Saturday, January 26, 2008

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."

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