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Project Runway 11: On the Way to Fashion Week

Last week on Project Runway, the designers faced the challenge that would determine which of them would go on to Fashion Week.  All of them had to make a look inspired by a world fashion capital:  Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, London, or New York.  Layana lost and was sent home, while the other four moved on.

At the runway, Heidi congratulates the finalists, and then explains the rules.  Each of them will make a collection of twelve looks.  They need to make a fall collection that includes outerwear.  The designers should at least attempt fashion forecasting– which probably means Daniel will be toast if he inflicts his old fart sensibilities on the judges again.  Seriously, the 80’s were three decades ago.

The designers will each have a budget of ten grand, which translates to over $800.00 per outfit.  That means they can probably get some very high-end fabrics.  Upon returning to New York, the designers will show their three favorite pieces to the judges, who will then decide which three designers will go on to Fashion Week.  (Actually, the fourth designer will also show, but their collection won’t be televised.  It will be one of the five decoy collections at Fashion Week.)

Back at Atlas Apartments, the designers get packed to go home.  Michelle’s excited by the prospect of making fall clothes, since fall is her favorite season.  Patricia confesses that she’s nervous and sees herself as being at a disadvantage since she’d never won a challenge.  Michelle confides that she sees Stanley as her main competition.  That’s understandable, since those two have been dominating the competition for the last few weeks.

It looks as if Heidi’s fondness for Patricia may have had one very beneficial consequence for the designers:  a reasonable amount of time to craft their looks.  No more nonsense about cranking out ten or twelve outfits in five weeks, as in the past couple of seasons.  That kind of deadline would have killed Patricia, mistress of textiles, or at least denied her the chance to make a bunch of new fabrics and patterns.  This time, the designers get five months to make their collections.

Four months later, Tim makes the first of his visits.  He starts with Patricia, who lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her family.  It turns out that their house is Patricia’s childhood home.  Over dinner, Patricia tells Tim that many of her relatives are singer and dancers.  Patricia started her career as a designer by designing and making their costumes.

After dinner, Patricia shows off her large studio.  One piece she’s working on is a cape decorated with actual horsehair.  Tim likes it.  She tells him that her inspiration is “trees.”  Tim likes most of what he sees, except for a multi-colored fabric that looks a bunch of kids scribbled on it with crayons.  It’s got smiley faces on it.  Tim doesn’t like it and tells her not to use it.  He explains that he likes the more abstract aspects of her work, but thinks her more literal pieces become too “crafty” or “in-your-face.”

Tim then visits Michelle in Portland, Oregon.  He finds her in a bar with her husband and brother.  There Michelle tells him that she’d worked in the wine industry for ten years and that her family had helped her when she decided to switch gears and become a fashion designer.  Tim tells Michelle and her family that her work had impressed him from the beginning.

Afterwards, Michelle takes Tim to her studio.  Her theme is wolves.  Specifically, she’d inspired by the idea of a female lone wolf fighting for survival.  She then shows of an elaborate black coat and a set of chaps.  Tim likes them and asks her if she has any concerns.  She responds by asking him if he thinks the collection is cohesive.  He assures her it is and adds that it’s very “you.”  He does advise her not to overdesign, though.

In Austin, Texas, Tim finds Daniel and his sister at a friend’s house.  It turns out that Daniel used to make clothes for his sister.  Daniel has a new wild hairdo that Tim says looks like a Chia pet.

Daniel then takes Tim to his studio, where he talks about his various inspirations:  Salvador Dali, astronomy, and the architecture he saw in Berlin.  His color palette, which includes red, white, and dark blue, was inspired by astronomical phenomena like nebulae.  Tim admires a coat, but is far less impressed with a pale blue item that looks like “Grandma’s robe.”  He strongly urges Daniel to get rid of it, saying that it brings the whole collection down.

In Los Angeles, Tim visits Stanley, who says his collection is inspired by the 60’s and Renaissance Spain.  He then shows off his collection.  Tim likes most of it, except for an orange dress that he says doesn’t go with the rest of the clothes.

Afterwards, Tim has lunch with Stanley and his partner, who is white.  Stanley had auditioned three times to be on Project Runway.  What?  We had to put up with the likes of Joshua or Ven when we could have had Stanley instead?  Bad decision, Lifetime.  Very bad.  Stanley had a sister, Belinda, to whom he was very close.  Her sudden death devastated him to the point that he nearly abandoned the idea of being on Project Runway.

Four weeks later, the designers return to New York.  This time, they’re staying in a penthouse.  Michelle and Daniel have a few awkward moments because he’s still smarting over some of the things Michelle had said to him during the Lord & Taylor challenge– several months ago.  They do finally bury that particular hatchet.

Michelle then finds a note from Heidi and Tim welcoming the designers back to New York and encouraging them to spend the night relaxing– since it’s back to work the next day.  They all need to have three looks ready to show the judges. The designers then drink the traditional champagne toast.

The next morning, the designers go to their new workroom.  Tim points out where everything is, and he tells them they have two days until the preview, when the judges decide which three designers will be televised showing their collections at Fashion Week.  They then get to work, and naturally check each other out.  Stanley thinks Michelle is still his main competition.

Tim comes in to see them.  He reminds the designers they need to have three looks ready to show the judges.  He does have a nice surprise in the form of helpers; several eliminated designers will be helping them prepare.  Stanley gets the useless Richard, while  Daniel is reunited with Samantha.  Patricia gets Layana, who is now pregnant, and Michelle gets Amanda.  They all start working on the collections.  Despite having had five months to work on their collections, everybody seems to have a lot left to do.

Tim then comes in again, this time to make his rounds.  He starts with Michelle, who plans to show a coat dress, a sweater, and some chaps, amongst other items.    Michelle has made several bags to go with the coat dress and is wondering if she should show them all.  Tim says yes.  At this stage, it is probably better to show too much rather than too little.  She can always edit her looks if the judges say so.  Right now, she needs to convince the judges she has designs worth showing.

Stanley shows off a bolero dress.  Tim thinks it looks too mature, and advises Stanley to think about proportions and sex appeal.  He thinks Stanley needs a look that shows some skin.

Patricia has several looks ready for Tim’s consideration.  He admires a blue headdress, but thinks a blue and white plaid shirt looks “lumberjacky” and too masculine.  He also thinks the accompanying black shorts are unflattering.  Layana, reading the writing on the wall, suggests showing another outfit.

Last up is Daniel, and Tim thinks his looks need a “wow,” as none of them are particularly exciting.  That proves to be just the beginning of Daniel’s problems, for after Tim sends in the models for their fitting, Daniel finds that his pants don’t fit the model.  He either has to alter them or pick something else.  Likewise, Michelle finds that her pants are also too small.  Patricia, on the other hand, has no problems, and her things fit perfectly.

On the day of the runway show, the designers get back to work.  Tim sends in the models, and they get dressed and then go to hair and make-up.  On the runway, Heidi welcomes the finalists, and introduces the judges.  There’s no guest judge, just the usual suspects:  Zac, Nina, and Heidi herself.

Stanley is up first.  His first look is a black pantsuit with a dark gold shirt.  His second look is a sleeveless gold dress with black sequins down the front.  His last look is a black jacket and a grey dress decorated with large rhinestones, which would make the dress utterly horrible if one head to sit down while wearing it.

Patricia’s first look is a sleeveless dress with a black tank-top bodice and a black and gray skirt with a piano-key pattern.  Her second look consists of black pants and a black cape festooned with horsehair.  Her last look is a pale blue, sleeveless dress decorated with over-sized sequins.  The model is also wearing a blue headdress.

Has Daniel lost his mind?  All of his looks are black!  I’m sorry, but most people don’t want to see a 12-piece collection that consists of black outfit after black outfit after black outfit.  The first look consists of leather knickers and a sleeveless top with a plunging neckline.  The second look consists of pants and a short-sleeved knit top.  The last look is a sleeveless gown, with an exposed zipper down the back.

Michelle’s first look consists of a brown shirt and a sweater with a wolf pattern on it.  She also made tan pants and black leather chaps.  Her second look includes a black skirt, a brown shirt, and a quilted breastplate.  Her third look is a high-necked black coat with three black leather bags clipped to it in different places.

The judges then start with Michelle, who talks about her female lone wolf inspiration.  She also chose looks that would showcase her skill with knits and leather.  She also credits Joseph, the cat-loving sweater specialist, with helping her make the wolf sweater.  The judges praise her for her “good use of resources.”  As for the mini-collection itself,  Heidi comments, “There’s a lot going on,” but she likes the results.  Zac likes the range from casual to dressy looks.  Nina thinks the styling needs work, especially the models’ hair, which looks disheveled.

Daniel wanted to show a range of looks.  (Really?  Why is everything black, then?)  He used stingray in all three looks.  Zac doesn’t like the dress, saying it’s a type they’ve seen before.  Nina points out an all-black show needs a lot of drama to be successful.  There needs to be a lot of texture and/or volume to compensate for the lack of color.  Heidi simply calls the mini-collection underwhelming.  The looks are tame and not unusual or interesting.

Patricia wanted to show off some new materials, like the horsehair.  Heidi likes the horsehair poncho and the blue dress, but not the gray patterned dress.  Nina says the mini-collection lacks cohesion and seems to be all over the place.  Zac likes the collection, but says the styling needs work.

Stanley wanted to make “opulent sportswear” and show his range.  Heidi doesn’t see a “wow” in the mini-collection.  Zac thinks the beading on the final look is beautiful, but the dress is too long.  Nina thinks the looks are sophisticated, but not modern or sexy.

The judges then have their chat.  Michelle “brought her A-game.”  She made good clothes, but does need to work on her hair and make-up.  Patricia has a lot of ideas and is very original.  Daniel’s mini-collection was disappointing, even though the first piece was dramatic.  Stanley’s clothes were impeccably made, but the proportions and styling aren’t sexy or cool.

Heidi then announces the judges’ decisions.  Michelle is in.  So are Patricia and Stanley, which means the erratic Daniel is out.

Next week:  Fashion Week!