning of this episode, it's time to WOW! Ven sent out a perfectly made one-shoulder design very Carolina Herrera meets Oscar de la Renta. But yes, it was yet ANOTHER Ven Flower Pleated Design. Heidi, visibly upset and frustrated at the fact that he was doing the "same old/same old" asked for Tim Gunn to come in to see if he had warned Ven to NOT do that EVER again. Tim told the judges how Ven had made something reminiscent of Maxi pads when he visited him but he had not really seen his new "Ven-on-Pleated-Rose-Auto-Pilot-Mode" design. Ven didn't get the "Auf" this time but he did get a warning from Heidi: "If we see this flower thing one more time it’s …. over!" Emphasized by a very "off with his head" whistle from Miss Klum! Atta girl!No Boob Job For Mommie
Therefore, it was Gunnar's missy-looking design and print that got the boot. The judges were correct in that the details were bad, the proportions were bad, the styling was dated and so was the fashion. It looked like something from a Talbot's Catalogue from 1992. And the arms grabbing a bird print was not exciting or great enough to make a shopper want to wear it. It was actually macabre and depressing-looking. In the end Gunnar did make up with his Gay Arch Nemesis Christopher and although he might not have won, he did redeem himself as being a decent guy. Now we just have to see if Ven can pull out some thrones next week from those tired pleated roses!
Last week, there were NINE designers, and this week ... there are STILL Nine Designers. If you have been keeping score, NO ONE was out in last week's DRAMA-filled "Lord & Taylor Challenge" episode. The designers were asked to create a dress for the iconic department store and the winner was Christopher, who made a blush/nude and black gown which won praise from all the judges. On the bottom vote wise were Alicia and Gunnar, yet Miss Heidi K. said that because there were no real "train-wrecks" and, according to her, they all did a good job, EVERYONE stayed. We all realize it was because of the two designers who quit early in the season, but let’s just all play along, shall we?!Auf This and Auf That
In the beginning of the episode, the winner, Christopher, was riding high on his winning horse and declared that someone should have gone home. Gunnar was his target, and we all know, it wasn’t because of his design, but mainly because he is Christopher’s Gay Arch Nemesis! I also agree that someone should have been eliminated but I felt that it should have been Alicia. I feel that the sooner the show can rid itself of the not-so-talented designers, the quicker the TRUE designers can really make this a competition. I know it sounds mean and heartless but I'd rather see a bunch of FAB competing against other FAB. But I digress...Team Kumbaya: NOT
Now, with this good news that NO ONE was out, one would hope that there would be a communal Kumbaya atmosphere prevailing through the walls of Parsons and less melodramatic fits of negativity. Well, kids, not so fast ... After getting their "Hellooo!" from Heidi, they're off to meet Tim. He's in the Parsons Workroom, which has turned into Michael's Arts & Crafts depot with a bunch of glitter, glue, and paint. Gunn tells the designers that as of now, they have NO BUDGET to shop at Mood so ... they must create merchandise to sell on the streets of Manhattan to raise the money for their as-yet-to-be-mentioned challenge. That's the first bad news, here comes the second: this will be a Team Challenge and they will have to sell in teams of 3. The teams are named: Team 1 is Christopher, Sonjia and Gunnar; Team 2 is Dmitry, Elena and Alicia and Team 3 is Ven, Melissa and Fabio.Arts & Crafts Parsons
The designers get to work on their Art Doodle projects, making t-shirts, necklaces, etc. Team 1's stuff is looking cute croquis, fashion illustrations and well-sketched faces on T-shirts. On the other end, however, Team 2's creations are looking like something a First Grader made after drinking too much "Honey Boo Boo Go Go Juice." Soon, time's up and they take their merchandise and go try and sell their "whickety wack" to the unsuspecting hipster Meatpacking/Chelsea/East Village public. After much haggling and pleading to people that "You Really Need A 90s, shredded, Puffy-Painted T-shirt,” the teams return to Parsons to let Tim know how much money they made: Team 1 made $648; Team 2 $500; and Team 3, a whopping $800.48. So now, the teams have their Mood shopping money, but what about the actual challenge? Mr. Gunn??Next on Ukrainian and Belarus TV ... The Elena and Dmitry Show
Tim finally announces that each team must create 2 cohesive looks for Fall. They go to Mood, spend their "Sell It Girl!" money, and then return to Parsons to work, or as Elena likes to call it: My Time to Bitch. Elena (Team 2) is doing her usual "Negative Ninny" shtick, mainly focused on her Eastern European Nemesis, Dmitry. These two are SO Boris and Natasha it's actually quite amusing. Back when I did the "Road To Runway Casting Special," I KNEW that it was going to be a War of the Eastern European Divas. At one point, Elena tries to make fun of his accent, which makes no sense since, NEWSFLASH: SHE HAS (almost) THE SAME ACCENT!Don't Mess With Dmitry
Dmitry doesn't just sit there and take Elena's nastiness; he's throwing it back at her word for word. Note to Elena: don't mess with a former competitive ballroom dancer. But her hate-talk isn't just limited to her own team as she also drops "Negative Nuggets" on Christopher's "ugly ass Snuggie" camel coat. Poor Alicia who's quickly looking like Dmitry and Elena's "Bullwinkle" is getting caught in the middle of these two SUPER A-type personalities. Pobrecita, as my grandma would say.The Exquisite Roll of The Sleeve...
Day of the runway show and fashion designer Anna Sui is on hand as the Guest Judge. The designs from all 3 teams hit the runway and Christopher, Sonjia and Gunnar from Team 1 are the clear winners. They worked seamlessly together and it showed. The fact that Christopher and Gunnar could put aside their queeny antics for one team challenge and "make it work" shows maturity. They did a good job on their respective coat and dresses, but it was Sonjia's jacket that brought the most verbal applause. The judges used effusive language such as "exquisite," "expensive" and "sharp" to describe it. It's not easy to make a well-made tailored jacket in such a short amount of time. It's the details and fit that matter with a jacket and I especially LOVED the roll of the sleeves at the cap and the fit was sublime. The entire jacket was very Armani Prive. In the end, she received a well-deserved win.Sad Coat, Camel-toe Pants and a Dowdy Dirndl...
Team 3 (Ven, Melissa, Fabio) had the most money, but their designs looked cheap. While the judges praised Melissa’s cropped white jacket (it was very contemporary), they slammed the camel-toe pants she made. What was that bulge in the crotch? Women's pants should not have that. Fabio's sad coat also didn't get any love as well. And Ven? After he nixed his folded pleat skirt idea for a dowdy dirndl skirt, Nina, Michael and Heidi wondered where his "voice" was in any of this team. If there was EVER a moment where we needed one of those "Ven pleated-and-folded rose" details, it was NOW!Unharmonious Coffin Coat
But it was the most quarrelsome of the teams Team Boris and Natasha (and Alicia Bullwinkle) which ended up at the very bottom. Dmitry and Elena's squabbles caused unharmonious looks on the runway. Natasha I mean Elena felt that Dmitry took over the challenge, while Boris I mean Dmitry accused Elena of always making "coffins" (alluding to her very structured coats). The judges chastise them and their poor "sidekick" Alicia for not working as a team (true) and do not take prisoners when it comes to discussing Elena's coat. Even though Elena is a self-described Coat Queen, the judges said it looked angry, tortured and "like a coat sewn with her feet" (Ouch!). As it has become tradition now for these Season 10 designers, Elena blamed her ill-looking coat on "not having enough time."Alicia Bullwinkle: You're OUT!
And then, there was Alicia. Alicia's contribution to the team was a major yawn. Why didn't she create something cool and fun like her own little jumpsuit that she was wearing on the runway? Oh and take a guess what Alicia's complaint was? Yep: "I was having time issues." OMG! Cry me a Parsons Workroom River. Have these kids EVER watched this show? How many times can they keep using this excuse? (don't answer that!). Well, it might have taken an extra week, but finally Alicia was "Aufed" just as she should have been last week. Hopefully she was able to get a good night’s sleep in her sequestered hotel room and not have nightmares of Boris and Natasha screaming at each other all night long!
Months ago, I received a phone call from the producers of "Project Runway." They said that for the 10th Anniversary season of the show they wanted to do a special "Project Runway" Capsule Collection featuring one designer from each season. Those dresses would then be sold at Lord & Taylor, the exclusive retail sponsor for "Project Runway." I was asked to be the Season 2 designer. Jay McCarroll, Uli Herzner, Chris March, Korto Momolu, Gordana Gehlhausen, Seth Aaron Anderson, Mondo Guerra and Bert Keeter were all the illustrious designers to represent their seasons.No More Ven ... Drama
One question remained, however: who would be the Season 10 Designer to be featured in this exclusive "Project Runway" for Lord & Taylor Capsule Collection? And that's where last night's episode began. As the episode starts, there is surprisingly no mention or residue left over from last week's "Ven Storm." Obviously, it is hard for the producers to know just how strongly the audience will react to something and thus edit accordingly. But it was strange for me, and I’m assuming for many viewers also, to just move on and not remember that Ven had basically dropped a bomb on Season 10! But as they say, the show or season must go on!Fifth Avenue Dressing
For this week's challenge, the designers are told to meet Tim at the Fifth Avenue Flagship of Lord & Taylor. He is there, along with Bonnie Brooks, president of Lord & Taylor and nine fabulous mannequins in the dresses that we the "Project Runway" alum designed. The designers are told that this is the Lord & Taylor Challenge: to design a dress for the store. Bonnie then describes the Lord & Taylor woman as being sophisticated, stylish, having good taste and loves fashion, of course. My kind of woman! The winning design would go into production, and sell for about $200-$300 at their flagship and LordandTaylor.com site and be prominently featured in one of their windows. All the designs would be manufactured by JS Collection/JS Group, a company that specializes in cocktail and "After Five."I Have My Chiffonie Membership Card
My design (in the top row of mannequins) was a "Grecian Goddess"-inspired halter cocktail dres that had draping in front and back and was in cobalt blue chiffon with sequin detailing. Yes, kids, I'm an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Chiffonies. This was MY FIRST time seeing my dress as well as the other "Project Runway" alumni dresses since I submitted my sketches months ago, so I was quite excited.Another Sheath Dress?
The Season 10 designers used our dresses as a springboard in order to create their looks. Christopher decides to do a gown since there were only two in the mannequin tableaux. The rest seem to all be designing sheath dresses. I wondered to myself "the last thing our 'Project Runway' Capsule Collection needs is ANOTHER sheath dress" since there were already FOUR great ones. Maybe they were somehow subliminally inspired by all those mannequins in sheath dresses. After sketching they all headed back to Parsons, where a makeshift fabric room with fabrics provided by the JS Collection/JS Group manufacturer awaited them.Project Breakdown
Soon, the Parsons workroom becomes Stress Central, especially for the ladies. During his visit, Tim Gunn has to play "Psychiatrist Tim" to both Sonjia and Elena as they both are battling with their designs, warning Sonjia that she'll have a psychotic breakdown if she tries to channel the judge’s thoughts. Elena begins crying and having a minor breakdown of her own as she tells Tim that she feels restricted, saying that she "designs upscale" and that "this isn't the way I design..." I almost wanted to slap her upside her head with a yardstick! This season's running theme seems to be "Project Breakdown" and I, for one, am so OVER the whole "I'm stressed out" soliloquy from these designers. It's like a broken record and EVERY week they keep playing it, over and over again. It stresses ME out.The Little Black Dress Challenge?
Now, as it has become the norm here, let me get something else off my chest: why all the use of black dresses? I love a black dress, but SEVEN of them? I thought I was at someone's funeral. Gunnar is using black lace and paillettes, Alicia is doing a drop-waist Chanel-inspired shift dress in black mostly, Fabio, Ven, Melissa, Elena, Sonjia ... yep, all using black, or close to it. I didn't realize that this was the Little Black Dress Challenge. And when it wasn't black, it was gunmetal gray (Dmitry) or nude/blush with, you guessed it, BLACK! I'm a COLOR "Queen" (no comments please!), so it's natural for me to go for the NOT BLACK. I guess it's just me.Another Breakdown?
On runway day, most of the girls are running around like it's a Louboutin 75% off shoe sale. It's a mess. Melissa started a new dress the night before and was not even close to being done as Tim gave the two hour makeup and hair warning. Sonjia is making Tim's prediction of a psychotic breakdown come true as she begins crying when her model can't put her peplum'ed design on. And to make things worse, she doesn't have time to finish her hem. Tim gives her a final nugget of "Fake it on the Runway" advice. That should be the tagline for "Project Runway." Amen Sister Tim.Asymmetry, Non-Sheaths and a Gown Queen
It's runway show time and Bonnie Brooks of Lord & Taylor is there as the guest judge, joining Heidi, Michael and Nina. The results: Dmitry, Ven and Sonjia are safe and after that pre-runway breakdown, Sonjia was relieved beyond words. I was surprised Dmitry was not at the top because I thought his was one of the better sheath dresses. The Top were Fabio, Christopher, Melissa and Miss "I-Don't-Design-For-Cheap" Elena. I was really shocked Melissa ended up on top. Her brocade dress was too tight on the model, and between the stiff front and the too-asymmetrical hem, it was way too directional for any department store customer. I liked Elena's harness full-skirted dress. At least it wasn't another sheath dress. Thank you Elena. And I also liked Fabio's design. It looked sellable and wearable for many women of varying sizes. In the end, it was Christopher's blush/nude raw chiffon and black gown that won. It was elegant and looked very "Valentino by Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri" to me. Do we want to see him do something other than his strips of raw chiffon? Yes. He was warned by Heidi but congrats to Cutie Christopher. I can't wait to meet you next week as we "unveil" our designs.One Day You're In, and the Next...
Now to the bottom: Gunnar and Alicia had the lowest scores. I was not surprised by Alicia being there. Her dress to me was the most disappointing. The silhouette was unflattering and that collar looked Fashion School Student wonky at best. She doesn't like doing feminine but still, she could have done a masculine tailored sheath dress. Oh, never mind! I was surprised, however, by Gunnar being there. His dress was one of my favorites. It was cute, sassy and so-Lord & Taylor cocktail hour. But Bonnie did not like the lace and Nina said it was boring and unmemorable. Now, you know one of the "Project Runway" edicts: NEVER EVER bore Nina. Alicia was safe. Cue the "Oooohhhh, Gunnar is out!?" sighs. Not so fast kiddies, Heidi then turns to him and tells him that he's "In." So ... no one is out this week. Her explanation being that since there were no real train wrecks (I beg to differ) and therefore no reason to boot any of the designers out. I've now been working in "TV Land" long enough to feel a bit quizzical over that excuse. But oh well, one day you're "In" and the next, you are also "In"... at least this week.
On almost every season of "Project Runway" there is the "Dress A Real Person Challenge." In past seasons, designers have had to work with moms, bratty teenagers, and even on my season, we had to make over our fellow designers. Don't remind me the outcome of that one. Moving on... It's the challenge that both furthers the stereotype that (some) fashion designers are body dysmorphic creatures who worship and idolize the size 0, 6 foot tall, super human creatures (models), and at the same time, can show that we do care about a "real size" woman. It's an intelligent designer who can be successful at the latter, which is of course the most important factor, since most women are NOT a size 0, 2 or even an 8 for that matter. In actuality the average american woman is a size 14. So with that in mind, let's start this week's recap:I Have Style ... But My Friend Doesn't
Heidi waltzes onto the "Runway" stage and announces that "for your next challenge, we have some new clients for you." Ten men and women enter and flank Miss Klum. Before the remaining 10 designers can whisper in disgust a, "Are we creating something for them?!" Heidi adds, "Well, these aren't your new clients ... you'll be creating looks for their FRIENDS." It's the L'Oreal Hair Challenge of Making Over a Friend. OK, now you can cut to the designers giving looks of "We have to dress REAL PEOPLE!?" Even Heidi noticed the "Oh no" looks as she tries to remind the designers that "this might be a lot of fun..." The operative word here is MIGHT. Even Heidi wasn't buying what she was selling knowing there is bound to be designer/client drama. They all head to the Parsons workroom where Tim awaits with L'Oreal consulting hair stylist Johnny Lavoy, who will help in creating the friend makeover transformations.Meet Your Clients
Time to meet each of the designers' "real life clients" who were (supposedly) chosen for each designer at random: Sonjia gets Amanda, a sweat pant-loving tomboy who hates to shop. Elena is handed Jenna, who is "bubbly" and loves color. Christopher gets Kate, who is hoping for a trendy jacket. Dmitry is paired with Angela who likes chunky jewelry and contrast. Alicia gets Martina, who wants men to marry her and women to BE her (at-a-girl!). And finally, Melissa gets Kannace who likes dresses.Sexy with Swag and the Brawny Paper Towel (Wo)man
Nathan is paired with Liana an Eastern European-sounding beauty who wants to be a pop/R&B singer. She wants something "Sexy with Swag." Fabio gets someone named Ko-Reply Pi who at first I thought was a boy, but then realized not-so-mucheey. She's afraid of wearing anything that might "sexualize" her and she achieved that with her "Brawny Paper Towel Man" ensemble. Gunnar gets Kim, who is very excited at the prospect of being made over, and Ven? He gets a lovely woman by the name of Terri who works in finance and loves her t-shirts and 10-year-old jeans. She also happens to be one of the "larger ladies" in the room. Mon Dieu.Plus Size Basher
As soon as you can say "Jenny Craig," Ven goes into "plus size bashing mode" disrespecting his client and basically all non-size 4 women in America. He says some doozies on his "direct-to-camera" interviews that would make anyone within earshot want to through some carb-filled Fettuccini Alfredo at him. Among other foot-in-mouth statements, he says that he was "shocked and disappointed" that he has to work with a real person and not a model. Then when Tim makes his workroom visit, he tells him that his client has no sense of style, isn't fashion forward, doesn't have any shape and oh, the pièce de résistance: that her "before" photo is "definitely a NIGHTMARE." In addition, he goes on to demean Terri (his client) to her face by saying that the belt he wants her to wear is "too small for her" and that he was "shocked" at how beautiful her transformation was after the haircut and color makeover. Wow Ven, you get the "Contemptuous and Discourteous Behavior Toward a Client" Trophy for Season 10.You Ain't No Waif
Here we go: I'm just surprised that NO ONE especially Terri his client or her friend Theo turned around and said, "Huneyyyyy! You Ain't No Waif Yourself" (sorry for the bad double negative grammar). For someone like Ven, who is no Size Small himself, to have a complete disregard for his client’s sensitivity toward size-ism is just jaw-dropping. I would expect those types of things to be coming from say, waifish Gunnar (my UBER skinny gays can be so mean sometimes!), but lo and behold, Miss Gunnar was a complete and utter gentleman with his client who was basically the same dress size as Ven's client. If you're counting, it's ten points for Gunnar. Zero for Ven.Bye Bye Brawny, Hello Chic Artist
It's Runway Day and the stage is set for "Will Ven be at the bottom for being so mean?" Alongside Nina, Michael and Heidi, is British fashion designer Alice Temperley of Temperley London, who counts Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge as a client. Let's do the good first: Gunnar, Fabio and Dmitry. First of all, Gunnar's client ROCKED the runway. I almost got up from my sofa and started clapping, hootin' and hollerin' as she was sashaying down the runway. Kim should get a "Lifetime Runway Award" come reunion show time. The judges also loved what she was wearing by the way (Me, not so much, to be honest). Dmitry made his client look edgy and cool. But it was Fabio who took the prize this week for creating such an original color-blocked dress for his plaid shirt-loving client. Nina described it as "phenomenal." A Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci Haute Couture gown is phenomenal, so I wouldn't go as far as that, but it was very good.Hoochie Momma Bye
Now, back to Ven. No surprise that he was in the bottom along with Nathan and Sonjia. Sonjia's jersey twisted knot front dress was way too short and well, we've seen it before ... at every department store across the US. On a good note: she gets points for making her sweats-loving client look feminine and so different. Ven's creation reflected his unharmonious designer/client working relationship. The look didn't know whether it was going for cocktails (the shiny turquoise batwing top) or a job interview (black skirt with diagonal metal zipper). Ven never took the time to find out what his client really liked and wanted. Instead he verbally bashed Terri and went ahead creating something that wasn't her. It was Ven's way or the Jenny Craig Highway. As a result, he was where he should be, which is at the bottom. While Ven took complete control and failed, Nathan on the other hand, gave up control and allowed his client to dictate the entire look, making Nathan her private seamstress and not her designer. His client was all things Hoochie Momma. When I saw the illusion sides, I just about wondered out loud if we were in Vegas and it was 3 am! So with that, the judges said bye bye to Nathan.A Note to Ven
You are a very talented designer and have a great chic style aesthetic but ... good luck getting ANYONE to buy your clothes when you're done with this. A public apology to the MILLIONS of average American size 14 women might be in your future plans.
Hello "Project Runway" fans and blog readers. A new week and a new recap ... and yes, another chance to get something off my chest. Here we go:Why is EVERYONE on Season 10 So Miserable?
People are crying left and right, contestants are bolting out in the middle of night, everyone is OVER-stressed and swearing like drunken sailors (What. Is. With. All. The Swearing by the way? I feel like I'm watching Snooki on "The Jersey Shore"). The whole thing is kind of depressing. Now, granted, it is always easy to remember the good and not the bad, but I don't recollect the environment back in my season being so miserable, or my fellow cast mates being so contemptible (Or at least most of them). We would be in the confessionals cracking jokes, saying this-and-that (and not in a nasty, spiteful way) and the requisite "I'm not sure I will be finished on time" comments. On this season, it's been a cloud of unhappiness and doleful anguish almost every week. And it's only week five. I'm beginning to understand why Andrea and Kooan did a "I'm OUTTA here!" without even batting a L'Oreal mascara'ed eyelash.Design a Working Woman Collection, Direct a Photoshoot, Work on a Team & Go to Mars!
Heidi enters the runway and brings out my Colombian sister from another Mister, Nina Garcia. Nina announces to the designers that this is the "Marie Claire Team Challenge" and they must create a capsule collection for a working woman that is both editorial AND will also work in the "real world," AND they will work in teams AND they will also direct a photoshoot of the collection with the winning team being featured in the Marie Claire @Work supplement of the magazine. Oh, and did I mention that the winning design will also be launched in the Mars Rover to be used as an instrument to find proof of water on the planet? Just kidding. But seriously folks, that is a LOT rolled into one challenge...Bromance Ends As Soon As It Begins
The designers begin to choose the members of their teams and Raul is the Last Man Sitting. He's feeling like a "schoolyard reject" as Christopher, whom he thought was his new Bromance love, ends up passing him over for Potty Mouthed Snooki, I mean Gunnar. The final two teams end up being "Team Five" (5 designers) Nathan, Ven, Christopher, Fabio and Gunnar, and "Team Six" (6 designers), Sonjia, Elena, Melissa, Dmitry, Alicia and Raul. During the pre-shopping pow-wow meeting, Raul (feeling his ego at an all-time low) is confrontational, already predicting his teammates will throw him under the "Team Challenge Bus." He also declares that he's "good at making pants" at which point I almost hear the producers rushing to the "Project Runway Season 10 Wall of SHAME" and showing proof of just the opposite from last week. Oh these kids, they SLAY me.Gunnar: Good Luck Next Time You Want Your Pants Hemmed
After a frantic Mood shopping trip, the teams head back to Parsons. Raul now has switched his "I'm the King of Pants" tune to "My strength is in doing ruffled blouses." If you say so Raul. Elena is quickly becoming the Grinch of the workroom, being combative about anything her team is working on. And then we have Gunnar, who is trash-talking the entire profession of Tailors (and Savile Row for that matter!) with his "I'm NOT a Tailor. I don't do that F'ing Sh**" confessional. Nice.How Is Everyone? Don't Ask
Tim walks in and makes the mistake of asking how everyone is doing. One word: MISERABLE. They all looked like they would rather be getting root canals. Tim tries to relax the tension in the air by telling "Team Six" how he liked what they were working on. On the other hand, Tim thought the "Team Five" creations were looking a bit clownish. Then, in a rare moment of Season 10 light-heartedness, Elena jokes, dubbing the "Team Five" boys the "Silk Chiffonies" because of their constant use of silk chiffon. She then calls Raul "Eddie Munster." I secretly chuckle.Editor-in-Chief Elena
The following day, both teams meet up at Go Studios to direct, style and set-design their respective Marie Claire @Work shoots. Miss Elena is on FIRE, directing everyone and everything. She's being Negative Ninny, quarrelling with teammates Melissa and "Eddie Munster" Raul. Raul argued that they should use some of the furniture that was provided while Elena favored a clean, white backdrop. I liked the clean background of the photographs but I also agreed with Raul that they should use something or else I could just see the judges calling them out on it.Color Me Melissa
It's Runway Day and who was on Top and who was the Weakest Link? I loved Dmitry's color-blocked dress, but the judges argued about the appropriateness of the peek-a-boo back, except for Miss Heidi who favors the less appropriate. I also liked Christopher's outfit with his signature ruffled skirt. Eventually, the judges, including Marie Claire's Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles, chose Melissa's design as the winner and I can (kind of) see why: the color was impacting and it was dramatic, especially in the photograph. I give Melissa points for NOT using black, I just didn't agree with Nina's assessment that it was "wearable." Wearable for a fashion diva like Nina might mean something totally different than the average woman. In addition, Melissa's "Team Six" won the Marie Claire @Work photoshoot sub-challenge and will be featured in the magazine. Congrats.The Weakest Link ... and Weakest Goodbye
In the bottom were Gunnar and Raul. It would make sense for Gunnar, who was on the "losing" team to be the one out. But, oddly enough, Raul, from the WINNING TEAM, was booted. Were his designs/creations bad? Yes. Was Gunnar's dress horrible? Yep. Was one worse than the other? Looked like a tie to me. But in the end, Gunnar looked like an angel compared to that awful, cringe-worthy goodbye in which Raul said to Elena, "I hate your a**!" amongst other things. Let's just say for the sake of argument that Elena is an awful person. Still, really? On camera, that's how you want to go? That's the last image you want people to remember of you? Classy with a capital "K," I say. He then doubled-down with his "I don't make garments in 5-7 hrs!" comment to the camera. Darling Raul: why did you sign up for this show? You did know that you were going to have to make garments in 5-7 hrs, right? Bitter Eddie Munster Party of One. Adios Raul. Next time watch your potty mouth and get a spoonful of humbleness and think about your goodbyes, por favor.
It seems like every season of "Project Runway" or at least the last eight seasons of which I have had the honor of blogging there always comes an episode in which I need to Get Things Off My Hairy Chest. Usually, these "nuggets" of recap-wisdom come later in the season, however for Season 10, this desire to vent came early. If you’ll allow me kiddies, let me begin:1) Cowards, Cop-Outs & Quitters
Well, well, well. At the end of last week, we find out Andrea BA MA MFA Fashion Instructor who likes Hoop Skirts and Victorian Gallery Owner fashions ... is OUTTA HERE. Her roommates wake up and they're like "Where's Andrea?" She gone, as they say. Then, as this week's episode is still on its "Act One," we find out JapFro Kooan also wants to leave. Alrighty then. Either something is rotten in the Atlas Apartments water or we've got (in case you're counting) TWO Cowards, Cop-Outs and yes, Quitters.2) Quitters Make Me Angry
Let me get on my "Uncle Nicky" soapbox if you’ll allow me: I get SO mad when this happens on "Project Runway" (and it doesn't happen very often). First off, I am so proud of being an alumnus of the show and all the wonderful things that have come forth as a result. I have worked my little butt off for 95% of them, but ... it is undeniable that being on the show has been a trampoline. I am honored to be an "ambassador" of sorts for "Project Runway." THOUSANDS of people apply for just SIXTEEN spots. I have seen many of these designers, since I have been a casting judge for the last eight seasons of the show. In fact, there were several I saw in Los Angeles THIS season, that did not make it onto the show who were more talented than both Kooan and Andrea, yet by the luck of the Casting Fairy, did not make it. And if you remember way back to my season, I had a moment of weakness myself and considered calling it quits, but truly deep in my heart I could never imagine walking away from such a great opportunity. So, when I see not one, but TWO contestants quit, I am both dumbfounded and angry.3) Kids, Get Back To Work!
When Tim Gunn comes into the Parsons workroom and informs the (remaining) designers that Andrea has left and then Kooan says his "I think I should go" announcement, the designers are all verklempt about it. Nathan is actually CRYING (seriously huney, get a grip!). Cutie (but has become quickly annoying) Christopher, is self-blaming (PS: it's not all about YOU, huney). The designers spend all this time huddling together and commiserating over the loss of the two designers. GET OVER IT. I don't even care if this sounds insensitive but, I would have been cuttin', drapin' and starting my sewin' as all that mess was going on. I would have also been mad and thinking, "Ummm, we only have A DAY to make this week's challenge look and now we've wasted an hour of it ... can we move on?!"4) Raul, You Need More Time in The Fashion Incubator
Raul got the chance to come back into the show after Andrea and Kooan left. That's nice, however, usually if you have been auf'ed very early in the season, it pretty much means that you probably deserved to be sent home. It's the "Project Runway" Darwinian Law of Fashion Evolution (yes, I just made that one up). Raul's bravado is a little much: "I'm back Bi***!" Wow. Not the classiest return I’ve seen and please, let's discuss the look he made: those awful, awful pants. Even Kors during the judgingaid he HATED IT. Ouch. How do you not measure your model correctly? As my dear friend Tim Gunn would say: he needs more time in the fashion incubator. And then, and only then, can he have the resume to have this bravado that he seems to have.5) The Challenge: The Real Thang vs. The "Marie Claire" Editorial Version
The challenge which was dubbed the "Michael Kors Challenge" was to design and create a look for a "woman on the go," i.e. something that can take a woman from the office to cocktails. Or so they said. Later at the runway judging officiated by Kors, Nina, actress Hayden Panettiere and the gorgeous Rachel Roy Miss Nina says the look must be "comfortable while glamorous," as well. Let me get this off my chest: I did not necessarily agree with the top choices. While they were fab, chic and oh so sexy, I cannot see an actual real-life woman, in say, San Francisco, Seattle or even Little Rock, wear Christopher's asymmetrical jersey dress and cropped leather jacket, or Sonjia's peek-a-boo twisted draped jersey dress at 8 am as she drops her kids off at school, then heads off to her desk job, returns to pick the kids back up and then somehow end the day having apple martinis. Not happening. I LOVED those dresses, but they were the "Marie Claire" Fashion Editorial version of what one would think "women on the go" would wear. Maybe if the challenge was to design what Victoria Beckham and JLo would wear "on the go" from their British Airways First Class LAX departure to landing at Heathrow Airport, some of these outfits might make more sense.6) The Real Thang
To me, what I did think worked was Melissa's layered look. Now this, I can see a web-designer mommie in San Francisco wear "on the go" from day to cocktails. I also think Elena's grey structured coat and skinny pants look, was nice even if the jacket was a bit bulky. Finally, Dmitry's dress was very day-to-cocktails. It was glamorous, on the go and yet not so "that's Victoria Beckham not Jane Smith of St. Louis, Missouri". But in the end the judges LOVED Sonjia's dress. Hayden even said she would wear it at a red carpet event. Well, I think that says it all. A red carpet event really isn't a scenario for a real woman on the go. But it was a very cute dress, for sure.7) Bye Tacki-licious
I was not very surprised that the bottom two were Buffi and Raul. And while Raul should have been there, Buffi was the no-brainer as the one to be eliminated. As Nina said, she really showed lack of technical ability to do anything worth sending down a runway during NY Fashion Week. I think she might be a better stylist than an actual fashion designer, but that’s just my opinion. She did, however, earn some points in my book, when she said that this "goodbye" would push her to make more tacky-licious stuff. PLEASE do! With that we get another "Hasta La Vista Baby!" Three designers eliminated in one episode. I think that's a first and I hope the last.