Season Premiere July 24 at 9/8c
Nick Verreos Blog
Category: "episode 7"
I must confess, I'm a shoe-a-holic; I love shoes. My two obsessions are YSL "Johnny Boots" and colorful suede driving loafers from Florence Italy. I own three YSL pairs and about four of the Italian ones. I get the suede loafers from a "secret" little store in Firenze (and I am NOT telling anyone what the store is!). I am only admitting this shoe confession to try and dispel the myth that only women are OBSESSED with shoes. Lots of men are too. And to be quite honest I think there are quite a few of us that are addicted to women's shoes too! No surprise that some of the top designers are Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik and Brian Atwood. So right away, I was excited about the challenge and interested to see if the designers could make the shoes the star.
Last week, the designers got to go GLAMPING. Alexandria won the challenge (much to my dismay, since I liked Jeremy's bias-cut "love letter" gown better), and Justin was out, almost. Tim Gunn used his save and Justin was still in, not because (as Tim said) "he's one of the nicest persons here," but because of his talent and that he needed "a little more time" on the show. OK Tim, if you say so.
For this week's challenge, it was ALL ABOUT SHOES: the designers went to the Hearst Building and met up with Tim Gunn and Marie Claire's Editor-in-Chief Anne Fulenwider. Anne announced that this week's challenge was to choose a pair of FAB shoes from the Marie Claire accessory closet and create a look inspired by those shoes. Before they could pick, there was a fashion quiz they had to take. Alexandria did not need to participate since she was the winner last week. She chose these amazing thigh-high gladiator sandals. Good choice Miss von Bromssen.
Fashion History Fail
The rest of the designers went through the fashion quiz, answering questions such as, "Who created the New Look?" "Who originated the little black dress?" and "What fashion school did Marc Jacobs graduate from?" Dom and Miranda were the last designers standing. When Dom makes the statement that "her teacher is going to kill her when she gets the answer wrong," I quietly think A) Aww that's cute and B) Yes, if I was your teacher, I might chastise you just a little bit. I'm with Jeremy and Bitchy McBitch Ken when it comes to designers having to know their fashion history. Completely.
Cristobal: Yes; Bradon: No
After they all pick their shoes, they head to Mood. Both Miranda and Alexander, choose very similar looking plaids. It looked like a plaid fabric stand-off, and neither designer was backing down. Back at Parsons, Bradon begins to work on his look using this technique called bouillonné (which means "bubbled" in French). It was an old-school sewing technique of puckering up fabric and hand-stitching it. Famed couturier Cristobal Balenciaga did it MASTERFULLY in his Winter 1967 "chou" silk gazar wrap (look it up, kids) and it should have stayed there. In 2013, the technique looks dated and like something one would see in grandma's curtains or a big tacky bubbling-over wedding dress. When Tim Gunn visits and sees Bradon's bouillonné creation, it looks like a mess. I absolutely love when Tim asks Bradon, "Where is she going [in this]?" I used to ask this of EVERY one of my students and when they would come back with, "Umm...well...umm...I don't know," it would be THE END. And this is what Tim was trying to get to with Bradon.
L.A. Casting Sidebar
When Bradon auditioned on the show (I was one of the casting judges along with Tim), he showed us TWO things: a bolero jacket with fagoting technique; and a top with the bouillonné technique. Bradon is making the mistake of doing the two things he knows best and applying them to the show's challenges, when in fact, he should let the challenges lead. It seems that he comes to this realization at the end of the episode, so I'll be hoping for a recovery.
Le Shoe Safe
Now, let's move on and get to the Runway Show. The guest judges were actress Kaley Cuoco and Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief Anne Fulenwider. The designs come out and here are my "Nick Two Cents": Karen's was well done but it was also very department store sellable. Kate's split-front pants and too-tight blouse seemed dated and a bit contrived and not unique enough for the girl who would have worn those "Dali-like" surrealist shoes. Dom's was Rihanna-like cute but heavy with the quilting technique. Justin did well with his all-black power b*tch ensemble. Alexander's plaid look was worse than Miranda's. How he was safe and Miranda was not was beyond me...
The best were Alexandria, Ken and Helen. Alexandria's black satin-and-lace trimmed look was the perfect counterbalance to her rough-and-tough, thigh-high gladiator sandals. I wasn't a fan of the handkerchief hem but it was her model Ya who SOLD it. Seriously, Alexandria needs to send Ya Godiva chocolates for an entire year. I honestly didn't agree with Ken's too-mini peplum look being on the top. I liked the fabric, it was just the length of that skirt (HOOCHIE much??) and the too-trend driven silhouette that I didn't like. I did love the shoulder/cap sleeve detail, however. It was Helen who won with her very monastic all black cape and sheath dress creation. The minute it came down the runway, I knew Nina, Zac, etc. would D.I.E. It was so Alexander Wang-for-Balenciaga; those NYC-based judges live for that.
Chiffon Sad, Bouillonné & Tartan
For me, the worst two were Jeremy and Bradon. First, Jeremy's "Pretty Woman" street-walker-on-a-budget look was sad and tacky. His chiffon "cable-knit" sweater was not only bizarre but somehow heavy looking. But my personal pick for worst was Bradon's outfit: that puckered halter top (what the HECK was sewn in between the puckers? Were those left-over's from the bow-tie challenge?) with a high-waisted half-circle skirt from page 257 of "Helen Joseph-Armstrong's Patternmaking" book was a mess. 1982 prom meets (as Zac Posen says) frumpy-dumpy. Yet, for some reason, the judges added Miranda into the bottom mix. I wasn't a fan of the Amy Winehouse hair, but the pants fit well and looked fine. Were they Christmas-y? Yes? But was Bradon's a frump-a-licious MESS? Umm, YES! So what happened?
Wrong One Out
For some reason Miranda was out. Even Tim Gunn was a bit discombobulated when he admitted that he actually didn't think Miranda's look was so bad. So what happened? I'll tell you: the judges looked at the designers past work (save for Cuoco and Fulenwider who obviously thought Bradon was the worst) and decided to keep Bradon. This was a final decision made behind-the-scenes by those judges (and possibly with consultation from the producers). So, speaking of Godiva chocolates, Bradon needs to send some to Heidi, Nina and Zac...and maybe most of the executive producers.
Now...what did YOU guys think? Was it Miranda's time, or should the judges have "Auf'ed" Bradon? Do you think the judges should look at each challenge and not the entire body of work when judging? Did you agree with Helen's win and Ken being in the Top 3? Until next time, remember say no to Bouillonné and yes to Balenciaga!
Ducks. Yes, Ducks. Miss Heidi walked out with a DUCK. Last week we had "Mature Ladies" and this week: ducks. When La Klum walked out with a duck this week, I instantly thought "I didn't know Aflac was one of the sponsors of this season and how are they going to make stylish uniforms for Insurance Salesmen?!" I am sure that most of the designers thought the same thing. But, alas, I was wrong...
Unconventional Part Deux
After the "Heidi and Duck Show," the remaining Season 11 designers headed to their 1407 Broadway Workroom, arriving to tables piled high with "pyramids" of Duct Tape. In case it isn't 100% obvious at this point, the challenge for this week--as described by Tim Gunn and Bill Kahl, Executive VP of Marketing at ShurTech Brandswas to create a garment made out of Duct Tape. But not just any ol' garment: a Prom Dress, darlings. In case you're counting, this is the SECOND Unconventional Challenge this season. I am not sure if there has ever been a season with TWO Unconventional Challenges, but it's smart of the producers to do this, since the fans LOVE this stuff.
Tim tells the designers that the judges want to see "fresh and innovative thinking" in terms of their Prom-a-Licious designs. He also says that they will have one day to do it and that they will later meet with high school students who will vote on their designs, which will count for 20% of the final "Who's In" and "Who's Out" decision. The designers are paired up in 5 teams of two: Stanley/Layana; Kate/Tu; Michelle/Amanda; Richard/Daniel and Patricia/Samantha. There's no Mood shopping; just duct tape and muslin.
Teams Duct Prom
Back in the "Duct Workroom," Mustachioed Daniel is paired with Richard and thinking of Beyoncé for their lookusing only gold tape. While Tim makes his requisite visit, those two boys add that there's also a "Mexican Mariachi" inspiration to their dress. Ay Dios Mio! Of the other teams, Layana is not happy that Team Daniel/Richard got all the gold tape and vents to her teammate Stanley who secretly wants to backslap her. Tim likes what they're making and is "not concerned." Samantha is not on the same duct tape-wavelength as her teammate Patricia, but then again, I wouldn't be either: let's just say Patricia has a design aesthetic that is unique to her. When Tim surveys what they're up to, he notices that they are on two different "design pages." He wonders why they're not collaborating and suggests that their design might look like a "Bride of the Tin Woodman." Ouch. In the Kate/Tu team, Kate is the boss and Tu is her assistant. They're making a gown for the prom and Kate is too focused on making the tape look like actual fabric (is that a bad thing?). Tim thinks their end result may be too "flat and lackluster." We'll see.
Short & Slutty
Time to head to a secret NYC high school gym and have privileged NYC high school students judge the creations on how "prom proper" they are. The models saunter down and by the looks of it, all is pretty good. Some of the designers comment about how high school kids these days want "short & slutty" for their proms. PS: When haven't they? The kids interact with the designers and take an up-close look at the creations and cast their votes. Michelle and Amanda feel like the girls with no dates, as no one seems interested in their dress. It looks like Michelle and Amanda are on a fast track to the bottom once again. With that, it's time for everyone to go to bed and get ready for the Runway Day...
Slutty and Puffy
Runway Day and the special guest judge is bubblegum pink haired-fashion designer Chris Benz. I have met Chris several times and he has always been kind, articulate and very intelligent. He was all that and more, during the judging. Immediately, Heidi announces that the top vote getter amongst the prom Kids was Team Patricia/Samantha. At first this seemed like a surprise, but then I realized not so much; the high-low style was very short in the front, so we got the "slutty" out of the way and the students seemed to respond to it's uniqueness. The judges voted and they also liked Patricia and Samantha's look. Heidi loved it and Nina thought it was very "Katy Perry." I liked the ombre duct tape manipulation but the "Jiffy Pop"-looking silhouette was too cartoon-y for me.
Bad Luck Michelle No More...
The next best were Stanley/Layana and Michelle/Amanda. I think Stanley/Layana did a good job. I loved the bubblegum pink waist bow tie but I think it should have been shorter; not hoochie-short, but shorter. The dress looked a bit heavy to me. Michelle and Amanda's was the best. It was a great silhouette with movement and a sense of fun; perfect for the prom Fashionista. I would have removed the jutting point of the bustier and created a one-shoulder strap, but besides that, good job ladies. Michelle gets chosen as the winner of the Challenge and finally "Bad Luck" Michelle has broken her curse.
Steak Restaurant Leftover Gold Aluminum Prom Dress
And now, let's discuss the Beyonce-meets-Mariachi-inspired prom dress courtesy of Daniel and Richard. It was way too obvious from the minute I saw those tacky gold "ruffles" that this would end up on the bottom. Besides the fact that this brought back way too many memories of my mid-80s prom date ensemble, it looked like something you wrap your leftovers in from a steak restaurant. It's one thing to be purposely tacky a la Jeremy Scott but I'm not so sure if they were going for that. Then there was Team Kate/Tu: I actually liked this gown. I agreed with Zac Posen that a long gown is not a bad thing when it comes to proms, especially ones that suggest a serious Red Carpet vibe; and this one did. I get that Tu let Kate be the boss and he was just her "intern", but does that merit an "Auf"? On the "which is the worst" dilemma, I would have given that to Richard or Daniel. Period. But as we know, that's not how it works in "Project Runway Land". The judges look at the whole season and not the challenge at the moment. So with that, it was "Bye-Bye" to Tu... AND Kate! In a season where you might expect double eliminations, it was still a bit of a surprise on this challenge. There have been far worse designs over the season that deserved the "Auf" (I'm talking to you Amanda!), but as everyone predicted with this season of teams, some designers are getting saved based on their partnerships. And let's admit it, the producer's needed to have an even number of designers for next week.
And speaking of next week: Male Strippers. Oh dear....I can't wait!
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.
No-Drama Thursdays ... NOT!
Last week, "Project Runway" viewers got a "drama reprieve." This week? The Drama Is Back, kids: We got an immediate amuse-bouche of things to come when the opening credits had barely finished and Josh McKinley was spouting things like "The Winning Look from last week's Avant-Garde Challenge should have been MINE!!!" So we knew it was only going to be a matter of time until the nails, gold-hoop earrings and wigs would be a-flying once again.
Team Mean Girls Part Deux
So what brought the claws back out? Let's begin with the Challenge: As the 10 remaining designers sit with bated breath, their smiles are instantly turned into dropped heads and "Oh no's!" as Heidi announces that they are to be split into two teams of five, with no team leaders. However ... Anthony Ryan (the winner from the previous week's challenge) gets to pick who is on "his" team, and then Heidi gets to "randomly" pick from that bag who would be the other team "Non-Leader." Take a guess who it is? Just one guess … of course, it's Josh "Queen Mean Girls"! Do you think for a hot minute it would be anyone else? HELLLLLLSSSS no! Side note: I don't even think there are actual names on those chips in that bag, but if there were and Olivier's name came up first, even Miss Heidi would quickly throw the chip back in the bag and keep doing it until Josh's name was picked! Just sayin'.
Me! Me! Me!
Each team then chooses their members, and of course, "Old Man Bertie" is the last one standing. After this junior high-school P.E. class moment, they are at the Parsons workroom, where Tim Gunn and the ageless fabulousness that is designer Betsey Johnson announce that this week's challenge is the "HP & Intel Challenge," where each team is to create a five-look collection as well as design custom textile prints. Before departing and doing a cartwheel, Johnson reminds the ego-tastic designers (well, really, only Joshua M.!) to "throw away 'Me, Me, Me!'" and "Go, Team!" We'll see how long that will last.
I Want Your Queen Card Back!
One-thousand one, one-thousand two ... nope, not long. "Team Chaos" (Anthony, Anya, Bryce, Olivier, Viktor) and "Team Nuts and Bolts" (Mean Girls Queen Josh, Laura, Kimberly, Becky, Bert) begin to caucus to choose which prints to use. As "Team Nuts and Bolts" are deciding, Bert is having printer issues: His print isn't coming out. No one in his team seems to care especially Joshua, who begins berating Bert in such a volatile and evil manner that I feel embarrassed for Joshua. In fact, the entire Parsons workroom feels discomfort. He's being a very (Rhymes with Witch-y) Queen. I know that Bert is not always an innocent wallflower in these situations, but in this case Joshua M. is clearly in the wrong.
Apologies & Arguments
Hours later, after realizing how the cameras captured him looking nasty (just like when he exploded on Becky several episodes back), he returns to the workroom to make a "Public Service Announcement" offering an apology for his un-ladylike behavior. As Bert correctly stated, he could have come to him one-on-one and made his amends, but he didn't. Almost as soon as he finished his apology, Joshua was at it again, arguing with Tim, as Tim was trying to give him constructive criticism. Obnoxious and tacky. Even Tim tells him, "Let your ego go!" and forces "Team Nuts and Bolts" to hold hands and vow to get along.
Up next: "Project Psychotherapy." As soon as we get a major spoonful of "Evil Joshua," there has to come the "Let's Feel Sorry for Him" arc. Joshua calls his father; we get more into his mom's passing two years ago and how he is still grieving; and of course, there's lots of crying. In addition, he vents his anger and resentment over not being as successful as "he should be" after all his hard work. First off: A) I feel his pain for his grieving, but does that make it OK to bulldoze and bully people? And, B) I also have empathy for anyone who struggles to achieve their dream, but this isn't "Project Psychotherapy." Diary Rooms are meant to give us a little background let your point of view be known but not for getting out issues y'all should have worked out A LONG time ago on a professional's sofa! News flash: Probably EVERYBODY going on "Project Runway" is STRUGGLING to achieve their DREAM that's the reason you are going on the show!
Next Time, COLOR PRINTS!
Let's get to Runway Day. Please. Besides Heidi, Michael and Nina, the gorgeous Rachel Roy and actress Rose Byrne are on hand for the judging (what happened to poor Betsey Johnson?). Fasten your seatbelts, LADIES it's going to be a bumpy night. First off, BOTH teams only used black-and-white prints, AND both teams' prints were not-so-good. Can we please make it a rule for next season's "HP & Intel Challenge" that they HAVE to use COLOR?
The Perfect Mini Collection
Continuing ... The collection from Joshua's Team oops, I mean "Team Nuts and Bolts" was all over the place, design-wise, and "Team Chaos" was anything BUT chaotic. It was stunning, in fact; one of the best "Project Runway" group efforts in a LONG time. They win. And it's between Olivier (he did a perfectly tailored jacket, albeit in GRAY again!), Viktor (who did a stunning gown) and Anya (who created a sublime printed sheath dress). Anya surprisingly wins. I really thought it was going to go to Olivier or Viktor, but still it was well deserved! I love that the fashion still "ruled" on "Project Runway" against all that "Joshua Drama."
Fragmented Team=Fragmented Collection
Speaking of ... it was down to "Team B**** Queen" to battle it out. Nina Garcia asks them about their "team interaction," but Joshua rightly pulls her back to the fashion (1 point for Joshua!). But here's the deal: Their fashion was disjointed! Joshua's geometric jacket ensemble was actually quite good (2 points for Joshua) and had some design quality, while Becky's was not. She did use Joshua's print, which had the words "canceled" and "delayed" on it (1 point off for Joshua!) but her look was almost "Missy" and, as Heidi stated, it was "weak ... in a weak collection." I knew Becky was going home the minute she landed on Joshua's Team. Hello!!!