Thursdays at 9/8c
Nick Verreos Blog
Category: "episode 3"
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!
Last week on "Project Runway," Kate won with her Vivienne Westwood-looking gown, which best showcased the million-dollar jewels; Helen couldn't make bust cups and cried; Sue couldn't thread a bobbin; Sandro continued being a Diva 2.0; and unicorn-loving Timothy went dumpster diving for fabric at Mood. Oh, and Kahindo was out for a dress deemed too "on sale." After revisiting last week's episode, I now have to question the judges' decision since there were so many others that were more "off-the-rack" looking, and certainly worse in terms of construction (hello extended-bust Karen!). With that all in the pot, let's discuss this week's "light and frothy" challenge that turned out to be nothing but drama, drama, drama.
Klum Wake-Up Call
For some reason, Heidi wakes the designers up at 5:30 a.m. in their Refinery Hotel rooms. A) I can't believe they got Miss Heidi up that early for this scene, and B) What sense did it make since we subsequently found out that she wasn't even part of the challenge announcement, which occurred hours later? Moving on. After their early-morning wake-up call, the designers head over to the Coney Island Boardwalk, where they are greeted by Tim Gunn and Dave Smetter, VP of Marketing Communications for Yoplait Frozen Yogurt.
Not-So-Sweet Yoplait Teams
The designers have to give out Yoplait Frozen Yogurt samples to passersby, collect descriptive words from the yogurt-tasters describing their tasting experience, and then choose three of those descriptive words to inspire their runway creations. Designers will be paired up in teams of two. Welcome to the FIRST team challenge. Poor Miss Kate, who just got off an entire season of team challenges, is not too happy. Tim draws names from the dreaded Button Bag (which is, as we all know, pre-"scripted"). Alexander is with Justin; Jeremy with Ken; Bradon and Karen; Dom and Alexandria; Kate with Helen (as you recall, Helen called her the b-word in the first episode, so naturally they're partnered together); Sandro and Sue; and yes, the "Milwaukee Twosome," Miranda and Timothy.
There is no Mood shopping. Instead the designers are to play games at the Luna Park amusement park; the prizes they win will be their materials for the challenge. So not only is this a team challenge, but only three episodes into the season it's their second unconventional challenge. Naturally, the producers (I assume) somehow got a hold of a big overstuffed unicorn and planted it just so Timothy could win it, bless his gentle unicorn-loving heart. And he does. Back at Parsons, all the designers are gutting their stuffed toy winnings, tearing plastic aliens and cutting through sombreros. Tim Gunn tells the designers they can create anything they want, which is pretty wide-ranging. One could go "Drag Queen on a Gay Pride Float" or "couture Fashion Week" in a hot Parsons minute. I guess that's the point.
Interestingly enough, in what one would think is a FUN challenge, there is lots of NON-FUN. Exhibit A: Team Sandro and Sue. Sandro is bossing Sue around, disrespectfully saying misogynistic statements as well as yelling at her during the design and work process, barking orders like he is General Patton-ovsky. Eventually Sue realizes that she shouldn't even try and deal with him in a level-headed manner, giving in and becoming his assistant and doing as she is told. He actually says, "When woman listens to a man, it's so cool." Um, is this 1961?!
Exhibit B: Meanwhile, Team Timothy and Miranda are doing their best remake of "War of the Roses." These two have sort of a history (is the Milwaukee design world that small?), and they are acting like a divorced couple that's been forced to get back together. Predictably, it isn't working out. First off, I've dismissed Timothy as a bit of an attention- and camera-loving looneytoon, with his unsustainable sustainable talk and curious love of unicorns. But this episode has enlightened me in thinking that he is just young, with a very fragile inner soul that needs to be handled with great care, like an abandoned dog at a rescue shelter. This is all too obvious when he exits the workroom--with his trusty stuffed unicorn--to read an endearing note his model gave him.
Mean Girl Miranda
In the workroom and sewing room, Miranda belittles Timothy the entire time, saying he's "no good...he sucks...he's a nightmare." All the while, poor Timothy is standing ten feet away listening to it all. While most of the other designers are nervously laughing, I as a viewer was feeling pretty bad for him. As kooky as he is, you get the sense Miranda didn't need to go there, and not so publicly. The day of the runway show, Miranda has an I-should-not-be-so-mean-to-Timothy epiphany and apologizes to him. Did it take her a good night's rest to realize her "Mean Girls" actions wouldn't look so good on TV when the show aired?
The Runway Good
Guest judge Kelly Osbourne is there to survey the Luna Park frocks. I LOVE both Alexandria and Dom's and Kate and Helen's designs. Alexandria and Dom's look is made of stuffed frogs, monsters, and ice cream cones. Immediately, when the model steps onto the runway, it makes me smile. It's very Agatha Ruiz de la Prada (Spanish designer) with elements of Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. Alexandria works with little kids in her "Camp Couture" so I am sure she had a lot of influence on the final super-fun look of this design. Kate and Helen's strapless structured creation is made of red sombreros, kites and a stuffed monkey. I agreed with Nina Garcia when she said that it was "a high-fashion moment." It looks like it came straight off of a Jean Paul Gaultier Couture runway. Kate graciously bestows the "Who out of the two should win" title to Helen, which I'm sure made Helen feel doubly worse for calling Kate a you-know-what on the first day.
Ratchet Plastic and Sinking Titanic Dress
According to the judges, the worst designs are Alexander and Justin's, as well as (naturally) Miranda and Timothy's. Well, I have to disagree: I think that General Sandro Patton-ovsky and Sue's creation should have been in the bottom instead of Miranda and Timothy's. Sandro/Sue's design is much more of a mess. It's just SO plastic. Did you see Nina's face when Sandro and Sue's look came out? That design is one hot ratchet mess. But somehow, they are safe. Alexander and Justin's design does deserve to be on the bottom. It looks like a mermaid costume created for a high school play. I expected better, especially from Alexander, who does Broadway costumes and drag. He should have won this one. Now, onto the War of the Milwaukee Twosome. Heidi feels it's boring (it is) and the rest of the judges compare it to a "deflated pool toy." When he's asked about their creation, Timothy goes on some bizarro story about the Titanic needing life boats. It's finally his time to take his stuffed Unicorn, model's note, and tools and go back to Sustainable Unicorn Land.
Did you feel bad for Timothy and how Miranda treated him? Are you still glad to see him go? Did you feel it was inappropriate for Sandro to be bullying Sue and are you sick of his diva antics? Would love to read your thoughts. Until then, stay tuned, as there looks to be even more Drama Drama Drama next week!
This episode should have been sponsored by Kleenex and Klonopin. Seriously. Every other contestant on both the Dream Team and Team Keeping It Real was either crying or freaking out to the camera describing the need for validation or a gold star for "making it." Only three challenges in (about a week in real-time filming) and yep, it’s Stress Nation up in "Project Runway" Land. Why are these kids so stressed? Because it’s a "Heidi Klum Challenge" of course!
Four Time's a Charm
For the fourth time in 11 seasons, it’s "Heidi Time"...again! In Season 7, the designers had to create a red carpet look for Miss Klum; Season 8 was when the contestants had to create designs for Heidi’s New Balance active wear line; last season (10) had the designers creating outfits for Heidi’s Babies"R"Us line of children's wear.
Smells Like a Gorgeous German Model
As the designers stand in front of pink boxes wrapped in black ribbon and spice-and-fruit baskets, Tim announces that, it's time for another Heidi Klum Challenge. She is launching a new fragrance, entitled "Surprise" and needs outfits to wear for the launch campaign. The challenge for each team is to create six looks for her and she will pick two winning outfits-one for the commercial and one for the launch press event.
Heidi specifies that they should follow the colors of the packaging (pink, black and gold) and the designs should mix femininity with something "hard." It should look good from all angles and be sexy NOT slutty. Sounds easy enough (Well, at least for me). Give me an actress, singer and I know what styles from my collection would work best for them. In terms of Heidi, I’ve been lucky enough to have had her wear not one but two of my designsin an appearance on the Conan O’Brien show and on Season 7 "Project Runway" while she was preggersso it was interesting to see what these designers were going to come up with.
Let the Kitten Sweaters Go
Consulting, sketching, Mood shopping and divvying up of duties follow. As it’s become the norm now, some designers take entire outfits individually and some work in twos. I was a bit frightened for Team Keeping It Real's Amanda and Joe since her design aesthetic is more structured while his consists of sweaters with kittens. When questioned on his design direction and warned that it may end up on "What Not To Wear," he said he’d be proud of that. I almost wanted to slap his glasses off his face and yell, "Well darling, THIS IS NOT THAT Challenge!" Luckily, he came to his senses and realized that this was the time to let go of his "Kitten Sweater Designer Ego."
Brazilian Doubts, Matthew Boring and Aussie Crashing
Layana and her partner Kate seem to be going back and forth on the direction and color scheme of their design. Layana decides to use her quiet voice loudly and emotionally admits her discomfort with their design in front of Tim Gunn. Matthew, who told Tim back at Mood that he’s not a "dressmaker" (Umm, time to be one huney!), is also stressed because he sees his fetish-inspired design as boring. Patricia is coming to terms that her original, but time consuming, leather design might make her have an unfinished dress when it's runway time. Aussie Ben is having emotional and design breakdowns, or as Momma Cindy said, "Crashing and burning." He tearfully admits to camera that he had just ended an abusive relationship and was emotionally drained. Here's some too late advice Benny darlin': this may not have been the best time to do an UBER-stressful COMPETITIVE REALITY SHOW!
Team Keeping It Real: Red Carpet Fab, Vegas Girls...and Pooping Ruffles
Many Kleenexesand anti-anxiety pill-popping laterit's runway show time. Guest judge actress Kristin Davis is ready to help decide what Heidi will wear for her "Surprise" commercial and press launch. Team Keeping It Real was up first. Daniel's nude jersey gown is a stunner, very red carpet-ready and well-done. There were some wonky-looking front and back mini-pleats I didn’t understand, but overall: Heidi fab. Patricia's was very flapper girl Prada-on-a-budget and I could see Heidi wearing it. She is known to do "kooky." Amanda and Joe’s black lattice-work dress was OK, but had no "PR launch" appeal whatsoever. Good for a cute girl going out to a Vegas nightclub. Richard's pooping ruffle dress was a HOT MESS. What was he thinking? Stanley’s was over-accessorized and looked like something Carol Burnett might have worn in the 80s. Those two were the bad (design) apples in an otherwise good team.
Dream Team: Hot gowns, Bunny Dominatrix and Iridescent 1992 Shantung
Dream Team was next. Michelle's short tunic dress with studded detail was cute enough for a New Year’s Eve house party, but not for a Heidi Klum fragrance ad campaign. Come on designers, do you understand the challenge? Tu did a directional black gown with a gold exposed back zipper; now that’s better. Samantha's black and illusion gown with a structured shoulder was HOT and very Stephane Rolland-esque. I likey. Matthew's too-short leather mini dress was bad Hoochie Dominatrix Playboy Bunny. Again, do you know who your client is? Cindy did an iridescent shantung (looked like taffeta to me, which doesn't make it any better) dress with a keyhole front neckline. The dress was average at best, but there was certainly nothing fashion forward about it. Oh, and then there was that fabric. Iridescent shantung. Those two words scream 1992. Finally, there was "I Need a Klonopin Benjamin." His mess of a gown was inexcusable. It seems his gown broke down around the same time he did. Benjamin is better than that. I just know it.
Three For Three
Team Keeping It Real got the highest votes and won. For the third time in a row. Pink-hatin' Layana and her team mate Kate won for their gown, with Kate getting the top individual prize. Daniel won the press event prize for his nude jersey and black leather trimmed "Bond Girl" gown. He, of course, got all emotional with a "I've worked so hard, and deserve this" validation interview. While it was heartfelt, it almost seemed slightly angry and bitter as well. Maybe it was just me...
Shipwrecked and Iridescent Adieu
The worst were Benjamin (quelle surprise!) with a dress that Nina deemed as "probably the worst construction" in "Project Runway" history. Didn't she say that about Emily's dress two challenges ago? Boy, this season's worst must be really bad. Nina also added that she thought Benjamin's model looked shipwrecked. Ouch. But it was Cindy who went home for her iridescent shantung non-creative dress. I am not sure what happened here. Maybe the judgesand especially Heidithought that while Ben's design was crude and tragic, it wasn't dated. Cindy's was finished, but it might have been about a decade behind in its styling and fabrication-choice. Now, the only question I have is will we actually see Kate and Daniel's Dresses on Heidi? Stay tuned.
We knew it was going to be a KRAZEE episode the minute Tim Gunn said that this was a "Team Challenge." No One. I reiterate, NO ONE, likes the Team Challenges on "Project Runway" (except the viewers). The challenge this week? To create a red carpet look that is to be worn at the Emmys in September. Lest you forget, our little ol' show is nominated this year! This challenge was also dubbed the "LEXUS Team Challenge" because the designers also had to incorporate the colors of the new LEXUS GS cars (the automobile sponsor) into their red carpet creations. I almost wished they had to make these looks out of actual LEXUS car parts! But oh wait, I think that's already been done...Red Carpet Sacrificial Lambs
Seven Teams of two were created Christopher/Andrea, Sonjia/Nathan, Elena/Buffi, Ven/Fabio, Gunnar/Kooan, Alicia/Raul and Dmitry/Melissa. Now, who would these teams be designing Emmys red carpet creations for? Heidi? Nina? Sofia Vergara?! Nope, darlings. Remember the debacle years ago when Season 1 Winner Jay McCarroll created La Klum a gown for the Emmys and she ended up not wearing it? (Oops). And the mess Wendy Pepper made for Nancy O'Dell to wear to the Grammy's as a result of a challenge she won? Yeah, in other words, not such a good history of these collaborations. So, instead, the show brought back seven past Runway contestants and winners Season 9 Winner Anya, Season 6 Winner Irina, Laura Bennett, Kenley, Mila, April Johnston and Valerie Mayen (who?) to be the Red Carpet Sacrificial Lambs ... I mean clients.Time Complainer, Hissy Fits, Ironing Assistants
Team Elena/Buffi got Laura Bennett as their red carpet client which immediately scared me. If Laura and those two were the last people stuck on an island, she still wouldn't choose them to make her a dress (But, alas, she has no choice). Laura is elegant Manhattan chic, while Elena is Lady Gaga futurama and Buffi is just tacky-licious. Strong-headed Elena is delegating Buffi to steaming/pressing assistant status while she's just running around stressed and panicked. She's also complaining about the lack of time they are given to make an evening dress. Really Elena? What part of "Project Runway" did you NOT understand? These kids, they slay me.Professor Christopher and Menswear Kids
Team Christopher/Andrea BA MA MFA got Anya and in a weird twist of fate, Christopher seems to be schooling Andrea on proper sewing techniques. PS: Andrea is supposed to be a fashion school instructor. Slightly embarrassing, if you ask me. Team Gunnar/Kooan were paired with Irina and Gunnar is having trouble with the fact that there can only be one bi*** in the room. Take a guess who that is. Team Alicia/Raul are assigned to Mila. They just spend their time kvetching about how they HATE doing red carpet dresses and that their "expertise" is menswear. How do you have an "expertise" when you've basically just started designing? On a good note, Dmitry and Melissa seem perfectly matched with lilac-haired Goth-girl April. Team Ven/Fabio have I-Threw-a-Cat-at-my-Boyfriend Kenley Collins, yet they seem to be working seamlessly and finally, it's all good with Team Sonjia/Nathan and client, Valerie.Where's Joan?
Day of the runway show and Heidi walks onto the runway in a perfect sequined strapless LBD with a wink and a nod almost saying, "Just in case y'all forgot what a Red Carpet Dress is supposed to look like, well, here it is ... on me!" I am prayin', hopin' and wishin' that the guest judge is Joan Rivers but it's not. Instead, it is actress Krysten Ritter, looking pretty in a black with gold piping halter-neck dress. The designs come out and Team Elena/Buffi's design for Laura Bennett isn't that bad. Is it Laura Bennett's style? Not so much but at least, it wasn't tacki-licious or futurama. Team Sonia/Nathan's gold sequin dress for Valerie had elements of being red carpet-worthy. They were smart to chose a fabric that did all the work, as opposed to Buffi and Elena wasting all that time trying to transform their fabric. But I couldn't help but think, "This dress would have worked better on Laura Bennett!" One of my faves- Team Dmitry/Melissa's silver charmeuse siren gown doesn't even make the judges Top Cut. I'm perplexed.Bridal Sale Rack or Cocktail Hour at the Emmys?
The Top Two: Team Ven/Fabio (Kenley) and surprisingly, Team Gunnar/Kooan (Irina). Sorry to say but Team Gunnar/Kooan's white dress was a MESS in my eyes. There were fabric and construction issues, it looked a little "bridal boutique" sale rack, and it was four inches too short. But the judges deemed it "dramatic" and Heidi said she would wear it. Really? Don't know how that ended up in the top two EXCEPT for the fact that Irina SOLD it she's the reason it got placed so high. The winning honors went to Team Ven/Fabio's short navy silk gazar dress for Kenley with Ven, winning yet again. While NO ONE wears short cocktail dresses for the Primetime Emmy Awards, or at least not any of the A-list nominated actresses, it was definitely Kenley's style and she can get away with it and come away unscathed from the Fashion Police.The Loser and the Missing
On the bottom are Team Christopher/Andrea BA MA MFA (Anya) and Team Alicia/Raul (Mila). Team Alicia/Raul's design was uncreative, poorly-made, uninspiring and certainly NOT for the Emmys red carpet. It was dowdy to boot, as the judges all agreed, having the effect of almost aging Mila by 20 years. And then there was Team Christopher/Andrea's chocolate colored gown: it was Pageant Betty 101 with that too-high slit. You could almost see Anya's "Britney." On a good note, though, Anya a former "Miss Trinidad and Tobago Universe" did know how to work it on the runway. Christopher was distraught (A little too much so!) at being in the bottom two and not very happy with Andrea's team performance. In the end though, it was Raul who went home for his non-effort in making Mila look Emmys red carpet-worthy. Now speaking of going home...
The next day, the designers awake in their Atlas Apartments to see Andrea BA MA MFA missing and not in her bed. Did Andrea leave the show? Was she embarrassed for being "schooled" by a 24-year-old--on TV no less? What happened? Stay tuned kids...
What do you guys think happened? Any first guesses on why Andrea isn't in her bed? Let me know with your comments below. I can't wait to read your theories!
Non-Project Runway Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images