Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's a jungle out there

The first team challenge of the season coincided with the first product placement. In this case, the "product" was Lipstick Jungle, NBC's horrid Sex and the City rip-off (NBC is Bravo's parent network.) The designers had to create a look for Brooke Shield's character, movie studio exec Wendy, to wear in an upcoming episode.

Jerell and Blayne are two of this season's strongest personalities but they worked well with their partners, Stell-vira and Leanne respectively. All the other teams were at each other's throats.

The issues between Korto and Joe and Terri and Suede seemed to result in more polished designs on the runway. Korto's jacket was described by Tim Gunn as a "giant sweet potato" and panned by Joe in the work room but the garment looked a lot more streamlined on the runway. Terri made Suede do-over their ruffly paisley top, which looked great in finished form.

Meanwhile, Kenley and Daniel further established themselves as this season's villains in the running.

Despite their differences, Kenley and Keith won the challenge, with this garment:

But Kenley spent most of the episode picking on other designers and generally trying to cause arguments. I cheered when Tim Gunn backed up Keith in panning the lurid flowered fabric that Kenley picked out at Mood. Kenley is very confident, but I don't think she quite has the talent to back it up. All of her designs (including the garments she wears on the show) are all about 1940s glamor and construction. We have yet to see proof that she can do anything else.

That said, Daniel kind of deserved Kenley's giggly outburst when he started bragging about his impeccable taste on the runway. His work has been completely forgettable so far and he was lucky to still be around after last week's disaster.

The design Daniel created with Kelly was definitely her aesthetic. But Daniel seemed to give up on the challenge as soon as Brooke didn't choose his design. I can't imagine that he was much help to Kelly, who proved her talent with a winning design in week 1.

Bye Kelly! I'll miss you, but this was awful:

Props to Blayne for taking responsibility for his design, rather than throwing Leanne under the bus. It looked fine but I think the outfit was more suited to a 20-something spending a day walking around New York City than for 40-something Brooke Shields playing a business executive.

Seriously, I think this entire look is for sale at Target:

I would have given the win to Jerell and Stell-vira. They made three pieces using a different prints and fabric for each. But the design looked completely pulled together on the runway. Kelly should have taken note of the skirt, which was a good example of animal-print done right:

Quotes of the week
On Kelly and Daniel's garment:
"Slutty, slutty, slutty" -- Michael
"It just looks so much cheaper than I thought it should look" -- Brooke

Next week: Designing for drag queens! I'm almost glad that Daniel wasn't kicked off because I'm sure he'll thumb his nose at this one.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Going for the 'Old'

Anyone who made it through the third grade knows that brains count for nothing if you don't read the directions before the completing an assignment.

Apparently, most of the Season 5 designers were asleep during this crucial grade-school lesson. In nearly every design challenge so far, at least a third have created looks that simply miss the directives of the given challenge. Either they aren't listening or they just don't care.

No matter what the reason, I'm underwhelmed with almost all of these people. The whole point of Project Runway is to challenge the contestants by forcing them to design outside their comfort zone. If the designers refuse to leave their respective niches, the competition is a wash.

The cluelessness continued this week as the designers were asked to create a look for the American team to wear during the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Tim took the contestants to the Olympic museum at New York's Armory Track and Field Training Center for inspiration.

Most of the group immediately latched on to photos of Olympic outfits from the 1940s and 50s and completely let go of the essence of the challenge -- creating a modern design that athletes could wear while representing America to the world. Instead they created looks that mostly seemed to represent wardrobe from old Doris Day movies.

Daniel was among the worst offenders. He claimed to have never watched the Olympics and I almost buy that. But the footage shown on TV indicates that the museum included photos from recent Olympics. Daniel must have seen these photos and chosen to ignore them.

The judges said his dress was perfect for an Olympic drinking competition. I think it looks like the dresses Lois Lane wears in old Superman comics:

Lucky for Daniel, Jennifer's dress was both unpractical for the Olympics and completely boring:

In her goodbye interview, Jennifer claimed that her "Surrealism" design aesthetic brought something different to the show. Too bad those comments were the only thing even close to surreal that Jennifer did during her tenure.

Joe, Korto and Terri came to the runway with an automatic leg up on the competition since they actually created the type of look the challenge required.

Korto won:

Her design was cute, but those linen pants would have been crazy wrinkled by the time the hours-long Opening Ceremony was over.

I would have given the win to perennial bridesmaid Terri. Her look was sophisticated and sporty. In addition, there were several different layers so the athletes could have bundled up or stripped down according to the weather conditions.

When are the judges going to reward Terri? She is the season's single design bright spot:

I can't believe I'm saying this, but Stell-vira is another of the season's (few) bright spots. Designwise, she is way out of her league and I want her kicked off as soon as possible. But her utter lack of tact and self-awareness cracks me up.

Here are some of the winning Stell-vira quotes this week:

On her decision to create an all-black Olympic ensemble:
"There's a lot of bikers in this country who watch the Olympics."
"It represents the country in a bad-ass way."

On her desire to win a challenge:
"Whoever gets immunity is really important because you get a chance to fuck up and not get fired for it."

Some of other quotes of the week:

Tim after learning that Blayne doesn't know who the Beatles are:
"Oh God, youth!"

Another exchange about Stell-vira's black design:
Jerrel: "So Stella, why are you using all black?"
Blayne: "Because we're going through a depression."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Not Listening to Tim Gunn = Kiss of Death

This week, the designers were let loose on New York City. In a challenge similar to one from Season Two, the group took pictures of NYC at night and had to create a look inspired by one of their images.

Kenley won with this look:

I was surprised that Kenley came out on top. Personally I agreed with the comment by one of the judges that this is a look that would only look good on a tall, skinny model. Thus, this dress looks great coming down the runway but looks horrible everywhere else. The judges seemed to think the look was fashion-forward but does that really matter when no one can actually wear it?

I would have awarded the win to Terri, who made this:

I was concerned when Terri decided to use a graffiti photo as her inspiration. That decision did not serve Santino well in the Season Two NYC inspiration challenge. Wouldn't it have been hilarious, though, if Terri had chosen the same swirly graffiti fabric that Santino used in that episode? It would have been a three-peat, as Austin also used that fabric during Season 1.

Back to Terri -- she is the only designer who has really impressed me this season. Her designs are very polished and she really seems to be thinking about each challenge.

In other news, Leanne redeemed herself after last week's disaster by creating this beautiful dress, which was inspired by a tree grate:

The bottom two came down to Emily and Jennifer. It really didn't matter who got kicked off. Neither has a distinguishing personality or design aesthetic.

Emily ultimately emerged the loser. As well she should, because she committed the cardinal sin of Project Runway: not listening to Tim Gunn. Emily refused to listen when Tim said her ruffled design looked awkward.

She was fooling herself about this design right up until the exit interview:

The dress looks like it's vomiting fabric. I have one last nit to pick with the judges: if they hated Emily's work so much, why didn't they say anything to Blayne, who created a very similar design?

Blayne's neon dress captured the essence of his chosen inspiration, Times Square. But it also looked like a bad 1980s prom dress:

Somewhere there is a 30-something woman with this dress hanging in her closet.

Quote of the week: "Holla at cha boy!" -- Tim Gunn. He's so cute when he's trying to be hip.

Next week: Another Field trip!

All photos courtesy of Bravo's Project Runway web site.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's not easy being green

Models have no taste. For proof, look no further than any Project Runway challenge that gives power to the skinny chicks in the black nighties.

Remember Season 1's wedding dress challenge? All of the models asked for "dream gowns" fit for the sale rack at Bargain Bridal.

This week, the designers were charged with creating a cocktail dresses made from "green" fabric or material made from natural fibers such as bamboo, hemp and jersey.

Most of the group was pretty excited about this -- until they learned that they would be staying at Parsons while the models went shopping for fabric with Tim. After that announcement, most of the designers looked nauseous.

And rightly so. The models came back with too little fabric, clashing colors and materials either too casual for a cocktail dress or difficult to sew in a limited time period.

The sorriest designers were two members of what Jerell dubbed "Team Ugly Brown Fabric." Stuck with silk the color of vomit and too little of it to boot, Wesley and Leanne tried to cover up their mistakes with pleats and loops and pockets and Peter Pan colors. They each created a Hot Mess (seen here, with Wes' dress on the right and Leanne's on the left):

Wesley's dress also didn't fit properly, so he was kicked out. Guess we'll never find out why he always wears short shorts.

Joe, the other member of Team Ugly Brown Fabric, managed quite nicely, thus proving that the designers can't blame all of this week's troubles on the models:

The winner this week was Suede. His model chose this week's second most popular fabric, a silky champagne-colored material. With a little innovation (and a lot of cutting and weaving), Suede managed to create a dress that stood out from the pack -- and garnered endorsements from Heidi and guest judge Natalie Portman:

Extra props to Suede for working hard and finishing his dress on time. Tim Gunn lectured the designers en masse for a second time in as many episodes. What is up with these people? First, they shy away from innovation in the grocery challenge and this week, they failed to use their time wisely in the workroom. I don't think Tim has ever used tough love this early and often.

It seems like there are a lot of potential taste issues waiting to happen in this group, in addition to a dearth of designers unafraid to really innovate and take chances. As Tim would say, this concerns me.

For example, Stell-vira and Blayne need to get their own sitcom ("Moonstruck Meets My Name Is Earl") because they clearly should not be on Project Runway. Both had much improved designs this week, especially Stell-vira, but that's not saying much. Stell-vira's design asthetic is reminiscent of Season 3's Jeffrey. But Jeffrey seemed to enjoy the challenge of applying his point of view to unfamiliar styles. Stell-vira just wants to use "leathuh."

Blayne, meanwhile, needs to realize that becoming this season's catchphrase king will not turn him into Christian Siriano or Tim Gunn. I laughed when he was teasing Stell-vira because it felt natural; his constant use of "licious" feels so forced.

As usual my favorite design (also one of Tim's favorites!) was left out of the Top Three. Terri, you rock:

It helps that her model thought outside of the box when choosing fabrics. But Terri created a look that fits the model's body perfectly and the collar and belt are eye-catching, but understated.

Kenley's look (which did make the Top Three) was similar, but I thought the collar came dangerously close to resembling a lion's mane:

Random thought:

-- Korto and Leanne's tears during elimination put them in the running to become this season's Crier (think Season 2's Andrae or Season 4's Ricky.) Korto especially seemed heartbroken that the judges didn't appreciate her hard work. I hope she learns to keep it together because the comments are all downhill from here.

Quotes of the week:

"I think shiny, tight and short is the quickest way to look cheap."
-- Nina Garcia on Wesley's dress (actually this comment described a lot of this week's designs.)

"She's so tiny I could carry her around on my hand."
-- Suede on this week's guest judge, the elfin Natalie Portman.

Look of the week:

Tim's face after he found out that the seams in Korto's garment were to be on the outside of the dress.

Next week: Field trip!

All photos courtesy of Bravo's Project Runway Web site

The jackass of the nation ...

That's the title I deserve for flaking on this blog before Project Runway's finale last season. Vacation kept me from updating right after the premiere next week but I hope to update regularly from now on -- Promise!

The title of this post is also part of one of the best quotes from the Season 5 premiere. Punky Stella interviewed that she would be anointed "jackass of the nation" if she was the first designer kicked off. Stella did her best (or her worst) to earn it by spending too much time fretting over her poor choice of materials.

Luckily for Stell-vira, Jerry made a costume for a psycho killer and was the first out:

Thanks to bureaucratic nonsense, this season is to be Project Runway's last on Bravo. So it was fitting that the first challenge of the Season 5 was a throwback to the very first challenge ever: the designers had to create a look out of products from Gristede's, a New York grocery store.

Most of the designers managed to underwhelm both myself and the glorious Tim Gunn by choosing conventional materials -- tablecloths, shower curtains and paper towels -- rather than trying to create a wearable look out of conventionally unwearable materials.

My fellow Ohioan, Kelly, got the win for a dress made of dyed vacuum cleaner bags, burned coffee filters and truly nifty closures made of notebook spirals. I thought the effect she created with the dye was very cool:

But I would have given the win to Joe, who reminds me a bit of Season 4's Kevin. Joe made a dress out of oven mitts and pasta. I'm not sure how his dress looked up close, but the pasta created a great pattern from my non HD TV's eye view:

Some other random thoughts:

-- So far, Blayne seems like a combination of Season 3's Vincent and Season 4 winner Christian. That's not a good thing -- at least not this week. His model looked like she bathed in glue and then rolled around in a dumpster:

-- I must have this T-shirt, worn by Terri (she's on the right.) It's super-cute:

-- Heidi said only three designers are going to Fashion Week. I wonder if they'll simply eliminate until three designers are left, ala Seasons 1 and 2, or do some sort of crazy walk-off ala Season 4.

-- Daniel looks like a greasier version of Danny V from Season 2.

Quotes of the week:
Suede: "Wackadoodle!"
Tim Gunn: "Innovate!"

All photos courtesy of Bravo's Project Runway Web site.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Yes, I know the "divas" who starred in this week's challenge are actually from the WWE. But that headline perfectly expresses my reaction upon hearing the task given our designers.

I would rather watch anything else on TV before watching wrestling. That includes golf, America's Funniest Home Videos, Barney and televangelism. Well, maybe not televangelism, but you get the idea. I feared this episode was destined to become my least favorite ever.

Luckily, my fears were unfounded. Not only did we get to hear Tim Gunn utter words like "divas" and "spandex," the challenge produced some fun interplay between designers and clients and a highly entertaining runway show.

The cherry on top of this tacky sundae was the long-awaited ousting of Ricky. I worried the Weepy One's lingerie skills would allow him to squeak into the Final Five but Ricky was reliably mediocre. The only surprise was that Ricky did not cry upon his departure.

I'm titling his look "Donna Summer poses for Hustler, circa 1977":

Like so many other challenges this season, the WWE assignment encouraged the designers to embrace absurdity. The contestants who went for it -- Chris, Jill and Christian -- succeeded. Those who held back -- Ricky, Sweet P and Rami -- missed the mark.

Sweet P just could not force herself to design the rhinestone-covered disco ball requested by her client. She seemed completely paralyzed by fear that the judges would bash her for creating something unsophisticated. Unfortunately, this challenge was essentially about creating a costume -- sleek and understated need not apply.

This look's title is: "Tim Gunn is always right! Even when he's advocating feathers!":

I thought the denim challenge was a sign that Rami was going to stop draping and learn to love multi-faceted design. Wrong! His "girl next door" outfit had many elements of his equally unsuccessful avant-garde design. The only original aspect of the look was the color -- and that was a very bad thing.

I call this "Frederick's of Hollywood Presents: Putrid Pink":

Rami wasn't alone in copying himself -- Christian did the same thing.

I'm starting to worry about this season's squeaky-voiced wunderkind. His leather-and-lace design was smokin' hot -- but the look was a close cousin of last week's denim trucker outfit and the black jacket he made for the weight-loss challenge. All of the similarities show Christian has already developed his own voice, that he can design a cohesive collection. Those are important qualities -- but so is versatility and an element of surprise.

I'm titling Christian's look: "Refugee from the Lost Van Halen Music Video":

Jillian designed for the "sporty" diva and she made the most of her assignment. Her look was a clever play on a football uniform. The little shorts were adorable -- I'd wear them if they didn't show 80 percent of a person's ass. Speaking of, I think all of the judges (especially Michael Kors) were a little verklempt at the sheer amount of bare skin parading down the runway this week.

I'm calling Jill's look "Friday Night Lights Gone Bad":

Last but not least: Chris wins! Chris is my favorite contestant this season and I was so happy that he pulled out a win, particularly in a challenge that was so tailor-made to his talents.

Chris' design was sexy and scary. The look reminded me of outfits worn by TV's ultimate superhero badass, Alias superspy Sydney Bristow.

That's why I'm calling his look "Best.Girlfight.Ever":

Next week: We head into the home stretch as the Final Four are chosen.

Create your own finale

Bravo has photos of the final five's Fashion Week collections up at Project Runway's official site.

I just couldn't make myself look. Not because I expect the collections to be poor. I want to judge the upcoming finale with fresh eyes and that's not going to happen if I peek early.

Of course, only four of these collections will actually get screen time on the show. One contestant is showing as a decoy, but we won't find out who until this Wednesday.

But don't let my personal ban stop you -- Check this out if you just can't wait!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

For more Project Runway fun ...

... check out Season 1 winner Jay McCarroll's Project Runway blog on

A Word from Jay McCarroll

Cheer Up, Sleepy Jean(s) ...

... Ricky is Project Runway's Homecoming queen!

Except not really. But he does cry like a high school girl anointed to that coveted position. And he finally won a challenge this week. Not only did Ricky win, but I think this was the first time the judges haven't completely hated his design.

Why did Ricky win? Well that's another story. This week, the designers confronted a warehouse full of denim and were asked to create a look that celebrates the iconic Levi's 501 jean. Confronted with endless possibilities, Ricky created a tube dress with a button fly effect on the bodice. Yawn.

The dress was cute, but it wasn't particularly original. The judges praised the fit, but I agree with Tim Gunn: how hard could it possibly be to fit a tube dress? I didn't even think the dress fit that well; the garment was kind of bunched around the model's sternum as if it was too tight.

I've noticed that the judges seem to be really responsive this season to trendy silhouettes (i.e. babydoll dresses and tunics) and looks derived from current pop culture. Ricky won because he turned his model into Amy Winehouse:

I wonder if Ricky's win will give him a little more cache among the other designers. They all seemed a little disgruntled that he's still around while Kit, among others, was sent home.

Sweet P didn't turn her model into a troubled pop star, but she did create a youthful and sophisticated strapless dress -- my favorite look this week. I thought Sweet P was in major trouble when she started babbling about designing a denim wedding dress (her idea, however, did allow us to learn that Sweet P has a husband named Sage, which is adorable -- they're both named after herbs!) But she listened to Tim Gunn -- always a good idea -- and managed to change directions without going into a panic spiral.

This dress doesn't even look like it's made of denim:

Denim is a deal breaker. Worn right, it can be classic and fun. In the wrong hands, however, denim is dated and cheap-looking. Think mom jeans.

I think that's why most of the designers opted for the more polished-looking dark wash denim. Unlike Sweet P, most also created garments that stayed true to the basic construction and look of a pair of jeans. I could tell that's what Caroline Calvin, the guest judge from Levi's, wanted to see (speaking of: if you think you can do better than the designers, check this out.)

Given the emphasis on staying true to the 501s, I would have given Christian another win this week. His look, which used a denim jacket as the basis for jeans and a pair of jeans to create a jacket, was original and daring. The jeans made of jacket sleeves could have been a disaster but Christian turned the design into something I could easily see walking down the runway or folded and stacked on a shelf at the Gap.

Seriously, Christian should patent this design before Levi's steals it:

Like Ricky, Chris and Rami also made jean-esque denim dresses. Rami proved he's not a one-note by using zippers as a trim and creating a cute sailor-front effect with buttons on the skirt. Rami glued on the buttons, which made me fear shedding on the runway:

Chris' dress kind of reminded me of overalls, with the prominent strap that ran all the way around the model's body before buttoning at one shoulder. He made a mistake by leaving one frayed edge rather than fraying the entire dress or getting rid of that effect entirely.

Chris should have listened when Tim Gunn warned of trouble on the runway:

Good old Chris was also the source of this week's sagest piece of advice. As Jillian broke down over her ongoing time management issues, he advised: "If you don't understand the situation by now, you're refusing to learn."

That probably wasn't what Jillian wanted to hear, but it was what she needs to hear. Jillian is a great designer and she's definitely got her own voice. But her high-strung nature and overzealous perfectionism are going to kill her if she doesn't get it under control.

Jill's coat had promise but she (and Victorya) seemed to be blinded by the success of the coat they presented on the runway last week. The darker sleeves of Jill's coat were totally wrong for the rest of the garment and the Levi's labels marching down one shoulder were completely superfluous.

Jillian, if all you can say about a garment is that you "almost kind of like" it, that's a problem. Also, why did you show up for the runway show dressed to go salsa dancing?

Meanwhile, Victorya seemed to give up. Bad enough that she copied Jill's coat idea, Vic's garment was totally pedestrian. I've seen denim trenches like that in every mainstream store at the mall. To echo the other designers and judges: What the heck was Victorya doing with her time this week?

Bleh. I see this as definitive proof that Victorya was a one-note:

I'm sure Vic has a lot of free time now, because her lack of initiative got her kicked off. Only six designers remain and the competition is up in the air. Ricky needs to go, but I could see any of the remaining five making it to Fashion Week.

Quote of the week:
Christian: "Are we going to meet somebody fabulous today?"
Tim Gunn: "We are fabulous, we don't need to meet anybody."
Me: "Tim, you are fabulous. The jury's still out on the rest of these people."

Quote I will be incorporating into everyday life:
Christian: "Oh my God, I'm going to die of barfness."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I'm on Team Fierce

For the past four seasons, Tim Gunn has warned Project Runway contestants about designing "a float in a parade" -- his description of a garment so over-the-top that it can't be taken seriously.

Not that all of the designers listen to le Gunn, however. The "more is less" mistake felled many a designer, from Santino in Season 2 to Kayne in Season 3.

Both of the aforementioned designers must have felt like weeping this week, when Project Runway freed the Season 4 crew from the constraints of designing a wearable garment. The contestants were commanded to go all out to create avant-garde designs based on crazy hairstyles.

Of course there was a catch -- there is always a catch. The designers were working in pairs so Shruti and I spent an entire commercial break biting our nails and worrying that the twist was two designers getting kicked off this week.

Luckily, the reality involved pain for the designers but pleasure for the audience in the form of watching each team scramble to create a second look, a ready-to-wear version of the avant-garde piece.

This challenge was a gift for Christian and Chris M. -- Christian has worked for avant-garde designer Alexander McQueen and Chris M. creates bombastic costumes for a living.

"Team Fierce," as Christian called them, really delivered. Their avant-garde outfit looked like a wedding cake, with layers fabric standing in for icing. The collar was the size of a small planet bringing the entire piece in at a weight equal to that of all the models plus Heidi put together.

I thought Nina was going to cry, she was gushing so much over this outfit, the eventual challenge winner. And Nina doesn't even have feelings, other than cattiness and rage!

I wish someone would have explained why models of avant-garde designs are supposed to hunch over. This poor model looks like she's going to topple:

After the extravaganza of the layer cake dress, Chris and Christian's ready-to-wear design was a bit disappointing. The look was nice, but a little too Sears for me. This is Project Runway! I expect Bloomingdale's at least.

With one notable exception, all of the designers created relatively mundane ready-to-wear looks.
A boring dress was a victory for Victorya and Jillian -- for a while, it looked like they weren't even going sew a second look.

I was surprised that time management was the only conflict between Jill and Vic. Both are such intense perfectionists, I expected them to be at each other's throats.

Instead, they worked together and created an amazing avant-garde look. The coat was fabulous and the tartan details fit perfectly with the model's punk ponyhawk. Even more impressive? The fact that the riding pants and blouse underneath were more than an afterthought. Avant-garde or not, I would have taken that blouse home on the spot.

There is something very the Clash-meets-Jack the Ripper about this outfit. It's awesome:

Since Victorya and Jill weren't fighting, maybe Rami felt like he had to pick up the slack. He claimed the animosity toward partner Sweet P was due to her sloth at the sewing machine. But I think the real reason is Rami, the winner of two previous challenges, sees Bottom Two-prone Sweet P as beneath him as a designer (despite the fact that she did well last week.)

So it was sweet to see how the situation reversed itself. Rami thought Sweet P was going to bring him down, but his attitude was the killer here. Note to Rami: You can find women wearing pants under a dress on every street corner in America. That idea may have been avant-garde in 1942, but it's de rigour in 2008. Rami also proved once again that he's coasting on his draping skills. Even the judges noticed this week.

All of this look is 1942, not just the pants. It looks like something Lauren Bacall would have worn in her ingenue days:

Meanwhile, Sweet P did a great job with the ready-to-wear look. Hers was the only second design that didn't look like an afterthought.

I actually thought Kit's avant-garde look was better than Rami's; at least she tried to go over-the-top. Unlike the judges, I also liked the fabrics she and Ricky used. Their execution missed the mark, however.

The dress looks like a costume for actors on the Alice in Wonderland float at Disney World:

Too bad Ricky wasn't team leader. Kit probably wouldn't have made it to the top three -- she spent her entire run out of the spotlight, but I think the judges would have had taste issues with her eventually. But she deserved to outlast Ricky.

Ricky is shaping up to be this season's stealth underachiever. He's been in the Bottom Two multiple times. Each time, however, his errors haven't been as heinous as the other contender for ousting. I keep telling myself that Ricky's luck has to run out eventually. Then I remember that Wendy Pepper -- the world-famous, original stealth underachiever -- managed to make it to Fashion Week.

But lightning never strikes twice -- or does it?

Next week: The designers create looks using mystery materials stored in a New York warehouse.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Sixteen Candles

I was totally jealous of the models this week -- how awesome would it be to have a prom dress custom-made by Project Runway? I bought my senior prom dress at the last minute -- it was $25 on sale at Kohl's. A cute dress, but not designer (or custom-made) by any means.

Many of the designers expressed severe trepidation about designing for a gaggle of high school students from New Jersey. Clearly they've memorized Project Runway Challenge Rule #1: Designing a dress for any of life's milestones is bound to create major drama (see Season 1's wedding dress challenge.) And Project Runway Challenge Rule #2: The drama doubles if you're dealing with emotional teenagers (again, see the wedding challenge.)

Unfortunately not enough attention was paid to Project Runway Challenge Rule #3: Keep the drama off the runway. And Christian, I'm talking to you.

The biggest diva of all the designers, Christian got stuck with the most diva model, Maddie. With all her demands, Maddie seemed like a prime candidate for another popular reality show -- MTV's My Super Sweet Sixteen. There was no way she was going to be satisfied with anything Christian made for her. But that seemed to defeat Christian rather than motivate him to try harder.

Christian's creation really wasn't all that bad. The dress was cute and age appropriate, if a little busy. But he totally shot himself in the foot by trying to blame all of the problems on Maddie. Nina seemed more upset by Christian's actions on the runway than his actual dress. He was lucky to make it through this week.

Here's Maddie working it for the camera, even though she looks like she's got doilies covering her dress:

Meanwhile, Kevin was voted off, which is at the very least a loss in the personality department. Kevin projects a very likable, down-to-earth persona on screen and I'll miss him. But why or why did he not hem his freaking dress? I don't think there was a question in anyone's mind -- Kevin's included -- that the judges were going to slam him for it.

Nina and Co. also said the dress was cheap-looking and too old for the model. Not being there in person, it was hard to tell if the cheap comment was true. But the dress and styling made the model look like a pageant contestant from 1955.

In this photo, the dress also makes the model look really short and squat. Considering the judges' unflattering comments, do you think she and the rest of the Bottom Four actually wore their designs to prom?

Kevin pushed himself under the bus but I really wanted Ricky to go. All of Ricky's designs have been mediocre at best. Michael Kors mentioned that very fact during deliberations but the judges still opted to keep him around. Why? Don't they want to stop going through tissues at an alarming rate?

The runway was a weird place this week. Why didn't the judges name a third front-runner? Both Jillian and Chris made beautiful dresses -- particularly from the back. And Kit's design was very kicky and age appropriate (although the colors were a little 80s.) They definitely deserved to be in but I think at least one should have been allowed to stay on the runway for some praise.

I would have put either of these in the Top Three. Chris' dress is on the left and Jillian's is on the right. Has anyone noticed that Jill's model kinda looks like her?

After a lackluster showing last week, Victorya emerged the winner. Her dress was cute, particularly the color and the multi-colored crystals on the neckline, and the model looked great in the design. I thought she deserved to win but the dress also proved Victorya to be something of a one-note. The prom outfit had the same basic babydoll minidress design as Vic's Sarah Jessica Parker dress and her entry in the Episode 1 "Expensive fabric" challenge.

Here's some proof. This week's dress is on the left and the SJP dress is at the right:

Also treading on old ground this week was Rami. He was called out for making a dress that was too old for the model. He really should have gotten slammed for essentially recreating his entry in the "expensive fabric" challenge. Come on people -- change it up!

Again here's proof. Prom on the left, Episode 1 on the right:

Next week: Whatever it is, Christian's not happy. Again.

Now I'm angry.

OK, this is not going to be a full post cause I am too too tired to go through and download pictures, plus they are not yet online, but I am VERY VERY upset about the outcome of tonight's Project Runway.

First of all, I think Sweet P deserved the win over Victorya. I did like Victorya's dress, but in terms of talking about prom, why is it okay that Victorya's dress is short, when they criticized other designers' dress for being too short for prom? Cause she bedazzled the top? Seriously, it is a cute dress, but I also really want Sweet P to have a win. Sometimes I wonder if they think ahead, thinking "Sweet P may be next to go, so we don't want to grant her immunity."

Secondly. HOW could they keep Ricky when they had a chance to get rid of him? Over Kevin? WHAT do they like about Ricky? I don't like Ricky. Why is he always crying? And what is wrong with all his hat? And why do we keep letting him make sucky stuff like during the team challenge even though he doesn't add good drama to the show (let's not forget producer input on decisions.) He just sits and weeps.

When I heard the bottom three I thought "Oh Good, Ricky is going home." And when they said he wasn't, I knew instantly it was Kevin, cause Christian ain' going home anytime soon. And Kevin has done a lot of great stuff.

Excuse this post written as I'm upset, tired, sick and gone through my entire vocabulary working nearly 12 hours today. And look forward to a probably really good post written by Rachel tomorrow.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

It's a marshmallow world ... for everyone but Elisa

About halfway through this week's episode of Project Runway, Bravo was kind enough to inform us that Thursday's edition was sponsored by Hershey's.

No kidding.

Shameless product placement was all over the place as the designers descended into real-life Candyland to create looks inspired by KitKats, Twizzlers and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

This challenge reminded me a lot of the Season 3 recycling challenge and Season 2's flower challenge. All required the designers to use materials not meant to be bent, weaved and sewn into clothing. And all three challenges had the same potential pitfall -- striking the balance between "too safe" and "a float in a parade" (as Tim Gunn would say.)

The watchword for the judges this time seemed to be "joyous." Which was too bad for Elisa who admitted to going for just the opposite with her "macabre Gretel" outfit. There isn't much to say about her dress -- it was brown and the trim wasn't dynamic at all. The most objectionable part of the look were the weird silver detached sleeves. Christian compared them to a child's water wings and he was right.

I knew Elisa wasn't destined for the final four, but I'll miss her oddness. I thought her downfall would running out of time because she doesn't use a sewing machine and I'm sad we didn't get to learn more about her technique (spitting, hand-sewing, etc.)

We also found out what Christian the speed-sewer does with his free time -- walks around and annoys the other designers. Christian has actually grown on me since the first episode and I got the impression that the other contestants like him enough brush off his unwanted critiques -- at least for now.

Christian made his dress from the inner wrappers of Reese's cups. It was nice, but all I could think of was Michael Knight's coffee filter dress from Season 3. The difference is the coffee filters created a nice draping effect. The Reese's cups wrappers make the model look like she's covered in Play-Doh:

As the only designer to use actual candy, Jillian had the hardest row to hoe this week. I'm not sure how she affixed Twizzlers to her skirt and corset top, but they kept falling off (even during the judging, although not during the actual runway show.) The dress was super-cute and apparently smelled really good too.

You can see the missing Twizzlers in this photo. All of this week's looks are apparently being auctioned for charity. I feel kind of bad for whomever gets Jillian's outfit, unless the dress is sprayed with some major shellac.

Jillian is also growing on me. I had her pegged the first week as a snob, but she's just really intense and a perfectionist. Plus, her wardrobe is fantastic.

Rami won the challenge and I wasn't surprised. His dress was made from several different wrappers and candy-related swag. The level of detail and intricacy to the design was really amazing. I don't think Rami has made a misstep yet, so this challenge and the award of immunity next week puts him at the front of the pack.

I know the top of the dress was made from Twizzler swag, but I still can't figure out the origins of the skirt:

Chris got back on his feet this week after two mediocre weeks (one of which resulted in his demise, if not for Jack's illness.) I didn't notice the op-art effect of the two logos on his mini-dress until the judges pointed it out, but it was really neat. A costume designer, Chris also defied expectations of being the contestant who would go too over the top.

Chris' dress actually reminded me a lot of the offbeat yet sophisticated get-ups Serena van der Woodsen wears on Gossip Girl. Add some tights and a random hat and this model could move to the Upper East Side. XOXO:

Sweet P and Victorya joined Elisa in the Bottom 3. I felt bad for Sweet P. Her scuttled first attempt at a dress didn't look that bad to me. I'm not sure why she didn't simply try to tweak it a little (I hope it wasn't due to Christian's critique.) The second dress was very plain. I cracked up when Tim compared the skirt (made of the material used as the "tails" to Hershey's kisses) to a maxi-pad.

I think Tim meant that the skirt was similar to the cheap, paper labels packaged with maxi-pads. More than Jillian's dress (which was made of candy!) this outfit looks two minutes away from falling apart:

Meanwhile, Victorya's ruffled nightmare of a dress was extremely unflattering to her model. As her model is a toothpick, I take that to mean the look would be unflattering to anyone. The dress achieved the impossible feat of being busy and bland at the same time. Vic made the dress out of York Peppermint Patty pillows but she opted to use the white backing rather than the silver logo, thus robbing herself of the fun plays on patterns everyone else used to their advantage. Her incomprehensible story about the model as an ice princess didn't help. The model should have vetoed the accompanying weird robot Barbie walk.

I was so happy that the judges finally called out Victorya for being mediocre. I'm just not that impressed with her as a designer. I think her minimalist aesthetic -- or the tendency not to create a float in a parade -- was making it easier for the judges to ignore her faults.

The model wisely dropped the act for this photo:

Next week: The contestants design for some demanding clients. Thanks to my cable program guide, I know who they are and let me tell you, it's going to be good.