One of the most frequent questions I get is "When are you going to bring back the menswear challenge, already?!" And now I can finally tell you! ... Not this week. (But VERY soon!)
Believe you me, I was fooled just like the rest of you when Tim threw in the "You're not making menswear" caveat, and momentarily even thought that the designers would be making something for the most rugged-looking drag queens of all time, until the wives and girlfriend showed up in the workroom.
Nonetheless, this was a great challenge. The key to doing well here was really how adept one's boyfriend or husband was at articulating their significant other's style. And this is probably trickier than one would think, because straight men can't shop. (If this episode didn't help prove that, I don't know what will.)
The situation kind of reminds me of that reality TV show where two people date in the dark and each tries to blindly guess what the other person looks like based on personality alone, and then once the lights flick on, they are either pleasantly surprised or running for the exit. If whatever these men conveyed about their partner's wardrobes didn't match reality, a designer was headed to the exit.
Viktor's client should have had it easier than anyone. His girlfriend's sense of personal style was clear. We know she's spent some quality time at the local Anthropologie, whereas Bert's client tempted me to just go ahead and call this blog post "What a Boob." I'm still trying to recuperate from watching husband Anthony motorboat a dress form, no less the fact that I got paid to write the word "motorboat" just now. But we move on ...
Anthony Ryan's client was a dear. The fact that he knew enough to use this challenge as a way to come across as a hero on national TV by replacing his girlfriend's two lost dresses was precious. Marry that man now, Caitlin!
Olivier was so petrified by boobs that he had to ask Tim Gunn for clarity on what the words "Double D" meant (hilarious moment alert!), and then was so overwhelmed by his clients' wishes that I think he got a bit railroaded. If he didn't end up being safe in this challenge, he for sure would have had to defend a garment the client didn't really like and neither did he.
It looked as though he pulled a P. Diddy and sampled the vibe of Kimberly's winning garment for the Nina Garcia challenge (especially the back), and was stuck on that yellow fabric that made a cameo in his Harlem School of the Arts challenge dress until Tim snapped him out of it. That may have ultimately saved him. And the fact that his model worked it out on the runway. (P.S. Did you see that RING?!)
Joshua's "Ode to Betty Draper" dress really surprised me. He showed a lot of restraint in not bedazzling the crap out of that thing, and the client certainly adored it.
But, I ultimately disagree with the judges' decision. Viktor should have taken this one home. I feel like Joshua just created a beautiful dress for a girl who loves beautiful dresses. That could be any girl. I don't think it was indicative of who she is. Viktor really hit the nail on the head from, as Bryce accurately noted, head to toe. Her look and her personal style were in harmony.
As for Bryce being given the big adios, I must say I didn't totally hate his pink-pocketed dress. Yeah, the fit was wonky, but if the girl enjoys oversized pockets and wants to use them as personal cubbies, have at it, sister!
Another team challenge, another opportunity for drama.
But first, a cartwheel break by the legendary Betsey Johnson.
We need a collection! We need a show! And I hope one of you knows how to use video editing software for lib-dubbing mediocre pop songs and uploading them to Tumblr.
While Team Chaos (who should really lend their name to Team Nuts and Bolts, cause that's what they were CHAOTIC) were giggling and slow-motion braiding each other's hair, Joshua was dominating a team that was clearly labeled as LEADER-FREE CHALLENGE and desperately trying to recall the members of The Village People* for inspiration.
Like a kid waiting for the right opportunity to jump into a double-dutch tournament, Joshua seizes the opportunity to cause some waves by hastily accusing Bert of having the foulest mouth of all time. (Where's that British gum lady when you need her?)
Based on Joshua's dramatic Norma Desmondstyle overreaction, I thought I missed a much more dramatic moment, and paused to think to myself, "Wait. Did Joshua just think Bert didn't say CLOCK and said something ... ELSE?" And then I began to laugh with every subsequent reference, because it was just so double-entendre ridiculous.
Once I realized this was really over the words "friggin'" (Really?) and the F-bomb proper (I'm sure nuns say that nowadays), I stopped laughing and wondered why Joshua blew up as much as he did.
Forfeit? You're going to forfeit (Can one actually even do that?) a challenge because someone ... swore? Designer/Detective Laura Bennett has done some recon work and discovered that Joshua actually curses twice in this episode. I will not stand for it!
At this point, this workroom is desperately needing some color to liven up the awkwardness in the room. Yet each team only goes for black and white. The ABSENCE of color, and white. Did I miss something? Look back at Seasons 7 and 8 (I'll wait!) and check out the winning prints by Emilio Sosa and Mondo Guerra: vibrant color. Or, hey, look at any of the prints the designers created in those seasons, and it's a Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor ROYGBIV bonanza compared to these patterns.
Team Chaos' Rorschach test idea certainly lends itself to, well, black ink, but I would have loved to see some prints that didn't look like they came from the neighborhood library's Xerox machine.
While Team Chaos is still thriving and jiving, Team Nuts and Bolts is falling apart. It took Father Timothy Gunn's prayer circle to intervene and bring some true cohesion. Yes, Joshua eventually apologized to Bert, and it was probably best that it happened in front of everyone so that there were witnesses to back it up, but the fact that he called it a "PSA" cheapened it. I'm sure if he had access to a publicist, there would have been a press release and an "I'm Sorry" after-party, but we move on ...
Let's talk about the collections:
Team Chaos really wrapped their heads around the whole experience Betsey was preaching about in the workroom. Aside from the messy hair and makeup choices, they knew exactly who their girl was, where she was going, what she was wearing and why she was wearing it. It was clear that theirs was the winning collection. Best of all, they all used the HP print.
Team Nuts and Bolts used as much of their print as they could legally get away with, and the rest worked with whatever excuse they could muster as being clock-like, gear-esque or generally inspired by the inner workings of Big Ben. Thankfully, the judges recognized this right away and called out the offending players:
Laura Kathleen's belt felt like a way to use the print just for the sake of using it (she quasi-admits as much), and Kimberly was smart enough to just plain avoid it.
Joshua's jacket looked great from the front, but I question the functionality and practicality of the garment. To reveal the second print, he had the cogs open the way they did on the front of the jacket to mirror it. It looked as though the model was peeling away like a fashionable banana, since, you know, no one's closed a jacket in the back since Celine Dion's backwards-jacket Oscar look.
The length of Bert's dress was just too long and took away from what actually worked on his garment. It would have been worlds better if it fell closer to the knee. But Michael and guest judge Rachel Roy hit the nail on the head: This collection's problem was that it was FAR too literal. "Don't give me bad energy. I don't want to wear something that says 'CANCELED.'" AMEN.
And poor Becky was down for the count no matter how many times she redid that skirt.
The one thing they did do right was clip those blunt bangs to those models' foreheads. But at least it's not The Village People.
* The policeman, the construction worker, the sailor, the biker ... (I watched "Wayne's World II" more than once.)
Based on the Harlem School of the Arts painting session pairings, I was totally taken back to Season 4's prom dress challenge. Would Viktor's student Skyy become akin to Christian Siriano's prom tweenmate? For his sanity's sake, I hope not!
While receiving Dalai Lamaesque life lessons and avoiding House of Deréon inspiration, the designers all did their best to wrap their heads around the definition of "avant-garde." So that we're all on the same page, here it is:
avant-garde |?avänt ?gärd; ?avä n |
noun (usu. the avant-garde) new and unusual or experimental ideas, esp. in the arts.
I watched this episode three times in the hopes that something "new" and "unusual" would slap me across the face that I didn't notice the first two times. And finally, during the third replay, it did: EVERYONE IS NICE TO EACH OTHER NOW!
What a relief! Perhaps now that everyone is humming "Kumbaya" in 11-part harmony, we'll see some truly inspired avant-garde fashion:
Olivier, as much as we want to protect him like a tiny kitten, needs to ROAR already. His winning pet-challenge look was far and away more avant-garde than this look. This one was too safe. And just because he had some chiffon available (presumably because Danielle is no longer hoarding it and calling it her "Precious" in a corner somewhere), does not an avant-garde look make.
Bert, although half-harlequin and half-whatever crazy geometric thing Katy Perry wore to the VMAs, got the "unusual" part right, but it was too unflattering a fit to be a legitimate contender. Litmus test: If you make a model look like she has a saggy butt and the world's shortest torso, you're in trouble for the rest of us.
Josh C. spent so much time toying around with that ghastly red faux fur and his throwback to the sassy X-rated version of "Bram Stoker's Dracula" that he just couldn't get past the fact that it wasn't good. Painting or no painting! What's sadder still is that he had one of the cooler paintings to work with. His tweenmate who, incidentally, could have passed as his kid sister should have let him know.
Laura Kathleen's hard-meets-soft rose concoction had potential, but the combination of the green boning and the yellow organza just bothered me. I couldn't see past it. And apparently, neither could the judges for as much as they liked it. (Watch it again and take note of the number of times they applaud her for hard and soft ... and not much else.)
Joshua M. did a nice job of giving his skirt some texture with his paint application, but remove that belt in your mind and ponder how the top transitioned to the bottom. That wasn't using an accessory to accessorize; that was a foot of mystery in the middle. (Prove me wrong by removing the belt and I'll rescind my comment!)
Anya, for as much flak as she gets, really put together a great look this week. I'm surprised it didn't resonate with the judges more than just being safe. The shape she achieved in that skirt really set her apart from the rest of the pack. She, as always, seemed to be spot-on with the styling. Her model's hair? Genius.
Bryce's look had lot of potential too, but the fit was way off. Gaga would be all over that thing if it was done right. And she'd wear the sleeves tied behind her on the red carpet and have her minions speak for her using only index cards transcribed in German.
Anthony Ryan's look, I really loved it, but it was love I already had for his second challenge dress ... because that's what it was. Same neckline. Same silhouette, just longer and not covered in birdseed. Maybe it was a blessing that Nina wasn't there to remind Michael and Heidi of this?
If it sounds like I'm being harsh on the designers in this episode, I am. We're down to 11 designers. I want to see something spectacular. Spectacular Spectacular! I didn't expect them to, you know, throw Swatch the Mood mascot dog on someone's head as a hat and label it "avant-garde," but it certainly would have piqued my interest.
Tweet along with @projectrunway and Episode 6 guest judge Kenneth Cole (@kennethcole), plus Marie Claire's Zanna Roberts Rassi (@zrobertsrassi) on Thursday night at 9 et/8c. Use #projectrunway in your tweets to follow the conversation!
Well, let's just start off with the awkward elephant in the room: Cecilia's departure. She's not the first designer to choose to walk away from "Runway," but she's certainly the first to do it this soon.
Only the designers who have competed on this show over the years can truly know the pressure, stress and insanity the contestants face day in and day out, but after going through rounds of casting and years of trying to get your work recognized, why take yourself out of the competition at THIS point? I guess only Cecilia can answer that question.
Moving on to Olivier, quote, falling like a bitch (didn't know that was an "ism" across the pond, by the way) and the choosing of teams for the Heidi New Balance challenge …
Newly discovered track star Joshua strategically picks Anya for his first teammate, followed by Becky for her strong sewing skills.
Bryce smartly chooses last week's winner, Kimberly, and rounds out the team with loves-a-chiffon-moment Danielle. Anthony Ryan chooses former stilt-walker-challenge teammate Laura Kathleen, and is stuck with Bertzilla (LOVED that Heidi beat him in five-inch Louboutins!), who complains that he's picked last, yet gets along with no one at this point.
Viktor chooses a brought-back-to-life-from-near-death-fall Olivier, and is allowed to choose a third team member from the previously dismissed designers. His choice? Josh C. (Now I have to use Josh initials again! Thanks, guy.)
From the get-go, it's clear which teams are really teams of two with an oh-sorry-you're-working-with-us-too bonus mate, and who have true party-of-three cohesion. Anthony Ryan and Laura Kathleen initially shut Bert's ideas down in a dismissive way that perhaps is unfair, but given his winning personality lately, can we really blame them? Likewise, Joshua M. and Anya are clearly fashion BFFs, and Becky is the third wheel in this arrangement.
Josh Squared bromance is back, y'all!
But even this momentary moment of workroom happiness can't stop the sass factory that's about to take over the next hour of our lives.
In the workroom, Anthony Ryan often asks Bert what he thinks, but doesn't quite assert his authority as team captain to rein Bert in. Maybe it was his body temperature slowly rising over 98.6, but he could have had much more dominance in what needed to be done as a complete collection. Instead his work suffered, and his team fell apart in the process.
Both Joshua M. and Anya ask Becky to help sew their garments, and I use the word "ask" here purposely. They ASKED her. What Joshua eventually said to her with the whole "Your clothes are dowdy!" rant was certainly offensive to Becky, or anybody for that matter, but at no point did she ever open her mouth and say, "No! I will not be your seamstress wench! You figure out how to sew jersey, magician!" She should have put her foot down when Josh put his foot in.
Speaking of sewing, let's talk about the epic fails of needlework Betsy Ross is somewhere rolling in her grave about. The last-minute stripe on the front of Anya's maxi dress was tacked on with a stitch every foot or twelve. You could stick your hand through it to give your teammate a high-five when the judges completely missed the for-decorative-purposes-only exposed zipper on the razorback that was simply laid on top of the garment. The overall effect was nice, but the execution on these notions was seriously sloppy.
Bertzilla strikes again on the runway as he openly mocks and laughs at his own teammates during judging. Yes, Anthony Ryan's look was probably one of the bigger tragedies ever seen on the catwalk, but at what point was it OK to kick the guy when he's down ... and feverish? Bert's look, although better than the giant basketball-shorts romper next to him, was a pair of socks and a Staten Island Ferry ride away from a 1988 "Working Girl" moment.
On the flip side, Viktor's motorcycle jacket (pictured right) makes us all want to go out and buy one, and Joshua M. picks up the surprising second win.
In what's sure to be one of the more controversial judging decisions since Gretchengate of 2010, Danielle is sent home and Anthony Ryan is spared. Did you think her elimination was fair, or did Anthony Ryan's body of work save him?
Tweet with @projectrunway, special guest Heidi Klum(@HeidiKlum), plus Season 7 designer Jesse LeNoir (@jesselenoir) on Thursday night at 9 et/8c. Use #projectrunway in your tweets to follow the conversation!
My Destiny's Child reference may be lost on some (What? It's a classic!), but the fact that Nina Garcia is one tough lady to please will be lost on no one. She has a very particular editorial eye that's made her successful at her job as a fashion editor and here as a judge on "Runway." But when she's the client, watch out! Your Plan A better be banging, and your just-as-good-as-Plan-A Plan B better be waiting in the wings in the event that Plan A bursts into flame. Don't even mention a Plan C. (It's like "Fight Club." We don't talk about Plan C.)
Given the constraints for this challenge (i.e., don't bore Nina, don't use crazy prints, cowl necks are the devil, no volume allowed), the designers had their work cut out for them after their one-on-one consults. Nina knows what she wants, and if you don't deliver it, you're in trouble.
Let's start with some questionable fabric choices:
Anya has decided to create a mustard jumpsuit for Nina. Maybe she can get the jumpsuit part through the pitch, but mustard is a hard sale for anyone, no less for THIS client. Mustard?!
Anthony Ryan and Becky, as different as their aesthetics can be, grab the same exact fabric. And we're talking EXACT, like odds-of-winning-the-lottery-with-the-same-numbers EXACT. Their (surprising) reaction is to play some bizarre game of fashion chicken with each other, and both designers decide on moving forward with it. What?!
Cecilia needs to visit her eye doctor ASAP, because even Mood's fluorescent glow cannot be blamed for the choices she made. Gray and beige?!
Surprise! Danielle is working with chiffon. Again?
Back in the workroom, Anya finally comes to terms with Nina not being a mustard kind of girl, remembers to throw on a pair of gloves (fast learner!) and dyes her fabric to make it work. Anthony Ryan spots her from the sidelines while he video-chats with his fiance. (Too-adorable-to-handle double Southern accents alert!)
Julie is making a
coat dress coatdress for Nina, which is kind of a hybrid of her first two challenge designs, creating one bad, unfinished, "no way in hell Nina would ever wear that, even while home sick" design. Cecilia is finally calling a spade a spade and doing whatever she can with her odd-couple fabrics, and has agreed to help sew Julie's sleeves on.
Laura Kathleen has also drunk the do-gooder Kool-Aid and is helping Anya finish the collar on her no-longer-mustard jumpsuit. I don't sew, so I don't know the effort involved in sewing a sleeve on or finishing a collar, but why is everyone sewing everyone else's stuff?! Maybe it's a simple gesture I'll let the designers fight that fight! but in a competition setting, you beginning to wonder if it's genuine or a tactic.
On the runway, I'm biting my nails as Anthony Ryan's and Becky's dresses follow one another in the run of show, making the fact that they used the same fabric go from obvious to NEON BLINKING LIGHT. They look like they're part of the same collection a two-piece collection that went rogue in the middle of an unrelated fashion show. I still don't understand how these two made it through safely without so much as a "Really?"
Maybe it's to her benefit to keep her mouth shut, but I was wondering why Anya didn't fess up to the collar help, only because the way she finished her garment came up and it landed her in the top.
In the end, Kimberly takes the win with a look that really grew on me the more time I spent staring at it, and especially when Nina wore it to the office. Viktor really stepped it up this week and proved he has a well-deserved place on Season 9. (P.S. Bert NEEDS TO LEARN PEOPLE'S NAMES!)
As for next week's preview ... I really want to see this Olivier falling scene in slow motion.
Tweet with @projectrunway, special guest Nina Garcia (@NinaGarcia), Season 3 vet Mychael Knight (@mychaelknight), plus Episode 4 guest judge, actress Kerry Washington and her Krew (@KerryWashington), on Thursday night at 9 et/8c. Use #projectrunway in your tweets to follow the conversation!
Show off your creativity for a chance to win cool tech prizes in the On the Runway Sketching Challenge, judged by Season 8 Project Runway Designer Mondo Guerra!
Grand Prize: HP TouchSmart 610t PC!
Plus four finalists will win an HP EliteBook tablet!
The first team challenge on this season of “Runway” allowed us all to see how well the designers can compromise to reach a common goal: dressing a 700-foot-tall woman. Given the literal enormity of this challenge, the teams needed to be mindful of not making a giant costume (this is a model wearing stilts, after all), but to treat this as if they were dressing a tremendously tall person and make everything proportionate to that. And it seemed like that was the key to succeeding in this challenge. Those who made something costume-y ended up in the bottom, and those who made a ready-to-wear look were rewarded.
The walk is always critical to any great model, but the fact that some of these stilt walkers were walking like a tall, drunk John Wayne in a swimming pool wasn’t doing anyone any favors here.
As for the team pairings, you could tell which unions were doomed from the start (Bert and Viktor) and which would be complementary (Anthony Ryan and Laura Kathleen a.k.a. Team Two First Names). Even though Josh M. (sorry, THE Josh) and Julie ended up in the bottom on this challenge, I’ve decided that they need their own show ASAP. I would watch those two in the workroom together any day making crazy romantic Mexican-hat-dance Liberace matador outfits. Please give us more!
After a 4:30 am
breakfast midnight snack and Red Bull chug, the designers were off to the show’s first outdoor runway presentation.
This episode reminded us of the great divide between the self-taught designers and those who went to school for formal training. Team Bryce and Fallene (who behaved almost like they were a brother-and-sister team) should have done a better job of sizing up their strengths and weaknesses. Yes, Fallene doesn’t know how to cut on the grain. We get it. This was made abundantly clear. But if Bryce was the master of all things grain, whole wheat and otherwise, wouldn’t it have behooved them to transition her to the skirt to get the final look they wanted? Instead, we ended up with more soundbites from Bryce and a really tall bad dancer’s warm-up getup. (All that was missing was the leg warmers, some bandaged-up feet and the neck cut out of an oversized T-shirt. What a feelin’!)
How do you solve a problem like slightly lobster-color Bert? Not with those correctly-identified-as-”Sound of Music”-curtains fabric. I’m not sure what was worse: that tapestryesque fabric on the top, or the material on the skirt? In the words of fellow blogger Laura Bennett, SERIOUS UGLY. I’m sure Bert is wise and learned and well-read, but he missed the book that taught him that their garment was heinous. And I say “their” because it was a collective effort. Just like Team Two First Names should have JOINTLY won for their success, Bert and Viktor should have been jointly accountable for their failure. They both had a hand in that garment.
In the end, it’s time for Fallene to head back to hairdressing, and Viktor is spared. His Week 2 Wee Wee Pad dress that slipped under the radar last week may have saved him.