"Project Runway" Is Back in the Saddle!
Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, it is filmed in Los Angeles ... but so far that doesn’t seem to have affected a thing; in fact, the first challenge is pretty fabulous because of L.A.: The designers are taken to the red carpet of the Emmys, and given the challenge of designing a red-carpet gown of their choice with two days and $200. All the familiar fun ensues that makes us addicted to this stuff — sketching in the workroom (now at FIDM and bigger than ours!), a half hour to shop at Mood (yay! Mood!), and let the drama begin. All under the lilting tones of a certain Mr. Gunn, whom we have sorely missed.
Meet the designers: Ra’mon (the serious med student); Logan (the guy’s guy, letting us know in no uncertain terms that he is straight); Johnny (former drug addict who tried out for the show several times, but made it now that he is clean. Read: drama); Gordana (Yugoslavian tough-chick who will win even if she has to make her dress out of potatoes and corn); Malvin (one word: Sanjaya); Qristyl (oooh honey, step back, cuz Miss Q doesn’t mess around with skinny girls, she is size “plus-sexy”); Shirin (sweet to the point of diabetic coma); Nicolas (the self-acclaimed “Feather Prince” — Good Luck); Mitchell (every show has one, the all-American cutie); Ari (techno-chick who’s tragically into “Blade Runner” Chic); Louise (trapped-in-vintage-land Louise Brooks channeler); Irina (into leathah); Carol (this season’s Kenley? Pixie-couture airhead); Epperson (serious dreads and seems to be the oldest of the bunch); Althea (Cocky with a capital “C,” sure she is the next Christian, Vivienne Westwood, McQueen, blah blah blah); and finally, Christopher (self-taught and second runner-up in the cutie category). We met Christopher last — any predictions?
Some workroom fun that was music to my ears: Ari saying “I don’t sketch” ... Johnny having a drug-free meltdown with Tim coming to save the day and dry his tears ... Mitchell may be our new cryer ... Malvin claiming his garments are “ineffable” and beyond description (Oh, I can describe them alright). The best moment of the show? Qristyl can’t find anyone to cut her fabric at Mood, so she buys a pair of scissors and CUTS IT HERSELF! Way to make it work, Miss Q! Reality-show gold!
The dresses are coming along, and there’s a joyous visit from Saint Tim (do I hear angels when he enters the workroom?), and we begin to see what these designers are all about. Johnny says he will use “spit and gum” to finish his hideous dress if he has to. Tim calls Christopher’s work a “cruise-line cocktail waitress,” Ari is tragically channeling Blayne by making a halter diaper dress and Mitchell is making some sort of Victorian caftan out of coffin lining. Miss Q has completely missed with her quasi–Carmen Miranda wedding dress, and on the morning of the runway show, Mitchell has to start over from scratch and decides to go for a Lady Godiva look and send his model down the runway nude.
Oh Rapture! The Runway! Another byproduct of the L.A. location ... Lindsay Lohan is the guest judge! Here come the dresses!
- Althea: Silver, pretty, nice and safe.
- Gordana: Short blue-green dress with origami floating device around the bust.
- Malvin: Beige burlap scaly ugly boring dress fit for a prison wedding.
- Mitchell: Sheer (butt cheeks on parade) caftan that would make a great maternity dress for JLo.
- Louise: Dress made of drapes with a flowered growth on the shoulder.
- Christopher: ’80s prom dress made of garbage bags and Kleenex.
- Ra’mon: Fabulous eggplant taffeta gown that you could see on the most fabulous star on the Oscars red carpet.
Shirin: Cutesy, short, safe.
- Epperson: More purple, but this one is the wrong way to do it.
- Irina: Literally drapes that the model keeps tripping over.
- Ari: Ridiculous space suit that wouldn’t pass for fashion in any year in the future.
- Johnny: This tragedy looks like a piece of fabric blew onto the model in a windstorm and was held in place by pieces of chewing gum.
- Qristyl: Ouch. I love Q, but this is hideous. How hideous? Kenley would love it.
- Logan: Silver, boring and monotone like his voice.
- Nicolas: Short, black plastic/rubber body condom. No feathers, go figure.
The decisions are made, the delicious drama spills forth in classic PR fashion. Did I agree with their decisions on who they kept on the runway? Yes. But I seriously disagree with their commentary on the top and the bottom looks ... but that’s what makes the show addictive. You want to scream at Nina, pull Heidi’s hair out, wipe the orange off of Michael Kors, and force-feed Lindsay Lohan. We all agreed Miss Q was a wreck, but she’s too fun to get rid of: In. Johnny: In. Are you serious? This same dress has gotten many designers eliminated, but they obviously keep him for what they hope will be more drug-free drama. Ra’mon: In. They called this dress “safe,” even though it was obviously the most beautifully realized piece on the show. Mitchell: In. They gave him a break. Plus they know all the gay men watching the show would be mad if they eliminate the cutest designer. Ari: OUT. What glee to hear Michael Kors call this ugly piece of garbage a “disco soccer ball.” I am swooning with delight. The winner? Christopher. Oh my God. This dress is one pair of fingerless gloves away from the prom scene in any John Hughes movie. (See photo.)They would normally rake this thing over the coals, but to keep us talking about the controversy, they chose to reward the self-taught naive boy who now thinks he’s got a shot at winning. But that’s why we love the show. “Project Runway” is back in all its glory. We can’t get enough of the delicious punishment, drama, hopes and dashed dreams of “Project Runway.”
And, ultimately, of life. See ya soon, Chris
Posted in: episode 1
Season 13, Episode 9: American Girl Doll
The designers herd into the American Girl Place store in New York City and my ears immediately perk up. Like many late-'80s babies, I was SUPER into American Girl during my childhood. I had one of the make-your-own dolls who I named Tina and who I outfitted with random accessories from all the other characters' period-specific ensembles: Samantha's 1920s four-poster bed, Molly's '40s clothes, Felicity's horse ("Tina loves riding," my 8-year-old self reasoned), Kirstin's wash basin ("Tina loves to be clean"), and Addy's lunch pail ("Tina loves snacks"). My Tina was all over the place, aesthetically and conceptually. I loved her.
This is a long way of saying that I am very invested in this challenge.
Challenge: Paired with an American Girl Beforever character and model, the designers must incorporate the character's time period, style, and story into a modern and fashionable look for a young girl.
Parameters: American Girl is providing some fabrics that the designers are welcome to use if they want. $150 budget at Mood. One day to work.
Designing for children presents unique hurdles, especially in terms of proportion, but in some ways it's easier: There are fewer curves to tailor around, for example. Over lunch some of the designers compare their experience in this area and Emily, who has her own kids' line, seems to have an advantage. Tim's walkaround finds a lot of the designers in brow-furrowing moods over the direction for their looks. He's not at all excited about Char's plan to add fringe to her vest (neither does Sean, who won a challenge just a few weeks ago thanks to fringe), and he thinks Alexander might not be taking his look any further than Kids 'R Us standards. He also admits to Sandhya that he's not sure he can be of much help to her because he doesn't fundamentally understand a lot of her color relationships and choices. Since Sandhya usually just does whatever she wants, and since the judges have so far loved most of her work, there's little he can add to the conversation about it.
There's no drama with the models because they're very small and sweet, but Korina has to hustle a bit at the end to finish up her multicolored skirt panels. Let's move on to the runway. Our guest judges are "Mad Men" actress Elisabeth Moss and American Girl's senior design manager Heather Northrop. Away we go:
Kini - This one delights the judges. Heather likes that it connects to the character and she's complimentary of the mismatching plaids Kini chose. Elisabeth loves the cutouts. Zac thinks it's aspirational: "This is every young girl's dream." Kini gets the win, and this week he doesn't have to share it with anyone! Way to go, Kini.
Korina - This look read VERY "Jessie from 'Toy Story'" to me, but the judges are diggin' it, especially the graphic elements in the skirt and the smart pops of yellow underneath that are meant to reference the flower Josefina (the doll) wears in remembrance of her mother. Korina's safe.
Char - "If I saw Faith on the street, I would ask her where she got this," Elisabeth says. Nina thinks this is one of the most updated looks to walk the runway this week, but that unlike some of the others it still looks age-appropriate AND fun. "Easy" and "happy" are other adjectives thrown around. Char is safe.
Sean - Sean turns bright red when Heidi points out that the peace sign on the back of his vest is missing a leg. The panel doesn't hate this look, but their criticisms boil down to how thoroughly safe it is. Elisabeth would've liked to see a more interesting color, and Heather says that given how popular bohemian-esque style is with tweens these days, Sean could have had a lot more fun with the silhouette -- he probably should have used the fabric provided by American Girl instead of choosing his own. Our usual judges clearly like Sean so he's in no danger of getting the boot, but their pointed stares make it clear they expect more from him next week.
Emily - Heidi is on the fence: She thinks the iridescent ruffles look a little drab. Heather agrees and says the silhouette is too frumpy. Nina hops on board that train of thought and offers that for a tween, Emily's color choices seem sad. Lots of sad trombone sound effects, basically. Nina gets real cranky about this one, but the rest of the judges see enough good here to keep Emily around. She's safe.
Sandhya - The judges like this look...for a one-year-old. Nina says she feels like Sandhya was working off an entirely different challenge and that she should have designed something more age-appropriate. Zac agrees with Sandhya that kids should be kids, but that there's no avoiding the "circus flamingo" vibe this look gives off. The back-and-forth here is that the judges don't think a 9-year-old would want to wear this, ever, and Sandhya politely but firmly disagrees. She's out.
I found it interesting, though not unsurprising, that for this kids-based challenge the judges chose Kini's nice but very adult-seeming garment for the win instead of something like Char's, which was more playful and age appropriate. Also, as much as I've been a defender of Sandhya's work this season, I admit she was totally off the mark this week. Still though, sending her home instead of Emily felt a little...abrupt. What did you think? Could you see any of the young girls in your life wearing these clothes? Did Sandhya deserve the auf more than Emily? Did you have an American Girl doll? If so, please describe her for me in detail, and let me know what else you thought of this episode in the comments.