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Nick Verreos Blog
Category: "season 13"
We are past the halfway point in Season 13 of “Project Runway” and after seven challenges, including three involving evening wear, an unconventional challenge, and a few team kerfuffles, it's naturally time for the avant-garde challenge. At the end of this episode, Tim declares that this is "The best runway ever!" Was it? Let's see...
As the remaining designers gather around, Tim and Heidi (What is she doing here? Isn’t this her day off?!) are onstage flanked by two Samsung Curved Ultra HD TVs. After a long-winded diatribe on how essential innovation is to the fashion industry as well as the technology industry, how fabulous these new Curved Samsung TVs are, how one can watch TV from every angle, and how this next challenge is supposed to test your ability to push the boundaries of design just like these TVs are pushing the boundaries of technology, we finally discover that all this is to announce to the designers that it’s -- drum roll -- the avant-garde challenge, also known as the Samsung Challenge.
The designers have to create forward-thinking designs with the “spirit” of the Samsung Curve TV in mind. I have a question: What does this mean? Should there be curved style lines in EVERY designer’s creation? The designs must be cutting edge, innovative and “A ‘wow’ from every angle." And there’s a twist (cue the water visuals on the slick Samsung TVs): RAIN! The models will be walking the runway on (as Heidi says) a RAINWAY! Get it: RAINway as opposed to RUNway. Clever. I guess. Now go hashtag it and make “Project Runway"'s social media department happy! The designers get $300 and two whole days to complete their forward-thinking looks.
Post sketching and Mood-shopping time, the designers are in the workroom and Tim checks in. We discover that Amanda is thinking about Cleopatra in a Nile River flood and eye hieroglyphs. Tim points out the unfortunate v-jay-jay placement of one of her “eyes." Emily is working on a poly-vinyl catsuit with armor-like details. Tim warns her to not make it too R2D2 or fetish-y. Korina’s vision of a Northwest Thunderbird intrigues me, plus I LOVE her sketch. But I’m afraid it might look too "Miss Oregon USA costume."
Sandhya is inspired by the colored stripes on old TV sets when there was nothing on (I remember those from when I was living in Caracas, Venezuela) and is making a rainbow-colored jumpsuit and clear vinyl coat. Tim is dubious that it will all work. She reassures him it will. Kini is making an upside-down umbrella and wants the Win really, really bad. His biggest nemesis, Sean, is creating a white dress with powder dye hidden within the seams that will then bleed on the “rainway." Tim gets chills just thinking about it. So do I, I admit. But at the same time, I can’t help but think this is very McQueen Spring/Summer 1999/Shalom Harlow (more on that later!).
Fade is not managing so well; he’s stuck, feeling uninspired with his “Play” button and power cord dress. He says that he considers many of the pieces he has made “avant-garde," but I beg to differ. I think he actually does quite predictable, albeit slightly quirky clothing. I wouldn’t say he is avant-garde in his design sense. And I think he’s also coming to that realization. Unfortunately, it’s happing live with cameras around him.
After a night of wine, the designers return for their second work day. Korina is having doubts about her thunderbird creation and Fade is still stuck. Phone calls to loved ones are made by several of the designers, including Fade, who inevitably has the most emotionally-ridden one. He cries, can’t even talk. It’s almost a sure sign that the designer who has the most poignant phone call with their significant other is going home that week. It’s now almost the norm on every season of “Project Runway."
The entire production team -- designers, models, makeup and hair -- is taken to a large studio in New Jersey for the RAINway runway. Judges Heidi, Nina, Zac are there, as well as “Masters of Sex” actress Caitlin Fitzgerald. The rain begins and the models saunter out...carefully.
The Best: I really liked Sandhya's kooky and colorful creation. As Heidi said, it had her "handwriting" all over it. I thought her clear vinyl coat with (not-so) spinning pinwheels was fun, unique, creative and oh-so-Sandyha. But without question it was Kini and Sean who won this challenge. Kini's black upside-down umbrella gown creation was Grace Jones-meets-Jean Paul Gaultier fab! And Sean's look was a definite WOW. When his model came out and did her twirl and the dye began interacting with the rain water, the judges' faces said it all: Oh No He DIDN'T! I thought that as well, but I also thought "Poor Kini, he lost this one!" and "Wait, this is so Alexander McQueen."
It’s inevitable that every time there is an avant-garde challenge, two words come up: Alexander McQueen. With all this talk of McQueen comparisons from the judges (“That hat is very McQueen," “The pony tail headdress is very McQueen") it is most surprising that NO ONE mentioned how VERY McQueen Sean’s paint-dripping-on-a-dress leitmotif was. I’m most surprised that Nina Garcia, the Queen of Pointing Out What Is Referential, did not call it out. Sean’s vision has been done before, and to a much more stunning effect. Google "Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 1999 robots spray painting model Shalom Harlow" and you’ll see. With that off of my FASHION chest, I do think that Sean's creation was still quite a "moment," and as we know nothing in fashion is new. He did put quite an exciting twist on the theme. Who should win? I'm with Heidi and Caitlin Fitzgerald: It should be Kini. The judges are torn and therefore both Kini and Sean are the winners.
The Bottom: I now wish that Korina had gone all "Miss Oregon USA costume" because her thunderbird creation was lacking thunder and bird; it was amateur crafty and seemed like an unfinished cheap Halloween costume. However, it was obvious that Fade was the one to go. His struggles through this episode were painful to watch and his design was anything but avant-garde, inspirational or transformative. Maybe instead of "Play," he should have created an "Auf Wiedersehen" button. In the end, Tim announced that this was the "Best runway ever!" While Kini's umbrella gown and Sean's McQueen-like paint dress were top notch, I feel like the "rainway" was the real star of this episode and disguised a few clunkers on the runway. Maybe Tim should have said "This is the best staging of a runway show ever!" What do you guys think?
When last week’s episode ended, there was a preview of what was to come. I guessed two things (along with most of America): Char was going to come back and there was going to be a THIRD evening wear challenge. I was right on both counts. As this week's episode begins, the runway is packed with display cases featuring millions of dollars of jewels. Tim announces, along with Chopard’s Co-President and Artistic Director Caroline Scheufele, that this is the Chopard challenge: to create an extravagant evening look inspired by the jewelry.
When Tim finished his introduction of the challenge, I scratched my head thinking, “Another evening wear challenge?” Nobody loves formalwear more than me, but even I think focusing three challenges out of seven on evening wear is a lot. I also don't really understand why a luxury brand like Chopard would pay to brand itself within one of the show’s challenges. The Lifetime and “Project Runway” viewing market is not the Chopard market. It’s not a cut-down, it’s just true; I venture to guess that 99.8% of the viewers (including yours truly) cannot afford a $2 million Chopard diamond necklace or a $200,000 diamond watch. If this was “Project Runway Monaco” or “Project Runway St. Tropez," then I’d understand.
Time for Char! Soon after the challenge is given to the designers, we see Tim Gunn looking distraught as he says in voiceover that “Something is weighing heavily...and it’s kept me up all night." He walks back into the workroom, holding back tears, while bringing in last week’s auf'ed designer, Char. Tim subsequently announces that he has decided to use his Tim Gunn Save on her. While everyone is happy to see Char back, Kini acknowledges what I’m thinking: No More Saves, Y’all!
I'm not quite sure why Tim would feel so inclined to use his all-important Tim Gunn Save on Char. She’s a lovely person but Char has never won a challenge, and so far, she has been in the middle or bottom. And why use the Save so soon into the show, only halfway through the season. Personally, I feel that there are other designers -- Sean, Kini, heck even Sandhya -- who might have a really bad design day and be eliminated and could therefore be better served by Tim’s save.
With Char back, Tim also announces that it’s time for a field trip. He takes the designers to the “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” Met exhibition. I went to this exhibition recently and it was extraordinary. I was moved, shaken and almost had an outer body experience seeing the glorious gowns and architecturally stunning coats. They were all technical masterpieces. Besides paying tribute to Charles James and his work, it is a necessary visit for an education in the importance of harmonious marriage between draping, pattern making, and design, as well as how not to die penniless (P.S.: Always have a business partner!). If anyone still questions if fashion can be considered art, go see this exhibition.
Back in the workroom, the designers get started. Sean and Samantha are concerned because they’ve both chosen similar navy blue fabric. I never understand this anxiety when "Project Runway" designers are using the same color; half the time on the show we have many designers using BLACK and no one ever seems worried about that! In addition to her navy blue fixation, Samantha keeps saying how she’s never done an evening gown. I want to yell at her from the TV screen and tell her that evening wear doesn’t have to mean a GOWN. Especially for her, being a separates/sportswear designer -- why not do a pair of directional silk satin drop crotch pants with a luxe boyfriend jacket? What would Olivier Rousteing of Balmain do? Since Samantha admits that making a gown isn’t her forte, why do it?
I’m also worried for Kini and the construction problems he is having. And then there is Korina: She buys this stunning Native American/Southwest printed upholstery fabric and decides to ruin it by putting seams that break the beauty of the entire print. Amanda is making a jumpsuit and sheer organza coat. I’m not sure about it, but at least she’s stepping outside the box and not doing a gown (pay attention Samantha!). I’m intrigued by what Alexander is doing; it could be a Vivienne Westwood-like moment, but I fear he’s not really design- and construction-ready for the gala “primetime." Sean seems fine and same goes for Emily, Fade and Sandhya, whom we’ve barely seen throughout the episode (always a sign they will be okay).
Heidi, Zac and Chopard Diva are ready to judge, along with Nina, who is featuring a new accessory: a cast on her foot. The looks come out and naturally the designers who weren't really featured in the episode are safe. Now, my favorites: Korina’s look is STUNNING. Thank goodness she saved the coat and its bold and gorgeous print; it’s a showstopper and as Zac correctly pointed out, very Deeda Blair. I might add Nan Kempner as well; society heiress at a gala fundraiser! Sean’s navy gown was elegant. His model looked like an actress at the Cannes Film Festival. For me it was between Korina and Sean. But for some reason, the judges also loved Amanda’s look. I did not. Inexplicably, Nina was gushing on and on about it. By now, I surmised her pain medication was kicking in and she was in a design haze, perhaps. The judges kept saying that it was something they’d “never seen before." Really? A stretch jumpsuit and sheer organza housecoat? Never? In the end, they came to their senses and gave the top prize to Korina.
The bottom: Kini, what happened? That bustier was a hot mess. Why the neoprene and why all the boning and seaming on this stretchy fabric? He should have known better. On a positive note: Kini's design had the semblance of what a top actress would wear with the million dollar jewels, which is not what I would say for Alexander and Samantha. Nina said that Alexander design looked as if "Princess Grace got stuck in the washer spin cycle". Si! That dress was tortured, there were pins all over the place and the neckline didn't even highlight the gorgeous Chopard necklace it was inspired by. Now, yes, some of you out there might argue that the designers didn't actually have the opportunity to put the jewels on the models and therefore, they didn't know. But still, he should have measured the length of that necklace and known better. As I guessed, 22-year-old Alexander needs more time in the Design Oven. And then there was I've-Never-Done-Evening-Wear Samantha. Her dress was a prom discount special: too simple, nothing extraordinary, a big yawn. Part of me wished both Alexander and Samantha would have gone home but alas, Samantha's creation did not "shine bright like a diamond." It was time for her to say adieu. With the Tim Gunn Save now gone, we will hopefully see a renewed fight to the finish.
The subject of wedding gowns and creating them is not a foreign one to “Project Runway." Last night's episode had elements of a Throwback Thursday: Back in Season 6 the contestants had to reconstruct a divorcée's wedding gown into a new dress, and in Season 1 the designers created wedding gowns with their models as clients (how can we forget Morganza!). Now on Season 13, it’s time to revisit the Wedding Gown but with an “alternative” twist.
The episode begins quite awkwardly as Amanda and Korina are sitting in their Gotham West apartment surrounded by uncomfortable silence. It seems that Korina, out of the blue (according to Amanda), told her that she was “kind of a phony." Umm, okay. So either A) Korina is hatin’ on Amanda for winning a couple of challenges; B) Korina is just being Meany McMeany; or maybe, C) Amanda is a phony and we’re not seeing this via editing. Either way, WHO CARES? Well, soon we realize the producers sure did when they “randomly” paired them together for a challenge.
Cut to the designers arriving at Webster Music Hall. Tim Gunn and burlesque diva and lingerie designer Dita Von Teese enter arm and arm, walking down a makeshift aisle. They introduce the challenge, which is to create "alternative" wedding and reception looks for a bride. Tim says there are no rules, and advises the to unleash their creativity while making sure the looks are believable for a bride. Since the designers have to create TWO looks, it’s also a team challenge. The dreaded button bag comes out and Tim "randomly" names the couples who will be working together: Faye and Emily, Alexander and Samantha, Kini and Sean, Sandhya and Char, and of course Amanda and Korina. What were the chances that unhappy-roommate couple Amanda and Korina were going to end up working together? Very high.
After sketching and Mood time, the designer couples are back in the workroom. Sandhya and Char have chosen a highlighter-yellow fabric and tacky-looking lace and appliqué for their wedding and reception looks. The episode is barely into its first 15 minutes and you know this isn’t going to be good. Emily and Fade are going the goth route. Alexander and Samantha also got bit by the lace-and-appliqué bug. Kini and Sean are inspired by gay marriage. Finally, unhappy couple Korina and Amanda are doing a black-and-white suit and dress. Tim checks in and predictably calls Sandhya and Char out on their color choice and sloppy construction. He then spends a lot of time on Korina and Amanda, particularly discussing Korina’s lack of innovation in comparison to Amanda. To be honest, I liked both of their looks and felt that Tim was unnecessarily being too critical and too hands-on. Speaking of too hands-on, Tim told Kini and Sean that they should do a cummerbund for their tuxedo look. If I had ever done that to my designers on “Under The Gunn," Tim would have CHASED me out of the workroom -- and made sure it was all caught on camera.
There are lots of last-minute “Make it work" moments occurring prior to the runway. Korina has only made a jacket so Amanda takes on the responsibility of creating a pant, which ends up being too tight. I realize that Amanda has never worked with this particular model but does she know what adding extra seam allowance means? Sandhya and Char are a mess trying to put lipstick on two chartreuse pigs. Sean has spent the entire time making a pair of pants and has no top. Well, Kini to the rescue. He offers to make Sean's top and has it completely finished in just a few short hours. Soon it’s runway time. Joining Heidi, Zac, and Nina are Miss Von Teese and Chiara Ferragni, a fashion blogger who also goes by the name of “The Blonde Salad” and incidentally loves to enunciates every word as if she's a waitress in a Firenze restaurant.
Now, the wedding belles. First off, surprisingly (if you believe the editing and where it was all leading) unhappy couple Amanda and Korina are safe. My favorites were the creations from Kini and Kini’s “assistant” Sean. Both looks were sophisticated, chic and aspirational. I thought that Kini’s "wedding dress” looked like a couture doll and was impeccably made. Sean’s tuxedo pants were tailored perfectly and just right for a Power Fashion Lesbian. The blouse Kini made was seductive and added the right feminine touch to the pants. They were the obvious winning team. But who should win? I'm with Heidi. It should be Kini. Even Sean thought so, though he forgot to mention who made the blouse. The judges eventually gave it to Sean. I felt a little icky about Sean not giving Kini props in front of the judges, but at the same time, I understand it is a competition. He didn't want to point out his own flaws and throw himself under the bus.
The bad: Dita Von Teese and Zac thought Emily and Fade's goth gals were not-so-cute. However, I agreed with Heidi and Chiara and totally got it: I liked Emily's lace Goth Queen and loved Fade's sexy dress made from his unique fabric creation. Alexander and Samantha were also on the bottom for their oxblood lace looks; they were tacky, UBER appliquéd and honestly two seconds from a store in a mall (especially Samantha's). But without question, Char and Sandhya were the worst. Those chartreuse lace and corn-cob (thank you Alexander!) looking things were a total #FashionFail. I almost fell off the couch when Dita said that she was waiting for the "She's a lemon heiress" story: 10 Points for Dita. Both Char and Sandhya were not up to the task for this challenge. And draping, by the way, is not Sandhya's forte. Stick to fabric manipulation, darling. In the end, it was Char who went home. I loved how humble, honest and positively unassuming Char was in her exit interview. While I agree with the judges, I definitely think she has a bright future. Hopefully just not chartreuse bright!
Last week on “Project Runway" we had Red Robin, and now, it’s red carpet! This episode begins with a black SUV pulling up to the formally-known-as-Parsons building and lots of paparazzi taking photos of a celeb getting out. It’s the one-and-only Heidi Klum! She steps onto the red carpet runway, dressed in only a trench coat and high heels. Heidi tells the remaining 12 designers that she has nothing to wear. Sidebar: I doubt that, but I’ll go along for the sake of the show. She announces that the Challenge for the designers this week is to design a red carpet look for her to wear to the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.
Sidebar number two: The Creative Arts Emmys occurred last week and we saw TONS of photos of what Heidi wore, so if you are at all connected to social media, you knew who won prior to the airing of the episode. There seemed to be some sort of scheduling snafu, but I'll suspend disbelief once again. Heidi tells the designers to create something unexpected, fashion forward and fearless. Oh, and one last directive: She doesn't want to end up on a Worst Dressed List.
I have to take this time to give Heidi some props. She doesn't have to wear clothing created by "Project Runway" designers, but she has done so on many occasions. Heidi can wear any designer in the world, but she is also savvy enough to know that it is always good, in terms of promoting the "brand," to wear something from some of the many talented designers of the show. She's worn creations by "Project Runway" alumni including Christian Siriano, Kara Saun, Mondo Guerra, Rami Kashou, and I'm happy to say, myself.
Back in the workroom, Tim Gunn meets up with the designers. There are dossiers showing several past red carpet looks that La Klum has worn. Thirty minutes to sketch, $250 and a trip to Mood later, Tim reminds Mitchell that the Emmy Awards is an elegant and sophisticated event (Oh, snap!). In regard to the challenge and how important it is, Sean says "You can't BUY this kind of exposure." Well Sean, I'm here to burst your bubble and say that, actually, you can. It's called Dior on Jennifer Lawrence, Chanel on Keira Knightley, Prada on Lupita Nyong'o, and so on. But I digress.
Post-Mood, the designers begin their creations and many are having problems. There are your usual subjects saying that "They Don't Do Red Carpet" to excuse the fact that they made bad fabric choices and have construction skills that are not up to par. Heidi and Tim check in and find out who failed and who is almost done. On the latter point, it's Kini of course. Heidi also likes Sean's design. For all the rest (almost), Heidi No Likey. One designer after another becomes Klum Road Kill: Sandhya, Kristine, Mitchell, Samantha, and Korina especially. The drab green color of Korina's design reminds Heidi of a German Lodenjacke. She also does not like the fact that Korina's look has actual snakeskin. Basically, Korina is in major trouble, since that's all she's got.
Five hours until the end of the day and Heidi and Tim walk in. The designers wonder what kind of twist is next. No twist: Heidi admits to the designers that she is scared of the mess that she is seeing. After all, she has to wear the design, and it's not looking good. Time to call Donatella, French Couturier Alexandre Vauthier or...allow a Mood shopping re-do. It's decided that the designers can go back to Mood with an extra $100 to try and "Make it work" for a second time. Seven of the 12 designers go back and Lodenjacke Korina decides to get another shade of green fabric. She thinks it's more emerald-looking, however it's the dullest emerald I've ever seen. Sandhya continues to alienate herself from the rest of the designers by gathering enough money to buy $200-a-yard fabric. The smack-talk continues behind Sandhya's back but the girl certainly knows how to play the game and is NOT backing down.
All the designers who were having issues yesterday are having more issues today. Korina cannot get it together. Pre-runway, she even has the nerve to say, "Who can make a red carpet dress in five hours?!" Kini can. Oscar Garcia-Lopez of "Project Runway: Under The Gunn" can. It's runway time and judges Zac, Nina, Heidi, and Olympic medalist Lindsey Vonn are there. Not sure why American World Cup alpine ski racer Vohn is there to judge a red carpet fashion challenge, but for the 3rd time in this episode, I will just "go with the program."
My favorites were the same as the judges: Amanda, Kini and Sean. I liked Amanda's dress. The trim did look cheap but from a photo it would read "Cleopatra Fab." I was happy to see that she somehow took her hippy-dippy tarot card reader Boho aesthetic and made a nice gown. Kini's was FLAWLESS. It was elegant yet sexy and perfectly made (horsehair braid on the hem: Hello!). Sean's electric blue fringed gown was SO Heidi! It moved beautifully, was fearless and unexpected and would look great from every photo angle. Sean was the winner. But then again, anyone who had seen photos from last week's Creative Arts Emmys Red Carpet would have known that.
The bad. And they were BAD. Emily's was hoochie-licious. Too short and too girl-waiting-in-line-at-a-Vegas-DJ-party. Alexander's fishtail-front black design was neither elegant nor sophisticated. And then there was the I-can-almost-see-your-butt-cheek hemline. Yikes! Kristine's red dress was a mess. The devil-horn bustline, the rippled fit, plus the design -- it all added up to a big NO. The worst for me were Mitchell and Korina. Korina's green halter gown was so badly made and the style looked like a Mother of the Bride dress ON TRIPLE MARKDOWN. The un-sewn raw hem was amateur hour. But then there was poor Mitchell. His red satin creation reminded Nina of a Christmas ornament. I thought it was WAY too short (what happened?) and looked like it was tortured. The super-wonky back zipper was the nail in the "You're out" coffin. Yes, he was bye-bye, but so was another designer, and it wasn't Korina but Kristine, who got the second auf. So while Sean walks off with one of the biggest and most publicized wins in "Project Runway" history, the rest seem to be left shell-shocked with lots of work to do. Next week should be very interesting!
Are you hungry for high fashion? Well then this episode -- and challenge -- is for you. For Season 13 of “Project Runway” the main sponsor is Red Robin, home of “gourmet burgers." What do delicious hamburgers have to do with high fashion? This week’s episode was going to do its darnedest to somehow answer that -— or at least make sure you get hungry while watching and want to run out to your nearest Red Robin to get one of their burgers. Let's discuss the Gourmet-Burger Couture.
The beginning of this fourth episode has the remaining 13 designers thrown in vans and transported to what looks like Staten Island or New Jersey, where they arrive at a Red Robin restaurant. Kini is famished from the long ride and excited at the prospect of possibly having a breakfast burger (if there is such a thing!). No time for eating just yet, Kini: Tim Gunn is waiting, along with Jason Rusk, VP of Brand Transformation. You gotta love a good corporate title!
Jason and Tim inform the designers that Red Robin is a burger joint that "likes to look at things with a fresh perspective." Out walk 13 male models decked out in 13 different suits, from 70's leisure polyester and corduroy ensembles to "Disco Danny" looks, Prom Boy tacky tuxedos to 80's "Miami Vice" neon, and everything in between. I was thinking "Are these vintage Red Robin uniforms? What's the tie-in?" Nope, they were not. Red Robin Jason and double breasted Tim announce that the challenge is to transform these "classic suits" into high fashion, using the fabrics of these suits as a prominent part of the final runway look. Wait, no burger influence?! No Red Robin uniform re-do!? I'm confused. Moving on...
Of all the designers, Miss Unpopular and two-time-winner Sandhya gets to choose which tacky -- I mean “classic” -- suit is her inspiration first, and then pick suits for the rest of the 12 designers. Some are okay with what they were given and lots of them are not. Amanda, Hernan and Mitchell are complaining; they're not happy suit campers. Hernan especially thinks Sandhya gave him his tacky suit as "payback" for being mean to her during the team challenge and begins to use the B-word over and over and over again when talking about her. The women in his life watching this should be proud. Not.
Post Mood-shopping, the designers are in their workroom as Tim does his check-in. Kini is almost done. He is clearly the new Oscar from “Under The Gunn." Seriously. Mean Girl Korina and Kristine are both doing motorcycle jackets and Korina is NOT HAPPY (naturally). Alexander is worried that he's trying too hard and New Zealand Sean is deconstructing his '70s camel-colored corduroy suit and making what looks like more of a deconstructed mess. Sandhya chose the "Miami Vice" look and of course, she's doing a "Sandhya" and creating a colorful original-looking design. She mentions to Tim that she's inspired by a poster at the Red Robin restaurant with a tagline "Is there ketchup in my moustache?" She's stenciling mustaches into her design. While part of me thinks it's a bit cartoony, I'm also thinking "Just let her do what she does!" Finally, Hernan seems to be on a downward spiral, having major issues creating his look and still blaming Sandhya for all of them (and yes, more nasty uses of the B-word). To cap his horrible workroom day, during the model fittings Hernan doesn't even have anything for his model to try on. Ayy, dios mio!
It's Runway Day and issue-riddled Hernan decides to cut his hem and leave it raw and tack-i-licious. And speaking of raw...Sean's deconstructed look is getting a new top that he thinks will improve his not-so-cute look. Kini is still more than done (he was done the day before). Hopefully he’s enjoying a Red Robin burger with egg at the catering table. Judges Zac, Nina, Heidi as well as "YouTube Sensation" Bethany Mota are there. P.S.: I am really, really old when I don't understand that being a "YouTube Sensation" is a major plus in someone's Curriculum Vitae and worthy of a guest judge position on "Project Runway." welcome to the new world of Social Media Famous. Onto the designs.
I like Korina's red moto-jacket chic suit look; it's better than Kristine's. I also like Sandhya's mustache-stenciled colorful ensemble. It's original and very consistent with her design aesthetic. Kini's is PERFECTION: That structured shouldered pin-stripe dress is EVERYTHING. The way he transformed that boxy menswear suit into a high fashion design, the mitered stripes -- the entire look screams "Winner!" Now, let’s discuss Amanda: I wasn't a fan. I get the whole "transformative" boho-hippy/dippy vibe but her dress was not my taste and seemed more Stevie Nicks-meets-Janis Joplin than high fashion. With that said, the minute it walked down the runway, it screamed "Heidi Klum will love it!" And she did. If you are a true fan of “Project Runway” and have watched all 13 seasons, you know that if Heidi wants it...done and done! I would have chosen Kini but hey, that's just me.
The Bottom: Sean's deconstructed look was not inspiring, transformational or high fashion. I get the whole raw-edge shredded thing but it’s neither new nor original. Been there done that. In addition, Nina was correct when she said that it looked very "orthopedic" and that the top seemed like a post-breast surgery bandage. His design was BAD, but not as bad as Hernan's. Hernan's design looked tortured, amateur and almost vulgar; the gigantic "V" placed below the waist torso did scream "Super V-Jay-Jay." It was tacky, had fit issues and was obviously the worst. I wanted to send him home just for treating Sandhya with such disrespect. He was already eliminated but still had to get in one more jab, not at Sandhya but this time to the judges. Que classy? Not! Now, is it FINALLY time to get a Red Robin BURGER? I’m stylishly famished!
1994. Part of me doesn’t want to admit that I actually remember 1994 and that I was already a just-graduated-from-college 20-something. Unfortunately, there are photos to prove that I was not only an adult but that I wore oversized blousy shirts, had a Caesar haircut and goatee, and loved boxy Nehru-collared suits. What got me strolling down Fashion Memory Lane was of course this week’s “Project Runway,” which involved 1994 and the future. If you think that the future in terms of fashion will be inspirational, exciting and innovative...keep reading. Let's hope that at least there will be no blousy shirts, Caesar haircuts and goatees involved.
Flanked by photos of supermodels on the cover of past Marie Claire magazines, Tim Gunn and Editor-in-Chief Anne Fulenwider announce that the magazine is celebrating its 20th anniversary and that this week’s challenge is to create a look inspired by the past, but for 20 years in the future in 2034. “What does the future of fashion look like filtered through your design aesthetic?” asks Tim. Before the designers can ponder the thought, it’s time to go on their first trip to Mood!
Post-Mood shopping, the designers arrive in the workroom to see old photos of themselves on the wall showing how they looked in 1994. Realizing that some of the designers are so young, I wondered if any of them had been born yet. I'm happy to say that the answer is “yes” and therefore my thoughts of feeling like an old grandpa subsided. Yes, some were barely walking (Alexander was 2!) but then there was Emily who by the looks of it was a smokin’ HOT music video model back in the day. P.S.: Do people still say “smokin’”? I doubt it. So 1994 of me.
The designers are busy working on their retro-future fashions as Tim does his check-in. Sean sees a cluttered future so he wants to go the minimalist route. Tim thinks it might be chic and sophisticated. Personally, I’m bored and despondent just looking at it. Habitually depressed Angela is inspired by her Wall Street past and is looking to update corporate style for 2034 -- with a jacket, and that’s it. Ripped-jean aficionado Mitchell sees the future as wet (since where he lives will probably be underwater by 2034!) and is going scuba, but as Tim points out, it’s looking like a figure skating costume. Sandhya wants her woman of the future to be a strong, stylish Recyclable Queen. Tim is concerned, but I’m intrigued. Finally, Alexander, who is inspired by an Afghan blanket his mom wrapped him in as a child, is trying to make a dress using tweed fabric plus a leather top. He’s having issues with the top and Tim is happy to point out each and every problem: puckering, gaping, leather stretching. During the model fittings, Alexander realizes that he now has one more issue to deal with: a “uni-boob” top. Time to scrap the entire thing, darlin’.
Heidi, Zac, Nina, Tim and Anne Fulenwider are present as well as photographer, Lifetime show host, and former wife of Duran Duran’s John Taylor, Amanda de Cadenet. The 1994-2034 runway designs were a mixed bag to say the least; lots of drab and sad, some questionable designs, and happily, a couple of shining moments.
The good: I loved Mitchell’s scuba diva. The colors were great, especially among all the dull-colored outfits from the other designers. I just wished his seams matched. Samantha's vest/a-line skirt/turtleneck "Backpack Girl" was cute (Samantha could be a silent threat!) and Emily's "Ewok" hooded and jumsuited diva was powerful, mysterious and sexy; very "Mata Hari 2034." Kudos to her model for stomping it on the runway like the rent was due. My favorite was Sandhya's by far. I loved her explanation that "Strong women don't have to wear menswear-inspired fashion." Her design was editorial, exciting and futuristic but with the right touch of couture in her hand-done metallic detail work. Queen Amidala has just arrived. Sandhya won (Yeah!). The look on Korina's face after finding out who won was priceless. It should be played on a loop over and over again. Seriously.
My not-so-faves: Kristine’s olive neoprene coat with slashed sleeves was too "Matrix" costume-y. Hernan’s black cocktail-to-gown concoction was two seconds from looking like a future hooker. Fade made a female version of himself at a cruise ship’s all-you-can-eat buffet. Korina: What. Are. Those. Pants? Sean and Alexander: Please don’t let me live until 2034. Not surprisingly these two were at the bottom, along with Angela. I honestly thought it was between the boys. Sean's look was sewn poorly, he made bad fabric choices and that hat should have stayed a Mood bag. And when "Meana" Garcia tells you that your look reminds her of "Planet of the Apes," you know you are in big trouble; Alexander really should have gone home for that raw hem, homeless-looking blanket fabric dress.
But nope, it was Angela. Angela wanted to design a vision for a Corporate Woman of 2034, but by the looks of it, Wall Street executives will be serving warm nuts and hot towels in the future. And then there were the construction issues. She should have admitted that the pleating detail at the hem was a mistake; I'm sure she thought the sweep (at the hem) was too much and figured, "Let me take it in...oh yeah, I'll put a pleat on each side." I think she went home not because of her design, but more because of what the producers -- and Tim -- were thinking: This environment is not right for the very neurotic and depressed Angela. So while Angela is off being debriefed by the staff psychologist, it's on to the next challenge, with Sean and Alexander lucky to be saved and Sandyha riding high with her second win!
Lights! Camera! Fashion! Time for the first (I assume there will be more) unconventional challenge of Season 13. And this one involves both film and fashion. So, kids, it's time to microwave some popcorn, sit back and let the DRAMA -- and fun creations -- unfold!
The episode begins with the 15 remaining designers waking up in their Gotham West pied-à-terre, finding a tub of popcorn, 3D glasses, plus an invitation to a private screening at a Manhattan movie theater. The designers then head to the Village East Cinema, where they sit down to watch a supposed fashion movie trailer...until it is quickly interrupted by Tim Gunn. Tim announces that instead of a fun Movie Day, it’s time for the unconventional challenge: to create a look incorporating their “Movie Experience” by using materials found in a movie theater, from camera and lighting supplies, art department props, costume and wardrobe, to even the concession items. The designers seem pretty excited until Tim tells them that they are to work in teams: Silver Team (Korina, Kristine, Amanda), Purple Team (Char, Kini, Mitchell), Green Team (Emily, Alexander, Samantha), Red Team (Hernan, Carrie, Sandhya), and Blue Team (Angela, Fade, Sean). Each team is to create a cohesive mini collection.
Any time there is a challenge involving teams there is bound to be harmonious teams and one or two discordant ones. Most of the groups are getting along and working together for a cohesive end goal, save for two. First, always-mousy, continually-depressed Angela is making her Blue Team members worry over her lack of team spirit and her disinterest in going the same inspiration route as them. I’m concerned for her, too: it’s only the second challenge -- and probably only the third day into filming in “real time” -- and Angela seems ready to snap if anyone yells “Boo!” Why do these types of people go on this kind of show? Moving on.
The second unharmonious team involves last week's winner (and this season’s Miss Unpopular) Sandhya. We know this: None of the designers think highly of her, and most believe she shouldn’t even be there. Naturally, there was going to be trouble within the team she was on. In the workroom, team members Carrie and Hernan belittle Sandyha’s creation, causing her grief. She summons Tim Gunn for a “Tim Therapy” session. When Sandhya tells Tim how she is being treated by her team members, his first response of “Oh Dear!” says it all (“Oh Dear” as in “Oh Dear! Here we go again!”). However, after some positive words from Tim, Sandhya gets the impetus to join her team and do whatever Bossy Hernan and Bossy Jr. Carrie want, so they can at least stop berating her.
Clever editing (kudos!) during the workroom scenes in the lead-up to the runway show leads me to believe that the Silver Team (Korina, Kristine and Amanda) will be in the bottom (seriously, what the heck is Amanda making!!??) and that Sandhya’s team finally gets their act together and they’re going to be all good. If I was a gambler, I would have bet money.
Nina, Heidi, Zac, Tim, and French fashion blogger/photographer/illustrator Garance Doré are on hand to judge away. One team would be on top and one on the bottom, with one designer from each getting the Best or Worst honors respectively. The designs come out and all in all, it’s a pretty fabulous display of creativity, innovative designs, and original use of unconventional materials. Highlights: I LOVE Sean’s coat made out of drinking straws; it certainly is one of the best. Unfortunately because of mousy-and-depressed Angela’s uncreative design, Sean will have to wait for another challenge to get any top honors. I also liked the Galactic-Barbie-at-a-Katy Perry-Concert dresses from the Purple Team (Char, Kini and Mitchell). They were fun and really made me smile (if that’s worth anything!). Green Team’s designs were quite good, I thought, particularly Samantha’s CD top and film skirt. Neither of these teams made the top. Surprisingly, it was the Silver Team of Korina, Kristine and Amanda that got the top spot (I just lost some money!). Heidi praised their designs for being original, cohesive, and “really, really special." I agree on looking cohesive (the base color of neon green helped) but design and construction-wise, they looked like craft projects. I just didn’t get it. And then Amanda won? Now I am really scratching my head because I thought hers was one of the worst (along with Angela's).
The bottom was the Red Team. Poor Sandhya -- she is not gaining any additional friends in the workroom after this one. Her design was deemed the worst, but since she won last week, she is safe, therefore it's either Hernan or Carrie to be auf’ed. Now, I must confess something: I liked their designs. I liked how they used the film and made the fabric look as if it was sequined paillettes. I agree that the dresses looked alike (because of the fabrication) but I honestly felt the judges were exaggerating in saying that they ALL looked the same. There were 3 different shapes, necklines, lengths. Hernan did basically run the team's show and made his other team members design for his mini-collection. But to me, they were nice and cohesive. I kind of understand how both Hernan and Carrie were up on the runway scratching their heads. But what I didn’t understand was that they actually verbalized it to the judges. The judges didn’t like that AT ALL. Neither Heidi, Zac, Nina nor Miss French Blogger was in any mood to hear it -- and especially from Carrie. Therefore it was “The End” for Carrie’s brief fashion and film career.
Back in the “covered wagon days” when I was a contestant on Season 2 of "Project Runway," neither I --nor Heidi, Tim, and company -- would have ever imagined the show would continue on for eleven more seasons. Yet here we are! All these years later with a new season, new designers and undoubtbly new drama. So let’s see who was lucky or unlucky during this premiere episode of "Project Runway" Season 13.
The episode begins with 18 designers arriving in NYC for one final audition where judges Nina Garcia, Zac Posen and Heidi Klum will get to whittle them down to 15. After the audition, Heidi waves auf wiedersehen to three of the 18 who will have to pack their bags and go home...or be sequestered into an undisclosed location until further notice.
As in any premiere episode of a reality competition show, we get a quick get-to-know-you glimpse of each of the contestants, featuring soundbites from all the designers and judges. The new cast of "characters" is revealed and solidifies very early on who each person is supposed to be: Char, a single mom from Detroit, is self-taught; mousy, quiet Angela from L.A. used to work at an investment bank; Jefferson is fresh from school and used to be a hip-hop dancer; Mitchell is from Ft. Lauderdale and dresses as if he’s going to a Fire Island Bar-B-Q as opposed to an audition interview with Nina, Heidi and Zac; Kini is the bleach-blond guy from Hawaii; Carrie’s designs are considered referential and very Rick Owens; Fade is the "kooky" German who probably wears fanny packs while vacationing; India-born Sandhya had an arranged marriage and has a "definite point of view" (read: she’s the "creative" one); and Hernan is the Latino designer with the questionable taste level according to Miss Nina. Oh, and every other designer seems to reside in Brooklyn (!!??). On a side note: For the last 11 seasons, besides recapping the show, I’ve also had the pleasure of judging the casting/auditions, and this season was no exception. I was happy to see several of the designers I saw (and liked) at the L.A. auditions -- including Kini, Carrie, and Angela -- make it through!
The following day, the 15 designers find out what their first challenge is, as well as the identity of the one final designer who will join them. Last season, this Runway Redemption designer arrived to much flourish disembarking from a plane. This season, not so much. Season 11 designer Amanda Valentine (the sister of a member of Maroon 5, we are reminded), just walks into the workroom like another day at the park. Now, onto the challenge. Since the Grand Prize for the Winning Designer (and the eight runners-up) is to show a spring collection at Fashion Week, this first challenge involves creating a spring look from the fabrics that are inside 16 individual black trunks (five different kinds of fabric in three-yard cuts). The challenge is to give the judges a glimpse of what their collections might look like. And they have one day to do it.
During the workroom time, we get a good view of where the season might take us in terms of the designers and who's who. Already we get hints that Korina (one of the Brooklynites) will be the token not-so-nice one (rhymes with witch); flip-flop boy Mitchell is her Best Gay and “Peanut Gallery” co-gossiper; and (almost) everyone thinks Sandhya’s point of view is tacky and she shouldn’t be there. It may be too soon for me to make this prediction but I have a feeling that in Sandhya we have a new Natalia (from "Under The Gunn") or Patricia Michaels (from Season 11). This classic archetype is praised for creativity but hated by her co-designers.
Before we get to the Runway, Heidi announces the Season 13 prize package worth over $300,000: $100,000 from Red Robin, the opportunity to design an accessory for the Red Robin servers (a fabulous fascinator hat and apron, perhaps?), a fashion spread in Marie Claire, Aldo shoes and accessories, Samsung home entertainment, Mary Kay beauty products, Brother sewing studio, and Best Western travel and hotel accommodations to “fashion capitals and other inspiring destinations." Oh yeah, and a Lexus (cough, cough). Moving on...
Judges Heidi, Nina and Zac as well as “Modern Family” actress Julie Bowen are on hand for the first runway show. And mentor Tim is back in his side role to possibly save a designer whom the judges vote out (he gets one "Tim Save" per season). The runway show can be summed up in one word: meh! While a couple did stand out for me, there were some definite clunkers and for the most part everything was a 5 out of 10. I did like Korina’s coral-colored halter jumpsuit. I thought it was chic, slightly edgy and very "Runway," but she didn’t even make the “best” cut (and she was NOT AMUSED, as we saw from her stink face). Carrie’s was also one of my favorites (she also didn’t make the judges’ top). Instead, Amanda, Char and Natalia -- oops, I mean Sandhya -- were the favorites. Amanda and Char’s designs were praised for their construction but it was Sandhya’s creative, albeit not-so-well-made design that won. If there’s a rule on “Project Runway”, it's that creative designs almost always trump the need for good construction. Personally, my favorite was Char's. Her mix of draped and tailored fabrics with the colors really was a strong spring look.
I agreed totally with the judges in regards to the designers on the bottom: Angela’s pants with peek-a-boo side slits and asymmetrical top were a disjointed mess. The pants in particular affected Nina and Tim deeply: Nina called the pants’ slits "sluts" and Tim wondered out loud if Angela’s pants came with "a gift certificate for a Brazilian." Ouch. And then there was Jefferson. Nina -- who’s ON FIRE with the zingers -- said very slowly and deliberately, “W.T.F.” to his top-and-shorts look and called them "a bib" and "big diapers." She was completely right. Jefferson was out, and mousy Angela was in. And (almost) everyone was in shock at Sandhya winning. Get ready kids, because this season looks like it’s going to be another emotional, catty, kooky catwalk ride!