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Category: "episode 9"


A Modern Southern Redo

Posted By kim_messina 4:40am GMT

A modern Southern woman. Now, this is something I have a little bit of knowledge about: this past Summer, I designed a line, NV Nick Verreos, that was sold to a major department store and I traveled around the South doing a bit of "market research" during my in-store appearances. So, I was looking forward to what the designers would think was their vision for this "modern Southern woman." As it turned out, I was left as confused as most of the judges. And what was up with that ninth hour Bottom Three face-off? And Ken's attitude? And all that plaid and handkerchief hems? Lots to discuss...

Put Down Your Mint Juleps
The episode began with Heidi walking onto the runway, telling the remaining designers that she was giving them a morning off because they needed to "relax, unwind and have some fun" (Yeah right!). The designers head to Juliette Restaurant, a French brasserie in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for a Southern-style brunch. As they were enjoying their croissants, coffee and French toast, Tim Gunn walks in—in a double-breasted suit from Zac Posen's closet—to announce that it's time to finish those mint juleps and pack all the extra beignets in a "to-go chien bag." Tim tells the designers that this "lovely, civilized, relaxed" brunch describes who they will be designing for next.

A Modern Southern Woman...Who Loves Plaid?
It's the Belk challenge: to create a day or evening look for a modern, Southern woman. Gunn describes this M.S.W. as someone who dresses vibrantly, expressively; always fashionably put-together; knows how to accessorize; and loves color and anything with feminine details. Even though the designers were told that they were having a morning off, the designers all somehow brought their HP tablets and were ready to sketch. Afterward, they headed to Mood where a lot of the designers caught the PLAID fabric virus...again!

Southern Woman Expert Ken
Ken, who hails from Birmingham, Alabama, deems himself the go-to guy when it comes to what a modern, Southern woman likes and wears. In his direct-to-camera interviews, he keeps wondering what the heck the other designers are doing and how disconnected their designs seem from the woman he knows. Part of me (the I've-done-my-research-in-the-South part) agrees with him, but at the same time I just have a feeling that Ken will be on the bottom, while his plaid-loving co-designers will end up on top. It's my "Southern belle" intuition.

Belk Bragging Rights
Back at the Parsons' workroom, Tim Gunn introduces John Thomas, Executive VP of Private Brands for Belk, who informs the designers that the winning design will be manufactured and sold at Belk and Belk.com. After the designers begin working, Tim revisits the designers. Tim loves all the plaid both Alexander and Bradon are using, admits his hatred toward the fabrication Alexandria is using, and reacts positively to Ken's purple fabric color.

Sybil Ken
Speaking of Ken, he has some Skype time with his mom, which turns out to be an "enlightening" conversation. I just about spit out my red wine when Ken's mom asks him if "the other side has come out yet." Wait! Can you repeat that again? Momma Laurence knows about Ken's "Sybil-esque" persona? Of course she does! Note to self: don't let your mom get clearance to talk on camera, especially if she knows about your (alleged) multiple personality disorder.

Runway Day
The guest judges are actress (and former George Clooney main squeeze) Stacy Keibler as well as John Thomas, Mr. Belk. The designs come out and here's what I wrote on my "judging from my living room" piece of paper:
Ken: His purple hi-lo maxi dress was OK.
Helen: Why would you create a gown? It's Belk, not Neiman-Marcus. And was the model wearing BLACK SHOES with a canary yellow/while appliqué lace gown?
Justin: I liked the color but it was too low in the back; a dress to be sold for a department store must be "bra-friendly."
Alexander: Cute, but too much handkerchief hemming.
Alexandria: Another handkerchief hem? No. This looks like a crazy school uniform.
Bradon: Pretty. Surprised by how much I like the plaid fabrication but needs editing and some tweaking. The horizontal bias-binding detail in the front needs to go to make it more sellable.
Dom: I like the color-blocking but a high-side slit GOWN? Who is she selling to? The Miss Universe contestants?
Jeremy: Very department store "Missy" section. And yeah, very "Virgin Atlantic" flight attendant (the Purser, perhaps).
Kate: Love the print, like the dress style, but seems a tad high-waisted. But this is the closest to something I could see at Belk.

Who's On Top?
When the runway was done, I had no idea who would be on the top and who ended up on the bottom because none of these looks A) looked like a modern, Southern woman, and B) were department store sellable looking, except Kate's. I understand that it's difficult to design for a department store and hit the right balance of being sellable yet not boring and at the same time, have a "fashion" element. I also get that the judges, especially the Belk exec can look beyond the tricky seaming/construction and too much handkerchief hemming, and see a dress that can be "re-tooled" for his customer. I think this is what happened when eventually Bradon's dress was chosen as the winner. Congrats to Bradon.

Now to The Bottom
On the bottom were Dom, Ken and Jeremy. These three were the most un-modern, Southern woman, I guess. Ken was NOT HAVING it as the judges were critiquing his design; you could see that "Sybil Ken" was two seconds away from making an appearance. Now, instead of going right ahead with choosing the worst and sending them off to "Auf'ed Designer Land," Heidi announced that for the first time in "Project Runway" history, they were getting a "Do Over": the the bottom designers were given one hour, access to fabrics and one designer-helper, to re-create their looks.

Why do this?
The jaded watcher—and "Project Runway" alumni&3151;in me felt that maybe the Belk exec didn't like ANY of the looks and was coerced into having to chose something,but still felt that something else could come out of this. I also thought that maybe a designer the judges didn't think should go home was about to (Dom perhaps?) and therefore let's try and give her (and the others) another chance. Who knows? It just seemed a little odd. In the end, the designers re-tooled their looks and they all received positive feedback. Personally I thought Ken's was way too hoochey and he should have been out. However, he was in. They LOVED Dom's printed handkerchief hem dress (I thought she did a great job as well) and subsequently, was also chosen to have her dress be manufactured and sold at Belk. I felt a little bad for Bradon since his "1st Prize Thunder" was taken away. Oh, and yes, Jeremy was out.

So what did you guys think of this entire episode? Do you think the modern, Southern woman loves plaid and handkerchief hems? Would you wear any of these looks, especially the winning designs? I'd love to know your thoughts and theories on this episode—and especially the additional bottom three do-over twist! Do you guys have any theories?


Everything's Coming Up Roses

Posted By kim_messina 4:05am GMT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


If It's Another Flower I Will Scream!

Posted By kim_messina 4:36am GMT

It's the halfway mark of Season 10 of "Project Runway." We began with 16 designers and now, we're down to 8. Last week's Team Challenge was "The Boris and Natasha Show" as I called it in my last blog recap. It was all about Dmitry and Elena and their bickering and hate-talking which dominated the entire episode. The fashions were mostly a yawn except for Sonjia's winning Armani Prive-esque jacket and Christopher's asymmetrical camel coat, so of course, the episode concentrated on the bitchy drama. What should the next challenge bring? Well, let's find out...

Pay Your Bills. .. Before Getting Mommie a Boob Job

As the episode begins, there's a little confessional scene from Gunnar saying that he wishes he'll win so he can buy himself a pair of boots and his mom, a boob job. OK huney, that's cute for TV and will guarantee you get some camera time (Gunnar, you just made the producers and editors have an editorial orgasm!), but it's not so cute in real life. Here's some advice: those two things might not be your top priorities when someone hands you a $100,000. Maybe paying your college loans, bills, setting up a design studio ... those might be your priorities. Oh these kids, they slay me ... AGAIN!

Addicted to Heidi

Heidi in a very mini, strapless black dress (a la Robert Palmer Girl) —l; walks in, warning the remaining designers that they all need to step it up and "wow" her. Umm, HELLO! Amen Sister. This is not the first time she's said this to this group. I wonder why? I’ve been saying throughout this season that the fashions have been rather unmemorable. It looks as if the theme is "Make it Safe". But when it comes to "characters," Season 10 has it in spades. Which is better? Well, talk amongst yourselves on that one because I would rather discuss this week's challenge and fashions.

HP Haute

Tim Gunn is in the Parsons Workroom with Season 8 Finalist and All Stars Season 1 Winner Mondo Guerra. They are there to introduce the HP Print Challenge (Yeayyy, one of my favorites!): Create a textile design and a modern runway look inspired by your cultural heritage. In case you've not been following "Project Runway," Mondo Guerra made a memorable impact during his season and on this same "HP Textile Design Challenge" (which he won) when he designed a gorgeous print and made a pair of impeccably tailored pants AND came out to the judges, fellow designers and millions of Americans as being HIV+. He had wise advice for the Season 10 kids when he told them not to be too literal or so calculated and to "let go."

La Familia

Right before saying Adieu, Tim said that the designers would soon be receiving dossiers important to the challenge via "special delivery." They soon got to work on their HP Touchsmart Desktops designing their respective prints. Then, the Parsons Workroom doors blew open and in came various loved ones — mommies (Christopher, Elena, Gunnar, Melissa, Sonjia), a partner (Fabio), a best friend (Dmitry) and a sister (Ven) — who brought in these dossiers of childhood photos and family videos. Naturally the workroom became an "Oprah Winfrey Show"-like tear-fest! It was a very endearing moment for "Project Runway."

The Vagina Print Monologues

Now, back to their print designs: Dmirty was inspired by traditional ornament and created a red/black print, Ven did a flower (quelle surprise!) print — a pink hibiscus which he said was very important in his East Indian culture. Gunnar designed a print which had "wretched looking hands reaching out for a bird" inspired by his childhood bullying, Melissa made a "family tree" print in red and white;,Elena went colorful with her design, Christopher did lady bugs; Sonjia injected her African-American heritage into her print,and Fabio, well, he went all anatomical and designed a print inspired by (wait for it), the male and female genitalia. Ummm, you do know that young kids watch this show?

Maxi Pad Ven 2.0

After a day of print designing, tearful moments, Mood shopping and a family dinner back at the Atlas Apartments, the designers get back to Parsons to find their newly-minted and printed designs on fabric. Soon, it's time for the "Tim Critique." Christopher is struggling A LOT with his print and designs. Both he and Fabio put black organza on top of their prints (to diffuse their boldness) and Tim doesn't even comment on the similarities. Ven is doing a fan-pleated detail with his print which reminds Monsieur Gunn of an "homage to a menstrual cycle" and Maxi pads (Say WHAT Mr. Tim?) He's right. It does. Subsequently, Ven quickly changes his "Maxi pad" detail and goes into "Ven Auto Pilot," making a pleated skirt using his pleated rose technique which incidentally the judges have seen again and again. You just know that they will rip him a new rose for that one!

Winners ... What Do They Know?

Day of the runway show and Mondo Guerra is there as the Guest Judge, along with Season 9 Winner Anya Ayoung-Chee. It's always nice to see "Project Runway" winners/alumn as judges since they know what the designers go through (I was privileged enough to have been asked to be a guest judge back on Season 6). But, you can always sense a feeling (from the current seasons' designers) of "What do you know? You're Just a Former Contestant/Winner." You could tell that from this episode's judging, for sure. There was much eye rolling and snickering. Moving on ... How were the designs? Mostly quite fab!

Print Challenge Winner?

Elena and Fabio were safe. I was surprised by Fabio not being one of the top vote-getters. His design was one of my favorites. It was so Tilda Swinton. The styling and hair were ON POINT. The design was very NOW. The print? Well, it was lost in the mix but overall, he did an outstanding design job. The top for the judges were Melissa, Sonjia and Dmitry. They all did a great job. Melissa's dress was bright, colorful, and polished. It was nice to see something that wasn't Ann Demeulemeester black. It was a print challenge after all, and in those terms, she should have won. Sonjia did a pair of great fitting pants — a la Mondo — and I especially LOVED the black jersey cowl-back top. But it was Dmitry who got the win. I was a bit confused, however. I agree that his jacket was, as Nina Garcia said, "phenomenal," but this wasn't a Jacket Challenge. It was a print challenge. What did I miss?

If It's Another Flower I Will Scream!

Now, to the bottom: Christopher, Gunnar and Ven. Christopher's dress was too safe for the judges and he didn't "wow" anyone. And as Heidi said in the beginning of this episode, it's time to WOW! Ven sent out a perfectly made one-shoulder design — very Carolina Herrera meets Oscar de la Renta. But yes, it was yet ANOTHER Ven Flower Pleated Design. Heidi, visibly upset and frustrated at the fact that he was doing the "same old/same old" asked for Tim Gunn to come in to see if he had warned Ven to NOT do that EVER again. Tim told the judges how Ven had made something reminiscent of Maxi pads when he visited him but he had not really seen his new "Ven-on-Pleated-Rose-Auto-Pilot-Mode" design. Ven didn't get the "Auf" this time but he did get a warning from Heidi: "If we see this flower thing one more time it’s …. over!" Emphasized by a very "off with his head" whistle from Miss Klum! Atta girl!

No Boob Job For Mommie

Therefore, it was Gunnar's missy-looking design and print that got the boot. The judges were correct in that the details were bad, the proportions were bad, the styling was dated and so was the fashion. It looked like something from a Talbot's Catalogue — from 1992. And the arms grabbing a bird print was not exciting or great enough to make a shopper want to wear it. It was actually macabre and depressing-looking. In the end Gunnar did make up with his Gay Arch Nemesis Christopher and although he might not have won, he did redeem himself as being a decent guy. Now we just have to see if Ven can pull out some thrones next week from those tired pleated roses!


Bears, Sheep Dogs and Woodstock Hippies

Posted By Antonia L. 12:50pm GMT

The episode begins, and once again, within 30 seconds, there are two ominous hints at what’s to come: Anya’s can’t-sew issues and Olivier’s time-management problems are both quickly revisited. Unless the editors are trying to throw me for a loop, I just have a feeling one of these two is going home. And I just KNOW it isn’t Anya — those judges have drunk the Anya Kool-Aid, and they’re not sending her back to Trinidad and Tobago, that’s for sure! Oh and yes, Olivier still hates fat people …

 Musique C’est Chic
Let’s begin. Last week, the designers thought that they were designing for men — when they saw nine guys walk onto the runway — and they weren’t happy. But as “‘Project Runway’ luck” would have it, they had to create looks for the men’s respective girlfriends/wives. Whew! That was a close one. Well, kids, don’t do the “happy dance” just yet. This week, the designers head out to Rockwood Music Hall, where they meet up with Monsieur Gunn and Peter Butler, Consulting Stylist for Garnier. There, Tim tells the designers that fashion and music are forever linked, adding, “Think The Beatles and,” um, “Lady Gaga.” (I know that took A LOT out of Tim to even mouth —the Lady Gaga part, that is).

The Dogs Get Groomed
It turns out that Garnier and Rolling Stone magazine have partnered to showcase a new band, The Sheep Dogs. Here’s the first catch: The “Project Runway” contestants would be responsible for creating the band’s fashion image, and the winning look would be worn by a band member at an event as well as be featured in a Marie Claire/Garnier advertorial. Here’s the second (more important) catch: They’re ALL men! Yes, kids, this is THE Menswear Challenge, officially. Third catch: They must work in teams ... again.

I Don’t Do Men
After a brief “Oh no, not teams again!” scuffle, the designers are told to make sure each band member looks like they belong with the band ... but they will be judged individually. Predictably, MOST of the designers have never done menswear, do not want to do menswear, and don’t know how to do menswear. Hello, why do you think the producers picked this Challenge?

A “Massive” Schooling, From Uncle Nicky
Team Harmony and Team Untitled are set up, and they “choose” their band members. Madonna, I mean Olivier, gets lead singer Ewan, who happens to be 6’3” and not a Man-o-rexic/no-carb-eating/Twinkie male-model size. In other words: A real MAN. Naturally, Olivier begins with the “I Hate Fatties” talk, complaining that he “got the biggest guy,” saying, “He’s MASSIVE” and “I never thought of designing for PLUS-SIZE people.” Back in the workroom, he continues his kvetching, now saying that there are no FAT MALE body forms for him to use. What a crock. First of all: Pad the form! Use fabric, muslin, shoulder pads. What an amateur! (Sorry, I am using my “Nick Loud Voice.”) Also, I don’t know what body-dysmorphic planet Olivier is living on, but his client AIN’T fat — maybe “thick,” but certainly not fat. And in fact, in some gay circles, he’d actually be considered kinda hot.

 Runway Rock Idol
It’s Runway Day with 30 minutes left and Olivier is having time-management issues (quelle surprise) and is leaving his client in his skivvies waiting for his outfit to be finished. Somehow, he makes it work (double-stick tape and pins, I guess). For the first time in “Project Runway” history, the fashion show will be in the form of a concert. Kors, Garcia and La Klum are on hand, as well as Lady Gaga!! Just kidding … it was singer Adam Lambert. The Sheep Dogs perform in their Team Harmony and Team Untitled looks. And honestly, even though the band members did say they liked a ’70s Boho vibe, BOTH teams’ looks were more reminiscent of cheap Jimi Hendrix mockumentary costumes. Kors must have been salivating, barely able to restrain himself from spewing out a cacophony of one-liners.

Our Buddies Back Home Are Going to Give Us (Blank)
As the teams are brought onstage to face the judges — with the band members standing beside each designer — I can’t help but notice the facial expressions of The Sheep Dogs. I so wish there were “pop-up” bubbles, because they would saying, “What the he** did we get ourselves into?” “This just might be the biggest mistake of our young careers!” and “Our buddies back home are going to give us s***!” But moving on, first up was Team Harmony. The judges all agreed that their creations were too literal and bad Woodstock-y. They liked “Old Man” Bert’s just for the plain fact that it didn’t look like a cheap costume from a bargain store in Omaha. Anya’s was a mess evoking the spirit of a bad Brady Bunch hippie costume. She even confessed that it was horrible. And wouldn’t you know it: She really can’t sew; her client’s jeans were splitting in the back. And I bet she makes it to the finals ...

Bye, Madonna
Team Untitled is next, and the judges love “I’m Not a Mean Girl Anymore” Josh’s cream bell-bottom pants look (what was up with all the cream pants?!) and think it’s “hip and sexy.” I wasn’t a fan of the contrast pockets and those flared legs, to be honest. They also liked Viktor’s fringed-and-braided pleather jacket, Western shirt and distressed jeans. I think that this one was the best — if only for that jacket alone. Viktor wins. In the bottom were Kimberly and, yes, Miss Olivier. Olivier did a too-cropped bedspread-print shirt and GREIGE pants for his BEAR of a client. On the positive side: It wasn’t a bad Jimi Hendrix costume. On the negative side: It was BORING, ill-fitting and not even FINISHED! Remember what I said at the start of this recap? Yep, I just knew he would be gone. He calls himself a menswear designer, yet he was out on the Menswear Challenge. Poor thang. At least now he’ll be able to go home and make endless greige collections for all his fantasy “size 2 only” clients. Good luck with that!